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How To Accurately Write A Character With A Mental Illness Or Disorder

February 15, 2020


mental illnesses are very common in fact
nearly one in five US adults live with a mental illness but accurately creating a
character with a mental illness is something that people usually shy away
from because it can be difficult to portray a character properly who has a
mental illness so in today’s video I want to talk about how you can create a
character with mental illness or condition and how you can accurately and
realistically create and portray them in your story hi everyone if you don’t
already know me my name is Midnight cross and on this channel I give you all the
information you need to know in order to turn your manga into a masterpiece now
I’m currently working on my own manga titled having faith which you might
hear me talk about in today’s video but also in other videos on my channel now
if you’re new to my channel and you’d love to see more videos just like this
one today please consider subscribing because I upload a new video all about
men creating storytelling and character creating every Sunday and Thursday and
you really don’t want to miss it make sure to hit the little bell icon to get
notified every time I upload something new so first of all let me talk about
what a mental illness or mental disorder actually is a mental health disorder
refers to a wide range of mental health conditions
these may be disorders that affect your mood your thinking or your behavior
some examples of mental illnesses are depression anxiety BPD schizophrenia and
eating disorders in this video I will also include disorders such as autism
spectrum disorder and Asperger’s syndrome because even though these
aren’t mental illnesses they are developmental disorders so I will
mention them and the tips I talked about in today’s video we’ll cover character
designs that are autistic or have Asperger’s syndrome so the first thing
to think about when you are creating a character with a mental illness or
disorder is I think about why you are creating this character in the first
place what effect is their mental illness going to have on your story it’s
actually one of my personal pet peeve when I see creators or any form of media
having a character with a mental illness by using that mental illness in a way
that defines them so they might say a character has autism or Asperger’s and
then they use it as a way to title the character they use a mental illness or a
disability as a kind of title for that character and I think this is
romanticizing the mental illness or disorder which is what you really want
to be careful to avoid in your story and we’ll talk more about this later about
how a mental illness should not define your character but first of all let’s
talk about things you should consider when you are actually creating this
character and why you might be considering creating a character with a
mental illness is it to make this character more relatable to the readers
or is it to add a kind of internal conflict to this character really
consider how this mental illness is going to affect them as a character and
why it is so important to have this character with a mental illness in your
story why are you creating this character is it to put a bigger message
in your story about people with these mental conditions is it to make people
more aware of these conditions these are things that you all need to consider
when you are creating a character with a mental illness or condition what I
really suggest you guys is you should write down anything any reasons why you
are having this character with the mental illness and how this might affect
the story for example a person with no mental illness might be able to go out
and talk to people fine and have a conversation in a fine way but a person
with anxiety might really struggle to go out and hold a conversation with someone
because it makes them feel so anxious so obviously things like this would affect
your character a lot and these are things you need to keep in mind as well
so think about how your character’s mental illness is going to affect the
story how is this mental illness going to affect them how will it affect the
story and consider your character’s mental illness and write down exactly
how that will affect the story because ultimately you don’t want to create a
character with a mental illness and just say hey this character has depression
and then never show any signs of that if you’re going to give a character amends
with you also had to consider the effect that
would have on the story and the effect it would have on the character as well
so my second tip for creating a character with mental illness is don’t
let the mental illness completely define them as a character now this is
something I mentioned briefly in my previous tip and this is also one of my
pet peeves when I see characters with mental illnesses or disorders because in
a lot of cases a writer or a creator might say okay this character has
depression and then they make the whole story about the character having
depression which is not what you want as I mentioned before you don’t want to
romanticize the mental illness because having a mental illness is horrible no
one wants to experience this and so you don’t want to portray it in that way you
want to portray it in a realistic way so instead of creating a character with
depression and making the whole book focused about their depression instead
think of the story like any other story and make the character have that
condition the condition is not them the mental illness is not your character
your character is still a character but the mental illness or condition is still
something they have to live with so instead when you are creating this
character take away the mental illness and actually look at this character
without them think about their likes and their dislikes their traits the things
they do and in this way you’re focusing on creating a good character first
before actually adding a mental illness to them and this can also make them a
more realistic character as well because now you’re not just saying okay this
character is depression now you’re saying this character has a life this
character is important this character has good and bad traits but one thing
they have to live for is this depression or this other mental condition so when
you are creating a character with a mental illness make sure that you are
not just using that mental illness to define them or to define your story and
that’s why your character’s mental illness is not going to completely
define them and define your story but it is going to be something that affects
them and ultimately makes them more realistic and accurate as a character my
third tip for creating a character with mental illness is decide on the severity
of that mental illness or disorder obviously with any kind of illness or
disorder there’s going to be different levels of severity some people might
have anxiety but it might be a more minor form of anxiety which they do feel
sometimes but it doesn’t majorly affect them whereas some people might have
really severe cases of anxiety and it really affects how they go about their
day-to-day life so when you are creating a character with a mental illness you
need to consider how severe their illness actually is how much is this
condition going to affect them and you need to research the different levels of
this illness to ensure that you are portraying it correctly and this brings
me to my next point so my fourth tip is research the mental illness from real
people of course you can go to medical websites about the illness and research
there however in a lot of cases I find it’s easier to actually get the details
from real people so going on to reddit or going on to forums about that
particular mental illness might really help you to get an accurate and
realistic portrayal of what it’s actually like experiencing that a
medical site will just tell you more the symptoms of having that or how it may
feel but if you actually go and talk to a real person with it or have a look on
reddit or a forum you’ll actually get a more accurate portrayal of what that
mental illness is really like and this will help you to more accurately display
it in your character as well and when you are doing this research if there’s
any points that stand out to you or things you might want to incorporate
into your characters condition write it down and put it together with research
and make sure it is something that’s accurate to the mental condition so my
fifth tip is write down what they do because of the mental illness think
about how it affects them now we briefly talked about this in my first tip where
I talked about how you should consider how this mental illness affects the
story but in this tip I’m talking more about thinking about how the mental
illness affects them as a character think about the things they do because
they have this mental illness there are a lot of things we take for granted in
our daily lives that people with a mental illness or disorder might really
struggle with for example a character ADHD might have trouble focusing on
things for long periods of time or a character with schizophrenia may have
trouble with auditory or visual hallucinations of course this also
really depends on the severity of your character’s mental illness but it’s
something you need to keep in mind you need to write down how this mental
illness actually affects your character and overall this is going to help you to
write your story with this character in it with the mental illness because maybe
there are things your other characters are able to accomplish really easily but
because of your own characters mental illness they may have to struggle a bit
more with it or they may have a sort of internal conflict about doing something
because it’s really difficult for them with their mental illness as I mentioned
before don’t base the whole story around your character’s mental illness
obviously the story would be like any other story there’d be some sort of end
goal there’d be other characters and having this character with a mental
illness that mental illness is not them but it is a condition that they have to
live with or go through with so you really need to consider how this is
going to affect the character and affect what they do in the story and what kinds
of conflicts and internal conflicts that is going to create for them as they work
towards the end goals of the story my sixth tip is not everyone who has the
same mental illness or disorder is going to be exactly the same everyone
experiences things very differently so for example someone with depression
might have a very different experience with their depression then someone else
who is also diagnosed with depression I’ve known many people in my life who
have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and they’re all very very
different from each other and was because they’re all different people so
consider this move your story not everyone with a mental illness is going
to be exactly the same so when you’re doing your research you can certainly
collect a research from other people and research from various forums but overall
consider how your chosen mental illness actually affects your character and it
doesn’t have to be completely to the book this is what the mental illness is
and this is how the character is supposed to deal with it because as I
said everyone deals with mental illnesses differently so perhaps your
character might deal with anxiety or OCD in a different way than other characters
might so when you’re doing your research consider what parts of that mental
condition that your character deals with and what parts they might not deal with
and in this way you’re creating a more accurate and realistic portrayal of
someone with a mental illness so my seventh tip is no the disorder at least
in your mind you do not have to explicitly mention your character’s
mental illness or disorder in your story and I think this is where a lot of
people run into problems because they end up putting a label on their
character they say okay this character has autism and this can cause a few
difficult problems the first problem is it may cause your character to end up
becoming more of a stereotype of someone with that mental illness which is not
what you want at all the second thing is that it may cause people to not be able
to relate to them as much by putting your character under a particular label
it may make your character only relatable to a certain group of people
whereas if you give your character the traits of someone for example with
autism spectrum disorder and you don’t explicitly mention that they have autism
a lot more people are going to be able to relate to them even if they do not
have autism because people with autism might say okay I relate to this
character because they act a lot like me but other people who might not have
autism might be able to connect to that character in other ways so if you
explicitly say what your character’s mental illness or disorder is you are
sort of only making your character relatable to a smaller amount of people
whereas if you don’t say what your character’s mental illness is even if
you do know it in your own mind you can still accurately portray a character
with a mental illness without explicitly defining that character into any kind of
label and it also helps your character to be able to be more relatable to a
larger amount of people even if they may not have that mental illness or
sorter themselves so thank you so much watching my video today everyone I
really hope you enjoyed it if you have please let me know in the comment
section down below also if you like this video feel free to connect with me on
any of my social media at midnight across I’d love to hear about what you
guys are creating and what kinds of characters you are making as well I’ll
see you guys in the next video where I talk about how to build an audience for
your comic or book again thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you in
the next video bye

2 Comments

  • Reply RUSMIX Alive February 14, 2020 at 11:27 pm

    some yandere character your talking about

  • Reply MsArt Garden February 15, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    This is a really unique topic to do. You're always full of such creativity. 🙂

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