Hi my name is Soumia Lamont and for my Year 10 Personal Project, I’m writing a fiction novel based around conflict and how it affects those with mental illnesses. My novel, Solitude, follows the story of a young girl developing schizophrenia as a nuclear war unfolds around her.
Throughout the war, she’s assisted by an ex-soldier, trying to help her hold on to her old self.
Before starting my Personal Project, I took a keen interest in writing. As an avid reader myself, I loved the idea of being able to create entirely new worlds and being able to share them with others. It was clear that my Personal Project would contain some sort of writing element, but for a while I wasn’t sure what it would feature. It was that time that I started to become interested in mental illnesses and specifically psychotic disorders.
Whether it was the cloud of mystery that surrounded it or simply the number of movies I’d watched where characters would go insane, the idea of hearing voices and believing outlandish ideas seemed to be an area of interest. It was from this group that I chose schizophrenia, an illness most well-known for vivid hallucinations and delusions. For months over the Christmas holiday, I dedicated my free time to educating myself about the symptoms and science behind schizophrenic disorders, watching Ted Talks, researching symptoms and reading up on real life experiences from both individuals themselves and onlookers.
In terms of writing my novel, I found it hard work but ultimately rewarding. There was lots of editing involved with constantly going back and changing certain parts or events, but ultimately the knowledge of knowing I’ve completed my first book is something I never thought I’d be able to do. I think that in terms of mental illnesses, there is a huge stigma still hanging around them. By writing about them, I realised I’ve not only got the chance to educate readers but also to educate myself. I’m grateful for having the opportunity provided by the college to create something important to me and while the process has been long, I couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s turned out.
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