Living With Schizophrenia – Book Launch

Your Memoir author Jill Delahunty enjoyed a sweet and intimate book launch at the Tankerton Arms yesterday evening. Jill’s very special memoir is called Living With Schizophrenia. It was written, mainly, by Jill’s younger sister Christine who developed the mental illness when she was 15.

Jill and Christine

Nearly 40 years of suffering followed, with Christine spending much of her time in psychiatric facilities, including two spells in Broadmoor, even though Christine, who was 22 when she was first sent there, had committed no crime. She had, though, expressed her curiosity about what it would like to kill someone…

What’s extraordinary about Christine is that, despite her illness and chaotic life, she managed to write about her experiences. Not only that, but she managed to keep hold of her notes. No mean feat in some of the hospitals and institutions she lived in, where she was often in solitary confinement. And she was a simply brilliant writer. Just brilliant. This book is not a miserable stream of consciousness!

Christine was intelligent and self-aware. She loved books and words and wanted to become a librarian. She wrote prose, poetry and letters, many of them light-hearted, many of them heartbreaking and deeply harrowing of course. But all of them incredibly insightful and revealing. Christine enjoyed 10 years of relative good health in the final years of her life, but when she knew she was dying, she told Jill about her cupboard full of notebooks and scraps of paper and asked Jill to publish her book. Jill then spent a year pulling her sister’s words together. I then worked with Jill, who had been a lifelong support to her sister, to encourage her to narrate and provide context and speak more about the impact of Christine’s illness on the family.

Jill reads a passage about Christine’s fear of hobbits. She wrote to Tolkien, from Broadmoor, expressing her fears and he was kind enough to write back to try and allay her concerns. The letter is printed in the book.

Christine was so courageous to write as she did, and Jill was tenacious and determined in ensuring her sister’s dying wish was fulfilled. This book is important for all of us, to help us learn and understand and experience what it feels like to live with such a severe mental illness. But most importantly, it was Christine’s life. She was bright and brave and beautiful and she deserves to be heard. You can buy Christine and Jill’s book on Amazon, link below – and please do leave an honest review – independent authors really need them to make their books a success.

Here are two of Christine’s notebooks and on top, her memoir – such an achievement!

Thanks for coming to the launch, all, the next one is at Oxford Books in Whitstable on April 9th at 7.30pm – entry is £3, with a free glass of wine. Please book at the book shop, or phone 07957654932 as spaces are limited – where you will also be able to buy a book and have it signed of course. Please do come along for an incredible evening of readings, conversation and Q&A and to support Jill, and of course, the extraordinary Christine. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christine-Living-Schizophrenia-Jill-Delahunty/dp/1679789821

3 Comments

  1. Patsy Lascelles (Mrs) on March 6, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    I have known Jill since 1965 when we were both at La Saints Union, The College of Education in Southampton. We are very good friends since then.

    I knew her sister Christine but only knew less than half of the story. Jill has had to act as a another parent as well as being Christine’s sister. What a large burden it must have been.

    Jill has shown her devotion and love for Christine again and again, her final tribute to Christine has been support to Christine ‘s dream by reading and developing this incredibly honest and harrowing diary/ book of Christines. Jill has put into context Christine ‘s struggles in her life. I think everyone should read it.

    I certainly will pass my copy onto good friends who are keen to read it.
    I shall encourage people to buy a copy too.

    • Marnie on March 9, 2020 at 1:55 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind comments and support for the book, Patsy. You are so right about Jill’s love and devotion for Christine, demonstrated so perfectly with the publication of this wonderful memoir. Thanks, Patsy! Marnie

  2. Marilyn Rogers on October 6, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    I knew of Jill’s contribution to making this book be realised, but was overwhelmed by how little curiosity i had for her sister’s life, before the book was published. It is a fitting act for a sister to help record the trials someone with Schizophrenia throughout their adult life has endured.
    I worked with Jill in Lambeth Community Education and know her family through children of the same age. I also tried to connect Social Services Education and NHS through some of my work.
    I only hope that there is more understanding tolerance and treatment available now. A harrowing account of the times.
    I know the University of Aberystwyth where Christine did eventually mange to study, The fact that she attempted and now has managed to write through this edited journal/memoir should give some hope for aspirations blighted which can eventually be achieved, with support of others.

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