Thursday, 14 April 2016

My Favourite Books on Mental Health

Hi guys, as I'm sure most of you already know I suffer with mental health issues. Over the years since being diagnosed with PTSD, OCD, Anxiety and Depression I've read countless books featuring characters with mental illnesses. Today I wanted to share with you some of the best books I've come across in that time. I thought that all of the books mentioned in this post represented mental health in a really honest light. If you're suffering with your mental health or know someone who is I hope that these books help and make you feel a little less alone.

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne 
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Deals With: OCD, Anxiety 
Synopsis: "All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?"

Why I Love It- Being totally honest here, if I had to choose one book as my favourite on this list it would be Am I Normal Yet? When it comes to OCD, anxiety and just growing up as a girl, Holly Bourne really gets it. I've suffered from debilitating OCD in the past and this book portrayed the thoughts and feelings I went through at that time so accurately that it's scary. This book is an absolute must read.

When We Collided by Emery Lord 
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Deals With: Bipolar DisorderDepression 
Synopsis: "Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him."

Why I Love It- I read When We Collided very recently and absolutely fell in love with it. What I really liked about this book is that it not only follows someone living with a mental illness but also someone who loves someone with a mental illness. I'd especially recommend this book to anyone who is trying to support someone who has either depression or bipolar disorder.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 
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Deals With: PTSD, Social Anxiety, Depression 
Synopsis:"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 mixed 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 Charlie 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."

Why I Love It- The Perks of Being a Wallflower has become a bit of a mental health classic and if you've read it then you'll know why. This is a book that really gets it right and somehow manages to put those dark, devastating feelings into coherent sentences. When I read this back in 2012 I remember reading passages out to my parents and saying "This is what it's like for me!" It also has a stellar film adaptation that is well worth watching after reading this book.

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt 
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Deals With: PTSD, Agoraphobia, Anxiety, Panic Attacks
Synopsis:"Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside."

Why I Love It- Underwater is another fairly recent read for me that I read in January this year. The character in this book is actually housebound because of her mental illnesses which is something that I was for a while so I found this book incredibly relatable. This book focuses more on mental health recovery which I found really refreshing to read. I loved the hopeful message that things can and will get better. No matter what you've been through and how bad your mental illnesses are there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson 
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Deals With: Eating Disorders, Anorexia
Synopsis:"“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl. I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through. I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit."

Why I Love It- Like Perks, Wintergirls has also become a mental health classic over the years. I read this one way back in 2009 but to this day it still sticks with me as being the best book that I've read about anorexia. This wasn't a book that I could personally relate to but it was one that really opened my eyes to the world of eating disorders. I remember it being incredibly powerful and evocative to read and like all Laurie Halse Anderson books it's beautifully written.

Beautiful Broken Things 
by Sara Barnard 
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Deals With: PTSD, Anxiety, Depression 
Synopsis:"I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own."

Why I Love It- Beautiful Broken Things is one of my favourite reads of this year so far and one that I've been pushing absolutely everyone to read. I'd especially recommend this to anyone who has a friend with a mental illness as this book shows how best to (and best not) support them.

There are so many incredible books out there representing mental health, these are just a handful of my favourites. I have so many books sitting on my bookcase featuring mental health that I have yet to read. Whatever you're going through you are not alone. I want to end this post by leaving a link to this excellent list on Goodreads sharing books dealing with mental illness that is well worth checking out.
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