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

A former childcare worker, Adrian Plass is now one of the most prolific and most-loved Christian writers in the UK. He is the bestselling author of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾ - this and its various sequels have sold millions of copies around the world. A somewhat bemused Anglican, Adrian and his wife Bridget live in Yorkshire and recently spent two years as part of the Scargill Community as well as continuing to speak in churches, prisons, schools, festivals and literary events in the UK and around the world.

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.

Chi-San Wan

Chi San-Wan and Natali Stajcic are passionate about finding balance in their lives and about eating wholesome, natural food that is delicious, nourishing and enables you to live well and feel good. The East London duo founded The Pressery in 2014 after becoming disenchanted by the lack of natural non-dairy products available on the market, so they began making their own fresh almond milk at home, soon finding stockists and fans across London and beyond. After a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, they launched their long-life almond milk in 2016, which is distributed across the UK. Fans of The Pressery's almond drinks include XXX XXX and XXXX.

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 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 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

Donna Dunning

Donna Dunning, PhD, is an author, consultant, certified teacher, and member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty. She worked as a psychologist for over 20 years, specializing in the areas of career development, learning, and work performance. Donna is the author of more than a dozen publications. Her newest books are 10 Career Essentials and What's Your Type of Career? 2nd edition.

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.

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.

Gordon Ramsay

Scottish by birth, Gordon was brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. With an injury prematurely putting an end to any hopes of a promising career in football, he went back to college to complete a course in hotel management and his dedication and natural talent led him to train with some of world's leading chefs.In 1993 Gordon became chef of Aubergine in London and within three years was awarded two Michelin stars. In 1998, at the age of 31, Gordon set up his own restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which quickly received the most prestigious accolade in the culinary world - three Michelin stars. One of only four chefs in the UK to maintain three stars, Gordon was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to the industry.Now internationally renowned, Gordon has opened a string of successful restaurants across the globe, from Italy to LA. 2011 has proved to be another exciting year and saw the opening of Bread Street Kitchen in London's City district, as well as a venture across the pond in Montreal, Canada.Gordon has become a star of the small screen both in the UK and internationally, with two top rated shows in the US. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen are both into their third and ninth series respectively, whilst his latest show, Masterchef US, is now in its second series and is proving to be another massive hit with viewers. Gordon has also published a number of books, many of which have become best sellers across the world, notably his autobiography, Roasting in Hell's Kitchen.Gordon lives with his wife and four children in South London, along with their two bulldogs Rumpole and Romeo.

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, and 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.

Jonathan Wittenberg

Jonathan Wittenberg was born in Glasgow in 1957 to a family of German Jewish origin. The family moved to London in 1963, where he attended University College School, specialising in classical and modern languages, subsequently reading English at Cambridge. He trained for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College London, receiving ordination in 1987. He now lives in London with his wife Nicky and, three children, and his faithful canine companion, Mitzpah.

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 was published to rave press and reader reviews. The Rest of Me is her fourth novel.You can follow Katie on Twitter @marshismsVisit her website www.katie-marsh.comOr find her on Facebook /KatieMarshAuthor

Mac Bride

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

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.

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

Natali Stajcic

Chi San-Wan and Natali Stajcic are passionate about finding balance in their lives and about eating wholesome, natural food that is delicious, nourishing and enables you to live well and feel good. The East London duo founded The Pressery in 2014 after becoming disenchanted by the lack of natural non-dairy products available on the market, so they began making their own fresh almond milk at home, soon finding stockists and fans across London and beyond. After a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, they launched their long-life almond milk in 2016, which is distributed across the UK. Fans of The Pressery's almond drinks include XXX XXX and XXXX.

Padraig O'Morain

Padraig O'Morain has practised mindfulness for 25 years and taught mindfulness for more than a decade. He runs workshops in his native Ireland where the inspiration for this book was sparked by an encounter with a very busy woman who took 4 years to get to one of his courses (and still had to dash to a meeting in the middle of it) and who has since reported that mindfulness changed her life - for the better.