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.

Alex Loyd

Alex Loyd, PhD holds doctorates in Psychology and Naturopathic Medicine. His search for a cure for his wife's depression led to the discovery of The Healing Code. Dr. Loyd is a regular speaker and has appeared on TV and radio.

Christine Bailey

Christine Bailey, MSc, PGCE mBANT,is an award winning qualified functional nutritionist, chef and food & health consultant. Previously awarded Coeliac Chef of the Year she is well known for her inspirational recipes and nutrition expertise. Christine has the ability to merge cutting-edge nutritional science with the practical application required to make healthy eating achievable for everyone. A member of the Guild of Health Writers, she writes for numerous health, food and fitness magazines and is the author of The Gut Health Diet, Supercharged Green Juices & Smoothie Diet, Functional Nutrition Cookbook and Eat to Get Younger among others. She has been involved in the health industry for over 18 years and is one of the most respected nutritional experts in the UK focused on evidence based Functional Medicine. Having transformed her own life and reversed an autoimmune condition in one of her own children Christine now helps to transform the lives of her clients and readers with her science-based approach and practical, no fuss recipes that are accessible for everyone. Christine is sought after both nationally and internationally speaking at numerous health, food and fitness conferences including The Institute of Functional Medicine IFM in the USA.

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.

Donal Skehan

Donal Skehan has been cooking since age four when he flipped his first pancake! Inspired by a family of passionate foodies, cooking and eating hearty home cooked food has always been a way of life. Donal is the author of seven cookbooks; Fresh was named as one of Good Food magazine's Top 10 cookbooks of the year. He's the host of Saturday Kitchen, star of cookery shows on RTE and The Food Network, and has his own hit YouTube channel. Donal was born and raised in Dublin and is currently living in LA.

Dr Hazel Wallace

Dr Hazel Wallace is the girl behind The Food Medic, a blog she set up in 2013 as a platform to show people that eating healthy and staying fit can be enjoyable, uncomplicated and easy to incorporate into an everyday busy lifestyle.Hazel is a UK based health and fitness blogger, social media influencer, qualified personal trainer and Junior Doctor. She graduated in 2012 with a first class degree in Medical Sciences, going on to gain a graduate degree in Medicine (MBBCH) in 2016. She now works as a Junior Doctor in London and The Food Medic is her first book.@thefoodmedicwww.hazelwallace.co.uk

Dr Mike Shooter

Dr Mike Shooter CBE is a former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and was the first child psychiatrist to hold that post. He is now an honorary fellow of six Royal Colleges and has spoken from public and professional platforms, written and advised governments in many parts of the world. He is currently President of The British Association for Counselling. An ex-journalist, Mike is a passionate believer in the power of stories and the need to share them - those of his patients and his own. He still lives in the Welsh Valleys, amidst a large family, many animals, and the community with whom he worked for more than 40 years.

Emma Henderson

Emma Henderson ran a ski chalet in France for several years and now lives in London. GRACE WILLIAMS SAYS IT LOUD is her first novel.

Gavin Extence

Gavin Extence lives in Sheffield with his wife and children. He has written two previous novels, the Richard and Judy bestseller, THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS and THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK, which was described as 'a cross between Bridget Jones' Diary and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by a Simon Mayo Book Club reviewer.

Harry Judd

Harry Judd is a member of the hugely successful bands McFly and McBusted who have headlined Hyde Park, notched up 19 hit singles - of which 7 went to number one - and 2 number one albums. He is a much-loved former Strictly Come Dancing champion.

Imi Lo

Imi Lo is an award- winning mental health professional with extensive and international experience. She started her career as a mental health Social Worker, and later qualified as a Clinical Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, and a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher. She has lived and worked in the UK, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia, and is an awardee of the Australian Government's International Endeavour Awards for academic and clinical excellence. She has worked in the NHS and charity setting, with more than 10 years of experience. She specialises in working with people with personality disorders, the LGBT population, highly sensitive and gifted individuals.She is a Faculty member of an UK Council for Psychotherapy accrediting institute and delivers lectures and workshops regularly for trainee therapists seeking accreditation, as well as supervising therapists as a clinical supervisor and mentor. Imi is the founder of Eggshell Therapy- A practice that is dedicated to serving emotionally intense people. Though it is based in London, her work has attracted interest and clients from all around the UK and the world.Imi wrote the introduction of the 'Art for Mindfulness' series for Harper Collins.

Jeremy Howick

An Oxford researcher with over 60 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.

Joe Cross

Joe Cross' personal story of transformation was chronicled in the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, which has been seen by more than 20 million people worldwide. The incredible response to screenings of the film inspired Joe to create Reboot with Joe, making the tools, information and support available to enable anyone to reclaim their wellbeing. His second film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 charts the next stage of Joe's journey of health. He is the author of The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet and The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet Recipe Book, and spends time between Australia and the US, always with a juice in hand.

Katie Marsh

Katie Marsh lives in south-west London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her books are inspired by the bravery of the people she has met in hospitals and clinics around the country. Katie loves strong coffee, the feel of a blank page and stealing her husband's toast. Her debut novel, My Everything, was chosen by the Evening Standard as one of the hottest summer debuts of 2015. Her second novel, A Life Without You, was a smash-hit ebook bestseller. This Beautiful Life is her third novel. You can follow her on Twitter @marshismsVisit her website www.katie-marsh.comOr find her on Facebook /KatieMarshAuthor

Lucy Dillon

Lucy Dillon was born in Cumbria. She won the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year Award in 2010 for Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts, and is the bestselling author of four other novels: The Ballroom Class, Walking Back to Happiness, The Secret of Happy Ever After and A Hundred Pieces of Me. Lucy now divides her time between London and the Wye Valley where she enjoys walking in the Malvern Hills with her basset hounds, Violet and Bonham. You can follow her on Twitter @lucy_dillon or on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/LucyDillonBooks.

Mac Bride

Mac Bride is a successful computer author who brings over 20 years of teaching experience to his writing.

Mark Hyman

An internationally respected physician, researcher, educator, activist, and author of numerous New York Times best-selling books, Dr. Hyman has dedicated his life and career to ensuring optimal health - UltraWellness - for all individuals. His book, The Blood Sugar Solution, addresses the global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular and other related diseases.His revolutionary "secret" to achieving UltraWellness? Dr. Hyman is the world's leading pioneer and practitioner of a ground-breaking and emerging approach to medicine that treats our system, not our symptoms. This new health paradigm is a systems-based, patient-centered method (called Functional Medicine) to preventing and treating disease and promoting health that works on two intertwined platforms: identifying and addressing the underlying causes of disease instead of just managing and masking symptoms and employing emerging trends in science and medicine, and integrative medicine. Dr. Hyman teaches that there are seven keys to achieving UltraWellness, centering on Optimizing Nutrition, Cooling Off Inflammation, Balancing Hormones, Optimizing Digestive Health, Enhancing Detoxification, Boosting Energy and Metabolism and Calming the Mind. By connecting these dots, he provides a way of get our bodies to work the way they were designed. We come to understand all the influences on our biology which are at the root of illness, and how our lifestyle and environment interact with our genes to create the imbalances or balances that are the real determinants of disease or poor health.Practicing what he preaches, Dr. Hyman is the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, where he directs a team of physicians, nutritionists and nurses who utilize this comprehensive, life-changing approach to health, involving diet and lifestyle modifications, in combination with nutritional and specialized testing, nutritional supplementation, and medications to add

Mike Mcinnes

Mike McInnes studied pharmacy at Heriot-Watt College. Mike has worked as a pharmacist but focuses his attention on sports nutri­tion, researching the specifics of energy partition and selection during exercise. His research led him to believe that honey could be the Gold Standard fuel for forward provisioning the brain, via the liver, during exercise and stocking up for recovery. Mike lives in Edinburgh with his wife Theresa. They have four children: Christine, Stuart, Graham and Janet and three grand­children: Oskar, Rob and Isla, all of whom love honey

Persia Lawson

Persia Lawson and Joey Bradford are the founders of Addictive Daughter, a website and initiative created to help young women suffering from the quarter-life crisis. Having been caught in a cycle of self-destructive behaviour, and come out the other side they set up AD in an effort to help others in a similar situation.From working face-to-face with clients to sharing weekly Life Nuggets over their social media platforms their sole goal is to lovingly guide those in need & inspire them to create a better life for themselves.Previously, both Persia & Joey trained in Classical Acting at the prestigious Drama Centre London, where they met. They have since re-trained in Life-Coaching and Addiction Studies.

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

Sophie Sabbage

Sophie is a writer, speaker and facilitator who has worked in the field of human development, mindset transformation and corporate culture since 1994. Since being diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer in October 2014, Sophie has drawn on her wisdom, courage and tenacity to create her life anew. In addition to running her own business - Interaction (www.interaction.com) and Sophie Sabbage Ltd (www.sophiesabbage.com) - Sophie had been a senior trainer with the educational charity More To Life (www.moretolife.org.uk) since 2001. An insatiable student who was crawling up bookshelves at the age of two, Sophie achieved a first-class BA in English Literature and Psychology before going on to study various approaches to human and organisational change over a number of years. She measures leadership not by how many followers one has, but by how many other leaders one creates. Her passport and her right to vote are among her most prized possessions. Sophie is very happily married to John Sabbage, and is the proud mother of their daughter Gabriella.