Horror Writers Association

MHI: WHERE A MONSTER BELONGS by S. Alessandro Martinez


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.

S. Alessandro Martinez

The monster. The alien. The creature. Whether it was in a book, movie, or video game, these were the characters I always gravitated toward. The others, the non-humans. Those who—even though they were sometimes on the side of Good—were different.

I wasn’t diagnosed with Autism, depression, and anxiety until I was 22. Still, even without an official diagnosis, I knew there was something different about how my brain worked compared to “normal” people. Shy, quiet, weird, I was a constant outsider at school. My classmates loved to ask me the same questions over and over.

“Why are you so quiet?”

“Why are you always reading?”

“Why don’t you ever say anything?”

“Why do you like that horror stuff?”

I only had one answer to all the questions: “That’s just how I am.” Not that I ever had the courage to say that to them. Being picked on only made me distance myself from these people and not want to be like them.

In fourth grade, I was lucky enough to form a friendship with two guys. They accepted me for who I was. However, when we went off to high school, and they both formed friendships with other kids, I didn’t. Again, I was the loner when my friends weren’t around. Still, the three of us remain friends to this day, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them both.

Fast forward to me joining the HWA in 2016. Wow. I had never before met such a friendly group of people that so readily accepted me; that so quickly took me into the fold and made me feel not only welcome, but like I was truly a part of an entire community that wanted me there. A community that makes this outsider feels like he belongs.

Thank you.

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