It Makes Sense || Dylan Hague



Ruben Nieto

It Makes Sense

by Dylan Hague

[Editor's Choice]

It’s only recently occurred to me that I’ve begun to forget things. Not in some dramatic way, this isn’t some heartbreaking fiction piece, I’m not the Man who Forgot Ray Bradbury. Things have just begun to slip away from me. It’s more inconvenient than anything. My mind isn’t working with me the way I want it to, that’s all. And to be fair to my mind, I haven’t exactly been taking care of it. That makes sense.

At work, I always chalked it up to the stress of being a healthcare worker, knowing that my performance impacted the health and well-being of people in need. When I screw up, people don’t get products that they need in order to function properly. Of course the pressure was going to get to me, I’d have to be a fool for it not to. So things have started to slip my mind. I choke under pressure, that’s normal. I don’t work in the emergency room, I don’t even work in the hospital anymore, it’s not like anyone is gonna die because of me.

But then I started forgetting other things. The name of my first crush, the layout of my hometown, the faces of my old friends. Some of them come back to me, others not so much. I couldn’t possibly forget her name forever, though I won’t share it here. But I’ll be darned if I don’t still get lost sometimes when I go back home. As for my friends, I haven’t seen a lot of them in a while, not since I dropped out of school and moved into the city, away from all of them. That makes sense.

On some level, I’ve known I had problems with my mind and my emotions since I was eleven years old. My first bout of real depression emerged from the discovery that my parents were fallible. I learned that my father used to drink, and I couldn’t understand how someone so larger-than-life, my personal superhero, could have ever done such a thing. Nowadays, it’s laughable to me how that was the tipping point — I imagine I drink more now than my father ever did — but as a boy, that discovery shattered my worldview. Of course that was going to disrupt my balance.

But I never got any sort of treatment. I always figured I just needed to do better. I don’t think anyone ever told me that, not really. They told me to stop crying so much when I was a boy (I was a weepy child, even up to age ten), and sometimes I wonder if that’s why I stopped crying so much when I got to middle school, why I never cried as a teenager, why I only shed six tears when my great-grandmother died. I wonder if maybe that’s why I didn’t cry when I began to think about suicide my first year of college. But it was so long ago, I hardly remember it. It wouldn’t make sense.

I’m getting off topic. Treatment, yes. I never sought out any help for my emotional problems. I knew what a therapist was, of course, but I also knew they were only for people with real, debilitating problems. Therapists were for crazy people, they were people who wanted to hurt themselves, for people who couldn’t function like normal members of society because their brains were just broken. I imagined the Joker sitting on the long couch, talking to an old man with thick glasses and a notepad who tried to tell him not to kill people. I know now that that’s not only incorrect, but also a horrible thing to imagine about people who just need help. But at that time, how could I have known? I had the same images, the same concepts, being presented to me from every angle. I wasn’t broken, I wasn’t insane, I was just having a hard time. I could handle my problems myself. That made sense.

In college, I started to think about killing myself. That, certainly, was my first real wake-up call that I needed some kind of help. I went to a very Christian college, but I don’t say that disparagingly. Plenty of people I know attended the same kind of schools, including my sister and her husband, and most of them made it out the other side. I guess I was just different, not really meant for the college system. Some people just aren’t, because they’re wired differently.

But again, I digress. I began to realize I needed help, so I reached out to a friend. He told me he’d been seeing a school psychiatrist for some time, and that he could arrange for me to have an appointment with them as well. At least, that’s how I think I remember it. It’s been eight years now, so the memory is hazy at best. However I ended up there, I may as well not have. I sat on the couch, told them how I’d been feeling lonely and rejected, how I didn’t see a way for things to get better. They asked me if I’ve been sad, I told them yes. They asked if I’d been thinking about suicide, I told them yes. They gave me a Bible verse, and they sent me on my way.

I had hoped maybe they had used what I told them to devise some sort of helpful advice or something, but the second appointment was exactly the same as the first. I didn’t bother turning up for the third, and I didn’t bother turning up to most of my classes the rest of the year. I didn’t bother seeking help again after that. If that’s all a professional could offer me, I was better off going it alone. That made sense.

I tried college again when I got home, but I mostly floundered there too. Eventually I just gave up altogether. I got a few jobs here and there, far between one another because of how hard it is to find work these days. Mostly I just fooled around, wasted a few years doing not much of anything. But it was about this time that I started writing, really writing, and I think that’s the most important thing I’ve ever done for myself.

I always enjoyed telling stories and making things up, and I always kind of thought I was good at it, but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I started putting myself into my work, really trying to say something. As a kid, my focus as a writer was always to tell stories that I thought were cool, that would be exciting and fun. Now when I write, I still like to write fun and exciting stories, but I always end up trying to make my stories mean something. I always want to share part of myself in the words, and hope that someone sees me hiding in the letters and understands what I’m trying to say.

Am I successful? Do I think I’ll ever make a living doing this? Of course not, that time has passed. But do you know what’s happened to me since I began writing?

Things stopped making sense.

When you put yourself into your characters, you give them your flaws too. My first real protagonist, at the end of my first book, begs and pleads at his father’s grave to tell him that it’s okay for him to leave home. At the end of the second book, he openly admits that he hates being the hero, that he hates being the one chosen to save the day. The pressure is monstrous, and he just wants it to stop. Reading back, I only saw how badly I needed help when I saw my problems reflected back at me in someone else. I knew then that I needed to try again, that I needed to find help.

But I didn’t. My family were statues, immovable stones that never wavered, and I knew deep down that I was made from the same stone. Besides, I had to get back on track. I didn’t have time to upend my life with counseling or whatever. So I soldiered on, letting my words hold the weight of my problems until I could find time to deal with them. I knew it didn’t make sense, but it worked for everyone else.

Then we lost my cousin to suicide. The next year, we lost my grandmother to cancer. I always thought our family was made of stone, unbreakable and unmoving, and in two years’ time, every last one of us has come apart. And I’ve cried more in these past two years than I’ve cried maybe in the last fifteen all put together. Whatever the block was that kept me from allowing myself to feel things, it’s gone. I can express my pain again. God, sometimes I wish I couldn’t, but I know it’s better for me.

My grandmother was the most important person in my life, my greatest supporter. She was the one person who believed in me through all of my failures and falters, and now she’s gone. I’ve opened my heart and bled out so many words to so many people about her, beaten and broken myself for not being who I know she believed I could be, and yet despite how much she means to me, I can never bring myself to visit her grave. That grave isn’t where I feel her; sitting by her marker makes me feel empty, makes me feel alone. To feel her again, I think I would need to go back to the apartment where she lived out her final days. But they don’t let you do that sort of thing, and I always kind of hated that apartment. I haven’t been back there since she entered the hospital. I didn’t even go back when we were dividing up everything she left behind. All I took was a collection of unfinished stories she’d written. I told myself I was going to finish them, but I haven’t started yet.

I wish I had taken more, everyone encouraged me to take more, but I couldn’t go back to that apartment. God help me, I wish I could have gone back there.

And my cousin was, to be reductive, me. He was a few years ahead, but I see so much of him in myself. And I don’t say that to brag on myself or to disparage him. That’s not a positive or negative statement. I just feel like we were cut from the same cloth. When I was a kid, I thought he was the coolest guy in the world. It wasn’t until I was older and more conscious that I realized how much he was clearly, visibly hurt. And it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the hurt he carried looked a lot like mine. I always wanted to talk to him, to ask how he was, to ask if he knew what I was going through, to ask how he handled all of it. But he was never much of a talker. Or maybe I was never much of a listener. Or maybe it was neither of us, and we just never connected. Sometimes it’s not anyone’s fault that you can’t communicate.

His parents had me read some of his writing at the funeral. I wonder if he ever wrote anything like what I’m writing now.

I hear both of them speaking to me sometimes, in the back of my head. They tell me to stop driving so fast, they laugh when I make some funny mistake, they tell me it’s okay that I’m still in pain. I wonder sometimes if it’s really them, or if that’s just the form my grief takes. That’s probably what ghosts really are, I think. Just grief made manifest in our minds. Not quite as mysterious and fun as it is in the books.

I’ve been asked to take a few days away from it all, to try to get back to feeling like myself. I think I’m going to try seeing a psychiatrist again, maybe get a real diagnosis for my issues. I like to imagine that having a piece of paper on my medical record will help pave the way for some sort of help getting my life back together.

It’s funny. I started writing this piece almost out of spite. The prompt I found said I needed to include something about hope, about how I was managing my mental health. When I started writing, I was pretty sure I wasn’t managing. When I started writing, I was almost certain that I had no hope.

But the funny thing is, over the two days I’ve been writing this piece, I think I’ve realized something. I’m in so much pain, and I have been for so long. But that doesn’t change the fact that the sun is still beautiful, the breeze is still refreshing, and food is still delicious. I don’t hate the world. I don’t hate living.

I don’t want to die. I want to live. I just want to live differently.

Does that make sense?

Dylan Hague

Dylan Hague is a writer based out of Clemson, SC. Having started out producing small-scale online works, he published his first original work in February of 2019. As of today, he has three original novels published; two fantasy novels titled Blade of the Covenant and Shadows of the Sky, both published through Hydra Publications, and a self-published young-adult horror novel titled All the Angels, available to read online.


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