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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Review: If I Was Your Girl (Meredith Russo)

file_000-11Title: If I Was Your Girl

Author: Meredith Russo

Publisher:  Usborne

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? To me, this book is a bee because I personally don’t know a whole lot about bees, but I do know they’re incredibly important to the environment and that if they die out, our whole eco system is in a lot of trouble. In the same way, I know trans people, I know what it means but I would never say I know much about it all, but I support it of course, and I know that each person is important and it’s incredibly important to talk about it more. On a darker note, thousands of bees die a year, and every year the situation becomes more serious as it becomes more apparent that the bees are dying out. Trans people are at risk due to so many judgmental people and the lack of help it can be hard for them to get, but they are valuable and the more of them that speak out, the better.

The blurb says: Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school. Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she’s falling in love with. Amanda has a secret. At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out…

This is the first book I’ve read about being trans and it was the perfect book. As I said, I don’t really know much about it, and it was so interesting to read it from that perspective.I feel like this book is so important and a must-read for anyone whose friend is trans, or for someone who wants to understand it more.

I loved the voices and different characters, I feel like I would love to know Amanda, and I loved the way everything flowed together in the writing; it was witty, honest and lovely. I especially loved the ‘note from the author’ at the end; there’s one for cis readers, and one for trans readers and I felt like that was a lovely, thoughtful touch. The book touches on friend issues, bullying and family issues along with learning how to deal with new experiences.

It really hurt me to see all the thoughts which had been built into her brain from past bullying, thoughts which must be built into the minds of so many trans people and teens in various situations. It really made me think about how many people must live with these thoughts daily, how many people must see a group of lads walking towards them and instinctively expect abuse and how many people must live in fear of girls at school finding their history in case they spread it around their classmates. Despite the fact that I’m cisgender, and despite the fact I can’t relate to the themes in this book a whol20160804_163103e lot, it made me want to change things for the people who suffer, or live in fear, and I think it’ll make a lot of people feel this way.

So if you’re cis and want to learn a bit, or if you’re trans and want support, you should read this because it’s a beautiful, emotional story and it really made me feel things. Definitely 10 out of 10 paw prints from me; there should be so many more books like this.