*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.
The Existence of Amy is a fictional first person account of one woman’s battle with OCD and depression.
The reader gets direct access to Amy’s every thought as she battles her way through the daily tasks of living: getting dressed, travelling on the bus, dealing with work colleagues and friends. All while desperately clinging onto her idea of ‘normality’ and trying to convince everyone around her that she is ‘fine, fine fine’.
Just reading it is exhausting. Yet it is so utterly compelling that I couldn’t put the book down. I found myself totally invested in Amy’s struggle and silently willing her to please tell someone and get help! Of course, solutions are always obvious looking from the outside in, and the author clearly shows us exactly why Amy cannot just ‘get help’ or confide casually in a workmate… her own mind won’t let her. It is a situation that will be horribly familiar to anyone struggling with a mental or invisible illness.
You would think, considering the subject matter, that this would be a bleak story, but it isn’t. Not only do we find hope in the resolution – a realistic, unresolved, complicated hope, not one tied neatly with a pretty bow – but there is also inspiration in the strength with which Amy faces every single day. When your own mind is working determinedly against you then even stepping outside the front door is an act of great courage, and Amy’s story here shows us that it can be done by an ‘ordinary’ human being, with difficulty but it can be done, over and over again. That is amazing.
If you have ever struggled with leaving the house, with ‘acting normal’, with making connections or performing ‘simple’ tasks then I highly recommend this book to you. If you haven’t (lucky you!) then I still recommend you read this book anyway, because it gives insight and understanding into conditions which are often misrepresented in the media. The more you know…!
After a somewhat exhausting, frustrating and irritating time I eventually find myself standing in front of the door and pause for one last moment before leaving. I search for some instruction and cling to it when it appears. ‘You can do this’. ‘Don’t listen to those other thoughts, you are stronger than them’. ‘You can absolutely do this’.
Can I though? It’s very much debatable.
I step outside in the knowledge that the worst is yet to come.
– Lana Grace Riva, The Existence of Amy