So Amanda Beard's cheerily titled memoir In the Water They Can't See You Cry hits bookshelves this Tuesday and it's a doozy, according to the Daily News, chronicling the swimmer's struggles to cope with the pressures of Olympic competition as mere 14-year-old and her parents' divorce. Oh yeah, and at 21, as a way to externalize the pressures bearing down on her in her personal and professional life, she developed a habit of cutting herself that led to tensions with her then boyfriend (now husband). The News included some particularly jarring passages from the memoir, such as Beard panicking at the sight of an unnervingly deep wound:
I knew immediately. Something was wrong. The calm that usually washed over me as soon as I made my light little cuts with their delicate beads of blood was replaced by a new fear. In the moment when thinking was not possible and the energy took over, I must have applied too much pressure, because one of the cuts gushed blood. This was not in control.
Within a second or two, blood spread across my arm, dripping down from my elbow to the white tile floor below. It was getting all over the place, on my tank top, my jeans, my feet. I yelled at my boyfriend, Sacha, all the time for the messes he made around the house we shared. I was never the cause before.
The sight of too much of my blood, a creepy red-brown color, sent a wave of panic over me. This wasn't the satisfaction of the cuts that put things back in control. Scared, I grabbed a towel and threw it on my arm to try to stop the bleeding. Soon enough the towel was soaked in blood. I tried to grab another towel that was hanging on the door, but in my panicked state I knocked over a roll of toilet paper. I stood up and continued to drip blood on the floor, now covered with red drips and toilet paper.
I threw the tissue in the toilet and tried to clean up the disaster on the floor with the fresh towel, but everything was chaos and I couldn't stop the bleeding. I was like a kid who, trying to hide the evidence of her mistake before getting caught by Mommy or Daddy, just winds up making everything worse.
Beard, now 30, told the Daily News ahead of her book's release that she's come to terms with her turbulent past with the help of her husband, Sacha Brown. Buttressed by the emotional support of her husband and 2-year-old son, Beard's turbulent trip through adolescence thankfully had a happy ending, but the amount of pressure heaped on this young woman to compete at the highest level in sports at such a young age seems outrageously unfair. Hopefully Beard's book, beyond doing all that cynical brand-building that fading celebrity memoirs do, can help young girls cope with the myriad of social pressures that pop culture can unjustly saddle them with.