Mental health is often overlooked or dismissed. Not a lot of books have helped that and they tend to romanticise it. So I’m glad that Under Rose-Tainted Skies (by Louise Gornall) exists.
The book centres on Norah who has agoraphobia. Home is her sanctuary but things start to shift when new neighbour Luke comes over. Norah struggles to adjust to this new development.
I identified with Norah so fast since I have anxiety and had long periods of staying at home because of the thought of going outside and see other people clammed me up. Even a phone call or the sound of the doorbell makes me jump. The book goes into detail on the extent of what anxiety can do to you and I appreciate that Norah experiences a lot of things inside and outside of her thanks to anxiety. She overreacts, overanalyses – a lot of what-ifs too, has OCD, does self-harm to cope with a situation or thought.
Whenever I’m stressed or panic, I scratch my scalp and tear out my hair or scratch my hands, trying to hide what I’m feeling and how my insides are reacting. Norah scratches as well and that’s something that made me feel comforted and confronted. This character and the author gets it. What Norah goes through bodily and mentally isn’t an exaggerated depiction. Having anxiety can twist your perception and does harmful things to your body physically, does something to your speech too. Even writing this or being on social media (especially if I want to tweet someone like an author or actor) makes me nervous, overanalyse and struggle with words.
The book does show that Norah has happy, peaceful moments. She speaks and behaves normally while anxiety is lurking around. Yes people with anxiety experience this.
By the end of it, she’s still struggling but getting better through her family and Luke’s support and herself. And that’s another thing why I love this book. Love doesn’t cure mental health instantly and it isn’t the only cure. Luke is probably the least realistic part of this book. Most of my ex-friends and the guy of my dreams didn’t stay. They tried to help me but they grew tired and wary when I still had anxiety. Like they didn’t want negativity in their lives. One even said I suffocated them.
However, that’s my experience and the book doesn’t romanticise anxiety. The portrayal is raw.
While books are generally great companions, Under Rose-Tainted Skies makes me feel less lonely in my own head and strengthens courage and hope in me social and romance wise.