Mental Health Awareness Month: It’s Kind of a Funny Story Book Review

Submitted by Jack Pockl, Montour Monitor reporter

  It’s Kind of a Funny Story hosts an intimate storyline highlighting the significance of sustainable mental health in the millennial generation.  The main character, Craig Gilner, is a 15-year-old in New York City who suffers from today’s most common disorders: anxiety and depression.  He struggles with eating habits, social awkwardness, and his biggest enemy: himself. Craig, however, took a compelling action towards himself with his problems: a near-suicide attempt in order to get the help he needed.

   Craig came from a supportive family where he was accustomed to a pleasurable childhood; he had the values he needed to be successful to get through his academic and professional careers.  However, as being enrolled in Executive Pre-Professional High School, Craig has a lot of pressure on the line. From his economics and stocks class to his comprehensive science and English work, Craig barely has time to breathe.  Amid this stress, Craig eventually comes to his breaking point. He is eating (and digesting) his food more rarely than ever--even purging more often, which is already a common practice for Craig--and begins to hang-out with the “wrong crowd” when he eventually meets his best friend, Aaron, and crush, Nia, prolonging his social awkwardness.

  However, Craig did have all intentions to get help for himself.  On top of talking to his therapist on a weekly schedule, Craig needed more; letting his thoughts and emotions out for only a certain period of time once a week was not enough.  Craig went to go see a psychopharmacist, who prescribed Craig Zoloft to take on a daily basis, to maintain his baseline condition, which could probably be considered “rocky.” Craig took the medication, and felt better about himself and the atmosphere he was living in, but he felt alienated. Craig believed he was being cured by what he calls a “fake shift” to just make him feel better externally, not internally.  Because of these thoughts, Craig throws away his medication, and his downward spiral just continues at an agile pace.

  One night going into early morning, Craig had enough--enough as in he is done living.  Craig does not know how to resolve his problems nor how to live with his problems anymore.  He takes his matters to the Brooklyn Bridge. After standing on the ledge for some time, Craig has a wisp of reality and realizes he needs to choose life.  Craig inches off of the Brooklyn Bridge, fathoming the possible consequences and calls the suicide hotline, 1-800-SUICIDE.

  The operator on the phone, Keith, consoles Craig and tells him he did the right thing and collected his thoughts about what he was going to do (jump off of the Brooklyn Bridge).  He advises him to go to the emergency room, which Craig does as told. As a catch though, Craig never told his parents about his suicide attempt or going to the emergency room -- it seemed as if he was ashamed of what he had done.  

  Craig arrives at the hospital, and is directed to the emergency room.  Craig goes through usual protocol consisting of floods of paperwork followed by his mom having to come in to sign papers.  Craig’s mom was in a reasonable shock, as anyone would be, but was accepting and thankful Craig was getting the help he needed.  Craig was accepted into the adult mental ward for a duration of five days.

  During his five days, Craig made new relationships, felt better about himself, but still felt he was having a “fake shift” since he was in an unrealistic environment.  Yet, Craig pulled through, cleaned-out his mind, and was able to be released from the ward, known as Six North. Nonetheless, after being released, Craig left Executive Pre-Professional, and went to the art institute to be the person he truly wants to be in life.

  If I were to rate this book out of five stars, It’s Kind of a Funny Story definitely earned all five stars.  From its constantly moving plot to Craig’s relatable problems.  This novel gave me a better look on the severity of mental health and how there are people with worse conditions than me.  I would definitely recommend this book to all readers, especially as May is mental health awareness month. It’s Kind of a Funny Story affords the knowledge of someone with mental health issues and how one can help the person struggling. 

I am a sophomore student at Montour High School where I  write as the Assistant Editor for the school's newspaper, Montour Monitor.

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