Shattering Stigmas: Author Interview with Ronni Davis

Welcome to the seventh day of Shattering Stigmas! From now until October 22 I’ll be highlighting voices from the book community on mental health. I’m co-hosting this event with Taylor from Stay on the Page, Shannon from It Starts at Midnight, and Amber from YA Indulgences so make sure to check their blogs out each day to see different content.

Ronni, thank you so much for coming to talk about mental health. What does shattering stigmas mean to you?

To me, shattering stigmas means making things previously thought to be “taboo” more mainstream, so that we can have real conversations that are able to drive real change. In the case of mental illness, so many people still feel ashamed to admit they have it, and in turn, never get or use the treatment they need. I struggle with this myself. I’ll skip my medicine for no good reason, then wonder why I feel so terrible. And I think it’s because of a deep-seated shame that I even need it.

If the stigma gets shattered, well, I hope that means fewer people will feel shame because of their illness, and I hope it means more people will be able to get treatment. But we need to keep the dialogue open, and I’m so glad to see a lot of it happening. There are so many great Instagram accounts devoted to shattering this sigma, which is wonderful. I just hope this momentum keeps going.

Do you think mental illness is portrayed well in young adult literature?

I definitely believe there is a shift in how mental illness is portrayed. I feel like the first portrayals mostly dealt with suicide and suicidal ideation or mental hospitals. It was rare to see other types. But now, I think that portrayals are becoming more nuanced and varied, which is a good thing.

Your debut, When the Stars Lead to You, shows the complexity of loving someone struggling with mental illness. Why was it important for you to write about this?

Two reasons:

a. I wanted to show someone with mental illness being deeply loved, because, and I say this as someone with depression, sometimes it’s all too easy to believe we are unloveable.

b. It was important for me to show a girl who wants to love so deeply, but having to find the balance between what is healthy for both her and for the one she loves.

Can you recommend a book or two you’ve read with exceptional mental health representation?

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram is one of my favorites. It shows this boy dealing with depression as part of his everyday life, rather than a disruption or this big showdown. And I think that’s the key—it’s a part of our lives all the time, and it’s not always dramatic or this huge deal. I think Adib does a great job of getting that across while still telling a compelling story alongside it.

What are things we can all do better to help end the stigmas associated with mental illness?

Keep the conversation open! The more we talk about it, the more demystified mental illness will be. There are so many layers, so many forms, so much to learn, if only people could feel safe to discuss it all, and not ashamed to get treatment if they’re able.

Ronni Davis grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where she tried her best to fit in—and failed miserably. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology, she worked in insurance, taught yoga, and became a cat mom.

Now she lives in Chicago with her husband Adam and her son Aidan. By day she copy edits everything from TV commercials to billboards, and by night she writes contemporary teen novels about brown girls falling in love. When she’s not writing, you can catch her playing the Sims, eating too much candy, or planning her next trip to Disney World.

Her debut novel, WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU, will be released by Little Brown Books for Young Readers in November 2019.

You follow her on TwitterTumblrGoodreads, and Instagram.

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