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Why ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ Is a Perfect Portrayal of Mental Illness

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“The Haunting of Hill House” is Netflix’s new horror series and although it is definitely creepy, it’s the honest portrayal of mental health that captivated me more.

The series follows the lives of the Crain family – both when they are young kids and in the present day as adults – living in the supposedly haunted Hill House. As the story unfolds, we see that this series isn’t just about the scary events that happen throughout their lives, but also the way they deal with grief and trauma.

Something I do after I find a show I really love is search Google to find out more about it. This time, I searched Buzzfeed and found an article that perfectly summed up how the show addresses the many forms of grief. Each sibling represents a different stage of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

One of the scenes that really resonated with me was a monologue Theo Crain (played by the incredible Kate Siegel) has in episode eight. Theo has the ability to touch those around her and, in doing so, gets a glimpse into their lives and feels what they feel. When Theo and her sister Shirley are in a car during this episode, they abruptly pull off onto the side of the road due to a creepy incident. Theo immediately gets out and falls to the ground, crying. Shirley asks her if she is OK and she expresses what she felt after touching someone dear to her.

“I had to know and I touched her and I felt nothing. Just nothing. And it spread, it spread everywhere in me, this nothing, until I couldn’t feel anything anymore. Just this dark, empty black hole and I tried to fill it up and I felt nothing.”

I paraphrased the above and I shortened it, but this right here is what I feel in my depression. I feel nothing. I feel empty and hollow. And to hear these words uttered on the screen as she talked about herself and losing her sense of touch, it reminded me of what it feels like to lose myself.

The series also shows a complete understanding of addiction. Luke Crain is an addict. He struggles throughout the show with a heroin addiction. He borrows money from family or sells their belongings, and in one scene he asks his sister to buy heroin for him because he owed the dealers money; this also occurs when she needs someone the most. It shows the honest and real repercussions of how addiction not only affects the person struggling, but also those around us.

After finishing the show, I was left with so many emotions. One emotion I didn’t expect going in was feeling happy that a show portrayed mental health in the light it deserves. It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t show a simple medication or a therapy session somehow making it go away. It showed that these illnesses can stay with you for years, or even your whole life. The actors did a fantastic job. I hope more people will watch this show because it deserves more recognition for the honest and haunting portrayal of mental illness.

I applaud everyone who worked on “The Haunting of Hill House” for the incredible work they did, and I’m so glad it exists. If you are unsure if you can watch it, please don’t. The show features many triggers, such as suicide, drug use and sleep paralysis. If you do want to watch it, do so with a loved one because it can be hard to watch at times.

Above all else, remember you are loved and you are needed. There are people out there who understand and they are there for you. I am there for you. Our demons cannot and will not win. We are all warriors and I will stay by your side through the light and the dark.

Image via “The Haunting of Hill House” Facebook Page

Originally published: October 29, 2018
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