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Sarah Vaughan is not my Mother

AWA PRESS MEDIA RELEASE Friday, February 22, 2013
In her memoir Sarah Vaughan is not my Mother, a young New Zealand woman tells her startling story of a descent into madness

Mary-Jane Thomson seemed to have every advantage life could offer – intelligence, beauty, creative talent and a loving family.

In her teens she flew through high school and enjoyed the company of good friends. When she entered university the future seemed bright.

But beneath the veneer a nightmare was unfolding. Mary-Jane was experiencing obsessive self-awareness, paranoia, delusions, compulsions and hallucinations.

In her remarkable book Sarah Vaughan is Not My Mother, the author takes up the story eight years on. After a long history of drug taking, she has been committed to Wellington Hospital’s Ward 27 and diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, sub-type bi-polar. Suffering psychotic episodes, controlled by voices in her head, and desperate to escape, she is suffering deeply.

What follows is almost unbelievable. Thomson’s disturbing story, brilliantly and movingly told, should send shock waves through not only the psychiatric community but New Zealand society at large. How up-to-date are our ways of treating mental illness? Why is there almost total dependence on drug-based methods? What rights do patients really have? And can more of the tragedies we read about every day in the papers be prevented?

In the tradition of The Bell Jar and Girl, Interrupted, Sarah Vaughan is Not My Mother is a groundbreaking book, taking readers inside the wonders, complexities and tortured paths of mental illness and the human brain.

Mary-Jane Thomson is 29 and lives in Wellington. As well as a writer, she is an artist and photographer. She loves dancing in her room. Sarah Vaughan is Not My Mother is her first book. She is currently writing a prequel.

Sarah Vaughan is Not My Mother by Mary-Jane Thomson will be released by Awa Press on April 13. RRP $35.00.

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