WWW Wednesday: 30th May 2018

Hello! I’m sorry for the lack of posting this week – I just haven’t had the energy to do anything really! But I’m back this week with another WWW Wednesday post.

What are you currently reading? 

I’ve just started Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson, which comes out on 7th June. I’m really liking what I’ve read so far so watch this space!

What did you recently finish reading?

I think the last books that I finished were My Box-Shaped Heart and two more additions to the Little People, Big Dreams series – Georgia O’Keeffe and Harriet Tubman, which were beautiful as always.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think I’m going to try to read The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse. I’m hearing such good stuff about it that I can’t wait to get to it!

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Six for Sunday: 20th May 2018

Hello and happy Sunday! I’m getting ready for an awesome day; I’m down in Colchester with my friends from uni and we are going to the zoo today! I thought of a really good question for this prompt when I was in the shower, but I’ve forgotten it 😦

You can find the prompts for S4S here. This week’s is:

Questions you have for your favourite character…

1. Do you regret any of your actions during your story?

2. What would you do differently?

3. What did you learn from your story?

4. Who’s your favourite character in your story?

5. If you could be in another story, which one would you choose and why?

6. What outcome do you think would’ve worked better in your story?

What questions would you ask your favourite character?

 

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Stress

So, we come to my final post of the week for Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, and I thought it’s probably about time that I do a bit about the actual theme for this week, which this year is STRESS.

Everyone experiences stress in their life to some degree, but it’s how we deal with it that makes the difference. For some people, they thrive off stress and it doesn’t bring them down; it brings out the best in them. For others, especially those with mental health conditions, stress can be incredibly debilitating.

Stress is a valid condition, and it’s something that needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, however, it’s very often trivialised because it’s so common and a lot of people don’t understand it when it’s at its worst. It’s all too easy to ignore what is often a cry for help when someone says “I’m stressed,” because so many people will use it to slack or even get signed off. Often those who are suffering the most are the ones who you’ll see flipping out easily or getting over emotional, but they continue to stay in the situation – more stress can be caused by doing otherwise! It’s a vicious cycle sometimes.

Stress can be especially bad when it involves someone with preexisting mental health conditions. One of my previous managers, besides being a vindictive person, had no concept of the stress that her actions would put upon me and my colleagues. It often would act as the trigger for a depressive episode or increased anxiety, which was counter productive anyway! I just can’t get my head around people who actively seek to stress out others.

So, what can we do?

Awareness is such an important factor; the conversations we have about mental health are helping to educate people about mental health and the importance of understanding it, and, whilst we still have a long way to go, people are becoming more open about their mental health. Also, such a simple one, BE KIND! You never know how your actions will affect someone else, so if you can avoid being that negative or malicious person that causes undue stress to someone else, do!

 

 

 

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Mental Health and the Workplace

The issue of mental health and the workplace is one of the main areas with a stigma attached; it’s at work that people are often afraid to come out with their struggles and feel comfortable enough to be honest.

My first long-term job was at Boots where I worked during some of the hardest periods for my mental health and I can honestly say that they were fantastic. I had no choice but to be open about what I was going through and I found that they were so supportive. So I never really understood the whole thing about the “stigma”. But then I got my, what I thought was, dream job at Waterstones. From my past  experience at Boots with being open, I expected the same from my new job! How wrong I was. I finally understood why people are afraid  honest about their mental health.
This. Is. Wrong.

People should not feel ashamed about their mental health. We don’t feel ashamed about our physical health, so why should this be any different?! People can’t help it, so why should they be victimised for it?
What do you think? Has being honest about your mental health caused problems at work? 

MY BOX-SHAPED HEART – Rachael Lucas

4/5

A fab contemporary with a refreshing focus on dysfunctional families

I’d seen a lot of excitement for this book brewing over on Twitter so when I saw it go up on NetGalley I just knew I had to try My Box-Shaped Heart. I love YA contemporary books, especially UKYA, so this is right up my street. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint and was a book that I looked forward to picking up every time I had a spare 5 minutes.

One thing that I really liked about this book is how the main characters all come from dysfunctional families that aren’t the “norm”. Coming from a single-parent family, I could really relate to Holly and what she was going through at home with her mum, which I so rarely find in YA. I also liked how one situation that comes up in the book is handled very sensitively, and for me I didn’t find it triggering, which, again, is different to a lot of YA books.

I really enjoyed reading My Box-Shaped Heart and felt that the only thing that let it down was that it felt a bit lacking somehow towards the end; it just needed that little something to make it stand out more. That said, I would still thoroughly recommend this book – it was a nice light read, perfect for the summer or if you’re looking for a quick read that’s easy to get into!


Thank you to Macmillan via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

 

 

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE – Isabel Sánchez Vegara

3/5

A bright and colourful addition to the Little People, Big Dreams series.

The people behind the Little People, Big Dreams series are really on fire this year; we’re being spoilt! Here is another addition to the series, focusing on the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Like some of the people in this series, I hadn’t heard of her before so it was very interesting to learn about her and see why she’s such an important person.

Whilst these aren’t my favourite illustrations in the series, I can see how children will love them for their brightness and for how they jump off the page. This story was a lovely one all about seeing the beauty in the little things and was a very heartwarming book.


Thank you to Frances Lincoln via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

HARRIET TUBMAN – Isabel Sánchez Vegara

3/5

Full of bold imagery, Harriet Tuban is among the latest titles in the gorgeous Little People, Big Dreams series.

I love the Little People, Big Dreams series so I am so glad that I get to read the latest additions to the series on NetGalley! First up of the new titles coming out in June is Harriet Tubman which I found really interesting! I’ve never heard of Harriet Tubman, who was an influential woman in America in the early twentieth century.

I liked the illustrations in this book, which I think children will find engaging as they’re very bright and colourful. The only thing I would say is that it’s probably aimed at slightly older children due to the nature of the book at times, although it’s an important topic.

Harriet Tubman is a must for any collector or lover of this series!


Thank you to Frances Lincoln via NetGalley for the eBook of this title!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Meds…good or bad?

So I got thinking earlier after @jenniely posted on Twitter about medication being used to treat mental health. This is something I discuss quite a lot, plus my job as a dispenser involves a lot of medication!

I take two different medications for my conditions that I discussed in a previous post for this week – one is an anti-anxiety/antidepressant and the other is technically an anti-psychotic which makes it sound worse than it is! Basically, the two together help to keep my moods on an even level; one brings me up and the other stops me from going high. I’ve been on various antidepressants for 5 and a half years, and I honestly don’t know how I’d cope without them, and anti-psychotics for a year. The two together, although they make me a bit drowsier sometimes, work really well!

So, as you can probably tell, I’m very much in favour of medication being used in mental health conditions. I don’t understand why there’s such a stigma; if you had a broken leg, no one would bat an eyelid at you wearing a cast, so why should antidepressants etc be any different?! In the interests of fairness though, I shall put across both the positives and the drawbacks.

Positive effects:

  • you don’t feel as depressed or anxious or high or out of control
  • they help to “normalise” your moods and get you back to feeling like yourself
  • they help you to go about your daily life without having some sort of breakdown every five minutes

Negative effects:

  • you can get stuck in a cycle of dependency
  • they can stop working so you end up upping the dose, meaning it’s harder to come off them
  • It can take a while to find the right medication, and some medications can make things worse

What do you think about the use of medication in treating mental health disorders? Have you got experience of them working or not working?

WWW Wednesday: 16th May 2018

Hello! I’ve had a day off today which I spent at Cadbury World and Astley Book Farm which was lovely, and I’m writing this post as I get ready to go to the RSC to see Macbeth – get me being all cultured!

my box-shaped heart

What are you currently reading? 

Slightly cheating with the picture here because I literally just finished this one today – but it deserves a shoutout. I really enjoyed My Box-Shaped Heart by Rachael Lucas and can’t wait to get it reviewed either tonight or tomorrow when it comes out!

no sad songs

What did you recently finish reading?

Review is coming for this next month when I’m part of the blog tour (!) but I finished No Sad Songs this week and I am definitely going to be giving it a good review; I loved it!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I have a few Little People Big Dreams books to read on NetGalley, then I shall probably start either the new Secret Seven book or Tradition by Brendan Kiely.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Book Recommendations

So, this is after all a book blog and so I would like to spend some time recommending my favourite books that deal sensitively and effectively with mental health. If you want to almost guarantee that I pick up a book, just add that it’s got something about mental health – I’m sold! Here are some of my favourites:

The Goldfish Boy – Lisa Thompson
OCD

You can’t really get away from how much I love this book if you follow me on social media! The Goldfish Boy is a middle grade mystery where the main character Matthew has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and it’s honestly the best portrayal of OCD that I’ve ever come across. Obviously OCD affects people differently, but for me this book was perfect as mine manifests in the same way as Matthew’s. What surprised me most is that it’s not an own-voices book; Lisa has done such an incredible job of writing about OCD.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
Anxiety

For people with anxiety, this book is perfect to show you that you’re not alone; it’s an illness that can strike anyone, can be totally out of the blue, but it is something that you can survive and it’s okay to have bad days; “Little victories are everything.” There are wonderful people out there who will help you and support you.

Girl in Pieces – Kathleen Glasgow
Depression/Self Harm

Girl in Pieces is filled with such raw emotion, but not to the extent that it is an uncomfortable or triggering read, and, although this is an extreme case of depression/self-harm, it’s one that sheds a very realistic light on the issue. For people who have experienced this, the book is inspiring and easy to relate to, but equally it’s enlightening for people who do not know much about the mentality behind self harm and suicide.This book shows how you can hit rock bottom but it IS possible to carry on and survive despite all the stuff that life can throw at you.

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
Depression/Suicide

This book is controversial, but I’m firmly in the camp of people who LOVE it. Whilst I do appreciate the flaws that people mention, for me the book is more about how the things people say and do can impact so much on others rather than about the suicide and morals of the tapes. It’s about knowing how the little things we do can have a massive effect on other people; you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life.

See You In The Cosmos – Jack Cheng
Schizophrenia

The first book I’ve come across that deals with schizophrenia, this is one that’s completely unputdownable! Whilst the subject of mental health isn’t the main focus of the book, we see the effect that someone’s mental health can have on those around us.

All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
Bipolar

All I will say is have a box of tissues handy if you’re planning to read this one! One of my favourite ever books, All The Bright Places totally deserves all the hype surrounding it although it will break your heart. Whilst coming across as a book about suicide, it focuses on the effects of bipolar disorder.

I Was Born For This – Alice Oseman
Anxiety

This one subtly tackles the topic of anxiety and of how utterly terrifying a panic attack can be; whilst mental health isn’t at the forefront of the book, it’s definitely an underlying theme.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall
Anxiety

A beautiful own-voices novel, Under Rose-Tainted Skies has such a fantastic representation of anxiety and agoraphobia. It shows just how debilitating living with anxiety can be and how it’s not simply a case of being a bit of a worrier.

Worries Go Away – Kes Gray
Anxiety

One of my absolute favourite picture books, the story is simple enough that for younger children it helps them to open up about things that are worrying them, but it’s also so good and meaningful that older children and adults who suffer from worries or anxiety can relate to the little girl and the feelings she’s experiencing and learn how to cope from this book too.

We Are Young – Cat Clarke
Depression/Suicide

We Are Young touches upon the devastating effects that depression and bipolar can have. Cat Clarke writes about mental health issues perfectly, and We Are Young is no exception.

The Red Tree – Shaun Tan

Depression

This stunning picture book is another of my favourites; I love the illustrations and it’s such a beautifully depicted story of depression which shows the ups and downs.