Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 – Reading Recommendations

File_001 (7)Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it would be appropriate to recommend a few books which I think address mental health very well. They’re not all books which are centered around mental health, and they don’t all focus on it greatly, but whether it’s an inspiring paragraph or the whole book, it’s here for a reason.

First, to represent agoraphobia and OCD, it has to be Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall). This book is beautiful, honest, moving and I felt like I related to it a lot more than some other books focusing on the same things. Norah is amazing, strong and very similar to me so that was an immediate click for me. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Also representing OCD, it’s Am I Normal Yet? (Holly Bourne) which is a beautiful story following the life of Evie who suffers from strong OCD and shows her struggles and attempts to be ‘normal’. This so well portrays the mindset of someone who thinks they’re weird and wants to fit in, and I found it very easy to relate to. It’s honest and is one of my favourite reads because of this. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

I am fully aware that being transgender isn’t a mental disorder or illness, so please don’t shoot me, but I’m putting If I Was Your Girl (Meredith Russo) in here too. This is because the main character is struggling with her identity and through the bullying and misunderstandings, there are points where the narration displays some quite hurtful thoughts about herself. Because of the bullying in the story, she isn’t thinking right and could be experiencing some variation of depression or anxiety. It’s a very touching, very important story that everyone should read and I do think that it belongs here since it does portray some very negative, self-deprecating thoughts that wouldn’t be there otherwise (without the bullying/misunderstandings) as she’s been essentially taught to think this way. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Representing eating disorders/a distorted body image is Only Ever Yours (Louise O’Neill) and it’s the first book I ever decided to review because of how good it is. I think it’s so realistic in a ‘this would never happen’ kind of way. I can see how the patriarchal control in the story replicates the same manipulation in the real world and it’s done so well that I think everyone should have to read this even if it’s just to inspire you to tell the world to f off. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

As representation for anxiety, I’ve put in the entire Girl Online series (Zoe Sugg) because I think (at least for me), it’s very accurate and portrays that inner monologue well. I enjoy the story as well as the issues inside it, as there’s no love triangle and the romantic interest isn’t magically a cure for her mental health problems. It’s realistic, and honestly shows the stages of a panic attack, thoughts caused by anxiety and the missed opportunities it can cause. Just because it’s ghost-written for a vlogger doesn’t make it bad. You can read my full review (including the blurb) of the first book here: Review

This last book is a slight stretch since it isn’t entirely focused on mental health, however I do think that it would help someone going through the same situation. It’s No Virgin (Anne Cassidy) which is about a rape. It’s not explicitly mentioned that the main character is experiencing any mental health issues, however I think that through the narrative, it could be assumed that she’s having a lot of negative thoughts, self-blame and guilt which could so easily become depression or anxiety (among other things). PTSD is a common problem which comes after rape, and it could be argued that that is present in this book. I think it depends how you interpret it and how hard-hitting the subject is for you, but I definitely think that this book should be on this list. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

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September Favourites (2016)

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This month, I started my second year of college but also spent a lot of time doing thin
gs I enjoy! One of them is listening to music and there have been a few albums that I’ve been listening to quite obsessively…The best and most listened to album is definitely Death Of A Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco because it’s just a beautiful album. I saw them live in May and it was amazing and honestly the best experience, and it gave me a much better appreciation for the songs and the way they’re put together. It’s just beautiful, buy it or illegally download it; Brendon Urie doesn’t care…

I also went to see Suicide Squad and having not been a comic fan, I wasn’t angry at it like everyone else seems to be, and I didn’t have any expectations so in my eyes, it’s my new favourite film. Harley Quinn is insane and I love her (everyone does though!) but I also really like Deadshot because of his back story and the way he handles it. I liked Suicide Squad so much that I bought a Harley Quinn Pop Vinyl figure and I have a couple posters from the film. What can I say; I’m a quick fan girl!

My favourite book of September was easily Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall because it was a beautiful but honest explanation of OCD/anxiety/agoraphobia and lots of it was helpful, if not comforting, for me. You can read my full review of it here: Review: Undsnapchat-5330640036923931416er Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall).

September and October are my favourite months in terms of weather because they’re usually not too hot or too cold, and September is the official start of autumn so I am very happy to embrace that as soon as I have the chance. So when the seasonal drinks appear in Costa/Starbucks, I am right there, ready to drink the heck out of them! I’m not a coffe-drinker usually (I drink some at home, but not quite brave enough to buy one!), but I do love a good hot chocolate, so the gingerbread hot chocolates are my slight obsession, thank you very much Costa!

Since the end of July, I haven’t worn make-up and have been trying to take better care of my skin, but I do like to try cheaper versions of branded products, because they often are at least just as good. I’ve been using Superdrug’s Vitamin E Micellar Cleanser and it’s so good. It feels so gentle (my skin is very sensitive!) and it smells nice but not too chemically-manufactured, and it has made my skin much softer and happier.20160922_172324

I’ve also been loving Zoella’s Soak Opera bath soak/shower cream because it smells amazing and feels so soft on my skin, I just love it, okay? On the theme of youtubers, Joe Sugg’s Username series is very popular with me at the moment! I love the story and artwork, they’re just great! I was so excited when Username: Regenerated arrived and I spent the night reading it of course (it’s amazing, a review will be coming in October some time! In the meantime, you can read my review of the first in the series, Username: Evie here: Review: Username: Evie (Joe Sugg)

So that’s it for this month! Hope you have a fantastic October filled with tricks and treats and pumpkins and cuddly blankets and hot chocolates etc etc…

Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall)

20160823_161617Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skies

Author: Louise Gornall

Publisher: Chicken House

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary, mental health

Which animal is similar to this book? This book is a Scarlet Macaw Parrot in a land of African Grey Parrots. It stands out immensely against all the other books tackling mental health in a way which is meant to be seen as useful or easy to relate to, when there are a lot which will only romanticise it and make it seem appealing. This book shines in comparison to those and just radiates greatness, as do scarlet macaws since they are often perceived as snooty and seem to know they’re the prettiest parrots. However, they’re also one of the most sensitive species of parrots and will often pluck their own feathers (a sign of stress/worry) at just the slightest change in environment. This book resembles that in the way the main character, Norah, is so unstable and easily stressed.

The blurb says: I’m Norah and my life happens within the walls of my house, where I live with my mom, and this evil overlord called Agoraphobia. Everything’s under control. It’s not rosy – I’m not going to win any prizes for Most Exciting Life or anything, but at least I’m safe from the outside world, right? Wrong. This new boy, Luke, just moved in next door, and suddenly staying safe isn’t enough. If I don’t take risks, how will I ever get out – or let anyone in?

I don’t even know where to start reviewing this, I’m sure it’s all been said… This book made me see my own problems in a new way, which are small compared to Norah’s struggles since I don’t have agoraphobia, but it gave me new ideas of coping methods, as well as the promise that there are ways to handle it and eventually recover from it. It shows mental illness in a way which highlights every single negative, even the not so glamorous ones, which can often be overlooked in the media where they’ll show someone with OCD to have to fold paper perfectly in a straight line and that’s it. OCD is more than that and it’s difficult for people who don’t have it to fully understand it and they will often treat it as something that can just be ignored or that you can just ‘get over it’. I love that this book shows Norah’s ways of coping and how they often don’t work, and it shows the different ways her OCD and agoraphobia affect her in her life.

The characters are so likeable, especially Norah; I wish I could be her best friend or sister to be honest! I felt sympathy for her and also felt like if she was real, I would connect with her so well because we have so much in common and there aren’t many book characters I can connect to like that.

This is the kind of book I feel to be truly important and I would suggest that anyone with a mental illness (or anyone who knows someone with one) should read this. I genuinely feel that this book, and others like it, should be on future reading lists for GCSE’s and A Levels because it’s so informative, well-written and overall a good story. Or it should at least be suggested to all people of that age since a lot of people suffering with mental illness will develop it at this age and won’t know how to handle it. A book like this, making them feel more normal, teaching them ways to cope and giving them a better way to understand/explain what they’re feeling would be fantastically useful to them. I know that at that age, when my issues first developed, I felt like a freak but if I’d read a book like this, it probably would’ve changed the way I saw myself and the way I handle20160804_163103d it.

Obviously, I thought this book was amazing, so it gets a solid 10 out of 10 paw prints and I recommend that everyone read this, especially if you suffer from some kind of mental illness because it honestly will help, despite not being a ‘self-help book’.