When you’re writing, depressed characters are an appealing option. They’re so easy to expand a story upon: there’s the backstory of why they’re depressed, the story of how they get help, and romantic interests seem like angels because they’re interested in someone who’s depressed. But when I write a depressed character I try to avoid tropes. This makes things a lot harder. Ahem, I should warn you…there will be mention of suicide and self-harm. (Note: DC means depressed character.)
Depressed Character Tropes
The Loner – This is a trope in which the DC is a loner with no friends and usually little to no family.
The Cutter – This is a trope in which the DC is constantly doing self-harm. Often their parents don’t even notice…somehow.
The Tsundere – This is a trope in which the DC is constantly rude to everyone and justified with “they’re depressed, what do you expect?” Usually they’ll find someone they like (romantically) but try to hide it and deny it for no apparent reason.
Mr/Ms/Mx Obvious – This is a trope in which the DC is obviously depressed to everyone, yet no one makes any attempt to help them except the love interest.
These are just a few tropes I’ve found. There are plenty more. But these are the tropes I tried to (mostly) avoid when creating Harvey.
Harvey Bay Bastion is a young, middle-class gay man with a love of animals and a low-paying job as a barista. Harvey’s only ever had a few boyfriends and things ended badly with all of them and no one really understands why.
You see, Harvey is depressed. But his cutesy, cheerful exterior hides that. Unless you can get close, really close, to him, he won’t show you the side of him that’s constantly scared and lonely. The side that remembers the abuse he suffered for years from his own mother. The side that remembers holding the hand of his dying father. The side that remembers walking in on his brother having killed himself. Harvey’s been alone his whole life and that does something to a person. He acts like a crazy cat-loving barista but every second of every day for him is filled with paranoia that someone might find out who he really is.
But the happier side of Harvey isn’t necessarily fake. He does love cats. He’s a kind, sweet, bubbly man. But everyone has multiple sides to them.
I have given into the Cutter trope with Harvey, but only a bit. He doesn’t hurt himself constantly without any consequences like is common with this trope. Instead he has bursts of self-harm that send him to the hospital.
I really tried to stay away from the trope of him falling love making his depression instantly gone. Harvey is newly married to Kaden Clament and Kaden understands that Harvey is depressed and constantly urges him to get help but Harvey would rather just sweep it under the rug and pretend he’s fine.
I also tried to avoid Harvey having little to no family. He’s the youngest of five. The sister of the two oldest (twins) is the one he’s closest with. The brother of the twins is the one who killed himself. I haven’t developed the other two very much yet but I’m working on them. I might make another post about his siblings in the future.
Anyway, I hope you liked this! Please tell me your thoughts in the comments!
Thanks for reading ~