thefairymelusine: line drawing of a knight lying by a bank of flowers (flowers)
A few things that happened in the last few days which have irked me. and about which I think I can make a more general point.

I had to write a bio for the play reading. This was it:
thefairymelusine has written two and an half plays, one of which is being performed at the (NAME OF FESTIVAL REMOVED) this May. She began to write plays when on courses at the Royal Court Young Writer's Programme and somewhere along the way discovered that she wants to write plays that change the world, preferably in a three act structure. Two years of her perceived path of life (academic school, good A levels, university applicant) being periodically interrupted by spells on psychiatric wards have given her a fair bit of time to write, redraft and do  a combination of internships, depressing paid jobs, part time study and strange running jobs on performance art projects (such as trying to catch an ice cream van on a housing estate on the Isle of Dogs to get the ice cream man to distribute small cones of nuts to the audience of a performance art piece on the history of the area). All of which she is told will help her writing.

I personally quite like that. It touches on my life, and things that affect my writing. It is of course reductive, but bios always are. My family came to see the reading, and the following day I recieved a text from my mother. It said I shouldn't mention the dull jobs or mental health problems, as I "risked being pigeonholed as a writer with mental health issues". It also said I should focus on wanting to write.

Now, there are two issues with that. The first is that it should not be a problem to be a writer with mental health issues. It should not be a problem to be a secretary or librarian or teacher or business person with mental health issues. It shouldn't be an issue, and it shouldn't be stigmatised. I deliberately didn't talk about certain things in the bio, and possibly I should have, or should at some future date (suicide, self harm, psychosis) because those felt too personal. But it is a significant part of my life and it really, really does affect my writing, and sometimes I write about it or related things.

Now writing is possibly one of a few areas where it is unlikely to adversely affect your career if you have mental health issues. Aside from that, the whole issue of pigeonholing yourself. You make yourself vulnerable to pigeonholing and categorisation when you write. You reveal various aspects of yourself when you write. Really, it doesn't matter what's in your bio, because much of your weirdness, oddness and prejudice will be there, in the text or on stage. And therefore revealing a bit more, which possibly helps give context, or is just amusing, doesn't matter.

The second thing just made me despair of general expectations. The first was that one of the mental health professionals who works with me is pregnant, and has to limit clinical contact with patients owing to a risk assessment. The problem being not that she can't work, but that contact with people with mental health problems is  automatically dangerous. This does make me sad. The team who work with me are good, and aim to help people live the life they were living before they had problems. Both the people who work with me have despaired of the stigma around the issue. But the same team assumes that all the people using their service have to be considered as violent and unpredictable. Or, I don't know, possibly they thought it was contagious

There's another thing, but that's more to do with writing and general expectations of people regardless of health, so I'll leave it to another post.


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