Mad Girl takes us through Bryony Gordon’s life from being a 12-year-old girl who develops OCD and goes through a series of crises and very difficult experiences, to being an adult with a daughter, in a stable relationship, living a full and happy life. She acknowledges that she was living a privileged life before she become unwell. Her OCD seemed to appear out of nowhere, and we feel this is a big part of the book’s value. It can be difficult to understand a mental health problem when everything from the outside seems fine – but it happens.
“It came to me in a dream. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it did, I promise you. One moment I was a regular twelve-year-old, working out which one of Take That I would marry, praying that I would make the netball A team because the B team would mean another year in social Siberia with my monobrow and the tartan socks my mother insisted I wore to school; the next, I was convinced I was dying of AIDS”.
Gordon’s current state of wellbeing comes after the long struggle with mental ill-health detailed in this book – OCD, depression, disordered eating and substance misuse and some harrowing experiences of intimate partner violence. Her conversational writing style makes it feel as though she is telling her story directly to you. She is witty, relatable, and (sometimes graphically) honest. This book could offer comfort to anyone who feels they are alone in their experience of mental ill-health. Busting through the silence and taboos, Gordon has reached out to talk.