Let’s Talk About Mental Illness

In honour of Let’s Talk Day, I am finally posting this list of books involving mental illness. It is even more fitting that this is my first post after a long break due to dealing with a bad depressive episode. I often find myself wanting to read about characters/people who have similar struggles.

The picture I put up is one that I made myself for an art class. It is meant to be an awareness poster for depression. It shows the silence a person (thank you to me friend for being the model) being silenced while a dementor (aka depression) sucks the life out of her. I am not an artist so it is not very polished but I thought it was fitting for this post.

Here is a list of books about some aspect of mental illness:

  • Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson- Depression and Anxiety

These two books are autobiographies by the woman who writes the hilarious blog “the bloggess“. She writes about her struggle with depression and anxiety (as well as a host of other issues) in a real yet funny way that feels very honest. The books are also full of many other hilarious stories that will make you laugh until you cry.

  • The Boyfriend List by E.Lockhart- Panic Attacks

This is a series of books about a girl with panic attacks. She is a high school student with a lot of teenage drama. The writing about her therapist felt a little unrealistic to me but the stories are funny and enjoyable anyway.

  • The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti- Panic Disorder

I love this story about a teenager with panic disorder who calms herself at night by watching the live cam of the elephants at the zoo down the street from her house. One night she sees a boy visiting the elephants and sets out to meet him. This story does not feel like a boring old love story and it shows a realistic mental illness that is not “cured” by love.

  • I Don’t Want to be Crazy by Samantha Schutz- Anxiety

The story of a college girls struggle with anxiety, written in loose poetry. Most of this book had me nodding my head and saying “that’s it”. There was a lot that I could relate to yet I did not feel connected to the character and did not really enjoy the book. But if you are looking for a book that is not happy then this may satisfy you.

  • The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

I LOVED this book. About a girl who forgets blocks of time and has no idea what she has done or who she has talked to during those times. Slowly she uncovers her own secrets. I can’t tell you too much without giving away the ending.

This is a really interesting book told from the point of view of a high school girl who has trouble telling the difference between reality and her delusions. One day she meets a boy and can not tell if he is real or not. It is really well written and different from most teen books you read. Again, it is not one of those books were the character is cured in the end.

  • Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella- Anxiety

After an “incident”, Audrey has developed social anxiety and has left school to be home-schooled. She finds that she is able to talk to her brothers friend and of course she falls in love with him and is “cured”. Not the kind of story line I enjoy but the writing was good.

  • Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern- Depression

Anna Bloom is a teenager with severe depression that ends up with her in the hospital. She ends up making friends and having a better time than she expected. The book is a little bit funny but a bit dull and I don’t think it is very realistic. Not a bad quick read but not the best depression based book.

  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh- Depression

This book reminds me of Jenny Lawson’s books but in comic form. Allie writes about her life in very rough comics that are hilarious. Only one chapter (in two parts) is really about depression but it is spot on and the rest of the book had me literally laughing out loud (and getting funny looks).

  • Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers- PTSD/Depression

I read this book a few summers ago when I really wanted a dark book that wasn’t happy and wouldn’t have a happy ending. This book fit that category. I don’t think it is ever stated that Parker has a specific mental illness but after a traumatic incident she starts to fall apart. The book is built around the mystery of what the incident was. I didn’t like the ending but at least it wasn’t happy.

  • The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati – Bipolar

The most recent book I have read. I felt that this is one of the most realistic portrayals of depression I have read. Cath has bipolar disorder and is planning suicide before her depression returns. She starts a bucket lists but her plans are postponed when she starts an intensive outpatient program, makes a friend and a boyfriend. I like that she is not cured but she does get to a better mind-set. The ending felt a little to happily ever after for me but I really enjoyed the book.

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PS. Sorry this is so rough, but I wanted to get it posted today. Please excuse any spelling mistakes and the lack of formatting.

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