Thursday, October 29, 2015

Books about Mental Illness

I am reading two books about mental illness right now:

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman has been selected as a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. The story is told in short chapters and changes from Caden Bosch's reality as a teen suffering from schizophrenia to his adventures as a pirate crew member on a journey to Challenger Deep, the Southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Furiously Happy: a book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson is a laugh out loud take on living life with mental illness. Lawson suffers from anxiety disorder so severe that she feels compelled to rip her own hair out. The title of the book comes from a time when she was so depressed that she decided that she was going to be "furiously happy," come hell or high water. Lawson holds nothing back and says what she thinks.

My father committed suicide in 2002 and I have had my own issues with depression, most recently last year when I had trouble dealing with a diagnosis of chronic migraines, which severely impacted my ability to function at work and at home. Reading these books has brought up a lot of emotions. In one book, a character goes to a mental institution; my father spent his last few months in one and then committed suicide the day he was released. I've always wondered what happened to him there and what role that may have played in his death. The comparison of mental illness to a trench is very apt. I feel well now; I am functioning, but a bout with depression creates a fear. It is almost like it is a monster lying in wait, ready to drag me down. Once you have been in the dark trench of depression, the idea of going back there is terrifying.

Disclaimer: Some may view this post as oversharing. I share because mental illness is stigmatized. If this helps one person, it is worth it.


  1. It is most definitely not over sharing. I am the care giver of a sister with schizophrenia. If the energy could be put into research, more people would benefit. It is all treatable.

    1. Sorry I didn't see this comment before Ann. Thank you. I know having family with mental illness if difficult. Being on both sides of that coin, I will say that your sister is very fortunate to have you.