I couldn’t wait to read Bring Me To Light , Ellie’s story of her journey with mental health and mental illness, and once I started I couldn’t put it down. Or at least I did in order to go to work, but I didn’t want to. Ellie’s story can be difficult to read at times, there is a trigger warning, but I truly believe it’s important that people read it. Where Ellie found the strength to be so open and genuine about incredibly personal experiences, I’ll never know. But I’m completely in awe of her courage in doing so.
One thing I loved about Bring Me to Light is it’s not voyeuristic. It doesn’t feel like you are an outsider, looking in. This can be hard to accomplish for any author but particularly when telling your own story. You are giving someone a peek into your life. And yet, Ellie invites us in and enthrals us with her story. I felt like I was right there with her – to the extent that you can be. She wants us to understand. Not for her own benefit but for our own.
By reading the story we all learn so much about what it can be like to live alongside a mental illness. Ellie reminds us that we may have rough patches but there are also good times. Sometimes we forget that having Depression doesn’t mean that we can never smile. Or having BiPolar means our moods are always completely out of our control. Recovery has its ups and downs; we need to remember that.
We are Lucky to Have an NHS
Another amazing element of the novel is it gives us real insight. Not only to pathways in the NHS but what it can be like to be hospitalized or be navigating treatment options including medication. Many, if not all of us, are aware of the limitations of our health service. We can let this become a defining factor in any argument or discussions about mental health. I’ve heard it multiple times when educating about mental health. Our NHS is where we signpost people to for support. When in need it can feel hopeless knowing the place to go has a waiting list a mile long. Or that appointments can be hard to come by and treatment can be short-lived. People are understandably upset.
And yet, many of us do not know what it is like once we get through the doors. I believe there needs to be more understanding of this. We must shine a light on the excellent work that happens once you do get that much needed appointment or treatment. Ellie shows us the care she has received from a stretched service. She demonstrates the empathy and compassion she received from excellent health care professionals who took the time to understand and help her make decisions about her own care. All too often we forget this in our zeal to point fingers and bemoan the NHS. Ellie reminds of us of what we have without sugar coating the issue.
Lastly, Bring Me to Light had personal resonance for me. Whilst Ellie and I have walked on distinctly different paths, there were similarities. We haven’t experienced the same mental health problems. We don’t have the same life experiences. That doesn’t mean we haven’t walked alongside or with each other. Both Ellie and I experienced our first symptoms at a similar age. There are ways we overlap in managing these symptoms and advocating for ourselves. We both received good GCSE results despite what was happening with our mental health. Together we share a passed history of trauma from the Holocaust which resonates in our lives to a certain degree years later. We both had our hearts broken which can be a profound form of loss, particularly when you had developed a bond of trust or reliance.
I couldn’t think of a better title for this novel than Bring Me to Light. Ellie’s blog of a similar name is called Be Ur Own Light, and likewise the name is apt. This is who Ellie is as a person. She is a light to us all. Whether she’s shining it on her own experiences to benefit others or on her family and friends, who I am privileged to count myself among. Despite the topic of her book, mental illness is rarely easy to talk about, Ellie’s skill as an author brings us in and helps us grow. It comforts us in hard times that we too can recover. She reminds us that we’re not alone. I can’t think of a better light in the dark than that.
To read more of Ellie’s work, visit her blog (linked above) and follow her on twitter @beurownlight