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Mental Health Reading List

image description: line of different coloured books on a shelf leaning and propped up at different angles

Howdy partners! How are we? 

Long time no speak, and HOW is it October already?

If you hadn’t already seen, today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day and I’m dropping in here as part of a blog collaboration to bring you some book recommendations on the topic of mental health by authors who have openly shared parts of their own mental health journeys. 

Every time anyone talks; privately or publicly about their mental health is a win in my eyes! Whether it’s for hours with a therapist, a quick family phone call check in or a few uttered words with friends the first time you feel you can talk. It’s so important to have a space where you can share your thoughts and feelings and also understand you are not alone!

I started taking anti-anxiety/depressant medication 7-8 years ago now, I’ve spoken with a number of therapists and we need to normalise these things. There’s so much societal stigma regarding mental health diagnoses, treatment, coping techniques in every area of life. I’m grateful Artie asked me to be a part of this collaboration to add our little voices to the changes we want to see.

If you don’t feel you are at a point where you’re comfortable to speak to someone, or maybe don’t have as many outlets as you’d like, a great way to feel a sense of relatability is through reading and finding a book you can really connect with.

We haven’t limited this resource list to just books we’ve read. I’ve used Googlebooks to include the synopsis too, so you have less clicking to do to find one you like. I’ve linked some of the books through GoodReads which helps support local bookshops and the authors.

Please be sure to also check out my friends below for further book lists:

Artie of ArtieCarden https://artiecarden.com/2021/10/10/books-on-mental-health-recommendations-list

Ash of ThisDreamsAlive https://www.thisdreamsalive.com/2021/10/best-mental-health-books-list

Riyah of Riyah Speaks https://riyahspeaks.com/10-best-selling-amazon-mental-health-books-to-read

Angel of AvdReader https://avdreader.wordpress.com/2021/10/10/5-mental-health-books/

OK…here we go!

1. Fully Functioning Human (Almost) Living in an Online/Offline World by Melanie Murphy

Growing up in an online age, becoming an internet sensation with half a million followers on her YouTube Channel, Irish girl Melanie Murphy’s journey has been far from ordinary. Here, in her first book, she shares the ups and downs of her life. From dealing with online bullying, to living with anxiety and eating disorders to coping with acne and coming to terms with her sexuality, Melanie shows us how through difficult times we can learn the most about ourselves. And that, by learning to value and love ourselves, we can overcome whatever life throws at us.

2. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia.de Rossi

“I didn’t decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Being as thin as possible was a way to make the job of being an actress easier . . .”

Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work—first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.

In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn’t enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.

Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.

From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women’s health issues.

In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

standing on the fringes of life…
offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see
what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being A WALLFLOWER

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

4. The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living by Nick Ortner

Do you have things in your life that you wish were different . . . but you don’t know how to change?

The Tapping Solution offers a new technique to deal with seemingly impossible situations.

Tapping, also known as EFT, is a powerful tool for improving your life on multiple levels: mental, emotional, and physical. It has been proven to effectively address a range of issues—from anxiety, chronic pain, addiction, and fear, to weight control, financial abundance, stress relief, and so much more. It’s also one of the easiest and fastest practices to learn. You can learn it in minutes, do it anywhere and on virtually any issue, and oftentimes experience immediate results.

How does it work? Based on the principles of both ancient acupressure and modern psychology, tapping concentrates on specific meridian endpoints while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations. Combined with spoken word, tapping helps calm the nervous system to restore the balance of energy in the body and rewire the brain to respond in healthy ways.

In this book, you’ll not only learn how to start tapping, you’ll also get the history and cutting-edge science behind it. Featuring step-by-step instructions, exercises, and diagrams, The Tapping Solution shows you how to tap on a variety of issues and identify practical applications. Plus, throughout the book, you’ll find unbelievable, real-life stories of healing, ranging from easing the pain of fibromyalgia to overcoming a fear of flying.

Find out how to release your fears and clear the limiting beliefs that hold you back from creating the life you want.

It’s time for . . . The Tapping Solution!

5. Write Yourself Happy by Megan C Hayes

Psychologists tell us that writing helps us cope with and recover from depression, anxiety, job loss and even heartbreak. Exciting new research shows that we can flourish further by actively choosing to write about positive emotions.

Journaling is a hot trend – for personal expression, creativity, self-actualisation and goalsetting. In Write Yourself Happy, author Megan Hayes shows us how, using positive journaling, we can journal more consciously, writing in a way that engages and promotes our most supportive and life-affirming emotions.

This practical, journal-style workbook demonstrates how to put eight of the most commonly experienced positive emotions – joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, awe and love – to work, helping us not simply to feel better, but to live better.

Based on groundbreaking research in positive psychology, and backed up by extensive scientific studies, the book includes practical exercises and case studies to inspire readers to shift their focus, use different words, see the world in a subtly different way – and discover how things go right when we write

6. Ache by Scarlett Ward

“ache is a breathtaking collection of healing and rebirth. Scarlett writes in away that makes me want to live more deeply” – Chloe Frayne.

Scarlett Ward is an incredible young West Midlands poet as comfortable on the page as in performance, with a real ear for language and an imagination to match. She was nominated Best Spoken Word Poet 2019 by Saboteur Awards, and came runner up in the WoLf Lit prize, Mother’s milk prize & Verve Poetry prize. Her debut collection, created with help and advice from Liz Berry and others, doesn’t disappoint, as it concerns itself with the themes of mental ill-health, recovery and the deep and powerful ache of a love found, and turns them in to quite startling poetry -at times as light as petals, at others as heavy and violent as a hob nail boot. Read, gasp, enjoy.

7. The Little Book of Self-Care: Restore | Recharge | Flourish by Joanna Gray

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Oscar Wilde

When pursuing your dreams and a joyous, fulfilling life, self-care isn’t just beneficial, it’s essential. More than just a fad, self-care is a way to nurture the soul, feel secure in your own skin and restore yourself to optimum health, both mentally and physically. Despite this, self-care isn’t always at the top of everyone’s to-do list and often becomes an afterthought in our busy lives.

The Little Book of Self-Care shows you how to take time for yourself, keep stress at bay and take control of your mental health. Through restorative tips, positive quotes and inspiring exercises, learn how to untangle your busy life, embrace your wellbeing and fall back in love with yourself.

8. Activate Your Vagus Nerve: Unleash Your Body’s Natural Ability to Overcome Gut Sensitivities, Inflammation, Autoimmunity, Brain Fog, Anxiety and Depression by Navaz Habib

Repair your vagus nerve and experience amazing health and wellness benefits

Your vagus nerve is the largest and most important nerve in your body. It carries messages to and from your brain, gut, heart and other major muscles and organs. However, common issues like inflammation, stress, or physical trauma can interfere with the nerve’s ability to function. Luckily, there are tons of quick-and-easy ways to activate and exercise the nerve, strengthening its function and restoring your body to good health. Packed with easy-to-follow exercises and activities, this book will show you how to unlock the power of the vagus nerve to heal your body and get back to a state of balance.

9. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

10. The Man Who Couldn’t Stop by David Adam

Have you ever had a strange urge to jump from a tall building, or steer your car into oncoming traffic? You are not alone. In this captivating fusion of science, history and personal memoir, writer David Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind, and how they drive millions of us towards obsessions and compulsions.

David has suffered from OCD for twenty years, and The Man Who Couldn’t Stop is his unflinchingly honest attempt to understand the condition and his experiences. What might lead an Ethiopian schoolgirl to eat a wall of her house, piece by piece; or a pair of brothers to die beneath an avalanche of household junk that they had compulsively hoarded? At what point does a harmless idea, a snowflake in a clear summer sky, become a blinding blizzard of unwanted thoughts? Drawing on the latest research on the brain, as well as historical accounts of patients and their treatments, this is a book that will challenge the way you think about what is normal, and what is mental illness.

Told with fierce clarity, humour and urgent lyricism, this extraordinary book is both the haunting story of a personal nightmare, and a fascinating doorway into the darkest corners of our minds.

11. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

line of hands clapping and giving thumbs up

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this if you’ve made it this far down. If you enjoyed this style of blog from me, do let me know as it’s my first one, or if you have any recommendations for any of us, feel free to drop a message over on our socials. I really need to upload everything from my insta onto here but that’s a job for another day. Talk soon, stay safe! ❤

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