“We are the storytelling animal; our stories are what make us human”
The memoir of Camilla Gibb is a raw and honest account of the author’s experience with mental illness as she wrote her own story towards happiness and building a positive life for her daughter. I have previously enjoyed her novel, The Beauty of the Humanity Movement and am at the beginning of her book, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Belly. Gibbs, a Canadian author, will be joining 200 guests at the Grimsby Author’s series in about a week to talk about her memoir and to sign copies of her books.
Gibb openly shares tales of her troubled childhood, spending time with her father who clearly had undiagnosed mental illness along with addiction issues. The instability that she had experienced likely impacted her own challenges with depression and was a factor in her brother’s history of substance abuse. Gibb shared that she had several suicide attempts and spent time in the hospital as psychiatrists tried to help her with medications and counselling while she was completing her PhD.
It was not until she became pregnant with her daughter that she really started thinking about her own well-being. At this time, her partner abruptly left her and Gibb was forced to buy a home and put supports in place to help her become a mother. As her belly grew, she renovated a home and diligently sought help and built the support system she needed. Once “the egg” was born, Gibb was supported by her mother who enjoyed her role as a grandmother, her nanny who became a part of her family and a collection of friends. Her brother, came in and out of her life, helping when he could and disappearing for days at a time to obtain his methadone.
The author describes how writing gave her “a place to thrive, to exercise and to cultivate some understanding of aspects of being human”. She shares that she now has “a story with a different ending. A story without an ending at all” and ends with “And this, I know, is happy.” After reading her memoir, I am looking forward to meeting this brave individual who has appreciated her art as therapy and has shared her story which will help many others who are struggling with their own lives and the unfortunate stigma of mental illness. This is a story that many individuals share but unfortunately tend to keep quiet. Gibb’s honest account is inspiring and her strength and ability in sharing her story is appreciated!
“We come to know ourselves only through stories. We listen to the stories of others, we inherit the stories of those who came before, and we make sense four own experiences by constructing a narrative that holds them and holds us, together. Stories are how we make sense of our lives.”