When you are in rehab for alcoholism it is next to impossible to explain to your two small children why you are in a hospital but you don’t look sick. How do you explain a sickness of the mind they cannot see that is also wrapped in stigma? A little over five years ago I found myself in that situation and I struggled to find resources. Their father and I searched for books to read to my son and daughter but there were precious few.
They came for one visit and I got out a large piece of paper and started to tell them a story and draw about how I was a queen who was haunted by dragons only I could see. One was the black dragon of my past (childhood trauma) that was chained to me and made me sad. The other was a red dragon that circled round me and told me lies that it could rid me of the black dragon.
But that red dragon (addiction) told me lies and made me do things I would never normally do. The story continued and explained that I would have to learn to conquer the dragons and fight my own battles.
Out of this story was born the children’s book “The Queen Who Saved Herself”. This book explains the disease of addiction to children in terms they can understand. It also touches on the theme of co-dependence and introduces the concept of recovery through the twelve steps.
My hope is that through my family's struggle, a family dialogue about recovery, addiction and the pursuit of stronger mental health will benefit others.
Fiona J. Purcell
author of "The Queen Who Saved Herself" and the recovery blog "Rising From the Ashes"