Hello to All That

A Memoir of War, Zoloft, and Peace

John Falk

Henry Holt and Co.

From Hello to All That:
There had been a point in my life when my greatest goal had been simply to make it to the next morning. I was severely depressed, completely empty, no connection to anything. It was like being trapped in a glass jar. By 1991, I was living in my parents' attic. I had cut myself off from everyone I knew, slept all day, and spent my nights watching late-night Oprah reruns.

I cannot say how it was that I came to find myself rummaging through a crawl space that night looking for that old shotgun, only that the idea had become irresistible. Perhaps I was tempted just to see if holding it would somehow change things. When I found it, it didn't disappoint. It felt solid, powerful, like a magic wand. Holding it, I didn't feel like a trapped rat anymore. Here was a way out. But I still had enough fight that night to put it away. Its day was in the future, though. I had entered the endgame.

That night I lay on the roof for hours, crying, not for me, but for my family, especially my mother, who always made me promise her that I would, no matter what, hang on. "Trust me," she would say. "It will work out." But now I realized that I was going to have to break that promise. At dawn, I finally crawled back inside my bedroom. Sometime later I realized I couldn't quit before I gave her a chance. I went downstairs and, trembling, I asked my mother the simplest and most difficult of favors: Please help me.