By David Hooper
Key Themes: biography, mental illness, abuse, church convent, courage, recovery
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Susan Kennedy had a dream as a little girl. She wanted to become a teacher. Sadly, because of a combination of nurture and nature, that dream was never to be.
This heartrending and captivating story, tells of one womanís struggle through life, while suffering from a debilitating mental illness.
It is a story of determination, courage, tenacity and humour. This moving, sometimes sad, often hilarious, journey through Susanís life will leave you enthralled. It is a story of hope and optimism, in a world that is far from perfect.
From being abused on the counter of the benefit office, to life in a convent with some amorous nuns, to having a knife at her throat in a mental hospital, there is one thing you can say about Sue Kennedyís life; it is far from mundane.
As we entered the flat, the first thing that hit us was the stench. It was overpowering. The fact that he had been dead for four days before they discovered him was obviously a major factor. However, it wasnít just that. The smell was ingrained into the very walls and floors and most particularly, the furniture. The chair that he died in was stained with years of filth and grime. On a table next to the chair, was the fish and chips that he had brought home, but didnít get a chance to eat.
The chair faced a wall, upon which was a large poster of a naked woman, which he evidently sat and looked at night after night.
Underneath the chair and the bed were hundreds of porn magazines. The bed looked like it had never been changed, and the sheets and blankets looked like tea had been poured all over them. It almost certainly wasnít tea.
We picked our way gingerly through the detritus that covered the floor and moved into the kitchen. Piled from floor to ceiling were years and years worth of fish and chip wrappings and another pile of chocolate wrappings. It seemed that whenever he ate fish and chips and chocolate, (which it appeared he lived on), he kept all the wrappings. However, they werenít strewn haphazardly around the floor, but had been straightened out and put into neat piles.
The cooker was caked in grime, although not from use, as he never cooked. As far as we could tell, he lived on takeaways. There was one tin plate, one tin mug and one knife and fork.
We didnít spend much time in the bathroom. The bath was grimy and rusty through never being used. The toilet was covered in what Iím politely going to call filth. He had been taking medication for diarrhoea, the result of which was obvious for all to see.
Moving back into the bed-sitting room, we were about to get to work, going through the bags and bags of letters and documents that went back years. He never got rid of anything. Mum pointed to the wood panelled wall behind the chair, and said, ĎLook at that wall. Thatís quite nice for a flat like this.í
On closer inspection, we discovered that it wasnít a wall at all. We slid it open to reveal row upon row of shelving, stacked with brand new clothes. From the labels, we could tell that they had been there for years, unopened.
Just then, the doorbell rang, so Dad went to answer it. When he opened the door, the woman standing on the other side almost fainted.
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