Horror Writers Association

MHI: BUKOWSKI’S BROKEN SHOELACE THEORY by Timothy P. Flynn

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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.

 

BUKOWSKI’S BROKEN SHOELACE THEORY
Timothy P. Flynn

The news headline read, Wife stabbed husband multiple times over taste of coffee. You don’t need to be a writer of horror to interpret that a vital piece of information is missing here: backstory.

My writing mind reacted that what we don’t hear about is the buildup. Could adultery, mental or physical abuse, or undiagnosed issues be a factor? The human mind can only endure so much sadness, pressure, or trauma. Before you know it, the smallest trivial event or misinterpretation can make you snap.

Bukowski’s Shoelace poem describes the persistent, nagging nuisances of daily life, but it’s the simplest thing that drives us mad — a broken shoelace. When you factor in mental illness, those daily inconveniences can take a significant toll. I have struggled for years with depression, alcoholism, and severe anxiety and can attest it makes the simple act of waking to a new day unbearable.

What needs to be addressed is the location of resources for mental illness. This Initiative’s goal is to guide those in the darkness, and to point the way. If someone is struggling with mental illness, we as a community of creators can provide hope with our words.

There is a light in that darkness that suffocates those afflicted with mental illness. I sought treatment, and this April 22nd 2022 was my 14th year of sobriety. My depression and anxiety are constant, but I can handle it better with hope and my writing. We may bump into each other in that darkness, so take my hand. I’ll help you reach that light. We got this.

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