Sunday, 15 August 2021

CATCH ME IF I FALL by Nikki Rodwell @NikkiRodwell

 5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: The author is a friend of my sister, who I got to know when she joined Twitter.

In a Nutshell: Personal story of psychosis and spine injury

I bought this memoir because I've got to know Nikki on Twitter and wanted to support her, and also because I wanted to read about how she recovered from a devastating spinal cord injury. I expected to find it moderately interesting, but it's riveting, from start to finish.  It's written in such a chatty, engaging way; Nikki definitely has plenty of storytelling talent.  I couldn't stop turning those pages.

I did not realise until I began the book that Nikki has a severe mental health problem - and no, I don't mean the sort that is claimed in many a social media post every time someone has a bit of a bad day or feels a bit anxious.  She suffers from psychosis, something I knew very little about.  Her account of the incident that culminated in her spinal cord injury was harrowing to read about, though more shocking in a different way was the blow-by-blow account of her slow, painstaking recovery.

I'm fascinated by all things psychological, less so by the medical, but I was still gripped all the way through this.  It's written in a very 'warts and all' fashion - now and again it was a bit 'TMI', but my goodness, I take my hat off to anyone who has been through an ordeal like Nikki's and come out smiling.  At the same time, I wondered if she realised how much she has told the reader about herself; for instance, she talks about her daughters frequently not speaking to each other or not speaking to her, as if this is something quite every-day, and, although she talks a little about her relationship with her father, I wondered if she sees how much it has influenced the rest of her life.

There was just one thing missing - pictures!  Nikki talks a lot about the photos she posted on Facebook, throughout, and it would have been so great to see them in the book.  However, if you look here on her blog, there are many posts under 'Hospital 2019' that show some of them, or you can sign up to her newsletter to see them (link in book), and also the video of her learning to walk again.

I so admire Nikki's guts in getting through this life-changing period, whilst turning negatives into positives and using the experience to re-evaluate her life.  I think it should be read by anyone who is going through a long recovery of this type or suffers from psychosis and the stigma attached to severe psychological problems; I hate to use the ghastly buzzword 'inspirational', but it really is.  I highly recommend it anyway, even if you don't think a medical memoir will be your sort of thing.  You won't be able to put it down either, I guarantee!


  1. Here's mine, Terry:

    An avid reader all my life, this is my first ever book review.

    Firstly I should say that I know the author, Nikki Rodwell.  In her book she mentions that she and her husband Martin bought a cafe business in North Norfolk, shortly before the psychotic episode that is the subject of the book.  The business was bought from my wife, and during the process and afterwards we got to know them and spent time with them.

    Secondly, I am one of those who find the current vogue for using "affecting my mental health" as an all too convenient hook to hang on the fact that you're simply having a bad day.  I have a low tolerance of it.  This book has in no way changed my views on this, in fact it has strengthened them as the excessive use of such excuses is actually an insult to people like Nikki, who have experienced genuine mental issues often outside their control.

    In the book she describes in brutally honest detail her dramatic psychotic episode, her subsequent hospitalisation, her lows, disappointments, frustrations, humiliations and embarrassments - but also her resolve not to be defined by all this, and to find an inner strength to navigate a way through her potentially life changing physical difficulties, and move forward on a path to recovery. 

    The book is well written and, despite the sometimes uncomfortable subject matter, is flowingly easy to read.  Would I have purchased it had I not known Nikki?  The honest answer is no, probably not - but that would have been my loss.  The book opens up the reality of true mental illness issues, and I recommend it highly.

    1. Sounds like we are in 100% agreement, Laurie!!! And I have been known to tweet that the 'affecting my mental health' crew insult those such as Nikki by their 'poor me and let's blame everyone else because I can't get off my arse' claims!

      Thanks for reading my review and sending me this, and ps, your one liners for my books are every bit as valuable! x

  2. Just started your "The Visitor" (as opposed to Lee Childs's) so you never know!