Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rick's Rant/Reasons to Read

The media were abuzz today with the most recent "rant" by Canadian Comedian/Political Commentator Rick Mercer's latest "rant" about bullying and teen suicide.   The specific case he referenced involved a teen who was depressed,  was bullied for being gay, and ultimately took his own life.

In the video, Mercer noted that it's not enough to tell kids that "it will get better", because teens need role models.

I agree.  And although I don't think there's any substitute for real, live role models, I think this is another example of a case where thoughtful, well-written young adult literature can be a powerful tool in making kids feel less lonely.  I often receive email from readers who say my novels make a difference in their lives, because readers see themselves in the characters.

And I'll say it again here now:  books had a huge impact on me, and on my own struggles during adolescence. 

Mercer challenged adults to step up as role models, saying : 
“If you’re gay and yu’re in public life, I’m sorry, you don’t have to run around with a Pride flag and bore the hell out of everyone, but you can’t be invisible. Not anymore. 300 kids is 300 too many,”
I'm not gay, so I can't be a role model from that perspective.

But as an author, I am out there in "public life".  And I have suffered from depression off and on throughout my childhood and adult years, and as an author who has struggled with depression, I'm standing up now and saying "Let me be your role model, because it DOES get better."  

I'm always trying to balance my author's persona with my teacher's persona, and in a small, small town, maybe I'm taking a big risk here by admitting to my struggles wtih depression.  But nobody judges me harshly when I tell them I survived Thyroid Cancer at age twenty-nine, so maybe if more parents and kids can see me thriving post cancer AND post depression, they will come to understood that depression -- like cancer -- is a treatable medical condition.  And maybe if I tell them that there are a lot of amazing books out there about kids just like them, they won't feel so alone.   And maybe by sharing my history I will help one person.  And that will be worth it.

If you think you might be depressed, know that IT'S NOT A WEAKNESS, IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT, and IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT MAKING YOURSELF CHEER UP.  Talk to someone you trust, or visit