Mad Girl – A Happy Life with a Mixed-up Mind by Bryony Gordon
Opening sentence: “I need to be honest with you from the start – because, as you will see, this is an honest book.”
Although dealing with serious subject matters – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression, alopecia, bulimia and drug use – this manages to be a delightful and heartwarming book thanks to Bryony’s open, honest and completely engaging writing style.
Being a columnist for The Telegraph, writing is Bryony’s forte, but she really does have such a chatty, warm tone that you can’t help but feel you’re catching up with an old friend who’s confiding in you her struggles of the past 20 years. Not that it was easy for Bryony to get to this point and be able to do that, she says, “despite my tendency towards over-sharing, I have not always been honest about the stuff that has gone on in my head.”
The chapter titles include: I think I might be dying and I think I might have killed someone, and at first glance these are taken as comical, but after reading them, you realise they are, in fact, a direct reference to how much Bryony’s OCD really controls her life. She genuinely believed those titles and they represent really difficult times in her life.
This book gave me such an insight into what it’s like to live with OCD. It was so interesting and made me realise that OCD is so often misrepresented as meaning you like your house kept tidy, or you have a need to turn the light on 3 times when entering a room, and yes, these can be elements, but it is so much more than that.
Bryony also peppers the book with eye-opening facts to highlight just how little support there is from doctors and the NHS for mental health issues. However, the tide may be turning on this. As I was reading this book, mental health was in the media spotlight, as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have set up the Heads Together charity that aims to remove the stigma associated with mental health and provide support for anyone that needs it.
For her podcast series, Mad World, Bryony interviewed Prince Harry. He spoke openly and candidly for the first time about how he struggled following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was only 12. It is a really fascinating interview and this level of intimacy from a member of the Royal Family shows how committed Harry is to changing people’s views on mental health.
So yes, to summarise, Mad Girl was a really great read – as a memoir and an insight into mental health.