One of the great potentials of books is their ability to communicate ideas. I love making beautiful commissions and original scenes but I also look forward to the notion of creating more complex illustrated series and books.
Which Themes are Important to Me?
It has been said many times in many ways: write what you know. While I do not think this should be exclusive, it is a great starting place. I am passionate about women’s causes, mental health, immigration rights, the environment, education, and animal rights. While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of worthy causes these are the ones closest to my heart.
Because I want to start somewhere familiar to me, I have decided to write and illustrate my own children’s book about SAD and depression in parents from a child’s perspective. I battle with depression and SAD, as does my father and other members of my family. It is a difficulty with which I am well acquainted. And for these personal reasons, I want to create a book exploring my own experiences and how to introduce the idea of depression and mental health disorders to children in an approachable, non-threatening manner.
Where to Start When Writing About Difficult Themes with Children?
Where to start, where to start? One of the most resonating allegories for depression I have ever heard was Winston Churchill’s ‘black dog.’ For him, a black dog followed him about like a heavy shadow throughout his life. I love this animal, out-of-body and controlling metaphor. But, for me I do not see it as something separate but something tangled within.
A few years ago I began referencing my ‘bad days’ as ‘bear days’ and comparing myself to a sleepy, stumbling, clumsy black bear. For me this comparison suits. I can turn into a bear: sometimes for a couple hours, sometimes for weeks. A parent with depression is still a loving parent, but some of the tasks may be more difficult and take more energy. A child may not understand this effort, may be afraid to ask about it, and my not even recognize the symptoms in themselves as they age if mental health is not an open discussion topic within the household.
My Mother is a Bear
This book, still in its infancy, will use light and dark, human and bear, and mother and son juxtapositions to explore depression in families. Through difficulties, families can still love and support one another through all the good and bad days.
Openness and communication is the gateway to understanding and getting help. That is the idea I hope my book will communicate, even if only subconsciously until the children age a few years.