Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me" by Amanda Green

Note: This book is suitable for adults only.

My Alien Self: My Journey Back To Me
by Amanda Green

Enter the author's giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed paperback copies of this book. You can also read my blog post on Amanda's second memoir, 39 (Memoirs of Amanda Green).

If I told you I'd been to twenty-four Countries (twenty-one by the time I was twenty-two), that I'd worked in Japan for nine months, toured Australia for six months, enjoyed seven months in Thailand and met and campaigned for the Orang-utan in Borneo, you might think that I was pretty lucky.
If I told you I'd worked in the hotel industry, for a sexual health department in a hospital and with prisoners in a drug cell block of a male prison, that I'd worked as a recruitment consultant, in so many office jobs I've lost count, as well as having my own company and multiple websites, at age thirty-six, then you might think I've had an interesting life.
But if I added to that a mix of child rape, mental health problems, promiscuity, drug taking, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, violence, mood swings, obsession, jealousy, loss of self-worth, being raised by a mentally ill mother, bankruptcy, thyroid and gastro problems and public masturbation in school at age nine, then I am not sure what you'd think.
But this is me; Amanda Green. This is my life, my story; my journey back to me from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and Borderline Personality Disorder – mental illness which manifested during my life and came out "to its peak" in my thirties.
I was able to use my collection of mementos, photos, diaries, journals, letters, emails and text messages of my past to finally see who I had become, and more importantly with a combination of therapy, medication and my writing, how I became that alien self and how I found the real me.

WARNING: Contains explicit language and sexual scenes.

A few weeks later Mum had one of her "turns". I don’t suppose I really understood it then; that she was hearing voices, that she was catatonic. I might not have known the word but I see her there – motionless and emotionless, as if everything about her was blank. Like she lost all her colours. Maybe she needed one of those pots to crawl into.  Or maybe her kind of lost meant she was unreachable.
In the end she was sectioned and taken into hospital again. I remember the visits but I only remember one journey – the journey home with Dad.  Age six there I was huddled in the front seat of Dad’s car. I stared out the side window into the darkness, so that my face was out of view as I forced back tears.  I wanted to break down, to bawl, to ask questions, but I couldn’t. 
When would I see Mummy again? Why did she have to stay in that horrible grey hospital? Why couldn’t she come home with us?
Sometimes Mum was horrible (screaming, swearing, slamming doors) and sometimes loving and soft at home, but I didn't want to leave her behind, and I sensed that she hated that place with all the old people sitting around on worn, dull settees, in a big, plain room, nothing cosy about it, more like a waiting area, with all the people waiting for visitors like me and Dad to come and cheer them up.  There must have been about fifteen or so settees, scattered about and I sat on one of them with Mum and Dad and we talked, interrupted by people yelling or waving their arms around. I didn’t want to look.
Most people in that place looked old – and some looked dazed and lifeless.  It didn’t scare me, I had Dad with me, and he would protect me. They weren’t trying to harm me, but Mum said a woman in a wheelchair wanted to hurt her.  She said the woman chased her up the corridor, wheeling fast, in a kind of fury. She wanted to bash her against the wall.  Mum wanted to come home with us but she wasn’t allowed. She didn't want electroconvulsive treatments (ECT) and medications. That’s what she said.
I didn’t understand. 
I guess that place is what fuelled my lifelong fear of hospitals and doctors and just about any situation where I might be trapped and controlled by others. It also taught me to hide my emotions and deal with them in my own way or ignore them.  The stigma surrounding my mother and her illness, and hospitalisations in a well known mental asylum, as they called them then, is what set off my urge to beat the stigma surrounding mental health much later on.  I never knew then that it would be me sitting at a psychiatrist’s office, a victim of the very same stigma.

By Miguel
After I ended my relationship with my ex-fiancée I learnt that she suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Getting over her has been the hardest thing I've ever done, mainly because I loved her more than anything, and she was an amazing woman, but also because been with her was taking a toll on my emotional and physical health.
Amanda's book has been an outstanding discovery that will help understand many of the causes and also the effects that BPD has on the person that suffers it and also the effects on her/his loved ones. Page by page I started to feel more and more in peace with my ex-fiancée and specially in peace with myself.
The book actually takes you to witness a process of BPD development in a clear, accessible, honest and valiant style. It's an exercise of generosity in itself and helps mirroring some of the situations I came across in my own relationship.
After reading the book I felt proud of myself and decided to keep the love for my ex as one of the most valuable relationships I've ever had. This book is a whole different approach than the traditional readings on the matter. It came from the heart and soul of someone who experienced it and had the courage and generosity to support others through her personal writing. It deserves to be read. I'm sure all readers will find Amanda's words useful and supportive.

About the Author
I am Amanda Green, author of My Alien Self: My Journey Back To Me and the sequel, 39.
My Alien Self: My Journey Back To Me is my memoir which follows my journey through travel, excitement, normality and mental illness to find myself again. 39 is about what happened afterwards; the year before reaching the prime age of forty, family relationships, love and memories. I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living.
Because I grew up with my mother having severe Schizophrenia, who had been incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals for years, and felt the bullying and loneliness that stigma can spread, I campaign to stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. I also felt the wrath of stigma when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Many people do not understand mental illness, so judge people unfairly. So I created my website where I publish articles on the topics covered in my story, including self-help, depression, bankruptcy, alcohol/drug abuse, family and relationships, sexual, physical and mental abuse, anxiety, anger, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), self-harm, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anorexia nervosa/bulimia, mindfulness, panic, rape, schizophrenia, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, dissociation, mood disorder, thyroid issues, and psychology.
I love photography, writing and looking after my many websites, and have had my work published in magazines. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, which is why I chose to self-publish to Kindle in this first instance.
I will be working with mental health charities, magazines, newspapers, social networking and other PR projects, actively making people aware of this disorder through every means possible through the media. But also, I hope that my books will help other sufferers and their families and friends to understand BPD and mental health and how to help oneself to feel better. I want to raise awareness to the general public about mental illness and the stigma sufferers have to deal with. I am going to continue writing through fact and fiction storytelling, on the genre of mental health and love stories - facing and combating adversity as the main point. (Not self-help books, but based on reality.)
I hope that doctors and the medical industry involved with mental health will benefit from reading my stories, as they unfold what it is like to suffer from debilitating mental illness from the inside out and how it manifests itself.
But I have also written my memoirs in a style that hope will compelling and sometimes shocking reads for anyone interested in memoirs with a twist, so that I can reach more people.
I really hope to encourage more celebrities to come out about BPD or other mental illnesses.
Outside of work, I love eating out and reviewing restaurants, travel, days out, campaigning for the precious Orang-utan and the issues of unsustainable palm oil production, running six websites of my own and seeing my family. I also enjoy reading, theatre, films, TV and cooking and when I can calm my mind down, just relaxing!