Ash Winters is a novelist; Ash Winters struggles with bipolar 1 disorder, and has severe anxiety.
After a one night stand with a gorgeous glitter pirate by the name of Darian Taylor, Ash think that this is it. Yet, he keeps coming back to Darian, a man who talks with a heavy Essex accent, who thinks that he talks like the Queen. He and Darian are nothing alike.
The thing is, Darian has turned Ash’s world upside down. He’s cooked for him, had sex with him, and shared his dream of modeling with Ash. He even gave a picture of himself to Ash from his portfolio.
Darian is a sweet-hearted man, while Ash has become jaded and cold due to his time spent in hospitals and experiencing mental breakdowns. His anxieties make him hard to live with, and his depression makes it hard for him to function. As his ex later tells Darian, “You don’t have a fucking clue…What are you going to do when he won’t get out of bed or take his medication? When he cuts words into his arms, drinks when he shouldn’t, take drugs when he shouldn’t, or sleeps with strangers who are bad for him? Or what about when he keeps you up all night because he can’t sleep. Or has a a panic attack out of nowhere. And, let’s not forget: what about when he tries to kill himself, again? Or has another manic episode and won’t eat or sleep or stop talking, and think he’s…what was it again, Ash? Oh yes, Thomas Mallory, and the second coming of Arthur Pendragon” (pgs. 140-141). This section was an insight to me as to how Niall couldn’t cope with Ash’s depressive and manic stages. It also made me realize just how bad things could get for Ash, even with someone wonderful to love by his side.
As someone who has severe depression, I can understand what Ash goes through in this novel. His manic stages reminds me of my own, especially when I get up at 3:30 in the morning for no apparent reason, and traipse downstairs to read, eat something, and drink tea. I’ll take out the clean dishes from the dishwasher, read, knit, or write blog posts. I’ll feel unable to fall back asleep, partly because my mind feels I need to be doing something.
I’ve understood his sense of wanting to do something with his life, but feeling like you can’t accomplish your dreams because you’re too busy trying to build up the courage to actually do them: “Once, I’d lived my life full of wanting and, like anyone else, I’d taken it for granted. But, in time, depression had flayed it from me, the wanting, the everyday hopes and dreams, and all the little desires. They became too dangerous to keep, too fragile to survive, and my bitter, barren soul could nurture no new ones. I’d kept only compromises, the shadows of old passions, things I just about learned to preserve.
“Today is a day in which I will not want to die. Today is a day in which I will want to get out of bed” (pg. 217).
Ash’s struggles humanized and made me sympathize with him. I got what he was going through. Darian’s love and kindness endeared me to him, and only made me want the pair of them to stay together forever when Ash screwed it all up.
Glitterland is one of the most honest experiences with depression and anxiety I’ve read. It doesn’t sugar coat the really high high’s of being manic, nor the low low’s of being depressed. The characters are interesting, well-written, and the story is overall happy. It reminded me of what can happen when you meet someone special in your life when you’re at your hope’s end.
Glitterland is about taking chances on someone, and reorganizing your expectations of someone. It’s about falling in love, and sticking with that person no matter how choppy the waters may be. I read this book in two days, unable to put it down. In short, I highly recommend it. If you want something happy to read, with a good ending, Glitterland is for you.