Derry’s dad creates children’s book after daughter’s hospitalization


A father from Derry has created a new children’s book to help children deal with their emotions due to the difficulties his family has faced during the pandemic.

Damien Carlin’s daughter, Aoife, suffered greatly from anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic, which even led to her being hospitalized.

To help his daughter with her emotional well-being, Damien created “Eva Finds Her Smile” to read as a bedtime story.

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Damien spoke to MyDerry about finding light in the difficult times he and his family have faced, and creating this book to help other parents and children during this emotionally trying time.

He said: “My daughter Aoife started showing strange symptoms in April 2020. It’s hard to describe but it was almost like she was having hallucinations accompanied by depression. She was only 3 years old and a half at that time.

“We contacted our GP who told us to take Aoife straight to the pediatric unit at Altnagelvin Hospital.

“The doctors couldn’t believe that a child so young could have a serious mental health problem and instead assumed she had meningitis or encephalitis.

“This led to Aoife going through a very stressful week of lumbar punctures, MRIs, antibiotics, antivirals, blood tests and a stay in the covid ward while they investigated the cause.

“When no physical cause could be found, we were basically dismissed and left to fend for ourselves.”

Cover of ‘Eva Finds Her Smile’

At home, Damien wanted to be able to soothe his daughter’s distress, so he created ‘Eva Finds Her Smile’.

He said: “I had the idea of ​​putting her experience into a bedtime story and it had an immediate impact on her emotions and it helped her talk about how she was feeling.

“It also helped her deal with the symptoms she developed following her stay in hospital.

“Her ability to speak to us now made it clear to us that the cause of Aoife’s episode was a mixture of confinement and added stress added by the impending welcome of a new baby to our family.”

'Eva finds her smile' author Damien Carlin
‘Eva finds her smile’ author Damien Carlin

Since the creation of his book, Damien now wants to help other families whose children may be struggling with their emotions, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “My goal now is to get the book out to as many children as possible. I recently did a book tour of schools in Derry and the response from the children was phenomenal and overwhelming.

“The kids really opened up and were more confident in recognizing symptoms of anxiety and how to get help to deal with it.

“I sincerely believe that this book can make a huge difference in the lives of children and their families.”

‘Eva Finds Her Smile’ can be purchased here.

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