It’s easy to diagnose and treat a broken leg. The injury is visually evident, and, for the most part, the treatment is the same regardless of the patient. A cold, the flu, shingles…they all have visual cues and standard treatments and resolve on their own over a few weeks. Mental illness, though, is a much more elusive creature; it presents differently in each individual, there are seldom visual cues, and no one medication cocktail works for all cases. It’s difficult to diagnose, and the stigma that surrounds it keeps sufferers from seeking treatment for fear of looking weak or “crazy.” It’s time for that to change, though; if you suffer from mental illness or know someone who does, check out some of these books to help you learn more about this disease.
1. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith L. Herman
Herman examines Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in this informative read; she uses her own research into the concept of trauma in domestic abuse, terrorism, and combat flashbacks to offer explanations for PTSD symptoms and effects, and she offers insight into treatment methods.
Adam, a highly acclaimed science writer and longtime sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, offers this mixture of memoir and research, sharing his personal story and the stories of others afflicted with OCD. He looks at the causes, manifestations, and treatment methods, all while giving you a few good chuckles along the way.
3. Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields
Shields is one of the first celebrities to share openly about her time dealing with postpartum depression, a surprisingly common (yet rarely spoken of) disorder affecting new mothers. Shields shares about her journey through PPD and the methods she used to come out stronger on the other side.
4. The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks
Saks has an impressive resume; she is a psychiatrist, lawyer, and professor. She’s also schizophrenic. In her memoir, she writes of her first time hearing voices when she was just a teenager to her current condition, which still involves symptom flares, and how she manages to navigate the world each day.
5. A Bright Red Scream: Self-Mutilation and the Language of Pain by Marilee Strong
Strong uses interviews and case studies to offer insight into the world of self-mutilation (“cutting” is the best known form of this disorder), from its causes to its effects, and how those with this compulsion may be helped.
6. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi
The Ally McBeal star and wife of Ellen DeGeneres shares her journey through anorexia and bulimia, offering a detailed picture of the daily life of a woman obsessed with, yet terrified by food.
7. Fast Minds: How to Thrive If You Have ADHD (Or Think You Might) by Craig Surman, Tim Bilkey, and Karen Weintraub
Surman and Bilkey, both doctors, discuss Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in detail, from its origins to its manifestations, and they provide a program to follow to help make the most of your situation.
8. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Maté
Maté, a Canadian doctor who works extensively with the addicts of Vancouver’s Skid Row, examines the concept of addiction, the brain chemistry at play, its associated behaviors, and best methods of treating the condition.
9. Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania by Andy Behrman
Behrman’s memoir offers insight into the mind of a sufferer of bipolar disorder (or manic depression). His life story is certainly interesting (he was an art forger, for goodness sakes), but his mental descent is painful to read.
10. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
Solomon reviews all aspects of depression, from its causes, symptoms, and treatments, to cultural stigmas, politics, and pharmaceutical companies.
Davis examines his family history and the depression and anxiety that has plagued it for years, using his research to heal himself and protect future generations.
Mental illness needn’t be debilitating any longer with the vast amount of research that’s gone into its causes and treatment. If you suffer from it or love someone who does, take a look at these books to help you better understand the situation.
Remember, help is always available:
Crisis Text Line: TEXT “CONNECT” TO 741741 (Nationwide) Available 27/4, Completely Confidential
For more information on specific mental health issues and contacts, click here.
*Warning, the video below contains schizophrenic patients and behaviors and may be triggering for some.*
YouTube Channel: IRI Training
Featured image via Healthy Place