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Challenging the Stigma of Mental Illness Through Fiction

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Curbside Splendor Publishing
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Mental illness can take on many forms and create unique challenges for those who suffer from it, and for those who take care of the afflicted.

A new book by Milwaukee writer Dasha Kelly follows the journey of a young girl named CeCe as she cares for her chronically depressed mother while also caring for herself as she grows up.

"I wanted to have that tension of being so frustrated either as the person who has a mental challenge or the caretaker," Kelly says. "Just the frustration of 'it is what it is'...it's this want to will things to be different."

Almost Crimson takes on the untangling of dark emotions that are also surrounded by love as CeCe finds support in surprising places while navigating the murky waters of understanding her mother and "the Sad" she frequently finds her in.

Kelly's goal in depicting a mentally ill mother and a daughter who orbits around her was to show how each situation can be unique. She encourages audiences to be mindful that no one can truly see the whole picture upon first glance, and no one can simply "be fixed" permanently - even with treatments.

"You have this expectation from people and society and all these areas and dynamics around you that you should be different, but you're not...It's a very narrow space to try and exist in," says Kelly.

Dasha Kelly is a writer and social entrepreneur in Milwaukee. She’ll give the keynote talk this evening about her new novel at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books in Waukesha. 

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Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.