Thursday, September 10, 2020

Book/Movie Review: Words on Bathroom Walls

My friend Tammy and I wanted to go see a movie, so I suggested Words on Bathroom Walls because I was going to read the book soon. Naturally, I had to read the book before I could see the movie, and I was happy to get the book done in a day. We went to see the movie last night, so lets talk about both. 


When you can't trust your mind, trust your heart.

Adam is a pretty regular teen, except he's navigating high school life while living with paranoid schizophrenia. His hallucinations include a cast of characters that range from the good (beautiful Rebecca) to the bad (angry Mob Boss) to the just plain weird (polite naked guy). An experimental drug promises to help him hide his illness from the world. When Adam meets Maya, a fiercely intelligent girl, he desperately wants to be the normal, great guy that she thinks he is. But as the miracle drug begins to fail, how long can he keep this secret from the girl of his dreams?
I know next to nothing about schizophrenia other than it is scary to have, scary to be with someone in the thick of it, and there is no cure. I wanted to read this just so I could learn a little more, even if it is fictionalized, but the perspective of a teenage boy going through it is what sold me. 

In this book, which is written as a diary, we have Adam. Adam is in a drug trial for a new medicine to treat schizophrenia. I won't go into a whole lot because I think you really need to read it as it happens because its important to the feel and flow of the story. I will tell you it was heartbreaking as a mother to read this and know that this could be happening to my child and what is there I can do? I can bring you to doctors and provide medication and therapy but beyond that, parents are unable to fix something like this. As someone who deals with mental illness myself (depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation) I did not expect to have so much of this hit close to home. I really didn't think any of it would be something that I could relate to but I was really very wrong. 
"So I didn't think of death as a sad thing. I didn't fear it the way other people do, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It was only ever bad when I craved it because being me was exhausting. Death seemed like a release that I was too cowardly to reach for because of my family. Even if i could settle on a method that didn't repulse me, I could never have put my mom through the pain of finding my body." -page 144
"You lose your secrets when you let people get too close." -page 152
"Glorious sleep. I'd forgotten how good it feels to just let yourself die for ten hours." - page 257
When reading the book Adam describes the people only he sees, the sounds/things only he hears/sees and that's bad enough. The movie does a GREAT job recreating this, to the point where I could feel what he felt on screen. The fear of the noise, seeing the black cloud come, knowing that an episode is going to happen but being completely helpless. You can feel his desperation of wanting to be "normal" and just his general helplessness of the situation. 

To be frank, I cried through the entire movie because I knew how this would unravel (the movie was a bit different from the book of course) and you could really see his spiral. I think being able to relate to him and his mom at the same time probably didn't help me, either. I will say the parts where the voices are telling him how awful he is, how he should just do everyone a favor and kill himself, that was well done. I can say that as someone who deals with the SAME voices myself day in and day out. It really isn't a matter of "don't listen to them" because they just get louder. It really is like someone behind you in your ear telling you to kill yourself, how to do it, when, where, just do it already, etc. On bad days it is all day. 

Overall? I loved both. I felt like both covered the topic really well in a way that teens (and even adults) could understand the topic. The movie did a great job recreating some of the symptoms which makes it easier to understand, especially if you never experienced anything like this. Both had humor that doesn't leave it feeling like an emotionally brutal experience. I also really like how both talked about the side effects of a lot of mental health drugs, how you can become resistant, and how we often live with awful effects for just a little relief in our heads. In both the book and movie it talks/shows the tremors in hands and legs and I remember having that on our way back from Florida when Lucy was almost one. It was awful, and I had to stop that drug because I couldn't handle it. I was on another where it was full body tremors and someone asked me if I had Parkinson's, it was that bad. Matt said even at night I would shake and the whole bed would shake. I couldn't eat without making a mess because to get a spoon to your mouth when everything is shaking is pretty hard. Mentally, it was the best I had felt but the tremors were just too much. 

If you are looking for a great young adult (truly, adults will like this, too) or your teen needs a new read, have them read this and then go see the movie. Trust me. 

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Why Girls Are Weird said...

I've never heard of this book but apparently I need to give it a read!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I loved this book! And I am excited about the movie, though I don't know when I'll get a chance to see it. I'm so glad you liked both. I'm sure it was rough reading/watching though - especially identifying with both the teen AND the mom. That's a lot!!!