I see it in my own life in various ways. Stress impacts my mental health, and I've found that if there's a situation at the office, I'm too distracted and anxious to be creative. Life situations, like a move or the death of a loved one, can weigh me down and I find myself writing more lyrical purple prose, if I find time to write at all! Even chemistry can play a role in my mental health. Too much caffeine can make me fidgety and I can't concentrate.
- Healthy diet
- Proper sleep
- Social support
- Routines and schedules
- Fresh air
- Emotional support and mental perspective
As writers, we can set the stage:
- Awareness: Be aware of the potential for creating or reinforcing a negative stigma in your writing. Also, consider why you are writing mental illness in your story. Are you forcing it into your story merely for the sake of inclusion? Do you have a sincere desire to write about a real or fictional character with mental illness or just the topic of mental illness in general?
- Sensitivity: Consider how you'd want to be represented if you had the mental health condition you are writing about. Mental illness affects as many as 1 in 5 teens and adults in the United States, so it's important to write as accurately sensitively as possible.
- Research: If you don't suffer from the mental illness you are writing about, study the most up-to-date research on the subject. This ensures you're using the best vocabulary, definitions, and treatments in your writing. Whether you're writing historical fiction or non-fiction, still do your best to be accurate. Then interview people with the condition you're writing about. They can help you paint a more accurate picture of what it is like to live with the condition and the challenges that are the most prevalent in their lives. *During this month's meeting, we were fortunate to have a member of our chapter share their experience with Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID. We learned a lot about proper terminology, instances where DID is addressed in the media in positive and negative ways, and more.
- Sensitivity Readers: It is vitally important that you seek sensitivity readers who can provide you with accurate feedback. Seek critiques from a few people that have the condition you are writing about and ask them for an honest opinion to enlighten you. This will help you to correct any misinformation or anything else that might come across as offensive.