Sunday 26 July 2015

Girl In The Dark by Anna Lyndsey

Oh, what can I not do, in my dreams. In my dreams I travel on trains and climb mountains, I play concerts and swim rivers, I carry important documents on vital missions, I attend meetings which become song-and-dance routines. My body lies boxed in darkness, but beneath my closed eyelids there is colour, sound and movement, in glorious contrast to the day; mad movies projected nightly in the private theatre of my skull.'
Anna Lyndsey was living a normal life. She enjoyed her job; she was ambitious; she was falling in love. Then the unthinkable happened.
It began with a burning sensation on her face when she was exposed to computer screens and fluorescent lighting. Then the burning spread and the problematic light sources proliferated. Now her extreme sensitivity to light in all forms means she must spend much of her life in total darkness.
During the best times, she can venture cautiously outside at dusk and dawn, avoiding high-strength streetlamps. During the worst, she must spend months in a darkened room, listening to audiobooks, inventing word-games and fighting to keep despair at bay.
Told with great beauty, humour and honesty, Girl in the Dark is the astonishing and uplifting account of Anna's descent into the depths of her extraordinary illness. It is the story of how, through her determination to make her impossible life possible and with the love of those around her, she has managed to find light in even the darkest of places.

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey was published by Bloomsbury Circus on 26 February 2015. I had heard absolutely nothing about this book before I bought it. I spotted it on the bookshop shelf and was immediately drawn to the cover. I thought it was a novel. Reading the blurb and realising that it is in fact, a memoir, I just had to buy it.

Anna Lyndsey is not the author's real name, I don't know why she chose not to write her story using her real name, but I'm sure she had good reason.

Anna worked as a civil servant. Ten years ago her face began to burn, she thought that her skin was reacting to the light glare from her computer screen. Anna was worried that she would lose her job, she tried to hide her condition, but then it spread, and there was nothing she could do to hide it. She was in incredible pain, she was desperately worried. It was not just the computer screen that burnt her skin, but all light.

Before long, Anna was living her life in darkness. Blacking out the windows, existing in a solitary world hidden away in one room in her house. This is her story in her own words.

Anna writes beautifully, the reader feels as though they too are there, in that room with her. It would be flippant to say that the reader can feel her pain and despair though, because although her words are carefully chosen, and reveal her emotions, we could never really feel as she does. After all, we can put down this book and wander into the garden, or to the beach, we can sit out in the sun, or even gaze out of the window ... Anna can't, and she probably never will again.

There is a hero in this story. Anna's husband Pete, who is her boyfriend at the beginning of the book, and who, despite Anna's reservations about staying with him, and becoming a burden to him, stays by her side throughout. Anna and Pete's relationship is the one true shining light within this story, never sentimental, but always strong with humour and love.

There are times when Anna becomes very angry, even violent in her thoughts. There are people who question why her skin burns. She has no diagnosed illness, and as with other 'invisible' illnesses, that are often misunderstood, some people question if her illness is in fact, in her mind and not her body. It is understandable why Anna should feel such anger. I, as a reader, felt that anger too.

Anna seems like a woman who I would like to spend time with. Despite her illness, she is a determined, intelligent woman. Her story is written in a straightforward style. She never asks for pity, but she expects respect, as she should.

Girl In The Dark is a fascinating, yet frightening story of a woman whose life changed almost overnight. It is also a story of love and determination. Anna Lyndsey is an honest, graceful writer, with a sense of humour that shines through her dreadful illness.

Anna Lyndsey worked for several years in London as a civil servant until she became ill. 
She now lives with her husband in Hampshire. 
Anna is writing under a pen name. 

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a fascinating read Anne, definitely one to watch out for I think xxx