It may not always be easy to live with or read about Mental Illness-- but it does teach us a lot. We learn how to handle disorders, how to recognize symptoms, and they can even make us feel a little bit better about our own lives and situations. Whether reading for comfort or for research-- books on Mental Illness are insightful and honest. Here are some of the most interesting books on Mental Illness I have found so far…
1 Wasted: a Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher
Wasted is the story of Marya Hornbach and her battle with Bulimia. Her eating disorder began at the age of 9 and her use of drugs and sex followed soon after. Marya was an aspiring writer and artist struggling with deeper emotional issues that were not yet recognized by professionals at the time of her youth. She was hospitalized several times on the brink of death due to starvation and near overdose of alcohol and drugs. This tragic tale of a young girl’s lack of self worth is followed up by this next story of Marya as an adult still struggling…
2 Madness: a Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher
Marya Hornbach’s struggle with substances and handling her Bipolar Disorder consumed her life as a young adult. She relapsed from her medication and ran away with boyfriends who were just as sick as she was. She was a published author-- public speaker advocating truths on eating disorders-- but still she didn’t feel right in her own skin. She was consumed with racing thoughts and felt pressure to be the life of the party. Even her therapists seemed to underplay her alcoholism and drug use-- prescribing more anti- anxiety medication knowing she was drinking heavily. Read Marya’s 3 Memoirs to get her full story and how she came out sober and Sane (the title of her 3rd memoir).
3 Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America by Elizabeth Wurtzel
This coming of age tale of Elizabeth Wurtzel and her depression is interesting and entertaining. Her wit and self loathing shine through as she deals with her parent’s divorce and comes to terms with her own emotions. Elizabeth was desperate as well as stubborn for help. She finally began treatment with therapy and medication at a time when Prozac was everywhere. This book was later made into a movie starring Christina Ricci.
4 The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This is a classic short story of a woman isolated in a room in her home. Her husband is a doctor who seems to have diagnosed her and recommend she stay away for a while. The detail of her obsession with the yellow wallpaper and the room falling apart around her showcases her sickness while the interpretation of her situation is left up to you. She may have recently had a child or lost a child and is in the nursery-- unable to face the outside world. Read this story and decide for yourself.
5 Less than Crazy: Living Fully with Bipolar 2 by Karla Dougherty
This book is a great research tool to identify symptoms and clarify the defining qualities of lesser known Bipolar 2 disorder. Most people are familiar with the manic episodes of Bipolar 1 disorder while a large majority of people diagnosed with depression or other classic mental illnesses may actually have Bipolar 2 disorder. Bipolar 2 is treated with anti psychotic medications, and has cycles that must be paired with healthy diet and awareness of when the person will crash next.
6 Dancing on My Grave by Gelsey Kirkland
Former Balanchine Ballerina for the New York City Ballet as well as the American Ballet Theatre-- this dancer was emotionally unstable. Her cocaine habit and anorexia spiraled her into destructive relationships with men such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and almost cost her her career. Gelsey couldn’t seem to get it together to maintain anything healthy. She went to uncertified doctors to ’correct’ her face and body with unimaginable surgeries in an attempt to make her feel more beautiful. Gelsey now has her own dance company out of New York and has gotten better.
7 How You Can Survive when They’re Depressed by Anne Sheffield
Sometimes we need the most help when others around us need help. This book is a helpful guide for those living with anyone suffering from depression. Depression affects everyone somehow-- and this tool gives successful coping strategies and insight into needs and reactions of the sufferers. People may find relief in reading similar stories and feel hopeful knowing that they are not alone in dealing with depressed friends and family.
These books are not easy to read-- but are helpful. We can feel better and connected relating to those who are sick. Life could be worse-- and it does get better. What are some of your favorite books on the topic of Mental Illness?
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