As I'm moving into my next writing project, a contemporary YA fiction, I've come to a point in my knowledge bank where I can work a little more of the things I've learned the past few years into my story.
A quick history of this project:
As I mentioned a post or two ago, I am revamping a set of short stories I began writing in high school. The first short story focused on the narrator's sorta-boyfriend, Jonny, and his mother. They both had a non-descript mental illness that made them closed off, impulsive and also manic-depressive (MDD). I always played with the idea of them having Schizo-Affective Disorder, but it's a fairly complicated illness, and being a teenager when I began writing that story, all I had to go on was the internet. I'm still not sure if they were true to the typical symptoms of that disorder.
Fast forward to today, or two or three days ago rather, I started writing the beginnings of this revamp (no plotting like I said might happen lol I'm a pantser, can't help it) with a new idea. First, as I'd actually focused on Jonny's parents in an early draft, I started with them again. This time, however, I got to use some more information. I was a secretary-type person at the Division of Developmental Disabilities services for 2-3 years before I got my current job. One of the duties they assigned me was taking notes, minutes, and copying off reports for a committee who documented the disabled clients that had behavioral disorders. So I spent months typing up and reading these reports, hearing about instances from their case managers and analysts where their behaviors spiked, and understanding the differences between the common developmental disabilities, like Downs Syndrome and Autism. I also learned of behavioral disorders like Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), Impulse Control Disorder (ICD); I even got to study documentation of a few clients with Schizo-Affective Disorder. (I probably should've gone into psychology, but I didn't realize how deep my passion was for knowing about these disorders until I was on that committee, and I don't particularly want to go back to college.)
So, I was given a foundation. I also knew by the time I put pencil to paper this week that the issue my Jonny and his mother would be dealing with was Asperger's with ICD, Anxiety, and Depression axes (did not know the plural for axis a minute ago) for Jonny's mother. I'm still on the fence about using IED, probably won't, but certainly either Asperger's with an ADHD or MDD axis for Jonny.
And something awesomely cool about the advancement of the internet: I found a blog by a mother with Asperger's (she didn't know she had it until her child was an adult). So, I can get experiences straight from a source to understand what a parent with Asperger's goes through. Just reading the first two posts in her series, I can see how frustrating and scary it must've been to know you're different but not why. We know so much more about Asperger's now than before (I only heard about it through Grey's Anatomy some years ago, and Asperger discovered it in the 40s).
I am on this diatribe to say that it's okay to write what you don't know if you take the time to research it, speak to people who've experienced it, and/or find blogs by people who've experienced it. Work to make it as real and plausible as possible. If this story sees the light of day, I hope someone will be able to relate to it, see themselves in it, and say that I did a good job portraying it.
Is there something you've wanted to write or something that has interested you that you yourself haven't experienced?