Shining a Light on Mental Health – An Interview with Celia Painter and Abbie Krieble

27 April 2017

Two resourceful and resilient young women have used their life experiences to create an important resource which places a spotlight on youth mental health.

When life gives you lemons

When Life Gives You Lemons book cover

Celia Painter and Abbie Krieble, both 19 years, became friends in high school when they each faced issues with depression. Their book ‘When Life Gives You Lemons’ is currently sitting on the Compass Seminars NZ bestseller list.

“I knew Abbie had struggled with her mental health during Year 11, and when things started to go bad for me near the end of Year 12, Abbie was one of the main people who stepped in to help. From there, we became good friends,” says Celia.

Their motivation for creating their book, ‘When Life Gives You Lemons’ came from slightly different but equally important places. Abbie’s primary motivation was her determination to tackle the stigma associated with mental illness, while Celia wanted to create a resource that would help deal with the difficult emotions that both she and others were experiencing. The format for their book resulted from their decision to tap into their creativity as a way of processing their illnesses.

“One of my biggest things about mental illness is its stigma. A big goal for me was to release a book and be completely open and honest about what we had been through. I wanted to make a statement that it’s never anything to be ashamed of and putting my name behind a book that addressed that stigma was a huge motivation for me,” says Abbie.

“My experience with depression included feeling very isolated from people around me. One of the main things I felt was that no-one understood what I was going through which was quite difficult to deal with. I was drawing out these emotions in my art and found it quite a therapeutic process. From there, I started to wonder what it would be like to have a resource which dealt with the difficult feelings I was having. Abbie was thinking the same thing, so we thought that if my drawings were helping me, maybe they could also benefit other people,” says Celia.

Celia and Abbie

L-R: Celia Painter and Abbie Krieble

The young women recognised that a gap existed in terms of a having a resource that was created by youth, for youth.

“Having a resource guide written by young people who have first-hand experience in mental health is positive. The majority of resources are written by health professionals with no personal experience so being able to offer a raw account of the nature of mental illness is definitely a positive,” says Abbie.

“I hope one of the positives for young people accessing our book will be that they feel their experiences and feelings are valid, and are therefore more able to talk about them. Also, by bringing up these issues in our book, I hope young people will feel less isolated and that their problems have not been forgotten,” says Celia.

The friends received support from the Ministry of Youth Development’s Youth Enterprise Fund which helped them to self-publish and launch the book.

“The Youth Enterprise Fund was essential in getting our book off the ground. It has meant we could pay for our book launch, as well as several print runs. This has helped us with our main aim of getting our book to those who need it. Because we are self-publishing, there are a lot of expenses, so the Fund has been incredibly beneficial,” says Celia.

These remarkable young women are attending Victoria University and living life to the full; Abbie is studying law and a Bachelor of Arts, while Celia is undertaking a Bachelor of Arts. They’re both exploring the ‘what next’ where their book is concerned – whether that’s a revamp on the current book or something completely new. One thing’s for sure, it will be worth reading.

‘When Life Gives You Lemons’ is available for purchase on and on Amazon. If you want to get in touch with Celia or Abbie, they’re happy to be contacted via email.