Books for Mental Health Awareness Month
AN OPEN DISCUSSION ABOUT MY OWN STRUGGLES
I am someone who has suffered from mental health issues my entire life. My mental health conditions, while they don't define me, will always be a part of me. They are my chains, but they are also proof of how strong of a person I am. I see a counselor and a psychiatrist to manage them and recommend others do the same if able. I believe it is important to be open about my mental health because I do not want to contribute to the stigma. There is no shame in having mental health conditions any more than there is to me suffering from migraines, a congenital heart defect, or the cancer I had last year.
The books I chose deal with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and suicidal ideation. I specifically chose these books because these are my diagnoses and I feel confident speaking on the accuracy of their representation. If you feel any of these topics will be triggering to you then please, please don't read these books.
I hope if you, like me, suffer from a mental health condition you know you are so brave to face every single day. You, like me, are fighting an invisible battle every day and it will never be easy but it will always be worth it. If you don't have any mental health conditions but someone you love does then all I can say to you is be kind, patient, and understanding. Be willing to listen and be a support for them to lean on.
1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (Available 24/7)/https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
2. Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 for free (I've used this personally and recommend it. You don't have to be on the brink of suicide to use this service). (Available 24/7)/https://www.crisistextline.org/
1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Adult Sci-fi)
What it's About: After a suicide attempt Nora Seed finds herself in a mystical place known as the Midnight Library where every book contains another version of her life where she made another choice.
Why I Chose it: Nora is relatable to people such as myself who suffer from depression and have experienced suicidal ideation. The novel shows an intimate understanding of these thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, though, the message of this story is one of hope as Nora, via her exploration of what she thinks she wants, comes to accept the librarian's lesson that death is the opposite of opportunity. I liked how this book doesn't gloss over the seriousness of mental illness but its message is one that many sufferers can benefit from reading.
2. The Truly Devious trilogy by Maureen Johnson (YA Mystery)
What it's About: True crime aficionado Stevie Bell attends a remote, prestigious academy (Ellingham) where she intends on solving the long ago murder and disappearance of the founder's wife and daughter.
Why I Chose it: This series means a lot to me as it was the first time I ever read a main character who had anxiety and panic attacks but wasn't defined by them. There are scenes that show Stevie's social anxiety and panic attacks but we also learn she wants to be a detective and is wicked clever. She's a character who is more than her mental illness just as all of us with mental health conditions are. I also liked the inclusion of her taking a prescription to help with her condition as I feel like this can be stigmatized even though medication is such an important part of treatment (though certainly not all of it).
3. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (YA Fantasy)
What it's About: A princess (Karina) struggles to rule after her mother's assassination. A refugee (Malik) must kill Karina in order to save his kidnapped little sister.
Why I Chose it: Malik has both an anxiety disorder and a panic disorder. Being able to read a character with my mental health illnesses in my favorite genre was so special and meaningful for me. His struggles came across as being written by someone who is either familiar with or who has done thorough research on said mental illnesses. It warms my heart to think of others such as myself getting to read a character they can relate to who is also so kindhearted.
4. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan (YA Magical Realism)
What it's About: A girl's (Leigh) mother commits suicide. She then encounters a red bird she believes is her mother and that she is telling her to travel to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents.
Why I Chose it: Rather than featuring a protagonist with mental illness it sees a protagonist whose mother had depression and sadly lost her battle. The novel's poetic writing doesn't shy away from giving readers a peak into what living with someone with depression is like and how one person's mental health can impact the ones around them/their loved ones. In that same vein it shows how suicide effects not only the person who does it but their loved ones as well.
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