MHI: BANISHING THE DARKNESS by David Sharp
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.
BANISHING THE DARKNESS
In the spring of 2005, I found myself lost in my thirties. I wanted to forget and relive my thought-to-be, fading youth and became careless. Life swirled around in an eddy. I made mistakes. I quit taking my meds and had a scare with a sudden bout of pneumonia and was hospitalized for a month. I thought I was going to die, but life went on. I was released and sent home, all alone, and I was so weak that it took a lot to get up off the couch.
The darkness of depression crept in with ghosts of the past. Fever dreams of angels and demons came to me. Thoughts of deserving my fate drove nails into my soul. It was mentally hard to break out of the doldrums, but I knew that I needed to focus on being better, on being well, so I turned to writing as an escape.
In my delirium, I wrote pieces of fiction tinged with horror. The stories transported me from the harsh reality of the dire moment and offered an escape by way of a pen and a notebook. I had written some before, but this time felt different. The stories were rough and imperfect, yet some mystical alchemy happened in writing them down. Feelings of fear and rage were settled in ink with newfound serenity. Writing changed me and saved me from my own personal abyss. I started a journey then—one I have been on ever since—one of discovery of light through horror, and I have banished the darkness.