There is a lot of discussion right now in the UK about mental health and the role the media plays in it. I think the way that the media handles certain sitations is disgusting at times and it is something that is constantly on my mind. I really hope that it changes soon.
As someone who has multipule mental illnesses, I like to read about it too. I think it is more realistic and captivating for me when books include mental illnesses, and don’t brush them aside. Here are some of my favourite mental health novels.
What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard
What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size 0 obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?
What I Lost has been the only book that I have read that focuses on eating disorder treatment – particularly inpatient treatment. It is a beautifully written book that doesn’t glorify eating disorders. It taught me a lot about anorexia and eating disorders in general and this book has stayed with me for years.
Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine.
At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.
Staying with eating disorders, Sad Perfect is another one that has stuck with me for years. Though it is not the best book out there, I really enjoyed it as it explored an eating disorder that I had never heard of and it educated me.
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
I related to Eliza so much. As someone who grew up with social anxiety, writing stories and living in a little bubble of a world I created was definitely a coping mechanism for me. This was a stunning novel that I highly recommend to everyone.
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom
For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to keep everyone at a
rm’s length. And when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the w
ay their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.
As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst—that her friends will abandon her if they learn the truth about what she’s been hiding. Can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful follows Mel who has bipolar disorder. Though I have little knowledge on bipolar disorder, I have seen that it is a brilliant representation of the disoder. Despite the rep, it was a captivating read and I read the book in one sitting.
Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?
Under Rose Tained Skies is still one of my favourite books of all time. It follows Norah who has agoraphobia. It is such a beautiful story, that I believe captures anxiety acurately to my experiences with the mental illness.
Please recommend me some more/new mental health reads and which ones are your favourite.