Today (Tuesday 10 October 2017) is World Mental Health Day, so I thought I would choose a bunch of books which helped me in some way in terms of my own mental health.
I have anxiety. I deal with it to varying degrees every day, but have periods where it is so bad that I can’t physically carry on with my life without taking a step back to re-assess everything. I’m currently on medication (propanolol) which slows down my heart-rate, and helps make my physical experience of anxiety less consuming.
I believe talking about mental health and being open about it is a really important thing, and the following books have all played a role towards helping me to speak up, or realise what was wrong, or become more aware of mental health in general.
If you haven’t read these already, please give them a go!
This year’s World Mental Health Day is focusing particularly on mental health at work, to follow what’s going on check out the Twitter hashtag: #WorldMentalHealthDay
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
This book pretty much changed my whole perception of myself in the best possible way. The book is made up of letters addressed ‘Dear friend’ and signed off ‘Love always, Charlie’.
Charlie is a shy, introverted character, and he was probably the first fictional character who reflected myself back at me. I didn’t know what a wallflower was back then, but this book helped me to realise that it’s okay to be quiet and introverted. However, it goes a bit further than that, as Charlie sees a doctor to helped him to work out everything that he’s feeling and struggling with.
After reading certain parts of this, I went to my mum, book in hand, and pointed quotes out to her, saying: “That’s how I feel.” and it was the first time I remember having the courage to be open about how I felt inside.
It was also a gift from my best friend, and it’s the best gift she’s ever given me.
We’re All Mad Here – Claire Eastham
This is the guide I wish I’d had when I was a teenager. It’s all about social anxiety and not only does Claire tell her own story and experience with anxiety, she also explains all about what it is, how to get help, medication, therapy, coping mechanisms…
If you’re a young person, or the parent of a young person who struggles with social situations and think it might be down to anxiety, then get this book because it will help. I read it in a ‘I know this stuff now’ frame of mind, but it still managed to help me.
This book could do wonders for young people and their perception of mental health, so make sure it finds its way into their hands!
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
The first thing I have to say is this: read it.
If you’ve already read it, read it again.
This book should be read by everyone. Matt writes about his personal journey with anxiety and depression, and it opened my eyes to depression and actually did the really important job of making me more aware.
There are gems in this book that are worthy of reading, re-reading and then re-reading again. It’s a little book that achieves a lot, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t read it.
Read my full review: Reasons to Stay Alive
Read my review on Now and Afterwards: Reasons to Stay Alive (Guest Book Reviewer)
Link to the book on Goodreads: Reasons to Stay Alive
Buy the book: Waterstones, Amazon
Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
I was inspired to read this when working on my final uni project, and regardless of how successful or unsuccessful that project was – this book played a huge role in my thinking. It basically changed my entire concept.
Aside from that, this is an honest, funny, insightful look at Bryony’s life and her journey with mental health from childhood and into adulthood. I’d only heard of her when I picked this up, but now I’m a fan of hers and what she’s doing for mental health.
Get this book, because it’s not a ‘mental health guide’, but a funny take on how our mind influences us.
Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen
This one was a similar experience to reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It’s an autobiography tracking the story of Susanna Kaysen and her time in McLean hospital where she was treated for depression.
If you like accounts of being in a mental hospital, then this is the book for you. I loved it, and although I can’t really relate to the experiences of the people in the book, it’s good to have that insight and consider this area of mental health and what life is like for people who do have to go into these hospitals.
I will always recommend this.
All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
This is one that I found very inspiring. Both Finch and Violet carry important messages with them relating to mental health, and loss, which is comforting to be able to find in a book of this genre.
I believe that this book will go a long way to battling mental health stigma, and it also made me think about what it’s like to live in the moment and be present without necessarily sitting down and meditating. It’s an adventure which is bound to inspire but also devastate. If you’re prone to tears, get your tissues.
Sane New World – Ruby Wax
If you want a guide for your mind, then Wax is your woman. This is a look into how modern day stresses affect our mind and can send us into overdrive. Wax offers exercises that we can do to ‘tame’ our minds, but also taps into her knowledge to offer us the sciency bits. It’s fun, it’s factual, and I raced through it.
Also, if you’re going to read this one, also check out Frazzled (see next choice).
Frazzled – Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax is the ideal person to go to when it comes to understanding things about the brain. She presents it in a fun way that ensures we are entertained as well as educated, and this book offers us plenty of facts.
Reading this actually made me a lot more interested in the study of the brain, to the point where I felt completely inspired to learn! However, for the most part this book is about mindfulness. If you’re curious about it, then this is a good place to read up about it and have fun at the same time. There’s even a mindfulness course in this book (which I skipped) which could prove very useful for people embarking on a mindfulness mission.
This is a good book for parents to read as well, especially the 2nd half.
Take care book nerds, and if you have any books about mental health that you’d like to recommend, leave a comment!