I am delighted to share a guest post by Amanda Prowse on The Boy Between Blog Tour
Bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse knew how to resolve a fictional family crisis. But then her son came to her with a real one…
Josiah was nineteen with the world at his feet when things changed. Without warning, the new university student’s mental health deteriorated to the point that he planned his own death. His mother, bestselling author Amanda Prowse, found herself grappling for ways to help him, with no clear sense of where that could be found. This is the book they wish had been there for them during those dark times.
Josiah’s situation is not unusual: the statistics on student mental health are terrifying. And he was not the only one suffering; his family was also hijacked by his illness, watching him struggle and fearing the day he might succeed in taking his life.
In this book, Josiah and Amanda hope to give a voice to those who suffer, and to show them that help can be found. It is Josiah’s raw, at times bleak, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of what it is like to live with depression. It is Amanda’s heart-rending account of her pain at watching him suffer, speaking from the heart about a mother’s love for her child.
For anyone with depression and anyone who loves someone with depression, Amanda and Josiah have a clear message—you are not alone, and there is hope.
“The Boy Between” by Amanda Prowse.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I embarked on this venture with my son, Josh. I’m used to writing fiction where I get to craft the most pleasing situations for my characters, worrying about them so much that if something unpleasant or doom-laden has befallen them, I frequently write: “and then they woke up to find it was all a horrid dream and they were actually on a beach. With a cocktail – brought to them by George Clooney…” ridiculously this helps me sleep, knowing they are not left in a dark place. And whilst it hurts me to delete these lines when I pick up my laptop the next day, plunging my characters back into sadness, at least I know they have had a jolly eight or so hours in the company of George!
Writing non-fiction is of course entirely different. There was no fictionalizing of events too painful to endure. And no escape mechanism via which we could gloss over more troubling episodes. In fact it was the opposite. Josh and I, in the retelling of some of our most vulnerable moments, felt the impact greatly. We had shut a lot of these moments away, cloistered them in a box that was glued shut with love and the very best of intentions, too scary to open, but open it we did. And it took courage.
It was hard to rake over times in our life where I had often felt the phrase “least said soonest mended” was the best course of action. But this was really head in the sand stuff and would in the long run, do nothing to help either of us. Mentioning days when the outlook for Josh had felt uncertain and when I, as his mum, stumbled, not knowing where to get help and not even knowing what it was I was trying to fix – was exposing and no less painful, even after time had passed.
Sitting opposite my boy while he described in detail his mood, his intention and his state of mind on the day he decided to take his life was harrowing, but I can now see, entirely necessary. We wrote his words and sat back, drained. And what happened next was as surprising as it was cathartic. Josh and I began to talk, really talk about what we had both been through and how during those darkest times we had visited some hellish places. The conversations left me feeling vulnerable and exposed, having to face my son’s mental health head on. We had at times during Josh’s mental health journey, gone to places where hope was lost. From these discussions however, came a strategy for growth, agreements on how to go forward and from Josh, promises that if and when he feels the dark mist of despair falling, he will reach out, he will ask for the help to get through it. This is something that was impossible for him when mired in the depression that closed him down. This note of hope, of optimism that if and when he needs help he will ask for it, is the very best thing I can think of. It gives me peace of mind.
I wouldn’t change one thing about Josh. He is remarkable and brave and brilliant. My greatest wish for his future is that he starts to believe this too.
About the Authors
Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty three novels and six novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’, ‘My Husband’s Wife’, ‘The Girl in the Corner’ and ‘The Things I Know’ have sold millions of copies across the globe.
A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, ‘A Mother’s Story’ won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award while ‘Perfect Daughter’ was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016.
Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…
Praise for Amanda Prowse:
‘A powerful and emotional work of fiction’ – Piers Morgan
‘Deeply moving and emotional, Amanda Prowse handles her explosive subjects with delicate skill’ – Daily Mail
‘Uplifting and positive, but you will still need a box of tissues’ – Hello!
‘A gut-wrenching and absolutely brilliant read’ – The Irish Sun
‘You’ll fall in love with this…’ – Cosmopolitan
‘Deeply moving and eye opening. Powerful and emotional drama that packs a real punch.’ – Heat
‘Magical’ – Now magazine
Josiah (Josh) Hartley is 22 and lives in an isolated farmhouse in the West Country, but close enough to Bristol to enjoy its music scene. He is an animal lover and servant to two French Bulldogs. Equally happy at a music festival or watching rugby with his mates, he likes the outdoor life and with Devon only a short drive away often heads to the sea to surf and sit on the beach watching the sun go down. After two stints at The University of Southampton and The University of Bristol and one unsuccessful suicide attempt Josh decided to write about his descent into mental illness and the depression that has held him in its grip for the past few years. The Boy Who Nearly Jumped carries the overriding message that things can and often do get better. It’s a book of reflection, raw, honest and full of hope: the proof being that Josh is still here and now excited about what comes next. He is ready to catch any opportunities that life throws his way, quite a thing for someone who only 3 years ago was ready to jump from the face of the earth…