On Writing About Mental Illness 

In Making Magic, Dara rue struggles with bipolar disorder.  Connor Cerami,  a stable, conservative, intense person who suffers intermittent panic attacks finds himself falling for her, but not understanding her.  As his attraction for Dara grows, he must learn what he can about bipolar disorder. 

 It isn’t easy for Dara.  She wants so badly to hang on to Connor.  But it isn’t easy. As my daughter says:

“Newsflash: Being bipolar has never gotten me positive attention. Never. Nobody would CHOOSE to be bipolar.”


But …How can you write about Bipolar Disorder when you don’t have it?


First:  I am not a doctor, or a psychiatrist, or a psychologist.  Just a concerned mom/niece/daughter seeking information.  How could I help them? One of my goals in writing the book was to show that mentally ill people can find love, work successfully, but that it’s an ongoing struggle.  And to also show that a stable young man like Connor who has panic attacks - something that falls within mental illness – can fall in love with someone like Dara.


Here are some ways you can learn more:


Educate yourself. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  NAMI is a grassroots organization formed by worried family members who were trying to find anything to help their Loves One.

But if you want to find out more, try their website:  https://www.nami.org/Home

 Read. You can also read a ton.  I recommend Elephant Journal and The Mighty to start.  They have all the social media pages.

 ASK!   As with anything else, the best information could come from a person, but you have to find someone willing to discuss it with you.  That might be hard.

 Work to get rid of the stigma.  If you get passionate about the cause, help work to get rid of the stigma placed on people living with mental illness. For me, this meant teaching a NAMI Family-to-Family class, helping to form a college student group, walking to raise funds.  But it could be as easy as just correcting people who are saying inappropriate things concerning someone who’s mentally ill or placing a notice on your social media pages about the above organization.

 It ain’t easy. In Making Magic, you learn that Donovan Rue went to classes when he reached the end of his patience with Dara.  Connor finds classes, too, and asks his mother who’s a college counselor for advice.


From Making Magic:


 “Are there other things I should know?” Connor’s intense glaze was trained on his mother’s as if waiting for her to fix the situation.

“There’s a lot to it and I couldn’t possibly begin to tell you everything, but I will say this, Connor.” Lynn was now in full-out mother mode. “You will need lots of patience with this young woman. You won’t always know when she might say something that is what you’ve called ‘weird.' Or even mean. Sometimes she might lash out at you or someone she cares about, and she won’t even really know that she’s doing it. Mentally ill people are not always explainable, and their actions sometimes don’t make sense. For a person as logical as you are, this behavior might be frustrating at times.”

No one give us in Making Magic. Dara weaves her own special magic to get the help she and everyone else needs.

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Personal Asides

1 comment:

  1. Hi Linda,
    Congratulations on the new book! I think it's terrific that you're writing about mental illness and making it part of the story. It's such an important topic and presenting it in your book is a wonderful way to hopefully start some meaningful discussions. Best of luck with the book. And thank you for the ideas about ways to learn more about mental illness.


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About the Author

I'm a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and very much not perfect. My own multiple health problems led me to write about women who experience life's traumas, but bounce back because they are resilient. I strive to bring happily ever afters to all my characters.

On Word and Upward!