I don’t want that ableist post sitting at the top of the Henry tag being dismissive of mental health issues, so here’s a different one.
Henry Knight is a tough old cookie. After everything he has gone through (losing both his parents, watching the brutal murder of his father, being infected by fear gas that had caused its test subjects to go insane, living for 20 years with PTSD and all its awful side-effects, never knowing what had truly happened, unable to trust his own mind or his own senses… he gets help. This is not a remotely easy thing to do, at all. Admitting that you have a problem, that you need professional help, letting yourself be vulnerable like that… it isn’t something anyone can do. But Henry does.
His therapist suggests he goes back to Dartmoor to face his demons. He does. He uproots, he goes back to Dartmoor, back to the terrifying place where he saw his father ripped to pieces, and he sees what seems to be proof that this monstrous hound exists. He’s terrified, of course he is. Does he leave Dartmoor, go back to somewhere he feels safer? Does he hell. He goes to Sherlock, to get help, to find out the truth of the matter. He agrees to go out on the moors at night again, and again he sees the hound. The thing that he saw kill his father.
Infected by fear gas, suffering from PTSD and driven by terror, Henry never once gives up on his search for the truth about what happened. Not once. He persists in getting help, in finding out. He doesn’t give up. He comes close - so close. But he’s pulled back from the brink.
We see Henry during the two days when he is at his most vulnerable and his most frightened. We see him suffer flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares, panic attacks… those things are terrifying. They are exhausting. They are miserable. But he fights through it. He fights through it, and he gets his answers, his closure.
For a one-episode character, Henry is given a lot of depth. He is a damn good portrayal of someone with mental health problems, and it’s a sensitive portrayal. At no point did I feel that his suffering, that his seeking help from a therapist or from Sherlock was being shown as a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s a sign of how very desperately that help is needed.
I really, sincerely hope that the general attitude towards characters suffering from mental health problems isn’t as dismissive or ignorant as the post which inspired this. I suspect that the person who wrote that has never suffered, nor known anyone to suffer, any mental health disorders. They aren’t pretty. They are miserable and soul-destroyed. They are exhausting in a way that I find impossible to explain. It was wonderful to me to see a character struggling with issues like this, to have it shown so directly how absolutely awful this kind of thing can be.
People are well within their rights to dislike Henry Knight - I am sure I dislike characters others like. Of course, if I made a post about how I didn’t like them I wouldn’t tag it, since people on tags are usually people who like those things. However, I am a little concerned that the reasons some people can give for not liking Henry Knight border on ableist in their attitude towards mental health.