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Non-fiction book of the month: MAD GIRL by BRYONY GORDON

(36 Posts)
SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Aug-16 17:41:28

Our non-fiction book choice for August is Mad Girl - journalist Bryony Gordon's memoir about a life ruled by OCD. Her funny yet sincere prose makes this as enjoyable as it is informative.

We're giving away 50 copies of Mad Girl so apply for yours now! The giveaway ends on Monday 8 August.

You don't have to win a copy to take part in the discussion - everyone is welcome to come and talk about the book here. If you're not lucky enough to bag one, you can always buy a copy.

2kids2dogsnosense Thu 04-Aug-16 19:08:56

Message deleted by MNHQ - personal details here, we're removing as it's identifying.

voyager50 Fri 05-Aug-16 08:25:40

I've read her column many times but had no idea she had OCD.

Sounds like a funny and interesting read.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Aug-16 21:35:40

The book giveaway is now closed and all those who have been selected will be notified early next week. Bryony will be answering questions about the book in early October - more info about this to come.

Daisymaybe60 Fri 19-Aug-16 13:19:52

Just received my copy, thank you. It looks like an interesting read. I'll be back later to join the discussion.

Susangilley7 Fri 19-Aug-16 17:56:37

Just received a copy. Thank you. Look forward to reading it.

LSAR Sun 21-Aug-16 20:29:14

Just received a free copy very grateful thank you. Will update on the book shortly I have just started reading.

RoastieToastieReastie Tue 23-Aug-16 18:01:50

Received my copy, thank you. I'm half way through already and enjoying it so far. It's very readable and easy to dip in and out of. Will update when I finish.

ladydepp Tue 23-Aug-16 20:21:17

I just received my copy, thanks very much and I'm looking forward to it!

sheiladore1 Tue 23-Aug-16 20:28:29

Thankyou for the book ,i am looking forward to reading it whilst on holiday

Susangilley7 Wed 24-Aug-16 13:01:11

Received my copy. Thank you. Look forward to reading it

RoastieToastieReastie Thu 25-Aug-16 06:58:43

Just finished it and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Easy to read and plough through and not as depressing and down beat as I thought it might be. Wittily written and made me smile to myself at times. I don't have OCD but I have a MH issue that has some similarities so really felt comradeship in a weird way reading it and a true understanding of the thoughts she has coped with. I particularly lived how she named the OCD Jareth the Goblin King, made me chuckle. Thanks mn for sending me a book that I otherwise probably wouldn't have chosen and read but feel glad that I did.

bluebump Thu 25-Aug-16 22:36:00

Thank you for my copy, I read it in two sittings!

It was a really good read, really funny in places and sad in others, a very honest account of her struggles. It really helped to show some insight into what it is like to suffer with ocd and mental health issues. I really recommend it.

jammy388 Sat 27-Aug-16 17:24:18

A courageous and very open book, and having had some experience of anxiety and depression myself I felt she described the associated thoughts and feelings very well. I liked her assertion that most people who suffer with mental health problems (1 in 4 of the population) are perfectly normal, and hope she succeeds in her laudable aim of helping to break down the taboos that surround such illnesses. She also incidentally made me reconsider some of my opinions/prejudices about journalism and "fluffy" news stories.

RoastieToastieReastie Sat 27-Aug-16 18:00:05

I've been thinking about the book since my last comment and I'd like to add that I feel a bit disappointed we didn't hear a little about the types of things she did with her most recent and effective therapist. I know it's not a self help book, and she mentions what she did with the therapist stays with the therapist; but she talks earlier in the book all about failed therapy (eg shopping with a banana on a lead) and it would have been nice to have a little glimpse into the therapy that has helped her.

VicKWhish Mon 29-Aug-16 10:22:45

bluebump: I agree that this is a very honest book and I too have already recommended it to my Mum who is going through something very similar to what Bryony describes so well in the book.

jammy388: I also agree that this is a courageous and very open book.

At times Bryony is brutally honest about the extent to which OCD comes to rule her life and it must have been difficult to write. I first suffered from OCD at University when my OCD manifested itself in a compulsion to work 24/7 as I never felt good enough. I actually won a scholarship in my first year for best student but ironically this seemed to add to my fears that I could never live up to this in the future.
Like Bryony, I also had an irrational fear of the AIDS test when I was pregnant with my eldest which became a hook to hang all my insecurities on.
Throughout the book, Bryony is very candid, warm and witty and it's heartening to see (like me!) that she's in a good place now. It's ultimately a hopeful book for those of us who perhaps now feel a little less alone and coping well enough with our anxieties to lead productive, fulfilling lives.

SnapCackleFlop Mon 29-Aug-16 10:41:58

I really enjoyed this book - I don't think I'd have necessarily bought it myself (I didn't really realise what it was about and if I saw the cover in a shop probably would have thought it was chic lit or something).

It was well written - very funny and intelligent. Like a previous poster I also found I read it very quickly.

It is brave - part of me feels worried for Bryony that it's too soon to be sharing much of this.... somehow it would be different if it was 10 years ago but I'm worried the material at the end is so recent.

Nevertheless it's the sort of book that may make a big difference to someone and will appeal to may people just because it's entertaining and erudite.

She's a very likeable person and I find myself hoping things turn out well for her.

cookiemonster66 Mon 29-Aug-16 17:48:37

I am also one of the 'one in four' and I was overwhelmed by this book. I applaud Bryony for her complete honesty and admire her bravery writing open-heartedly about such a senstive personal matter, which she did in such a fearless and often hilarious way. I cannot remember ever reading a book which made me laugh out loud one minute and cry the next, that shows the strength of prose in this amazing book. Bryony is an inspiration to every 'one in four' of us who is hounded by this challenging condition. I urge you all to read this book to have a better understanding of mental health issues, lets lift the taboo, get talking about it, and give strength to all of us who are the 'one in four'!

mummyhereandthere Mon 29-Aug-16 23:03:16

I love a book that you can lose yourself totally in and can’t wait for every opportunity to sit to flick through the pages. This book did just that it is a biography of Bryony Gordon who is a journalist for several years. She writes openly and honestly about her first hand experience of living with OCD and clinical depression.


As a suffer off both clinical depression and OCD I felt I could really identity with how Bryony expressed her experiences clearly, how out of nowhere something triggered causing the panic and obsession. Almost like someone flicking on a switch.

I feel that this is a honest reflection of OCD. It is also not your typical cleaning OCD but a main focus on the thoughts and how they influence behaviour.

As a mother I also found the area about motherhood particularly around pregnancy interesting and relatable. Especially when it is your first time pregnancy can be very stressful and make you feel very paranoid especially with the debate about whether or not you should or should not take anti-depressants and the effect that it will have on your new born.

I think it is an interesting observation mentioned in the book about the fact that Bryony comes from a middle class family that was fairly stable with not a lot of trigger to cause mental illness. It goes to show that money can’t pay for everything and that mental health effects all walks of life. The only good think about being wealthy is getting better care privately. The reason Bryony and her mum chose private over NHS is shockingly poor and a long waiting list to boot.Though she chats openly that it doesn’t matter as you still have to work hard to get a good therapist that understands you to help with your recovery.

It is a brilliant account of how OCD can feed off you when you are mentally low such as being in abusive relationship can trigger OCD behaviour.

Even if you don’t suffer from OCD it is fantastic way to help you understand better about the condition and help increase awareness for mental illness. Also how hard it is to find the right help and that if the Dr’s dealt with it sooner then it would possibly be not as bad as the thoughts are not been long lasted for years as a way to cope with life stresses.

The best advice Bryony concludes is cutting back on alcohol/exercise/eating healthy and just making sure that every area of your life is catered for can help reduce the OCD.

Bryony also reflects on her experience of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and the power of thought. How CBT worked for her and now accepts that slips happen, OCD thoughts will always be there but accepting them as just that but not taking them as gospel is the biggest progress to live a better more fulfilled life.

A powerful message is that mental illness is not on the same level of importance of physical health. If you had a broken leg you would get it plastered. But mental health is still a taboo that is not talked about and at times shamed upon with stigma or being blasé with comments about being a bit OCD with putting clothing straight. It is much more then complex and intrusive then simply having things in a certain way.

Bryony set up a group called mental health mates where strangers meet up in London to walk and talk about mental illness.There is no demand to change just a place to not feel so alone and isolated. I think it is a brilliant idea and I wish there were more groups around in the UK.

In my personal opinion I think this is one of the best books I have read of a first account of living with OCD. It is not pretentious or glamorised, just trying to get the message out that whatever background shit happens. It is great to help get the message about what it is really like to live with OCD. I would definitely recommend it.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Sep-16 14:40:31

Great to hear so many people are enjoying Mad Girl. Bryony is going to be joining us for a live webchat to answer your questions about the book on Tuesday 4 October between 9 and 10pm. We'll post up a reminder closer to the time but please put the date in your diaries to join Bryony.

Joanne2010 Wed 07-Sep-16 15:33:53

I've had OCD all my adult life but in ways that I have never seen in anyone else and although it is not debilitating in any way, I do sometimes wish I didn't have to go through these rituals. I have to rotate my wardrobe. I can't just wear what i want, I wear what's next in the queue even if I don't feel good in it. At my worst point, I was packing to move to Canada and I had to listen to every single one of my CDs before I could pack them. So I really wanted to read a book about OCD and see if I could identify with it in any way.
I wasn't keen on the 'Dear Reader' style at first but I got interested at the point when she had alopecia as I had it too at the age of 16. And then I just got drawn in and really enjoyed this book. I too got a lot better when had kids at the age of 34. I just can't indulge all of my craziness anymore so this has definitely helped me. This is a great read, well written and engaging. She is utterly self-aware and addresses some very important points to do with our attitude towards the treatment of mental health.

Maraki Tue 13-Sep-16 10:55:16

Thank you for my free copy. I started reading it and I was hooked for the first 50 pages or so. I admine Bryony for her honesty and for writting what must have been a very personal struggle.

However, after the second chapter, the lack of plot and reading about someone else talking about themselves continuously, tired me. I lost interest, found it repetitive and couldn't finish it. I have donated my copy to my local library, who were delighted to receive it.

As a background, my mother has suffered from severe mental illness and I can relate to this book. What Bryony has described in her book has been my everyday.

daisyduke66 Tue 13-Sep-16 13:51:37

Firstly thank you for my copy of Mad Girl. A totally honest, enlightening read. Hats off to Bryony for putting pen to paper and providing such an open account of life with OCD. Both moving and humorous but always brutally frank. I think we can all identify with parts of her struggle.Bravo!

Diekleinesuesse79 Fri 16-Sep-16 23:21:25

Thank you for my free copy, I have just finished reading Mad Girl today and have to agree with most other posters that on the whole I really enjoyed it. It's a fairly quick book to read, but along the way Bryony takes us along what must have been an extremely turbulent journey. I appreciated her honesty, sincerity and most of all sense of humour, which ensured that rather than being merely a tale of woe, this book was as entertaining as a detailed account of a woman's struggle with mental illness could probably be without being simply and totally blasé.

At times it's very difficult to sympathise with her situation when many of her issues are only exacerbated by her outlandish behaviour. However Bryony does not ask for the reader's sympathy, merely that we share the view through the hazy glasses of retrospect and at times cringe along with her at her behaviour. At times (for me hard drug-taking aside) readers of a particular age, probably many also now parents, will be able to share some of these experiences with her. I know full well that I was lucky to get a handle on my own battle with depression at 19 so that my life so far has not been blighted by the illness. The ending was very positive to hear that Bryony is now confident she can fight her OCD demons with fire going forwards - keep up the good fight Bryony!

boo2410 Mon 19-Sep-16 03:41:31

Thank you so much for my copy of Mad Girl. Bryony writes a candid account of her clinical depression and OCD. I found it a really interesting read and her honesty and the way she writes made it easy to put down and then dip right back into again without losing the impetus of her fight against this disease that affects so many people.

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