Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Mental Illness and Books

Hi All,

I appeared to have fallen off the face of The Earth for many, many months, and that feels very true in the sense that I have recently felt like I fell of the face of my world, my Earth. I haven't posted on here in really long time because I've been struggling, and it's been hard enough to convince myself to go out into public, to eat and to sleep; let alone pick up a book and read or try to write a blog post about something.

When I was 14 I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Emetophobia (which is common to be paired with anxiety), I've previously gone through therapy into attempt to treat both of these, and whilst it worked for a while it didn't last. Autumn of 2016 I  had what I would call a complete breakdown in my mental health.

My mental health and my ability to manage it has been an increasing problem over the last year, and I found myself losing more battles than I was winning. In Autumn this developed into me missing school and having to cancel social events simply because I was too unwell to attend, but somehow I maintained this belief within me that I was still - as okay as one can be; but this perception of myself was shattered in November.

In November I suffered from what I would call a complete breakdown in my mental health, it was like I stopped functioning and I didn't know how to take care of myself any longer. I stopped eating, I no longer slept and I didn't dare venture beyond the limits of my very isolated village. I no longer attended school full time - I still don't now, and I found it hard to do anything because I no longer had the energy to even sit and read for ten minutes. November was the hardest month of my life, it was like I had fallen down a well and I couldn't climb back up and out; I was having panic attacks three to five times a day and I lost weight drastically.

Considering the state I was in in November it is amazing that how I am doing now in late March. My diet has improved considerably and I'm attending my school with the intention to attempt one of my A Levels this year. My sleeping patterns are still a bit fucked, but at least now I have enough energy to workout and go about my day to day life. This has also allowed me to return to reading, and even though progress is slow and the pace at which I read is considerably slower than before it is still such a relief to be able to concentrate on a book again.

After spending my last few months in this state it made me consider the representation of mental health within Literature. I think it's rather lacking, and the most well known book that has prominently featured mental health problems that I've read is All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, which I have developed very conflicting feelings about. I have seen many people say the representation of Bipolar Disorder through Finch was accurate and that Niven encapsulated what that means well within the narrative, and I think that she represented how hopeless those with mental illnesses can feel; however I take problem with the representation of help offered in this book. I believe if you're going to write a novel heavily featuring mental illness it needs to be constructive and informative, and All The Bright Places is not, it lacks information on how to reach out for help and how it is okay to do so - mentioning school counselors and showing going on dates can help SOME people is not enough.

Within literature, particularly YA literature, we need more books representing a constructive view of mental health. We need books that show us it's okay to reach out for help, and that there are multiple ways of 'getting better' because everyone is different. Whilst I appreciate novels that prompt discussions on mental as All The Bright Places do, we need to take up responsibilities as readers and authors to recognize opening discussions and spreading awareness for mental health is not enough anymore. We need to take an active role in presenting narratives that could help people and be constructive to people who have mental illnesses, not just those who know people who do.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this, and if anyone who has any further thoughts on this I would love to hear them (even if they conflict with me own). What's more, I was largely prompted to write this because of Katytastic's recent video which I will link below.

Katytastic's recent video 

This is compiled list of mental health helplines by The NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/mental-health-helplines.aspx



2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you're feeling better!

    I never really stopped and thought about how little mental illnesses were in YA. I'd read that but it never really sunk in. Now after reading your post I agree- it should be more in more literature. There's a book called Willow. It's kind of dry and she isn't really suffering from a mental illness as far as I know (if she is it's depression), but it shows how people in situatition need help. It might be worth the read.

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    1. Hi! And thank you:)

      Yeah, I had read about it before but it didn't really hit me until recently that it's not really talked about within literature which is really weird. Also thanks for the recommendation, I'll search for it:)

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