Press Release London, United Kingdom, Monday 29th January 2018
Hashtag Press acquires ‘A Girl Behind Dark Glasses’
A bitterly painful, moving but ultimately inspiring story about one girl’s battle against severe M.E.
Jessica Taylor-Bearman shares her inner-most thoughts and real-time emotions – adapted from her diary growing up as a teenager in South-East England – as she experiences the terrifying discovery that, aged 15, instead of partying, studying and socialising, she would rapidly become bed-ridden, ultimately unable to move, speak, eat…Despite the odds, Jessica never gave up. Her dream was to become an author, to be able to marry, leave the hospital, enjoy life. In July 2018, her first book, A Girl Behind Dark Glasses, will be published by Hashtag Press. Supported by a hugely successful crowdfunding project, Jessica’s story will be unveiled at an ideal time – Jessica features in a film called Unrest by Jennifer Brea, a journalist and filmmaker from New York, which aims to raise awareness about severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E). After winning a prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, the now Oscar-shortlisted film is now on general release in the UK, coinciding with a review of the controversial National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines into the diagnosis and management of the illness.
From a darkened world, bound by four walls, a young woman called Jessica tells the tale of her battle against the M.E Monster. The severest form of M.E went to war with her at just 15 years old. From beneath her dark glasses, Jessica glimpses a world far different from the one she remembers as a teenage schoolgirl. This true story follows her path as she ends up living in hospital for years with tubes keeping her alive.
Becoming an author, being able to raise awareness about the condition – also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – is the only thing that keeps Jessica going through her teenage years. Using voice recognition software, which she calls ‘Bug’, Jessica has been able to record her time in hospital, providing a raw, real-time honesty to the story that would be impossible to capture in hindsight.
What is M.E?
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) is a systemic neuroimmune condition characterised by post-exertional malaise (a severe worsening of symptoms after even minimal exertion). It causes dysregulation of both the immune system and the nervous system. The effects of M.E. are devastating enough to leave 25% of patients housebound or bedbound. For moderate to severe patients, living with M.E. is like living with late-stage cancer, advanced stage AIDS, or congestive heart failure for decades. In many parts of the world, it is commonly called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Abiola Bello, co-founder of Hashtag Press, says: “When I first read A Girl Behind Dark Glasses, I was instantly hooked and wanted to know more about this amazing, brave, young woman. Jessica is an inspiration to us all and I know people will love this book as much as we do. We are so proud to be working with Jessica.”
Helen Lewis, co-founder of Hashtag Press, says: “Jessica Taylor-Bearman is an incredibly impressive lady. We are allowed to enter her world via her diary entries and see her going from living a ‘normal’ teenage life with all that entails to having to leave school, become bed-ridden, and ultimately, spend years of her life in hospital. She writes with humour, passion, sensibility and honesty. Her story is incredible. I hope it raises awareness of the severity of M.E. I also hope that her story now, as a published writer, star of a new film and wife, will inspire others to keep going…”
Jessica Taylor-Bearman, artist, blogger, author, says: “A Girl Behind Dark Glasses is based on my diary 'Bug', which became my coping mechanism for dealing with an uncertain future of complicated ill health. At that point, writing my diary became a therapy that helped me come to terms with what was happening. It gave me a voice at a time when I had nothing and provided insight to a hidden world that people still don't understand to this day.
“My aspiration was always to become an author and bring a light into the darkness of living with a chronic illness at it's worse for others. Ultimately, I had a romantic notion that the very idea of hope would always win against anything I faced.
“Through all that I experienced, it taught me so much more about myself than I could ever imagine. It strengthened my character and showed me that no matter what happened as long as I continued to believe in hope, I had a chance.
“I started writing my book on an iPod touch, which only required the smallest touch to work. It included me having to decipher the notes I had made through the days where I couldn't communicate due to the severity of my M.E. I decided it was time to share this intense story and finally be able to fulfil my dream.”
Notes to editors
A Girl Behind Dark Glasses will be available for pre-order in February 2018 via the publisher’s website: https://www.hashtagpress.co.uk/
A Girl Behind Dark Glasses will be published by Hashtag Press Ltd in early July 2018 and available in eBook and paperback formats internationally, online and in all good bookshops at an RRP of £12.99.
Trade enquiries via www.hashtagpress.co.uk
Press enquiries: email@example.com
For more on Jessica Taylor-Bearman:
About the author
Jessica Taylor-Bearman was born in March 1991, at Maidstone Hospital in England. She grew up in Rochester and Canterbury, Kent, where she attended Rochester Grammar School for Girls.
At the age of 15, she became acutely unwell with an illness called Myalgic Encephalomyletis (M.E). She was continuously hospitalised from 2006 to 2010, suffering with the most severe form of the condition. This included her being bedridden, unable to move, speak, eat and more. She began to write in her mind, and when finally able to speak again, she began to write through her audio diary 'Bug'.
In 2009, Jessica began to teach herself to paint through the movement of laughter. She realised that through balancing a paintbrush in her hand, laughter caused it to move, creating a new form of art that she called a 'Laugh-O-Gram'. Her first collection was exhibited in the Canterbury Art Festival 2009. All her pieces have been exhibited since then. In 2010, whilst still in hospital, she founded a charity called Share a Star, to help seriously unwell youngsters. It is now a registered charity that she continues to run. Since she left hospital, Jessica's journey with severe M.E. has continued to be very challenging. She is currently still mostly bedridden, twelve years after it began. She writes a blog called The World of One Room and made a YouTube video of the same name that has reached tens of thousands of people in multiple countries. Jessica has also featured in a film called Unrest. The aim which of both of these is to raise awareness.
Jessica's ambition has always been to be an author.