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Me and the Suicides: A Novella

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In my experience as a reader, depictions of depression or suicidal ideation in fiction are most often conveyed through social realism or otherwise realistically grounded writing. This makes sense given the subject matter, as one would intuitively think to depict

In my experience as a reader, depictions of depression or suicidal ideation in fiction are most often conveyed through social realism or otherwise realistically grounded writing. This makes sense given the subject matter, as one would intuitively think to depict mental or emotional trauma in a very sobering way, but I felt that one could merge the topic with a more absurdist, magical realist-inspired style while staying reverent to the emotional experience. I also find that stories that approach their subtext too seriously can stray very easily into plain didacticism, as opposed to a work that tries to entertain first. I concluded that conveying the experience of isolation and depression through metaphor would be the most emotionally rewarding or enlightening experience for the reader. The central premise of the story is, to me, a metaphor; a young man isolated from society, and haunted by past experiences, who comes to be literally haunted by ghosts with similar experiences. From that starting point I wanted to explore the perspectives of several of the ghosts in a multiple-protagonist format, structuring the present-day storyline around the flashbacks of three of the ghosts. I wanted each of the ghosts' backstories to present a kind of variation on the larger cultural "depression narrative", with some of them perhaps being more recognizable cultural symbols (such as Kryz in the role of the traumatized former soldier), but all being shown in specific, idiosyncratic ways. The content of each ghost's storyline came, again, from thinking of ways to metaphorically represent their particular emotional issues; Sarah, for example, literally has no shadow in a world of people with shadows, while Kryz's job on a film set full of artifice may mirror the artificiality that he sees in everyday interaction. These flashbacks making up the bulk of the narrative puts the ostensible lead character, Officer, in a backseat-narrator position a la Nick in The Great Gatsby, with the ghosts' experiences also working to inform his emotional status. I feel that the form of a work of fiction should reflect the nature of its content in some way, and given that my subject matter is mental illness, it made sense to me to arrange the various stories in a fragmented fashion, taking inspiration from authors like Thomas Pynchon and Irvine Welsh, as well as the non-fiction book A Brief Introduction to Madness. Finally, I wanted to convey a sense of absurdity in the events of the story, again taking influence from these authors. In my experience and observation, depression and mania are often responses to a world that makes little sense, from people unable to cope with the reality around them. I feel this goes hand-in-hand with an absurdist view of the world, and hopefully the unrealistic details of these stories, and the way character treat them as normal, should convey a sense of bafflement for the reader.

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2017-12

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(Re)memories of Slavery: An Examination of the Traumatic Past,Present, and Future Depicted in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Description

The application of Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a lens through which one can analyze intergenerational trauma on an individual and communal level results in a blueprint towards a remedial process. The characters and their experiences in her novel are representative

The application of Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a lens through which one can analyze intergenerational trauma on an individual and communal level results in a blueprint towards a remedial process. The characters and their experiences in her novel are representative of a myriad of ways in which trauma is manifested. I have broken down the concept of intergenerational trauma into the idea that it can be seen as the state where one is both simultaneously “falling” and “fallen” at the same time. Used here, the term “falling” refers to the consistent, individual trauma that one is experiencing. On the other hand, the term “fallen” refers to the trauma that a community as a whole has experienced and internalized. This framework that I establish based off of Beloved is a launching point for the conversation surrounding the topic of remedial actions in relation to intergenerational trauma that resulted from slavery. Using it as a basis of knowledge allows one to truly gather the weight of the situation regarding trauma postbellum. Considering the current climate surrounding any meaningful dialogue, knowledge is one of the most important aspects. Along with the concepts of “falling”/”fallen,” I also coined the term productive memory, which refers to the act of confrontation as well as the remembering of intergenerational trauma. The use of productive memory is imperative in addressing the prior ideas presented regarding intergenerational trauma and the possible pathways to move forward.

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2021-05

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A Portrait of Neglect

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This thesis examines statements made about immigration and mental health in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie follows a young Nigerian immigrant as she navigates her move

This thesis examines statements made about immigration and mental health in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie follows a young Nigerian immigrant as she navigates her move to the U.S. and explores the meaning of belonging and identity in the U.S. and Nigeria. Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans is about a Mexican family that immigrates to Delaware in order to secure better treatment for their daughter and touches on the nuances of the Latinx immigrant identity in the U.S. Both of these texts feature the lack of resources and support available for immigrants of color which eventually lead the characters to return to their country of origin. This thesis posits that Adichie and Henriquez are both suggesting in their respective works that the U.S. fails to ensure the success and well-being of immigrants which leads to a deterioration of mental health and feelings of not belonging. A Portrait of Neglect considers the real life implications of Adichie’s and Henriquez’s ideas and the impact of their representations of immigration and mental health.

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2021-12

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Reasons to Stay Alive

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Reasons to Stay Alive is a short story that follows the protagonist, Corinne Larson, and her experiences with depression and anxiety as well as self-harm and suicidal ideations. It is meant to act as an antithesis to media that romanticizes

Reasons to Stay Alive is a short story that follows the protagonist, Corinne Larson, and her experiences with depression and anxiety as well as self-harm and suicidal ideations. It is meant to act as an antithesis to media that romanticizes suicide, such as the television show 13 Reasons Why (2017), and instead glorify growth and healing. Specifically, it focuses on the importance of social support in the healing process. The story is separated into three different formats: narrative, letter, and free-verse poetry. It is prefaced by a poem titled ‘death by suicide’ that discusses the stigma around suicide and the reason why the phrase ‘commit suicide’ was changed to ‘death by suicide’. The story then starts with a letter written by Corinne to her future self during a time she was really struggling with depression and self-harm and suicidal ideations. It is a plea with her future self to tell her everything will be alright. The rest of the story is broken into four parts, each about a specific and important person in Corinne’s life. Each part starts off as a first person narrative from Corinne’s point of view and is a memorable experience she had with each person and ends with a short letter addressed directly to each person. The letters are a chance for Corinne to tell each person how important they are to her, how they made an impact in her life, and how they gave her a reason to stay alive. Between each part is a poem that deals with different themes relating to depression or anxiety. The story ends with a letter written by Corinne to her future self that goes back and addresses the first letter. It gives past Corinne some words of advice and tells her that her reasons to stay alive are the important people in life as well as herself and the person she will become.

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2021-12

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The Unforgivable Promise

Description

Unbeknown to her, Lonnie is the key between two realities - a result of her family’s grief and feuding. When she finally discovers her vital role, she is forcefully placed on a path of finding - and fixing - the

Unbeknown to her, Lonnie is the key between two realities - a result of her family’s grief and feuding. When she finally discovers her vital role, she is forcefully placed on a path of finding - and fixing - the truth about her family and the two battling realities. Struggling with her mental health as she continues down this path, her understanding of good versus evil is challenged.

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Date Created
2021-12