Guest Post: Rae Ford’s Diversity Month Series

Every so often, I emerge from my cat-lady cocoon and talk to people. And then stuff happens. Like this.

Diversity and representation can be hugely important to both authors and readers. So there’s a bit of my take on neurodiversity and mental illness. Including such tidbits as this.

Writing these kinds of characters presents a unique kind of challenge. All the research articles in the world won’t teach you a tenth of what you learn listening to or loving someone who lives with it does. First-hand accounts are the best way to learn, but a lot of people are afraid to offer them, in part because of how they tend to be received. They can be intensely personal, and reference the most personal parts of the person’s life or mindset. And many of those who talk about their mental condition have had it blow up in their face.

They’ve had people write them off as garden-variety crazy, or impede their progress treating their mental condition by offering nonconstructive opinions or feedback when the person talks about their condition. Or even had their disclosure held against them in regard to other lifestyle decisions. Everything from dietary advice, to unneeded behavioral restrictions or check-ins or invasive questions… suicidal ideation is notalways present in depression, and is found outside of it, too. Implying a depressed person is continually thinking about killing themselves is a great way to push themtoward it. And yet our reaction to learning an acquaintance is depressed is often to tiptoe around that conversation rather than simply asking “How can I help?”

We don’t have very good systems in place to allow people to say how those around them should handle their mental health concerns. And that creates conditions that stifle people’s ability to talk about it.

Visit Rae Ford’s site for the rest of the article, as well as other great posts!

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