By Suzannah Knight
AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK
Key Themes: self-harm, drug abuse, eating disorders, sectioning, mental health services, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder, manic depression, alcoholism, the occult
Description & About the Author
After a year travelling around the World Suzannah comes back to England to start university. Things start to go wrong as she is tempted into experimenting with drugs. She drops out of university and during her first spell of mania and depression starts to believe in black magic. This is the start of a long and winding journey for Suzannah as she loses all her friends and former lifestyle and leads a dubious existence - self harming and trichotillomania plague and her psyche as she battles with an eating disorder.
Suzannah is eventually sectioned and finds herself in a secure unit battling psychosis. She will not admit to herself she has a problem and refuses to take medication. Lonely and cast adrift she tries to forge a career for herself, but she canít escape the taboo of being labelled 'mental'. Some time later she finds herself in the slums of Darlington, in poverty, and a chronic alcoholic. Overcoming her demons and fighting her schizo-affective disorder Suzannah takes life by the balls and gets herself back to university to finally finish her degree only to once again fall into mental illness, bad relationships and brushes with the law.
With four different diagnoses along the journey and various different forms of medication Suzannah denies her mental illness for a long time and therefore the psychiatrists were unable to help. She loses all her friends through mental illness and any form of normal life until she confronts the problem.
Remarkably and with great character Suzannah's book ends on a high note as she falls in love and marries the man of her dreams to live happily ever after with her son Domini. It is through her own determination and the support of loved ones that Suzannah has changed her life. She will never be totally rid of her illness but with sensible management she has succeeded in finding equilibrium. This is a fascinating and empowering story which should be a great positive influence to those who find themselves in a similar situation to Suzannah.
When we returned home the drinks cabinet was locked and I was locked in the house, but I was so high I didnít need anything to aid it .My parents were worried and were watching me carefully. Itís never been discussed whether or not there is mental illness in my family tree but I know a great aunt committed suicide years before using paracetamol. My mania continued, my parents tried to talk to me about my future, I didnít want to know I thought great thing wee going to happen to me without me doing anything to help it. My mother dragged me down to the University of Leeds, to continue my studies there. I said no, I didnít want to go. I couldnít stand the stress of going back to university, it didnít interest me. She then dragged me to the chamber of commerce where I had an awful meeting with an old man. He knew I wasnít interested in the course on offer and he told me so. It was an awkward and embarrassing moment. So I signed on the dole, and when I had to go for job interviews I messed them up.
Iíd ruined my familyís annual ski trip. They thought I was just being a brat they didnít know there was something wrong with me and they didnít want to admit to themselves there was anything wrong with me. I was still manic and my parents knew it, my father had turned my room upside down looking for drugs, he thought I was taking heroin. The front door was always locked and the back so that I couldnít escape like I had done in Morzine, it was for my own good I always seemed to get into trouble when I escaped. And all the time my parents were trying to protect me from myself, and keep me away from the authorities. When I was sat in my room I thought I was with members of the English SAS who then developed into members of the elite group made up in my mind of the Belize soldiers. I stole some cans of lager from the fridge and drank them with my new soldier friends. It was the same feeling of military that I had had whilst skiing. It wasnít as though I came from a military orientated background but the connection with the army reigned right through my illness.
When I wasnít in my room imagining whatever I imagined I was down stairs in a massive row. I was taken into the kitchen with my parents and my brother, who had stuck his nose in and was questioned about things I didnít want to be questioned about. A huge row would peruse to which I didnít understand why. It seemed that my parents were constantly rowing and I was in the middle, although I was the cause. I wish I could remember what the rows were but I canít, although now I know they were over my strange behaviour. I remember being very objectionable and talking about weird things at dinner times, I would cause a row to erupt after Iíd caused trouble, usually by being very nasty and rude. I was still under the illusion that this family was not mine and all I wanted was to be with my made up fantasy family. I wished this family was dead. Life wasnít exactly perfect I had no close friends especially as Alice wasnít talking to me after the ski trip. I never bothered to ring her, as far as I was concerned she was a piece of shit still. I had new friends; they were all that mattered now. I was going nowhere fast.
It was a dull January day; the view out of my bedroom window was as lonely as ever. We lived in a village yet I knew no one in it, I often thought that wasnít very normal yet there were a lot of things about my family life that I didnít find very normal, and they were thoughts I had since being a little girl. I hated my family for what they had made me, for the things they had made me do. Iíd never excelled at anything and I blamed them for that too. I blamed them for never buying me the best pony, for sending me to boarding school, for not having enough money, and for everything that had gone wrong in my life.
Alice came around one day with her mother. I expect my mother was very embarrassed as to what had gone on holiday although we have never discussed what she said to Aliceís mother that day. Alice came up to my room to talk. I was sat on the bed waiting for the great things to happen to me. We spoke, me with authority and delusions and she normally. Then she went, if Iíd only realized I would see her four more times in my life I might have been different towards her. I just sat on the bed and regarded her as trash; I had not the faintest bit of interest in her and was really quite rude. At this time there was no rationalizing with me, nothing mattered to me and nor did I care. I was completely selfish in my objectives, nothing was important except me. I think I really upset Alice and hurt her although sheís hurt me more since. I suppose looking back though I didnít deserve to have her as a friend I got rid of her as if she was indispensable I pushed her away and our friendship in favour of my mindís tricks.
The time I spent in my room was consumed by spending time with my make believe friends, people I had met around the world. I was having conversations with them in my head. I could feel them all around me. Then god came one afternoon and told me in my head, I wasnít hearing voices yet, to get my address book. He then told me to pray that every body in the book should die and that I would never speak to any of them again. Well he was right although it was that none of them would speak to me again. I tore up the address book at his command. It was at this time that Leonardoís spirit also entered the room; he sat besides my pine wardrobe and watched me, telling me he was coming to see me. I could see the faint outline of his body, he was such a large man, his spirit was black, and sometimes it brushed my body.
I was still pining for him and thatís when something miraculous happened. I lay in the bath each afternoon soaking up the bubbles and smoking cigarettes I had nothing else to do and it was very relaxing, when all of a sudden I found myself connecting with a spirit or rather a person. In my head I began talking to a man who at first reminded me of the bad guy in Bangkok Hilton. He had very dark hair and was very much a James Bond figure. He was incredibly beautiful; I knew exactly what he looked like as a picture in my head was visible. You see when I closed my eyes I could hallucinate and his image came to me on this wonderful afternoon. He was full of life, and also very rich. The first thing he said to me was that he would never fall in love with a girl like me. I was talking to the imaginary character for ages. He said he was in the Kings Head hotel in Richmond watching me.
He was with the navy and was going to be an ambassador of Morocco one day. He swore to send me a package of cigarettes and booze. Every day I waited by the door for the arrival, it never came. But he came back to my mind every day. He made my life worth living and I got to know him better and better. At first he had seemed quite evil but now he was nice. I could sometimes feel his spirit in the house moving around, the house had become haunted. Dark shadows would appear on the hallway and on the stairs. I could hear things in the loft and in the next door rooms. Black shadows fell and rose throughout the house. Every night Piers told me that there was a helicopter coming for me to take me away as I was so special. Every night I waited by the window ready to climb out when it came but it never did. Piers told me to do naughty things, he spoke to me when I was doing things and made me laugh. It was like having an imaginary friend. There was that film once with Rik Mayall as the illusionary friend itís title was Drop Dead Fred, Piers was like that to me, he was every where I went and he affected everything I did.
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