I’ve got a secret for the mad
In a little bit of time it won’t hurt so bad
And I get that I don’t get it
But you will burn right now but then you won’t regret it
You’re not gonna believe a word I say
What’s the point in just drowning another day
And I get that I don’t get it
But the world will show you that you won’t regret it
Little things, all the stereotypes
They’re gonna help you get through this one night
And there will be a day
When you can say you’re okay and mean it
I promise you it’ll all make sense again
I promise you it’ll all make sense again
There’s nothing to do right now but try
There are a hundred people who will listen to you cry
And I get that they don’t get it
But they love you so much that you won’t regret it
You’re at the bottom, this is it
Just get through, you will be fixed
And you think, that I don’t get it
But I burned my way through and I don’t regret it
I promise you it’ll all make sense again
– Dodie, Secrets for the Mad
November 2nd was a big book day for anyone who like me has a soft spot for British Youtubers, as not only was Dodie’s Secrets for the Mad: Confessions, Obsessions and Life Lessons released, but so was Noodlerella’s debut novel, Undercover Princess (The Rosewood Chronicles). This post however is focused on Secrets for the Mad, as I read that first.
The book is part memoir, part advice, all emotions. It charts the things Dodie has learnt while struggling with mental illness, and reflects on those parts of her life, and how she got through it. I picked up my copy from the Dodie Pop up show at the Youtube Creator Store in London (as far as I’m aware the pop up is running for about another 2 weeks), along with the ‘I Promise You It Will All Make Sense Again’ jumper. I had actually already preordered the book but when I saw that the copies at the pop up were signed (and came with a free poster, pin badge and zine I knew that was the way to go (so my ordered copy is going to have to be sent back because as much as I’d like to I don’t think I need two copies).
The staff at the shop were super nice, and asked if I had been to the live shows last week. Sadly, I had to reply I had not, because despite really wanting to go I had not been paid yet then and my wallet wouldn’t allow it. They also confirmed that the shop doesn’t have a phone (I had wanted to ring ahead before I made the trip just to make sure things were still in stock) and that the best way to get in contact with them was over Twitter (the Youtube Creator Store link above). I also mentioned how I was hoping they would have the You EP vinyl because I had missed out on the website and really wanted it to add to Martin and I’s growing collection (it’s ok because Martin’s an audiophile- it means we get away with being this hip) so hopefully fingers crossed they can make that happen (if you want to see it happen I recommend you tweet them like crazy!). Along with the Bobble Hat that Dodie sold on her tour, because let’s face the facts, it’s definitely wooly hat weather now.
They did however as I mentioned have the ‘I Promise It Will All Make Sense Again’ sweatshirt at the event, which I’ve basically living in because it’s super warm and toasty (really good quality too). They also had a couple of pieces that I remember from Dodie’s merchandise website including the ‘Is it Tho’ hat and the Dodie portrait white ringer top.
There was also merchandise from other Youtubers there like Dan and Phil (I was very tempted to buy their plushies, and their merchandise looks so good in real life) and Zoella. Overall, it was a nice little shopping experience and the shop is only a minute away from St Pancreas/ Kings Cross.
The book itself I started to read the very night I got it, but I read the bulk of it on the train to meet my mother for the day, and it was the perfect train read. There is something about trains that make you reflect, and this is a book all about reflecting.
One of the main things I really loved about the book was the way Dodie used her lyrics and photographs, as ways to demonstrate and reflect on certain parts of her life. It made me think back to what I can remember well and not so well, and made me realise that some of my most vivid memories are when I went on a trip around Europe at the end of my first year of University. For a lot of people the trip would have been pretty tame, and boring, but it was one of the best times I’ve had in my life and made me remember how much I love travelling.
Images in Secret for the Mad.
It also made me think back to the memories I have from when I was younger. The ones I remember the best are as follows. I remember the toy car I used to love when I was little. It was a green Mercedes peddle car (the only time in my life that I will actually remember a car- I am notoriously bad at remembering what car I am in- never leave me alone in a car park). I remember that I used to love just peddling round and round in it, in my garden. Even as I started to get too big for it (in fact I can remember that part sometimes even more, which is weird for me as I have an habit of suppressing bad memories). The story I usually tell about the car is that I used to ‘drive’ it down my street, and knock on the doors of people down the street, asking for petrol. I was a bit too outgoing and didn’t really understand ‘stranger danger’ as a child (to chart my life you kind of say I went through extroverted, to introverted to somewhere in between).
My other prominent memories revolve around clothes/ costumes. I remember my gold shiny dress that I loved, and would wear to every special event. I remember my pink fluffy coat with matching handbag. My orange sun hat with a sunflower smack bang square in the middle. My La La from Teletubbies costume that I refused to take off, and was a symbol of my childhood obsession with transitioning into an actual teletubby, complete with teletubby toast (courtesy of a cutter) and teletubby custard (which was a disturbing shade of pink and essentially yoghurt for anyone not in the know). There was also my Blossom from Powerpuff Girls costume (though I wanted to be Bubbles). Considering the obsessive way I like to plan what I want to wear for a certain event (it never goes the way I planned); its unsurprising that I remember everything by outfits.
In Secrets for the Mad Dodie envies her childhood brain for being able to remember when she cannot. For me, it was just reassuring to hear that I am not the only one who forgets. I’m the sort of person who can remember the exact details of homework set but if you ask me to recall the last year of my life; you’d only hear fragments. After my dissertation I even managed to forget what it was about (it doesn’t help that I hardwired my brain from a young age to try my best to forget anything unpleasant).
(Poster pictured below)
Dodie, however, unlike me, suffers from Depersonalistation disorder (DPD, or dissociation, or derealisation (DR), she describes it like essentially feeling like you are drunk all the time, and are not quite attached to reality. She discusses in the book how she was able to eventually get treatment, but how it took years of fighting for people to take her seriously.
People with mental health issues should not have to fight for a doctor to take them seriously. The majority of people have a natural aversion to the doctor, even more so when you have something wrong that you can’t quite put your finger on, like your mental health. You should be listened to, never turned away (like Dodie is at one point in the book).
It’s sad to say that this is the truth. I know friends who have had bad experiences with therapy. Who just wanted to have someone to listen to them but found there was nowhere capable of being 100% there. I have always tried my best to listen, but I admit I struggle with knowing quite what to say, or how to be there. ‘I understand’ and ‘I’ll always listen’ never quite feels like enough.
Mental health can be hard to understand, especially if you’ve never struggled with it. That’s why in recent years so many people have tried to break the stigma surrounding it by talking about. In the end while it’s helped, people then talk about how they feel every Youtuber or blogger has now come out with a mental health issue. All I can say to that is so what is they have? And maybe there is something about the desire to share a bit of yourself online and to be heard that means that means there is something in your brain you just need to get out.
Secrets for the Mad Poster
I personally have talked about suffering with my mental health. Vaguely, and not in great detail. Maybe one day I’ll get to the point where I can talk about it more. To be honest, I have had no official diagnosis, no definite clue. That is my own fault, as much as I talk and encourage my friends to get the help they need or go to therapy; I have yet to do myself.
Despite, oversharing on this blog, I don’t like talking about me. I don’t like being personal and honest. To be honest I’m scared (bizarrely enough) it’s all in my head, and I’m just too emotional or hyper sad.
Reading about other people’s experiences helps however. Especially when you know they understand, like Dodie because they have somehow managed to find that magical land where they can discuss how to talk if you feel like you’re suffering with mental health problems, without feeling like it is patronising.
Within Secrets for the Mad Dodie also discusses the other things she worries and obsesses over (I don’t know about you but I’ve always felt like I obsess over too many things, and it was refreshing to see someone not just cover one aspect of their lives but lay everything bare) from her bad skin, to issues surrounding body image (I was relieved to see this addressed, as so often I see famous people be they film stars, or Youtubers lose weight and then not talk about, as if they were always that way); sexuality (I love that Dodie is dispelling the myths surrounding bisexuality), and how sex education actually fails to talk to you about the stuff surrounding sex leading to damaging patterns and abusive relationships (and how that abusive is not always physical- and we shouldn’t keep letting bad things happen to the people we love because they’ve not been hit yet).
What the signed copy looks like.
Another thing that I love that is stressed is the ‘Little but Important Things’, something I’ve tried to grasp onto recently. I may have had a bad week, or a horrible moment in my day (that I’ll obsess over and play over again and again in my head) but instead I try to focus on a moment I’ll have laughing with Martin, or a piece of good news, or a special moment with a friend.
This book reminded me and inspired me to keep on writing, whether it be here or in the novel that I promised myself I would write ever since I was little and first picked up a pen. Hopefully, I will have the courage to be just as confessional though I can’t help but make mine just a little bit more fantastical.
If I had to sum up Secrets for the Mad I would say that Dodie laid herself bare as much as she could without giving away her soul and I really respect that.
I feel like a six out of ten
I gotta get up early tomorrow again
What goes on behind the words?
Is there pity for the plain girl?
Can you see the panic inside?
I’m making you uneasy, aren’t I?
Also, on a slightly needy note let me know if you enjoyed this book review. I feel like awkwardly enough I’m actually terrible at reviewing things because I go on too many tangents so if you like/ hate my style let me know.