Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Telling your story

This book called to me from a shelf in the library. I was dropping books off, no intention of picking anything new up, and as I turned to go Night Shift caught my eye. I didn't even open the pages to see what it was about, just trusted my book-dowsing instincts and checked it out.

Night Shift is a picture book, an attempt by Debi Gliori to put her story of depression into images and simple words. The language in the book in unpretentious; all the illustrations bar one are picked out in shades of grey. I read it twice on my walk home and it prompted many Deep Thoughts as some of the images spoke so strongly to me.

I've had two mental health episodes in my life and rationalising the feelings and sensations around those experiences is something I have struggled with. I've written notes and tried to make rational sense of what is beyond the rational. I've looked at what happened to me from every angle I can think of in the hope that I can untangle the mess of it and somehow, magically, come up with a formula whereby it need never happen again.

If I were to adapt this story to suit my own tale, how would it look? What pages of Night Shift would I keep? What would I alter or remove completely and replace with something different? Gliori uses dragons as part of the metaphor in her story owing to their reputation for destruction and leaving the earth barren. I have more positive associations when I think of dragons so what would my metaphor be? What language would I use? And what a pleasure it would be to strip my language back to the bare minimum with all the wasted pages that have gone before it!

This is a project I am going to undertake over the upcoming weeks.

I would recommend Night Shift for those who have had problems with depression and anxiety and who might find the imagery useful. It would also be a worthwhile read for those who have not had issues with mental health but are looking for insight into how it can feel. Have you suffered from mental health issues that you just can't make sense of but want to find words that resonate with you on your experience? This book could be a starting point for you too, a beginning to build on.

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