I have a confession to make…I live with bipolar disorder. Mood swings go up and down and I have been on medication since 2008, when planning for my then wedding caused me severe changes in my mood and deep anxiety.
As a teacher, professor and Frolic columnist, I confess dark times have taken over my thoughts, one recently which made me immediately contact my doctor, only to find out my manic depression was taking over triggered by stress and memories of the loss of my uncle due to pancreatic cancer in 2018.
Yet, dear reader, I have a confession to make…I have survived a lot of my dark times thanks to books. While bipolar disorder has led me to highs and lows, there’s nothing more soothing and more relaxing than a Saturday morning curled up with my cat Luna and a good Young Adult book.
Katniss from The Hunger Games made me feel that I, too, am brave. Tris from Divergent taught me about survival. So many books have been my good friends while all hope was lost and I was feeling guilty about that mood swing, credit card debt, student loans and even the loss of a friend who didn’t understand my disorder.
I can happily say I have a wonderful supportive system in my life right now, with some amazing close friends, family and my husband, who understand that the words on a page are so powerful that they can truly make me feel better.
In honor of mental health awareness and my own diagnosis, I am sharing with you three books that I love that deal with mental health issues and can surely help those of us who struggle relate…and can create awareness.
Because, in the end, we all deserve to be understood and you never know how a book can save a life.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Soon to be a major film, in this book Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself, a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This book, which deals with the ups and downs of mental illness, is one of my favorites which brings awareness to these issues.
A List of Cages by Robin Roe
In this endearing novel, when Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.
Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.
Make sure to add this novel to your bookshelf and enjoy the so-important story.
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
In this book, sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.
This realistic novel will have you flipping pages through the end.