Often, when we struggle with difficult mental health issues, it helps to help to read about them. We can learn how others deal with them, and at the very least we can learn that we’re not alone in our struggles. The following list represents a small number of books available on various issues and concerns.
1. Wayne Dwyer: Pulling Your Own Strings
(Nonfiction) A therapist’s discussion of such issues as assertiveness, refusing to be victimized, and establishing appropriate boundaries with others.
2. Carrie Fisher: The Best Awful
(Fiction) An actress’s autobiographical novel that concerns her bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
3. Viktor Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning
(Nonfiction) A psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz describes his experiences there, and his efforts to find meaning amidst unspeakable conditions.
4. Caroline Knapp: Drinking / A Love Story
(Nonfiction) A woman’s candid story of her alcoholism, her protracted denial of it, and her eventual recovery.
5. Harold Kushner: When Bad Things Happen to Good People
(Nonfiction) A rabbi’s deeply personal exploration of how we try to make sense of tragedies in our lives.
6. Steven Levenkron: The Best Little Girl in the World
(Fiction) A novelist who is also a psychotherapist writes about anorexia.
7. Tim O’Brien: In the Lake of the Woods.
(Fiction) O’Brien’s novel about a Vietnam veteran is a powerful picture of post traumatic stress disorder.
8. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar
(Fiction) Better known as a poet, Plath also wrote an autobiographical novel that gives an unflinching account of her own battles with depression.
9. William Styron: Darkness Made Visible
(Nonfiction) The novelist who wrote Sophie’s Choice, Styron also wrote this brief but eloquent book about his depression.
10. Preston L. Allen: All or Nothing
(Fiction) Allen writes about the world of a compulsive gambler with wit and empathy, capturing its hypnotic excitement as well as its disastrous pitfalls.
11. James Baldwin: Giovanni’s Room
(Fiction) Baldwin’s classic novel about homosexuality—written more than a generation ago, when the subject was still taboo—is as relevant and moving now as it was when first published.
12. Augusten Burroughs: Running with Scissors
(Nonfiction) Burroughs’s hilarious, at times heartbreaking story of living with his mother’s psychiatrist has got to be true; no novelist could dream up a family like this one.
13. Frances Itani: Deafening
(Fiction) The heroine of Itani’s absorbing novel, set in Canada in the early years of the twentieth century, demonstrates an extraordinary determination and perseverance in overcoming what might have been a life-ruining disability.
14. Jerold Kreisman, MD and Hal Straus: I Hate You—Don’t Leave Me
(Nonfiction) The authors provide a comprehensive, readable account of individuals with borderline personality disorder (among the hardest patients to treat and the most difficult people to deal with).
15. Tobias Wolff: This Boy’s Life
(Nonfiction) A renowned essayist and novelist gives a candid, moving and often very funny account of growing up and having to deal with a stepfather who tries to dominate and stifle him in every way.