MHI: THE CONSTANT OUTSIDER by Rosemary Thorne
Trigger Warning: This piece addresses mental health
The HWA is pleased to launch its Mental Health Initiative, a coordinated roll-out of events, resources, and activities intended to promote positive mental health, foster the concept of hope, and challenge the stigma of mental illness in the horror genre. The initiative, run by the organization’s Wellness Committee, launches in June, and includes the following blog posts from Of Horror and Hope, a downloadable anthology of poems, flash fiction, and personal reflections on mental health by HWA members.
THE CONSTANT OUTSIDER
I was only four when I saw a giant sleeping in the central aisle of my school’s chapel.
“Can you see him?” I asked the other girls.
“What?” they replied.
“Can’t you see the giant sleeping in front of us?” I insisted, pointing at an empty space.
The girls stepped back from me and eventually a nun got me out of the church and into the main office.
“What’s all that nonsense?” she scolded, forcing me to confess to the lie.
But I didn’t because it wasn’t a false statement. I did see it. Soon afterward, of course, I was expelled for having “a too vivid imagination”. Thus began my “career” as an outsider, quite early in my life.
Some authors claim that children do have hallucinations and vivid imaginings. Mine was not an entirely unnatural event. There are even cultures that teach how to turn this ability into an asset, instead of demonizing this potential power of the mind, among other capabilities. Story-telling has proven to be a healthy habit that can help children cope with the extraordinary, whatever its nature. An environment of open-mindedness and tolerance could foster new definitions of what makes us human. When I became an HWA member, I was looking for that: travel companions with horror, the inexplicable and violence (sometimes unfathomable) running throughout their lives.
With this “Horror & Hope project”, we learn that each individual is but a walking mystery. Here we stand for one another to control the domino effect when the shadow and the doubt become too heavy and overwhelming.
Guess what? With the curiosity of a four-year-old girl, I’m still trying to produce magic in the air. And on the paper. Sane. Or close enough.