This year's freshman class at New Richmond High School was tasked with taking their passions and making something of them in order to change their communities, the state or even the world.
For Ari Devereux, that meant taking her passion for creative writing and using it to publish a fictional novel about depression and suicide to spread awareness.
"Writing this novel is how I plan to complete my project, and I plan to continue writing the novel after the school year has ended," Devereux said. "I have currently published a novel called Crossfire and have participated in a signing at the Friday Memorial Library, but I'd like to get more of my mature works out there into the public eye."
Devereux has always had a passion for creative writing and feels like she might pursue it as a career, since it brings her a lot of joy and is a great creative outlet for her.
"I chose depression and suicide to be the main topic of my book because I feel that it is very relevant to the world around us, especially high schoolers, and that depression is a severely misunderstood mental disorder," Devereux said. "I wanted to both spread awareness of the topic, as well as let those dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts know that they are not alone and can get through it. I want to, if at all possible, help people who are struggling. If this novel has helped even one person get through their struggles, then I believe I've done my job as an aspiring author."
The novel, according to Devereux, is written in segments that highlight different periods and ages of her main character's life. Because of this, Devereux can't say how much of the book is finished, or which chapters will make the final cut, but she is figuring it will be somewhere around 300 to 400 pages long.
"I can't really predict when the novel will be published, as it is still in the relatively early stages and still has to go through editing and publishing companies. However, I hope to have it out in the next year or two," Devereux said. "I have just started the novel in October of 2016, so compared to typical professionally published novels it is still in the early stages. As for the title, I have been debating between things the entire time of writing, but I honestly don't believe I'll know the title for sure until a long further down the road."
Devereux's novel follows the life of high schooler Monroe Emerson Green and skips around between the key moments of his life, which all lead to how he was diagnosed with depression.
"Between family issues, to relationship struggles, to attempts at keeping up grades and the stress of the future, my novel will hopefully be filled with relatable subjects that will let fellow high schoolers, as well as everyone else know that they are not alone in their problems, and that someone else has dealt with the same thing and come out stronger," Devereux said. "The novel will also feature therapist notes, which I'm hoping will lull some of the stigmas about therapy and show that it is okay to ask for help."
The hardest part about writing the novel for the school's Genius Hour project was the strict timeline, which was something Devereux wasn't used to when it came to writing her previous novel, "Crossfire," which she published a few years back.
"We were held on a very strict timeline on when things had to be done, and with the amount of research I had to do in order to get the outcome I was wanting in my book, it was difficult to meet these deadlines," Devereux said. "That being said, I learned a lot from writing this novel for Genius Hour, one of the major ones being that I am a huge procrastinator. Learning this about myself has been really helpful in order to plan ahead and force myself to start things early, since now I am aware of how much I procrastinate."
Devereux warns readers that her book contains mature themes, as well as some mature language and situations. Once it is published, she advises readers be cautious and ensure they are are old/mature enough to be reading this material.
Devereux's previous novel, "Crossfire," can be found on Amazon by searching "Ariana Devereux."
It became the norm; to not feel anything at all. To feel like you were floating, watching your life happen from far off, like a black and white movie that you don’t really understand; one that doesn’t really bore you, but you’re so tired that you simply can’t help but drift off every once and awhile. You don’t want to, but you just can’t help it. You’re to the point of exhaustion where all you want is sleep. But when you wake up, you feel alright. There’s clarity, and yet all you can think about is the guilt from drifting off, because everyone knew how tired you were and expected you to sleep. Confliction of emotions, and yet not feeling anything at all. That is depression.
It’s the most learned assassin of emotions and purpose that I’ve ever had the simple pleasure of knowing. Often times I would lay in bed and wait to feel, wish for any sort of emotion to bubble to the surface, but I would remain stone cold and motionless, like a marble statue. I felt more like a statue each day, not only from losing feeling deep down in my chest, but being more aware of how little people paid attention to me. Those who did scrutinized my every move, but those who didn’t, simply walked on as if I was invisible. My hands grew more ethereal every day.
It grew to the point where the idea of the future was laughable. I was falling down a chasm of complete and utter darkness; I could hear the words of others around me, but knew I was too far down to ever escape. I had been falling for years, constantly aware that sooner or later, I had to reach the bottom. It was just a matter of time.
So yeah, I do know what depression feels like. I do know what it's like to feel nothing for days, weeks, months on end. I know what it's like to feel hollow and I know what it's like to wonder if everyone would even notice if you were gone. I still wonder; but I’m trying to get better.
My name is Monroe Emerson Green, and I’ve been diagnosed with depression. I wouldn’t call myself a survivor; survivor implies that you’ve overcome something, that you’ve defeated it. I haven’t defeated my depression, and I don’t think I ever will. It isn’t something you just defeat. It takes years and years of mental training; I just don’t think I’m prepared for that.