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The Student News Site of Marion High School

The Vox Online

The Student News Site of Marion High School

The Vox Online

Senior interviews
Senior interviews
May 29, 2024
Infographic
Infographic
May 29, 2024

Speaking up

TW: mentions of suicide
This+memoir+about+Meg+Kissnger%E2%80%99s+life+can+help+give+others+the+confidence+to+speak+up.
This memoir about Meg Kissnger’s life can help give others the confidence to speak up.

   Growing up in a time where speaking of mental health was not normalized but was a major aspect of her family’s life, Meg Kissinger, author of “While You Were Out,” speaks of the struggles her family went through in this memoir. Being raised in a family of eight kids with two involved parents, they seemed to have a great life, but behind closed doors, there was much more going on than what showed on the surface.

     As the fourth of eight children, Kissinger grew up surrounded by people, their events, and their struggles. This includes her dad who battled bipolar disorder and alcoholism, a mother who suffered from anxiety, depression and alcoholism; and many siblings with several of them struggling with their own mental problems. It was hard for Kissinger to make sense of these serious issues as a kid, especially when no one in society wanted to talk about their private struggles either. While two of her siblings would later die from suicide, looking back writing this, Kissinger said, “This is what I wanted to do with my family’s story, go back over the events of the days that Nancy and Danny died–and months and years leading up to them–to see if there was anything more we could have done to change the outcome.” She hopes that what they went through, as terrible as it was, can help others from doing the same.

     When serious events happened in her life, her family was quick to cover it up with excuses or lies, which made these events even harder to deal with. Even when her sister first died, her father had made it clear that no one was to say it was by suicide because of the heavy stigma surrounding it. So then as an adult, Kissinger became a journalist and eventually felt the need to write a story on her sister Nancy who had previously lost her life to her mental struggles. When this story came out, there were many people reaching out to her, thankful for her courage to speak up and telling her their own stories about them and their families. As her career began to take off even more, she began to write on the mental health system as a whole. Though this took great emotional tolls on her, she helped educate others while learning more about the topic through her writing. She also began to teach students journalism, and how to report on hard topics like this. As a journalist creating this memoir, she wanted to have all of the facts from the past. To find those, she spoke with the five other remaining siblings, searched medical records, and read police reports to get all of the information possible.

    Still helping normalize speaking up on mental health, Kissinger said, “So many times over the years, I could not help but wonder what life would have been like if we had grown up in a more transparent era.…” As society today is still trying to normalize speaking up about mental health, hearing stories like these really helps give others the courage to get the help they need. Being open and honest about what people have gone through and are currently going through is the only way to ensure more situations like these don’t keep occur.

     This was a fascinating story of such tragic events that occurred happened throughout Kissinger’s life, putting a voice to the silence that she and her family lived through. This memoir really shows how far the world has advanced when it comes to speaking of mental health and getting the proper treatment. “While You Were Out” is a well-written story showing how the families that seem like they are doing their best may just be covering up the dark struggles they are going through under the surface.

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Sydney Slaymaker
Sydney Slaymaker, Staff Writer

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