The Ghost Garden
Inside the Lives of Schizophrenia’s Feared and Forgotten
Publishing date: May 14, 2019 with Random House of Canada
It all started when...
The Ghost Garden began quite accidently. I did not have intentions to write a book about schizophrenia. Rather, in October of 2009, as a door opened and then shut behind me with a resounding thud, I unexpectedly found myself face to face with a group of highly misunderstood people—those with extreme psychiatric illnesses. In my case the door was an elevator that requires a special key to gain access. Not being able to leave was unique to my experience as a hospital visitor. My heart was thumping as I stepped into a hallway to see listless men and women in various states of undress. Grooming was non-existent. I heard slippers whispering to the linoleum, heard murmurs of private conversations some were having with themselves, felt the heat of their suspicious eyes. That was my first day as a volunteer on a locked ward. I was meeting Camilla for the first time, a woman whose background was simply described as ‘troubled.’ I wore a zebra print cotton dress and Camilla was wearing a zebra print cotton top. She gave me a once over before our eyes locked, a gaze that burned a hole right through my scalp. It was an auspicious reckoning that would ultimately shift my purpose. We became friends from that afternoon until the hour of her death, a relationship that altered us both.