Roanoke, Va. (WFXR) — This month local artist, Marie Dagenais-Lewis released her first book, Chronically Spooky. Chronically Spooky is a twenty-one page, illustrative coloring book that dives into the life of those suffering with chronic illness. Marie makes a statement by using personal experiences to broach hard topics and inspire others.
“I got the idea for chronically spooky this past August after I lost my career that I’ve had for almost 8 years and I was kind of desperate honestly… because the unemployment benefits still hadn’t come. I had no source of income trying to get a job disabled in a pandemic- ravished economy. It’s extremely hard, so I decided to turn to my art.” MARIE DAGENAIS-LEWIS, ARTIST, AUTHOR, DISABILITY RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Turn to her art, she did. Marie says she poured all of her depression, anxiety, and feelings she had towards society into Chronically Spooky. These feelings often accompany a life of disability, something Marie knows all too well.
“I was born with a rare disease called Multiple Hereditary Exostoses and I was also born with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and the combination of those two genetics have just made my body completely different than everyone else’s. My joints constantly dislocate, I have hundreds of bone tumors scattered throughout my body, I have constant migraines.” MARIE DAGENAIS-LEWIS, ARTIST, AUTHOR, DISABILITY RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Forty-four tumors removed, two cancer scares, two strokes, and having to relearn to walk multiple times in her life, Marie has encountered her fair share of adversity, but yet she doesn’t want her conditions to define her.
It’s really frustrating to me that not only do I have to overcome my body, I have to overcome stigma that society puts on me because of my conditions. They don’t believe that someone with a disability can be so successful, they don’t believe that they can be so high-functioning.” MARIE DAGENAIS-LEWIS, ARTIST, AUTHOR, DISABILITY RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Marie addresses themes such as medical gaslighting, imposter syndrome, disability discrimination, and ableism in Chronically Spooky. She hopes that the book will allow those who have experienced these types of things to not feel alone.
“I wanted to give them something that made them feel seen, made them feel heard, made them understand their own life experiences and also help themstart the conversation surrounding their experiences too.” MARIE DAGENAIS-LEWIS, ARTIST, AUTHOR, DISABILITY RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Every illustration offers insight and those that fill the pages with color can heed Marie’s message, you’re not defined by your disability.
“Don’t look at your disability as something that makes you disposable, look at it as something that makes you empowered.” MARIE DAGENAIS-LEWIS, ARTIST, AUTHOR, DISABILITY RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Originally shared by Hayley Henson, WFXR News here.