The Unravelling

A memoir, told through illustrations and text, of one family’s journey through mental illness, dementia, caregiving, and the health care system.

Olivier Martini and his mother, Catherine, have lived together since he was diagnosed with schizophrenia thirty-six years ago. It hasn’t always been a perfect living situation, but it’s worked — Catherine has been able to help Olivier through the ups and downs of living with a mental illness, and Olivier has been able to care for his aging mother as her mobility becomes limited, and Olivier’s brothers Clem and Nic have been able to provide support to both as well. But then Olivier experiences a health crisis at the exact same time that his mother starts slipping into dementia.

The Martini family’s lifelong struggle with mental illness is suddenly complicated immeasurably as they begin to navigate the convoluted world of assisted living and long-term care. With anger, dry humour, and hope, The Unravelling tells the story of one family’s journey with mental illness, dementia, and caregiving, through a poignant graphic narrative from Olivier accompanied by text from his brother, award-winning playwright and novelist Clem Martini.


Clem Martini

Clem Martini is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter with over thirty plays and nine books of fiction and non-fiction to his credit, including Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness, winner of the Calgary Book Award, and his most recent anthology of plays, Martini With A Twist. He has served on the boards of numerous writing organizations including the Alberta Playwrights Network, the Playwrights Guild of Canada, and the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs. His texts on playwriting, The Blunt Playwright and The Greek Playwright, are used in universities and colleges across the country. He is currently a professor in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.


Olivier Martini

Olivier Martini is a former student of the Alberta College of Art and Design who lives and works in Calgary. He generates visual artwork in a variety of forms. His sketches, paintings, and prints have been displayed at the Marion McGrath Gallery, published in Alberta Views magazine, and were included as part of the Canadian Mental Health’s Copernicus Project.


Praise for Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness

“[A] poignant, heart-wrenching and at times infuriating story about the Martini family’s 30-year battles with schizophrenia and the mental health-care system.” ? Calgary Herald

“Much is lost because of mental illness. With books like Bitter Medicine, much is gained.” ? The Coast

“The inclusion of Olivier’s drawings offers an illuminating presence often missing from mental health discussions. They make Olivier’s story heartbreakingly real, lending credence to Clem’s shattering facts about mental health. The format also makes light reading of heavy issues, and imparts a page-turning interest to deliver the importance of them.” ? Telegraph-Journal


  • City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize 2018, Short-listed
  • Alberta Trade Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2018, Short-listed
  • Excerpts & Samples ×
    There are no other resources for this book.

    Reader Reviews



    240 Pages
    6.00in * 10.00in * .50in


    September 12, 2017


    Freehand Books





    No author posts found.

    Related Blog Posts

    There are no posts with this book.

    Other books by Olivier Martini