World Mental Health Day

Books are wondrous chapels of escapism. They can transport us to realms far beyond the reaches of our own imagination. They introduce us to friends whom we’ll never meet but still love like family. They are never ending treasure troves of unexplored adventures. But they can also be the warm hug we need at the darkest of times; the shoulder to lean on when we don’t know where to turn; the friend who understands what’s wrong without a single word.

Today is World Mental Health Day, and I want to share some of the books that have been like warm hugs to me as I’ve struggled with my own demons, in the hopes that maybe they’ll be there for others as well.

Entangled – Cat Clarke

In my review for this book, I mentioned how much I love the realism that Cat puts into her writing, and Entangled is the perfect example of that.

It’s a difficult read, because it’s real, and that’s what made me fall in love with this book; I could relate to Grace because she was so believable. I’d recommend reading Cat’s other works as well, ( I especially recommend Undone), as they very often touch on mental health issues, but I’ve chosen this one because it was the one that made me fall in love with her stories.

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

I don’t have OCD, so I cannot begin to understand what it’s like to live with, but the thing I most loved about this first book in The Normal Series, was the fact that this isn’t a story about OCD; it’s a story about growing up and struggling with school and making friends, all those things we all go through but which are made ten times harder when you’re battling demons inside. Holly recognised the need for a story that declared we are not our mental health; we are real people who have to struggle with these issues on top of the daily struggles of growing up. The entire Normal series is a wondrous exploration of friendship and feminism, but this one will always have a special place in my heart because of this, and I’d love to see more stories about characters with mental health issues, which aren’t about their mental health issues.

Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella

This book affected me so much that I actually ended up recommending it to my therapist. Detailing Audrey’s life after an untold event that brings about a severe bout of Anxiety, I think I loved this story as much as I did because Audrey felt so real. Everything she is going through I could relate to and there was something incredibly comforting about seeing that in a story. This book honestly helped change my mindset about my own recovery, and it will always mean something special to me.

The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

I’ve always held the belief that if a friend recommends a book to you, you should read it. Not least because you should hold their opinion in high regard, what with them being your friend and all, but because to recommend a book to someone means that book has affected you in some major way, and therefore it’s your duty as a friend to want to understand why.

I never reviewed this book on here or on Goodreads, for the simple reason I couldn’t put into words how brilliant it was, how deeply it effected me, how raw and brutal, yet beautiful it is. It touches on Depression and PTSD, and is a very honest account of how that can impact a person’s life, and if you want to read a story that truly reflects how isolating and painful mental health issues can be, then this is the book to read.

A Boy Made of Blocks

Last week, the BBC aired a documentary fronted by Miranda and Bridget Jones actress, Sally Phillips, in which she discussed a new test that could see the eradication of Down syndrome babies being born in this country. As a mother of a boy with Downs, she was highlighting how sad this would be, because, yes Downs is a major affliction, but it can also be incredibly wonderful, and it is in this same vein that Keith Stuart wrote A Boy Made of Blocks, celebrating life as the father of a boy on the Autism spectrum.

It is a beautiful story that I highly recommend, because it really does show a side to autism we rarely see in the media or literature; a side that celebrates the wonder through which people on the spectrum see our world. It is quite simply a joyful and incredibly insightful read.


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