One thing that really bothers me about my poor mental health is that I can’t focus on anything for more than five minutes. The only reason I can write is that blogs are short and don’t require me to concentrate for long. The worst thing about not being able to focus is I can’t read. I love reading. When I was a child I used to have three books on the go at once but at the moment I struggle to read more than a couple of pages at a time.
One day about a month ago I was watching a documentary about JK Rowling. She said something about children’s books of dealing with more substantial issues than adult novels. Things like life and death, why we are here etc. This made me think I should try some teenage fiction if I wanted to get back into reading. I needed to read something that I identified with. Something that might do what books did for me as a child and gives me a sense of belonging and understanding.
I had a few vouchers so I headed to Waterstones and started browsing through the books. At that point a confident young girl approached me and asked me if I had any recommendations for her. She said she felt like she had read so many good books and she didn’t know what to look at next. I was a bit stumped as it’s a while since I’d looked in the teenage section and I didn’t know if she’d want to read adult novels. Before I could answer she raced over to a shelf behind me and handed me All the Bright Places saying it was the best book she had ever read and I absolutely had to read it.
I spent all yesterday finishing that book. It was wonderful and dealt with all the stuff I deal with on a daily basis now illness is a regular part of my life. One of the characters is dealing with a sense of not knowing how to live and engage with the world after a bereavement and the other is fighting to get as much out of life as possible before the depression that has consumed his life before comes back. I know both of those roles so well and it comforted me that I wasn’t alone in those situations, not only because the characters were going through it but because the girl who recommended the book to me so strongly had obviously felt that way as well. It was just what I needed.
Thank you to the girl in Waterstones who was brave enough to speak to me. You don’t know quite how much you helped me. There is kindness in the actions of strangers.