This past January, Little Voice was very excited to announce their latest children’s book that would focus on mental health. The decision was a no brainer and instantly became a powerful journey for both author Amanda Bernardo and illustrator Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor.
For many years, Amanda has been an advocate for mental health. She has fought to create awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and has, more recently, opened up about her personal struggle with anxiety.
I have never really opened up about my anxiety. I never wanted to appear weak, I never wanted to feel judged, and I never wanted to have it define who I was or who I could become. Anxiety can be something different for everyone. I never got anxious about work or deadlines, or speaking in front of large crowds; instead, the smallest of details that for many would seem insignificant would replay over and over and over again, until I would feel sick. I hated how certain thoughts could sometimes keep me up all night or even worse, trigger a panic attack. I hated it because I couldn’t control it and if I couldn’t be in control of my anxiety, then a part of me felt like I wasn’t in control of my life. Over the years, I have learned to deal with my anxiety. I guess in many ways I started trying to drown out the thoughts that would make me sick and instead focus on the little voice that inspired me to live life to the fullest. I am extremely proud to be launching this next book in the Little Voice series not only because of how close to home it hits, but because I know it will serve as an important tool to truly start a conversation around mental health. This is our little way of breaking the stigma, but more importantly, our big way of reminding all those suffering from mental illness that they are not alone.
– Amanda Bernardo, Author
This past June, Samantha shared her story for the very first time publicly in a three part series titled Aftertaste. The short series shared Samantha’s journey with an eating disorder and served as the beginning to her own advocacy work towards mental health.
Having struggled not only with a mental illness, but also the fear of sharing my story with others, I know how difficult it can be to share parts of you that for many years you even hid from yourself. As I shared in my short series Aftertaste, I was scared to seek help, I was scared to open up, and I was scared of what others may say when I finally had the courage to say “I have an eating disorder.” I had to first find it in myself to be okay before I could begin to be okay with others. Sometimes those first steps can be the hardest and the scariest but what I learned in sharing my story is that we are not alone. We are each fighting our own battles every single day, but if we do not open up and share out stories with others, we will only continue to let the stigma define us. I am so excited for this next book in the Little Voice series and hope that my art, accompanied by Amanda’s poetry, will serve as an important tool that I only wish I had growing up. This will no doubt be one of the most powerful projects I have ever had the privilege of working on and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
– Samantha Clusiau-Lawlor, Illustrator
Today, Little Voice is extremely excited to share with you the cover of our newest book: The Lighthouse.
We are also very excited to announce that a portion of every book sale will be donated in support of the National Canadian Mental Health Association. We hope that our newest children’s book will not only start an important conversation around mental health but that it will also support the programs and services that help to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness in communities across Canada.
Over the next few months we will be working to finalize The Lighthouse and will be sharing updates on how you can pre-order your very own copy. Please continue to follow our journey until then!
As always, thank you for your support!