Hey guys. My name is Louise Gornall, and I’m the author of Under Rose-Tainted Skies, a YA contemporary featuring a girl battling with OCD and Agoraphobia. Ayah asked me over today to share with you my top 5 ways to tell people you have a mental illness. This is a tricky one. See, we’re all so different. In 10+ years of suffering with my own mental health, I’ve yet to find two cases that are the same. That’s to say, these top 5 aren't set in stone. They aren't gospel, but rather snippets of advice, because only you know how best to handle this.
1) This is a big battle. Please consider trying not to fight it alone. A huge ask, I know. And it’s scary to put yourself out there, with all your vulnerabilities on show. I compare it to being naked in public. There is no real way around this feeling. It just is. Which sucks, but you can lessen the blow. Talk to doctors, medical professionals, people you’re not striving for acceptance from or emotionally tied to, first. These people aren't going to judge you. They see mental health, more than a badly behaved mind would ever allow you to believe. Eventually, these people will help you to get to a point where you feel confident enough to confide in a parent, a guardian, or a friend.
2) You’re not alone. As isolated as you feel, there are people out there who know what you’re going through and want to help. Mental illness is a master at making you feel alone. This isn't true. There are communities all over the Internet, people waiting on the end of phone lines to tell you why this battle is worth fighting. Get in touch with them. There is a sort of strength that comes from community. You need someone in your corner who knows what it feels like to fall, but doesn't hesitate to pick you back up, dust off your knees without question, and tells you it’s okay.
3) You are not as crazy as you imagine. I used to think that I couldn't tell anyone about the really weird things my brain made me believe. In the book, Norah talks about black bits in her food and how they affect her eating. This came straight from my own quirky archives. I honestly thought this was one of the most pathetic fears in the world. It got so bad I would rather starve than eat something with flecks of black in it. I lost weight, lost my period, lost perspective, but when I finally found the strength to tell my therapist, she told me she’d seen this fear before.
4) This is a process. Unfortunately, telling someone about your mental health isn't going to make you better overnight. I know. I wish it did too. But it’s okay. If Lord of the Rings taught us anything, it’s that battles are long, but long doesn't equal lost. Your brain has learnt behaviours, has programmed itself to react a certain way when a certain situation arises. Think of tying your shoelaces. Now consider trying to unlearn that. The trick here is to manage your thought process. Reprogramme it to find a better way of thinking. It’s not easy, and it takes time, but it will be worth it.
5) You will most likely lose people along the way. This was the hardest lesson I learnt, and it took me the longest time to make peace with. Some people are just not equipped to deal with all the things that you’ve got going on. That’s their problem, their character flaw. Not yours. Now, I’m not going to tell you to cut people loose, but I am going to tell you that trying to make people understand and accept you is a waste of your time and an unnecessary blow to your already strained emotions. You are more than your mental health, and if people can't see that, they’re not worth your time or your effort. Those who love you know who you are, and they want to help with, not hinder, your recovery.
About the Author:
My name is Louise, and I write YA books. Sometimes contemp, sometimes horror, sometimes thriller. My debut YA contemp, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, will be published by HMH/Clarion (US), and Chicken House/Scholastic (UK) in the fall 2016/17.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is about this chick, Norah, who suffers from agoraphobia, OCD and depression. Her life is one long blur of cheese sandwiches and trash tv, until she meets the new boy next door, Luke, and he starts to challenge her way of thinking.
I’m represented by the amazing Mandy Hubbard of Emerald City Literary.