Despite my experience of mental illness colouring the majority of my life, I can be remarkably inarticulate when I try to talk about it. I’ve always felt frustrated at not having the words to explain what I went through, or to express the complexities of the recovery process. And I’m not speaking grandly about trying to educate the public here: I struggle even talking to my friends. This is such a huge part of who I am, I’ve always felt that I’m not fully myself around people who don’t know about my ‘stuff’.
When I first tried to explain anorexia to my family, I painted a picture (quite how it took me a further 6 years to realise I should make a graphic novel, I don’t know). My family and I used the painting to communicate, because usually I would clam up and find myself unable to speak at all in a hospital or doctor’s surgery. Sadly the original painting has been lost – perhaps ceremonially burned, I don’t remember. I would have loved to include it in the book. The moment, however, of finding pictures more adequate to express how I was feeling, remains a significant part of the story.
Sneak peek from page 161.
From that first painting it took me 12 years and I don’t want to talk about how much drawing, but now there will be a less ham-fisted telling of the story that I am (mostly) satisfied with.
I can remember us having a chat and I asked you to draw ‘it’. It was a ‘scribble’, it said so much and it feels so amazing that you have drawn it all out. Its such a perfect explanation that does not require words – you are a genius with the fine tip ;)