Book Club Review: Am I Normal Yet?
Digital team's blog
We have recently started a Rethink Mental Illness book club, where we bring together authors, people with lived experience, bloggers and staff to discuss a book focused on mental illness.
Holly Bourne, author of The Normal Series, hosts our club along with the author of each book. In our first club we reviewed Holly's book, Am I Normal Yet? and next we will be reviewing Panther with David Owen, the author, joining us!
Barry is one of our book club members with lived experience of OCD, and below he talks about his experience.
A whole messy blend of feelings arose upon my invite to Rethink book club. Pleased, excited, honoured to be invited in fact. Also worried, a little reluctant. Attending meant reading a book about OCD. I’m a big fiction reader, but I was nervously unsure how I would take to this book. Whether currently experiencing symptoms or feeling well, my experience of OCD has often influenced an avoidance of engaging with the subject. I can be fearful that too much looking the beast in the eye, letting it out of my head and prowl round the room can give it strength.
However, I was keen to get involved. Over the past year I have adopted a new, candid approach to my mental health. Rather than hide, I have opened up about it. Through active engagement in support groups, communities, speaking out about my condition I have nurtured a renewed sense of hope. I was excited and pleased about being invited for good reason – I really wanted to go.
Step one – reading the book – was not as anxiety-inducing as I’d feared. It was uplifting. The main characters’ experience of OCD was very well handled and her journey difficult but hopeful – as was the resonance I felt with her thoughts and feelings. Could it be that the book club itself would deliver the same resonance and hope?
I arrived still feeling nervous. Would I fit in at a club discussing a YA novel? Would I be able to express how I felt about the book and myself well, or look and sound weird? Would different opinions about OCD be aired that would make me anxious, trigger obsessive worries?
The welcome and friendly, caring engagement by Holly (the author) and the Rethink staff was fantastic. They were so genuinely pleased to have me there. I became comfortable very quickly, feeling I belonged amongst them and the other attendees, who would, of course, have been sharing similar anxieties beforehand.
Much like the book itself, the discussion was uplifting. Even when asked to explain something I’d said, I managed, and felt supportive understanding from the group. To be sharing such emotional matters, which alone, are so difficult, in this friendly, social, supportive group, really energised us all, I felt. It ended too soon, and I was so glad to be involved. It was best thing I’ve done for a while. Can’t wait for the next one.
Want to hear more of Barry's blogs? Follow his blog here.
You can also keep updated with him on Twitter.
If you would like to come to the next book club on december 15th or the one after, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org