Following the release of our anthology,?We Run Through The Dark Together, we?decided to interview a handful of its featured writers in order to get to know them and their?work better. In this interview, we speak to Pauline Aksay, author?of?My Lovely Antidepressants about the inspiration behind her poetry and her future aspirations.
Many people struggle with the side effects of antidepressants and the disassociation they can cause. Is this something you wanted to convey in My Lovely Antidepressants?
Absolutely. It’s such a strange phenomenon to me… to hear something serious on the news, for example, and then simply think, “who cares?” This disassociation is not like me at all. That is what inspired My Lovely Antidepressants. I was so repulsed by my own lack of empathy that I wrote this poem, and in writing the poem, I tried thinking of a disturbing series of events that could exaggerate this phenomenon. I think I was successful in that regard.
The imagery in your poem is simultaneously grotesque but endearing. What made you decide to make insects the focus of it?
I chose insects, particularly insects burrowing inside a human being, because I think that the image of insects interacting with humans, especially in such an intimate way, is disturbing enough to alert people’s attention to the message of the poem. Nobody wants to have such a problem, as an infestation of insects on or inside oneself can be a sign of disease and decay. I really wanted to draw attention to the perceived effects of antidepressants on one’s mood, and insects, especially insects infesting a human, seemed like the right way to go.
Do you draw your inspiration for writing about mental health entirely from life, or do you fictionalise experiences?
As someone who experiences mental health battles, there is no doubt that I draw inspiration from my life. That being said, I typically use my own experiences as a foundation for fictionalised stories, rather than having my poems be made entirely from my own experiences. Parts of the poem And So It Continues… were indeed drawn from real life, but the character, the father and the backstory are all fictionalised. I think using my own experiences as a base for writing adds more of a believable and honest interpretation of mental illness, rather than it all being made up. At the same time, having writing that is all from my own experiences can be overwhelming, so I think that a happy medium is having a fictionalised story with parts of it taken from real life.
As an interdisciplinary artist, do you have a preferred medium for creating works on the subject of mental health?
I do! I typically work in visual arts, but I love children’s picture books, comics, and zines so I love putting words and pictures together. In the future, I hope to reach a younger audience (children) and educate them on mental health through the power of stories and pictures. I want kids to understand what mental health is, and understand that they are not alone in their parents’, relatives’, or friends’?pursuits of mental health. A child may not recognise what’s going on when a parent has symptoms of depression, let’s say, but through the power of stories, we can educate them on these topics and foster a sense of community as well.
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