Bunbury author vows to fight the stigma

Author Suzi Faed with a copy of her latest book My Daddy is Different. Photo: Jesinta Burton.
Author Suzi Faed with a copy of her latest book My Daddy is Different. Photo: Jesinta Burton.

Just 12 months after the release of her book Fighting Spirit, author Suzi Faed has released a second book in the hopes of addressing the stigma around mental illness.

The picture book, entitled My Daddy is Different, explores a young boy's emotional response to his father's mental illness while addressing the love and connection between family members.

Faed said the book was written from her own personal experience, having struggled to understand and come to terms with her father's mental illness growing up.

"At that time, mental illness wasn't really talked about," she said.

"There wasn't a lot of support. It was difficult to navigate, and dad and I didn't really have a close relationship because of that.

"I've always loved writing and, as I grew up, it seemed appropriate to write about it."

My Daddy is Different has been more than three years in the making, born out of a desire to see more child-friendly resources addressing mental illness and hardship.

"My aim was to help other children that may be going through the same thing," she said.

"Quite often, you don't really consider it from a child's perspective.

"However, it can affect a child greatly, but it's not so confronting when it is in a picture book.

"A lot of people have argued that you shouldn't bombard children with difficult topics like this.

"When I was younger, I didn't really want to talk to people about it. The stigma that exists is really harmful.

"I wanted to write it to open up the conversation and help children understand mental illness.

"It's important for children to realise that they're not alone, that there are other people dealing with a similar thing."

The Bunbury teacher said that although she and her father, Mario Spinelli, were not close growing up, the pair had managed to mend their relationship.

Tragically, Mr Spinelli passed away while Faed was writing her first book.

Having always possessed a passion for writing, Faed said she viewed both books as a way to honour his legacy and remember what he had endured.

"He struggled a lot with mental illness, but he never gave up," she said.

"I wanted to show people that you can go through a lot of hard things in your life, but that it's how you approach it that is how you get through it.

"It's very much written in his honour and as a way to remember him and what he went through.

"I know he's no longer with us, but I do want to acknowledge my dad.

"If it weren't for him, I wouldn't realise just what people can get through.

"I want to acknowledge my mum, too. She's been through a lot and she's always supported me."

Faed will host an official launch for My Daddy is Different at Bunbury Library on Thursday, January 16 from 4pm.

The book will be available from Collins Booksellers in Victoria Street or online at www.suzifaed.com

If you or someone you know is struggling, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.