Writing about Mental Illnesses


#1

Hello everyone!

Many of us are somewhat familiar some the latest stories floating around on the app and it is very clear that we're not happy with some content featured in some of them. This lead to me asking myself a question: “How can I make my story more representative without making offending others but raise awareness at the same time?” Well I follow these amazing episode pages on Instagram as well some amazing authors who make some excellent points on diversity but one thing I find lacking is the mention of non-stereotypical characters with [one or more] mental illnesses. I personally believe that these characters should exist in order to raise awareness about said mental illness[es] rather than simply for the sake of diversity (even though it is very important) as it is an extremely sensitive topic but many fail to acknowledge this fact.

I am aware that many authors tend to avoid writing such characters not only to avoid offending people and making incorrect assumptions but often because we lack serious or reliable knowledge about various mental illnesses due to this topic being one where a simple web search will not be enough to be reliable research. The fact that person may choose not to include this topic is absolutely fine for reasons which I have previously stated but I also am aware that there are various authors who do want to include this topic in their stories, mostly for raising awareness or sharing their story [I hope] therefore, I have created this thread for people with questions as well as people who would like to voice opinions or share their advice on this topic to be able to communicate and discuss mental illnesses.

So comment below on what you would like to see (or not see) on Episode when mental illnesses are involved. Feel free to comment whether you are someone with a mental illness and you have been offended or misunderstood or if you know someone in that position or even if you just have a question you want answered.

[Here] is the link to a document where all the replies from the original thread old forums has been saved.

Please remember that we are all entitled to our own opinions but please be considerate of other people’s feelings.

~ Yeon


#2

I would love episode to show awareness to any type of disability by creating a shelf/contest maybe for about a few weeks that would be great


#3

There are many, many stories with this topic. :heart:


#4

I’ve been apart of many communities and fan groups for movies and TV series, some of which portrayed mental illness, and one thing that I’ve seen happen over and over again is backlash, mainly because people believe that representation can only equal positive representation, if that makes sense? While it is ideal to reach out for help, many people don’t, because it just isn’t that simple. Characters might reach out to something negative as a coping mechanism, and some people, whether they have dealt with mental illness or not, get angry.


#5

There was a shelf a few weeks ago - Health & Wellness - that featured some stories that highlighted mental illness. Two of the stories on the shelf that covered mental illness were:
1000 Dollar Friend by MissLunaRose covers Autism Spectrum Disorders
Speak by @J.Miley covers PTSD depression anxiety and mutism


#6

OK I will give them a read!


#7

Oh yes! Also feel free to recommend stories you believe are good examples when it comes to correctly portraying mental illnesses :slight_smile:


#8

Thank you.
@baemri in addition to my own story, Speak, I recommend
Fire & Ice by T. Sophie
Silent Night by H. Noelle
Behind Hazel Eyes by Brittany Lee
Love Me Black & Blue by Effy Ameer
:rose::rose:


#9

I think this is the thread I replied to in the old forum. As a person with mental illness issues (Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD), I find writing about my issues as a form of therapy for me. I can express my thoughts, feelings, and emotions and tell my own story in a way that is comfortable for me. It also both warms and breaks my heart that my story has impacted so many readers that feel that they can relate to it and that it has helped them when they are struggling.
I agree that there is somewhat of an issue if a topic is not properly researched as some illnesses are stigmatized and those with those conditions could become offended. There are stories out there that I have read that glamorize and stigmatize mental illness and I can see how it can become a problem.
Take PTSD for example. I have read stories where the MC goes through a very traumatic situation and through some love interest, he or she is miraculously healed. That can send the message to those with PTSD that there is something even more wrong with them because they are not “better”. It can also send the message to those without PTSD that people with PTSD can be easily fixed and the word “trigger” becomes a catchphrase.

J. Miley :rose::rose:


#10

I think @Ms.Kate’s contest idea is great! :heart:


#11

I would like to see a story that tackles depression, anxiety and suicide from an accurate light. It’s either over-simplified, or the other way around, which is sad because we feel like they have not done the necessary research to understand the struggles faced by these people. Even if you look at shows, like 13 Reasons Why, even they are not able to accurately represent us in some aspects. Sometimes we seem idiotic, over-sensitive, etc etc. (and people always tell me this). So that would be a great way to get the reality of what it’s like in a story. It always helps to speak to people who suffer from it, so that the writer can understand a great deal of what they should and should not, incorporate in their story.

I was actually planning on writing my own story on this topic on a woman who is depressed, has anxiety, unreliable as a narrator and is misanthropic just as I am, but I have absolutely no time for it in university. Hopefully I will be able to write it soon.


#12

I do know of one story that explicitly mentions the MC having anxiety: Sunset Boulevard by @Scotti. The MC struggles with being in the spotlight of fame and you can choose whether to stand up for yourself when problems emerge or let the anxiety take the reins. It also lets you choose your sexuality, which is relieving to me. I prefer having female love interests.


#13

I think writing about mental illness can be a tricky thing to tackle, for reasons mentioned by @episonia:

I quoted this because I think it raises a valid point.

There will always be disagreements regarding portrayal of mental illness, especially if it follows a path that isn’t oriented toward professional medical treatment (medication, counseling, etc.). I think this can be dangerous because it excludes the narratives of people who don’t seek help; it creates an assumption that certain experiences are more valuable than others–that certain experiences, “socially incorrect” ones, aren’t worth discussing at all.

By no means am I saying people shouldn’t consult professionals for treatment, nor am I advocating for substance abuse or ignoring mental illness; all I’m trying to say here is the stories of people who don’t seek help or who seek to self-medicate are just as valuable as those who solicit professional help. They’re all real and valid stories to tell.

A lot of people with mental illness don’t actually acknowledge or treat it, so it’s understandable for someone to write a story in which a character never openly discusses or even attempts to treat their illness. Many people with mental illness also self-medicate, which often leads to substance abuse. While this may be perceived as a “morally or socially incorrect” way to handle mental illness, it’s actually more common than some might think. It may even be more common than being institutionalized for mental illness or seeking professional treatment, so why is it so socially unacceptable to tell these stories? I think refusing to acknowledge these truths altogether is stigmatizing in itself. I think relegates these individuals to the periphery instead of giving their experiences weight.

People will disagree with how a certain illness or character with said illness is portrayed because it differs from their personal experience and vice versa. Though we may not agree with a lifestyle or decision, I think it’s always important to remember that our own lived experience and beliefs cannot dictate how another person should or shouldn’t live their life. Dealing with mental illness is no exception. As long as the stories aren’t written in ways that are medically invalid and/or stigmatizing to mental illness, I think people should have open opportunities to write about mental health.

Thanks for starting this thread. It’s really awesome to see such open conversation being had about mental health and I look forward to discovering new stories that discuss mental illness in an authentic and honest way.


#14

For me I feel like you want to write about mental illnesses then do your research, do not show a false narrative of what you think that mental illness is supposed to portray, approach people who have issues, most are willing to talk about it because they want to raise awareness.

Please do not write a story that mocks mental illness, you will just do more harm to the perception people have.

If you have a mental illness, please know people asking questions is usually because they want to understand it better not because they’re judging you. I have depression, anxiety, anorexia, self harm issues and PTSD. I’m me, and I’m proud of me, don’t let people belittle you and in stories there are so many amazing ones that show the true struggles of battling your own mind, day in and day out. Don’t dismiss stories because they seem ‘depressing.’ Some of those stories are actually amazing and inspiring.

My story is based on mental illness; depression and self harm and how to overcome the daily struggle, if anyone is interested in seeing it and how I portray those issues, I’ll link it below. However I have to say, don’t be afraid to write about it, just do the topic justice and research it, the research will give the right narrative and not belittle the experiences people face.

I write about my issues and it’s so helpful for me, I get to write my feelings and feel less burdened. Episode has helped my depression in so many ways and I’m truly grateful I found Episode.

Story Title: The Struggles Within
Author: Zetti
Style: Ink
Description: Your childhood was rough, but now as an adult you have a chance to start fresh. Things will get better right?
Chapters: 25 (ongoing)
Genre: Drama
Link: http://episodeinteractive.com/s/6747642307280896


#15

Closing due to one month of inactivity :slight_smile:


#16