Related to: 'Sane'

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.

Aaron Gillies

Aaron Gillies, aka @TechnicallyRon on twitter, is a comedian and writer. He has been featured in and written for The Poke, Buzzfeed, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, amongst many others, and has produced viral content from 'Reasons my wife is crying' to 'a short guide to washing machine symbols' and 'a google autocompleted CV'. Aaron has written about mental health for many years in various publications.

Ali Almossawi

Ali Almossawi works on the Firefox team at Mozilla and is an alumnus of MIT's Engineering Systems Division (MS) and Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science (MS). Previous stints included working as a research associate at Harvard and as a collaborator at the MIT Media Lab. His writing has appeared in Wired and Scientific American.

Christine Wilding

Christine Wilding's (Kent, England) books on CBT have sold over 50,000 copies. She holds a postgraduate diploma in CBT from the University of London, is an accredited member of the British Association of Counselling, is a member of the steering committee set up to develop guidelines for the treatment of depression within the NHS, and is in-demand as a leader of CBT-based training courses.

Dominique Antiglio

Dominique Antiglio is a Sophrologist specialising in stress-management, self-development and birth preparation. Born in Switzerland, Dominique started Sophrology at 15 years old, learning early on ways to positively connect with herself and embrace a new way of living. At 25, she graduated from the renowed European School of Osteopathy in Kent obtaining her Bsc(Hons) Ost. She came back to her native hometown and ran a successful osteopathic clinic for a decade, as well as specialising in treating children and pregnant women in France and the US. At the same time, she continued her personal development journey with Sophrology and trained as a Sophrologist. Dominique gained her Masters in Caycedian Sophrology (2006), notably training with Professor Caycedo, the founder of the method. Passionate about the mind-body connection,she also explored the power of sound and obtained her Holistic Voice Diploma in 2013 in the 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, a leading Sophrology clinic in Mayfair with an online platform. Through BeSophro she supports and inspires a wide variety of clients, individually and in groups, and working with schools and in the corporate environment, enthusiastically promoting the benefits of Sophrology in the UK and beyond. Her work has notably been featured in the Guardian, the Telegraph and Psychologies magazine. In 2015, Dominique also became a mum.To find out more about BeSophro classes, workshops andSophrology'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.

Gill Hasson

Gill Hasson delivers teaching and training for educational, voluntary and business organisations as well as the public sector. She has 20 years' experience teaching and writing on a range of personal development issues; and is the author of 14 books.

Helen Russell

Helen Russell is a journalist and the bestselling author of The Year of Living Danishly and Leap Year. Formerly editor of MarieClaire.co.uk, she now lives in Denmark and works as a Scandinavia correspondent for the Guardian, as well as writing a column on Denmark for the Telegraph and features for The Times, The Observer, Grazia, The Wall Street Journal and the Independent.

James May

James May is a writer, broadcaster and co-host of The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime. He has presented series for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. His previous books include James May's Man Lab, Car Fever and How to Land an A330 Airbus.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.

Mark Forster

Mark Forster is a full-time life coach. He frequently runs workshops and seminars specialising in time management.

Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis founded When to Jump after quitting his job at a pristine investment firm, to pursue his dream of becoming a professional squash player. He has curated a community of like-minded people who have done the same, to share their stories and inspire others to take the jump.

Nigel Cumberland

Nigel Cumberland is a founding partner of the London based Silk Road Partnership, which provides a range of coaching/mentoring services across the Gulf, Europe and Asia. Clients include the World Bank, Google, Standard Chartered Bank, Commerzbank, Bureau Veritas, Dubai Government, Malaysian Government and Macquarie Bank. He has held various C-Level and Managing Director positions with a number of multinationals and sat on a number of Boards of Directors.

Rhiannon Lambert

Rhiannon Lambert is a Nutritionist specialising in weight management, eating disorders and sports nutrition. She is the founder of Rhitrition, a leading Harley Street private clinic and author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way To Eat Well. Registered with the Association for Nutrition (AFN), Rhiannon obtained a first-class Bachelor (BSc) degree in Nutrition and Health and a Master's (MSc) degree in Obesity, Risks and Prevention. She is also a Master Practitioner in Eating Disorders and Obesity having obtained a Diploma approved by The British Psychological Society (BPS) from The National Centre For Eating Disorders. Her qualified approach to nutrition and total dedication to her clients' needs has seen Rhiannon work with some of the world's most influential people. Website - http://Rhitrition.com/Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/Rhitrition/Twitter - https://twitter.com/Rhitrition

Richard Carlson

The late Richard Carlson, PhD, was the author of the internationally bestselling Don't Sweat the Small Stuff series. He lived with his wife and two children in northern California until his tragic death in December 2006.

Rob Parsons

Rob Parsons is the bestselling author of THE SIXTY MINUTE GRANDPARENT, TEENAGERS! and THE SIXTY MINUTE FATHER. He speaks internationally on family issues and is the Executive Chairman of Care for the Family, a charity committed to strengthening family life and helping others who are hurting due to family breakdown.Care for the Family, launched by Rob in 1988, is a registered charity and its work is motivated by Christian compassion. The resources and support it provides are available to everyone, of any faith or none.Rob lives in Cardiff with his wife Dianne. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Susan Calman

Glasgow-born ex-lawyer Susan Calman is a stand-up comedian, actor, presenter and writer. A regular on The News Quiz, Susan has written four series for BBC Radio 4 including a sitcom and her last tour, The Calman Before The Storm went on to sell-out nationally. She presents The Boss, Armchair Detectives and Top Class on BBC TV. For over ten weeks, she has been winning hearts and minds as a contestant in Strictly Come Dancing, and will be on the Strictly tour in 2018. An advocate for LGBT and mental health issues, Susan lives in Glasgow with her wife Lee, and her cats.susancalman.com@susancalman

Tim Laurence

Tim Laurence is founder of the Hoffman Institute UK and Director of Hoffman International, who organise the Hoffman Process in 14 countries. He spent much of his adult life in the US and taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now married to the actress Serena Gordon and has 2 young sons.Tim Laurence is founder of the Hoffman Institute UK and Director of Hoffman International, who organise the Hoffman Process in 14 countries. He spent much of his adult life in the US and taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now married to the actress Serena Gordon and has 2 young sons.

Tom Butler-Bowdon

Tom Butler-Bowdon is recognised as an expert on personal development literature. His 50 Classics series has been hailed as the definitive guide to the literature of possibility, and has won numerous awards including the Benjamin Franklin Self-Help Award and Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year Award. A graduate of the London School of Economics and the University of Sydney, he lives and works in both the Oxford, UK and Australia. www.butler-bowdon.com

Tony Stockwell

Following a childhood full of extraordinary events and meetings with spirits, Tony knew from the age of sixteen that he was destined to use his paranormal powers and be a medium. He teaches at the College of Psychic Studies in South Kensington, London. Since the transmission of his widely acclaimed series, Street Psychic, which changed many people's belief about the afterlife, Tony has made other programmes including Psychic School, which featured ghostbusts in haunted places, and Psychic Detective for Living TV, and has been on extensive tours of the UK, Europe and New Zealand. Tony lives in Essex.

Trevor Silvester

Trevor is the founder of Cognitive Hypnotherapy and the Training Director of The Quest Institute. He is a practising Hypnotherapist with a clinic in Harley Street. He was the editor of the Hypnotherapy Journal of the National Council for Hypnotherapy for nine years, and was their Director of Ethics and Supervision for a further five until he stepped down in 2011.Trevor has gained a reputation as one of the leading experts in the theory and practice of hypnotic language, and his integration of modern scientific discoveries into the practical aspects of therapy has made him one of the key figures in the modern therapy field. His books have gained him a worldwide audience, and students travel from all over the world to train with him.To promote Cognitive Hypnotherapy Trevor contributes to a wide range of national magazines, and has appeared on BBC radio on several occasions, including appearing regularly, with his wife, Rebecca, on the Jeni Barnett show on BBC London as resident Agony Aunt and Uncle.Sport is one of Trevor's principal passions, both as a participant, and as a mind coach.He is a student of both Kickboxing and Wing Chun Kung Fu and has written for UltraFit, Combat and Running Fitness magazines. In 2009 he was invited to join Team Perfect, an elite sports networking group, and has contributed articles on the mind's influence to their website and newsletters.In 2010 he joined Friends Reunited dating and Swoon.co.uk as their relationship expert.In 2011 he was asked by Camilla Batmanghelidjh of Kids Company to begin working with staff and kids as their inhouse Cognitive Hypnotherapist.He is a Fellow of the National Council for Hypnotherapy and in 2003 received their Researcher of the Year Award for his groundbreaking book Wordweaving volume I: The Science of Suggestion. He was a Keynote speaker at their international conference in 2006, and in 2007 received their highest honour, the Hartland Memorial Award, for his outstanding contribution to Hypnotherapy."I don't stand at the front of the room because I've found all the answers. I'm there because I'm passionate about the search for them."