Before I begin this, I want to massively thank Ruzi and Veronika for featuring me in this blog today as I am more than grateful to write for you all. This is a privilege!
If you have known me from my blog (Jillian’s Books) or my second blog in which I co-blog in (Chasing Faerytales), I am very sensitive to the portrayal of mental illnesses in YA novels today. I might have discussed about this personal issue previously in my two blogs, but growing up, I was anxious and miserable. When I think about those years when I was sad, I realized that my problems were created by myself. I was overthinking problems that weren’t even problems in the first place. I relied on books, of course, and they’ve helped a lot. Although I am feeling much better about myself than before, I still do feel sad at some points of my life. And I still do worry a lot. It’s exhausting to feel like this sometimes, but I am slowly starting to feel comfortable – thanks to the books I’ve read and my family members who are always there. They played a huge role.
Before I joined the book blogging community, I had no idea about YA’s portrayal of mental illnesses. Most of the books I’d read before were usually happy books, such as teen love, fantasy, and happily ever afters, because they were what made me feel happy and contented, despite my situation. It was honestly only this year did I discover more and more books that gave an insight on how people dealing with these kinds of problems felt. It was this year did I start to read these kinds of books, and understand its characters whom I felt I could connect to so well.
I’ve read a few books over the past few days that tackle this issue. And it made me ponder: How does this really make me feel? And how do other people feel about it as well?
So here, I put before you a few choices. How DOES it make you feel when YA books today decide to write about a sensitive topic?
a) It gives me hope and inspiration that I am not alone.
b) It makes me feel informed on how people feel today.
c) It makes me uncomfortable.
d) All of the above.
In my case, I am choosing D.
- I feel hopeful. I can’t be alone.They say literature has a relational aspect that gives it so much power to connect to us readers, and it’s true. I love reading books with characters who undergo mental illness – especially anxiety – because I feel like I’m not the only one who feels the same way. I feel I could relate to literary characters who worry a lot like I do. Those characters whose anxious thoughts circulate the conscience again, and again, and again until it becomes emotionally exhausting.
And yes, I know how that feels. And no, I am definitely not alone.
- I know now, therefore I can help now.I think YA books that portray this can help educate other people who have no idea how it feels to suffer mental illnesses. When people are depressed, anxious, or schizophrenic, a part of their conscience pushes them to do what others might find “crazy.” Because I’ve read books that tackle this issue, I learned that people who suffer these are definitely not crazy. They are still people, too, and all they need is a sense of love and belonging. They need support. I like how YA books can teach readers to help out those who feel worthless, instead of calling them out as “crazy,” and all I’m ever really hoping is for it have a larger impact to those who feel as if they are worthless.
- Yes, it’s quite a sensitive topic. And at some point, I am uncomfortable.It’s the truth. When I read books that portray mental illnesses, I am shown dark insights and suicidal thoughts of characters who suffer those sicknesses. And it affects me deeply because I remember those days when I was miserable; I would often lock myself in my room and write morbid poetry about how miserable my life was. I hated that feeling. And I also hate reading about characters who HAVE the same feeling. In some way, these books make me feel a little bit tense when I read about it. But in truth, I don’t avoid them. Even if it does, it still clearly helps me still.
So far, the book that impacted me the most was Thirteen Reasons Why, which I read one year ago. It is one of those books that deal with suicide among its characters, and I believe this is a great eye-opener on how people feel in terms of suicide. I also have a copy of All The Bright Places and have yet to read it, but I’ve been warned of its sad ending and its strong aspects on suicide as well. Basically, these books all play a huge role on this strong issue, and I do hope that they impact you (and perhaps those who might be interested in them) as well.
(And because it’s nearly Christmas, why not gift them to a friend or family member whom you think deserves to read them?)
I want to thank Ruzi and Veronika for allowing me to guest post at their blog! Thank you so much!
What do YOU feel about YA novels portraying mental illnesses?