WORRIES GO AWAY – Kes Gray, Lee Wildish


Without a shadow of a doubt, the best picture book for children (and grown ups!) that deals with worries and anxiety.

Worries Go Away is a beautifully illustrated story that’s accessible with rhymes and imagery (in typical Kes Gray style, it’s fun to read!), that shows the progression of worrying from that little nagging thought at the back of your mind to the full blown worry and feeling of being unable to escape those thoughts, but then how just by sharing your worries or feelings with others you can deal with those worries. 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.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and have read my copy so many times! It’s a very special book to me; often I feel like I am the little girl and so having Kes Gray sign it with a beautiful message for me really means so much!

Unfortunately, not enough people have heard of this book, and as a bookseller I would throw it into so many people’s hands. Now, as a blogger, I want to figuratively do that so more people go out there and pick it up!

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? 

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: My Mental Health and Social Media

So, it’s time for something a little bit different on here; it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This is something that’s very close to my heart as mental health has impacted my whole life, both from growing up with people who have mental health difficulties and from my own struggles. I have OCD, Depression, Anxiety, Cyclothymia (a type of Bipolar Disorder) and have had disordered eating for over 10 years. I’ve had a couple of mental breakdowns and have battled with self harm. My mental health has fluctuated so much over the years, particularly since I was 18 which is when I first got my diagnosis, initially for OCD. Over those years, I’ve seen so much change in social media and the way that we use it and it impacts upon our lives, and I’d definitely say that it’s impacted upon my mental health.

I really got thinking about this post thanks to Ashleigh on Twitter posting a call for bloggers to write a bit about how social media, such as Instagram, impacts upon mental health through promoting the idea of the “perfect” body or persona. It’s something that I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years that I’ve been active on social media, and increasingly so since I’ve become more aware of mental health problems.

Social media is amazing; it brings like-minded people together, adds a whole new dimension to your passions and hobbies, and can open up so many opportunities. It can also benefit people with mental health issues as they can find people with similar experiences and get a sense of belonging.

However, the opposite is also true.

Mental health can be significantly impacted upon by social media, and it’s not always good. Speaking as someone with a nice collection of mental health conditions, social media can heighten obsessions, the feeling of not being good enough, comparing yourself to others, questioning your own mental health…the list goes on. Sites such as Instagram show the things that people want you to see, a snapshot of their life, which so often has been carefully crafted to reflect what they want you to, as opposed to the reality. I am a member of the bookish community, and whilst most people are so supportive and lovely, you can still feel like an outsider all the time and think you don’t fit in, that you’re not as good as other bloggers or bookstagrammers, you don’t have friends within the community, that your interactions are all one way. As social media continues to grow and be an important part of our lives, these anxieties and feelings are only increasing as the online world merges with reality.

So, how has social media affected my conditions?

It’s had both a positive and negative impact. For example, when I was really struggling with dark thoughts, Tumblr and Twitter would be my outlets where I could just get those feelings out. I figured that if I’d put out there that I was suicidal, it was taking that thought away from me. One thing I established when having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was that I put too much importance on the power of thoughts, a common trait amongst people with OCD and anxiety disorders, so this ability to take those thoughts away but show that they’re there and they’re real as such was very useful. On the other hand, I feel like an outsider so often on social media, and like I don’t fit in. I’m sure lots of people feel this way, but when you have a mental health condition those feelings are amplified tenfold and can have such a detrimental effect on your happiness. Why didn’t that person follow me back when they’re clearly a small account? Why don’t I get invited to blogger meet ups? Why didn’t they reply? It all seems so petty and small, but the thoughts of not being good enough can really take over.

Do you agree about the impact social media can have on your mental health? How can we tackle this growing problem?




A beautiful contemporary with a fantastic portrayal of anxiety and teen romance.

I wrote this review originally back in 2016 after I received my copy,  because, a week after reading it, I still couldn’t shut up about it; it was the best YA book I read in 2016 which was a pretty bold statement since I read so many AMAZING books that year, but for a book to have made such an impression it must be pretty special. Before its publication I was already recommending it to customers (I was a bookseller back then!) and over a year later I still recommend this book!

One thing I love is that prior to reading it, I just thought it was a quirky contemporary novel with a teen romance between a girl who is mute and a boy who is deaf. However, whilst that may be the case on the surface (and I’m not disputing how important those storylines are – they add more depth to the book and characterisation), it’s actually an incredible book about anxiety and the ups and downs of growing up and friendship. Back to the original impression of the book being about the love story between Rhys and Steffi, and that alone was an enchanting story. Selective mutism isn’t a thing that I’m new to reading about, but combining that with deafness (something that doesn’t come up often) actually worked brilliantly – Steffi and Rhys find other ways to communicate and express emotions and what they want to say. It was a brilliant way of showing how communication isn’t just about talking, but also about body language and emotion coming across in other ways.

I have never tabbed a book so much with memorable quotes and things that made me laugh and little facts about anxiety that I just want to put in people’s hands and say LOOK! 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.

Thank you to Macmillan for a proof copy of this title!



A simple yet effective look at sadness and depression for children.

We all feel sad sometimes and sometimes that can be overwhelming, but that’s okay!

Sometimes I Feel Sad is aimed at children from ages 5+ and provides a very useful first insight into expressing emotions that are more difficult to explain. Through the simple illustrations, we see how difficult sadness can be to deal with and how people can sometimes react differently to us opening up about this.

I think that this book is a valuable resource to have – children suffer with mental health issues too, and many children struggle to express their emotions. I work in a school and have read this to a child who really enjoyed the story and took away the message that they could talk to their teachers if they feel sad and that we will listen and be there for them.

Overall, I really enjoyed the simplicity of this title and found that the message is relevant whether you’re 5, 25 or 50. It’s the perfect book for people wanting to understand more about depression and sadness, and for people experiencing it.


Thank you to Jessica Kingsley Publishers via NetGalley for the eBook of this title. Sometimes I Feel Sad is publishing on March 21st 2018.

THE GOLDFISH BOY – Lisa Thompson

the goldfish boy5/5

RELEASED: 5/1/2017
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
GENRE: Middle Grade

A story about finding friendship when you’re lonely and hope when all you feel is fear.

Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by crippling OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their business.

That is, until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour’s toddler, Teddy, before he goes missing.

Now Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy’s disappearance – with a little help from a surprising and brilliant cast of supporting characters.

Full of heart and a genuine and honest confrontation of some of the ways in which life can be hard to handle, this is a story about the courage it takes to face your fears and learn to live with them. Page-turning and heart-breaking, but ultimately life-affirming, this story is perfect for fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Wonder.

It is a book that will make you think about everything there is to discover, just waiting beyond your front door.

This absolutely WONDERFUL book is jam-packed with beautiful things from Lisa Thompson’s writing style, to the characters and the story; I can’t find fault with it! It was touching, thought provoking and kept me hooked the whole way through. The balance between the mystery and mental health aspects was spot on, which makes it perfect for fans of, for example, Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine, but also for fans of Jacqueline Wilson and Ross Welford. It’s also an excellent choice for young adults and adults with an interest in mental health books. Basically, I can honestly say that I will be recommending this book to absolutely everyone I can – even when I worked in a bookshop that included fellow booksellers. As soon as I finished this book I just wanted to shove it into everyone’s hands and make them read it!

At its heart, it is a mystery story and one that keeps you hooked right the way through because you have no idea who the culprit is; you are seeing the world through Matthew’s eyes and so only know as much as he has observed/discovered and this is something that will keep you guessing right to the end! It’s one of those plots where, because it is a young boy who has gone missing, you have no idea quite how dark the book will end up being which was something that I found really enjoyable about it. As it is set within the restrictions of this one close, you get to know all of the characters and it is a story that is so easy to put yourself into, yet still full of twists and turns. I fell in love with so many of the characters – especially Melody and Old Nina! They all had their own little quirks and stories that really added to the main story.

In addition to being a well-written mystery, there is the element of Matthew’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – he is essentially trapped in his bedroom with a debilitating fear of germs and dirt and will go to extreme lengths to stay clean. This is the aspect of the story that particularly caught my attention; OCD is unfortunately a very misunderstood illness and I haven’t read many books that portray it particularly accurately. I was surprised to learn after reading The Goldfish Boy that Lisa ISN’T writing from personal experience because she does such an incredible job of showing OCD taking hold of a young person, the thought processes and obsessions behind it (it’s not always completely illogical!) and the extremes of the compulsions. I also loved that there wasn’t a magical cure by the end of the book, but there was a sense of positivity for the future – this  mystery has helped Matthew to begin to take the first steps to facing his fears of germs and dirt and I loved seeing him managing to forget about his troubles every so often. However, and this is another reason why I loved this book, this OCD storyline doesn’t detract from the main story being about the mystery and rather it adds another dimension to it.

“Don’t ever wait for a storm to pass. You’ve got to go out there and dance in the rain.”

This book was actually quite difficult for me to read at times; I suffer from the same form of OCD as Matthew. This is testament to how brilliantly Lisa has depicted the illness in that it literally felt like she’d taken thoughts straight out of my head and put them on paper! People do notice the frequent hand washing and use of hand gel, but it’s much harder to admit to scalding your hands just as part of a ritual to get them clean or washing them in bleach. You don’t even have to have touched anything to need to do this – just a thought can trigger the compulsions. I’m actually quite jealous of Matthew being able to wear gloves; it’s something that is often suggested to me to deal with touching things, but I can still feel where the germs and dirt are and there’s the potential that they could just get through the glove anyway. And then there’s the whole taking them off because that will involve some skin contact and so what’s the point?!

I did finish this book with a little cry – like Matthew  I want nothing more than to be able to go downstairs and just hug my mum without freaking out and to be able to leave the safety of my bedroom. I hope that we both manage to properly “re-join the living”one day.

“I think I’m going to be fine.”

Thank you very much to Scholastic for sending me a proof copy of this book, and to Lisa Thompson for putting up with me posting so much about it, and for being so kind and sending me the French and Spanish editions!