Author: Amy Bleuel
Published: September 5, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 11-19, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
For fans of PostSecret, Humans of New York, and If You Feel Too Much, this collection from suicide-awareness organization Project Semicolon features stories and photos from those struggling with mental illness.
Project Semicolon began in 2013 to spread a message of hope: No one struggling with a mental illness is alone; you, too, can survive and live a life filled with joy and love. In support of the project and its message, thousands of people all over the world have gotten semicolon tattoos and shared photos of them, often alongside stories of hardship, growth, and rebirth.
Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages talking about what they have endured and what they want for their futures. This represents a new step in the movement and a new awareness around those who struggle with mental illness and those who support them. At once heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, and eternally hopeful, this collection tells a story of choice: every day you choose to live and let your story continue on.
Learn more about the project at www.projectsemicolon.com.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I feel reading and reviewing Project Semicolon this month was in perfect timing.
Amy Bleuel started Project Semicolon in 2013 to give hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction, and self-injury. The semicolon is used because in literature it is intended to continue a sentence versus ending it. Using the semicolon, you show that you are choosing to continue on despite your situation. This is a symbol with so much meaning!
Project Semicolon is a non-fiction book that is comprised of many individual stories in their own words. These stories range from a few sentences to several pages. Some stories give details of their lives, some just touch on issues. It does begin with a disclaimer/trigger warning that these stories could affect you if you have suffered and advises to stop reading if this occurs. At the end of the book is various organizations’ information on who to contact if you feel you need assistance.
Project Semicolon is a book you do not have to read in its entirety, but you should and I did. It is a difficult read and one I took in steps to read. You can feel the anguish that all the authors have in sharing their stories. Some of the stories are ‘In Memoriam’, with those sharing stories after losing someone to suicide. I recommended reading all of Project Semicolon as the stories that touched me the most were in the second half of the book. The stories that affected me the most were:
Teresa S (page 256)
Hayleigh H (page 280)
Kristie C (Page 307)
All were In Memoriam stories
In addition to the stories shared, there are photos of the semicolon tattoo in its various forms throughout the book that are the storytellers’ own tattoos. That gives each story an even more personal touch. I would have liked more details in some of the stories: Some are so brief we don’t learn much about the person’s story. Some stories felt incomplete (which they of course could be as they may still be facing their monsters) and some felt impersonal and like an essay. I would have liked to learned more on their journeys and what helped them succeed.
Project Semicolon does also include Amy’s story in her own words. Despite starting Project Semicolon, Amy lost her battle with these issues on March 23, 2017 at the age of 31. Her legacy continues as Project Semicolon is still around helping those who need it today. Here is an article I found that address Amy’s death and how complex suicide prevention is.
Amy’s story is here in her own words.
Project Semicolon is definitely worth a read and is a great organization that is devoted to helping others overcome their battles they face. If you feel you need help please get it. You ARE worth it and your story isn’t over!
Author: Emilie Autumn
Published: June 22, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Book Description from Goodreads:
Two young women, living centuries apart, both accused of madness, communicate across time to fight a common enemy… their doctors.
“It was the dog who found me.”
Such is the stark confession launching the harrowing scene that begins The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls as Emilie Autumn, a young musician on the verge of a bright career, attempts suicide by overdosing on the antipsychotics prescribed to treat her bipolar disorder. Upon being discovered, Emilie is revived and immediately incarcerated in a maximum-security psych ward, despite her protestations that she is not crazy, and can provide valid reasons for her actions if someone would only listen.
Treated as a criminal, heavily medicated, and stripped of all freedoms, Emilie is denied communication with the outside world, and falls prey to the unwelcome attentions of Dr. Sharp, head of the hospital’s psychiatry department. As Dr. Sharp grows more predatory by the day, Emilie begins a secret diary to document her terrifying experience, and to maintain her sanity in this environment that could surely drive anyone mad. But when Emilie opens her notebook to find a desperate letter from a young woman imprisoned within an insane asylum in Victorian England, and bearing her own name and description, a portal to another world is blasted wide open.
As these letters from the past continue to appear, Emilie escapes further into this mysterious alternate reality where sisterhoods are formed, romance between female inmates blossoms, striped wallpaper writhes with ghosts, and highly intellectual rats speak the Queen’s English.
But is it real? Or is Emilie truly as mad as she is constantly told she is?
The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls blurs harsh reality and magical historical fantasy whilst issuing a scathing critique of society’s treatment of women and the mental health care industry’s treatment of its patients, showing in the process that little has changed throughout the ages.
Welcome to the Asylum. Are you committed?
I got this book for Christmas and I was immediately drawn to the cover! Of course, I’m all about asylums so there’s that, and the cover art is gorgeous! It did start out a little slow, but when it got going, boy howdy did it get going! I love the way that she broke down the thoughts in Emilie’s head to try to capture the issues of mental health. And apparently this book is biographical so Emilie Autumn the author has dealt with these very problems. Emily (with a y) is a fascinating character that I wish I could learn more about. I felt like I missed a lot of details that would have been helpful, but I’m too shallow to get them . . . if that makes any sense at all. That’s the only reason I gave this book 4 stars. There were times that I felt a little lost. Other than that, I loved the story, I found it interesting and engaging and it stayed in my head long after I put the book down. Overall, this was a great read; a little bit of creepy, a little bit of history, a little bit of crazy and it all came together into an awesome story! Not a great book for teens, but really great for more mature audiences! 😉
**BONUS!!!** If you are a fan of coloring books, Emilie Autumn created one!
Description from Amazon:
Enter the world of the Asylum with 23 original illustrations hand-drawn by Emilie Autumn herself, just waiting for YOU to bring them to life with color!
Devotees of Emilie Autumn’s bestselling gothic fantasy novel, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, will recognize the iconography of the Asylum world, from keys, gears, and clocks to the famous spiked gates, teapots, corsets, striped stockings, and, of course, rats!
The circular mandala style is designed to stimulate your creative brain whilst calming those voices in your head when they get just a bit too loud.
These exquisitely detailed designs are printed on one side only to allow you to easily remove the pages for displaying your art. Following each coloring page is a double-sided lined note page on which you are invited to record the wild journeys your mind went on whilst you were coloring.
Whether you color as a relaxation technique or as a wake-up call to your inner artist, Emilie invites you to collaborate with her and escape into the Asylum with this adult coloring book suitable for Plague Rats of all ages.
• 23 original coloring pages
• 23 double-sided lined note pages
• Durable, glossy cover and binding
• Dimensions: 8.5” x 8.5”