Hitting close to home


The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva is the authors first delve into fiction works, after having written a non-fiction self-help book about mental health. She sticks with the MH topic in this book and it talks about depression, anxiety and OCD.

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There are all illnesses I struggle with myself. I’m lucky that through lots of working on myself and medication too, I’m on the milder end of these now. But I’ve been there. I will say that if you do suffer from these or would be triggered by them, then this likely isn’t the book for you. The illnesses are represented really well, but this also means that she goes into detail and that might not be helpful for some people.

With the actual book itself, nothing other than our MC Amy going to work, or not going, happens. It simply follows her. I think this was a brilliant decision as it lets the reader focus on what’s going on inside her head rather than stuff happening outside. By the end of this book, I actually felt connected to the characters and was wanting to find out more about them.

Full disclosure, I was sent this book by the author to review. But also full disclosure, sorry Ms Riva, I wasn’t expecting to love it. I thought it might get 3 stars, that it’d be fine and that’d be it. But I ended up really enjoying reading this book and honestly think it’s a good read. I’m glad I did pick this up in the end (she sent me it a while ago) and gave it a go!

What do you think of books which focus on mental health struggles?

Happier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva, a review

I was sent this tiny book for review by the author. When she sent her request to me I was intrigued, I suffer from mental health issues myself and wanted to see how she covered this topic and what advice she gave. I will say right now that all thoughts are my own, and if I felt that this book was not good I would most definitely tell you guys. I was incredibly pleased to read her say, right at the beginning of the book, that this is not intended to cure someone of depression etc. These are simply ways to recognise, re-evaluate and attempt to correct unnecessary negative thinking which is having an impact on how you live your life. Each chapter has a title that could be the advice in itself, but Lana expands on these basic concepts to give you examples of how to change your thinking and the reasons this could be beneficial.

So let’s get into the different bits of advice we’re given. The first chapter is titled Don’t write off the day. So often, when something negative happens at the beginning of the day, we’re quick to say that the whole day is wasted and nothing will go right. This type of thinking, Lana points out, will lead us to focus on the most negative parts of the day and almost block out those positive experiences. Therefore, leading us to believe that the day was indeed negative and us being unhappy as a result. If we can manage to separate the negative event from the day as a whole, and still look for positive experiences, then we are much more likely to find happiness within the days’ events.

Some other pieces of advice given can be summarised to Don’t compare your life to imagined others, journal good things, accept changed plans and many more besides. I won’t go into them all or you won’t go and read the book for yourself! Within all these different chapters, Lana describes negative thinking that you might be engaging in, how to recognise this within yourself and how to then go about attempting to change these thought patterns. These may seem like very simple, common sense ideas, but for those who struggle with negative thinking, it can be difficult to come to these conclusions without someone pointing them out and providing a way of thinking differently.

Lana emphasises at multiple points in the book that this is not a cure for depression, however, I believe that this can be a great accompaniment to other treatments. Simply taking anti-depressants will not cure ingrained negative thoughts, although they are incredibly helpful and in some cases life-saving. Changing the pattern of your thinking is what will, in the end, leave you feeling happier and able to live life to the full.

I look forward to applying the advice given in my daily life, as I am a negative thinker and feel like these steps could help me on the way to being a more positive person. I definitely recommend this little book, it doesn’t take long to read and could really help you start to take the steps to change how you think, for the better.