By Jo Johnson
Tom has decided he doesn’t want to live, Adam wishes he had that choice.
Publication date: November 2019Support this project
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White lies land Tom in deep water. He’s so absorbed in his own deceit he doesn’t see that others are leading double lives too and threatening to rewrite his future for him.
Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’ so his life doesn't exactly match up to the ideal of what it is to be a modern man. It’s surprisingly easy to set up a double life but rather harder to keep the deceit going. As Tom’s identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge…
All the while, it turns out that one of Tom’s nearest and dearest has been leading his own double life – though for very different reasons. Adam has a medical condition, Huntington’s disease, that has not yet been diagnosed but, as the family is about to discover, it will blow their future out of the water.
Things seem more hopeful when Tom and his wife decide to adopt a child… But the true identity of the child’s father means that things are going to get a whole lot more complicated. Ironically, it’s Tom’s foray into his fantasy world that makes Adam’s diagnosis even more devastating for everyone…
This book tackles taboo subjects such as suicide and hard issues such as inherited degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on men and the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.
Jo Johnson is a clinical psychologist specialising in neurological disorders and mind health. She is the author of nine non-fiction publications, including story books for child relatives of someone with a neurological diagnosis, 'Grandpa seashells', 'Talking to your kids about MS', 'My mum makes the best cakes' and 'Shrinking the Smirch'. In 2009, she was awarded a plain English award for a practical workbook relating to Multiple sclerosis.
Jo provides resilience training to a range of frontline workers including doctors, nurses and police officers to protect their minds from work-related burnout.
'Surviving me' is her first novel and doesn’t shy away from serious issues: suicide, infertility, unwanted pregnancy, religious faith and ill health. These are all themes she knows well and can write about with authenticity. Telling and listening to stories is an integral part of her work as a clinician and speaker.
She is working on the sequel. She lives in West Sussex with her husband and has four children.
Last night Siri was brighter than she’s been for some time. She even called me by name, which is unusual at the moment. Things are tense: I blame the failed baby-making. Siri is desperate for children, which is perfectly reasonable. I had thought that providing one viable sperm for her willing eggs would be a low-level job even I could manage.
I guess it's normal to settle into a less dynamic routine after ‘the honeymoon period’, but since we have been ‘trying’ things have deteriorated dramatically. Now it's a good sign if she gives me eye contact during the evening. Using my name or actually speaking to me is a bonus.
Phase one began one Sunday evening, 13 months ago… We were talking about nothing in particular when she said she wanted to start a family. It came as a surprise to me as we had only been married a fortnight. She reminded me that one of the reasons for getting married was so we didn't produce what her mother describes as ‘a child out of wedlock’. I had accepted that, but I’d been hoping we might enjoy a few months of marital bliss first. Her brother's wife, Heather, was heavily pregnant with baby number three and she felt we were being left behind. She said that, at 25 and 36, we were running out of time.
These people are helping to fund Surviving Me.