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Lea Carmichael
Author, Illustrator
The Migraine Book
The Migraine Book, A Memoir in Pictures, is a book of drawings that artist Lea Carmichael has drawn over the past twenty years while in the throes of migraine. They are accompanied by writings that expand on the artwork. Varying in style and covering many different aspects of migraine, the drawings are horrifying, poignant, gruesome, emotional, and sometimes funny. They were drawn spontaneously through, in reaction to, and in revenge against her pain.
An artist renders her experiences with migraines in a series of folksy, colorful crayon drawings collected in this surprisingly poignant book. Carmichael, a visual artist living in upstate New York, reflects on her earliest encounters with the condition, noting that, as a child, she witnessed her mother’s debilitating symptoms. She goes on to describe her own onset of migraines and to articulate the often all-consuming impairment it has caused her over the years: “The migraine hunkers down in my head, a homunculus driving an oil-well–sized drill-bit deep into the raw, swollen nerves of my brain.” During one attack, Carmichael angrily grabbed crayons and began to draw. This led to a degree of respite—or, at the least, distraction—from the pain. Her collection represents her ongoing attempts to grapple with the condition, while producing an oeuvre of distinctive pieces marked by rage, despair, and sometimes humor. The drawings feature repeating motifs of piercing instruments and decapitation; naïf balloon figures; fractured and ghoulish self-portraits with bulging eyeballs and grimacing mouths; and kaleidoscope-like zigzagging patterns. At their core lies a sense of self under siege. Readers intimately familiar with migraines will find solace through commiseration in Carmichael’s book. Color illus. (BookLife)