Mental Health Awareness month was back in May, and in honour of that month I decided to read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. Over the past year of blogging, I’ve realised I can be a little less varied than I’d like to be in my reading, and now that I’m reaching the end of my dissertation, I feel like I can finally start to branch out. My mental health is something that I often take for granted, it’s not something I have to think about much, and that can mean that I forget not everyone is the same. These are six books I’ve read that have changed my perception of mental health.
In a collection of essays, Jenny Lawson frankly discusses the impact of mental illness on her life and the philosophy she has embraced of being furiously happy. She doesn’t hold anything back, makes up her own words, and surrounds herself in taxidermy animals. She reveals that living with anxiety and depression isn’t black and white, it’s technicolour. Her hilarious anecdotes encourage you to seize the moment, and take a step back when you need to.
I read Reasons to Stay Alive in just over a day. Not only does Haig talk about his own experience with mental illness, he also confronts the way we trivialise it on a day to day basis. For Haig, even the small things we take for granted seemed impossible in his worst months, and that’s not something that should be taken lightly, or brushed off by anyone.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Vizzini’s novel is influenced by his own experience in a psychiatric ward, and brings attention to mental illness in teenagers. Craig’s anxiety is exacerbated by the pressures of going to a prestigious school and succeeding academically. He learns a lot about himself during his five-day stay, and one of those things is that its okay to seek help when you need it.
A traumatic childhood incident has left Eleanor completely alone in the world. She has weekly telephone calls with her mother, but was brought up in the foster system. There’s nobody she can consider family or a friend. This book explores the power of loneliness, trauma and how important it is to have a strong support network.
Many of Griff’s ‘quirks’ resonated with me. I’ve been compulsively counting since I was a teenager as a way of relieving anxiety. When Griff has to deal with unexpected grief, his quirks begin to take over. Silvera’s novel made me more open about my compulsions and to be conscious about not letting them rule me.