‘Eclipse Lit’ allows creatives a way to talk about mental health

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This year has been more exemplary than ever that mental health is a topic that needs to be discussed, or more so that needs to be addressed so those who are suffering do not feel alone. For Jenna Faccenda, this notion holds a huge meaning. Last November, Faccenda lost her fiancé to suicide and went into her own dark period of trying to make sense of what happened. As a writer for most of her life, Faccenda found that expressing her feelings through words was a beneficial way for her to work through the dark times to eclipse and see some light.

“It sent me into a very dark period of my life. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t still have my days to this day, but I was at a point where anything that mattered to me in life— my career and my passions— all of that just went out the window,” says Faccenda. “I was just in this really dark environment where I would have these bouts of anxiety and the only thing I found myself able to do was write, and not even write with a goal, just to write to make the anxiety go away.

“As the months went on, I started thinking about life as a whole, the purpose in life and really just where mine was heading,” she continues. “I realized I wanted to be doing something bigger than I was doing and do something outside of myself where I could help other people. Partly with the depression I saw my fiancé faced and what I went through, I wanted to use my experience as a way to create a safe space for people who were facing similar or different darknesses as well.”

Jenna Faccenda. Provided

That self-help turned to motivation for Faccenda and she came upon an idea that would not only benefit those suffering from similar obstacles in life, but also organizations that help with different tumultuous situations such as suicide, domestic abuse and other issues that can also surround mental health or other heightened situations. Working for a publishing company and being one of the founders of the online writing resource, Writely Me, Faccenda utilized her resources to get to work on her project, “Eclipse Lit.”

Faccenda wanted a way to use her own cathartic methods to benefit other creatives in a healthy way, and that turned into “Eclipse Lit,” a new nonprofit literary magazine based in Philadelphia. They are fiscally sponsored by Culture Works, a 501(c)(3) provider and management commons for arts, heritage and creative communities.

“For me, it’s just the fact that I get to create a safe space for other people and give other artists and writers a safe space to have a voice with whatever they are dealing with,” says Faccenda. “Each magazine [will be a] theme and we’ll be highlighting a different organization, the proceeds from that magazine will be donated to the organization. This first issue is all about sorrow and it’s all about depression, suicide, being in that darkness and then finding that eclipse of a light.

“The first organization [we are benefitting] is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which is really close to my heart because of everything I dealt with with my fiancé,” she continues. “Just knowing that we’re able to give to an organization that is going to be helping people and the fact that I feel like I’m giving a voice to these writers having these types of thoughts really means a lot to me.”

The first issue is set to be released in 2021, and anyone interested in submitting art, poetry or short stories can head to eclipselit.org to submit by Nov. 15. The first issue’s theme will surround “sorrow.”

“I feel like especially with COVID, the topic of mental health is starting to come up more which is great, because it’s really forcing people to face what isolation can cause,” explains Faccenda. “As a society, we’ve been taught to shy away from the hard topics and that it’s rude to ask a question or discuss certain things like suicide or hey, I’m depressed. It’s kind of shoved under the rug and it’s really just having those conversations that make people uncomfortable but are so important to have, because when you go through these things and people feel alone, that is when things like suicide happen. When you’re not afraid to talk about it or someone feels safe enough to discuss how they’re really feeling and not be judged, I feel like that is so important. The more conversations we can have can help these situations in a beneficial way.”

Faccenda hopes to open submissions for the next issue, which will be benefitting Laurel House (an organization offering help for domestic violence victims) next year in the late summer or early fall. At this time, Faccenda is working to fundraise for the project.

“This is what is going to make or break us right now. That is our biggest focus right now is raising our funds for our campaign so that they can print the first two issues, do these events and benefit these organizations,” says Faccenda.

Right now, people can support Eclipse Lit by donating or spreading the word, this can be done by visiting Eclipse
Lit’s website at eclipselit.org or following Eclipse Lit on Twitter @eclipse_lit.

“I’m really hoping that my nonprofit will grow so there’s a place where we can do workshops or community discussions on these topics and spaces for dealing with these different issues,” explains Faccenda. “I’m hoping it makes people not alone, and I hope people resonate with this. I hope people are feeling like they’re being heard and that people are feeling like as they read this, that there’s a place for them to come too.”

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