May is Mental Health Awareness month. This topic is very close to my heart. I’m a psychology major and I plan on becoming a social worker. Whether that means that I’ll counsel people (which I have been doing for ages without training) or advocate for people without the counseling side, I know that I’ll be happy.
I have had my own battles with mental health. I’ve lived with depression for years. Anxiety is sometimes a part of my daily life. I have dysphoria. Both my gender identity and sexual orientation are in the DSM-5. So, I live with this.
That means I have some recommendations for everyone who wants them.
You by Caroline Kepnes (My review here.)
This is probably one of my all time favorite thriller books, to be honest. I heard about it when people were raving about it and I hate jumping on bandwagons, but I did it. This book focuses on Joe Goldberg. A normal man…. at first. He has a classic personality disorder and burgeons on psychotic at times. Stalker, paranoid, and hilarious. He’s a great mentally ill character. And terrifying. Did I mention that?
Oh, and the sequel for it is pretty good, too.
Luna by Julie Anne Peters (My review here.)
As I said, my gender identity is in the DSM-5. That means I’m transgender. Technically a transman, but don’t get me started about the specifics of names and how that naming system is completely off base now. You’ll have to read a lot about a topic you probably don’t care about.
I read this in high school, around my sophomore year. This was one of the books that helped me come out to myself. I haven’t read it since then, but it still holds a special place in my heart. Regan has a sister named Luna. Everyone else calls her Liam and refuses to accept that she is truly a she.
Now, I haven’t read this book since high school. These days, I’m not a huge YA fan and I tend to keep away from LGBT+ books because the topics hit too close to home for my liking. However, it was one of my favorites at the time and helped me a lot. You just can’t forget that being trans is classified as some sort of disorder. The DSM may say that wasn’t the purpose for it, but it is a consequence.
Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (My review here.)
Another of my favorite books. Oddly enough, it’s YA. But, I read it in high school. The main focus is depression. Which is another part of my life, although it’s technically seasonal affective disorder. Meaning that I get clinically depressed, but only in the winter. Sounds fun, right? (It’s not.)
I’ve never seen the movie for this and I don’t personally plan to. I really enjoyed the book. In my review, I said it was YA but not really. It’s still something that a lot of people can relate to living with. The story is told in an amusing way. It was serious, but not too serious. Funny, but not too funny.
Impulse and Perfect by Ellen Hopkins (My review for Impulse here. I did not review Perfect.)
Ellen Hopkins was* one of my favorite YA authors. Impulse and Perfect are a series. The same characters aren’t in both books, but there are common characters and threads that work their way into it. Suicide, depression, cutting, and eating disorders are featured in these books. Yes, all of that.** While these books may not be my cup of tea now, they were when I was in high school. They were topics I could relate to and feel with. They also were well-written and were good examples of common disorders teenagers and adults experience.
I performed a piece out of Impulse for a class. It was the point where someone was going to commit suicide, and I still absolutely love that part when I think about it. As for Perfect? I actually had the privilege to meet Ellen Hopkins. She read out of the book and talked about it.
If you want books that are very sad but deal with common problems that teens face, give her a try. She’s an excellent author when writing about something she’s passionate about. Her Crank trilogy was a fantastic look into addiction. Her Tricks series was amazing and a great glimpse into the good and bad of sex work, although I’ve only read the first book. Identical was amazing, although the disorder is a spoiler for the plot so I can’t say any specifics.
*I’m not a fan of her new stuff. The past three books that I’ve tried from her have been complete duds. So, I’m taking a long break since I’m not much into torture porn these days. Because these books are torture porn.
**See why I call it torture porn?
So, there are my recommendations for Mental Health Awareness month. What are your favorite books about mental health?