October Frights – Day Three – Midnight

“So that’s it?” Sabine pushed her empty plate aside and focused on her coffee. “That sucks, John. I’m sorry for the bad pun and for your loss. Best friends are harder to lose than lovers in some ways.”

John shook his head. “I don’t know about that. I mean, she was never my lover, but she was definitely the best friend I ever had. And they killed her. Done with her. Like she was nothing. All because of what? They needed to feed and she was convenient?”

He fell silent as the server wandered over to refill their mugs. Sabine watched her from the corner of her eye, then resumed talking.

“She uncovered their secret. Was gonna make it public. So yeah, she was convenient and they got a free meal off it. But you can’t just bust in there thinking about Hannah, all emotional and limp-dicked. You know better than that.”

“I won’t. I’m good at shutting it off to do what I need to do. Maybe they don’t teach you that in the Marines.” He smirked at her. “Kidding.”

“You better be. It’d be pretty embarrassing for you to get knocked on your ass by a hundred-pound woman.”

“I’d laugh at you for that, but I saw you take down that Faraj-his-face whatever his name was. Fucker was bigger than me.”

Sabine shook her head. “Size doesn’t matter when you’ve got Aikido on your side. Aikido and Krav. You just can’t afford a hit from someone as big as you are. So the trick is, don’t get hit.”

“Heh.”

Plates cleared and coffee diminished to droplets, Sabine paid the bill and put her beanie back on. “Come on, Big Guy. We’re gonna walk this off a bit, then wait till the Rhapsody is together. Got a nice plan in mind.”

to be continued…


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October Frights – Day Two – Before Midnight

“I told you, don’t be stupid, John.” Sabine shook her head, dark eyes disapproving. “You don’t just waltz into a Rhapsody and start shoving stakes in hearts. Well, you do, but carefully.”

She handed her flask to him, his hand folding over hers as he took it. “This holy water?”

Sabine scoffed. “Vodka. Holy water is a bunch of bullshit. Crosses, Stars of David, any holy symbol? Chuck it out the window. It’s worth about that much. Vampires aren’t the Children of Cain, and they didn’t come from Vlad the Impaler forsaking God. Forget all that. Vampires are parasites that evolved over time, plain and simple.”

“God … so none of that works?” He took a sip off the flask and handed it back to her.

“Did I fucking stutter? Fuck’s sake, John. There are three ways to kill a vampire. Stake through the heart, decapitation, and setting it on fire. Fire kills everything.” Sabine put her flask away.

John sighed. “Yeah, fine. Got it.” He looked down at her, a smirk rising to his face. “Sabine?”

“What?”

“Why do you have to be a bitch all the time?”

“Fuck you. That a good enough explanation?”

John laughed. “Okay. So why’s it called a Rhapsody? Why not a coven or something?”

“You ask way too many questions for a man your age,” Sabine said. “Come on, I’ll buy you a coffee. You went through all the trouble to find me over a month. It’s the least I could do.”

They walked against a stinging wind, pulling their jackets tighter to their bodies. Grace City offered little protection from the gusts despite its towering buildings.

The dinging of bells signaled their entrance to Ted’s Diner, and the two sat down on red pleather, the squishing of butts to booths audible in the quiet stretch of bar stools. Clattering from the kitchen seemed to respond.

Sabine ran a hand through her hair as she removed her beanie and set it aside, placing her phone on top of it. John did the same, reminding Sabine a bit of a toddler copying his parent.

“Two coffees and two of your Big Ass Burger plates,” she said when the server approached.

John waited till the old woman went away to speak again. “Thanks, by the way. I’m starved.”

“Yeah, I can tell,” Sabine said. “Heard your stomach ask you for food. Anyway, you can’t go into a Rhapsody hungry. You’re hungry means your blood sugar’s low. Adrenaline rush will make you weak instead of strong. You can’t fight in a Rhapsody while you’re fighting hunger or fatigue. You tired?”

“Nope. I’m used to working nights. Was in the Army. Used to four hours sleep, too.”

Sabine shrugged. “Good. I was a Marine. Used to three hours, myself.” She grinned at him, then laughed. “Kidding. Why the hell are you interested in this, anyway?”

to be continued…


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October Frights – Day One – Nightfall

“Dawn is far more frightening than nightfall if you think about it, John,” she said, flicking the ash of her cigarette onto the ground. “I mean, look around. The dark keeps our secrets. The dark lets us really be free. People say if you shed light on the monsters, the monsters aren’t so frightening. Maybe that’s true, in a way, but what’s more frightening is that the monsters actually exist. When dawn comes, you see how ugly and twisted they are.”

Sabine held the cigarette between her fingers as a flash of silver came out of her jacket. “Don’t worry. Just a flask.”

She could see his body tense for a moment. “If I was going to kill you, you’d be dead already.”

John said nothing. Hadn’t spoken the whole night except to say how nightfall was creepy as the sun slipped down past the tall buildings to make its escape.

“I guess,” John’s voice was thick and gruff from disuse. “But how do you know I’m not a monster, and I’ve got you fooled into thinking I’m just this normal guy?”

Sabine shrugged. “Don’t be stupid. You’re not normal and you don’t have me fooled, but you’re not a monster, either.”

“How do you know?”

“Most monsters don’t ask that question. That’s how I know.” She pinched her cigarette out between her fingers and let the hot cinder flip to the ground, bouncing away on the concrete. “Besides, I can smell them a mile away.”

John made a noise in his throat, somewhere between a laugh and a grunt.

Sabine kept talking. “So you’re in this with me? You’re not gonna back out and break your promise?”

“Yeah, yeah. I didn’t believe in vampires till a month ago, but sure. Let’s go kill some.”

to be continued …


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Update – Mercy Hospital

I thought this week I’d let you know my progress on the sequel to Now Entering Silver Hollow. We’ll get back to The Editor’s Corner pretty soon. But since I’ve had a few people ask how it’s going …

I’d say it’s going pretty well for an indie author with a full-time job. While I can’t give out any timelines just yet, I’ve had an opportunity to pick away at editing and have added a chapter so far.

Here’s a little taste of my progress. Keep in mind this is still going to have massive editing done to it, so the finished product may or may not have this in it:

2017-09-17 progress

So yes, I’m over 66,000 words now, and I still have a couple of chapters that need to be added. Now I’ve been writing this for some time, and I’ve recovered from two data failures, the death of my dog, and a new job that currently takes up to 14 hours of my days (including the commute). But I still pick away at the manuscript when I have a chance.

Once this second draft is finished, I will go through and do a third draft which is the developmental edit. I’ll look for consistency, continuity, make sure the story cycles aren’t too far out of whack, and then make sure my plot makes sense (somewhat, at least).

Then, the fourth draft will be a copy edit. Clarity, grammar, spelling, etc. All that good stuff. After that, I send the cleaned up copy “out” for a professional edit which is both developmental and copy. When it gets back to me, I’ll accept or reject the edits as needed and create my fifth draft.

The fifth one gets sent to my new proofreader, Jay Willison, for scrutinizing. I will also proofread it myself and let my editor take a final look at it. Three sets of eyes typically catch all the proofreading errors.

Then, the sixth draft will get a final coat of varnish, and I will set it up for publishing using the Pronoun platform. Print and eBooks will be available for your eager eyes and hot little hands.

I’m going to take advantage of NaNoWriMo 2017 to help me stay on track and get this process staying in motion, and I will update you periodically.

Until then, catch up on my weird world through Exit 1042 and Now Entering Silver Hollow. Happy reading!

-Anne

» 9 Famous Authors Who Didn’t Get Published Until Their Fifties (Or Older)

I actually do hear a lot of people complain that they’re too old to begin a writing career. But the fact of the matter is, you’re never too old to do anything career wise unless you’re dead or have developed a form of amnestic disorder/dementia.

Considering I’ve read about and met people in their 50s and 60s going to medical school, sitting down to write every day isn’t a challenge by comparison.

So don’t get discouraged. You have a chance to write and get published. Now, you can even choose to go indie and publish on your own with a platform like Pronoun. There’s really no excuse for not sitting down in front of the keyboard.

Even if you have arthritis, you can use a speech-to-text program to aid you in your endeavors.

Below are nine examples of authors who weren’t published till they hit the big 5-0 or later. Write a lot, improve your craft, and don’t give up.

Source: » 9 Famous Authors Who Didn’t Get Published Until Their Fifties (Or Older)

I’ll be back with The Psych Writer soon, going back to tackling personality disorders and how to write them well.

What to Write When You Don’t Know What to Write

This week, I’m taking a break from The Psych Writer to discuss writing.

Writing is my bread and butter. I have some posts I’ve written about writer’s block, and facing the terror of the blank page. In fact, I’ve written about the blank page twice, at least. But writer’s block still seems to be one of the biggest complaints I’ve seen among young writers or writers who are just starting out.

Recently, I got this in the form of a question. “What am I supposed to write when I don’t know what to write?”

Since I am trained as a therapist, I tend to want to pick apart problems and either reframe them or otherwise deconstruct them in order to help.

So when you don’t know what to write, it could be for a variety of reasons.

  • You may be afraid of failing and not completing a project.
  • You may be afraid of succeeding and not knowing what to do next.
  • You may think your writing will never be good enough, so part of you feels it’s not even worth starting.

There are obviously many more reasons for keeping that page blank, but for this post, let’s just focus on these three. If you have one or two you’d like me to address, please shoot me a message on Facebook if you’d like, and I’ll address them in future posts.

  1. You’re afraid of failing and not completing a project.
    It happens. I have a few manuscripts I’ve abandoned about 3/4 of the way through because the idea wasn’t panning out, I couldn’t write the characters in a way that satisfied me, or a variety of other reasons. It happens to everyone. Think of your favorite writer, living or dead, and I could almost guarantee you they have abandoned and unfinished work.

    The best way to get around this is the “fuck it” philosophy. Say to yourself that you’re going to start a project and if it doesn’t pan out, fuck it. Start over, change direction, whatever. You can also just keep going even if you know it sucks, because the first draft of everything sucks. So go until you’re finished. Write until there’s no story left. You can revise it later.

  2. You may be afraid of succeeding and not knowing what to do next.
    This is one I’ve heard a few times now, so it’s not terribly uncommon. In this case, you’re fortune-telling. Can you really see the future and know you’ll be devoid of further ideas? Well, so what? One book that’s finished beats the hell out of one half-finished story that never got off the ground. Preventing yourself from succeeding because of what might be next cheats you out of the satisfaction of a finished project.
  3. You may think your writing will never be good enough, so part of you feels it’s not even worth starting.
    There’s one thing I’ve learned, and I’ve said it above–the first draft of everything is a steaming pile of crap. Some of it has potential, but every first draft needs to be reworked. You will learn to kill your darling manuscript with a hatchet at first, then come back with fine, surgical editing tools to improve it. Tell the part of you that tells you it’s not worth starting to shut up,  because that part of you cannot know what it feels like to finish a project. You have to get to the end to know what that’s like.

When you sit down to the keyboard, or sit with a pen and paper, block out the future. Block out expectations. Block out everything but you and that page, and tell it your passions, your fears, your world.

Get writing.


I am Anne Hogue-Boucher, and I write books. You can read them here.

The Psych Writer: Exploring Borderline Personality Disorder

I had an idea for introducing the personality disorders after I went through some of the others, but I also take requests, as I said in one of my previous posts. Via Facebook, a request came in for me to write about Borderline Personality Disorder. So I’ll be moving into the Personality Disorders a little earlier than I expected.

That having been said, personality disorders are what we consider “bigger” in therapy. Personality disorders are deeply ingrained into the personality of the client. They are invasive, pervasive, and ever-present.

I live in Georgia. Here in Georgia we have an invasive plant called kudzu. It’s everywhere. It grows all over the place and it can’t just be cut down or even burned (burning is illegal anyway because duh, we’re in a drought most of the time and the place would go up in flames faster than Michael Jackson’s hair in that Pepsi commercial). It has to be uprooted from the ground by its root crown.

That’s exactly what personality disorders are–they’re the kudzu of our personalities. They strangle the existing plant and take over completely. They become the plant itself.

So when we’re dealing with a personality disorder, it takes a long time to get to that root crown and eliminate it so that the person can be less miserable and learn to function better so that the people around them can have improved relationships with them. With several of the personality disorders, close relatives and friends grow weary of the “antics.” It makes it difficult to sustain and maintain relationships.

Personality disorders can also interfere with work relationships and productivity, as well as the general day-to-day functioning of the patient. While the same can be said for any disorder in the DSM-5, with a personality disorder, it is much  more treatment resistant, prone to severe relapse, and is lifelong.

A patient has a personality disorder for life. They are never cured. But they can manage it, find relief, improve their relationships, and even help themselves hold down steady employment. They can work towards stability if they work hard enough. It takes a demanding amount of work.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) falls into “cluster B” of the personality disorders. If you don’t count Personality Change due to Another Medical Condition or Other Specified Personalty Disorder and Unspecified Personality Disorder (which we don’t), you have ten personality disorders in three clusters:

  • Cluster A: This is know as the odd or eccentric cluster. It includes Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personalty Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder.
  • Cluster B: This is the dramatic, emotional, erratic cluster. It includes Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
  • Cluster C: This is the anxious and fearful cluster. It includes Avoidant Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (which is not the same as OCD).

Borderline is considered to be in the dramatic, emotional, erratic cluster. It is characterized by a lifelong pattern of of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, and marked impulse control issues (DSM-5, p. 645).

So what the hell does that mean? That means the patient has little to no stability in their relationships with others (professional and personal), erratic behavior and lack of self-control to the point where self or others are harmed.

According to the DSM-5, the signs and symptoms of BPD are a pervasive pattern (as stated above)–but what makes up these patterns? The DSM-5 reports that for a person to be diagnosed with BPD, they must have five (or more) of the following (which I will give in plain English):

  • Frantic efforts to keep from being abandoned, whether that threat of abandonment is real or imaginary. This does not include suicidal behavior or self-mutilation as that is a separate criterion.
  • Repeated unstable and intense relationships that alternate between extremes of idealization and devaluation. Going from “you’re perfect” to “you’re the scum of the earth.”
  • Unstable sense of self. This instability is marked and persistent and goes to extremes. Not only does the love-hate relationship apply to other people, it applies to themselves and their self-image.
  • Recklessness/lack of impulse control in at least two areas of life that will cause them harm, such as unprotected sex with strangers that could result in STIs, overspending, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating, etc.). This still doesn’t include suicidal behavior or self-harm.
  • Recurrent suicide attempts, threats, gestures and behavior, or self-mutilation.
  • ‘Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood.’ This one’s a bit hard to explain. Imagine the worst overreacting you’ve ever seen. Now imagine it could happen at any time for any reason. You run out of cotton balls and the person has a massive anxiety attack and the anxiety affect lasts for a few hours. It’s a bit like that.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness. (Exact words from the DSM. Self-explanatory.)
  • Difficulty controlling anger. Intense anger fits. Inappropriate anger to the stimulus. Imagine telling the person you’re out of donuts and they smash a table in response, demand to see your manager, threaten to sue, and threaten to kill you. While that might be funny and unbelievable, yes, it is that extreme.
  • Stress-related paranoia or severe dissociative symptoms that are transient. In other words, it doesn’t last, but the person will abruptly become paranoid, or they’ll dissociate (the world isn’t real, people are inhuman or automatons, etc.).

Now, writing a character with BPD is actually a challenge. Sure, you can go through all nine of the criteria, but I could almost guarantee you that you’ll create a caricature instead of a character. Even with black-and-white perceptions that many people with BPD have, they are still human beings. Avoid making a cookie cutter. You’ll want to add lines of sympathy to that character. He or she didn’t get there on their own. In many cases of BPD, there is not just a genetic component–there is often a history of abuse–sexual, physical, etc.

The person with BPD does not mean to do these things. They cannot help it. That’s why Dialectical Behavior Therapy helps so much. Patients learn from a system of mindfulness and awareness. DBT was developed by Marsha M. Linehan, who has successfully managed the disorder herself. Bear in mind that if you are writing someone with BPD, remember, they cannot help themselves when they do these things. Yes, some of the behaviors are purposefully manipulative, but they are not malingering. Until they get professional help, they are often unaware that these things are not acceptable, because even though people tell them so, they are often focused on assigning blame to others for their reactions.

Always remember, you are still writing a human being, though these are the extremes of the human condition.

If you came here looking for help with BPD, know that it’s out there. Start with this article here and then search for a therapist in your area who specializes in DBT.


Anne is a former supervised therapist and current author. You can read her books, stare at her Twitter, or stalk her on Facebook if you want.

The Psych Writer on Major Depressive Disorder, Part Three – MDD with Psychotic Features

This is the final installment of The Psych Writer series on Major Depressive Disorder. This week, we turn our focus on MDD with Psychotic Features.

Of course, when writing any disorder, focus on showing rather than telling, and remember, your character is human. Give them more dimensions than their disorder.

What’s tricky about writing MDD with psychotic features is not making it look like schizophrenia or bipolar with psychotic features. You will need to make sure that the depressive features are most prominent, otherwise the reader isn’t going to get it.

Naturally our writings are always open to interpretation by the reader–that’s what makes it such an enriching experience. It’s not the focus on the symptoms that makes the writing interesting, anyway. It’s the expression of the character and their life that makes the reading compelling.

So, we’ve already reviewed what MDD is all about, but what about psychotic features? Psychotic is a word that’s used in lay terms that tends to get confused with other terms (hell, even I’ve confused the terms when I was exhausted at one point). Psychotic is a term for losing touch with external reality.

The patient who is psychotic can experience any of the following, with some examples for illustrative purposes:

  • delusions – believing someone has bugged their home, is being gang stalked, they have a terrible disease, or that they’re the Archduke Ferdinand.
  • hallucinations – seeing, hearing, tasting, or smelling things that aren’t there, such as seeing a person that no one else can see.
  • anxiety – the person may seem anxious and restless.
  • withdrawal from family and friends – sometimes due to the delusions and hallucinations, the patient withdraws from social interactions. This is not just an “oh, I don’t want to go to the mall.” This is more like they don’t answer any of their phone calls and they stop talking to people entirely. Think the most extreme form of withdrawal possible.
  • suicidal ideation and actions – they may attempt to kill themselves or think about it all the time.
  • disorganized speech – this isn’t your average non-sequitur. Disorganized speech is often completely incoherent. There are several types of DS:
    • word salad – seemingly random words put together in a sentence. “My pants raisin toggle the burp slurped in a cat.”
    • derailment – completely unrelated or tenuously related ideas put together as if they were related. “I have to pick up my dry cleaning. There’s a bar in the street that keeps me from walking to the park.”
    • neologisms – words that are made up. “I took my wife to the helgistahooven for a new haircut.”
    • perseveration – a response repeated uncontrollably (this can be verbal or gestural). “Did you pack a pair of socks?” “Socks, socks, socks, socks, socks, socks, socks…”
    • thought blocking – when a person stops talking abruptly in the middle of a sentence without any explanation. “I went to the store and-” *silence*
    • pressured speech – rapid speech that sometimes is incoherent.
  • difficulty concentrating – this is pretty self-explanatory.
  • hypersomnia or insomnia – sleeping too much or not enough.
  • suspicion of others and situations – this is usually due to delusions.

Keep in mind that the person with psychosis is typically unaware of these symptoms and signs. They are often so out of touch with external reality that they have no idea that their delusions or hallucinations aren’t real, and that their behavior has changed to be out of the ordinary.

Here you see there are some things that crossover with depression, such as suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, and withdrawal. Knowing this, it’s easy to understand how difficult differential diagnosis can be.

The standard treatment for MDD with psychotic features is antidepressants and antipsychotics. If that doesn’t bring relief, ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is another common method.

Overall, when writing a character with this disorder, there’s an opportunity to do a little reality bending. Just don’t make it too much of a trope.

Coming up for The Psych Writer, we’ll tackle some of the following subjects (not necessarily in this order):

  • Bipolar Disorder I and II
  • Munchausen Syndrome
  • Munchausen-By-Proxy Syndrome
  • Anxiety Disorders – Generalized Anxiety Disorders, Panic Disorder, PTSD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Personality Disorders: Exploring the three clusters of the ten disorders.

I also take requests. Any disorder you’d like me to explore? Contact me via Facebook.


Anne is a former supervised therapist at the Master’s level who abandoned it all to become a writer. Visit her shiny Author Page to learn more about her and read some of her more macabre thoughts on paper (or eBook).

The Psych Writer on Major Depressive Disorder, Part Two – Treatment Resistant Depression

Welcome to part two of my series on Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). If you’re looking for the introduction to what MDD is all about, you can find that here.

Last week in part one, I wrote about writing a character with MDD, after detailing the symptoms for the disorder (link in the first paragraph). This week, I’m going to discuss Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD), which I still like to pronounce as ‘turd,” because it really is a turd. When you’re writing a character and would like them to have TRD, it’s important to understand what it is.

So rather than go on with a laundry list of how your character may be written, I’ll go through what TRD is and how it is treated. Then you can decide how your character will fit into it or not. Remember, you’re writing your character as a human being, so it’s okay if they deviate a bit. Humans are not their disorder, so neither are your characters.

TRD is defined as MDD that has not responded to a minimum of two antidepressants. Although some literature says only one, in most professional settings, two antidepressants are tried before determining whether  the depression is treatment resistant.

The difficulty lies in determining the threshold for TRD. There is complete remission and partial remission in symptoms, and there is also reduction in severity of depression. So determining what’s enough for the patient is what determines whether depression is treatment-resistant or not. Personally, I prefer elimination of symptoms, and if any are left, then that’s not good enough, so it’s time to try something else or add something to the treatment. But some people are okay with partial remission. It’s sometimes enough to have some relief over no relief, so best practice is to support the patient’s decision if they have good decision making skills.

When a person has TRD, there are things that they can try to get help. Usually treating TRD begins with an increase of dosage or switching medications. If that doesn’t help, then an add-on is usually used. For example, if the SSRI isn’t working, a combination of an SSRI and an NRI may be used.

Sometimes playing around with medications doesn’t help, though, and sometimes it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. But if it doesn’t work and the patient isn’t already in counseling, they can try a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Other treatment avenues are Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Most people cringe when they hear “ECT,” but that’s because they associate it with what they’ve seen in the movies and in old videos when the treatment was actually horrible. Now, the patient is given a sedative and most sleep through it. I’ve watched it done (on video rather than in vivo) and the experience was underwhelming. Of course, there are risks with ECT, including short-term memory loss, but for some patients it beats the hell out of MDD/TRD.

Now, finally, the numbers. This is something you may want to consider when creating a character. Around 10% to 30% of people have TRD, and that number varies on the spectrum of TRD (whether it’s full or partial remission, reduction in severity, etc.). So when you’re creating this character and you want to give them TRD, consider Special Snowflake Syndrome (SSS).While it’s recently been co-opted as a political inflammatory term, I refuse to use it in that manner. SSS means that your character has become a little too precious. If you give them TRD, make sure that they don’t come out corny and cliched, and actually make their suffering real rather than something they manage to brush off whenever it’s inconvenient to your plot.

If you came here looking for help with depression, please seek the help of a licensed professional in your area. Depression is a horrible, soul-sucking disorder that takes your life piece-by-piece. Don’t let it take control over you. Call for help. It’s out there.


There is little more horrific than what lies in our own imaginations. If you love reading about nightmare worlds and strange happenings, check out my author page. You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

The Psych Writer on Major Depressive Disorder, Part One

Disclaimer: This is not a substitute for medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you read this and any of the below sounds like you, seek the help of a licensed professional in your area.

Depression is a big topic. There are different types of depressive disorders, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), which affects about 6.7% of the US population. That’s around 15 million adults.

Last week, we reviewed an introduction to MDD, and I still didn’t even get into all of it. So I’ll do that here, briefly. Because of the many sufferers of MDD, there get to be a whole slew of levels of severity and specifiers. While you’re writing about these characters who have these disorders, don’t forget they are a person and they are not their pathology.

Nothing is worse than a character whose only interesting thing about them is their disorder. Remember Forgetful Jones from Sesame Street? Even he had more than one dimension. He was a cowboy. So if a cowboy Muppet with amnestic disorder can be more than just a one-dimensional character, Depressive Jones can, too.

When you decide to write from a place where your character has MDD, decide what type they have. This can be mild, moderate, or severe. They can have psychotic features (delusions, hallucinations, etc.). They can have partial or full remission as well. (Partial remission is having some of the symptoms but not meeting the full criteria for MDD for a period of less than two months. Full remission is an absence of symptoms for more than two months.)

MDD also can come with certain specifiers, such as with anxious distress or with catatonia, but there are too many specifiers to go into without scaring you away from the subject forever. I could likely write a book on each of the specifiers. So, in the interest of time and space constraints (which I will now call space-time constraints to either irritate or amuse mathematicians and physicists), I won’t list them all here. You may wish to skip over certain specifiers, but with psychotic features you can often cross it over with supernatural fiction. This should be handled carefully, though, because otherwise you risk it becoming a trope.

Another important thing to remember is that MDD distorts a person’s perceptions. I used to tell patients that their brains were trolling them. This troll brain is part of the illness. It is best expressed through Beck’s cognitive triad. The person with depression has a negative view of themselves, of the future, and of the world. They often don’t believe they’ll ever get better, this is the way it is, and that there is no one or nothing that can help them. This triad does not necessarily apply to all people with depression all of the time, but there tends to be more leaning towards negative and pessimism during the course of a depressive episode.

When writing from a therapist’s point of view, your character would see the person as ill. They would note things such as poor attention to personal hygiene, being tearful, and a depressed affect (they look “sad” or “down”). It’s an ethical therapist’s job to help a patient process their thoughts and reframe things that happen to them–to teach them how to rethink things. They also do things such as medication education and other interventions. Treatment often consists of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

An unethical therapist would do things such as foster dependency, and interventions that keep the patient depressed and vulnerable to manipulate them into doing things the patient would not normally do. People with depression can be quite vulnerable, and so open to suggestion in order to find relief, a therapist without ethics could possibly ruin the patient’s life further.

I’m not sure if it’s as interesting to write about a therapist treating someone with depression as it is to write about someone who has depression, but even then, it’s important to give your characters full dimensions.

No matter what, though, write your character as a person first, and their condition second. Otherwise, you risk making a flat character that’s nothing more than a stereotype.

If you came here looking for help with depression, please seek the help of a licensed professional in your area. Depression is a horrible, soul-sucking disorder that takes your life piece-by-piece. Don’t let it take control over you. Call for help. It’s out there.


There is little more horrific than what lies in our own imaginations. If you love reading about nightmare worlds and strange happenings, check out my author page. You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook.