My Favorite Books About Mental Illness7:10 PM
Something I've wanted to discuss for a while...
If you've been following me for any period of time you know that mental illness is a topic that's closet to my heart, and one I take pretty personally. There aren't enough YA books (or books in general) out there that deal with mental illness in a raw, real, hopeful way, though, which is something I want to change! But instead of complaining about it, today I want to take a moment to recognize and flail over some of the books I've read that do handle mental illness in a way I loved.
(Do note that (a some people won't agree that the books I love dealt with it in a respectful way. That's okay, because we all see things differently. (b I tried to pick books about a variety of different mental illnesses and not just anxiety or depression, too.)
On the off-chance you were looking for recommendations from me...here you have it.
No talk about books about mental illness would be complete without Neal Shusterman's Challenger Deep. This is one of my favorite authors. This is one of my favorite stories. It's drawn from up-close personal experience and it's full of emotion and heart. It's realistic. It doesn't pull punches. It gets in your head and makes you think. The writing is flawless. It's never explicitly stated that the main character deals with schizophrenia specifically, but whatever the mental illness is, it's achingly real. Seriously. Read it.
I don't know why I waited so long to read this one. WHY DID I WAIT THIS LONG TO READ THIS ONE. It's a horrifyingly up-close-and-personal look at what it's like to live with depression and, more importantly, what it's like to recover and have hope. If you're looking to understand what it's like to feel this way, you need to read this one. It gave me all the feels and wow, the writing is just amazing.
Always one of my favorite books and one of the first contemporaries I ever liked. While the main character doesn't really struggle with a particular mental illness, her father deals with PTSD, and it's very much about living with someone who struggles with that and trying to understand them. If you didn't have enough feels in your life before and you want a contemporary that isn't John Green-level pretentious...go to this one. (Also if you want to ship a ship madly because my babiessss)
Oh my gosh, you guys. This is one of the first books I've found that (a talks about OCD and (b presents OCD in a way that really makes sense and gets inside your head. This one is fascinatingly creepy. Seriously. SO CREEPY. *shudders* You can't look away, and you're presented with the total frustration of living with OCD and not knowing how to deal. I loved it for the mental illness, and the writing, and the creepy horror-ish storyline, and the equally creepy illustrations, and the humid atmosphere. Loved ittttt.
My own social anxiety has never been as bad as the main character's, admittedly, and I'm much more of an extrovert, but I found myself relating with her far more than I liked. This book is light and fluffy and distressing all at once. The sass is real. Audrey is more than likable. She struggles through things and genuinely tries to become better, and she gets there. Her boyfriend/love interest SUPPORTS HER AND ALSO PUSHES HER TO OVERCOME HER MENTAL ILLNESS. It's about living with social anxiety and, more importantly, learning how to not let mental illness beat you and going a little out of your comfort zone in the process. (Also did I mention it made me laugh?) It's adorable and you need it in your life.
Yes yes I KNOW I talk about Matt Fraction's Hawkeye comics way too often. And they are technically comics, not books. But whatever. I swear Fraction's Hawkeye deals with depression, and it's dealt with incredibly well. The color scheme, the dialogue, the character development...this isn't a superhero comic. This is a comic about a hero who doesn't know how to be a hero and, more importantly, an ordinary guy trying to be a hero. It's a painfully accurate description of depression/mental illness, the struggle to overcome it, what it's like to buckle under it and push people away, fighting it and becoming more, etc. (It also has the benefit of unflinchingly dealing with Clint's deafness so disability points, too.) Seriously, this one is important and even if you don't normally like superheroes or comics it deserves a read. *nodnod*
I've read lots more books that deal with mental illness, of course, and you can find them all here. We're getting more and more books that deal with these topics and deal with them honestly, and that's important, but I very much believe we have to keep writing them. We have to keep being honest and open and vulnerable about what it's like to struggle. We have to present them with a hopeful undertone. These books are helping to do that, in my opinion.
What are your favorite books about dealing with mental illness? Hit me up with allll the recommendations.