Charon’s Ferry


SKU ebook Category

175 in stock


By Mark Edgar

ISBN: 978-1-84991-898-5
Published: 2012
Pages: 285
Key Themes: recovery, employment, depression, misdiagnosis, narcissistic personality disorder, psychosis


Charon’s Ferry is intended as a sequel to A Pillar of Impotence. It is a story of life after mental health recovery set against the backdrop of a post 9/11 world. It takes the reader out of maze of the Benefits System into the struggle to find meaningful employment having lived with mental illness for more than a decade.

Throughout that process the author battled against relapse and the coming to terms with a life permanently on medication. The work follows through a career as a mental health practitioner after the chosen path of teaching failed. Slowly the voice of the author is heard in wider circles through public speaking, conferences, moving up the mental health ladder, and finally to the publication of the first book in 2011.

It is a book that should appeal to anyone with an interest in mood disorders, the Mental Health System, the Benefits System, what it is like to be on the other side of the fence, mental health recovery in general, and the battle for employment in the post recession world.

About the Author

Mark Edgar was born in Surrey in 1969. Educated as a chorister at King’s College Cambridge and a music scholar at Lancing College he returned to Cambridge in 1988 as a choral exhibitioner at Selwyn College to study History. He gained a BA Honours in 1991 despite experiencing an undiagnosed and untreated psychotic condition. In 1995 he was awarded MA (Cantab).

Following many years on benefits Mark went back to Cambridge in 1999 to undertake a Post Graduate Certificate of Education and was awarded Qualified Teacher Status in 2000. Yet teaching did not work out so he became a mental health practitioner by accident working for South Kent College, Kent Social Services, and Rethink.

In 2007 Mark was appointed the very first Mental Wellbeing Advisor at the University of Hertfordshire. The role encompasses a range of areas including supporting students and staff with mental health difficulties, advising on policy, public speaking at conferences as well as teaching on a number of mental health related courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Starting writing in 1997 his poem The Archbishop’s Palace won the Rethink Pringles Award in 2002 and was exhibited in the Art Works in Mental Health Exhibition in 2003. He co-wrote Voicing Psychotic Experiences, a Reconsideration of Recovery and Diversity along with other services users and carers edited by Mark Hayward and Ruth Chandler in 2009. His autobiographical work A Pillar of Impotence was published in paperback in 2011.

Mark has an interest in sport, music, and is a keen amateur chef. He played American Football, coxed a boat in rowing, and played rugby in Cambridge as well as coaching for a number of years. Singing appearances are rare now but do occur from time to time.

Book Extract


Have you ever thought about becoming the complete opposite of who you are? I guess we have all thought of it and to an extent in life we do that. But what of a radical change from having an identity then morphing into something that you have always detested and feared? The pupil to the teacher; the criminal to the law enforcer; the carer to the cared for; the poacher turned gamekeeper?

Charon’s Ferry is intended as a sequel to my first book A Pillar of Impotence. It is of course quite possible that you as a reader have neither heard of nor read the first book. I am after all an unknown, a no one other than in my own little world. If that is the case I will try briefly to elaborate on my previous work.

A Pillar of Impotence is the story of a journey undertaken during the 1990s. It is my story. It is the story of a highflyer whose life came crashing down in a mental breakdown. A tale of mental illness, despair, decay, breakdown, suicide, incarceration, misdiagnosis, and psychosis. Of power gone wrong, of condemnation, judgement, poverty, unemployment, shame, and stigma. But there is a very strange and unexpected twist that brought about my recovery and a return to a more normal life, accepted by society. It was not a return to the old life but to a radically new one. Had my life been as stable and sorted as I thought, I might never have got ill.

People who have read it tell me that it reads as if they were on the journey with me. It takes the reader from the arrogant decadence of Cambridge to the decay of a Victorian Asylum; the great cathedrals of Europe to the hopelessness of a Social Security Office; the splendours of the Middle East to the caged roof of a “modern” psychiatric clinic in Central London; the wonders of Van Gogh to the ghettoes of South London; the hedonism of Brighton to the moribund stuckness of a Day Hospital; the coffee shops of Amsterdam to the grinding boredom of a small, quaint but run down town on the Kent coast; the mysticism of the abode of a Buddhist healer to the judgement of a DSS tribunal. And finally back to Cambridge.

That was supposed to have been the end of my story. But fate once again intervened and threw me back into the System that had so utterly failed me throughout that decade. This time the outcome was different. For it was then that I met a psychiatrist who was different. She asked me what I thought, she listened, she dismissed the bullshit, she offered me choices, and most importantly she came up with a simple solution.

A Pillar of Impotence ends the day I first took the atypical antipsychotic Risperidone. It was a miracle. I had found my Holy Grail.

There are of course many good books out there about people’s recovery journeys. As I started to write it in 2002 I wanted to try to do something a little different. At heart I am a historian; it was my great passion as a child and indeed what I studied at Cambridge. I wanted to include some of that too. It is not just my journey but also a limited historical record of the 1990s. So it is set against the backdrop of the First Gulf War, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo. The rise of Tony Blair and New Labour, the death of Princess Diana and arguably more importantly of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Of OJ Simpson, Fred West, and Michael Stone. The Good Friday agreement and David Copeland’s outrageous bigoted bomb attacks on London. The world changed so much during that decade.

But as some have asked me, what happened next? Well Charon’s Ferry is the story of the next decade, from 2001 until 2011. It is how I became someone completely different.

1 review for Charon’s Ferry

  1. Brian Johnson (verified owner)

    Having read and enjoyed “A Pillar of Impotence” I was intrigued to know what happened next and so I bought this book.

    I was not disappointed; Mark’s recovery is a truly inspirational story, and one which those with mental health issues should gain much hope from. As Mark points out in the book, that hope is essential to recovery.

    Many with mental health issues believe, or are encouraged to believe that they cannot do anything worthwhile with their lives. Mark shows that this is not necessarily the case, but also that it is not easy thanks to the attitude of others; however enough determination will shine through in the end.

    Another great book from Mark with that same can’t put down quality, that I thoroughly recommend to all.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.