Horror Writers Association

MHI: ESCAPING THE HORROR OF DISABILITY AND MENTAL HEALTH by Brandon Ketchum

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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.

ESCAPING THE HORROR OF DISABILITY AND MENTAL HEALTH
Brandon Ketchum

When you’re diagnosed with a mental health disorder, the stigma can be overwhelming. Likewise, when dealing with a disability, there is plenty of stigma. The two often go hand-in-hand. Shame, pain, rage, isolation, disconnection, trauma, these are all symptoms and truths of the horror that many experience every day.

As a service-connected veteran, a person with diabetes, and someone who continued in athletics well beyond his sell-by date, I have dealt with my fair share of these horrors. I live in constant, low-level pain from many injuries and surgeries. I struggle to control my weight and blood sugar. I struggle with social issues from past emotional abuse. I have hearing loss. I have psychological issues that have gone undiagnosed and untreated as a result of my injuries and disease.

I should know better. I’m a mental health professional. I know many tricks of the trade, the coping strategies, the importance of support systems, the varied therapies, and treatments. I don’t have to face the horrors of disability and mental illness alone, and neither should anyone else.

For those of you without the money, insurance, or access to care, there are programs available to assist you. For those veterans out there, contact your local VA. For those of you afraid of what others might think, the only thing you can do is do what’s best for you. Those worthy in your life will support you; those unworthy will reveal themselves for who they are.

Though mental illness and disability can be scary, no one should have to live in a horror story. You are not alone. Help and support are available. Write and read horror. Don’t live it.

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