Interested in reading some more about mental health? Here’s a list to get you started! These are books I’ve read and found helpful. I am in no way receiving payment to promote these books.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.
In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele—Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles—as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman’s mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman’s descent into insanity.
The Loony Bin Trip by Kate Millet
Millett’s staggeringly personal account of her struggle to regain control of her life after falling under an ascription of manic depression.
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
Elizabeth Wertzel writes with her finger in the faint pulse of a generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues. A memoir of her bouts with depression and skirmishes with drugs, Prozac Nation still manages to be a witty and sharp account of the psychopharmacology of an era.
Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher
In Madness, in her trademark wry and utterly self-revealing voice, Hornbacher tells her new story. Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. How Hornbacher fights her way up from a madness that all but destroys her, and what it is like to live in a difficult and sometimes beautiful life and marriage — where bipolar always beckons — is at the center of this brave and heart-stopping memoir.
Life Inside: A Memoir by Mindy Lewis
In 1967, three months before her sixteenth birthday, Mindy Lewis was sent to a state psychiatric hospital by court order. She had been skipping school, smoking pot, and listening to too much Dylan. Her mother, at a loss for what else to do, decided that Mindy remain in state custody until she turned eighteen and became a legal, law-abiding, “healthy” adult.
Life Inside is Mindy’s story about her coming-of-age during those tumultuous years. In honest, unflinching prose, she paints a richly textured portrait of her stay on a psychiatric ward — the close bonds and rivalries among adolescent patients, the politics and routines of institutional life, the extensive use of medication, and the prevalence of life-altering misdiagnoses. But this memoir also takes readers on a journey of recovery as Lewis describes her emergence into adulthood and her struggle to transcend the stigma of institutionalization. Bracingly told, and often terrifying in its truths, Life Inside is a life-affirming memoir that informs as it inspires.
Upstairs In the Crazy House by Pat Caponi
Pat Capponi is a psychiatric survivor. Ejected after three months from a mental health institution, she was sent to one of Toronto’s notorious boarding houses. In Upstairs in the Crazy House, she relates the stories of those who called the appalling institution home.
Capponi also reveals how she suffered as a child at the hands of an abusive father and how, although she excelled academically, the repercussions of an adolescence infused with violence caused her to sink into deep depressions.
Women and Madness by Phyllis Chesler
Feminist icon Phyllis Chesler’s pioneering work–2.5 million copies sold–revised and updated for the first time in 30 years. This definitive book was the first to address critical questions about women and mental health. Combining patient interviews with an analysis of women’s roles in history, society, and myth Chesler concludes that there is a terrible double standard when it comes to women’s psychology. In this new edition, she addresses head-on many of the most relevant issues to women and mental health today, including eating disorders, social acceptance of antidepressants, addictions, sexuality, postpartum depression, and more. Fully revised and updated, Women and Madness remains as important today as it was when first published in 1972 (description provided by Amazon.com).
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
With uncommon humanity, candor, wit, and erudition, award-winning author Andrew Solomon takes the reader on a journey of incomparable range and resonance into the most pervasive of family secrets. His contribution to our understanding not only of mental illness but also of the human condition is truly stunning.
The Noonday Demon examines depression in personal, cultural, and scientific terms. Drawing on his own struggles with the illness and interviews with fellow sufferers, doctors and scientists, policymakers and politicians, drug designers and philosophers, Solomon reveals the subtle complexities and sheer agony of the disease. He confronts the challenge of defining the illness and describes the vast range of available medications, the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the impact the malady has had on various demographic populations around the world and throughout history. He also explores the thorny patch of moral and ethical questions posed by emerging biological explanations for mental illness.
The depth of human experience Solomon chronicles, the range of his intelligence, and his boundless curiosity and compassion will change the reader’s view of the world. (description provided by Amazon.com)