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8 Books That Should Be On Your Radar This Mental Health Awareness Month

As you may or may not know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As someone who both suffers from and has lost someone to mental illness, nothing is more important to me than educating myself and advocating for better care and lack of stigma for the mentally ill community. And something that really feeds into the stigmatization of mental illnesses is the way we are often portrayed in the media- mental illness in the media is so often portrayed as verbally abusive, out of control, and burdensome. Perhaps worst of all, mentally ill people are so often portrayed as or assumed to be violent, when in reality folks with mental illnesses are 2.5 times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime than the perpetrator. Perhaps because of all the inaccurate and often harmful portrayal of mental illness that is so often in the media, when I find a story with accurate rep that doesn't demonize the mentally ill characters, I cling to them. These are just a few of my favourites.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

"With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.

This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.

When reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood."

Mental health rep: One of the main character's best friend's has borderline personality disorder and the main character struggles from anxiety and possibly depression.


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The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

"Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer."

Mental health rep: Charlie has OCD and anxiety, and Dev has chronic depression.


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Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

"Seventeen-year-old Mickey James III is a college freshman, a brother to five sisters, and a hockey legacy. With a father and a grandfather who have gone down in NHL history, Mickey is almost guaranteed the league's top draft spot.

The only person standing in his way is Jaysen Caulfield, a contender for the #1 spot and Mickey's infuriating (and infuriatingly attractive) teammate. When rivalry turns to something more, Mickey will have to decide what he really wants, and what he's willing to risk for it.

This is a story about falling in love, finding your team (on and off the ice), and choosing your own path."

Mental health rep: Mickey deals with genetic chronic depression.


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Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

"This memoir from the bestselling author of Postcards from the Edge and Wishful Drinking gives you an intimate, gossip-filled look at what it’s like to be the daughter of Hollywood royalty.

Told with the same intimate style, brutal honesty, and uproarious wisdom that locked Wishful Drinking on the New York Times bestseller list for months, Shockaholic is the juicy account of Carrie Fisher’s life. Covering a broad range of topics—from never-before-heard tales of Hollywood gossip to outrageous moments of celebrity desperation; from alcoholism to illegal drug use; from the familial relationships of Hollywood royalty to scandalous run-ins with noteworthy politicians; from shock therapy to talk therapy—Carrie Fisher gives an intimate portrait of herself, and she’s one of the most indelible and powerful forces in culture at large today. Just as she has said of playing Princess Leia—“It isn’t all sweetness and light sabers”—Fisher takes readers on a no-holds-barred narrative adventure, both laugh-out-loud funny and poignant."

Mental health rep: The author, Carrie Fisher spent much of her life in treatment for bipolar disorder as well as in recovery for drug and alcohol addiction. This book explores modern ECT (or electroconvulsive therapy) through the writer's unflinching honesty about her treatment and the help it offered her.


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Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

"Depression & Other Magic Tricks is the debut book by Sabrina Benaim, one of the most-viewed performance poets of all time, whose poem “Explaining My Depression to My Mother” has become a cultural phenomenon with over 5,000,000 views. Depression & Other Magic Tricks explores themes of mental health, love, and family. It is a documentation of struggle and triumph, a celebration of daily life and of living."

Mental health rep: The author suffers from anxiety and depression and much of this collection (as the title suggests), focuses on that.


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Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness & the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison

"The definitive work on the profound and surprising links between manic-depression and creativity, from the bestselling psychologist of bipolar disorders who wrote An Unquiet Mind.

One of the foremost psychologists in America, “Kay Jamison is plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness” (William Styron).

The anguished and volatile intensity associated with the artistic temperament was once thought to be a symptom of genius or eccentricity peculiar to artists, writers, and musicians. Her work, based on her study as a clinical psychologist and researcher in mood disorders, reveals that many artists subject to exalted highs and despairing lows were in fact engaged in a struggle with clinically identifiable manic-depressive illness.

Jamison presents proof of the biological foundations of this disease and applies what is known about the illness to the lives and works of some of the world's greatest artists including Lord Byron, Vincent Van Gogh, and Virginia Woolf."

Mental health rep: This nonfiction book explores the link between madness (particularly manic depression/bipolar disorder and genius.


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The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang

"An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the “collected schizophrenias” but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community’s own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang’s analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood."

Mental health rep: The author has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder as well as PTSD, however the book focuses most heavily on schizoaffective disorder.


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Hello I Want To Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Paperny

Depression is a havoc-wreaking illness that masquerades as personal failing and hijacks your life. After a major suicide attempt in her early twenties, Anna Mehler Paperny resolved to put her reporter's skills to use to get to know her enemy, setting off on a journey to understand her condition, the dizzying array of medical treatments on offer and a medical profession in search of answers. Charting the way depression wrecks so many, she maps competing schools of therapy, pharmacology, cutting-edge medicine, the pill-popping pitfalls of long-term treatment, the glaring unknowns and the institutional shortcomings that both patients and practitioners are up against. She interviews leading medical experts across Canada and the US, from psychiatrists to neurologists, brain-mapping pioneers to family practitioners, and others dabbling in strange hypotheses--and shares compassionate conversations with fellow sufferers.

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me tracks Anna's quest for knowledge and her desire to get well. Impeccably reported, it is a profoundly compelling story about the human spirit and the myriad ways we treat (and fail to treat) the disease that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.

Mental health rep: The author deals with severe chronic depression which she is writing this book to understand more about.


Chapters/Indigo | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

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