Horror Writers Association

MHI: ADVERSITY DOESN’T NECESSARILY INTRODUCE US TO OURSELVES, BUT FEAR DOES: A REFLECTION by Amanda Worthington

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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.

ADVERSITY DOESN’T NECESSARILY INTRODUCE US TO OURSELVES, BUT FEAR DOES: A REFLECTION
Amanda Worthington

Fear introduces us to ourselves. In Horror, we see our own insecurities and hardships reflected.

I first read Stephen King when I was 12. I had a dictionary on hand to look up all the words I didn’t know (Neeeerd). As I moved from Salem’s Lot onto The Shining and It (among others), I felt connected to characters who were undergoing much of what I was. I saw portraits of addiction and thought about how my father had destabilized our household. I thought of my sick mother and how I might save her. I thought of the feeling of powerlessness that held me in its clutches.

And underneath it all, I was afraid. The books I read didn’t dare to whisper that I shouldn’t be; they merely suggested that the feeling of isolation is a lot more universal than we make it out to be.

The best horror is vulnerable, prodding, uncomfortable—but it also feels like progress. It is the burying and the unearthing both. This genre asks the hard questions. The questions I was asking when I was lying in the dark on those nights when the walls were too thin, and sleep wouldn’t come; or when I was forced to babysit my dad, so he didn’t run off to the casino: What does a good father look like? Why does God seem to care about some people and not about others? Is there a God? Why are we here? What is love, really? Am I worthy of it?

Add to this list one final question, the one that drives my own work, the one that should precede all meaningful decision or discourse: What If?

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