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 Portland at Cosmic Monkey Comics, one of Portland’s best independent comic book stores, at 5335 NE Sandy Blvd.
“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?