I am often asked if I am writing about people who suffer from mental illness. Recently, a fellow blogger had indicated a similar sentiment, so I think it is time to share my insights and drive concerning the characters I bring to life.
As I am writing these characters, I don't give them an innate conflict or condition. They become injured and damaged, repetitively, by life. Eventually, they may become broken. Their life stories are amplifications of what many in the real world must endure and suffer.
Yet, to the original question, "Do they suffer from mental illness?" For those who have read, or will read, my stories may find my answer difficult to believe, that answer is no.
My characters, as they are written, do not suffer from mental illness, however, they do suffer from mental injury. Two words, both beginning with an I, in the literary word they would even make up a row of alliteration, yet, two words, that not simply imply, but indicate, important distinctions.
I hate to insert this now, but unfortunately because in my other professional persona I am a healthcare provider, I must - I am NOT a medical doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist. What I am about to write, based upon experiences and observations, is my opinion and insight as the author of The Damaged and Broken Collection.
Mental illness, as it is perceived and implemented, takes the approach that people suffer a chronic disorder or disease akin to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. When I write a character, I am exploring their complete and complex backstory and history. I am, at times, painfully taking the reader into the repetitive injurious actions that have resulted in a damaged individual. Their response(s) is/are spurred on by coping skills which are not fully, or properly, developed. The symptoms are recognized, yet, the actual injuries are not completely addressed. The root cause of their mental injury is often missed. Whether because of ignorance, incompetence, inaction or denial, the precipitating cause and in turn the resultant injury, is ignored or missed.
I am in no way claiming that the above is the only, or even correct, point of view. It is however, the point of view from which my characters' lives have been impacted and how they have developed. It is through that prism which I explore The Damaged and Broken.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
The above is a posting which originally appeared at the beginning of last month. A reader had made a very well thought out comment disagreeing with my post. I believe that the intent of the post may have been missed, so I gave an in-depth answer which follows ----
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I must admit to being a tad confused though. My concluding paragraph came right out and stated, “I am in no way claiming that the above is the only, or even correct, point of view. It is however, the point of view from which my characters’ lives have been impacted and how they have developed. It is through that prism which I explore The Damaged and Broken.”
As far as being right or wrong, I don’t see the world in black and white like that, especially when discussing any type of health issues that can afflict human beings. One of the main reasons there are misdiagnosis in the practice of healthcare is because there are many theories and applications concerning a myriad of human conditions. Not every patient presents as a text or reference book outlines, and more times than not, patients suffer from more than one ailment or injury. Additionally, each day there are new discoveries which allow us to learn more. It is a poor practitioner who believes he or she knows all there is to know and will not alter their thinking or treatment plan when presented with new information. For example, it has been accepted as gospel that Ernest Hemingway suffered from bipolar disorder. However, as we review his life and apply current deductive differential diagnostic protocols, that diagnosis may be reconsidered and his bipolar traits could have been secondary to a possible primary diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which may have been further impacted and complicated by the electroshock therapy which was employed as treatment, in turn possibly contributing to his suicide.
I got a little carried away, because even with all of that said, I wrote this blogpost with the sole intent to specifically discuss the fictional characters who I conjure(d) for fictional stories. The characters I have created, and continue to create, have either flawed, inadequate or poorly developed coping skills which were/are compounded by repeated mental and emotional trauma. Specifically, those characters do not suffer from mental illness, but they most definitely suffer from mental injuries which lead them to become damaged and eventually broken.
In the initial three paragraphs, my goal was to clarify that I was focusing specifically on the stories which I write. If I wrote in such a way that caused any confusion, I sincerely apologize. I am writing fictional stories to explore fictional characters who do not overcome their demons. I do invite you to check them out.
I wish you all the best and I hope you continue to read and comment.