This month’s topic for Monthly Recommendations, a Goodreads group, is Mental Illness Rep. A big problem today is the stigma against mental illness and those who suffer from it. I am only choosing to include fictional books on this list although there are some excellent non-fiction and reference books on the subject.
The most current that I’ve read and probably one of the most popular is Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. The main character in this has OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which John Green also has. It’s really fun mystery but the anxiety representation is really well done. It also deals really well with grief.
Wintergirls by Laurie Anderson Hale is also one of the most reference but for a reason. CW: anorexia, bulimia, self-harm. It was the one of the first books I read that shows eating disorders as a form of self-harm and didn’t pull punches in the consequence that follow.
Another classic is Go Ask Alice by Anonymous. It is an diary by a real person from the 80s I believe that chronicles a teen girl’s spiral into addiction. Addiction is a serious public health problem as well as mental health. It is very gritty but it is a true story and a fast read as it is journal entries. It is a CW: rape, self-harm.
Something that needs to be addressed in the book community is mental health in fantasy books. Two books that start to address it are A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling. Both main characters Feyre and Harry, respectively, suffer from symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They relive their trauma, through dreams and panic attacks, and experience increase in aggressive and anxious behaviors after these experiences.
My top recommendations for general mental health books are She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb and Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. She’s Come Undone follows the story of a young women’s life from her early life to her late 30s. CW: rape, binge eating, sexual abuse. A large portion of this story takes place in a mental hospital and emphasizes the important of therapy, medication, and the myriad of ways to cope. Impulse takes place in a mental hospital following three characters that have recently tried to commit suicide. CW: self-harm, sexual abuse.
If you are struggling with any of these issues, there is always help.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800)273-8255
National Alliance on Mental Illness Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741