I read a lot about mental health and the brain. There is so much information out there and I’m on a journey to find the best resources that can help improve my quality of life. These are the books that I’ve discovered thus far. Some may not help you, but all have proven to be useful.
Mental illness 101
I loved this book. It explained why my brain was causing certain symptoms and gave me practical tools to fight it. Was incredibly useful as I have solid control over my thought processes but was still struggling with physical symptoms.
I often get depression symptoms as a result of anxiety episodes. This book helped me understand what was going on in my head and has helped me to fight it. These two books have been the main ones that have helped me through this process.
There are a lot of connections between anxiety and depression. Sometimes the symptoms feed into each other and make you feel worse. This book was my favourite one and was extremely helpful.
Books about the Brain
This book was very technical. The author dove into her casebook and gave explanations of why her patients brains were working the way they did. It fascinated me but may be too dry for other people. I did learn that we can’t control the limitations of our brain. If an area is damaged, then certain processes are damaged. We can work through that but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up. Only read this if you are a super nerd.
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one. An astonishing story.
That was the caption for Jill Bolte Taylors TED talk. The book elaborated on her experience and showed how she could ‘see’ herself losing brain function. She wrote about her recovery and how she benefited from her mother helping her to ‘reteach’ her brain the basics. It really supports the research that is currently being done in neuroplasticity. It does get a bit dull towards the end but is still a fascinating read.
Strategies To Help:
Schema Therapy is a type of therapy that has proven to be really helpful to me as I recover. I didn’t need to talk about it that much with my psychologist – we didn’t even bother triggering ‘child modes.’ I found the model to be good for understanding certain types of behaviours and coping styles. I found these books to be really useful, but I tend to be able to understand complicated material better then a lot of people. It may be overwhelming, and it may be difficult to work through the information. I recommend reading Reinventing Your Life and then seeing a psychologist that is familiar with this type of therapy.
This book, by Jeffrey E. Young, is an accessible overview of the concept of schema therapy. That sounds a bit… dull, but it’s actually very interesting. It talks through peoples core ‘schemas’, which can be interpreted as different perspectives on the world. People have different behaviours and coping styles according to what schema, or schemas, they belong to. I wasn’t fond of the inventory in this book – I much prefer the one my psych gave me – but it gives you a foundation. I would love to see this type of therapy incorporated into other styles as I felt it gave me my life back. However, I got a lot more out of the books targeted at psychologists.
I read this when I first started schema therapy. It was really useful, even if it was targeted towards health professionals. I was able to approach my pysch with my own comments and observations and we were able to work together a lot quicker.
Again, this was really useful. It helped me figure stuff out – to the point where my knowledge of schema therapy surpassed that of my pysch. Reading both of these books really helped me get over issues I’d been struggling with for years.
I didn’t get a lot out of this, basically because I thought his level of anxiety was mild in comparison. Most people wouldn’t have this issue as I often feel disconnected from stories about most peoples experiences with anxiety and depression. It is well written and an interesting exploration of treatments.
This is a powerful memoir of the nightmarish three years Rebekah endured as she was repeatedly misdiagnosed, only to realise that her medication was the cause of her mental deterioration. Rebekah calls for better information from the pharmaceutical companies about the risks associated with antidepressants and similar classes of drugs – facts, rather than marketing dressed up as medical science – and for a re-examination of the ways some psychiatrists treat their patients.
This is a very powerful memoir of how some professionals are too quick too diagnose and medicate for mental illnesses. Rebekah suffered severe side effects as the result of her medication and had to figure out for herself that they were the actual cause of the worsening of her symptoms. As someone that has been mentally ill for a long time, I can sympathize. The medication maze is huge and there isn’t nearly enough education. It has gotten significantly better. I’ve had brilliant mental health treatment. Don’t read this and then decide to dramatically change your treatment plan. Use this as a reminder to question everything, though. Knowledge is your right.
At seventeen Lori Schiller was the perfect child — the only daughter of an affluent, close-knit family. Six years later she made her first suicide attempt, then wandered the streets of New York City dressed in ragged clothes, tormenting voices crying out in her mind. Lori Schiller had entered the horrifying world of full-blown schizophrenia. She began an ordeal of hospitalizations, halfway houses, relapses, more suicide attempts, and constant, withering despair. But against all odds, she survived. Now in this personal account, she tells how she did it, taking us not only into her own shattered world, but drawing on the words of the doctors who treated her and family members who suffered with her.
Eleanor Longden was a college freshman when she started hearing voices in her head. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and checked into a psychiatric ward, Longden spent years trapped in a nightmare of hospitals and medications, pain and despair. Yet she survived. Her technique: to learn to listen to her internal narrators, not reject them. Now on the cusp of finishing her Ph.D. in psychology, Longden still hears voices — and she says she wouldn’t live without them. Part personal memoir and part medical argument, Learning from the Voices in My Head challenges society’s definition of crazy. Longden calls for a new, nuanced understanding of voice hearing and urges us to see madness not as a condition, but as a process — one through which those who struggle with mental health issues have the chance to emerge with their sanity intact. Longden’s story shows that there is, in the end, a message in the madness
I recommend reading this book. It’s part of the TED series and is really compelling. It gave me a different perspective of voices and is something I believe can really help those who want to help the ‘mentally ill.’ You can watch her TED talk here.
Susannah Cahalan was a happy, clever, healthy twenty-four-year old. Then one day she woke up in hospital, with no memory of what had happened or how she had got there. Within weeks, she would be transformed into someone unrecognizable, descending into a state of acute psychosis, undergoing rages and convulsions, hallucinating that her father had murdered his wife; that she could control time with her mind. Everything she had taken for granted about her life, and who she was, was wiped out.
This book was confronting, yet very well written. Susannah experienced psychotic symptoms as a result of an illness unrelated to normal mental health issues. It was very interesting to read about her deterioration into madness and subsequent recovery. Highly recommended.
Revelatory, deeply personal, and utterly relevant, Voluntary Madness is a controversial work that unveils the state of mental healthcare in the United States from the inside out. The author boldly committed herself to three different facilities-a big-city hospital, a private clinic in the Midwest, and finally an upscale retreat in the South. Voluntary Madness is the chronicle of Vincent’s journey through the world of the mentally ill as she struggles to find her own health and happiness.
All of Me: How I Learned to Live with the Many Personalities Sharing My Body
Taking the reader through an extraordinary world where the very nature of reality is different, this personal narrative tells the story of one woman’s terrifying battle to understand her own mind. From the desperate struggle to win back the child she loves to the courage and commitment needed to make sense of her life, this account recalls Kim Noble’s many years in and out of mental institutions and various diagnoses until finally being appropriately diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID).
This book was fascinating. So brilliant. It is completely irrelevant to my recovery process yet still, it gave me hope. I don’t want to give any of the book away but it is a captivating account of someone with ‘multiple personalities’.