I was going to review a mystery/thriller that I finished not too long ago, but I’ve decided not to review this particular book. It wasn’t poorly written, full of typos, or incoherent. So, why am I not going to review this book, you ask? Three words: mental illness stigma.
Now that you’re probably rolling your eyes and preparing to unfollow my blog, let me give you a bit of my background. Around twenty odd years ago, I was diagnosed as having bipolar type 1, as well as an anxiety disorder. Actually, let me back up: I was diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy, an unspecified sleep disorder, major depressive disorder, and the lovely generalized anxiety disorder. Eventually, bipolar 1 replaced the mdd diagnosis. Then came the pills; lots and lots of them. I was a minor when all this started, so I had very little say in my own treatment (remember, this was twenty years ago). Chances are, if you can name it, I’ve been on it at some point. Mental illness treatment is seldom linear, and in my case, I was also being put on different medications for epilepsy (oddly enough, I’m currently on a mood stabilizer that also acts as an anti-convulsant. Go figure). There were upsets, bad side effects (one antidepressant actually made me suicidal), and several hospitalizations.
I don’t write any of this in an attempt to receive anything remotely resembling pity: I’m here, I’m currently doing well, and my mental illness is simply one part of the person I am- and not even the most defining part. However, it does play into why I’m so bummed about the book I finished recently.
This book, which I will not name, had an interesting premise, unique characters, and a fantastic setting. It moved at a good pace, and had several twists and turns that kept me reading. But, once again, as has happened quite often recently, the murderer’s sole reason for committing the crime was simply “mental illness.” And with that, this book lost me. I feel that, not only is it lazy writing for a character’s complete motivation to be thrown on ye random mental illness (in the case of this book, it was undefined, but I’ve seen a lot of schizophrenia and borderline personality disorders filling in that blank lately), it can be harmful to those who are just beginning the very long road to getting help with mental illness.
I read because I love to visit different places, see through different eyes, and experience new things. If I’d read multiple books describing violent, irredeemable monsters as having a mental illness back when I was still struggling horribly to just continue, it would have broken me.
Now, of course authors are free to write anything they want. And of course, people reading my ramblings might think I’m overreacting (maybe I am), but I want to try something: I want any of you who are still with me at this point to comment with a mystery/thriller or fantasy that portrays mental illness in a healthy light. I’d love to read those books. And, maybe- just maybe- I’m not the only one.
So, weigh in please: let’s get a good list going. And I promise, the next blog post will be back to my semi-regularly scheduled broadcast.