If you are struggling with a mental health disorder, there may be times when it feels like absolutely no one understands what you are going through. Maybe people have suggested to you that your depression or your anxiety is “all in your head.” Perhaps some people have told you that if you had more faith you would not feel the way you feel. Maybe your friends sometimes avoid you because they don’t know how to help or because they are worried that your disorder will make a social situation awkward.
You Are Not Alone
When those sorts of things happen, it is all too easy to believe you are alone in your struggles—and that there is not much hope of recovery. In those circumstances, the stories of other people who have struggled in similar ways can be a true lifeline.
Reading About Mental Health
Fortunately, there are many memoirs written by individuals who understand mental health disorders intimately because they have experienced those disorders themselves. Reading about their experiences can make you feel less alone. Reading about their efforts to improve their mental health and their lives can help you feel inspired to do the same.
Memoirs of this kind can also be helpful if you are trying to help someone else understand what you are going through. You might be having trouble finding the right words, or the person you want to talk to may not be able to hear what you are saying for one reason or another. Sometimes sharing the words of someone else can help overcome communication challenges.
Mental Health Memoirs
Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks On Me by Charlamagne Tha God
His professional name—Charlamagne Tha God—gives the impression that he’s one confident fella. Maybe even a bit too confident. But the fact is, the rapper struggles mightily with anxiety. And while fear of failure may well have motivated him to build a successful career, in the end, it was too much to deal with on his own. Therapy has helped him find a healthier path forward.
Unholy Ghosts: Writers On Depression edited by Nell Casey
An essay is often a lot more like a conversation with a friend than a full-length memoir can be, and this collection of essays provides a variety of perspectives about depression. The writers represented are all acclaimed and respected—and each has encountered depression and the ways in which it can disrupt a life, a career, or a relationship (and sometimes all three).
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney
In recent years, more and more people have come to understand and engage with the power of stories told in graphic form (Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic comes to mind). Ellen Forney wields the power of the form in her examination of her struggles with bipolar disorder—and her fears that treatment would rob her of her creativity and passions.
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron
While “madness” is not a word we think should be used to describe mental health disorders, there is no denying that William Styron’s memoir of his depression is a classic. Styron, who is perhaps best known as the author of Sophie’s Choice, broke new ground in 1990 by writing honestly about his mental health struggles—a subject that was still quite taboo at the time. Arguably, Styron paved the way for the other books on this list.
The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives edited by Vanessa Hazzard
In this collection, a wide array of individuals of color—including those of African, Latinx, and Asian descent—share their experiences with a variety of mental health disorders. The pieces in this book include stories of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and more. The hope, as is true of the books above as well, is to advance the cause of overcoming stigmas related to mental health and to build empathy around these issues.
Your Story of Better Mental Health Can Start Here
At Peak View Behavioral Health, we have the expertise, experience, and resources necessary to help you improve your mental health. We will listen intently—and with respect and compassion—so that we can personalize your treatment and help you feel better and feel empowered to manage the challenges you face. You can start a brand new chapter in your life by getting the help and support you need now.