Manga Artist Draws Autobiographical Essay About Experience with Parkinson's Disease

posted on by Eric Stimson

In 2001, the manga artist Kyōko Shimazu (Nurse Station) began to experience uncontrollable shaking in her right hand, then throughout the right side of her body. The doctors she visited told her to relax and that everything was fine. She quit drawing manga and got lots of sleep, but the symptoms only worsened. Increasingly nervous, she went "doctor shopping" for seven years, trying to find out what her problem was. She finally discovered that she has Parkinson's disease, a long-term neurodegenerative disorder.

Shimazu has since lost the ability to talk and walks with difficulty, but she has managed to express her feelings and recount her experiences with Parkinson's in a manga essay memoir, Mangaka, Parkinson-byō ni Naru ("A Manga Artist with Parkinson's"). In a post on her blog, Shimazu apologizes for drawing herself so young ("I've revealed that I can only draw in one pattern") and thanks the people who were there to cheer her on and support her when her "feelings were at rock-bottom, and living felt painful and pointless."

"[My hand] feels like a different creature..."

Mangaka, Parkinson-byō ni Naru was published by Bunkasha on December 10. If you're interested in similar manga, Keiko Tobe's manga With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child portrays the difficulties faced by a mother with autistic children, and Hideo Azuma wrote an autobiographical manga about alcoholism.

Sources: Comic Natalie, Shimazu Kyōko: Watashi no Parkinson Seikatsu and Bunkasha; Image from e-hon

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