7 Books About Bipolar Disorder and Mental Illness That Saved My Life
Books played a huge part in accepting myself as a person with bipolar disorder.
Books About Bipolar Disorder
I thank books about bipolar disorder and mental illness for helping get me through some really difficult times in my life. For most of my life, I've known there wasn't something right with my brain. Combined with the trauma of going through some really difficult things in my life and rather unfortunate genetics, I wasn't exactly shocked when I was diagnosed with depression and PTSD in college.
I was a little surprised when a few months ago, at age 29, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Well, I was shocked at first. Once the shock wore off, I wasn't that surprised. Thinking back, it became apparent I had several manic episodes in college and as a teenager. My mom never saw a therapist and was never diagnosed, but it's likely she was bipolar as well.
After becoming comfortable with my new diagnosis and new meds, I began researching a lot. Google searches lead to online forums and Facebook groups, reading lists of celebrities and artists who had or were thought to have bipolar disorder, and book lists. I began to read and it's made such a huge difference in my life. There's something so comforting about reading a book written by someone who gets it.
I wanted to share a few of the books that have really made an impact on me and my mental health. Let us know on Twitter which books have helped you!
1. Heart Berries by Therese Marie Mailhot
In Therese Marie Mailhot's memoir, Heart Berries, the reader is taken through Mailhot's dysfunctional upbringing that ultimately results in her becoming hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. At one point, Mailhot gets a notebook and starts writing about the trauma she's endured throughout her life, something that ultimately results in her memoir. Much of the memoir is difficult to read. It's painful, especially if you've struggled with mental illness, but it's so worth reading. Mailhot has a beautiful voice that resonates, remaining with you long after you've closed that book.
2. Carrie Fisher's memoirs
Carrie Fisher, may the force be with her, is one of the most well-known people with bipolar disorder. Over the years, she wrote several memoirs chronicling her life, including her struggles with mental illness. So while the memoirs aren't solely about bipolar, they're a good reminder that all of us with it are so much more than our illness. Fisher's voice is strong, hilarious, and her books are definitely worth giving a read.
3. Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder: How Mindfulness and Neuroscience Can Help You Manage Your Bipolar Symptoms by William R. Marchand MD
Psychiatrist and neuroscientist William R. Marchland's Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder: How Mindfulness and Neuroscience Can Help You Manage Your Bipolar Symptoms may not be as fun to read as some of the memoirs on this list, but it is really interesting and full of useful information. Marchland posits that mindfulness, or "the act of present moment awareness," may be useful in helping with some of the symptoms you experience from bipolar disorder. The book gives lessons on how to help you work through stress, anxiety, depression, and any other things you may struggle from.
4. Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life by Melody Moezzi
Author Melody Moezzi was born during the Islamic Revolution to Persian parents, "raised amid a vibrant, loving, and gossipy Iranian diaspora in the American heartland." Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life is her memoir of how her community stepped up for her when she was physically ill but, after attempting to take her life and getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the flowers that once filled her hospital room were nowhere to be found. Both Moezzi's parents and an "indifferent medical establishment" encouraged her to keep quiet about her mental illness. However, she refused to keep quiet. Instead, she became a voice, an advocate, for bipolar people everywhere.
5. Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind by Jaime Lowe
In Jaime Lowe's Mental: Lithium, Love, and Losing My Mind, she describes how, at sixteen, she began experiencing an onslaught of symptoms that eventually lead to hospitalization and a bipolar diagnosis. She was prescribed lithium and, in the memoir, Lowe discusses the stability lithium brought her. She also interviews psychiatrists, scientists, and other patients to talk about how long-term use of lithium can cause damage. Lowe suffers from severe kidney damage. Given a new medication, Lowe allows her curiosity to guide her to Bolivian salt flats, lithium mines in rural American, and tolithium spas in this look into "one of mankind's oldest medical mysteries."
6. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
What's interesting about Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness is that the book offers a "dual perspective" of both "the healer and the healed." What that means is that Jamison has helped many people with bipolar disorder and also has it herself. When she was pursuing her career, Jamison began experiencing the symptoms of many of her patients, leading to "ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide." Despite being a doctor, she still resisted taking her meds. A Quiet Mind is an unflinching look at bipolar disorder and a powerful read.
7. Manic: A Memoir by Terri Cheney
Manic: A Memoir is Terri Cheney's story of working as an entertainment lawyer in Beverly Hills, struggling with bipolar disorder in secret. On the outside, Cheney appeared successful, but her mental illness was debilitating and required "a pharmacy's worth of prescription drugs" to "make her seem normal." Her memoir guides the reader through the roller-coaster of mania and depression Cheney dealt with.
Let's Keep the Conversation Going...
Which books have helped you through bipolar disorder?