I’m not crazy

Get ready for a very personal post.

I recently read Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone, and I wanted to talk more about my OCD/mental health issues. I didn’t really get into those issues in the review, but I wanted to expand on it.

I’ve had OCD for over fifteen years. It manifested itself in typical ways. I constantly moved things so they were in the right place. I washed my hands frequently. I figured it was because of my health issues. So I didn’t worry about it too much.

And then came the obsession with the number 16. That started right around my sixteenth birthday. Odd coincidence? Well that’s what I thought at the time.  Before I knew it, I would eat M&Ms in groups of sixteen. Pistachios, cashews and other snack types of foods would all be eaten in groups of 16. Anything else, I always did in groups of sixteens. Brushing my hair, teeth etc.

In 2005, I had my 5th open heart surgery and as per doctors orders, I met with a psychologist to make sure I was handling some post surgery complications okay. Then I talked to her about my obsessions that had been growing since I was sixteen. She just brushed it off as something not to be worried about.

After that, I really saw no reason to see another psychologist. I didn’t want to be told not to worry about this again.

My issues settled down for a long time. I would still have obsessions about various things, especially the number 16. I still washed my hands frequently, At dinnertime, I would eat one thing at a time. I hate, HATE when my food touches other foods.

But when the breakup happened last fall, everything came rushing back. Add to that, I was having symptoms of depression. I hated having those feelings. I hated KNOWING that my jackass ex had the power to make my self-esteem hit rock bottom. I went to therapy because I just wasn’t dealing with things well. I never mentioned my OCD issues. I mostly wanted to get help with my self-esteem issues.

The obsessions just got worse.

I just felt like I was crazy and that was terrifying for me.

But when I read Every Last Word, it felt like everything just clicked for me. The OCD issues started to make more sense. I started realizing that my obsessive thoughts & my constant overthinking were a part of OCD. I never even thought they could be.

That book was so helpful to me. It made me feel more comfortable with myself and my issues. It was more healing to me than I had ever expected it to be.

Most importantly, I learned that I’m not crazy.

A thousand thank yous to the amazing Tamara Ireland Stone for this book. I don’t think I could ever repay you for the healing that your book has given me.

Top Ten (Okay Twenty) Diverse YA Contemporary Books

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015This feature is hosted by the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s prompt was all about celebrating diversity. Now, I’m all for that, so of course I had to jump right into it.

LGBT Books
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Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
-There are so few bisexual main characters in books that I had to put this one on the list even though I haven’t finished it-
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
-My favorite LGBT book of the year so far. Simon & Blue were ADORABLE-
Far From You by Tess Sharpe
-One of my favorite books of 2014. Yet another bisexual main character-
Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia Adler
-I’ve heard that Van & Bri are all kinds of sexy, so I cannot wait to read this-
The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi
-Still my favorite Jessica Verdi book. It was a hard book to read, but so, so important-
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
-I loved this book. It was different as there was a lot of emphasis on Armenian culture, which I loved-

Eating Disorders/OCD/Anxiety/Mental Illness Books
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
-I have not read this one yet, but I have it out from the library right now. Hopefully I can get to it soon-
Paperweight by Meg Haston
-I absolutely adored this book. It was beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful-
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
-I have an e-ARC of this. I started to read it last month, but it was so triggering, I had to put it back down-
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
-Utterly beautiful book. Captivating characters, story and loads of feels-
The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
-One of my all time favorite books. It was awesome and heartbreaking-
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
-One of my favorite books of 2015. This book made me feel all the feels-

Books about Rape/Sexual Assault
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
-This book is the book I routinely recommend to everyone. Such a gorgeous book-
All The Rage by Courtney Summers
-This book enraged me in the best possible way-
Fault Line by Christa Desir
-I adored this book, I think mostly because it didn’t end neatly. It showed a different side to what happens to rape victims-
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
-I need to read this book. I cannot believe I haven’t read it yet-
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
-One of my favorite books of 2014. It was beautiful, feelsy and heartwarming-

Books that feature disabled characters

 Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell
-This book was so much fun. I related to it in a way I wasn’t expecting-
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
-I was thrilled to read this book. There really is so few books out there featuring physically disabled characters-
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
-I have not read this book yet, but I think I probably should. It does look like something I’d enjoy-

If you did a TTT post this week, be sure to leave me links so I can stop by your posts as well.

Review: Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Book Title: Rain Reign
Author: Ann M. Martin
Publish Date: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: MG
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In her most powerful novel yet, Newbery Honor author Ann M. Martin tells the story of girl with mental/emotional challenges and the dog she loves.

Rose Howard has OCD, Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.

Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Normally I stay far away from Middle Grade books, mostly because I can’t really get into then. But, even from the synopsis, I could tell that this book was special. I was hoping that my hunch was right and that I could manage my expectations about this book because it was so different from what I normally read.

It was a very short book, but it took a long time for me to really get into it. I’m not exactly sure why it took 60% of the book for me to really enjoy it. Maybe it was because I couldn’t connect with Rose for the longest time. It wasn’t until she lost her dog, that I really started to connect with her.  I’ve always been an animal lover, especially as a ten year old. So, while I didn’t understand the OCD or the Asperger’s, I did understand the panic that ten year old Rose was experiencing when Rain got lost and my heart ached for her. 

Her father was truly awful. I was so angry with him for pretty much the entire book. He clearly struggled with having a special needs daughter, but he didn’t even try to understand her. That really upset me a lot. The only adult she could really truly count on was her uncle. That was heartbreaking. She had her teacher, she had her aide, but at home, she only had Rain. Her loyal, loving dog.

This book brought the feels at the end of the book. I was full on bawling, which was not something I was expecting given that it was a middle grade book. I did end up enjoying it, so I’m giving it 4 stars. I would totally recommend this book to younger readers.

Review: OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Book Title: OCD Love Story
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publish Date: July 23rd, 2013
Published By: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: AmazonBarnes & Noble

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.

But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.

Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down…and she might end up breaking her own heart.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a Summer Giveaway from Reading Teen.

As soon as I saw the synopsis for this book, I knew I had to have it. So I entered the giveaway and hoped that if I won,this book would still be available. And it was! I may or may not have jumped up and down like a crazy person.

I was excited to read this for the simple reason that I am OCD,but my OCD-ness is much milder than those depicted in this book. I was hoping that this book would do the tough subject justice as OCD is a very hard thing to deal with. To my pleasant surprise, OCD was handled very well and accurately throughout this book. It showed that OCD can manifest itself into different levels. It’s not just constant hand-washing. It’s far more than that.I was also worried that it would gloss over some of the unpleasantness of OCD and just pretend like it wasn’t a big deal. 

Again I was pleasantly surprised. The author handled it with candor and honesty. No sugarcoating here. She did an excellent job of getting to the nitty gritty about this stuff. While making sure that the portrayal of OCD was accurate,she also created likable characters. Despite not being as severely affected as Bea, I saw so much of myself in Bea. I didn’t take it to the level that she did,but my compulsions are very similar.

At times I found myself frustrated with Bea’s friend Lisha. I know it’s not easy to watch a friend deal with OCD,but she didn’t seem to realize that Bea didn’t want to have OCD. She wanted to be normal. Lisha seemed to be embarrassed by her towards the end. I kept yelling at the book (well technically at Lisha) that Bea needed support. She didn’t need her only female friend to be,excuse my french, a total bitch. I really wished that Lisha tried to understand OCD a bit better. She needed to be aware that Bea didn’t want to have to do all these things. She didn’t want to be essentially controlled by her compulsions.

Oh Beck, how awesome he was. Despite his OCD-ness, I really liked him and I think he really liked Bea as well. I think at times he grew frustrated with Bea’s apparent refusal to work on the compulsions. But I also think that Bea worried about Beck’s various compulsions.

I liked the other characters in the group as well. Watching the progress they made in therapy was wonderful. I think reading this book could definitely silence those who don’t put much stock into therapy. I liked Dr. Pat too. There were times, albeit, only a few times that I really wondered if she was really helping these teens or if they were helping themselves and each other.

Austin and Sylvia,the objects of Bea’s obsession were quirky. I am still not sure how I felt about them. Yes they were kind to Bea which was a good thing. Towards the end,they really started to drive me crazy.

Overall, I really, really loved this book. It was full of likable characters and I identified so much with the main female character. It’s not going to be a book for everyone because it’s definitely not a light and fluffy read. It’s raw and gritty and above all, it’s real. Five stars to this relatable book and wonderfully real characters.