Tag: YA

OCD Awareness Week

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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.

WIN a signed limited edition of Am I Normal Yet? with Maximum Pop!

We’ve teamed up with the fab Maximum Pop! to give you the chance to win a signed LIMITED EDITION of Am I Normal Yet?.

Want to get your hands on one of these little beauties? Maximum Pop! have 10 to giveaway. For a chance to win head over to the Maximum Pop! website.

Good luck!

The ridiculousness of period shame

My favourite scene in Am I Normal Yet? is when the girls have a Spinster Club meeting about the ridiculousness of period shame, blue blood in adverts, and paying tax on tampons. So I was very excited when I came across these two videos. A Taylor Swift spoof, and emmablackery rollerskating in blood-splattered cream trousers? I LOVE THE INTERNET!

Holly x

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!

#squadgoals, Taylor Swift and loving YOU

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‘Calvin Harris can smoulder and bulge in his pants as much as he
wants to. He’s not the part of Taylor’s life I’m most jealous of.

…It’s her squad.

I want to be at her pool parties. I want to be backstage posing
for pics. I want HER TO BE MY BEST FRIEND EVER…but more than anything…I
really want to nab all of her friends….’

Read Holly’s feature on squads, trophy boyfriends and loving yourself over at Maximum Pop!

Emma Gannon interviews Holly

We’re big fans of GIRLLOSTINTHECITY.COM, a blog written by journalist
and social media editor Emma Gannon. It covers just about anything from
London life to books and culture.

So we were VERY excited when Emma interviewed Holly as part of her new author series (the first author to be featured was none other than Rainbow Rowell!)

Read Emma’s interview with Holly over at GIRLLOSTINTHECITY.COM. Enjoy!

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