December 24, 2020

How ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Played a Role in my Mental Health

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was obsessed with the Perks of Being a Wallflower. I have easily watched that movie more than any others in my lifetime. Because at that time, I was a direct reflection of the protagonist Charlie – the depressed high school kid with childhood trauma who found solace in writing.

We were the same.

Charlie’s last letter has always stuck with me throughout these past six years – even though I hadn’t watched the movie since. It’s his final monologue that completes the movie as he and his friends are driving through a tunnel to reach the city. For those of you who aren’t familiar, I’ll include the text here:

I don’t know if I will have the time to write anymore letters
Because I might be too busy trying to participate.
So if this does end up being the last letter,
I just want you to know that I was in a bad place before I started high school
And you helped me.Even if you didn’t know what I was talking about
Or know someone who’s gone through it.
You made me not feel alone.Because I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen.
And there are people who forget what it’s like to be sixteen when they turn seventeen.
And know these will all be stories someday
And our pictures will become old photographs
And we’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad.
But right now these moments are not stories.This is happening.
I am here and I am looking at her
And she is so beautiful.
I can see it.
This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story,
You are alive.
And you stand up and see the lights on buildings
And everything that makes you wonder,
When you were listening to that song
On that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.

And unintentionally, I think I clung to that thought of experiencing a ‘tunnel moment.’ The ones where you get goosebumps and stop and think, “I’m so happy I stayed alive for this.” And when I experienced my first, I sobbed. Because I honestly couldn’t believe I had fought that battle with depression and won.

Recently, I rewatched the movie again. And to no surprise, I cried at the end – as I had every other time before. But this time, it was different. It wasn’t a sad cry about how he was able to experience that moment and I hadn’t. It was a cry because I finally understood that feeling of elation after so many difficult battles.

I was crying because I was blessed enough to be alive in this moment. And I know all of this sounds cliche, but I promise. For anybody struggling, your tunnel moment will come someday, and I promise you, it will be worth it.

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