Hatfield woman channels her mental health struggles in a new graphic novel
PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:17 27 November 2017
supplied by Chris Purchase
A Hatfield woman has published a graphic novel about mental health struggles after 14 years of artistic perseverance.
Maureen Walker fell ill with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 36, when personal isolation and family tragedy contributed to a breakdown.
In “Admission” she tells a tale that attempts to illustrate the condition.
Maureen, who grew up in Welwyn Garden City, said she started it as a novel but realised that she enjoyed the process more when she tried to draw what was in her mind’s eye.
She told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I want to stress it’s not a memoir, it’s an attempt to communicate how it feels to be psychotic.”
After her recovery from an illness that often comes with stigma, she says she is “torn” about putting the deeply personal work of fiction out there.
She said: “One side of me is really proud of that, but I’m really exposing myself at the same time.”
But she stressed that she is a happier person for what she has gone through.
“It wasn’t all negative, it was quite creative.
“I had a lot of delusions going on in my head that were very powerful and I wanted to use that experience to create something meaningful that I could share with other people.”
Despite working part-time as a cleaner, she determinedly used every spare hour she had to make the book, turning the lounge in her bedsit flat into a colourful artist’s studio.
She said: “I look at the book and I think - how on earth that did actually happen, because it was hours and hours and hours of work.”
Maureen has always been drawn to art.
At Heronswood School, she was encouraged by her art teachers and later took art training at Herts Central College of Art and design, which is now closed.
Her advice to other creatives is persistence.
She said: “If you really enjoy creating, you should make time in your life to do it.
“You have to make that pledge to yourself to dedicate some of your head space towards your creativity.”
“Admission” can be found at Calamity Comics in Hatfield for £14.99 as well as retailers across the country.