Read an exclusive extract from Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne at http://bit.ly/1RcGJ74.
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”
WHAT REALLY ANNOYS ME ABOUT PEOPLE AND MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
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.”
NO YOU’RE NOT.
“Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation,
I literally had a panic attack.”
NO YOU DIDN’T.
“I’m so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar.”
SHUT UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE.
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.
Today is all about raising awareness of mental health – in particular this year, having conversations about dignity and mental health issues. To celebrate this HUGELY important today, I’m linking to a piece I wrote for The Guardian.
I hope you enjoy reading it.
Holly x x
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!
I want teen readers to be able to go into a bookstore and pick up
something that reflects their experience. Considering one in ten young
people experience mental health issues before the age of 15, books
discussing these issues need to be on the shelves. But, if you’re going
to ‘go there’ as an author, it’s vital you get it right.
When I started writing Am I Normal Yet?
it was essential to me to ensure I was covering OCD and Generalised
Anxiety Disorder as sensitively as possible. Striking a balance between
realism, and protecting potentially-vulnerable readers. Here’s what I
learned along the way…
Sometimes young people with mental health problems get better. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they get better but then they get worse.
I’ve written a piece for Guardian Teen Books about this, specifically about OCD and relapse, and why it’s so important to be honest about it.
As publication draws ever closer, we’re so excited to share the latest reviews of Am I Normal Yet?.
Our friends at LoveReading4Kids have a panel of amazing YA reviewers who read and review the latest and best books out there. We sent them early copies of Am I Normal Yet? and here’s what they thought:
‘I really enjoy the tone
and voice of the book. It is able to talk about the serious topic of OCD
while still being humorous. It is a perfect mix of informative and
amusing.’ – Charlotte, age 14
‘Teens are extremely lucky to have
this book available to them and I hope it reaches the widest possible
audience. An essential and vital book for teens today.’ – Jade
‘This was a great book
which had a gripping storyline as well as featuring important themes
such as feminism. It was very interesting and included relatable
characters.’ – Chloe, age 15
‘It was a real heart
wrenching book and I recommend every single teenage girl and boy read
it. I couldn’t put it down, a truly inspiring book. A massive 5
stars.’ – Rose, age 16
‘One of the most real and
honest accounts of teenage life in a fiction book I have ever read. It
was interesting, exciting, sad, and to top it all off it really made me
think.’ – Lauren, age 15
‘It was a real eye opener,
especially when paired with the issues of feminism and how it is
perceived. A definite recommendation for all of those wishing to read
between the lines.’ – Delilah
Thank you to all of you!
I think anyone whose experienced OCD wants to throttle people who say, ‘Ooo, I’m soooo OCD’ if they like their bedroom tidy. It’s such a misunderstood condition, and, as a word, has really found it’s way into our lexicons. But we’re using the word wrong! OCD is not just being tidy and clean. The correct words for these personality quirks are… umm…well ‘tidy’ and ‘clean’. They are NOT ‘OCD’.
My MC, Evie, has contamination OCD. Yes, she washes her hands a lot… But part of my desire to write Am I Normal Yet? was to show it’s so much more than this, and to help readers understand what it’s like to live in a brain that never leaves you alone.
I found this Ted video, debunking common myths about OCD, and I wanted to share it with you.