My Friend Fox by Heidi Everett
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.