“I can’t hide the crazy so well when I’m in plain visible sight of all my colleagues.“
~ Lana Grace Riva, The Existence of Amy
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.
I read this book in one sitting. Not because it was the best book ever written, but because I was truly invested in Amy’s story. Lana Grace Riva has taken her own experiences and written Amy’s story to help others with OCD better explain to friends and family how they’re coping.
I was surprised at how well Amy coped with her OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for the first half of the book. At times she exceeded my expectations, especially when she took herself completely out of her comfort zone and flew to Australia! Considering she struggled to go to the office on some days, this was highly commendable, although I must admit she had the best colleagues. For the most part they were very understanding and sympathetic about her condition, really looking out for her. I don’t want to say I was sceptical about this, but I don’t think most people are that lucky, especially if they don’t explain why they won’t come to the pub, take multiple days off at a time and struggle with what most of us would deem ‘simple tasks’.
As I have a friend with OCD, it was interesting for me to see how she might be feeling about certain things. I admit I’ve perhaps not been that sympathetic in the past as, until she was diagnosed, we just thought she was being selfish and self-obsessed. Even now it’s difficult to be supportive when you don’t understand exactly what someone is going through. But that didn’t come across with the character of Amy. She felt guilty about her ‘peculiarity’ and it really ate her up inside. Hearing her thoughts made her relatable and I just wanted to give her a big hug (although of course she didn’t hug).
The depression side (which I can relate to) was also tackled well, giving an insight into the helplessness you can feel on your really bad days, but not being overly dramatic. There’s still not enough information about depression in the public domain and it’s so important that friends and family have more material to help them better understand and support their loved ones, but this book would be a great way to introduce the topic.
The story was gentle and optimistic, the ending realistic, showing that OCD and depression can never be healed, as they are a continuous struggle, but that there are options and positive outcomes.
I was kindly sent a copy of this book by the author. All opinions are my own.
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