Today marks the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, 16th – 22nd May 2016 and I thought I would do something to help raise a little awareness, book style of course. So this is hopefully going to be like a discussion and a list all in one.
Mental illness is something personal in my life as it is something I have been dealing with myself, and with people I know. It’s this thing that has this big stigma behind it, even now with more and more people being diagnosed with some sort of mental illness, people are still hiding or feeling ashamed of it, myself included. I have been told that I have some form of depression, which is linked into how bad my migraines do get at times, making me incapable of moving, talking, reading or doing anything. Just leaving me in serious pain. I am still, even now, back and fore specialists to try and sort them out and find better treatment for them. I have friends and family members, who have tried to commit suicide, luckily failing and being caught in time. So this is a very serious topic with me.
So to help raise awareness, I am going to list, some amazing books, that have helped to portray Mental Health and Mental Illness in a positive or helpful way that’s really illustrated the illness. I may not have read all the books on this list, but they have been received very well and I will say which ones I’ve read and which ones I haven’t.
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
If you haven’t read this book then you really need to. I read this book in school for my English GCSEs and loved it and recently bought it to reread it again. This book is set during America’s Great Depression, where two brothers have this dream to own and run their own farm, but due to the Great Depression, they find themselves going from farm to farm looking for work. The two brothers, George and Lennie are all each other have. Lennie has extreme strength, considering how big he is, but he doesn’t have the mind to go with it, so George becomes his brothers keeper. Such an emotional book. Here is the Goodreads description for this book:
“The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.”
Still Alice – Lisa Genova
I haven’t read this book yet, but it is on my TBR list and I have bought it. So here is the description for a more accurate representation of the book and of the mental illness this book represents.
“Alice is just fifty when she finds herself in a downward spiral, increasingly disoriented and forgetful. A university Professor, wife and mother of three, she has books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But now a tragic diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease is set to change her life – and her relationship with her family and the world – forever.
Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short term memory is hanging by a frayed thread. But she is still Alice.”
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
This is one of the biggest books that came up when I looked up the most accurate books representations of mental illnesses. This is believed to semi auto – biographical of Sylvia Plaths own troubles and problems with depression. I haven’t read this book. Of course I’ve heard about it, but after researching it, I have now added it to my TBR list. So here is the description, taken from Goodreads:
“Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.”
Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
This was the highest rated Mental Illness book that has been shelved on Goodreads, so of course this book had to be on this list. I haven’t read this book so I don’t know how accurate it may be. I have check reviews, and there are mixed reviews from people who have or are suffering from some sort of mental health problem, but there were more positives so that’s why it’s on my list. Plus it has really opened my eyes and made me want to read this book, so this book as also been added to my TBR list. So here’s another description from Goodreads about this book:
“In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele — Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles — as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.
Kaysen’s memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a “parallel universe” set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.”
The Quiet Room: A Journey Out Of The Torment Of Madness
– Lori Schiller & Amanda Bennett
This is the memoir of a Lori Schiller, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, telling her story. So what’s more telling, than being told through the true story, through the eyes of the person diagnosed with the illness. And from reading the reviews, as I haven’t read this book either, you also have chapters from her friends, family and so on, so you see how her illness and suicide attempts, not only affected her, but affected the people around her. Here is the Goodreads description for this book:
“At seventeen Lori Schiller was the perfect child — the only daughter of an affluent, close-knit family. Six years later she made her first suicide attempt, then wandered the streets of New York City dressed in ragged clothes, tormenting voices crying out in her mind. Lori Schiller had entered the horrifying world of full-blown schizophrenia. She began an ordeal of hospitalizations, halfway houses, relapses, more suicide attempts, and constant, withering despair. But against all odds, she survived. Now in this personal account, she tells how she did it, taking us not only into her own shattered world, but drawing on the words of the doctors who treated her and family members who suffered with her.”
The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
If you haven’t read or head about this book, you may have heard or watched the film adaptation. I know I have. But just like most book to films adaptations, NEVER judge a book by the film 😜 So here’s the description for the book, taken from Goodreads:
“Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!
In this enchanting novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Yet again, you may have seen the film adaptation of this book and not have read the book. I was honestly taken aback when I discovered that this book was about mental illness. When doing research for this post, this book came up as the fourth highest shelved book on Goodreads under the term “mental illness”. It was an extra shock because of how much I already want to read this book, so much so, I already own it! So this has made this book even higher up on my TBR list. This is one of the highest books on my TBR list. So I can’t explain how it is linked in yet, because I’m not sure how sorry. But here is the description of the book from Goodreads:
“Charlie is a freshman.
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.”
It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – Ned Vizzini
This is another book to movie adaptation, so you could have seen the movie and not have read the book, just like I have, as I didn’t know until now that it was originally a book. I really enjoyed the movie, so now I know that it is a book, I am definitely adding it to my TBR list. We see Craig, who is under so much stress, hes not sleeping, or eating, until one night he nearly kills himself, which gets him admitted into the mental hospital. We see the inside of the mental institution/hospital, where we see people who have been admitted with different mental illnesses themselves. This book, I believe, is a memoir of the author Ned Vizzini based on how he spend a trip to the psychiatric ward after suicidal thoughts and depression. Sadly, Vizzinis battle with depression wasn’t successful, as in 2013 at only 32 years of age, Ned Vizzini sadly ended his life by committing suicide, leaving behind his wife and son. Here’s the description for this book, from Goodreads:
“Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.”
House Rules – Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult writes about things that happens and affects people in everyday and every bodies lives, things that people may not like to hear or read about. This book really opened my eyes about asperger’s syndrome, because I was really ignorant about it and hadn’t really heard about it before. This book was really in depth when it came to symptoms with the illness, or at least with this case. The scenio and situation that was then occurred, showed how little not only me, but the population knew about this syndrome. How, if you are unaware, it can resemble guilt and there’s a reason behind everything and every action. This book really opened my eyes! Here is the description of this book, again taken from Goodreads:
“Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject – forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he’s always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he’s usually right.
But when Jacob’s small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.
And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?“
There are so, so many more books out there that highlight mental health in so many ways, but these are just some of the few that I have just plucked out of the vast ocean I have picked. I haven’t begun to mention:
●Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
●Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
●Social Anxiety Phobia
●Multiple Personal Disorder
And so, so, so many more.
If you think that you have some form of Mental Health problem, please do not feel like you should hide it away! There are so many people that are diagnosed with Mental Health issued these days, that it’s silly to think that there still any stigma behind it and it should be discussed openly. So please don’t be afraid and try to open up and talk to someone ☺
What books to you think highlight and raises Mental Health issues the best? Or highlight a vast and variety of mental health issues? What do you think when you see Mental Illnesses in books? Is seeing it more taking the stigma out of Mental Health? Comment below ☺