Within Darkness, hmm as I type I can hear Bill Oberst Jr‘s voice speaking the phrase, slowly and hauntingly, ‘Within Darkness‘.
“Creative souls are introspective souls. With introspection comes the realization that our lives are but a mist within a vapor. We don’t get to choose how our minds instinctively react to this revelation, but we do get to choose whether we remain in darkness. Demons are best fought with a friend at one’s side. Reach out. Talk to someone. All around this old world, your fellow creatives are right beside you in spirit. There’s light ahead. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. You’ve never alone.” – With love and good cheer, Bill
Within Darkness is a short film to raise awareness of depression and mental health. It’s one mans journey with depression and the important message is to speak out and not to remain ‘within darkness‘.
Within Darkness is a poem written by Stephen Harper and his struggle with depression. It’s very moving and hard hitting, but it comes from the creative mind of Stephen who is a dark-folk underground artist, specialising in otherworldly and surreal character illustrations inspired by myths, movies, pop-culture & horror. Visit Folklore Illustrations and view his fantastic work.
We have a lot in common as we both struggle with mental health issues and we both love horror. We agreed a while back that we needed to work together on a project to raise awareness of mental health conditions and WITHIN DARKNESS is currently a work in progress that is growing ever more exciting by the minute. We hope to have it ready within the next couple of weeks, so please stay tuned for further developments.
One of the most positive things to come out of having mental health is meeting others and forming friendships with people who deal with similar experiences. Throughout my life from my experience most people end up leaving. I understand it to a degree, not only is it extremely tough having mental health, it’s awfully tough having to be around someone with mental health, so it’s refreshing when you fully connect and those people understand.
Since the release of my book ‘Autumn: The Melancholy & Mental Health’ I’ve managed to connect with a lot of creative people that has kicked started a lot of individual projects and collaborations. I’ve known Amanda since 2013 when we traded next to each other at a horror convention, we instantly connected through our love of art and horror. I was taken aback by Amanda’s amazing photography and always wanted to work with her in some capacity. I honestly didn’t think I’d have to have a mental breakdown before I collaborated with her, but hey!
Obviously Amanda’s stunning photography graces the cover of my book, but very quickly we decided we wanted to collaborate again. Amanda came up with the concept of me writing a specialist poem incorporating a fusion of mental health and horror. It would be set against her gorgeous Gothic photography and music composed specifically by the very talented Tony Longworth. To cap it all off, actor and horror icon Bill Oberst Jr graciously came on board to narrate. His stature and haunting voice propels the narration to another level. – Stephen Harper
Managing Mental Health Conditions
As creative artists, we have both realised important aspects of managing our conditions of which the first is ‘being creative’. It’s only when we work with our creativity that we find some inner peace allowing us to be at one with ourselves, almost as if we’re locked away from any interference from the outside world. If you look up methods of managing stress, it recommends that you do something creative and I fully understand why.
The second aspect of managing your mental health is to talk about it and not to remain WITHIN DARKNESS. It’s not easy to speak out for fear of being branded mental or weak. It’s very hard to speak out as you may fear a persons reaction or feel weak, embarrassed or hurt.
Before I was diagnosed with anxiety, I knew that I wasn’t myself. I didn’t want to go out and mingle with people and I felt like I couldn’t cope with anything that might cause me stress or grief. People would send me text messages and I wanted to avoid them, then I’d get anxiety when looking at their name for fear of avoiding them. A letter would arrive and I’d feel my heart racing before I knew what it was about and my place of work was so stressful that I had intense butterflies causing me to fold over. The worst thing is, although I knew that I wasn’t myself, I feared speaking out about it, because when I did, I sounded stupid. I beat myself up, I began hating myself and I started bottling everything up, which luckily for me, I knew that I had got to a point where I had to seek help, which meant that I had to speak out to avoid remaining in the darkness!
As the graphic says above, here in the UK, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health condition and the shocking age of 14 is when someone can experience the onset. What’s even more shocking is that today, the majority of us would have been affected by depression, whether it be ourselves suffering or supporting a friend or a relative.
The poem ‘Within Darkness’ is a very personal one. Based around the story of a suicide survivor and what emotions occurred during the days leading up to the attempt. I’m fully aware that it’s a very difficult topic to discuss, but I’ve first hand experience of this issue and all my poems are personal to me and honest accounts. It’s a topic I feel very strongly about and needs to be discussed more as in the UK alone it’s the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45. The shocking statistic is 84 men take their own life each week. If we don’t raise awareness and start to discuss this topic more and more will suffer and it’ll only increase.
To write a poem that is so personal, sometimes it’s hard to share that creative process with other artists, but this collaboration has been a joy to be part of. Each artist empathizes, identifies, complements and supports each other immensely and I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of this artist collective. – Stephen Harper
Within Darkness features not only myself and Stephen, both from the great spooky Liverpool, but it also features my good friend and talented composer, Tony Longworth who lives across the Mersey on the Wirral. Tony Longworth has written two pieces of music especially for this project, both of which are very good and perfect for the Within Darkness project. You may recognise Tony’s name as we have collaborated before and he is an award winning music composer. He has also posed for me a number of times throughout our years of friendship and it’s great to have him on board. Check out his handsome mug hahaha!
Bill Oberst Jr
Finally, we have the amazing and talented award winning actor, Bill Oberst Jr narrating Stephen’s poem in his superbly dramatic style. He sounds absolutely amazing and he has helped bring all of our collaborative efforts into what is the most exciting and inspiring project that I’ve worked on to date. Please check out Bill Oberst Jr amazing website to see how talented and creepy he can be.
If you’re interested in showing or promoting this film to help raise awareness of mental health conditions, please get in touch!