Halloween has become an incredible festival of colours and costumes and fun; with blood and monsters and all sorts of creatures from the dark coming out. But it’s not fun for everyone. For some people, it can be upsetting and triggering.
Over the years, I’ve seen a trend of costumes getting more and more gruesome; more and more realistic; more and more scary. I have seen people with realistic cuts painted and crafted around their necks and wrists; I have seen men wear white coats covered in blood, walking around waving blood-stained, fake knives; I have seen masked groups walk around with fake – but very real looking – weapons.
For some people with mental health conditions like PTSD or anxiety Halloween can be a scary, triggering time. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t dress up and shouldn’t have fun – and costume parties are brilliant! But please be aware of others, be kind, and be mindful of those who could be triggered by your costume.
- For people who have been physically attacked or sexually assaulted, seeing a man in a costume covered in blood or holding a knife (fake or not) could be hugely distressing.
- For those who have witnessed horrific accidents or crimes, who are haunted by the sight of blood and have PTSD, seeing people covered in blood could be a trigger for flashbacks and anxiety.
- For some people who have lost a loved one to suicide, seeing someone with ‘fake’ cuts – or any other reference to suicide or self-harm – could be a devastating reminder.
- For some people who have mental health conditions, finding themselves in the middle of a suddenly hectic, masked, and unfriendly-looking crowd, could be a trigger for a panic attack.
Im not saying that people shouldn’t have fun. Nor that people shouldn’t dress up. I’m just saying please be mindful. Be extra kind to those around you, especially if you are dressed in a costume that could be triggering to others.
Be weary not to walk next to people who are on their own if you are dressed in a triggering outfit.
Be careful to give people their space.
Of course, then there is the obvious advise: just make sure you don’t have bad taste! There is no need to dress up as a resurrected suicide victim; there is no need to dress up as a very real looking serial killer; in fact, there is no need for many of the bad taste costumes. Let’s just take a step back and reflect on what energy we are putting out when we dress up. There is enough darkness in the world without our glamorising it or celebrating it.
So please stop and think: what message is my costume giving? What energy am I giving out? What message am I giving to the people around me? To the children around me? Is it just a bit of fun, or is it a dark reminder of something that others have experienced, which they don’t need to see again?