Mental Health Short Story : Fame, Wealth and Happiness
A family friendly short story diving into depression and other mental health issues that can effect anyone. Please never judge anyone before truly knowing what is going on inside their head.
Fame, Wealth and Happiness
Most children grew up playing with imaginary friends; however, Sam had a very different with relationship with his imaginary friend, Luke. Throughout grade school, Sam had felt as if his imaginary friend was actually an enemy, speaking all of his most insecure thoughts. At school, Sam was one of the “popular” boys because he was the most athletic person in his grade. Sam was always the first one picked for sports teams at recess, everyone wanted to be his partner for projects, and he was always invited to every birthday party. Even though Sam was popular, his imaginary friend always stayed around. At every party, Luke said how Sam wasn’t cool enough to hang out with these people, that they actually didn’t really like them, or that they were all gossiping behind his back. During every sports game, Luke was there to tell Sam that he wasn’t good enough and that he needed to be perfect for people to like him. Sam’s feelings towards Luke turned into anger, so whenever Sam played poorly, he would act out and get angry at himself. Sam carried these feelings throughout his entire childhood.
When Sam moved onto high school, he prayed that Luke would leave him alone, but Luke never did. He thought he was the only person in the world with an imaginary friend past grade school, so he kept Luke a secret. As Sam’s athletic ability soared, Luke only grew into a bigger and bigger part of Sam’s life. As a freshman, Sam was starting his varsity basketball team, but with every missed shot or turnover, Luke was there to yell at and ridicule him. The worse Luke’s influence became, the more determined Sam was to keep it a secret. By his senior year Sam had become one of the best high school basketball players in the country, and he knew that any mention of an 18-year-old having an imaginary friend would make colleges concerned to offer him a scholarship. Sam won homecoming and prom king and was offered a full ride to Ohio State for basketball, yet Luke was always in the background. Luke knew Sam’s deepest and most insecure thoughts and always dragged Sam down whenever he was at his highest. Sam would lay in his bed at night knowing that he had everything: a loving family, popularity, and gifted athletic ability; but he couldn’t figure out why Luke was always around.
Sadly, once Sam got to college, Luke’s antics became even worse. College is a difficult adjustment for anyone, especially for someone like Sam. Sam grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone, but in college, Sam was all on his own. Sam was given a single room which seemed like a privilege at the time; but now Sam was alone with Luke almost all day and night. Sam felt so alone that he listened to Luke’s voice more and more. Sam worked throughout the entire first semester on his basketball skills and schoolwork, hoping that keeping busy would put Luke at bay; however, it didn’t last long. As soon as the season started, Luke came back even worse. Coaches and NBA scouts loved Sam’s skills and his “passion for the game.” But realistically, the only thing Sam was passionate about was playing well in order to get Luke to be quiet. An amazing game never really meant much to Sam because unless he played perfect, Luke would be there to jeer at him when he got to his dorm. Sam forced himself to play perfect because he knew any mistake would ruin his night. Sam’s team lost the National Championship game by two points, and Sam knew that it was all his fault. He locked himself in his dorm and cried for hours. Then hours turned into days. Sam failed all his finals and was being forced to drop out of school; but it didn’t matter because his season was over, and he was going to the NBA.
Sam was drafted 2nd overall to The Cleveland Cavaliers. In his rookie season, Sam was already considered one of the best players in the NBA. Because of Sam’s tremendous play, the Cavs made the playoffs but lost in the first round. Then things got bad. Very bad. Luke finally got to Sam. Sam knew that Luke was right and that there is no point to his life if he can never win. He spent the entire offseason alone, knowing that nothing could help him. With all his success, Sam had earned a tremendous amount of money, but this money turned into Sam’s fatal flaw. He turned to drugs and alcohol. Sam found that the only escape from Luke torture was drug and alcohol consumption. He spent the entire summer partying to get away from Luke, knowing that he didn’t care about the outcome as long as Luke was not with him in the moment.
Sam woke up one morning with knock on his door from his coach. His coach came to cut him from the team because his drug consumption has broken NBA rules and caused him to miss numerous team practices. Sam couldn’t respond. He knew if he told the coach the truth he would be humiliated, but if he kept the secret, Sam didn’t know if he would ever get to play again or even live much longer. Sam began to breakdown, and through his tears and sobs, he finally told someone about Luke. But for the first time in his life, Luke was gone. Sam talked to his coach about everything that has happened to him since he was in grade school: the ridicule, the taunting, and the pain. As Sam talked about his issues the more, he realized how much unnecessary pressure and strain that he put on himself because of Luke. He forced himself to be perfect, but no one is ever perfect. The stress and tension that Luke created had caused him to begin to hate basketball. He put so much stress on himself to be happy because he was rich and successful. Sam learned that fame, wealth, and happiness do not always go hand in hand. He began to speak with the team therapist three times a week, and for the first time in his life, he was excited to play basketball again. The doctor and Sam worked on how to live with and control Luke. Luke would always be a part of Sam’s life, but Sam learned how to accept his failures and overcome Luke’s words. Luke’s voice compressed quieter and quieter until he lived as a whisper in Sam’s head. Sam worked both mentally and physically harder than he ever had before and enjoyed every minute of it. Sam was excited for the next upcoming season no matter the outcome.