I’ve recently become a fan of the t.v, show “A Million Little Things”. If you love the how “This is Us”, this is clearly another shade of that show. And it is clearly one network’s attempt to get some of those ratings.
The television one hour drama in general has been my favorite in recent years. When I started writing spec scripts, I was in awe of those who could write a one hour script. I was still trying to master the 30 minute comedy and failing at it.
Indeed, the one hour drama has always appealed to me as a writer. But this show appealed to me as a person living with anxiety and depression.
The show centers around the aftermath of a friend’s suicide among a close circle of friends. In the circle of friends, there was another who was also attempting at the same time. Then, the phone call came in with news of the event. It caused him to spit out the mouth full of pills into the sink.
If you know anything about me and my story, pills were my weapon of choice in my attempt. And yes, this triggered me. But I decided to keep watching. Trust me when I say, however, that it was difficult to watch that first episode and if you are triggered but such things, please be warned. I wished that the network would have given us a trigger warning before watching.
One of the more recent episodes of the show had the wife of the man who attempted suicide find his letter. The devastation on her face was enough to fuel the world for a week. It was heartbreaking. I wanted to cry because, as anyone who has attempted will tell you, they don’t do it to hurt the ones they love. They do it because it becomes too much. It is all too much and they just want it to stop.
And then the heartbreak of all heartbreaks…when they don’t understand.
The anger was palpable. The blame is comes out like torpedoes. Then the why-didn’t-you-tell-me look, almost accusatory. It is almost a betrayal of trust. And it is.
There is an unwritten promise between loved ones — you have to tell me the big stuff so we can go through this together.
So when that trust is broken in that way, our loved ones watch us, monitor every action big and small. They stop trusting us when we say we’re okay. They start looking for warning signs that may or may not be there. In short, they start doubting everything they know, even themselves, and at times that’s the worse than wanting to end it all.
When I returned home years ago, after my attempt, my mom watched me sleep. She was afraid I would do something when she wasn’t looking. She would tell me how I would not sleep soundly, as if I was fighting something or someone in my sleep. Every bad mood, every sad moment, every tear drop was a cause for alarm despite the cause.
Even today, years away from my attempt, the memory of it still lingers within my family. Sometimes, I catch my sister watching me too, making sure I am “strong enough” to deal with life’s tribulations. But even then, depression isn’t about strength. She’s still learning. My family is still learning about mental illness and how I live with anxiety and depression. They don’t quite understand it but they know more about it today and the first time they encountered it.
In a way, I’m glad that this television show is taking on the task of showing the country what mental illness can look like and how it can actually impact a family, both when suicide happens and when it doesn’t. Let’s hope that each week they are more and more accurate and that conversations finally happen.