A local author has released her first children’s novel highlighting a rare disorder and mental health.
Pendulum follows a young boy named Ben, whose personality and behaviour changes from happy, funny, energetic and silly to anxious, obsessive, emotional and depressed overnight. After visiting over 20 doctors and receiving seven mis-diagnoses, Ben is finally diagnosed with a little-known and understood disorder called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS).
Author Sara German discovered her affinity for writing later in life, when working with the government. While she always did a lot of writing for work, it wasn’t until colleagues started complimenting on her strong writing skills that she realized it was something she could nurture outside of the office environment. “I just have had a lot of compliments and people saying you should really start writing on the side, you should start doing something with this gift that I honestly didn’t really realize I had,” she remembers.
With a background in environmental science, Sara started getting interested in health issues over the past ten years. In 2016, she started writing a blog called The Allergy Beast, which talks about food allergies and intolerances, mental health, obesity, autoimmune and neuroimmune disorders. Through family and friends, she started learning about PANDAS and the often pervasive affects the disease can have on a child’s mental health. “With PANDAS, there are things like OCD that present, anxiety, depression, emotional ability, aggression, among other things,” she says. “And so, having learned about this disorder, I just felt like it would be a really interesting one to work through in a book.”
Sara started writing Pendulum two years ago in her spare time, which was few and far between with two young kids at home. She says she wrote most of it by hand in a notebook while she was at her children’s dance classes or soccer practices. Her favourite part about the process was researching the disorder and then building resilience into the main character that is so important with any mental or physical health issue. “We want to build resilience in our kids,” she says.
Sara hopes that Pendulum with create more awareness for PANDAS and children’s mental health in general. “The disorder encompasses so many different pieces that people can have on their own,” she says. “A child could have anxiety or have depression or OCD, and so it works through a lot of the tools and different things that help this boy throughout his journey.”
At 132 pages, Sara wrote Pendulum for kids in grades five and up, but says it can also be a great reference and support for parents who are trying to help their children through mental health struggles. “I think parents could easily read this even just for their awareness level in terms of the disorder,” she says.
Pendulum is now being sold online through Amazon, and publisher FrisenPress. It can also be found locally at the Merrickville Book Emporium and the North Grenville Public Library.