Amanda Lindhout, the Canadian journalist taken hostage in Somalia in 2008, has released a new book detailing the 15 months she spent in captivity and revealing how she endured thoughts of suicide.
The now-32-year-old Alberta woman was captured while working as a freelance journalist near Mogadishu and held for 459 days. During that time, Lindhout says she was beaten and sexually assaulted before considering suicide about a year after her capture — that is, until a small brown bird flew into the doorway of the room she was trapped in.
"I'd always believed in signs ... and now, when it most mattered, I'd had one," Lindhout writes. "I would live and go home. It didn't matter what came next or what I had to endure. I would make it through."
Her new book, titled A House in the Sky, is co-authored by Sara Corbett, a contributing writer with the New York Times Magazine.
It reveals how the families of Lindhout and her Australian photographer boyfriend Nigel Brennan — who was also captured and held — eventually gave up on the Canadian and Australian governments and co-ordinated the pair's release themselves.
While their captors had originally asked for $3 million, it ended up costing $1.2 million to free the pair.
That's substantially more than the $250,000 offered by both the Canadian and Australian governments to the kidnappers.
Following her release, Lindhout spent a week in hospital in Kenya before returning to Canada.
Her recovery has included a specialized treatment program to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and includes repeated visits with therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, acupuncturists and meditation guides.
Lindout writes that she got through the most painful times of her captivity by constructing, in her mind, a house in the sky, where she got to eat whatever she wanted and be embraced by her friends and family.
Now living in Canmore, Alta., Lindhout says she still thinks about her kidnappers but tries not to hate them.
"Forgiving is not an easy thing to do. Some days it's no more than a distant point on the horizon," she writes. "I look forward to it. I point my feet in its direction. Some days it's no more than a distant point on the horizon. Some days I get there and some days I don't."