If you’ve perused a list of psychiatric diagnoses, you would have noticed that there are very, very many types of mental illness.
There are depressive disorders, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders – each of which has its own sub-set of labels.
For example, dysthymia (chronic low mood) falls under depressive disorders, while obsessive-compulsive disorder is part of the anxiety category.
Basically, there are a LOT of disorders.
Within this befuddling vortex of definitions and symptoms, it can be helpful to put a face to a given disorder, along with a person’s lived experience of it.
Here we have a shortlist of autobiographies that relate to a variety of mental illnesses.
Each book is fascinating; worth a read regardless of the status of your brain chemistry.
- Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi – anorexia and bulimia
- The Centre Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks – schizophrenia
- All of Me by Kim Noble – dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder)
- Madness by Marya Hornbacher – bipolar disorder, alcoholism
- Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel – depression, substance abuse
Bonus book: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Not technically an autobiography, but the story very closely parallels the American poet’s experiences of a nervous breakdown, suicide attempt and hospitalisation in her early ’20s.
Do you have any favourite books about mental illness that I haven’t mentioned?