…typical, or stereotypical?
Moving Meditation (Book Number 3 in my Lovingdell Collection) moves between five different people, all with depression. I’ve spent several weeks perfecting Martha’s voice and it was pretty easy. After all, I’ve been a depressed 17 year old, feeling the whole world was against me, not being taken seriously etc etc.
But now I’m onto Steve. He’s 24, egotistical and womanising. Not so easy for me to get my head around! I don’t normally have problems writing from a male perspective – 2 of my MCs in Agoraphobics Anonymous are men – but Steve’s getting to me. I had a wee grumble on Facebook and one of my friends gave me this piece of advice:
“Just think what ever your reaction would be as a rational woman and write the opposite.”
It made me laugh, which was the whole point, but it also got me thinking. If I wrote as my friend suggested, I’d be producing a stereotypical male character. He’d be like every bloke from every chick-lit book ever written. But I’m not writing chick-lit…
If I produce an obvious stereotype, will other people then view his depression as stereotypical?
Mental ill health isn’t something to be stereotyped. Each person suffers and suffers uniquely. No two people with depression will think exactly the same or feel exactly the same. Different triggers cause different types of upset in people with BPD. Different forms of bipolar produce different impulses. The strength of my writing lies in my abilities to show that, from my lived experiences. (Note: OK, so I don’t have a personal lived experience of bipolar, but I was in hospital for 2.5 years with a lot of people who have. I learnt a lot from my friends over that time.)
So, today I’m taking another shot with Steve. This time I’m writing him as he deserves to be written. Someone mentally unwell, struggling to cope with what life’s throwing at him. It’s time to forget the Y chromosome.