For disabled characters, being cured is a common trope. What’s more, in most of these narratives, the characters are cured because they’re better than they were at the start of the book: kinder, gentler, braver. And finally, finally, they’re normal and whole.
When we see institutions in YA, we usually see them in one of two contexts: a “sane” person wrongly incarcerated in one, or a spooky (often old, sometimes abandoned but haunted by ghosts) asylum filled with “crazy people.”
What concerns me is that disabled characters are often integrated in the form of tokenism, meaning one token character that could be considered “different” is included in the plot. And even then, such characters are frequently depicted in stereotypical ways, despite being created by authors who may have the best of intentions.
I’ve talked a lot about the ways my disability has affected my body image, my sexuality, my confidence, and my social interactions, and all of those things are important to consider when writing a disabled character. Today, however, I want to focus on the ways my disability affects the logistics of my life.
I can’t tell you how many times people have been dismissive or incredulous about my mental illness, simply because I don’t fulfill their preconceived notions about bipolar individuals.