This is an autobiography written by Emilie and Patrice Guillon, who I imagine are the daughter and father who agree to write the autobiography in the graphic novel even though the name of the girl in the book is Camille. The story begins on 9/11, probably one of the more earth-shattering days in recent history, and from there follows Camille back to France, where she’s forced to put a hold on her budding relationship with a young man. The stress of young love sends her into a panic attack and, from there, a deep depression.
The rest of the book follows her on a rather tumultuous journey in and out of psych wards and homes that are more like halfway houses, falling into self-abuse and self-medication to deal with her illness, but the journey Camille finds herself on isn’t just about the ups and downs of being bipolar, but also about the acceptance and understanding that comes with having a mental illness - not just from her family and friends, but from Camille herself.
It’s really, truly heartbreaking watching someone with potential struggle simply to do the smallest of tasks, but that’s why stories like this need to exist. That is why the normalization of mental illness needs to occur.
The script moves along, jumping forward in time to capture the important moments in relative detail. Several years are covered carefully, and that focus allows what could have sprawled out of control a clean narrative. Also, I really like Sebastian Samson's artwork. The beautiful simplicity of it means that the emotions on the faces of the characters really have space to breath, and we’re allowed to focus on that.
This is a very personal story for the writer, but I also imagine it’s a very personal story for a lot of people. At one point, the narrator refuses to go into detail about a certain event, because it’s due to self-dignity that she doesn’t. Stories like this will hopefully continue to build dignity within the people who struggle with mental illness and act as a reminder to those around them to treat those struggling with the dignity they deserve.
Creative Team: Patrice and Emilie Guillon (writers), Sebastian Samson (artist), Montana Kane (translator)
Publisher: Humanoids Life Drawn
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