At the YALC Mental Health panel this weekend, I was talking about how we ALL have mental health. Just like we all have physical health. And, if we started to see it more like that, it could help break down the stigma and misunderstanding around mental illness.
To me (and to my MC Evie) one of the biggest problems people with mental illness come across is the idea that they can “pull themselves together”. Like someone would CHOOSE to live in a brain that bullies them and bombards them with unhelpful thoughts.
This cartoon to me sums up perfectly the complete disconnect we have between the sympathy we give people with physical health problems, compared to the sympathy we give people with problems like anxiety and depression.
1) Being sexually harassed by Spiderman This is the only bad thing that happened! But, yes, while I was outside Kensington Olympia, trying to find the right entrance, I was accosted by a man in full-on Spidy get-up.
If I’m going to victim-blame myself, I did maybe initially catch his attention with my inability to not look at the…umm…bulginess of his skin-tight costume. However, this is no excuse for him then grabbing said-bulge and then proceeded to tell me just how very big his bulge was and what he wanted to do with his bulge…before high-fiving the dude next to him, who was dressed as an American Cop.
But it’s OK (well it’s not OK, but it’s just about cope-able with) because…
2) The #BeingAGirl panel talk trending on Twitter I was, unfortunately, too busy getting lost and sexually-harassed to get to this panel on time. HOWEVER lots of favourite authors/people (including Holly Smale, CJ Daugherty and Anna James) were on it, chatting all things feminism. And, it was so popular, it trended on Twitter! It’s so inspiring and reassuring to know there are so many YA authors, using their platform to fight for gender equality – especially if you’ve just been objectified by Spiderman.
It made me feel super excited about all the upcoming feminism in Am I Normal Yet? and the rest of the trilogy.
3) How big my signing queue was going to be I was completely and utterly blown away by how many of you queued to meet me. Honestly, one of the bestest most-humbling moments of my life. You don’t get much opportunity to touch-in with your readers when you’re an author, and you sometimes wonder if your stories are reaching people and touching people. To hear so many of you talk to me about Bree, and Poppy and Noah (and even Evie, for those of you had bought Am I Normal Yet? on the Saturday and had READ IT ALREADY!) made my heart melt. I love you all.
4) The very wise wisdom of my Mental Health in YA panel I’m not going to lie. I was very, very nervous about being on the Mental Health in YA panel. It’s such a sensitive issue and I knew I had a lot to say. But I also know everyone has their own experiences of mental health, and you can easily upset people without meaning to. But I shouldn’t have worried. My fellow panellists, Matt Whyman, Annabelle Pitcher, Brian Conaghan and our chair, Imogen Russell Williams, were insightful and nuanced and just all-round fab.
I feel reassured there’s such a great gang of authors tackling such important stuff…and also pretty proud of myself to be included with them. The one thing I said that seemed to get a lot of resonance, was this quote I found about hope during my research for Am I Normal Yet? Here’s a pic for those of you who weren’t there…
5) Judy Blume tap-dancing whilst yelling expletives The definite highlight of YALC had to be seeing the GODDESS that is Judy Blume talking about her career. Like me, I don’t think many of the other authors at YALC would be writing if it wasn’t for Judy. So many of us were inspired by her in our own childhoods. And we all piled in to her event with Patrick Ness like excitable fans. She did not let us down. When discussing swearing in YA books, Judy admitted she loved using dirty language. “It’s very satisfying, a bit like tap-dancing,” she said. Before TAPPING HER TOES ON THE FLOOR AND REPEATEDLY SAYING F*CK F*CK F*CK.
…and ½ I didn’t expect these people to wander around the place, chanting ‘SHAME SHAME SHAME’ all day. But they did. And, to be honest. I was at ComicCon – WHY didn’t I expect such a thing?
Can I please come back next year, please?
Thank you SO much to everyone who came, everyone who organised, and everyone who made YALC such an unforgettable weekend.
We’re super excited about it all, especially about Holly’s event. She’s appearing on a panel chatting about mental health in YA. So this afternoon, when we saw a feature by YA book blogger Jess Heart Books called ‘YALC Tips for Coping with Anxiety’ pop up on our Twitter feed we just HAD to share it with you.
The official YALC 2015 schedule has arrived at the usbornepublishing office and not only is the lineup AMAZE but it also includes our very own Holly Bourne!
YALC is a celebration of young adult books managed by reading charity Book Trust. It’s an interactive event
where YA fans meet their favourite authors, listen to panel discussions
and take part in workshops. It is taking place on 17th-19th July at London Film and Comic Con at Olympia (Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX).
Holly is going to be at YALC on Sunday 19th July at 10:30am chatting all things Mental Health in YA alongside Brian Conaghan, Annabel Pitcher and Matt Whyman. After the event, Holly will be signing copies of her books.
Here are Holly’s full event details:
Sunday 19th July 2015 Main stage Mental Health in YA 10.30-11.15am As part our our ‘What is Normal?’ strand, we’ll be speaking out about mental health in books for young adults. Authors Holly Bourne, Brian Conaghan, Annabel Pitcher and Matt Whyman will be exploring the representation of mental health issues in YA today.