Our Illnesses Define Us

I don’t know why the subject of addiction and mental illness is on my mind this morning, but it’s been consuming quite a few people around me of late. I wish I could tell if I’m seeing it more because I’m aging, and the people around me are aging and thus their illnesses advancing as they age.  That’s the theory that I’m running with, but it could also be that I’m more sensitive to it since I’ve done some of the hard work to deal with my own illnesses. I don’t know, and it’s probably something that will require some perspective.

What I do know is that the subject is on my mind as something that I’d like to examine in my writing, specifically by producing a character who is so defined by these illnesses and/or addictions that they’re a bundle of shame, raw emotions, and reactivity.

The problem is that the character I have in mind can’t really be a protagonist because they’d be unlikable and so reactive that they couldn’t change during the course of the story. An antagonist? Maybe, but they would be a sympathetic, tragic character on some level. Think about the people you know who had great dreams and then, for one reason or another, abandoned them, getting stuck in a ghetto frame of mind.

Anyway, just something I’m considering.

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