Tag: mental health

Read an exclusive extract from Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne at http://bit.ly/1RcGJ74.

OCD Awareness Week


Hello! We’ve hijacked Holly’s tumblr today for OCD Awareness Week, a global campaign to promote
awareness and understanding of OCD. We wanted to share an exclusive extract with you from Am I Normal Yet? – it’s one that definitely made us think about the language of mental health, as well as the many misconceptions of OCD. We’ve asked Holly to introduce it: 

“I’ve been blown away by how one section of Am I Normal Yet? has resonated with my readers. It’s Evie’s rant about how we use the language of mental health. So, to celebrate #OCDAwarenessWeek, here’s the extract. Let’s try and stamp this language out. As Evie, and so many others of you out there know, OCD is not being neat and tidy!

– Holly x”


I don’t really “get” angry. If I’m going to be emotional, I do
sad. Crying. Not swearing and yelling and punching walls.
Apart from about this.
Sarah once told me about the “dark ages” of public
awareness, where people didn’t really know much about
mental health problems. And what they did know was
mostly wrong. There was loads of MISINFORMATION and
STIGMA and it was really terrible and everyone suffered in
silence for ages, not knowing what was wrong, and not
seeking help because they didn’t understand what their
brain was doing to them and why.
But then we decided we needed to CHANGE THE WAY
WE THINK about mental illness. Huge awareness campaigns
were set up. A few soaps gave their characters depression
and whatnot, following each episode with a voiceover saying,
“If you’ve been upset by anything seen on this programme,
go to this website and yadda yadda yadda.” Slowly, but surely,
mental health eked its way into the public consciousness.
People began to learn the names of conditions. People began
to understand the symptoms. People began to say the oh-soimportant
phrase “it’s not their fault”. There was SYMPATHY and UNDERSTANDING. Even some politicians and celebs
came out, as it were, and told national newspapers about
their own suicide attempts or whatever.
We couldn’t stop there, could we?

I can say, with some confidence, that it’s gone too far the
other way. Because now mental health disorders have gone
“mainstream”. And for all the good it’s brought people like
me who have been given therapy and stuff, there’s a lot of
bad it’s brought too.
Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe
minor personality quirks. “Oooh, I like my pens in a line,
I’m so OCD.”
“Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation,
I literally had a panic attack.”
“I’m so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar.”
Told you I got angry.
These words – words like OCD and bipolar – are not
words to use lightly. And yet now they’re everywhere. There
are TV programmes that actually pun on them. People smile
and use them, proud of themselves for learning them, like
they should get a sticker or something. Not realizing that if
those words are said to you by a medical health professional,
as a diagnosis of something you’ll probably have for ever,
they’re words you don’t appreciate being misused every single
day by someone who likes to keep their house quite clean.

People actually die of bipolar, you know? They jump in
front of trains and tip down bottles of paracetamol and
leave letters behind to their devastated families because
their bullying brains just won’t let them be for five minutes
and they can’t bear to live with that any more.
People also die of cancer.
You don’t hear people going around saying: “Oh my God,
my headache is so, like, tumoury today.”
Yet it’s apparently okay to make light of the language of
people’s internal hell. And it makes me hate people because
I really don’t think they get it.
“Oh, you have OCD. That’s the thing where you like to
wash your hands a lot, right?”
It annoys me that I’ve got the most clichéd “version” of
OCD. The stereotypical one. But it’s not like I chose it. And,
yes, I do like to wash my hands a lot. Or did. Well, I still
want to, every second of the day, but I don’t. But I also lost
two stone because I refused to eat anything in case it
contaminated me and I died. And I have a brain on a
permanent loop of bad thoughts that I cannot escape so I’m
technically imprisoned in my own mind. And I once didn’t
leave the house for eight weeks.
That is not just liking to wash your hands.
No, you don’t have OCD too.
If you had OCD, you wouldn’t tell people about it.
Because, quite simply, despite all this good work, some
people Still. Don’t. Get. It.

EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT taken from Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne.

YA Blogger series with Jess Hearts Books

Today, we hear from the FAB Jess of Jess Hearts Books fame on ‘normal’, feminism and cheesy snacks:

What is ‘normal’?

I used to think that being ‘normal’ meant having it together, being like everybody else. But everybody has their own struggles that you don’t get to see behind the scenes and so now I think that ‘normal’ means being completely messed up but being brave enough to carry on anyway.

What message did you take away from Am I Normal Yet?

For me it drove home just how tough being a teenage girl is in a society that sends you mixed messages and impossible standards to live up to. It’s a treacherous road to navigate. I’m so happy that there is a book out there that points this out and stands up for girls providing them with feminist main characters that I hope inspire them to speak out against these messages that society sends them.

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism to me means absolute equality between the sexes. It means busting harmful gender stereotypes that hurt both men and women. It means a movement that benefits everyone.

What other YA novels about mental health would you recommend?

Another incredible YA book I read this year about mental health was All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. If you’re interested in reading another informative YA book about OCD in particular I’d recommend Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern.

And finally, what’s your go-to cheesy snack?

Wotsits. It really doesn’t get any better than Wotsits.

Thanks so much Jess for taking part in the #100DaysofNormal YA Blogger series. Read Jess’s review of Am I Normal Yet? over on her blog, Jess Hearts Books, as well as lots of other brilliant reviews and features! Enjoy!

YA Blogger series with Once Upon a Bookcase


We’re very excited to have the brilliant Jo from Once a Upon of Bookcase join us for the second YA bloggers series feature:

What is ‘normal’?
To me, there is no ‘normal’ in the sense of being ‘just like everyone else’. There are no two people who are exactly the same – not in how they look, or in who they are. Trying to fit in by being someone you’re not isn’t ‘normal’. The only way to be truly normal is to be true to yourself, to who you are – to be your own normal.

What message did you take away from Am I Normal Yet?
Being honest about who you are, and not hiding away is the only way to go. Because, as Dr Seuss said, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Also, you don’t need to be a brain box to understand feminist ideas, and to fight for equality.

What does feminism mean to you?
Equality. There are a lot of people who seem to think feminists are man-hating women who just want power for women. This isn’t the case; it’s all about equality, men and women being on an equal footing, without the sexism and double standards. It’s about women being valued just as much as men – not valued more highly than men.

What other YA novels about mental health would you recommend?
There have been so many great ones I’ve read, but these are the ones that stick out.

  • Panther by David Owen – about living with a sister who suffers from Depression.
  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone – about a girl who has Purely Obsessional OCD, and how she finds solace in friendship and poetry.
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – about Finch and Violet, who meet at the top of the school tower as they both contemplate suicide.
  • I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells – about a sociopath who tries to hunt down a serial killer.  

And finally, what’s your go-to cheesy snack?
I’m sorry to say I don’t like cheesy snacks!

Thanks so much for taking part in our YA Blogger series, Jo (and we forgive you for not liking cheesy snacks too :)).

Read Jo’s review of Am I Normal Yet? over on her FAB blog Once Upon a Bookcase – and don’t forget to have a browse through her other brilliant features and reviews too.

TheSite takeover Q&A


As part of TheSite takeover, we asked you to submit your questions for Holly. Thank you to everyone who send one in!

TheSite have chosen some of their favourites and Holly has answered them, plus 3 lucky people will win a limited edition copy of Am I Normal Yet?

Head over to the TheSite to see the Q&A in full! Winners will be announced shortly.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Telling someone about your mental health

It should be easy telling people you have mental health issues. But we know it isn’t. There’s still stigma and misunderstanding, and just plain aresholery.

Ultimately it’s up to you what you choose to disclose about yourself. But, although it’s daunting, if you find people who love you for who you are – even snotty/crying/panicky/dark/numb bits of you – it can help set you free (and realise that everyone is slightly nuts too, we’re just all pretending we’re not).

Not sure if you’re ready for a full disclosure yet? We have a great article over at TheSite.org called ‘How To Talk About Your Mental Health’. I hope you find it helpful.

Holly x