"Us kids in Wonderland" is my autobiography and it describes the traumas I have experienced throughout my life. I have written about the most difficult and the most beautiful things I have experienced. The book is vulnerable and personal and does not shy away from anything. I didn't want to write an account but to create something more vivid, as the saying goes: you are all your ages - especially when living with and healing from trauma. Dissociation means losing time and space and I used these experiences to create a 3D narrative. I have not been able to include everything that happened to me, but a part of it. When I came to the child psychiatric care as a desperate twelve-year-old, a kind of oppression began, I was treated as sick, hopeless or dishonest instead of a traumatized child. There was no understanding of my situation, instead I was misdiagnosed and sent away for storage at the treatment center. When everything is taken away from you, the strength is still there and the strength is the people you love and the good you have experienced. The psyche is not a straight line but a mosaic. I have chosen to portray my loved ones' perspectives in parallel with my own, the roles we were given or took on. We are all in the same boat in a dysfunctional society. At the center of the dysfunction is the psychopath. He is the king of Wonderland and we are all pawns in his game. I was sacrificed several times because I had a normal reaction to the abnormal, which is what happens in Sweden when you are a vulnerable and traumatized person. It has not only happened to me but to most of all traumatized young adults. Since the book was published, I have received customized trauma treatment for the first time in my life. I am whole and relieved today. Us kids in Wonderland depicts the hell/underworld you live in before you get a chance to reclaim yourself and yours. Headwinds and uphill climbs are the rule rather than the exception, and mental health care has long meant re-traumatization rather than treatment. But in the midst of all the madness there is an ordinary person, an ordinary life and the breadcrumbs/memories/hopes that lead you home again.
Quotes from the book
"Hell Hotel rests quietly on the hill. Now it was just a building like any other. At night it was full of dreams. Here resided the people who were searching for the broken link. In the silence she felt their flames. It gave her courage.
Staying at the hotel had been overwhelming in all its emptiness, something she never could have imagined that other night under the stars in Östermalm. It had appeared before her and sucked her in like sinking hole. And still, this place had saved her life.
Now she was stuck in the hole, with no qualities other than those that could be measured by a dose of psychotropic drugs, and she now felt as mute and edgy as the inventory, plundered of her personality, her flame.
Was there anything left?
To think it was the same stars and the same sky that had followed her path.
"I've lost everything," Anna said.
No, the sky replied.
But how can I go on? Where will I go? I am alone, so very alone. Maybe she heard voices now too, but on those last starry nights the stars in space gave her so much courage that she chose to face the darkness. And face it again. For where, if not in the darkness, could one begin to sense the light?"
"Us kids in Wonderland" is in a category of its own, as the author plays with concepts of time, perspective and scene. It is easy to read but emotionally challenging in more than one way. A plot that triggers and a protagonist who is challenging in her vulnerability, she is not only vulnerable but has her own thoughts and her own will. You have to have that if you are to survive what the story is about: abuse, the shortcomings of mental health care. It's not easy to write in an understandable way about something so complex. I think Ellen Kellman succeeds in doing so. She shows potential by creating a beautiful, important book that in every way goes against the norm, something that you need to go against on a regular basis. Highly recommended. - Eva Nilsson, kurator.
Inspiring, instructive and ahead of its timeTomas Söderkvist, counselor at Rise.
"A personal story that really shows a person's possibilities, despite poor conditions.
The book is very nicely written and shows hope, courage and change. But it is also a testimony of
years of lack of effort on the part of society. Read it, you won't regret it!" - Annica Lilja Ljung, trauma therapist and author.