In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes eventually discovers he has a neighbor in a nearby cell. The dungeon has left him darkness and pulled his hope into despair. Yet not long before fulfilling his idea to starve himself, he hears a tapping sound that renews his hope. That day he eats again. Then he also starts chipping at his own wall, slowly making a passage to connect to his neighbor’s. Knowing he doesn’t suffer alone gives him hope and strength to move forward.
Once the prisoners succeed with their adjoining tunnel, they meet. Instantly, their hopes improve. Faria even literally steps into the sliver of light shining through the small window in Dantes’ cell as Dantes casts his first glance upon his new friend. As they learn they can trust each other, they begin to make plans. Faria shares his plethora of history and language knowledge. Eventually, they renew their efforts to escape their prison.
People often compare the darkness of mental illness as a pit, and people often feel stuck in what seems like a prison not unlike the one where Dantes and Faria find themselves. Yet when they join each other, their hope renews. They don’t bring the misunderstanding, accusations or judgment their guards have cast on them unhelpfully but bring company. The simple presence gives the possibility of trust. Outside the pages, we often forget to begin with this step when someone we love falls into the pit. Joining the friend shows they don’t suffer alone and serves as a starting point for giving them a safe place to share their struggles as Dantes and Faria share their backgrounds with each other as a way to form understanding. Then, sharing knowledge and support, we can work together to find a way back into the light.