A local author’s new work of fiction sheds light on the inner battle of mental illness.
Tyler Wittkofsky wants you to know that if you’re suffering from a mental illness, you’re not alone.
In April Wittkofsky published his first book (Not) Alone in order to showcase his own journey through mental illnesses and to show others who may be suffering that there are others like them dealing with the same issues.
“I went 15 years thinking I was just not normal before I sought out professional help,” Wittkofsky says. “Once I sought that out it was almost a relief off my shoulders to say, ‘I am normal, I’m just normal in my own way.’”
The novel is about Henry Hovishky, who is based on Wittkofsky himself. Each chapter in the book focuses on a different part of his family or friends who helped him get through what he was dealing with at the time. By the end of the book the character realizes that he’s really not alone in his mental health journey, and that there are family members and other loved ones who care about him and want to help him.
“That was my biggest takeaway — to let people know that while it’s hard to see, there are people who care,” Wittkofsky says.
That’s why he stylized the title of the book with the word not in parentheses. Even though those suffering from mental illness may feel like they’re completely alone, most have friends and family who are just trying to understand what they are going through and how they can help them.
Speaking from personal experience, Wittkofsky admits that it can be hard for those suffering from mental illness to realize that they actually do have a support system around them and to reach out to those people to get help. “I think there are a lot of people out there who suffer but don’t tell anybody,” he says. “It’s important to have this conversation so you know what the signs are in order to help those people. Because it’s more than just bi-polar, just depression or just anxiety.”
(Not) Alone showcases Wittkofsky’s personal process through the five years it took him to start accepting the people who wanted to help him after being diagnosed with mental illnesses. In turn, he hopes that the book will serve as a guide for those who are going through a similar journey.
“My main goal is to show them a light,” he says. “And let them know that they’re not alone, that they’re not the only ones struggling through this. There is hope.”