a blog about mental illness and community

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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?


Comments on: "Top Five Mental Illness Autobiographies" (2)

  1. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide – Kay Redfield Jamison

    Not an easy read by any metric, but absolutely worth it.

  2. Clare said:

    Ah, Prozac Nation! I own a copy and have read it 3 times over the years. & I have my favourite quotes, e.g. “that is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful” & “the word ‘madness’ allows its users to celebrate the pain of its sufferers, to forget that underneath all the acting-out and quests for fabulousness and fine poetry, there is a person in huge amounts of dull, ugly agony”.

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