For two decades my life and the lives of everyone in my family – most particularly my dear daughter Bink's own life and almost every breath she has breathed – have been dominated and devastated and all but destroyed by her terrible, harrowing, evil and wicked mental illness. It has been an insatiable black hole sucking energy, happiness, health from every one of us; leaving her a shadowed ruin of the sparky and wonderful and gifted and infectiously magnetic child she once was.
I have barely written about it... in public, anyway: I have reams in the private pages of my diary and hidden corners of my laptop.
It was simply too dreadful to tell.
Twelve years ago I even turned down an astonishingly generous advance on a book about her, when she was 21 and stunningly beautiful and seemed almost well... and for ever since I have wondered what strange, apparently self-sabotaging instinct prompted me to do so. For years friends, family, agents and publishers have told me to blog; to tell; to publish. For years I have refrained.
Not any more.
There have been many false and heartbreaking surges of hope. Many times I've said to myself, and to her, "You can be well." This hope; that chance; the other opportunity have come and gone and left her, now, as ill as she has ever been.
I am an incorrigible optimist. I have to be: there isn't much else to hold on to. When she was first hospitalised, aged 16, and life seemed almost as awful as it could be, my father said to me over and over again, "She will get well: you have to believe it."
And I do. I still believe it. Nearly twenty years from that agonisingly painful time and I persist in believing she can be well. A dozen and a half loyal friends have been praying for her for years, and still are. Presumably they believe enough to persevere. Unless they are mostly being kind to me and praying for me to survive.
She is about to start treatment again. The best treatment, I hope, in the world. I am going to believe again, yet again. That in a year or two my daughter will be, miraculously, the wonderful and extraordinary and gifted and gorgeous woman God made her to be, even though she missed all the joyous girlhood He had planned for her.
It is a statement of faith. Like any statement of faith it could end in failure, disillusion and despair. But I choose not to believe that it will and I choose not to countenance defeat.
This is going to be the story of that recovery, as it unfolds. Come with me; stay with me. Witness a miracle happen in real time.