**This post discusses mental illness and might include something upsetting. Please continue at your own discretion.**
Here’s the thing: I live with mental illness. Along with many, many others, I don’t often talk about it. Why? Stigma. It’s hard to talk about something that is often belittled or disbelieved. Over the years, I’ve gotten some seriously odd (and at times, harmful) comments regarding my bipolar. But I’ve realized something: there is absolutely no reason for me to feel ashamed or embarrassed by my mental illness. Yes, sometimes I am fighting a battle with myself. But I’m fighting, which I think I should be proud of.
Being me, I have several books that I’ve read over the years that portray mental illness in a way that helps me. Here are a few of them. And please know this: if you struggle with mental illness, you are not alone. You are not lesser than. You are not a burden. Not ever.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini : inspired by Ned Vizinni’s own mental hospital stay. It discusses suicide, depression, and finding hope.
“People are screwed up in this world. I’d rather be with someone screwed up and open about it than somebody perfect and ready to explode.”
If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For by Jamie Tworkoski : Written by the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, these emails and poems discuss depression, drug use, faith, and accepting help.
You are more than just your pain. You are more than wounds, more than drugs, more than death and silence.There is still some time to be surprised. There is still some time to ask for help. There is still some time to start again. There is still some time for love to find you. It’s not too late. You’re not alone. It’s okay –whatever you need and however long it takes- its okay. It’s okay. If you feel too much, there’s still a place for you here. If you feel too much, don’t go. There is still some time.” -Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison : Jamison’s autobiography is incredibly uplifting because, not only did I completely relate, but she is a talented mental health professor despite (because of?) her illness.
I have seen the breadth and depth and width of my mind and heart and seen how frail they both are, and how ultimately unknowable they both are. – Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chobsky: This beautiful book discusses ptsd, depression, possible unspecified mood disorder, and drug use.
So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.- Stephen Chobsky, Perks of Being a Wallflower
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher: talks mainly about bipolar disorder.
“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
Are there any books that you feel portray mental illness well? What are they? I’d love to get a list going!