When describing the previous ten years of her life, writer Kelley Clink explains, “Being a sister to him made me who I was. Losing him has made me who I am.”
Her brother's suicide in 2004 sent her on a journey of guilt, of mourning, of realizing that her brother is gone. And the feeling that she may be to blame.
Clink turned this emotional journey into a new memoir, A Different Kind of Same.
Clink’s earliest years were spent in Detroit and Livonia. Those years, and the time spent in Michigan, left a lasting impact on her.
Guilt is often felt by those left behind when a loved one commits suicide. But Clink’s guilt is unique – she believed her own depression and previous suicide attempt is the reason her brother made his own attempts years later. Her novel describes her journey through the guilt and lifetime of depression, to come out the other side and eventually find a sort of peace.
“The guilt and the grief, they don’t ever completely go away,” says Clink. “But you make peace with them, and you learn to live with them. And you get to a place where you can sort of invite them in and let them be part of the story and everything just softens.”
Living with depression is difficult and often unbearable. Describing what living with it is like, is almost impossible. But writer Kelley Clink manages to describe, with artistic mastery, what the struggle with ongoing depression is like. Writing about her journey was its own sort of therapy, Clink explains, but sharing that journey with the world was another decision entirely.
But Clink wanted to share her story because she feels keeping silent about depression and mental health can only worsen the stigma.
“Talking is what will lessen the stigma,” says Clink. “The silence feeds the stigma. The less we talk about it, the more afraid we are to talk about it. And it can be a really uncomfortable topic, but I think the more we talk about it, the easier it becomes to talk about it. “
After years of struggle, Clink becomes a new person; turning what starts as a story of guilt and anger into one of personal redemption.
“I did the work of grieving and I came to see that I needed to be who I was and that most people would accept me for who I was and would not see my depression as a weakness," says Clink. "And I was able to, that way, really live for the first time in my life.”
Kelley Clink will be signing her book at Literati Bookstore on East Washington in Ann Arbor this coming Saturday, July 11 at 7 p.m.