My Mother Has Schizophrenia: Von Allan's "the road to god knows..."
Mental Illness is an alienating thing. It doesn't affect most people, first of all; at least not the really serious debilitating kinds. For that reason alone, it tends to make you stand out when it happens to you. Combine that minority status with the stigma and misunderstandings that are still so prevalent about these conditions and you have something that many people find uncomfortable to discuss and difficult to relate to. However, talking about mental illness in all its variety is necessary. It is only through the process of talking about mental illness that the weirdness and stigma associated with the experience can be taken apart and ultimately reduced.
It's for this reason that I like to support people who want to talk about mental illness. I particularly like to support people who have something creative to say about mental illness; who are able to present the story of their experience with mental illness in a manner that makes it easier for people who have not experienced it to begin to relate to it and understand. When Von Allan, a young graphic novelist hailing from Ottawa, Canada, approached me this week asking for my help in publicizing his recently published graphic novel “the road to god knows...”, it seemed the reasonable thing to do to help him get the word out.
To that effect, I am reproducing Mr. Allan's press release, accompanied by several panels from his novel, which tells the story of a teenaged girls' experience growing up with a mother diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Mr. Allan is well qualified to tell this story, as he is himself the child of a mother diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I have not read this work myself, so cannot directly recommend its purchase, but what I have seen seems very genuine and worthwhile. The kind of thing that might indeed help a teen in a similar situation feel less alone in the world.
“the road to god knows…” is available for purchase through Amazon.com, or at one of the many retailers listed on Mr. Allan's website.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (January 25, 2010) – Mental illness remains one of Western society's greatest taboos. Those who suffer from various mental health disorders often suffer in silence, with very little support from society. Family members and other loved ones of those afflicted also suffer and are often forced to understand and cope alone. The loneliness, fear and frustration that this can cause is difficult for most people to understand. And this isolation can be far worse when you're a child of a bipolar, schizophrenic or otherwise mentally ill parent. Von Allan, a Canadian graphic novelist, has attempted to shed some light on this subject with the publication of his first full-length graphic novel, titled “the road to god knows...” It can be purchased in Marietta at Dr. No's, a local independent comic book store.
“My mom was diagnosed schizophrenic when I was quite young, maybe 11 or so,” said Allan. “She suffered a number of nervous breakdowns as I was growing up, as she battled, often very much alone, a disease that was slowly taking bits of her away. What I remember most vividly about this time was how confused and powerless I was. No one talked with me about what was happening to her and my mom was incapable of explaining it to me herself. I didn't understand and that, combined with what I was experiencing, was really, really scary. There's also odd feelings of guilt that go with this. “Did I do something wrong? Did I somehow cause this?” I wrote and drew this book to shed some light on a very hush-hush topic and hopefully help others, especially kids but really people of all ages, realize that they aren't alone and that they haven't done anything wrong. And neither has the person who is suffering from mental illness.”
“The road to god knows...” is the story of Marie, a teenage girl coming to grips with her Mom's schizophrenia. As a result, she's struggling to grow up fast; wrestling with poverty, loneliness, and her Mom's illness every step of the way. At the start of the story, we see a scared young girl, uncertain and overwhelmed, but as her mom collapses into a full nervous breakdown, Marie is forced to examine herself and her life and come to a decision: does she continue to be a child, reacting to what's happening around her? Or does she take control of her life, come what may?
“the road to god knows…” has an ISBN of 978-0-9781237-0-3, a suggested retail price of $12.95 and is 148 pages in length. Additional information about the graphic novel can be found at http://trtgk.vonallan.com
About Von Allan: Von Allan was born red-headed and freckled in Arnprior, Ontario, just in time for “Star Wars: A New Hope.” The single child of two loving but troubled parents, Von split most of his childhood between their two homes. He managed Perfect Books, an independent bookstore in Ottawa, Ontario, for many years while working on story ideas in his spare time; eventually, he decided to make the leap to a creative life, and “the road to god knows…” was the result.
About Dr. No's Comics & Games Superstore: Dr. No's was founded back in 1977. In our time, we have carried a little bit of everything before deciding to focus on the comics and games side of things. We are currently the largest comics and games store in Cobb County, and are growing in size almost daily. Dr. No's is named after the first James Bond film and novel. When first opened, the central theme was James Bond collectibles. We've changed focus, but we still have a few Bond odds and ends left. The store's website is at http://www.drnos.com/
P.O. Box 20520, 390 Rideau Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. K1N 1A3
Dr. No's Comics & Games Superstore
3428 Canton Road
Marietta, Georgia. 30066