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.

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.

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.

Alexandra Potter

Alexandra Potter was born in Yorkshire. Having lived in Los Angeles and Sydney after university, where she worked variously as a features editor and sub-editor for women's magazines including Elle, Company, Red and Australian Vogue, she now writes full time and lives between London and Los Angeles. She is the author of nine internationally bestselling novels of romantic fiction with a magical twist, including Don't You Forget About Me and Me and Mr Darcy, which won the Best New Fiction Award at the Jane Austen Regency World Awards 2007.You can find out more at www.alexandrapotter.com or on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Alexandra.Potter.Author or follow Alexandra on Twitter @AlexPotterBooks.

Barbara Mariposa

Trained at the Royal Free Hospital, London, Dr Barbara has worked internationally, in general practice, psychiatry and public health. Whilst at medical school, she obtained a B.Sc in psychology and began a life-long enquiry into the interdependence of mind, emotion, and wellbeing. She is a thought leader in the field connecting health, emotional intelligence, mindfulness and the underlying science of it all.Bringing together her extensive knowledge, training skills and background in meditation, Dr Barbara created the powerful and pioneering Mind Mood Mastery programme, firmly rooted in scientific evidence.With a passion for helping people live healthy, fulfilling lives that fit who they are, Dr. Barbara, in addition to running the MMM programme, offers one-to-one sessions where clients can benefit from her thirty-plus years' experience in counselling, coaching, Five Elements acupuncture and personal development.

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.

Clover Stroud

Clover Stroud is a writer and journalist writing for the Daily Mail, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, and Conde Nast Traveller, among others. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and five children.

Dan Harris

Dan Harris is a correspondent for ABC News and the co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America. Before that, he was the anchor of the Sunday edition of World News. This is his first book.

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

In her native Switzerland, Dominique discovered Sophrology at an early age. She arrived in London in 2011 where she now enjoys sharing her passion for Sophrology. She works with individual clients and guides group sessions, particularly in the corporate world.Dominique's work has been featured in the Telegraph, Grazia and Psychologies magazine. She also blogs for the Huffington Post.

Eiko

Eiko, aka queen of the splits, is a yoga teacher and former aerobics instructor from Osaka, Japan. Her yoga techniques are famed for their health benefits and have helped a huge number of people become more strong and flexible. Eiko's video demonstrating how to do the splits went viral on Twitter and Facebook, and has been viewed 6 million times on YouTube. Even her yoga students who are in their 70s can do the splits with ease.

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.

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.

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.

Giovanna Fletcher

Giovanna grew up in Essex with her Italian dad Mario, mum Kim, big sister Giorgina and little brother Mario, and with family playing such a big part of her life it was only natural that she had always dreamed of having children of her own. Giovanna and her husband Tom Fletcher have two young sons Buzz and Buddy and share glimpses of their family life through their YouTube channels (giovannasworld) and on their social media (twitter: @mrsgifletcher, facebook: MrsGiFletcher and Instagram: mrsgifletcher). A bestselling novelist, actress, TV presenter, vlogger and blogger, Giovanna is most importantly a mum and her pledge to spread positivity wherever she goes has earned her a vast following.

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.

Hazel Gale

Hazel Gale is a cognitive hypnotherapist based in London. During her years as a competitive fighter, Hazel developed an anxiety disorder that led to an emotional and physical burnout. Cognitive hypnotherapy not only helped her to get back into competition after illness, but ultimately to turn her overall health and wellbeing around in a fundamental way. After experiencing the power of therapy first hand, she felt compelled to help others do the same.

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 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 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