Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Bookish Discussion with Zoey

Today I've got loveliest Zoey from Uncreatively Zoey on the blog for Shattering Stigmas. So please give her a warm welcome!!

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I’m not sure, but I’d guess that for this event, Holly and others will have plenty of recommendations for books that deal with mental illness. (Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes, FYI, is a great one in my opinion. It has such a positive portrayal of therapy and healing and how it’s okay to get help no matter WHAT your situation is. And I believe I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios deals with PTSD and I loved that book to pieces.) But see, the thing for me? I avoid a lot of books that deal heavily with mental illness. And sometimes, I feel guilty—like if I say it out loud people will think I’m a horrible person who’s being ableist or something of the like.

While I still don’t advertise it, I’ve come to accept it and stop feeling guilty. Part of the beauty of having such a huge amount of books available to you? You get to choose what you read. Sure, TBRs might be overwhelming, but there’s still choice involved, and it’s okay for me to choose things that I know I will enjoy rather than books that will make me miserable.

And that’s basically the point of this whole post: a lot of books rooted in mental illness just put me in a headspace that makes me feel awful. It’s why I haven’t read books like All the Bright Places or Wintergirls, it’s why I didn’t particularly enjoy The Last Time We Say Goodbye. I absolutely believe that mental illness needs to be portrayed in YA in all forms, as I’m sure most of you do. But I can’t read a book about suicide and not fall into a dark hole during and afterwards. I can’t read a book about a girl who only sees numbers on the scales and not start reverting to that behavior myself.

I’ve never been suicidal. I do struggle with anxiety and depression and at certain times have struggled with my eating. And to stay healthy—or at least try to—I need to avoid those books. I cried for a LONG time after reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye. I just felt pretty awful in general, and that took away from all the beauty and the good things in the book. So while I can understand that I may be missing out on the positive messages of hope and recovery that a lot of these books might portray, I know that it’s safer for me not to read them.

It’s great because I think most of my emotional response to those topics really speaks to the author’s writing—they’re clearly doing their job, if I’m able to connect to the characters that well. And it brings me so much joy to see the way people love these books, the way that they’re able to connect too and to find the beauty. Maybe I’m just not at that stage yet, maybe you think I’m unhealthily avoiding things? Who knows. I would never devalue the importance of mental illness in YA, and more importantly the depiction of seeking help and realizing that you’re not alone. 

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Thanks for sharing, Zoey! I think it is absolutely okay to not read books for any reason. Showing mental illness in books is very important, but so are you and your mental health. And I think we've all, at one time or another, or do still now, had subjects we don't read about for a reason. I can definitely relate to this. :)

 And y'all don't forget to enter the event-wide giveaway and be sure to check out Inge'sShannon'sTopaz's, and Erica's blogs for more Shattering Stigmas posts! :)