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 Orangutan 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. I was able to use my collection of mementos, 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.
I have kept every little memento of my life: diaries, airline tickets, photos, letters, emails, text messages, cinema tickets and notes from people – everything and anything. I always had an inkling from a young age that my life was different, and that I might one day write my story. But it wasn’t until I was being treated for depression in my thirties, and I embarked on a journey to rediscover my past, that I began to see that maybe I really was different.
I had no idea just how much of my life I had dissociated from, including being raped when I was fifteen. It was like I was reading about someone else. In 2008, after referral to a psychiatrist, I finally had a name that explained the many symptoms I’d suffered since my teens, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, OCD, self-harm, anorexia, promiscuity, drug-taking to name a few. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and for a long time I was still in denial. But I always knew I would eventually have to face up to it.
This is the journey of a normal working class girl, trapped in a roller coaster world of disorder and excitement, love and joy, depression and anger – and her fight against mental illness.
But growing up with a severely mentally ill mother, as her guide, meant it was never going to be easy.
While My Alien Self would be inspiring for any sufferer, their families or medical teams in its honest insights into living with a mental illness, it also has universal appeal. For who, at times, has not felt their life spin into chaos and wondered what is normal? This story effectively and openly highlights just how fine the line is between what is normal, and what is ‘mental illness’ And everyone who reads it will be able to relate to it.
My advice to others suffering from inner demons is to face their denial, seek professional help and don’t hide due to stigma, stand up and get support as there is nothing to be ashamed of.
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