By David Coy
He was an accomplished writer, a precious soul loved by many of the public who read or have read his work. Yet, he was a troubled soul. Sadly, his life did not end well, and many of his family members struggled with mental illness. At one point in time, there were seven suicides in the Hemingway family with the most prominent being Ernest. His granddaughter Mariel struggled with depression and attempted suicide has said, “I started to realize I had a great understanding of the whole space,” and, “I was drawn to being able to tell a story so that other people do not feel alone, so they do not feel isolated inside the darkness — because there is so much darkness when you do not speak about it, and there’s so much hope and light in recovery if you’re able to tell your story.” She said that she did not have clinical depression but did have a genetic predisposition for it. To the best of our understanding, Ernest was one who struggled mightily with his ‘demons’ whatever they were in addition to his drinking, insomnia, etc. It was said that he was tortured with “fantasies of suicide thronged his mind, intermingled with fears of insanity.” (Biographer Kenneth Lynn)
There is still a stigma surrounding the subject of mental illness. We do not like to talk about this topic. Not families (the Hemingways did not), nor society. Yet, if we are to change the ugly trend of self-induced deaths from people struggling with mental illness then we are going to have to get comfortable talking about this topic with family and others. Along this same lines, we need to encourage more mental health survivors, people who are living with illnesses above the neck to tell their story to others.
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