#MHMon Guestpost by Dianna Gunn

How Fiction has Helped Me Heal


When I first spoke to Sophia about writing an article for Mental Health Mondays, I was overwhelmed with the number of possibilities. I’ve lived with depression and PTSD for over half of my life, and I’ve also struggled with anxiety for a significant portion of that time.

I decided early on that I didn’t want to write about my struggles. I wanted to write about healing. I’m not out of the woods yet, but over the past few years—even this year itself—I’ve made enormous strides toward better mental health.

One of the most powerful tools in my healing toolkit is fiction, both reading it and writing it. I read fantasy and science fiction, where the stakes are life or death and sometimes even the end of the world. They overcome enormous obstacles and frequently survive violence, sometimes even torture, to reach their goals.

Through these characters, I’m reminded that there’s always somebody who has it worse. I am also reminded of the strength of the human spirit. I see how much the characters I love are able to survive, and how often they become better people for the pain they’ve suffered. Their stories tell me that if they can survive everything I have seen them go through, I can survive whatever life has to throw at me, too.

As a writer, I use my character arcs to explore different parts of the healing journey. All of my characters have tragic pasts, and by exploring how they overcome those pasts, I’m able to identify ways forward in my own life. The themes my characters explore are the same ideas I am struggling with in real life, and with each draft of my story, I am able to see my own struggle a little more clearly.

Some people don’t read fiction because they don’t see the use in it, but the fantasy and science fiction novels on my parents’ bookshelves saved my life. I can only hope the books I’m writing now, the books helping me heal and grow, will do the same for my own readers.

About the Author

Dianna Gunn has wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. She wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at eleven years old, but quickly discovered that writing books is not an easy way to make a living. So she decided to broaden her horizons, seeking another way – any way – to build a career in publishing. Her career began in earnest when she became a marketing intern at Musa Publishing in September 2011, and quickly became a staff writer, in charge of multiple imprint blogs.

In April 2017, Dianna’s first book, Keeper of the Dawn, was published through Book Smugglers Publishing. Her second novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian, releases on November 17th, 2018 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo.

When she’s not writing, you can find Dianna sharing writing and self-care tips on her YouTube channel or on Twitter @DiannaLGunn.