5 Vignettes about mental health

1) When I was in 7th grade I met a girl at church. Her older sisters were interested in my older brothers so we followed suit and became 7th grade baes. She would call me on the phone and we’d sit in silence while she watched tv until I awkwardly told her that I had to go. One day she told me that she was suicidal. I told my dad, and he told me that some people just want attention. Later, the school counselor told my class that her door was always open, so I went and talked to her about my girlfriend. I was pretty sure that I just wanted to not be in class.

2) When I was in college I had a friend who told me that she’s always assumed that she will eventually kill herself. She said, “not anytime soon. Not until after my parents are dead.”

3) In February 2018 Andrew and I drove to Chicago to watch Frightened Rabbit play at Thalia hall. It was excellent bonding time, and I have never been funnier on social media. During the show a woman who had balcony seats screamed, “I love you!” and had a little back and forth banter with frontman Scott Hutchinson. He said that he couldn’t even see her. Her friends lit her up with a cell phone flashlight. He laughed about how awkward it was. He said, “you think you want this, but you don’t. I would ruin you. I would ruin us.” I’m embellishing a little because I don’t remember exactly. Three months later he killed himself.

4) I was in the lobby of Rocky Mountain Neuropsychological Consultants. There was a woman there who was roughly my age. She was reading out loud to herself. When her doctor came out to greet her she started telling her how she was leaking a lot of brain fluid and she knew that that was gross but she just wanted to bring it up because she wanted her to know that like she’s in this 100% and whatever she needs to do she’s gonna do. Her doctor assured her that they’d discuss everything in her office, and that she’d be back out to grab her in just a minute. When her doctor left, the woman said something like, “it is gross, but it’s not your fault. You’re doing the best you can. It’s not your fault it’s gross.”

5) Once, an old girlfriend got a phone call right before sex. It was her grandfather and he was dying. We had sex anyway and then afterwards she was very quiet. I stared up at the ceiling until I could feel that I should check on her. She was cutting her hips by running the jagged edge of a key over her pelvis bones. They were thin cuts, like cat scratches. The blood was orange like the key. After the breakup, at the Absinthe House, a mutual friend said to me, “How does it feel that I know everything you two did?”

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Mental health problems are fucking awful, and none of those stories are really about me, which feels a little bit fucked up. One of my favorite things to say recently is, “did you know that suicide is like the only cause of death that’s becoming more common, not less common?” May is mental health awareness month, and I wanted to make something for May because I am aware of mental health. I don’t think I can say anything about mental health that has not already been posted on buzzfeed probably, so I ended up with what’s above. And also this paragraph. And also the next paragraph.


There’s an episode of the show The Boondocks where Huey asks his grandad, “what do you do when you can’t do nothing, and there’s nothing you can do?” and his grandad pauses and says, “you do what you can.” I think this is essentially how I feel about mental health (also, everything). I hope you do what you can.

Sam Columna