Hold On To the Light Inside of You

This morning, I learned about a brilliant initiative called Hold On To The Light, spearheaded by SFF author Gail Z. Martin. 

Beginning on September 20, hundreds of science fiction and fantasy authors began an online conversation across blogs and socialHold Onto The Light media about mental illness, domestic violence, suicide, depression, PTSD, and related issues that are often extremely upsetting
and difficult to discuss for so many.

Click here to read the first blog post from Hold Onto The Light

Over the past five years, I’ve opened up about my nearly 40-year battle with depression both on social media and at personal appearances. I sometimes discuss how depression has affected my writing and I never cease to be surprised at how willing others are to reveal their own struggles. My, times have changed. Society is finally opening up a dialogue about mental illness and that’s wonderful. The old stigmas are rapidly disintegrating.

My first novel, Testing the Prisoner, is a paranormal mystery that deals with the brutality of child abuse and the trauma that stays with the victims for the rest of their livesTesting the Prisoner by Phil Giunta. This was intimately familiar territory, but that made it no less challenging to write. I had to confront my own pain, my own memories, my own struggles with a darkness that pushed me toward a desire to take my own life at least a half dozen times during my younger days and even a few times in recent years.

Still, I knew the story had to be told for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to let others who have been victims of child abuse to know that they are not alone. Secondly, and perhaps more selfishly, I wanted to turn the tables on a demon that has persistently robbed me of happiness and instead, use it as a storytelling tool to launch my writing career.

As for surviving depression, perhaps it was faith, willpower, or a hope for a brighter future that dissuaded me from any “permanent solutions” to my problem. Much of the credit should also be given to SFF fandom and my growing interest in writing. Watching Star Trek and seeing Star Wars at the tender age of six inspired me. Later, the media tie-in novels became a gateway to speculative fiction and hard SF in my teen years. I began reading Asimov, Clarke, Ellison, Bradbury, and many others. Like many SF films and TV shows, books became my anti-depressant and while they were not an instant panacea, they helped pull me through countless dark and terrible times. They still do today.

Most importantly, the friendship and community that I found in SFF fandom has been the most enriching experience I could ask for. The best and most supportive friends in my life came from my three decades attending SF conventions such as Farpoint, Shore Leave, Balticon, and others.

More, I wouldn’t be published today were it not for the mentorship of august writers like Steven H. Wilson, Howard Weinstein, Michael Jan Friedman, Bob Greenberger, and Aaron Rosenberg, all of whom I met at the aforementioned cons. I am honored to call these chaps my friends, and in the case of Steve, Bob, and Aaron, my publishers!

If you are suffering from depression, I encourage you to reach out and find the help you so richly deserve. You are not alone. You have a right to happiness and health. You have a right to achieve your potential without being hagridden by a demon that wants to convince you of the lie that you’re inadequate, unworthy, or that life is not worth living. I beg you to find the light and hold on to it.

About Hold On To The Light

September/October are the months for Depression Awareness, Suicide Prevention, Bullying Prevention, Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness, World Mental Health Day and Domestic Violence Awareness.

What’s our end game? We want to bring the issues, struggle and treatment out of the shadows and make it clear that no one is alone in the journey. We want to demonstrate fandom taking care of its own. And we want fandom to be a safe space for everyone.

The steering group behind #HoldOnTotheLight is made up of John Hartness, Jaym Gates, Jean Marie Ward, Emily Leverett, Mindy Mymudes and Gail Z. Martin.

How can you help? Share, retweet and engage with the blog posts and social media outreach about the campaign and by the participating authors to spread the word. Encourage the conventions you participate in to add or expand panels on mental wellness. Learn more about the issues, so you can be an educated participant in the discussion.

If you want to get even more hands-on, please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Together, we can #HoldOnToTheLight because #FandomTakesCareOfItsOwn.

You can find updates with links to author blog posts and updates about related news here, and on the HoldOnToTheLight Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/ and on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight (note the ‘we’)

Media: Contact Gail Z. Martin via www.AscendantKingdoms.com


6 thoughts on “Hold On To the Light Inside of You”

  1. I hate bi-polar, it’s awesome! I’m one of them. Yeah it’s hard but it’s interesting too. I know what jumping off an 80 foot bridge on Christmas eve feels like, so there is that. I broke a tree branch once with a rope and my neck. Sorry tree, I didn’t mean to hurt you. Being touched in this way does give me great ideas for writing. I’d feel better if more people read what I write but nothing cures this, all I can do is live with it the best I can and survive my Hemingway moments. Having humor about it helps. I’ve never talked or written about it, it’s boring to me, I don’t need brain killing meds, support or sympathy, but I’m glad you guys are doing this for those that do. I think many writers relate to Hemingway. Creatives suffer, or does pain drive creation? I’ll keep riding the manic wave between near drownings and hope for the best. Chin up !

    1. I don’t take meds either, Rachel. I refuse to do so. I don’t want my happiness to originate from pills. I prefer it to come from inside me, from my own strength and willpower as it has for decades. Cheers to both of us for pushing through the darkness and still managing to maintain sanity. 🙂

  2. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention “depression is the tenth leading cause of death in America. The number one risk factor for suicide is a disease called mental illness, and at least ninety percent of all people who die by suicide were suffering from a mental illness at the time, most often depression.”

    I have been living with bipolar depression for 15 years. I tried suicide twice and cut myself where small flaps of skin were hanging loose. My husband came home from work and saw all the blood on my arm. He called my psychiatrist and we went to the hospital. The medication no longer helped my symptoms and I fell into a black hole.

    The time in the adult behavior unit and the new meds helped me loose the need to cut and die. It has taken almost 15 years for me to finally like myself again. There is a song Gloria Gaynor sings that provides reinforcement — “I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses”

    I wrote a novel in the form of memoirs about my depression. I am now trying to find a publisher.

    1. Dawn, I am glad to see that you found the strength to persevere and I hope you found some level of solace through writing. Becoming a part of GLVWG and the local writing community is definitely one of many healthy steps in the right direction. See you at the next meeting!

  3. I’m amazed by the number of writers, published and not yet published, who suffer from depression. But maybe I shouldn’t be. Writing does allow one to escape into a different world, one that they can create and manage, usually unlike the world in which they live or lived.

    I was diagnosed with acute clinical depression more than ten years ago. I struggled with very low self-esteem through childhood with a father who taunted me about my weight and used corporal punishment routinely. Then there was a loveless marriage and a job with a domineering boss who didn’t believe a woman/nurse understood her own profession and went to the men in the office for verification. And through all of that, beginning with the death of the man I was to marry. I wrote. Sometimes I was published and sometimes not but I still wrote.

    I no longer believe that depression is only from a chemical imbalance. But I do believe that we can make/remake our own reality.

    And isn’t that what writers do?

    1. Indeed, Mitzi, and I agree that depression does not always originate with a chemical imbalance. I believe one’s experiences in life can generate bouts of depression later on when the right triggers are pulled or buttons are pushed. Often times, these bouts can be severe and quite dangerous. This is why an open dialogue is imperative and stigmas associated with depression must be eliminated.

      Good to hear from you, Mitzi! See you soon.

Comments are closed.