Portraying mental health disorders in stories

Trigger Warning & Disclaimer!!:
~if you are struggling in anyway with your mental health and know that you will be trigger by this topic than please don’t continue to read. I don’t want this to harm anyone, this is just meant to educate myself and others.
~I don’t want this to be a page where you can self-diagnose yourself, if you think you have a disorder please go visit a mental health professional.
~please don’t hate on anyone for sharing their opinion or if they accidentally say something incorrect. Don’t hate! Educate!

okay, with that being said.

I’m currently working on a story where both my Mc’s struggle with mental health disorders, and I don’t want to portray anything incorrectly, or write anything offensive.
I also want to know your opinions on how authors write this types of stories. It will give me a better Idea on what to do and what not to do.

questions.
why do you like stories revolving around mental health?
why do you dislike them?
what can an author do to improve on them?
is okay for an author who does not suffer from the illness to write about it?
what would you like to see in these stories?
what would you rather not have included in these stories??
do you think authors portray people with mental illness well?
if have any other questions feel free to ask them(:

specific questions about my mc's disorders. second warning, please don't continue if you are easily triggered or think you might fall back into bad habits by reading anything in this topic.

(girl mc) eating disorder (anorexia)
(male mc) depression, he also has to deal with genetic anger issues and genetic alcoholism.
how do those with anorexia feel when they finally eat?
how can having anorexia effect your relationships? romantically and platonically.
what are some emotional signs of anorexia?
what are physical changes one might have because of anorexia? I know weight loss is one, but I mean internal changes in your body, or maybe some external changes nobody really notices.
how does one react to finding out their friend has anorexia, or any disorder in general?
what are some repercussions from anorexia?

how much does depression take over ones life?
how might one treat others when suffering from depression?
what does having genetic alcoholism intail, how does it feel to go without it? I don’t have any relationship with alcohol, I’m to young to drink. so I really don’t know much about any sort of urge to drink whether it be genetic or not.
what are ways to handle anger, or outburst? this question also goes for resisting alcohol.

thank you to anyone who will answer my questions. again, I really don’t want to offend anyone so if I wrote anything wrong, or if you want to answer these questions but don’t want to write it publically than you may pm me(:

I’m also looking for individuals who I can continuously reach out to if I have any questions about the disorders I am writing about, so if you have enough knowledge to do so please pm me.

thank you(:

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Quick question, when you say genetic— do you mean to say that the character has a predisposition to alcoholism due to trauma or observational learning from their parents, or that they have a genetic disorder that contributes to addictive tendencies?

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Also, from my experience both personally dealing with depression and clinically studying it and working alongside individuals who have it, it is common for these people to be withdrawn, to feel a sense of being purposeless. Some have defensive mechanisms wherein they don’t let anyone get too close to them out of fear of abandonment (although this is often contributed to by neglectful parenting), while others depend heavily on others or one person.
It is different for everyone. In some people, you can’t tell. In others, it is clear that they are suffering. Depression has similar characteristics among those who suffer from it, but it presents itself in a myriad of ways.

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As for eating disorders— there is often a lot of shame surrounding it. Although not always. In my experience, having known many people who suffered from various eating disorders, they show discomfort when eating in front of others. These disorders are often accompanied by body dysmorphia or body dysmorphic disorder, so it would be worthwhile reading into that and truly getting a deep understanding of it.

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i mean the character has a parent who’s family has a history of addiction to alcohol.
does that make sense? I still am not super educated on how genetics work when a specific illness or trait has been passed down.

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Yes, that makes sense. So the character will have an inherited alcoholic condition from observing their parent. Have they then genetically inherited depression, too?

When it comes to coping mechanisms, it is known to be quite helpful for individuals suffering from alcoholism to attend groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Finding common ground and connecting with people who have shared lived experiences can help an individual to find community and strength. They might also undergo CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), wherein a therapist helps the individual to find and recognize potential triggers and then consider alternatives to drinking alcohol.

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So essentially your character has a genetic predisposition to alcoholism if the parent is an alcoholic. They have then inherited it, potentially through observational learning or through inheriting depression and thus alcoholism as a coping mechanism… or both.
Or, they might have a chromosomal disorder of some kind that predisposes them to addiction.

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the depression my character has comes from how he saw his parent interact with one another and how they treated him.
and yes, he begins drinking as a coping mechanism, but is able to find help but still struggles with it.

Okay so he suffers from trauma and genetic alcoholism, therefore it is a coping mechanism which he inherited from his parents and the root issue is his trauma.

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yes

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In this instance, he would receive trauma therapy, most likely from a recovery approach.
He would also have a certain degree of self loathing due to his alcoholism— as it is a reflection of his parents. This might manifest through anger, sadness, etc. He would likely have very strong moods. For the sake of this, we can assume that he tends to be withdrawn and stays away from close bonds— as he has seen the toxic nature of his parents.

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I do want to note that what I am stating is not true for everyone, but accounts for a notable percentage.

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You’ll also want to tread carefully when dealing with these topics, as they are very deep and exist as real lived experiences for a lot of people, and could potentially be very triggering. Starting with this thread is a good thing, as you’ll get a sense for what people are comfortable seeing and discussing.

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yeah, I didn’t want to make a story with these topics without getting advice from real people, rather than just researching on the internet.
also thank you(((: your input is very helpful<3
would it be okay if while I’m writing if i could reach out to you from time to time? just to ask for your advice and opinion?

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Note that anger management issues often spring from underlying anxiety disorders. I speak from experience. Until my anxiety was under control with medication I had an anger issue for years. My psychiatrist told me that anger comes from either hurt or fear or some combination of those. At first I didn’t believe him, but once I started taking my anti-anxiety medication, my rage issues went away too. Meds + counselling + group therapy + books, but mostly the meds.
Before I would get instantly angry at something, 0 to 60 in one second. With the meds I had a delay, during which I could mentally dissect the moment (“count to ten” as they say) and decide whether it was really necessary for me to react or say something.

I don’t have a problem with someone who doesn’t have these mental issues writing about them as long as they’re portrayed accurately and sympathetically. Go forth!

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YES! we need more mental health awareness! I struggle with mental illnesses myself and I find it great if also people write about it who have good mental health. but please educate yourself properly. read much about it online, watch youtube documentaries. so you don’t end up confusing multiple personality disorder with schizophrenia and bpd with bipolar and so on :smiley: if you have any questions about how it is like to have a mental disorder and where it comes from hit me up (private message please. I won’t share my diagnosis here publicly.)

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I want to add that I like stories where the mentally ill person is depicted like they were “normal” and not “insane”. Because you can’t always see if someone is mentally ill. There might be some signs but that’s about it in most of the cases.
Normalize being in therapy and maybe include some signs your reader might want to seek help. Stories about mental health are a great opportunity to educate and open people’s eyes along the way because as I said symptoms aren’t always that obvious. Mostly to those who are affected. That doesn’t mean you should encourage self diagnosis though. Just include symptoms and signs of a toxic environment, toxic parents and friends and so on. This is a good start!

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Hi girllll :slight_smile:
I can try and help you if you like.

Okay so.

I like stories with mental health in them, as it shows realness. A lot of people are struggling with mental health, and I think it would be great for it to be written about more so that others can understand certain disorders more.
But, I don’t like them when the mental health disorder is written poorly and doesn’t represent the disorder in the right way.

Research. Research is one of the main factors. I’d also maybe ask and see if anyone you know has the mental health illness your talking about, so you can get more personal research, as not everything online is true.

I personally think that’s absolutely fine, as long as they represent it properly.

I’d actually like to see more characters in stories with Aspergurs. I don’t think I’ve read a story with a male MC with it, and it’s more common in boys, but girls too. I’d also like to see a story with dissociation disorder or anorexia, that would be interesting to read.

Hmm… I’m not sure what I wouldn’t have included, but I don’t like it when the character does have an issue, but then it goes un talked about for many chapters.

Hmm. I actually think there is some, I just don’t have the names; if you want them, I’ll happily get them!

Ps. This is just my opinion. I’m not trying to be mean or disrespectful. I know it’s so hard to portray in stories which is why I don’t think it’s written about a lot, which is absolutely fine, as it’s best to not include it if you don’t want to do the research that comes with it.

I hope you have a really nice day

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Of course you can x My messages are always open. :two_hearts:

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I haven’t thought much about where the anger would stem from, so this is very helpful (:

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