Posts Tagged ‘mental health’
I mentioned this at a Gen Con panel, and Mike Shel made some great additional comments that prompted this post. There are three big ways that writers fuck up when it comes to mental illnesses (and media in general, thus people in general).
Schizophrenia doesn’t mean Dissociative Identity Disorder
Not only do people use them interchangeably, but some also use schizophrenia as a synonym for hallucinations (which is a part of, but not the whole of, this condition). And folks use dissociative identity disorder to mean full-blown “fully realized identities who aren’t aware of each other” conditions, which is the rarer form of this.
If you’re a writer on one of my projects, and you pull one of these out, you’ve better goddamn well know what you’re talking about. And even then, I’m going to give your usage a hairy eyeball because so many people don’t actually know what these conditions mean — a casual use of the word “schizophrenia” will conjure completely contrary thoughts in the head of far too many readers.
Asocial doesn’t mean Antisocial
Many people use “antisocial” to mean “this person doesn’t like hanging around with people/is a recluse/is an introvert.” Everyone who does sounds like a moron, because antisocial personality disorder is a condition that is closer to being a sociopath than it is to being someone who doesn’t like leaving the house.
Here’s more about asociality. And while I’m generally loathe to quote Wikipedia, in this case it’s spot on:
Asocial is distinct from antisocial as the latter implies an active misanthropy or antagonism toward other people or the general social order.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Unless you seriously do your research, don’t even go here. Why? Because many people with PTSD play our games. Many of them are soldiers. How about not trivializing the shit they go through. And this isn’t just being politically correct — do you really want to anger armed individuals who have been trained in combat?
In general, if you’re going to throw around mental illnesses and disorders, do your damn homework and make sure you can portray it in a way that will properly get past any erroneous preconceived notions that various readers will have. And it’s very easy to look like a moron to those who do know about the subject matter. Let’s make characters, not caricatures.
What other ways have you seen?
I’m doing an Important (to me and hopefully others) Thing this coming weekend: I’m going to talk with Philippe-Antoine Menard about my struggle with mental health. This is something I’m passionate about, which anyone who knows me well or follows me quickly discovers. We did a panel at Gen Con, which…really, I should just have you hear him talk about it.
A year ago, I pushed things a bit further and successfully pitched a concept for a Pax East panel featuring gamers dealing with depression and anxiety. The idea was to outline, through life stories and anecdotes, how our respective tribes* were very powerful allies in overcoming the recurring hardships of those dealing with anxiety and depression.
The Pax East panel was a huge success. Along with my friends Brian Liberge and Melissa Lewis-Gentry, we shared poignant stories and hilarious ways that our tribe flew to our help in times of need. Many people in the room shared bits and pieces of their stories with us. Even a year later, I still get good feedback for it.
With such a resounding success, I planned an encore for last summer’s Gen Con. That time, we were graced by the presence of game designer and writer Ryan Macklin. Ryan shared a heart wrenching account of his bout with a condition that caused him so much physical pain that it drove him out of his mind with anxiety and the darkest of thoughts. His emotion-laden account had the whole room listen with rapt attention. Once again, many of those in the room hung around to share stories. A feeling of belonging, of not being alone pervaded the room.
We’re doing this as a Hangout on the Air this Saturday, February 2nd, at 6pm Pacific Time/9pm Eastern Time. Read Phillipe’s post for more information. Once it’s done and on YouTube, I’ll edit this page with the video embedded.
Edit: Thank you all for listening in. For those who want to check it out, it’s on YouTube:
I’m gonna take a few days off from blogging. I want to hunker down and finish a project I’ve been working on, which I’ll share with y’all soon enough. And lately I haven’t been able to quite manage both a couple thousand words on projects and writing up a blog post. And I’m going to use that as a segue to talk about mental health.
This constant workload is one of those things that ends up biting me. Lately has been a lot of “burning the candle at both ends” sort of activity, to finish up some stuff for other people. Unfortunately because of that, some days I just can’t get the words together at all. This is partly do to dealing with a psychiatric condition that causes excruciating headaches in times of stress or heavy continual brain contact. With the anti-anxiety medication I take, working an eight-hour day is doable, but the eleven-hour ones eat up my spoons quickly.
Having to deal with being a creative and dealing with psychiatric conditions means gauging your ability to work, and not working like you see other people doing. I would love to have the output that, say, Matt Forbeck has. Especially with his 12-for-12 project, which I encourage you to check out. But I can’t do that; I’ve tried, and found my neurochemistry doesn’t support my desired output. Since I’ve come to terms with that, I’m pretty watchful for “wait, the extra hour of work I’m about to do tonight is going to kill my brain for the whole of tomorrow. Fuck.”
I want to finish this project without crashing myself. And I want to finish it soon, because that’ll make me happy. So I’m at that point where I look at the “this is what I want to do” pile and “this is what I have the bandwidth for” meter, and decide what has priority.
Anyway, I figured I could just say “Hey, taking a break! Working on something cool!” and folks would just nod. But I wanted to say a little more, because I know I’m not the only creative type out there who deals with mental health issues. I’m rather resentful of this limitation, but that’s what I get to deal with.
See you in a bit!
 Which is why I’m so very damned loud about health care in this country. Because I pay for the medication out of my pocket, and my thought process each time I do is “Okay, I’ve bought another 100 days of sanity & ability to work. What can I do with it?”
 I’ve always been quiet about such things, because I’m genuinely afraid that it’ll cause me to not get hired by some people. But I think I’m done being quiet.