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.

Adrian Plass

Adrian Plass is one of the most-loved Christian writers in the UK. He is the bestselling author of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾ - which with its various sequels has sold millions of copies around the world. A somewhat bemused Anglican, Adrian and his wife Bridget live in the north of England travel widely to speak in churches, prisons, schools, and at festivals and literary events in the UK and around the world.

Aidan Goggins

Aidan Goggins (www.aidangoggins.com) and Glen Matten www.glenmatten.com) are leading authorities on all things health-related. Aidan is a pharmacist and both hold a Master's degree in Nutritional Medicine. Together, they wrote the award winning The Health Delusion and frequently feature as health experts in the media. As leaders in their field their expertise is highly sought after. Aidan is set to run Europe's leading nutritional medicine clinics in Ireland's top private medical clinic The Beacon Consultants' Clinic Dublin, and the prestigious London Clinic in Knightsbridge. Glen heads up nutrition at KX, one of Europe's most prestigious private member's health clubs. Between them, they boast a star-studded client base including heavy weight boxing champion David Haye, English Rugby star James Haskell, Olympic heroes Sir Ben Ainslie and Anthony Ogogo, model and TV personality Jodie Kidd, and TV chef Lorraine Pascale.

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.

Andy Cope

Andy describes himself as an author, happiness expert, qualified teacher and learning junkie. He has spent 10 years researching 'positive psychology' culminating in a 'PhD in Happiness' from Loughborough University. He has developed a series of keynotes and courses centreing on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in businesses and schools across the world. Andy has written several best-selling personal development books, including The Art of Being Brilliant, and is also a best-selling children's author. His Spy Dog series has enjoyed huge global success.

Andy Puddicombe

Andy Puddicombe is a meditation and mindfulness expert. An accomplished presenter and writer, Andy is the voice of all things Headspace. In his early twenties, midway through a university degree in Sports Science, Andy made the unexpected decision to travel to the Himalayas to study meditation instead. It was the beginning of a ten year journey which took him around the world, culminating with ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India. His transition back to lay life in 2004 was no less extraordinary. Training briefly at Moscow State Circus, he returned to London where he completed a degree in Circus Arts with the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama, whilst drawing up the early plans for what was later to become Headspace.He has been featured widely in international press, appearing in Vogue, NYT, FT, Entrepreneur, Men's Health and Esquire, to name but a few. He also makes regular appearances on TV and online, having been featured on BBC, Dr Oz, Netflix and TED.Andy currently lives in Venice, California, with his wife Lucinda.

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.

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson, best known for his work with the Beach Boys, is one of popular music's most revered figures. The main creative force behind some of the most cherished recordings in rock history and one of the most influential composers of the last century, Wilson became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2007. A father of seven, he lives with his wife in Beverly Hills, California.

Catriona McPherson

Catriona McPherson was born in the village of Queensferry in south-east Scotland in 1965 and educated at Edinburgh University. She left with a PhD in Linguistics and spent a few years as a university lecturer before beginning to write fiction. The first Dandy Gilver novel was short-listed for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger 2005 and the second was long-listed for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award 2007. In 2012 DANDY GILVER AND THE PROPER TREATMENT OF BLOODSTAINS was nominated for a Historical Macavity Award. Catriona writes full-time and divides her time between southern Scotland and northern California.www.dandygilver.comwww.catrionamcpherson.comwww.twitter.com/CatrionaMcP

Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes starred in 2017's ratings winning Love Island. With 1.9 million followers on Instagram, a hit single, a bestselling fitness DVD, his own reality TV series and a massive bill boardcampaign for a mental health charity under his belt, he has been on the celebrity fast-track. He grew up on a farm in Gloucestershire in a family offive children.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Glen Matten

Aidan Goggins (www.aidangoggins.com) and Glen Matten www.glenmatten.com) are leading authorities on all things health-related. Aidan is a pharmacist and both hold a Master's degree in Nutritional Medicine. Together, they wrote the award winning The Health Delusion and frequently feature as health experts in the media.As leaders in their field their expertise is highly sought after. Aidan is set to run Europe's leading nutritional medicine clinics in Ireland's top private medical clinic The Beacon Consultants' Clinic Dublin, and the prestigious London Clinic in Knightsbridge. Glen heads up nutrition at KX, one of Europe's most prestigious private member's health clubs.Between them, they boast a star-studded client base including heavy weight boxing champion David Haye, English Rugby star James Haskell, Olympic heroes Sir Ben Ainslie and Anthony Ogogo, model and TV personality Jodie Kidd, and TV chef Lorraine Pascale.

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.com/gretchenrubin | facebook.com/GretchenRubin | instagram.com/gretchenrubin

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.