Ceylan Scott on writing ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN
It's Mental Health Awareness Week, and so Ceylan Scott has stopped by the blog to talk about her experiences writing her debut novel On a Scale of One to Ten.
When I decided that I wanted to write a book, I was sixteen. I had recently been admitted to a psychiatric ward and overwhelmed with too much time to fill and too many things to say bubbling in my head. I was frustrated with everything I was experiencing: being far from home and the stigma and misconceptions surrounding what I and so many other young people were going through. Tamar was a character whose story had been blossoming in my brain for a long time, and I started to write On a Scale of One to Ten.
From the offset, I knew that I didn’t want to censor the hidden and often invisible world of psychiatric hospitals, suicide and mental illness. I wanted to write something raw and authentic and unsettlingly true to being a teenager battling mental health problems of all kinds, and the chaotic and intense environments where they are brought together.
After being provisionally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) aged 15, I began to notice that this was an illness that was very misunderstood. It was so misunderstood that whilst other mental health problems began to be openly discussed in the bright light of the media and topical discussion, BPD was left in the dark, with prejudice alive and kicking. It seemed that everywhere I turned, even in mental health services, I saw myself and others with my diagnosis being repeatedly refused the help they so desperately needed. Despite the high suicide rate associated with BPD, too many are being turned away from services due to being “too complex”, “untreatable” or “attention seeking”.
Whilst Tamar and the colourful people she meets are fictitious and very separate from my reality, we travelled similar jagged journeys to the start of the recovery that many believe, for a sufferer of BPD, to be impossible.
I hope that On a Scale of One to Ten can entertain as a work of fiction but also educate some and validate others.
From a personal standpoint, writing On a Scale of One to Ten was a cathartic experience where I could release the intense emotions I was grappling with and make sense of them. I’d like to think that the result is a book that feels real because the feelings Tamar has are real. Real to me, real to other teenagers and real to those who have been touched by mental illness. Most importantly though, I wrote On a Scale of One to Ten because it brought strength to me, and I really hope it brings some glimmer of hope, strength and fight to others going through darkness too.