It is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK, and I’m positive those of you who have read my blog for a long time know about the struggles I have had over the last few years. My mental health has been very fragile and at times, completely debilitating. It makes me happy to see so many people open up during Mental Health Awareness Week as it makes us realise that we are not alone and that nobody, no matter who you are, is immune from struggling with poor mental health. This year’s topic is on body image, which I can say I have struggled with immensely in the last twelve months. After being unwell and put on a medication that made me gain three stones, I’ve found myself going from being confident about my body to wearing baggy clothes and have plenty of online shopping meltdowns when clothes don’t fit me. Although this is this years theme, I think it is important to still use this week to have as many mental health related conversations are possible. Here are some books I think bring incredible awareness to different mental illnesses and books I will always recommend when it comes to mental health.
This is one of the most heart wrenching, beautifully written books I have ever read. It is a real gem that dives deeply into mental illness and the strain it can cause on relationships. The story follows two Chinese sisters – Miranda and Lucia. Miranda is the headstrong older sister and is protective of her younger sister Lucia. But when Lucia starts to hear voices, Miranda must help her unpredictable sister realise her mental illness and support her as best she can. This book tackles psychosis and schizophrenia so well. The prose is incredibly beautiful but equally heartbreaking. It has engraved itself in my mind, and I found it to be a frank insight into the psychosis and the challenges that come with having a family member experience this. If there is one book I recommend about mental health, it is hands down always this one.
This is one of the frankest and detailed books I have ever read on bipolar disorder. Zack was a 26-year-old Public Defender living in NYC when one day, he wakes up and believes his life is being recorded just like The Truman Show. After a manic spree around New York, believing every person he encountered was involved in the show, he is arrested and admitted to hospital. The book takes him back to his roots in Kansas where his Mum, nicknamed Bird, will care for him. It portrays the reality of bipolar disorder and the aftermath of an episode which can sometimes leave people feeling worthless and embarrassed by their actions. Zack’s open and honest account makes for an incredibly educational and insightful look into this hugely stigmatised disorder that affects 1 in 100 people in the UK.
This was the first book I’d ever read about mental health. I read this when I was fourteen years old, and I have re-read it around another four or five times since. Each time I do, I take something different away from it. It is an eye-opening account of depression following Esther, a young woman who is just starting out in life who suffers from a breakdown. Depression takes over, debilitating Esther from her entire life. This is eerily similar to Plath’s own life and is a hauntingly accurate, detailed book about depression which, if you have never experienced, will open your eyes to just how brutal it can be. I will continue to read this book over and over again, and if you want to read more about depression, then this ideal book that shows what the reality of this horrible illness is.
Carrie Fisher was incredibly open while she was alive about her struggle with bipolar disorder and addiction. This book is a humorous tale of her life ranging from being the daughter of two famous parents, being chosen to play Leia in Star Wars and of course, her mental health. This memoir sheds humour on her illness and details her life in a real and detailed way. She touches a lot on her relationship with therapy and the different therapies she has explored – including shock therapy. This book will have you intrigued, laughing and also sad. I listened to this via audio and cannot recommend it enough.
There are tons of books on mental health, but these are the ones I always recommend most. I’d love to discover more fiction books about mental health, so if you have any, you would recommend, I’d love for you to comment below or tweet/IG me at @whatamydid. Thanks for reading!