autisticalice: (happiness; katy)
 I'm thinking I might start my first chapter where the reader gets a first glimpse of Jade's home life since, a new idea I have, is how she falls into a deep depression which leads to cutting and self-harm. Her mother is a drunk because Jade's father was killed in a car accident just recently and has placed an impact on her mother's life. Jade still has an autistic spectrum disorder (I won't say Asperger Syndrome since I want it to be a mixed form of Autism). Her eighteen year old sister is has to take care of her as well as their mother.

Bullying will also play a big part in making Jade's life worse. I was thinking that traits of depression could start right away but be very mild and less affecting. That way the reader can get a feel for what's to come and prepare for the worst. I just need to find a few mild traits of depression that will start her off and then work my way up to the really disabling aspects, including her self-harm and cutting.

Of course, I decided to make it so Jade wants to make a difference at her school, instead of the world because it's a much smaller goal and maybe if I'm lucky, and I actually get through and finish this story, I can write a sequel where she tries to educate the world... I don't know. lol we'll see. Anyway, I was thinking that maybe, it could have something to do with what she's really into. She loves animals so maybe her goal could be to include vegetarian meals or meals for those with special needs (ie, food allergies, special diets). I just want it to have to do with her trying to make a difference at school, other than the high bullying rate, since that would seem to cliche with her being bullied as it is.

lol, sue me... I get all my ideas from Degrassi. I got the drunk mother idea from the episode where Ellie Nash starts cutting herself and the idea for Jade making a difference from Emma Nelson because she's always trying to do things that help the school or her environment. I might even have a times when Jade starts a group to help pick up trash around the school or read books to the kids who are in kindergarten... something where she is actually helping in some way and still manages to do something for her school.

One of the reasons she is bullied, is because people hate her for being so helpful and cheerful. It's something they want to destroy and ruin for her so she can be let down and whatever. Another reason is well, duh, she's different and isn't very social at all. Plus she has odd behaviors that none of them, not even the teachers really seem to understand, especially since she's really smart and isn't taken seriously as having special needs. (Mind you, I'm not saying people who really are severely disabled aren't smart. What I mean is that, it's the stereotype where they are misunderstood for NOT being smart when they actually are... if that makes sense. ><)


Date: 2012-09-26 08:43 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
>>I just need to find a few mild traits of depression that will start her off and then work my way up to the really disabling aspects, including her self-harm and cutting.<<

Some possibilities:
* low energy
* needing extra sleep
* slower recovery from emotional upset
* difficulty starting a new project
* brief and mild fugue states, just staring out a window without thinking of anything

>>She loves animals so maybe her goal could be to include vegetarian meals or meals for those with special needs (ie, food allergies, special diets).<<

This sounds interesting, plus has the advantage of being timely. A lot of people right now are interested in making school meals more healthy, in various ways. Maybe someone she knows or admires at school has an allergy or a religious restriction. For instance, Hindus don't eat beef and Muslims don't eat pork -- two groups of people currently unpopular. Allergies, maybe fish or shellfish; most allergies are to plant foods.

Oh! Some people with depression and autism-spectrum disorders (and others like ADHD) find that artificial ingredients in food make their symptoms worse. So organic food might also catch this character's attention.

>>One of the reasons she is bullied, is because people hate her for being so helpful and cheerful.<<

You'll need to clarify the situations where she is cheerful vs. depressed (which could also be a fake performance, if she pretends to be happier than she really is) and helpful vs. withdrawn. Often there are personal parameters for each situation, which are subjectively clear but hard to see form the outside. Sharing that could be interesting and effective.

Re: Hmm...

Date: 2012-09-27 05:34 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
>>Well, she doesn't have friends except for one person... so maybe that person with her developmental disability has a food allergy or something.<<

That's a possibility. However, it doesn't have to be a friend. It could be someone she just knows, and doesn't actively hate; or a teacher or librarian who isn't mean to her.

>>Also, right now, Jade isn't eating or sleeping properly. <<

That matches with depression, and the cause can go either way.

>>But I'm calling it a developmental disability because I think mental retardation is a bit offensive to some of them, despite being the medical term.<<

"Developmental disability" is the more recent term, and is used in clinical contexts, so that will work.

>>Plus, with her depression, her father just passed away in a car accident on impact so that adds to her depression... <<

Bear in mind that depression tends to make ordinary processes of grief or disappointment longer and deeper. People just don't bounce back as well.

>>I want to do a little back story on her plus a current story on her to give the readers an idea what her life is and was like growing up.<<

That's a good idea.

>>Right now it's at the early stages so it more or less develops into something worse as the story progresses.<<

Useful technique, if you can pull it off.

Re: Hmm...

Date: 2012-09-28 03:17 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
>>Well, I am going to have her go in 'a depressive state' during a meltdown but since it's still in the early stage, it's not chronic until later on. She shrugs it off as being an autism thing.<<

Whenever you have two different things happening with the same character, with symptoms that overlap somewhat, it can be challenging to distinguish between those things. So toward the end of the story, it might be helpful to discuss the autism and depression specifically. That would also provide a chance to examing the similarities and differences between the two.

>>Also, she does have a favorite teacher and that's her english teacher who is nice to her and understands her struggles.<<

That would be a good character for the food allergy or dietary needs, then. It would avoid heaping everything on just one supporting character.

>>There is also a slam page that the mean girls created to 'slam' people like Jade.<<

Things like that cause SO much trouble.

>>She looks this page up and sees that she is the one that is slammed the most. It causes her to run off to the bathroom and have these depressive thoughts.<<

Well yeah, that would really upset most people, even without depression as a clinical condition.

One model I work with, that the mainstream really doesn't, involves distinguishing between mental illness and mental injury. So a person could be depressed even if things are going well because they have a brain chemistry imbalance; or could become depressed if something awful happens like losing a family member or being tormented by other people. That is actually reflected in examples of depression -- some people just seem to have it off-and-on regardless of what's happening around them, while others fall into it rather abruptly after a triggering event.

>> I want to slowly get all the less severe depressive symptoms first before getting into the really big ones. <<

There are dozens of symptoms, some more common than others. Not everybody has all the symptoms, and in fact, some are mutually contradictory (like wanting to sleep all the time vs. insomnia). So it's probably a better idea to choose a few sample symptoms that seem to fit the character and combine well, for the milder phase and then the more severe phase.

>> I was actually thinking that she tries to FIGHT the depression but instead, she makes it worse later in the story when she breaks down.<<

That's a possibility.

>> One of her other early stages of it will be losing interest in things she used to love doing. <<

Yeah, that's one of the most brutal symptoms, losing the ability to enjoy anything. Then life is just drudgery and torment.

>>But anyway, her grades start slipping down to D's and F's because she has lost interest in school and her usual activities. <<

It's not just lack of interest but also lack of energy and a certain sluggishness of thought. That can make everything take longer and feel harder. So even if she is doing the reading, she might not understand the material as well; and even if she tries to do the homework, she might not be able to finish it by the deadline -- or if she rushes to finish, it will be all full of mistakes.

>>I'm going to research on depression more too. I know there are a few different forms of it so I might try to pick one that fits her the most.<<

That's a good idea. Yes, depression can have different causes, symptoms, and outcomes. I'm ... not really sure how accurate the mainstream resources are, though. The study of the mind and personality is nowhere near as advanced as study of the body, because humans just don't have ways of evaluating ephemeral things as precisely and objectively as material things. So in addition to looking at clinical descriptions, I'd suggest looking for personal accounts of depression by different people.

>>I don't want it to be really obvious that she is going to end up getting severely depressed because then the reader might lose interest.<<

Something to keep an eye on, then, is reader investment in the character and the emotional reward for reading. There should be some successes so people feel that she has agency, even if some things don't work out the way she wants.

One possibility would be to include a major success, such as changing the school lunch menu for the better, shortly before the depression turns deeper. If she was expecting to feel better when things went well, and didn't, that would be a big clue that something else was wrong underneath.

>>I just don't really know how to do that.<<

Start with small details and work your way up to larger ones. Focus on her actions, how it influences the choices she makes; and how she thinks about things, like the detention messing up her routine. This gives people a chance to put the clues together and figure out what's happening for themselves.

>> I like to surprise the reader and there are even times when I don't even let my character say she has autism. I let her call it a disability or condition because I want the reader to get the FEEL for autism without KNOWING it's Autism right away.<<

Good plan. There's a limit to how much surprise you'll get, however, with a character in a crummy situation being depressed and autistic. They're not the same things but they do often overlap.

>>Though I do think I have it mildly and it's just not diagnosed.<<

There should be parameters for describing a range of severity; I've heard of such for depression. But diagnosis can vary a lot depending on the health care provider you have, and the bias can run high or low.

>> My dad has it and he has to take medication for his. I always wonder if it's something genetic but it probably isn't. <<

Depression can run in families, and that's a known factor.

>>I don't know if it was just an autism thing but the thoughts and the emotions I felt were so bad that it was becoming really disabling for me and my psychiatrist shrugged it off and told me it was probably the autism.<<

If something is causing a problem for you, and the alleged professional blows it off, then they are failing to meet your needs and should be replaced with someone actually competent if that is feasible. Sadly, that problem is very common and replacement is not always an option, so many people just wind up suffering.

>>I have a hard time knowing what I am feeling except for like, basic emotions such as happy, sad, angry, frustration<<

So there's another subtle option. Your character might name only basic emotions for herself, while other characters use more nuanced words (elated, nostalgic, outraged, etc.) for themselves. Then she might wonder how they know that stuff.

>>That could be the moment when she has a nervous breakdown and starts cutting herself.<<

You also need to consider whether or not the cutting "works" for her, and if so, how well. Because some people do it, and they feel better, and as long as they're careful it's an effective technique; but it's extremely unacceptable to society, nevermind if it's the only thing that DOES work, people would rather you just suffer than fix it that way. Some folks will cut, and it works at first, but a tolerance builds up kind of like with a drug; so that becomes a serious problem pretty fast. And some people cut, not as a release, but because they really want to HURT themselves, which is somewhat different and again a more serious problem. This is an area where more research would probably help.

>> I want the depressive state to last for a little while and have different triggers that make it even worse. <<

That's realistic.

Date: 2012-09-26 05:46 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] albatrossxwing
I look forward to Jade's (mis)adventures. :)


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