Happy Sunday, friends! Another week ends and today, I’m back to share another guest post from a new fantastic blogger sharing her journey. In case you missed it, Shattering Stigmas is an event that will take place from October 6th to October 20th here on Drizzle & Hurricane Books.
Three years ago, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight launched the first Shattering Stigmas, a blogging event dedicated to posts about mental illness to address and challenge the stigmas against it. Through book reviews, discussion posts and lists, Shattering Stigmas has continued conversations around mental illness for the past three years.
You can also enter our INTERNATIONAL (Book Depository) giveaway! TWO winners will be able to win the Mental Health book of their choice at the end of this event. Don’t forget to ENTER HERE!
Today, I’m giving my blogging space to my lovely friend and fellow Frenchie Clémence. She will share her journey with her own mental health and books that she related to deeply, just as well. Please give her a warm welcome and feel free to share your thoughts in comments!
Trigger warnings: this post deals with eating disorder, anxiety, depression.
When I heard about Shattering Stigmas, I knew I had to take part. It matters all the more to me considering that I am currently in the process of stopping my medication, after taking it for three years.
When I started my third year of college, I moved back to my parents’ house. One thing led to another and honestly I don’t really know what happened, but I lost all appetite, and I couldn’t sleep anymore. I lost 15kg. The worst thing was, I looked damn good after that. But some days, eating five pieces of pasta for lunch was a huge success. I just couldn’t swallow a damn thing (and I ate a lot of soup and smoothies that year). That’s when I started taking medication and seeing a therapist. I could feel the difference immediately.
Since then, I have lived abroad for a year, graduated from college with two Bachelor’s Degrees and a Master, and I’m doing an internship in a publishing house. I finally feel like I am in the right place to stop taking medication, because when I feel down – because I sometimes do, I’m only human – I can pinpoint the exact reason, for example, I’m lonely because I don’t know anyone in my new town, or I have my period, or whatever. I know I’m still fragile, and I still definitely suffer from anxiety – I don’t think that will ever go away, it’s part of who I am and I’m okay with it – I think I have outgrown my depression. Even two years ago, I didn’t think that was possible. When I started taking meds, I was so sure it would be for the rest of my life. But it didn’t have to be.
But enough of my personal story. Throughout the past three years, I have learnt a lot about depression and mental illness in general (and I say depression because it’s what I suffered from, I know there are many other forms of mental illnesses). First, it’s something that doesn’t have to last your entire life. Second, there is no shame in seeing a therapist and/or taking medication. Honestly, those meds changed my life, and I’m so glad I took the leap and talked about it with my doctor in the first place. And finally, many people suffer from mental illness. Most of us hide it, but you are not alone.
Anyway, what I wanted to talk about here was characters I could relate to because they also suffered from depression and/or anxiety, or any other form of mental illness.
The first book I wanted to talk about is A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard. The plot evolves around a main character who has chronic anxiety, to the point that she cannot speak in class, and learnt how to use sign language as a kid, in order to express herself. She is described as a selective mute. I felt so deeply for her, even though my problems never went to the extent of hers. She also falls in love and it’s adorable, but what I really liked about that book is that Steffi doesn’t get better because she fell in love with the right guy, she does because she started taking medication at the beginning of the book. That is made very clear, and the way it affected her, and helped her was something I could totally relate to. I never thought I would get to read about this kind of thing, and it was such a heart-warming and reassuring reading experience.
Another book I really wanted to talk about was Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. The main character, just like the author, has OCD. Now, I do not have OCD (and I am incredibly thankful for that) but there was definitely something I could see myself into while reading this book, and that was the spiralling of thoughts. It felt so relatable. Aza describes it so accurately. This is definitely something I’ve been through in my darkest hours, especially at night when I couldn’t sleep – and that definitely didn’t help me falling asleep either. Seeing it so plainly on paper was an incredible experience.
Among my most recent reads, I also really enjoyed The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, as well as History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, both of which feature a MC who has mental illness, and the descriptions of the thought spiralling were striking in both. In SIlvera’s book, we get to see Griffin isolating himself from both his friends and his family, partly because of his grief obviously, but also because of what he suffers from, and that’s also something I found extremely relatable. And in The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, not only do we get a MC who suffers from OCD, but his sister also suffered from anorexia, and while reading the book I felt like both characters reunited represented my experience, and it was very intense. I am forever grateful to the author for including such amazing representation in his books.
When I started blogging, I loved finding characters in books who were introverts, because I could relate to them. One of my favourite examples is Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. And to this day, it is still one of my favourite books. But finding characters I could relate through their mental illness is so much better. I can relate to them on a much deeper level, and it warms my heart to see them overcoming their problems.
Finding characters like those definitely helped me, and I believe it also helps normalizing mental illness, which makes these books all the more important.
I believe my journey through mental illness and books is not over yet, but it already had many meaningful steps, and I hope those books can help you too.