Monday, 29 February 2016

Am I Normal Yet? - Holly Bourne

Gah, I have so many feelings about the book I have just devoured over the space of about 24 hours! I LOVED this:

The basic premise of the book is a girl who suffers with generalised anxiety and OCD, who is in recovery and trying to become 'normal' and fit-in at her new college where very few people know of her 'crazy episode'. But it is also so much more than that! This story incorporates femininity and girl-power with some really powerful statements and ideas! Not just that, but it has a Louise Rennison-esque feel as Evie struggles with the normal boy-related struggles of teenage life.

This book just really touched me. Bourne really did her research when writing this and it has paid off and created a really powerful and honest story of the real-life struggles of living with mental illness. Not just the symptoms...anyone can talk about how embarrassing, painful and inconvenient it can be to have a panic attack. There is so much more to it than that... what about the time when you start to feel better but keep second-guessing yourself? "I am nervous for this interview" - wait, is this normal? Or is this just my stupid brain playing up again? It's such a surreal experience to think that your brain, the thing that is controlling your whole body is actually the thing that is acting against you. It makes you waste time and doubt your personality - is this just me now? Am I now the person who can't be comfortable in social situations and can't deal with this high level of pressure anymore? I used to think I was so resilient...have I just changed? Not just that, but even when you feel better, relapse is like a black cloud which constantly hangs over you. It can be exhausting. The constant worry about making plans because they sound like a great idea right now but what if your brain has other ideas by then? And possibly one of the worst know you're getting worse again, you can feel it, but you cannot admit it to yourself. More than that, you definitely cannot admit it to those around you! Because yes, they may be supportive, but you know full-well how much they breathed a sigh of relief when you seemingly started to get better, they don't want to hear that you feel like you're back to square-one! It's draining for them too!

In reality, you really do get a different take on life. Logic becomes the enemy. One of the most hard-hitting lines in the book for me was "I know it is irrational, but it doesn't make it any less scary!" It's true, and the problem is that logic and rationality are the things that everyone else but you seem to have, which is the biggest barrier to them understanding what you're going through or offering any helpful advice. Then there's the situation where you encounter someone else who seems to be suffering like you. You feel like you should be able to say those magic words which help because "you've been there", but it strangely makes you feel speechless. You just compare yourself to them and no matter what conclusion you come to, it's very rarely "talking about this with this person is really going to help me." So who do you talk to? Instead you let it stew in your own brain for so long that you hate yourself. You feel guilty and weak because you're allowing a few tiny chemicals to beat you.

Evie goes through all this and it really got me thinking. I am sure I will be thinking about this for a very long time. However it is nowhere near as dark as it may sound! Intertwined with the humour and the empowering feminism, I thoroughly recommend this book to everyone! It's a great read and kept me hooked through every page! :)

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