Whilst mental health (especially with young adults) is a subject that seems to be given more coverage and attention these days, it is still such a prominent issue and one that those who suffer from it cannot easily open up about: An Interview with Ebony Ali
Interview by Charles Odugbesan
“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” Famous words from the Jodi Picoult novel My Sister’s Keeper. These words speak to the sheer internal resilience that we as people, all possess. No test, no adversary, no collapse cannot be met with an even greater display of willpower and mental/physical reconstruction. Simply put, there’s nothing you’re not capable of bouncing back from – Ebony Ali is the perfect case in point.
Back in March, I was at SoapBox in Islington for a networking event a friend of mine had organised. Sat at one end of the room was a young woman with several copies of a book spread out on the desk in front of her. I walked over and looked down at the table. “Beauty For Ashes” was the name of the book; by Ebony Ali.
“Why that title?” Not the first question I had for Ebony when we met again in July, but definitely one of the most significant ones you’d think to ask any author.
Ebony: “Ashes represents something that’s been destroyed,” she replied “but beauty is something that can still come out of that.”
For any Harry Potter fans reading this, think of the Phoenix, combusting at the point of death before being reborn from its own ashes. But all witches and wizards aside, the title is a fitting analogy to describe the journey Ebony takes us on in her book.
“So this book is about my story – my childhood, growing up with my mum who had schizophrenia, how I dealt with all these things and also how they affected me later on in life. When I was at uni in my second year I had a psychotic episode and was checked into a mental institution for three months.”
For mere preservation purposes, let me not give away the entire gist of the book – I’ll give you that opportunity to find out directly from the source. I asked Ebony about any reception to/connection with her story that others have had since her book was published.
“Its been so so positive! A lot of people have told me (the book) has helped them to heal in a certain way. One girl told me about the traumatic experiences she had been through when she was younger and how my book has really helped her. Another girl messaged me through Instagram (we’re friends now, I’m always checking up on her) and said that before she was in a really but way, but my book had somehow helped her get better (mentally) which is really nice and inspiring to hear!”
Whilst mental health (especially with young adults) is a subject that seems to be given a lot more coverage and attention these days, it is still such a difficult issue for those who suffer from it, to open up about. The whole time I spoke with Ebony I found myself constantly commending her. It takes real bravery and honesty to be able to describe such internal pain and suffering to just one person… let alone combining that with a love of literature and projecting her experiences into something tangible, for us all to access!
“Did your faith in God help you?”
“Yes. 100%. It’s literally why I had the bravery to write my book. It’s the reason I was able to really believe that I could overcome my problems. But not just that, the community and the support system I had from people in church helped me a lot.”
Insightful and inspiration. Ebony’s memoir offers a real glimpse into some of the most turbulent and vulnerable periods in her life… and also garners hope in the reader through her road to recovery. Beauty For Ashes is available for purchase in the link below and it will also be available in stock at the WH Smith Lewisham branch.