GUEST BLOGGER - EDWINA SHAW - AUTHOR OF THRILL SEEKERS
Thrill Seekers is dedicated to the memory of my brother Matthew who was twenty when he killed himself after battling schizophrenia for many years.
He was about fifteen when he first started showing symptoms, getting paranoid, hearing voices and so on. It was terrifying for all of us(I am the eldest of five siblings) but most of all for him.
One of the worst things was that even though we knew he was dangerously crazy, we couldn’t get him into a hospital until he made a suicide attempt. These were frequent so he was in and out of institutions until he died.
The most painful days were when his medication was working enough so that he realised how sick he was and the likely future he had to look forward to as someone with a serious mental illness.
Through it all Matty was incredibly brave, often escaping from locked wards, going out and trying to have a good time and be happy. The line, “I’m going to sing a happy song,” in the “Douggie and the Paparazzi” chapter is from one of the poems he wrote during that time.I wrote Thrill Seekers so that some record of my brother’s courage in the face of this illness survived.
As Stephen King says, “Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” Thrill Seekers is heavily autobiographical so that although names and characters and details have been changed, the essential emotional truths are the same. The best part of writing this story and making it fiction was that it gave me the power to change the ending.
Even though Matty’s been dead twenty-one years I still miss him very much. We were good mates.