It won’t be news to many of you that I have some slight mental health baggage. I’m fairly open about it when I have the anonymity of the Internet to hide behind. I’ve ranted about the stereotypes of mental illness on here before though, so don’t worry, you’re safe from me today.
Whilst this will eventually be a book-related post, let me provide a bit of background.
My mother and I started decorating my room quite a while ago now, but due to my starting a demanding new job and subsequent bout of physical illness, it was never finished. There’s been 3m of unwallpapered wall for months and it’s slowly been driving me crazy. Never mind though, we decided tonight was the night to rectify it.
Thing is, we have an old house and the walls have moved, so the pretty patterned wallpaper doesn’t match up as it should, a matter complicated by the awkward dormer windows that basically mean you have to wallpaper part of the ceiling. There are joins in the paper where the flowers don’t quite (or at all) line up with the flower stem on the adjoining piece of paper. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was (IS) and I basically had a meltdown.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper OCD meltdown but it’s not pleasant. On one hand, you can feel the mismatched wallpaper watching you and you feel sick and you’re hyperventilating and you can’t stop crying… but then there’s a little detached bit of you watching from afar with disgust that really just wants you to stop being such a freak.
After a little while, I calmed down enough to sit tensely cross-legged on the bed staring at the wall (Ellie, I love you for talking me down), but just not quite enough to recreate the illusion that I’m a rational human being.
Then it came to me. The absolute, complete only thing that could possibly calm me down was A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Nothing else would do. From that point, my mind latched onto the idea and associated Douglas Adams with peacefulness. I was literally desperate to read it.
Why that book? I have no idea. But the more I thought about it (which I did, at length, to distract myself – hey, I even wrote a blog post about it), the more I realised that there are certain books that I turn to when I’m about to have a large scale freak out.
The thing is, I can’t really work out what these books have in common. There are books that I love that I wouldn’t feel appropriate for this kind of situation (Jane Eyre, Terry Pratchett, 22/11/63…). I just know that the list below makes me feel safe and keeps me sane when I may not be doing such a good impression of it at the time.