Hello guys !
CW: Depression, self-harm
I think everyone who has ever suffered from it will agree with me here. Depression really, really sucks. In fact, all mental illnesses suck but as someone who deals with depression, I’m especially familiar with it and the representation it receives in media.
And to be honest, I rather hate it.
For the longest time in the world, I struggled to accept that I needed to seek help; that I was probably depressed and needed medication and to talk to someone. And the main reason for that? Because I didn’t think I was depressed because I didn’t look like your typical “depressed girl” from the novels that I had read.
I never realised that depression — that all mental illnesses — manifested themselves in a million different ways with each person. No-one has the exact same experiences with mental illnesses and I think that is something we need to explore much more in fiction — especially in Young Adult fiction where mental illnesses often go unnoticed or untreated for this very reason. Because they believe that they’re not “bad” enough to have depression.
I mean, we all know your typical mental illness novel right: manic-pixie-dream-girl who meets a guy who kisses her self-harm scars and cures her. It’s just not realistic at all. But it’s always the “pretty” side of depression that is shown in novels. It’s glamourising self harm and acting as if depression is just being a little sadder than normal. That’s the only way you can be depressed — if you cut yourself.
Never have I self-harmed (well, not in the actively self-harming way that most people assume. I do smaller forms such as picking my cuticles and such and I’m working on it) and that was one of the sole reasons I fought the idea that I was depressed. Depression = self-harm, from all my previous experiences with representation in media.
And it wasn’t until I had been diagnosed and came to terms with my illness that I realised just how shit this is. Depression isn’t pretty. It isn’t faint scars that someone will kiss. It isn’t just sadness until such a time that you find someone to take your mind off.
It’s not showering or brushing your teeth for weeks because you just don’t have the energy to. It’s not eating or just eating trash until your body forces you to do better because preparing food takes too much effort. It’s losing friends because you can’t keep up conversations or you’re always cancelling plans. It’s staying in your pyjamas for days on end. It’s losing the enjoyment of simple things like reading or watching TV.
And I want to see more of it in fiction. I want to see characters fight this horrible disease and sometimes not win their daily fight. Or weekly fight, because hey, I’ve been there. I want on page medication and therapy and relapses. I want characters to fuck up and fall down and struggle to get back up again. I’m sick fed up of depression automatically being associated with self-harm as if that’s the only symptom there is. And as if cutting is the only form of self-harm (which is another rant altogether for me, haha.)
But I want more realistic portrayals of mental illness so that people like myself, won’t end up in an unsafe situation because they keep insisting they don’t suffer because their symptoms are never shown.
Give me the ugly side of mental illness. The subtle side of mental illness. Give me the realistic portrayals so that kids don’t suffer in silence because they haven’t gotten to the extremes yet.
Writer & Book blogger @ CAH Writes
Charlotte Anne Hamilton is a twenty-two year-old Scottish author with two fur-children. She is an avid reader and gamer, as well as a dabbler of art. When not writing like she’s running out of time, she can be found listening to music which inspires more stories.
Diverse Book Bloggers Discuss is a way to boost diverse bloggers who are brilliant and have a lot to say but have smaller platforms and don’t really get as much reach as they deserve. What this is, is basically a guest post feature where twice a month diverse book bloggers will discuss things they are passionate about on my blog.