This sounds like a dark and intriguing book, read on for a little snippet.
Psychiatrists, Drs Whittle and Grosvenor, have dedicated their lives to helping their patients, but their approach, and the complications it reveals, lead them into relationships that harm not only themselves.
As their lives entangle, both men find that doing no harm is not as cut-and-dried as they perceived.
Can the patients in their care really trust them? Or are more sinister motives at work?
Delve into the dark world of psychiatric institutions where doctors and residents play a dangerous game where no one is infallible!
In this extract, Lizzie has been sent to a psychiatric residential care home, and is not finding things as she imagined them to be…
The Stables is, essentially, a rehabilitation centre – I have to work to recover. This is a revelation to me. For years I’ve felt side-lined because mental illness isn’t socially accepted in the way that physical illness is; now I’m realising that you can’t have it both ways. If you tear a ligament and your wrist hurts and doesn’t function properly, you have to do physiotherapy in addition to taking medication. Here – to get my brain to heal – as well as pumping myself full of drugs, I have to get on with the necessities of being alive, which means getting up, interacting with people, eating and cleaning things. Hence the ‘chores’ system.
The ‘chores’ are on a rolling rota, and are one of: 1) cleaning the dining room, 2) cleaning the front room, 3) cleaning the bathrooms, 4) cleaning the laundry room, 5) garden chores, 6) shopping, 7) day off – the day I live for!; and then there’s chore 8) the dreaded cooking chore. The whole thing is bad enough in itself, but it annoys me that there are more chores than days in the week. Perhaps this is another test.
Cooking day brings out the best and worst in people. Lydia has been used to cooking what I think of as extravagant meals for her fiancé. They’d been planning to open a restaurant. By extravagant, I mean using stuff like fresh herbs and root ginger and a pestle and mortar. I’d never even seen ginger before I came to The Stables. I thought it was a powder. When it’s Lydia’s turn to cook, everyone gets excited because we know we’ll be getting a meal that would pass at The Ritz; Lydia loves it because it’s so easy for her, and it makes her happy. She seems to not see her ‘shadows’ so much when she’s cooking, either – at least she never shows that she does. The person behind the illness is evident and in control – Dr Jekyll winning over Mr Hyde for a moment.
By contrast, there is – or, rather, was – Jessica. Jessica is – was, whatever – an anorexic. When she’d arrived at The Stables, I’d been outside by the pond, smoking. A big, black vehicle had pulled up, and five people had got out. Four of them had formed a ring around the fifth, as if they were petals around an anther. Or flies on a carcass. The one in the middle was short and very slight, and someone had covered her – I presumed it was a girl – head with a towel. The strange cluster of people had scurried from the car through the mizzle hanging in the air, and in through the opened front door. We hadn’t seen Jessica properly until the next day. She turned out to be bird-like, and the whole time she was here we never saw her eat or drink. She’d stayed in her room as much as they’d let her. Suddenly a week had gone by, and it was her cook day.
She hadn’t even been able to open the fridge. She’d been screaming and crying in the kitchen, and those of us who’d run to see what was going on had been ushered away. I think every member of staff on duty had been in the kitchen in the end; two of them had been restraining her as she writhed like a captured animal. Bonnie, one of the support staff, had been trying to get her to open the fridge – that was all; if you could say that about anything at The Stables. Eventually, the managers, Heather and Dunstan, had escorted Jessica to her room and given her a sedative; Bonnie had made the rest of us beans on toast for tea. Lydia and I had been surprised that they’d insisted on Jessica doing another cook day, but Heather had put her foot down – everyone struggled with something, and no one else got a free pass, she’d said. But it had been even worse than the first time – Jessica had picked up a peeling knife and sliced her wrist open. Her blood had spurted out over everything and everyone. An ambulance had arrived, and that was the last we’d seen of Jessica. Maybe she’d gone to an AAU. Maybe she’d gone to the secure unit in Torquay. Maybe she’d gone to the morgue. Bonnie and the team had thought they’d done a thorough clean-up, but I can still see some flecks of red in the grouting.
When Morwenna Blackwood was six years old, she got told off for filling a school exercise book with an endless story when she should have been listening to the teacher/eating her tea/colouring with her friends. The story was about a frog. It never did end; and Morwenna never looked back.
Born and raised in Devon, Morwenna suffered from severe OCD and depression, and spent her childhood and teens in libraries. She travelled about for a decade before returning to Devon. She now has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter, and lives with her husband, son and three cats in a cottage that Bilbo Baggins would be proud of. Her debut psychological thriller, The (D)Evolution of Us, is published by #darkstroke, and has become an Amazon best-seller. When she is not writing, Morwenna works for an animal rescue charity, or can be found down by the sea.
She often thinks about that frog.