In 2013, United States President Obama proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness Month and brought the issue of mental health to the forefront of our thoughts. In support of mental health awareness, there are many good books and written accounts of the struggle to deal with major mental illness, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and other conditions viewed as disorders.
Below is a small selection of material worth considering. For more ideas, visit NAMI’s national site (National Alliance on Mental Illness), or explore the many other resources available online.
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
by Elyn R. Saks (Hyperion, Reprint edition 2008)
Elyn Saks is a success by any measure: she’s an endowed professor at the prestigious University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She has managed to achieve this in spite of being diagnosed as schizophrenic and given a “grave” prognosis — and suffering the effects of her illness throughout her life.
In The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks discusses frankly and movingly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, and the voices in her head insisting she do terrible things, as well as the many obstacles she overcame to become the woman she is today. It is destined to become a classic in the genre.
Fall to Pieces: a Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness
by Mary Forsberg Weiland and Larkin Warren (William Morrow 2009)
Authors Mary Forsberg Weiland and Larkin Warren write about Mary’s experience as a highly paid fashion model and her marriage to rock star “Scott Weiland.” The book details her experiences with Bipolar Disorder and her drug abuse.
“Mary Weiland describes the depths of madness and addiction with surprising clarity. Fall to Pieces is a wild, gripping story, told with intense emotional honesty.” — Terri Cheney, New York Times bestselling author ofManic
Undercurrents, a Life Beneath the Surface
by Martha Manning (HarperOne 1995)
Written by Martha Manning, this remarkable memoir describes a yearlong descent into, and eventually out of, the unbearable hell of depression–and does so with eloquence, grace and humor.
“Like the lucid madness chronicled in “Girl, Interrupted,” this riveting memoir traces the devastating path of clinical depression through the diaries of Martha Manning–a psychotherapist who became a patient and underwent electroshock therapy.”
by Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini (Beacon Press 2012)
Soul Repair explores the idea and effect of moral injury on veterans, their families, and their communities. Although veterans make up only 7 percent of the U.S. population, they account for an alarming 20 percent of all suicides. Research by Veterans Administration health professionals and veterans’ own experiences now suggest an ancient but unaddressed wound of war may be a factor: moral injury. Brock and Lettini, who both grew up in families deeply affected by war, have been working closely with vets on what moral injury looks like, how vets cope with it, and what can be done to heal the damage inflicted on soldiers’ consciences.
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
by Daniel Smith (Simon & Schuster 2012)
Told with a journalist’s ear for language and an eye for detail, Monkey Mind is one man’s story of a life inhibited by anxiety. Smith illustrates how his ancious responses led to missed opportunities, loss of employment, stress and alienation. Aaron Beck, the most influential doctor in modern psychotherapy, says that “Monkey Mind does for anxiety what William Styron’s Darkness Visible did for depression.” Neurologist and bestselling writer Oliver Sacks says, “I read Monkey Mind with admiration for its bravery and clarity. . . . I broke out into explosive laughter again and again.” Here, finally, comes relief and recognition to all those who want someone to put what they feel, or what their loved ones feel, into words.
- SCOTT WEILAND’s Wife Discusses Her Book (idiomag.com)
- Must Read: Fall to Pieces, A Memoir of Drugs, Rock’n’Roll and Mental Illness by Mary Porsberg (hippyhealing.wordpress.com)
- Jon Chattman: Mary Forsberg Weiland on Life With Scott, Battling Depression, and the ’90s Alt-Rock Comeback (huffingtonpost.com)
- When Mental Illness Is A Gift (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- First PTSD, Now Moral Injury – Battling the Cost of War (chappytwife.com)
- TED: Elyn Saks: Seeing mental illness – Elyn Saks (2012) (ted.com)
- 7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mental Health by Yohana Desta of Mashable (comeusmedia.wordpress.com)