Welcome to Illustrator Interrupted

Hello and welcome.

Creating a blog and writing a welcome post on this late Sunday afternoon, when my household's at its all-time noisiest, probably wasn't my brightest idea. I'm having difficulty remembering why I'm doing this. I thought I knew a few moments ago, but due to the overwhelming distractions surrounding me, my brain has fallen out from its brain box (a term my youngest use to say to me regularly).

And it's only becoming harder to concentrate now that my youngest is pretending to be a unicorn and is skipping around the house singing... 'Stick a banana in your ear, stick a banana in your ear...' at an increasing volume.

© Amanda Francey

Where was I?

That's right, trying to remember why I'm doing this...

Well, the idea occurred to me one day when I was in a real POO of a mood – totally absorbed in self-pity – I referred to myself as an 'illustrator interrupted indefinitely'. Then I thought, Illustrator Interrupted would make a great title for a second blog that I won't have time to keep up with. Yes, that's it, I mused, Illustrator Interrupted describes my current predicament rather well and has a nice ring to it. And the next thing I know – here I am – spitting out another blog to be lost out there in the blogosphere.

So why the interruption?

You see, my 'professional' illustrator hat was knocked to the floor recently. Prior to my brutal behatting, I was the wearer and juggler of many hats; ILLUSTRATOR of children's books, WIFE of patient husband, MOTHER of three children, MASTER of one outside-dog-with-inside-privileges-so-long-as-she-stays-on-her-mat... and MANAGER of chronic illnesses (systemic autoimmune, neuro-immune, endocrine and rheumatic conditions, just to name a few).

However, early last year, my MANAGER of chronic illnesses' hat rudely kicked my ILLUSTRATOR hat right off my head and has been dominating my head ever since. It's controlling and heavy and is a pain in the neck, literally. The reason this hat has stubbornly glued itself to my scalp is because one of my chronic illnesses, the biggest bastarrr... bug bear, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly known as, and poorly titled, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, brought my life to a sudden halt by progressing from 'mild' to 'moderate'.

In the past, if anyone were to tell me that I only had mild ME, I would have tried to – with my weak and wobbly legs (and the amusement of onlookers) – kick in their kneecaps, because all of those years living with mild ME didn't feel at all mild to me. In fact, since the day of my sudden onset of ME (12th of August 2013) after contracting influenza, I only had between 50% to 70% of my previous functioning. And that 70% was like winning the gold lottery, or in my case, since I've never entered the gold lottery, winning a few bucks on a birthday or Christmas Scratch-It. In other words, I only felt 70% good, very occasionally during those first five years.

Then towards the end of 2017, my mild ME was slipping into moderate patches, so I made the difficult decision to put my career of illustrating children's books on pause for 12 months and spend 2018 focusing on improving my health. Unfortunately, despite my efforts, in April 2018 I suddenly slipped further, due to what the ME community refer to as

... a CRASH.

It's really the best word to describe it. Those mornings I wake up and I think to myself, 'what - the - hell - did - I - DO - last - night?' I feel like I've woken up mid-scene of a car crash (without the visual gore), but with full body pain, partial paralysis and the weight of a car wreck on top of me, while also having the flu and the mother of all hangovers at the same time. Then I remember, 'oh that's right, I didn't go out partying last night, get drunk while sick with the flu, then crash my car on my way home... I have ME.'

What did I do to cause this crash last April? Would you believe all it took was a relaxing family holiday in Tasmania? Two days after returning home, I was practically bedridden at first. Couldn't handle noise or other stimuli. Had trouble talking, sitting, holding my head up. Every little thing I did, moving, thinking, made me feel worse. I improved a little after a couple of weeks, however, I've been mostly house-bound since. Prior to our Tasmania trip, I could go for a gentle 30 minute bush walk through a nearby forest most days, but sadly, I haven't been able to go for a walk since. However, despite all of this, I don't regret going to Tasmania. We had a wonderful time and now I have beautiful photos and memories to reminisce over, which brighten me up when I'm feeling down.

© Amanda Francey

© Amanda Francey

So there you have it, I'm an illustrator interrupted indefinitely. My regular walks that I'd been enjoying for decades are now no more. There's currently no proven treatment for this condition and all I can do is find ways to 'MANAGE' it until researchers have a breakthrough, which might take a while considering ME is the least funded major complex disease in the world.

That's not my intention for this blog... hang on, what was my intention for this blog? Have I reached that part yet?

"How's a person to concentrate with all that racket going on?"

Not only is my daughter skipping around singing... 'Stick a banana in your ear, stick a banana in your ear,' – armed with a banana, she's chasing her dad around the kitchen and dining room, and our outside-dog-with-inside-privileges-so-long-as-she-stays-on-her-mat... is not on her mat! Instead, she's slipping and sliding all over the tiles as she scoots after them.

"On your mat!"

"Your mat, not my carpet! Okay, you can finish cleaning up my cookie crumbs." 

Saves me cleaning them up.

© Amanda Francey

Where was I again?

What's my intention of writing this blog? Well, I know what it's not.

This is not a wellness blog. Don't expect health advice, but most importantly, please, oh please, don't offer me unsolicited health advice. I have pretty much heard of, and tried everything and I know exactly where you can shove that celery stick or whatever else your cousin's friend's sister's girlfriend did to cure her... [ insert random condition that in no way relates to my illness here ].

In other words, please refrain from using the following three words...

Have you tried?

Learn to pronounce my illness, then we can talk.

I think my intention here, is to share my journey of the day to day challenge of managing chronic illness, juggling family and creativity, while keeping a sense of humour. In writing these posts, my goal is to spread awareness of chronic illnesses, especially the most neglected condition, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), which I hope will help others – going through a similar situation – feel less alone. If all I do is manage to put a smile on someone's face, then it will be worth it!

I also hope to sneak in the occasional drawing when my MANAGER hat isn't looking.

"Will you get that thing out of my ear? !!"

Now my husband's trying to stick a banana in my ear and our outside-dog-with-inside-privileges-so-long-as-she-stays-on-her-mat... is not on her mat! Again.

"Outside! ALL OF YOU!"

© Amanda Francey

I mean, who can say no to that?


Anyway, hopefully more posts by Illustrator Interrupted will be coming soon... er... maybe...

Well, that depends on interruptions really...

"Pardon, what was that sweetie? Why can't dogs play harmonicas? I don't know, maybe because they have snouts? 

Huh? What about dogs with flat faces?"

If you've made it all the way to the end, congratulations and thank you for reading.



  1. This is great Amanda. I can;t imagine how challenging it must be for you to be dealing with all this, plus parenting. plus, plus, plus. Beautiful illustration.

  2. Very Good, Amanda! Yes, I read all the way to the end! Also like the illustration! Good to try and understand it all!

    1. Wonderful! Thanks for taking the time to read my rambles .

  3. Sending empathy. I 'manage' my CFS (different factors, similarly frustrating weeks on the sofa) and am also waiting for that miracle and mostly remaining positive - but a good vent every now and then, esp after someone has offered a new cure..... I love your beautiful art, I hope you are able to find energy to express your creativity as you need to <3

    1. Thanks for dropping in Cherysh. Sending empathy and some better days your way <3


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