What I don’t know and what I do know: a #HoldOntoTheLight post





When I was first asked if I wanted to participate in the #HoldOntoTheLight blog campaign, I hopped on immediately. Treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD, bullying prevention, and other mental health issues are all serious things. Real things that need to be recognized. Things that we all need to be more aware of. I was happy to help spread the word.

Then reality set in: What did I have to talk about?

Over the course of several weeks, I looked at my life. Did I have anything to say?

I don’t know.

I’ve never suffered any kind of domestic abuse. I don’t have PTSD. I don’t recall having any suicidal thoughts. I wasn’t bullied…was I?

I don’t know.

Looking back and unboxing those memories was something I haven’t done in a long time. I remember taking a lot of shit from bands of classmates in grade school. Nothing physical, but it doesn’t always need to be does it? Days and years of getting picked on and laughed at and made to feel outcast in an educational environment that, clearly, had no way of handling things back then, builds up.

One of my most vivid memories from that time was a conversation with a friend who had just moved into the area – the guy, as it turns out, who would introduce me to Dungeons and Dragons – over what our middle names were. His was unusual (for my limited experience). Even after over three decades, I still feel a little shame that I spent the next couple of days worried about this little fact getting out and what kind of hell I was going to catch for being associated with this person.  Which pretty much sums up the environment right there.

As I type this – and it’s a larger struggle than I thought it would be – I look back and see the seeds of the self-confidence issues that plague me to this day being sewn. Even now, part of my head is quietly urging me to discard this whole thing. Keep quiet about it. It’s worked for you so far, hasn’t it?

No. Not really. I remember the names of the kids I grew up with. Folk I haven’t seen in decades. Folk that I don’t miss a damned bit and would happily spend the rest of my days continuing to never see again.

High school was similar, though diffused somewhat, because I had a larger group of friends and I wasn’t cooped up with the same people all day long, but I remember choosing clothing based on whether or not someone said anything nasty about it.


I stayed quiet and let shit slide off as best I could. I never mentioned it to anyone (see the above-mentioned self-confidence issues) and I was glad to get out of there.  To date, I’ve never been to any reunions and I’ve got no interest in seeing most of those folks again.

“Is that it?” I ask myself. “Decades old school issues? Do you think that’s worth mentioning alongside the REAL problems that other people have been posting?”

I don’t know.

I do know that low self-confidence mixed with impostor syndrome can be a real kick in the soft parts.

What about depression?

I don’t know.

I do know that almost daily I play host to arguments in my head with the various people in my life over things that have never happened, nor are ever likely to happen. If I don’t catch myself, they become bitter, terrible things that leave me mentally drained and standing on the edge of a fight-or-flight response.

Depression? Something else? I don’t know.

I admit it. There’s a lot that I don’t know…

Here’s what I do know:

I know that this post – and the self examination that preceded it – is the first step to getting answers.

I know that after 46 years, I’ve started shedding some of this dead-weight – and it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I know – and have known for a while now – that I’m not alone. That I have people in my life that care and are (and have been) supportive when I need them.


That’s what I want you to know. That there are people out there that care – that will be supportive. That the voice telling you to be quiet is wrong and to seek help if you need it.

You’re not alone. You’ve got your tribe, and we’re not going anywhere.


About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
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.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight




  1. Great post, Ken. I sympathize with you about how unexpectedly difficult it was to write these Hold Onto the Light posts.

    As for the bullying, I had much the same experience in middle school and high school and it left a lot of mental baggage that has hung on for a long time . I had to laugh at your line about not going high school reunions. I’d much prefer to hang out with my writing peeps. 🙂

  2. I was bullied and always thought it was because I was already beat down. Sometimes you don’t know until you think back. It might just be the little things that add up to being a big thing. Or it’s just something you think of and have others consider. Some will not realize they were the ones that were egregious. Others will blank out the fact they were being attacked. And others never realize either side.

  3. I had the same kind of experience in grade school and mostly kept to a small group of friends. In high school I was pretty low on the self esteem chart and it took me a long time to gain confidence in myself. But I can tell you that I remember the bully in my first grade class and that is saying something!!!! Her name was xxx (yes a female) and I was terrified of her!! I does build up and eventually it has to be put somewhere and I am glad that you and I both have learned to let things go!!! Great post Ken!!!

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