My Friend Fox

Heidi Everett

My Friend Fox
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My Friend Fox

Heidi Everett

‘Blazingly beautiful and devastating. I wept but felt less alone as a human. I want everyone to read this book!‘ - Favel Parrett, author of Past the Shallows and There Was Still Love.


The fox sits on the outer waiting for me to discover him because at the moment, I am on the outer too. He watches me. Can you see him? He’s clever at hiding.

Just like fox, Heidi has lived on the outer. The ‘official record’ of her life has been her mental health record: Primary diagnosis - Schizoaffective; Comorbidity - Major depression, juvenile autism, and not her own memories. This is the living, breathing version of Heidi’s mental health file that psych wards, doctors, mental health staff or rehab workers know little about or worse, use as evidence of diagnoses. This is Heidi’s account of what happened, shadowed by the story of a fox who knows he’ll never belong.

Part parable, part memoir, My Friend Fox is a story that might be familiar to some - searching everywhere to finally feel at home. With fox as her guide, Heidi comes to know how to live authentically, and venture into a future of her own making.

A literary memoir about the the wonder, the humour, and the realities that exist beyond what is printed in a mental health file. Alongside Heidi’s beautifully lyrical words are her exquisite line drawings, making My Friend Fox a book to be read, treasured, and gifted.

Review

Heidi Everett meets her friend the fox on a rainy, winter’s night in Melbourne. She has been walking for two weeks. The encounter is life-changing as the fox helps her to understand that she needs support to survive: ‘It’s one thing to exist, it’s another to live.’ Is the fox real or is he an hallucination? He has been shadowing her for most of her life.

My Friend Fox is an incredibly candid memoir about a lifelong struggle with mental health. Everett’s writing is extraordinarily beautiful and original. She manages to tell her story in a way that is poetic, funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. She describes one of her psych ward admissions with a level of wisdom and insight that is so badly needed if we as a society are going to improve our understanding of mental illness and how best to live with it. Amazingly this is Everett’s first book and not only is it filled with writing of overwhelming quality and perception, but the pages are also interspersed with her own enchanting line drawings. These illustrate everything from the clock that hangs over the television in the common room of the ward to a field of rusted car parts and blackberry bushes next to her childhood home in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

This memoir is an essential read if we are going to reckon with a mental health system which is itself in need of healing. Everett is already a successful and talented artist, comedian, musician and mental health advocate; My Friend Fox shows her to also be a remarkable writer and extremely important storyteller.


Kara Nicholson is from Readings online.

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