Mental Illness in Stories

Look, I know it’s apparently ‘trendy’ or something right now to have your angsty character have a mental illness of some kind.  But please, please, please, if for no reason other than so you don’t look stupid, if your character is going to have a mental illness make sure you actually learn what the hell it is first.

Your character with Tourette Syndrome?  Yeah, there is a lot more to that than random cussing.  In order to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, you have to also have at least two motor tics.  In fact, Coprolalia?  The cussing thing?  Yeah, only about 10% of the people with Tourette Syndrome have that.  It’s not limited to Tourette Syndrome.  Also, it’s Tourette Syndrome, not tourettes.  And if you, anywhere in your writing, call it turrets syndrome, your readers get one free punch at your face.  Each.

If your character has epilepsy?  Then they probably do not drive, especially when they are in any part of the world with actual driving regulations.  Why?  Because it’s a goddamn seizure disorder, that’s why.  They are not legally allowed to drive unless they’ve been seizure free for a variable number of years.  Not months.  Years.

Also, if your character has a severe neurological disorder for which they are on medication (such as schizophrenia) and they go off their meds for any reason?  Yeah, it’s not going to be just a bit of a hangover.  It’s going to be ‘let’s take a trip to our good friend Mr. Emergency Room’.  It could KILL them.

It would also help if you learned the difference between ‘feeling depressed’ and ‘having clinical depression’.  Hint – Only one of those can be helped by going for a walk in the park or ‘just trying to cheer up and put a brave face on it’, and it’s NOT the latter.

If you are in the US, your character cannot be involuntarily medicated without a court order, and getting such a court order is NOT an easy thing.  If someone gives medication without the consent of the patient or their legal guardian, they can go to jail.  A doctor is not going to walk up and sedate someone in the ER for shouting.  They are going to call security and security is going to walk up and taze them in the ER for shouting.

And if you are in the US, a psychologist, a therapist, a counselor, and a psychiatrist are NOT the same thing.  Learn the difference.  Only one of those is also a medical doctor able to legally prescribe you medication.


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