Number of pages: 326
Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1
Rating (out of five stars): 5
The thing I love the most about reading mental illness books while struggling with mental illness is I find there is always something there to relate to, even if it is simply the feeling of being trapped by mental illness. I have depression and un-diagnosed anxiety towards social situations (there is a reason I say it this way), but I still related to Norah, who has OCD and agoraphobia. Here’s the thing; mental illness sucks for all who have it, no matter how severe it is or whether it has been diagnosed or not. It’s like having a type of flu that no one can see. It’s like being trapped behind this fog in your mind. On a good day, you can escape the fog and mostly regain control, but often the fog with not let you fight through it no matter how hard you try, and you are forced to watch your mind and body be controlled by an invisible illness. You know that these fears, thoughts, and behaviours are irrational (well, my anxiety towards social situations steams from the copious amounts of bullying I received as a child, so some of it is semi-rational), but try as you might, you have no control over them. It sucks to be terrified to order food at a restaurant. It sucks to have people close to you ask you to ignore your mental illness for a second so you can do something for them, or to have them tell you how useless you are. If you don’t struggle with an invisible illness, read this book in order to learn how to act around those of us who do. If you do struggle with mental illness, read this and find a small part of Norah to relate to, and know you are not alone.
Like I said above, I related to Norah. I really appreciated seeing someone else who watches and listens to people as defense mechanism. I didn’t think anyone else did what I do. I listen to how people interact with their friends and peers in order to figure out if they are safe to talk to, which seems really invasive and rude, but my brain does it automatically and doesn’t remember specific conversations, only how I felt about the people involved. I’m also germophobic, so I related to that aspect of Norah’s OCD, though my germophobia is nowhere near as severe.
Speaking of healing, this book is helping me a lot already, and I finished it a couple of hours ago. I have tried going to therapy, but despite having dealt with four different therapists in my life, none of them have really ever helped (the latest one, who lasted one session, didn’t believe I was telling the truth). I have now decided that I need to lean on people in my life in order to recover, the only problem being that I currently have no one in my life to lean on (I only told my parents I thought I was mentally ill (I have been depressed at least since grade six (age 12)) and had my depression diagnosed last year). Most of my friends aren’t really my friends, and despite one of my parents also having depression, they aren’t great at helping me through it. I also remain completely un-medicated (don’t follow my example). Under Rose-Tainted Skies is the first thing in a long time to help my brain heal. Please do not take this as the only way to recover form a mental illness, but as a person with no one to turn to who is sick to death of this bug in her brain, I am finding a lot of what was said in this book to be rational and helpful.
I am in the middle of trying to fight off a severe relapse of my depression (“normal” me will be back in a month or so), or I would have found this book hilarious. I share Norah’s dry sense of humour, and really wish I had been able to appreciate it more.
The romance also doesn’t play a huge role in the story. It’s present, but if you skipped most of the romance parts, the story would flow perfectly fine. This is not your typical romance saves mental illness story. It’s the story of a girl with mental illness featuring a boy who likes said girl, who is trying to understand what she’s going through and be supportive.
Overall, I found Under Rose-Tainted Skies to be helpful, relatable, and well written, earning it 5 out of 5 stars. I am truly grateful that this book exists.
If you need someone to talk to about anything, be it mental illness or anything else (ex. books or your favourite TV show), and you would like to talk to an almost 18 year old girl in Canada, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will not share a single thing you tell me, but be aware that I am in no way a professional.