Wading The Waters of my Mind

£5.00

By Martine Daniel

ISBN: 978-1-84991-175-7
Published: 2010
Pages: 137
Key Themes: fiction, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, psychosis

Description

‘Promise me you’ll never tell anyone. This can just be our little secret.’

Fourteen years ago, Adam Waddoups made his father a promise – and for fourteen years, he’s kept that promise, keeping to himself the secret that could so easily rip the fabric of his family apart.

But keeping secrets comes at a cost for Adam, and he is tortured by the memories of the past, trapped in a cycle of guilt that regularly plunges him into episodes of depression and mania, which push him dangerously close to the edge.

When Adam is diagnosed with bipolar disorder – a diagnosis which is later adjusted to the lesser known schizoaffective disorder – and referred to a psychotherapist, he is forced to confront the demons of his past – and to finally admit the truth, allowing him, at last, to shape a more positive future for himself.

About the Author

Martine Daniel was born in York in 1981. From a young age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and whilst at secondary school she would often be caught scribbling stories in the back of exercise books during lessons. Her dreams of seeing her name in print never dimmed, despite her life being turned upside down by episodes of mania, depression and psychosis during her late teens and early twenties.

In 2003 the pressures of a stressful job brought on an episode of psychotic mania, which led to the breakdown that ended her hopes of a career in bookselling, following which Martine was finally forced into contact with local mental health services. With the help of medication and the support of her family, she began to pick up the pieces of her life and started work on her first novel The Fire in Your Eyes (published 2009), juggling work on the novel with her studies with The Open University. Her second novel, Legacy of Lies, the sequel to The Fire in Your Eyes, was published in April 2010. Wading the Waters of My Mind is her third novel.

Martine hopes that by bringing the experience of mental illness alive in her works of fiction she can contribute to the ongoing battle to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Book Extract

Chapter One

January

Alone. Always alone.

Darkness creeping in, relentless, a smothering blanket of oppression, wrapping around him like an old, familiar friend. These two things: the only certainties left in this fucked up existence someone jokingly called life.

Heaving himself up off the sofa, Adam stumbled across the darkened room and yanked open the door to the balcony. Out on the street, three floors below, drunken revellers were spilling out onto the street from the bar two doors down. Their voices rose up: a cacophony of inebriation; laughter bubbling from drunken lips. Someone was singing – mismatched snatches of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – and then other voices joined in, too intoxicated to care whether the words were in the right order – or even if they were the right words. Adam leaned against the balcony railing, watching, listening. There was something almost obscene about the way these people – fools, all of them – embraced the art of living, as if it was somehow effortless, without thought or care.

Reaching into the back pocket of his jeans, Adam released the last cigarette from the half-crushed packet and let the box tumble down amongst the drunken people below. His lighter was almost empty. He coaxed a tentative flame and drew in a deep lungful of smoke, tossing the lighter over the balcony rail, too. It landed on the pavement next to the cigarette packet, and was immediately crushed under the stumbling feet of a woman wearing only one shoe. Adam almost smiled. Almost, because smiling, now, was beyond him, like laughter, like speech, like living. Inside the flat, the phone was ringing; its shrill, sharp and insistent sound made Adam wince and cover his ears with his hands. His mother, perhaps, or his brother, calling to drag him back into the world again. The world Adam had no desire to be in. He let it ring until the answering machine picked up the call. ‘Hey, Adam, just calling to wish you a Happy New Year!’ His brother, Harry. The successful one. The one who had gone to Oxford and come away with a First, and achieved all the things their mother could be proud of. ‘I know you’re there, Adam. It’s New Year’s Eve – where else would you be? Listen, will you call Mum? She says you’ve been ignoring her calls again. She just wants to talk to you.’ But I don’t want to talk to her, Adam thought bleakly. Harry rang off, but it was only minutes before the phone rang again. His mother, this time, leaving another pleading, desperate message. He could delete the messages, but they would ring again: another certainty that he had forgotten. They would not – could not – leave him be. So he dragged himself away from the balcony rail and back into the darkness of the flat, yanking the phone cord out of the wall: cutting the umbilical cord that attempted to bind him to life. To drown out the deafening sound of his mind, churning its bleak thoughts like an over-active washing machine, Adam switched on the TV and turned the volume up high. Far away, in London, thousands of people had gathered on the Thames Embankment, ready to welcome in another year. Some scantily dressed girl sang and gyrated on a stage; people clapped and cheered – happy to be there, happy to be alive. Once, Adam remembered, once he’d felt like them – been like them – been one of them. Now, he was a ghost – a ghost of himself – a ghost of the person he’d been.

On the TV the presenter was talking to the girl singer, who’d finished her song and was beaming straight into the camera. ‘And your plans for the future?’ the presenter asked.

Adam snorted. The future. He looked into his own future, and saw nothing but darkness. No, that was wrong. There was something in the darkness. He leaned forward, elbows on knees, head in hands. In the darkness, he could see himself: dead, on a cold slab in the mortuary, white sheet pulled up to his chin and dead eyes staring – staring straight at Adam as he looked into the conclusion of his life.

A calmness tumbled over Adam and he stood up, walking into the kitchenette and opening the cupboard over the sink. The packets of paracetamol were lined up in regimental order – the packets he’d been squirrelling away for weeks, ever since the darkness first began to squeeze the life out of him. Adam removed them from the cupboard one at a time, stacking them up in two towers – like the twin towers in New York, only this time the twin towers would be the destroyers, not the destroyed. Picking up a bowl from the draining board, Adam opened the packets – two at a time, one from each tower, so the towers stayed equal – and popped the pills out in to the bowl, filling it slowly. On the television in the living room, the presenter squeaked excitedly, ‘Only ten minutes until midnight!’ Plenty of time, Adam thought. It was important that he did it right. A perfectionist until the end.

He carried on popping the pills out of the plastic strips, one at a time. When the over-excited presenter announced five minutes to midnight, Adam flattened the last box, added it to the pile in the recycling bin, and discarded the last empty plastic strip. A mountain of paracetamol sat in the bowl; he carried it through to the living room and set it down on the coffee table, like a conscientious host setting up nibbles at a party. From the refrigerator, he retrieved three four-packs of John Smiths, and set them out on the coffee table – six on either side of the bowl. Finally, at two minutes to midnight, Adam pulled a handful of books out of the bookcase in the alcove and removed the two bottles of Jack Daniels that had been hidden there for ‘emergencies’. These, he lined up flush with the edge of the table before beginning his final preparatory task – opening the bottles and each of the cans. He finished his task as the over-excited presenter prepared for the countdown to Big Ben chiming in the New Year.

Readying himself, Adam lifted the stereo remote and hit play; the CD resumed playback from where Adam had paused it half an hour before. Elvis Presley’s gruff voice, cranked up loud, drowned out the sound of the TV. The CD was one of Adam’s favourites, apt for the occasion, really. ‘New Year’s Eve’ was one of the new ‘Follow That Dream’ label releases – Sony BMG’s attempt to capitalise on all the bootleg recordings appearing over the years that had supposedly never even existed. Elvis had spent his last ever New Year’s Eve performing to his dedicated fans. And Adam, one of those dedicated fans, would spend his last ever New Year’s Eve in the company of the King. There was some kind of ironic cohesion to the whole situation, Adam thought.


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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 28 April, 2010.

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