Must Read Books that Honestly Depict Mental Illness


Distorted depictions of mental illness often sell false hope to those looking for guidance, listed below are 5 books that portray an honest illustration of Mental Illness.

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful – Sarah Wilson

mental health depiction FWMTBB (c - Emma Ritchie)Sarah Wilson bares all when discussing her journey through life with anxiety in this New York Times Bestseller. A book approved by psychologists and written by a woman in the thick of it. Sarah’s personal account of her struggles coming to terms with her anxiety challenges outsiders’ views on the lifelong problem. A solution to controlling it can take years to discover and put into practise, saying ‘you’ll be fine’ and ‘calm down’ just won’t cut it anymore.

Wilson said:“People are desperate to have a deep and proper and real conversation about anxiety. Anxiety is a very lonely condition, but I feel like there’s a yearning out there to connect over it.”

When asked why she wrote the book she responded, “Because I can’t help it and because I’m sick of being lonely.”

For those struggling or living with anxiety the story may be a familiar one. A must read for learning coping techniques or just a story to relate to.

Reasons to Stay Alive- Matt Haig

mental health depiction RTSA (c -Emma Ritchie)

Author of ‘How to Stop Time’ and ‘The Radleys’, Matt Haig brings us his most personal work yet. Expected to be a self-help book, ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is in fact an account of Haig’s troubles with depression and his journey up from rock bottom.
Starting off with a 24-year-old Matt Haig on the edge of a cliff, unable to find beauty in the surroundings of Ibiza as he tries, with everything within, to push himself over the edge. Thankfully the book does not end there, carrying on to discuss the invisible hell that is anxiety and depression.

When asked about why he wrote the book, he said: “I think the subconscious reason I wrote Reasons to Stay Alive was to feel less alone.

Minds have their own weather systems. You are in a hurricane. Hurricanes run out of energy eventually. Hold on.”

A personal and honest story pushing the message that ‘you can’t get lower than rock bottom, up is the only way to go from there’.

Turtles All the Way Down -John Green

mental health depiction TATWD (c- Emma Ritchie)‘The Fault in Our Stars’ author John Green comes back with his fifth solo novel, Turtles All the Way Down. Title character Aza juggles her responsibilities as a daughter, friend and student as her constant anxious thoughts consume her. A strong story of learning to live with your own weaknesses – in this case Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  Green presents an honest and possibly familiar story for those reading.

“We really like stories that involve conquering obstacles and involve victory over adversity. And I love those stories too.”

John explains: “It’s just that hasn’t been my story with mental illness and I didn’t really want it to be Aza’s”.

This novel explores the definitions of a happy ending. A must read for anyone needing guiding push forward in an age where drawbacks happen every day.

Holding Up the Universe – Jennifer Niven

Mental Health Depiction HUTU (c-Emma Ritchie)A positive book of self-acceptance, New York Times Best Seller ‘Holding Up the Universe’ is a story of insecurities. Main character Libby is bullied for matters relating to her weight and body image. While Jack lives with Prosopagnosia making everyone including his own family strangers to him. They find comfort in each other when both are alienated from the world around them.

“It comes from my 12 and 13-year-old self, who struggled with her weight and the bullying that came with it.” Jennifer said when asked where her idea started, “From the loss of my dad, which happened only months after the loss of my boyfriend, when I shut down completely and couldn’t leave the house because the world was too scary. From having to go back out into that world again and figure out my place in it. And most recently, it comes from the loss of my mom, who was my sun, and from trying not to worry — every day — that I will die unexpectedly, without warning, the way she did.”

Two worlds colliding when no means seemed possible. A great read about ‘finding that person that sees you for who you are – and seeing them right back’.

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time – Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel explores the emotionally detached mind of detective and narrator Christian Boone who lives with mental health depiction TCIOTDITNT (c-Emma Ritchie)Asperger’s Syndrome. A murder mystery challenging the limits of those who are hidden in their own idea of safety.

“Christopher’s world is not one defined by constriction and deficit. His need for the comfort of routine is a need many of us share, and his insulation from other people’s feelings is something we could all enjoy from time to time.” Mark said, “More than this, however, the book can be exuberant because Christopher’s mind can be equally exuberant.”

This classic novel goes a long way to rid readers of popular mistaken beliefs about mental illnesses. Additionally encouraging them to research further into different autism spectrums disorders. It has been recommended to mental health professionals -especially those likely to come into contact with patients on the autism spectrum.

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