In Memory of an Emily is a piece of creative nonfiction and a short film that together detail the author’s experience with mental illness in the collegiate environment. In its 45 pages, Jackman begins to detail the realities of living with depression, anxiety, and anorexia nervosa. The piece includes five sections of writing, including a preface and four portions describing freshman to senior year. Each section endeavors to explore simplistic and purposefully cliché events common in young adult/collegiate life and juxtapose the banal nature of these events with the experience of the mentally ill. Her story endeavors to explore the emotional truths of pain and suffering, revealing that beneath her tender façade lies a very different existence, one tangled in eating disorders, panic attacks, and overwhelming sadness. While maintaining a story-like quality traditional to creative non-fiction, Jackman ventures to warn with a cautionary tale of pathologizing abnormality and exploring the long lasting effects of childhood trauma. Weaving careful storytelling into an exploration of the mentally ill mind, Jackman keeps the reader both terrifyingly close and far away, whispering painful secrets and then desperately running away with the truth. She speaks frankly of all aspects of life, ranging from far more mundane events, such as break ups and college rejection letters, to complicated issues, such as the suicide of her grandfather and her admission into an eating disorder facility. The author attempts to establish a balanced rapport with the reader, recognizing the need to maintain distance and elicit emotion simultaneously. Jackman writes In Memory of an Emily as a heartbreaking but authentic tale, playing with stream of consciousness and paralyzing emotional description. She opens the door and invites the reader into her mind so as to share in the physical and emotional discomfort of the storyteller, but then promptly slams the door once inside.
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