Monday, 20 November 2017

Mental Health Mondays #15 : Progress

So firstly I want to sincerely apologise for the severe lack of MHMs in the last few weeks. I don't have an excuse, they just haven't happened. I guess that I temporarily lost motivation and I couldn't for the life of me think of anything at all that I could say that anyone would find of interest. Anyway here we are and now I'm back so, hello!

If you've read the last MHM post What Now? you'll know I've been a pretty confused and conflicted about where I am and what to do but things appear to be looking in my favour at last 😌

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

BLOG TOUR: Dark Chapter by Winnie M Li

Published: 1st November 2017
Publisher: Legend Press
Pages: 390
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.
On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.
In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack.
Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives

First things first I want to say a BIG thank you to Legend Press for asking me to take part in this blog tour and for providing me with a copy of Dark Chapter for review. I'm super grateful and this has no way effected the review that I'm giving!

Dark Chapter is intriguing from the outset and I immediately felt drawn in to the story, Li has a very interesting writing style which is somehow just painstakingly simple and yet perfect for this kind of plot. I'll admit that at some points the book was challenging to read because of the topic of the story but rape is something which needs to be spoken about and the blatant honesty of this book, based upon the author's own experience, found, what I think is, a really good way to talk about this issue.

One of the things which I loved most about this book is that it shows realistic representation of the consequences which rape can have upon someone's life and it demonstrates how slow and bumpy the road towards recovery can be whilst also showing that stuff can get easier over time. Further to this, Dark Chapter also focuses on the incredible strength of a vulnerable woman and her determination to see her case through to justice whilst battling so hard to try and recover is really empowering!

The psychology student in me loves the way that Li describes the process from Johnny's point of view in a way that doesn't justify the horrific acts which he committed but highlights how his upbringing and the influence of other males in his life, unsurprisingly resulted in views of women that are completely twisted and made an attack like this acceptable in his eyes. It's disgusting but it's also an interesting side of the story to read about and kept making me more and more frustrated throughout, because those ingrained thoughts are really damaging to everyone!

I don't think I've read a book, at least this year, where I was rooting for the main character so hard! I so passionately wanted justice for Vivian because she was going through so much turmoil and yet she kept on pushing forward - found myself regularly grumbling and yelling at the book when things weren't going in the way that I wanted them to! But most importantly, it was encouraging to read about such strength in such a difficult situation.

Dark Chapter is different to the books that would usually I go for but it was super enlightening and I think it's important for books like this to exist and discuss rape with such honesty. It's totally deserving of it's title as Not the Booker prize winner 2017 and I really hope that it is read by many and helps to educate lots of people.

It's dark, it's fast paced and most importantly it's unflinching in it's honesty so you should definitely get your hands on a copy of Dark Chapter and have a read.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT: Mental Health Book Bingo!

It gives me great pleasure to let you all know that in January 2018 myself and some bloggy pals are launching a shiny new readathon of Mental Health related books!

The idea was put forward by the wonderful Wendy @ whatthelog and was inspired by other bingo readathons like Asian Lit Bingo. I feel absolutely honoured to have been asked to take part in this and we've got some good things planned so I'd love it if y'all could take part!

Your Hosts:

Wendy @ whatthelog
Christine @ the story salve

Monday, 9 October 2017

Mental Health Mondays #14 : What now?

This post is going to be a personal one because I need to process my thoughts surrounding a problem that I'm facing. I'm not quite sure of any other way to do it than to write it here and hope that readers don't find it too boring!

As you may know if you've read any of my previous MHM posts, in May I started seeing a clinical psychologist. This was an appointment which I had been waiting for for seven months so when it finally came around and my psychologist said he would see me regularly I was grateful that all my patience had paid off and I'd finally get some help, after trying almost every other available option.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Published: 5th October 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 320
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.
One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.
International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down. 

Disclaimer: Before I start this post I just want to say that although I will try my hardest to give a review which is spoiler-free, due to the nature of the story there may be some small spoilers in here! So if you want to go into the book with no preconceptions I suggest that you don't read any further than this point for your own peace of mind!

Horror YA romance was always going to be an interesting mixture, so when I picked up a proof of this at YALC I was certain that I'd need to keep an open mind throughout! I haven't ever read a book by Stephanie Perkins before so I can't make direct comparison but I know that this is very different, largely because I imagine most of the others don't have lots of murder in!
I'll admit that I am quite a wimp when it comes to horror/thriller books so I haven't read a huge number and I've seen several reviews saying that people didn't find this terrifying enough for them but personally I think it had enough scary bits and gruesomeness to keep me satisfied! It definitely isn't the scariest book that I've ever read and possibly a bit more suspense would have made it better but it is by no means PG either.

Makani was an interesting main character and learning about her past as well as her current friendship group was something that I really enjoyed and as a group they were quite diverse which is always something I welcome! I also loved Grandma Young as a character too she was good fun and I thought she was brilliant!

Unfortunately I didn't feel like the book gave me enough mystery and the 'reveal' came at kind of a weird point in the plot too which I kind of struggled to get my head around, I suppose this may come from the fact that it's Perkins' first book in this area, or maybe it's just me being too obsessed with Midsomer Murders and being too picky!

The romance between Makani and Ollie was quite fun to read about and it was equally interesting to learn more about Ollie's character but I'm not entirely convinced that it really fitted with all of the gore at the same time? It's the sort of thing that may have made more sense if it was on screen rather than in a book? But I'm really not sure because I can be very picky with my romance anyway!

Overall, There's Someone Inside Your House was a different book to anything which I've read before, it had interesting characters and enough horror-ness to keep me happy! The romance was a bit strange and I don't know if YA Horror Romance is something I would seek out again but it is definitely worth you giving it a try!

Have you read There's Someone Inside Your House? Or any other books by Stephanie Perkins that you think I may enjoy? Let me know any of your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Mental Health Mondays #13 : Question Box Two

So my question box is back and I'm still very excited that people have actually asked me things so I'm just going to jump straight in to answering another three of your questions:

I have lost all enjoyment in my passions. How do I stay motivated whilst stuck in my depression?

I struggle with this a lot myself and often it is something that you may have to, unfortunately, just ride out, at least to a certain extent. The only thing I can really suggest is that you possibly try doing whatever your 'passion' is for a short amount of time? Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't but you may find that if you kind of force yourself to do it even for as little as 15 minutes then after that time you'll feel more motivated? You may also find that it just makes you feel absolutely exhausted and you have to be prepared that it could go either way but at least you have managed to achieve something even if it's small, right?! That's what I always try to do anyway 😊

When did you first realise that you had a mental health condition?

I think it was a gradual process of realisation so I'm not entirely sure, but I do remember the first time I told a close friend that I thought I needed some help and that was around February of 2015. At that point I was definitely engaging in a lot of negative behaviours and had been for at least 6 months, so to be honest, looking back I don't see how I didn't realise sooner. After realising that perhaps a lot of my experiences were, shall we say, Not Good, it then gradually occurred to me that there had been factors which were quite possibly mental health related dating back to when I was as young as 12/13 so yeah, it took me a long time to figure out what was going on...

Do you think it's a good idea to tell people you work with if you're taking antidepressants?

I can't give a definitive answer to this because a) I'm not on antidepressants nor am I currently employed b) it would depend greatly on your workplace etc. but I'll give you my general thoughts on this. I think if you work somewhere that it is required for you to disclose any medications you're taking (I'm not entirely sure how often this happens) then you shouldn't lie about it I suppose. But I also believe that you have a right to not disclose such personal information about yourself unless you believe that it will be helpful to you.
Personally I would think that if you're taking them, they're working for you, and both the ADs and your general MH are not having a negative effect on your ability to work then you are certainly 'allowed' not to tell people. However, if you'd feel better for being honest then I guess you can tell people? It depends really on who you are and whether you feel honesty is better or whether you fear people may treat you differently if they know you take antidepressants (which shouldn't be the case but may well be because people are annoying). So basically, do what feels best for you! Taking ADs is nothing to be ashamed of, it's doing what feels the most sensible for your situation that is important.
That's it for this month's question box feature check out last months here and if you have any questions that you'd like me to answer in the next month's post then please follow this link so you can leave your questions (I need more if I'm going to write another post so please ask anything you'd like!). Thanks so much for reading!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Mental Health Mondays #12 : Mental Health and Messenger

This week I just want to write a short post giving you something to think about when talking online to a friend who you know suffers from mental health issues. As always, this is just something that I find difficult and that may well be the case for many others but I can't vouch for it being the same for everyone.

What I want to discuss is how to be sensitive to your friend's wellbeing when you need someone to vent to, specifically through messaging platforms e.g Facebook. I know that it can be really difficult when you've had something happen, you're mega stressed or you just really need your friend's opinion about something not to just jump head first into an online rant at them, but when your friend is something who struggles with mental health issues it's important to try and check in with them before you do so. A simple "Is it alright if I chat to you about something?" or a "How are you, I need your thoughts :)" is sufficient enough to give them a chance to say "I'm really sorry I don't feel good I'm not sure I can be much help right now." because regardless of how bad your day has been you don't want to make your friend feel more unwell without realising it - right?

Personally, it's not that I don't want to help out my friends, but on numerous occasions I've been struggling hugely with my own thoughts etc and then had people offload on me without even a real hello and it make things really difficult. Also, not only is it difficult for the individual who is receiving the message but chances are they won't be able to really reply and help you out that much either if they aren't in a good state of mind so it isn't that beneficial for either party!

In my opinion, this is a really easy thing to change to ensure that you're looking after your friend and showing them you value them and that it's important to you that they're comfortable with the conversations you have.

The other thing that you may want to consider is the time of your message, I for one have times which I determine "not good" mostly anytime after midnight and before about 5am. Some people may not have the same nighttime triggers that I do but it's worth checking that if you know your friend isn't a night person (or indeed if there is a different time the aren't good with) that you don't dump stuff on them when you know they're about to sleep, or if you really need to chat just apologise to them beforehand and let them know that is is okay if they can't talk right now.

I know that these two things won't be applicable to every single situation and there will be times that the conversation just can't wait, for your sake or your friend's, but it is definitely worth considering next time you find yourself worked up and looking to turn to someone for guidance.

Do you agree with what I've said? Or do you think I'm being too selfish and we should just grin and bear it for our friends? I want to know so leave me a comment!