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My Mental Health: How horror movies helped me process grief

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Digital Spy staff are sharing their stories of when TV shows and movies spoke to them about their own experiences with mental health problems.

Horror movies get a bit of a bad rap, and horror fans are often painted as a blood-thirsty bunch of sadists who enjoy watching other people’s pain. I’ll take that, but that’s not the only appeal of horror.

In the summer of 2009 my father died. It was very sudden, he wasn’t sick and I found it hard to deal with. I’ve been a film journalist for more than a decade, am somewhat obsessive about my job and needed the distraction, so I decided to return to work just two days after it happened (I took some more time off around the funeral). Unsurprisingly, watching movies is a massive part of my work and suddenly I found myself struggling.

Bereavement had left me on one hand bulletproof (I really did not sweat the small stuff) but also completely raw. It was this rawness that began to be a problem. Movies are emotional: they’re supposed to make you feel things, but now, as a prickling ball of sensitivity, it was all a bit too much with certain films.

In hindsight I know Where the Wild Things Are isn’t actually a five-star movie. But it started me crying from five minutes in (when young Max sees an inscription on a globe from his estranged – possibly dead – father) right through to the end. My colleagues were sweet enough not to nix my rave review for fear of more tears.

And I know The Descendants is meant to be a comedy, but the scene where George

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