When We Collided

Book: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Rating: ★★★★★ (though I would give it a million if I could)

“But what I mean is, depression, it settles like a shadow over your body while you sleep, and it minutes every frequency into blankness, into fog. Everyone thinks you can laugh when you’re depressed, but I couldn’t cry either, because I couldn’t feel.”

I shed actual tears while reading this book – something I don’t do often. It pulled at my heart strings, made me fall in love, helped me realise that someone out there might understand what I’m going through and, as all the books I’ve read recently that involve mental health have, given me some form of hope about the light at the end of the tunnel.

When We Collied is primarily a love story that takes you on the journey of Jonah and Vivi’s, starting at the very moment they meet – or should I say collied, see what I did there? 😉 Both coming to the end of their teenage years, Jonah has lost his dad and struggling to come to terms with the impact it has had on his family; while Vivi has escaped for the summer for Verona Cove in the attempt to hide from her own past skeletons.

“I know I’m being horrible – snippy and unyielding. Sometimes I can identify facts in my mind, but can’t feel them. What I mean is, I know tat I am not malnourished and I don’t have aggressive cancer. I sleep in a safe, warm bed at night, and I can eat ice-cream cones whenever I want. Even right this minute, I smell the salty ocean and wet sand in the breeze, which ruffles my hair. Cognitively, I recognise my good fortune. But I don’t feel lucky. I want to start my whole life again – like I want to float my soul back up to the cosmos and come down as a different girl in a different life.

If I’m completely honest, I didn’t like Vivi for a good chunk of the first half of the book. I found her to be very shallow and selfish – despite knowing that she was struggling mentally (something I’m half ashamed to admit). I felt that she didn’t deserve Jonah, or his beautiful family, and at points wanted to scream at him, telling him he was going to get hurt and that this relationship wasn’t going to be all rainbows or butterflies. However, I’m happy to report that, by the end, I liked Vivi’s character more than I’d ever care to admit – probably because I saw so much of myself in her.

What I love the most about this book is the sheer honesty that Emery has used in her words to help us follow Vivi’s story. From the word go (actually it was the words ‘I knew’, but never mind) it was clear that this strong, powerful girl had mental health issues and I instantly felt connected to her. Every single word that was written on this piece of paper either made me scream “YES. THIS IS ME. OMG, SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS.” or helped me understand why Vivi was making the choices she did.

“She nods. “Diego kept saying he felt like he should be able to control it. Like, he wanted to reason his way out of it. Because it’s your own mind, right? But of course it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you just need medicine””

For the first time in my mental health battle I felt like I wasn’t alone. I’ve struggled to find the words to explain my thoughts or feelings and, reading Emery’s book, I feel that I’ve finally found ways to help articulate what’s going on in my head. My copy of When We Collided is actually full of underlines paragraphs – paragraphs full of quotes to use when I can’t find the words I want, and I’m sure I’ll treasure them forever. What was especially lovely was that I lent my copy to by best friend and she too could see how what I’d underlined related to me, how it helped her to understand what I was going through.

It’s books like these that we need out there in the world to help people come to terms and understand mental health – to make it none taboo and to give people the confidence to shout from the roof tops that they’re not feeling okay and that’s okay.

Thank you Emery Lord for this book. It’s exactly what I needed.

p.s. I actually wrote to Emery, explaining how thankful I was for her book and she actually replied. Fan Girl alert.

“I wish I could explain everything to Jonah. But bipolar disorder is an untranslatable term. I could tell him that sometimes it feels like being on a carnival ride, so fast and dizzying and fun at first. Then it goes on for too long, and you can’t stop. I could tell him how I hurt friends without meaning to. I could tell him that depression made me feel like a husk, empty and lifeless. Those comparisons might help, but bipolar disorder is so complex, and it’s mine. My feelings have back rooms and trapdoors, and I’m still learning them. I can’t quite articulate what bipolar disorder is for me.”