When I tell people about Rule of Thirds, a question I often get is, “but how do you write about PTSD?”
The answer in one word: Research.
In a few more words? All the research.
Whenever I write a story about a character that isn’t me (so. all of them.) there are going to be things I don’t know. That means I do a lot of reading things like books, blogs, articles, and watching documentaries and vlogs. There are people out there telling their stories. It’s a matter of finding them. I invoke the judicious use of google of course, but one source is not enough sources. Skimming one website won’t tell me what I need to know. This is especially important when choosing to write something like a mental illness, because you should be out to do your best job at representing.
I spoke with a woman whose father had PTSD. She has memories of being about four years old and him taking her and her siblings down to the basement, telling them all to be quiet and still, while he checked the pertimeters.
People sharing stories about being unable to eat, about eating too much, about strict training regimens, about wanting to sleep forever.
I read and heard many, many variations on how the Fourth of July is hell.
Anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, mania, anger.
PTSD has depth. It manifests in a variety of ways, affects everyone differently, and it can be a moderate annoyance to debilitating. The last thing I wanted to do was sensationalize or fetishize it.
But I also didn’t want to write it as hopeless.
Having a mental illness isn’t a death sentence. It means you need aid. That might be a pet, a support system, a medication, a lifestyle change, or something else, something that might be unique to you.
Jason and Shade both have trauma they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. They will never be “best.” But they will to continue to get better.
That’s how I write about anything.