Posted in Discussion, Mental Health, Rambling with Em, Topical Issues.

Time to Talk Day 2017


This post originally appeared on my other blog waterfall thoughts.

Ways you can participate

  • Give someone you haven’t spoken to in a while a call / text. Sometimes people just need to know you’re there
  • Ask someone how their day was. Something as simple as this could make such a huge difference to someone’s day.
  • Perform a random act of kindness. Buy some chocolates to share with your friends / work colleagues, keep an eye out for ways you could lend a hand to the people around you
  • Share mental health stories on your social media, just liking and sharing posts and videos on your facebook / twitter can spread the word, you might share the very thing someone needed to see
  • If you suffer with a mental health issue, tell your truth. You never know who might be grateful to hear your words. (Websites like The Mighty allow you to become s contributor and share your stories with the community) Or start a blog, write a honest facebook post, or just text a trusted friend and tell them how you’re feeling. You never know who might have needed to hear what you have to say.
  • Bookish Special! -Use today to talk about your favourite books that feature mental health issues! Recommendations, reviews, tweet share post! 

What are you doing for Time To Talk day 2017?

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Posted in Discussion, Mental Health, Posts/Features, Rambling with Em, Topical Issues., Uncategorized

The importance of Mental Health in YA fiction 


I haven’t posted in a while, that’s true. And my previous posts have been squealy fangirling book reviews.

I don’t want to stop my joyful rambling about books and I won’t. But there are other things I need and want to talk about.

1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that is around three children in every class (1).

Between 1 in every 12 and 1 in 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm (2).

There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68% (3).

More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time (4).

A lot of us here in the blogosphere call for more diversity in YA fiction, tired of the unnaturally beautiful white girl who has everything together. And we have come so far. In my time I’m seen huge twitter conversations and hundreds of blog posts from bloggers and authors alike saying what they want to see and what changes they’re going to make. And we’re getting there, slowly but surely we as readers are starting to see our own selves, messy and imperfect, refelected back at us from the books we are reading.

But why is it important to talk about mental health?

Because mental health issues so often begin in childhood and when we are young adults. Because we need to remove the stigma and the fear surrounding mental health, so that those young people aren’t afraid to speak out about their problems.

We need to educate the ignorant. To teach people, young or old, that anyone can face a mental health crisis, at any age. To show people, through stories, that it’s not just ‘a phase’ or puberty, that depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis and all the rest do not discriminate.

Young people in a survey conducted by time to change reported stigma coming from those around them: 70% had had negative reactions from friends, over half (57%) from parents and 45% from boyfriends and girlfriends.

The professionals that young people come into contact with were also reported as a source of stigma and discrimination: 40% said that they had experienced negative reactions from teachers and 47% from doctors and other medical professionals.

Our attitudes and beliefs are largely formed when we are young and are influenced by a ton of factors; what we are taught in school, by family members and books we read to name a few. That’s not to say we can’t change our beliefs as we grow, because we constantly do. However if the kids in your class make jokes about ‘crazy’ people or the news you see blames atrocities on a persons mental health and you never see positive portrayals of ordinary people with mental health issues then how are you supposed to understand what you or someone else is going through and to react in a healthy, positive way?

It’s important to represent real people in literature.

…and in all media. Showing that women can be powerful and strong; that men can show their emotions without being ‘weak’ and that people with mental health problems are just ordinary people who need our compassion not our ignorance. (I could go on…)

Seeing ourselves and honest representations in the media help people feel accepted and give them back that sense of I’m normal. This gives them back much needed confidence to open conversations and seek help.

I asked some friends why they think it’s important and this is what they said;

Characters can sometimesi be more relatable than real humans, I think its a starting point for the discussion for mental health –Hannah

“I just think it’s another good way to get people talking about mental health. To have realistic representations in creative works helps to de-stigmatise mental illnesses. Also, for me, it was a way of feeling like I wasn’t alone – Girl, Interrupted, although a memoir, was a very powerful read for me, it was upsetting for me as I’d been diagnosed with BPD, but it resonated with me deeply.” –Sophie

I think it’s important if done in a way that isn’t likely to add to the stigma. I’ve just read the gift and sisters both by louise jenson. In both books the characters suffer from anxiety, and it often describes their panic attacks. To me (as a severe sufferer) this is a good thing, as it might help people understand what happens to someone having an attack.

However I also think mental health in books can be bad, as it’s often used as a reason why a character is the way they are, in a bad way. In that case I think it adds to the stigma that anyone who suffers from mental illness are a crazed axe welding maniac. I understand it’s all to make a good story and it won’t necessarily be at the forefront of a readers mind, but I can’t help thinking that it might put that thought about mental illness into someone’s sub conscious. –Laura Caunce 

What books are already out there?

Buzzfeed did a post on the 29 Best YA Books About Mental Health

I’m going to make it my mission to pay abit more attention to wether books are portraying mental health issues and if they are, are they doing it well? 

Let me know your thoughts and please do throw any recommendations my way (good or bad examples!) xxx

Posted in Discussion, Rambling with Em

Rambling with Em: #HaleNo

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So if you’ve been on Twitter you’ll have most likely seen the #HaleNo hashtag. and already know what it’s all about. If not, I’ll briefly go over what happened.

So there’s and author, Kathleen Hale, and a few bloggers have read her book pre-release. (all normal so far) Some bloggers loved it, some hated it. (as that is how it works) Some negative reviews were posted. One in particular caught KH’s attention and despite knowing she shouldn’t read and interact with negative reviews (good advice for all authors, don’t go there) she decided to. She then went on to stalk the reviewers social networks, research her to the level of obsession on the internet and then get her address under false pretences and WENT TO HER HOUSE, also rang her at work twice! She then published a personal essay all about her stalking in the guardian. (Link here)

Bloggers and reviewers everywhere are appalled and so started the hashtag #HaleNo to show that this is not okay.

You have to understand from the authors point of view and maybe even feel abit sorry for her, I know I did at first. She’s poured her heart and soul into her book and seeing people critique it has got to be painful.
But, that’s where my sympathy ends.

Every book will get negative reviews, every book. And as an author you have to know this. You either have to be strong enough to let them go over your head or just avoid reading them. I mean come on, some people don’t like the Harry Potter books! That’s just life!
Also, remember that when a reviewer dislikes your book (however strongly) it is still your book they’re critiquing, not you. It’s not bullying to say you hated a book, even if you… swear! (oh no dear god no swearing). GASP.

Swearing just helps get your point across, whether I’m saying “this book was fucking awful” or “OMG I FUCKING LOVED THIS BOOK”.
The swearing example really helps show how book reviewing works. You want passionate reviews? Well you have to take the good with the bad. That’s just how it is.

As for responding to bad reviews… The best advice? Don’t. Just don’t do it.
But say you have to, you just have to, or you shall explode, just comment. ONE comment, ‘sorry you didn’t enjoy the book’ maybe ask what they think you could’ve changed to improve it. But the key with this is not to reply again. Just read it and move on, this stops you from getting into an argument. If you’re an author then you must always be professional, writing is your job.

Now, from the reviewers side, they did nothing wrong. Blogging is a hobby, not a job. We are not professional reviewers, we are just people sharing our opinions and passions with eachother. We are readers, the book was written for us and we are allowed to share our opinions (good or bad). We are also entitled to continue our hobby without fear. The reviewer that KH stalked has withdrawn from blogging as she is scared. She posted a negative review, as is her right, and the author turned up at her house and called her at work accusing her of being a catfish. She isn’t a catfish. She uses a pseudonym as many bloggers do.

A catfish is a person who adopts a fictional persona with the intent to lure someone into a relationship of some sort. The reviewer was under no obligation to use her real name. She could be a 50 year old crazy cat lady pretending to be Dan the 15 year old teen fiction addict. She wasn’t hurting anyone just reviewing books with her own opinion under a different name.
What KH did when she rang the reviewers work place pretending to be someone she wasn’t in order to trick info out of her was catfishing. And the way she lied to get ahold of her address was unacceptable, as was actually going to her address. This is stalking and will never be okay no matter how you try to justify it. KH wasn’t a victim of online bullying who tried to unmask her catfish. She is an author who reacted badly to a negative review and made a reviewer feel unsafe doing something they love.

The fact that the guardian published this confession of stalking in shocking especially publishing the reviewers name.

Alot of bloggers and goodreads members have black-listed her, they wont read or review her book or promote her in any way. I think this is an understandable reaction.
Now, I won’t be reading KH’s book. The main reason is because KH hasn’t even apologised or shown any real remorse for her mistake. She has tried to justify her actions and call anyone who disagrees a bully. So I wont be reading her book as a way of me expressing that it’s not acceptable. The book-blogging community wont just roll over and let her get away with it.

Had she done this in a ‘moment of madness’ and immediately apologised and seemed genuinely sorry, I honestly believe my opinion on whether or not to black-list her may have been different.

I wont be black-listing the authors who stood up for her because they’re entitled to their opinion as much as I am to mine. And I am not writing this post to convince you to black-list her or to insult KH in anyway. I’m just explaining and voicing my opinion on a situations that has massively affected bloggers everywhere.

The blogosphere and review communities like goodreads are friendly and loving communities. We come together when awful things like this happen and we really do want to have (and do have in many many cases) good relationships with authors. Share love, be honest and be passionate. Always. Love you guys.

Join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #HaleNo or show your love for authors and bloggers alike with #AuthorYes or #authorbloggerlove

Extra:

(I particular enjoyed this articles written by Alex Hurst — check it out here)

Posted in Discussion, Rambling with Em

Rambling with Em: Confessions of a Self-Conscious Blogger

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I was over at the lovely blog of The Perpetual Page-Turner and I came across a post about how she sometimes gets self conscious, and I thought this is so me. So I thought I’d share my own experiences of how I get self-conscious sometimes a hell of a lot of the time when I’m blogging.

I’m sure it’s something we all experience from time to time. From those new bloggers planning their first post to those who’ve been blogging for years and have a seemingly endless supply of followers who share their love with reams of comments and supportive loveliness.

I’m a quite self-conscious person anyway. I overthink everything and am way too negative about myself.  I have to press send on every text really fast so I don’t have time to second guess myself and convince myself that no one actually cares. With everyone but my closest friends (and even with them sometimes) I have to think about everything I say and most of the time just stay quiet incase everyone thinks what I say is stupid. I mean logically I know I shouldn’t care and that if people don’t like me for who I am then they don’t really matter but I cant help it. I’m only recently getting over this and having confidence in my self and my abilities. Blogging has been a big part of that and every comment and follow is like a big virtual ‘you can do it’ hug.
virtual-hug
With blogging it’s the same sort of thing. That voice in your head that tell you you’re not good enough. Every time I plan a post or write a review I’m thinking does anyone even care about my ramblings and opinions? I feel as though I’m talking to no one and even when my views and whatnot go up I feel like it was someone clicking by mistake.
When I first stared blogging I thought it was all about views and followers; that you weren’t a real blogger if you didn’t have hundreds of people stopping by your blog and commenting and following. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t blog for the followers, I blogged because I love it and I want to share my passion for books with others who share that passion. However it still made me feel inadequate looking at the bigger blogs with 50 or so comments on every post.

This self-consciousness even stretches over to my twitter. Sometimes I want to share one of my posts with my twitter followers but half my mind is telling me nobody will care and the other half says people will resent me for self-promoting or spamming.
It makes me sad that it’s not just me that feels like this. Many bloggers, old and new have this anti-blogger in their head. This inner blogger is the negatives, it’s the one with the rules of sharing your own work and rules about how to write your reviews. It’s sad because that’s not what the blogging community is.
The blogging community is made up of lovely friendly people who support eachother and share their passions with eachother.
Everyone writes their reviews differently, some are fangirly excitedness and outraged ramblings, some are critical and analytic, some concentrate on the negatives and some are positive reviewers. That’s why blogging works, everyone has their own voice and there’s something for everyone. Not everyone will love your blog but some people will. It only takes one comment to make a bloggers day.


So my bloggy friends, what’s the moral of this ramble?

Everyone feels self conscious sometimes. That voice in your head is wrong. Your opinion is just as valid as everyone else’s, whether you have 5 followers or 500. Be yourself and write in your own voice, don’t try to be something you’re not. Try not to pay too much attention to stats, remember why you started blogging in the first place. Appreciate every comment, every follow, every tweet. And share the love! If you love a blog, tell them! Share their posts as well as your own. Make friends, get involved and remember blogging is a hobby so enjoy it!

x x