M is for… (#AtoZChallenge 2012)

M is for Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder)

(Post 13 on my WIP)

I obviously can’t stop letting my day job (as an Occupational Therapist) creep into my writing. My main character Jane has Bipolar Disorder, which is more colloquially known as Manic Depression. This is a psychiatric condition that results in severe shifts in mood, from depressive lows to manic highs.

My hope is to present this condition in the book in a balanced way. For Jane it is not her ‘defining feature’ but just another part of her and, in fiction terms another barrier for her to overcome, but not an insurmountable one. One incident happens in the book that happened to Silver’s character in 90210 – I was really annoyed when I saw it because I’d already thought of the idea and obviously my version will now come later. Just goes to show there are no (or at least very few) truly original ideas in fiction.

The Time to Change campaign aims to end the stigma experienced by those with mental health conditions – why not show your support by Liking them on Facebook or by visiting their website to find out more. 1 in 4 of us is likely to experience some form of mental health problem at one point in our lives but we are still too scared to talk about it for fear of being seen and treated differently. Often those who have never experienced mental health conditions are also scared to talk about it because there is fear of the unknown. Will you pledge to at least start talking?

Writers and creative people in particular seem to, at least anecdotally, experience mental health problems frequently. I know I personally find it difficult to manage stress and have always been a very emotional person who tends to cry a lot (often when I am frustrated rather than always to do with low mood although some people struggle to understand this). I have felt judged at times when discussing this with others. One of the people on the Time to Change blog discusses the suggestion that people think you ‘can’t cope’. I also think that far too often in life people are pressurised to withdraw from stressful situations rather than the stressful situations being addressed and managed. There needs to be a balance between looking at the person and looking at the environmental aspects (as well as looking at occupations – but that discussion’s for another post).

To find out more about bipolar disorder why not start here at the Royal College of Psychiatrists website.

Do you think there are enough ‘positive’ portrayals of characters with mental health conditions in fiction?

Posted on April 14, 2012, in #am writing (and all things writing related), April A-Z Challenge, Training Time (WIP) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I agree that there aren’t enough positive portrayals of mental illness. Given how common it actually is, it seems to crop up very infrequently in novels.

    Incidentally, I find I cry when I’m battling intense rage, which drives me even closer to the brink as I know it looks like I’m upset when instead I’m dying to vent and explain why I’m raging!

  2. We definitely need more balanced portrayals of mental illness in fiction. Hopefully our WIPs will help start this. 😀

  1. Pingback: N is for… (#AtoZChallenge 2012) « kirstyes

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