Waterbaby: A Memoir


Author/Creator ORCID





MFA in Creative Nonfiction

Citation of Original Publication



“Waterbaby: A Memoir” is a creative nonfiction narrative about the writer’s trauma, neglect, and mental illness. This is a story of the pain and survival that entered the water with her, the truths she fought through, and the hope she’s been journeying toward since. The memoir is told in three parts—"Alone,” “In the Water,” “Being Seen.” Alone begins with the sexual abuse the writer suffered when she was five- and six-years-old. Part one continues through her adolescent years with a father obsessing over the female body and instilling in her a low self-worth; the writer’s struggle to identify and find treatment for her bi-polar and obsessive-compulsive disorders; and, finally, up to 2020, a year that would become a perfect storm of environmental, professional, and personal chaos. Part two, “In the Water,” takes readers along on the writer’s 15-hours-long suicide attempt, beginning with planning and then execution. On July 13, 2020, the writer chained a cinderblock to her waist and walked into the Chesapeake Bay. When, as she began to drown, the block slipped to the Bay bottom, the writer swam through the night, hoping her body would eventually give out. Finally, she chooses life and details her return for readers. In “Being Seen,” part three, readers experience the frustration of a week in the psychiatric ward, a supposedly healing place. The writer, though, begs for release because of what she sees as a lack of productive treatment and overwhelming empathy.