Related to: 'Get Fit and Get Happy'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

David Perlmutter

Dr David Perlmutter is president of the Perlmutter Health Centre in Naples, Florida, and the co-founder and president of The Perlmutter Brain Foundation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American College of Nutrition and the Linus Pauling Award. A frequent lecturer, he writes a blog at VanguardNeurologist.com and is a contributor to The Huffington Post. His previous books include Grain Brain and The Grain Brain Cookbook.

Dominique Antiglio

Dominique Antiglio is a qualified and globally sought-after Sophrologist, author and founder of BeSophro, a leading Sophrology clinic in London, UK with an online platform, that specialises in stress management, anxiety reduction and burn-out prevention. Her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology was the first widely published book on Sophrology in English and is now the leading authority on the subject, having also received an endorsement from Sir Anthony Seldon. It has been instrumental in spreading the practice beyond continental Europe. Dominique's expertise is regularly sought in the media and her work has been featured in the Times, The Guardian, ELLE and Marie-Claire among others. She is also a regular workshop host and speaker, and travels the world teaching people about the power of Sophrology in boosting the mind body connection. Born in Switzerland, Dominique was introduced to Sophrology at 15 years old to overcome health issues, learning early on the ways to positively connect with herself and embrace a new way of living. She gained her Masters in Caycedian Sophrology (2006) notably training with Professor Caycedo, the founder of the method in Spain. She is a graduate of the renowned European School of Osteopathy in Kent, UK, ran a successful osteopathic clinic for a decade, and holds a Holistic Voice Diploma (UK). In 2011, having witnessed so many positive changes through the power of Sophrology for herself and her clients, she moved to London and founded BeSophro to support and inspire people in finding a calmer and happier life through the practice of Sophrology.To find out more about BeSophro classes, workshops and Sophrology's latest development, please visit www.be-sophro.co.uk.

Emily Reynolds

Emily Reynolds is a journalist specialising in mental health, technology, science and feminism, writing for WIRED, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, and VICE among others. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her early twenties, and since then has been raising awareness and supporting other young people with mental health issues. She also co-founded the Words by Women Awards in 2016.

Fiona Mitchell

Fiona Mitchell is an award-winning writer and has worked as a journalist for many years. She spent almost three years living in Singapore and now lives in London with her husband and daughter. The Maid's Room is her first novel.

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most influential writers on the linked subjects of habits, happiness, and human nature. She's the author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers, Better Than Before and The Happiness Project. A member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, Rubin has an enormous following, in print and online; her books have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, in more than 35 languages; and on her popular daily blog, gretchenrubin.com, she reports on her adventures in pursuit of habits and happiness. She also has an award-winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.gretchenrubin.com twitter | facebook | instagram

Hazel Gale

Hazel Gale is a master practitioner of cognitive hypnotherapy, author and ex-athlete. Having competed internationally as a kickboxer and boxer, achieving World and National titles in the two sports respectively, she's well-versed in both the drive to succeed and the anxiety that can so often come hand-in-hand with that. In her practice and in her writing, Hazel aims to help others emerge victorious from their own battles, whatever they may be. Fight is Hazel's first book. It explores the psychology of self-sabotage while taking you on her journey, and offers a practical guide to reclaiming your self-control.

Jack Hudson

Meet Jack, Calum and Robbie Hudson, three brothers born and raised exploring the wild outdoors. When they moved to Cumbria from Yorkshire they discovered the idyllic Lake District was within cycling distance. There they learned the simple joy of whiling away their summers jumping off stacks and wild swimming with friends. Eventually, as they grew older, the brothers started to notice that folk, including themselves, were growing increasingly more detached from the natural world. Working in cities, they began to feel the weight of life in the urban grind - the common monotony of nine-to-five, during which the only wildlife around is the occasional pigeon. At the same time they noticed a sad cycle of anxiety, fatigue and desperation. It seemed like everything they'd done as kids was fading behind the tinted glass of nostalgia. So, they decided to get together and change their course. Suddenly the Wild Swimming Brothers was born.

James Arthur

In December 2012, Middlesbrough born James Arthur won the X Factor and his debut single Impossible became the biggest winner's song of all time. After a two year break, in 2016 James made a triumphant return with his single Say You Won't Let Go which went on to become a smash hit around the world, reaching No. 1 on the Official UK Singles Chart, No. 1 on the Radio Airplay Chart in the USA, and picking up over 1.5 billion sales and streams globally. The album Back From The Edge followed, topping the Official Albums Chart in the UK, with global sales of over 1 million. Earlier this year, James was nominated for two awards at the prestigious BRIT Awards 2017 and went on to sell out multiple tours worldwide. Back to the Boy is James' first book. For more info on James, check out www.jamesarthurofficial.com.

James Haskell

James Haskell is an internationally renowned athlete and professional rugby player, with extensive experience of playing at the highest level all around the world. Well known for his performances on the pitch, it is James's elite athleticism and commanding physique that has seen him become one of the most recognisable sportsmen of his generation.James's rugby career has seen him play for leading teams in London, Paris, Japan and New Zealand, and to date he has earned 70 (and counting!) international caps for his country. His globetrotting endeavours have seen him work closely with some of the world's best coaches, trainers and nutritionists, allowing him to amass a wealth of knowledge that enables him to remain at the very top of his game. James's passion for nutrition and training has held the key to his continued success; and it is this burning passion that has seen the development of one of the most cutting-edge, dynamic fitness brands in the world today - James Haskell Health and Fitness.

Jeremy Howick

An Oxford researcher with over 75 publications and a classic textbook, Jeremy Howick is well qualified to write Doctor You. A world-renowned placebo researcher and his work has been featured in The Times and The Washington Post, as well as on Sky News, and the BBC.

Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and brought up in London. A journalist and writer, she worked for the Independent until 2001. She lives in East Anglia with her husband and three children.Jojo has twice won the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year Award: in 2011 for The Last Letter From Your Lover and in 2003 for Foreign Fruit. The Ship of Brides and Silver Bay were shortlisted for the 2005 and 2007 RNA award and Silver Bay was shortlisted for the inaugural Good Housekeeping 2007 Book of the Year award. You can read Jojo's blog or find out more from her website, www.jojomoyes.com, follow her on Twitter @jojomoyes or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jojo.moyes.

Katie Marsh

Katie lives in London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her novels are inspired by the bravery of the people she met in hospitals and clinics across the country. Her first novel My Everything is a 2018 World Book Night pick, and her second A Life Without You was a huge e-book bestseller. Her fourth novel The Rest of Me is out this summer in e-book, audio and paperback. She loves strong coffee, the promise of a blank page and stealing her husband's toast. When not writing, she spends her time fruitlessly pursuing her children in various local parks. You can contact Katie on Twitter (@marshisms) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/katiemarshauthor), or via her website (www.katie-marsh.com).

Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, MD, is the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and founder and director of The Ultra-Wellness Center. He is the bestselling author of numerous books, including Eat Fat, Get Thin, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, and The Blood Sugar Solution.

Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Positive Psychology Network, gave the Centennial address to the British Psychological Society in 2002 and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Cardiff. A former President of the American Psychological Association, he has written over 20 books including the bestselling Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness and in 2009 was awarded the British Academy's Wiley Prize in Psychology. He is widely considered the pre-eminent expert on applied psychology in the world.

Matthew Syed

Matthew Syed is a leading columnist and feature writer for The Times and the host of the UK's biggest podcast: Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy on BBC Radio 5. Matthew also gives business talks to major international corporate clients including. Before becoming a writer Matthew was the England table tennis number one for almost a decade, three times Commonwealth Champion, and he twice represented Great Britain in the Olympic Games.Matthew Syed's first book, Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice, was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. His second, Black Box Thinking, was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller. He has also published a collection of his award-winning sports columns in The Greatest.

Miranda Hart

Miranda Hart made her mark appearing in shows including Smack the Pony, Absolutely Fabulous and Not Going Out. But when her sitcom Miranda burst on to our screens in 2009, her popularity rocketed. Miranda has since been crowned the Queen of Comedy at the British Comedy Awards and won Best new TV comedy, as well as winning best actress in 2010 and 2011. She has also won three RTS comedy awards and has been nominated for four BAFTAs. Her book Is It Just Me? was the number one best-selling memoir of 2012 and to date it has sold over 580,000 copies. Her stand up show - My, What I Call, Live Show - was a sell-out in 2013. Follow Miranda on Twitter www.twitter.com/mermhart or vist her website www.mirandahart.com

Mithu Storoni

As Mithu Storoni became a doctor, dabbled in neuroscientific research, trained in ophthalmic surgery, taught yoga, and earned a PhD in neuro-ophthalmology, she studied "illness" through different angles, all of which led to the brain. The deeper she ventured into the study of "illness" the more aware she became of the vital role played by chronic stress in the transformation from "wellness" to "illness." Moving from fast-paced London to the breakneck Asian business hub of Hong Kong heightened this awareness as Mithu watched her thriving friends and colleagues reluctantly abandon their passion, energy, and mental agility and surrender their flourishing careers, because of chronic, unbridled stress. This prompted Mithu to write this book. Mithu received her medical degree from the University of Cambridge and conducted her research in neuro-ophthalmology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, where she was a Clinical Research Fellow until recently moving to Hong Kong with her husband.

Monty Don

MONTY DON is a well-known gardening writer and broadcaster. He lives with his family, garden and dogs in Herefordshire. His previous books include the Sunday Times best-seller Nigel and Paradise Gardens.@TheMontyDon/themontydon

Pierre Dukan

Dr Pierre Dukan has been a medical doctor specializing in nutrition since 1973. The author of many works on diet and nutrition, including the bestselling The Dukan Diet, he regularly writes in the press and appears on television.

Rachel Brathen

Swedish native Rachel Brathen has been practicing yoga since she was a young teen. After leaving school she travelled to Costa Rica, and it was here that she found the joy of incorporating yoga into her everyday life. After moving to Aruba in early 2010, she started teaching yoga full time on the Caribbean island. Rachel leads workshops all across the globe, focusing on handstands, arm balances, vinyasa foundation, and fearless living.Rachel is one of the first people in the world to take yoga from the mat and onto a paddle board, and she teaches SUP Yoga (Stand-Up Paddle board Yoga) in all of her retreats and also at festivals and events in different countries around the world. Follow her on Instagram @Yoga_Girl