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Memoirs about Mental Illness

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An Unquiet Mind
by Kay R. Jamison Details
Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; she has also experienced it firsthand. While she was pursuing her career in academic medicine, Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide. Here, Jamison examines bipolar illness from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and the cruel allure that at times prompted her to resist taking medication. "An Unquiet Mind" is a memoir of enormous candor, vividness, and wisdom--a deeply powerful book that has both transformed and saved lives.
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
by William Styron Details
A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force, this bestseller is William Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression. Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery.
Girl, Interrupted
by Susanna Kaysen Details
In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele--Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles--as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. "Girl, Interrupted" is a clear-sighted, unflinching memoir that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.
Hurry Down Sunshine
by Michael Greenberg Details
"Hurry Down Sunshine" tells the story of the extraordinary summer when, at the age of fifteen, Michael Greenberg's daughter suffered a psychotic break. It begins with Sally's visionary crack-up on the streets of Greenwich Village and continues, among other places, in the out-of-time world of a Manhattan psychiatric ward during the city's most sweltering months. Unsentimental, nuanced, and deeply humane, Greenberg's account of his daughter's illness holds the reader in a mesmerizing state of suspension between the mundane and the transcendent.
Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir
by Mark Vonnegut Details
More than thirty years after the publication of his acclaimed memoir "The Eden Express," Mark Vonnegut continues his remarkable story in this searingly funny, iconoclastic account of coping with mental illness, finding his calling as a pediatrician, and learning that willpower isn't nearly enough. Ultimately a tribute to the small, daily, and positive parts of a life interrupted by bipolar disorder, "Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So" is a wise, unsentimental, and inspiring book that will resonate with generations of readers.
Madness: A Bipolar Life
by Marya Hornbacher Details
When Marya Hornbacher published her first book, "Wasted," she did not yet know the reason for her all-but-shattered young life. At age 24, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type 1 rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disease there is. Here, in her trademark wry, self-revealing voice, Hornbacher tells her new story. She takes us inside her own desperate attempts to control violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. Millions of people in America struggle with a variety of disorders that may mask their true diagnosis of bipolar. Hornbacher's portrait of her own bipolar disorder as early as age four even addresses the current debate on whether bipolar exists in children.
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
by Daniel B. Smith Details
We all think we know what being anxious feels like, but for forty million American adults, anxiety is an insidious condition that defines daily life. In this uplifting and very funny memoir, Daniel Smith brilliantly articulates what it's like to live with anxiety, defanging the disease with humor, traveling through its demonic layers, evocatively expressing both its painful internal coherence and its absurdities.
My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind
by Scott Stossel Details
In this humorous and inspirational memoir, Scott Stossel recounts his lifelong battle with anxiety, showing the many manifestations of the disorder as well as the countless treatments that have been developed to treat it. He also provides a history of our efforts to understand this extremely common form of mental illness.
Nowhere Near Normal: A Memoir of OCD
by Traci Foust Details
Traci Foust wasn't a "normal" seven-year-old girl. When all the neighborhood kids were playing outdoors, Traci was inside making sure the miniature Catholic saint statues in her windowsill always pointed due north, scratching out bald patches on her scalp, and snapping her fingers after every utterance of the word "God." As Traci got older, her OCD blossomed to include panic attacks and other bizarre behaviors, including a fear of the sun, an obsession with contracting eradicated diseases, and the idea that she could catch herself on fire just by thinking about it. In this heartfelt, funny, and candid account of her struggles with a variety of psychological disorders, Foust shows that there is nothing special about being "normal."
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
by Portia De Rossi Details
Known for her roles on the hit TV shows "Ally McBeal" and "Arrested Development," Portia de Rossi delivers a revelatory and searing account of the years she spent secretly suffering from bulimia, all the while living under the glare of Hollywood's bright lights. On the outside, she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying. In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, 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.
Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia
by Marya Hornbacher Details
Why would a talented young woman enter into a torrid affair with hunger, drugs, sex, and death? Through five lengthy hospital stays, endless therapy, and the loss of family, friends, jobs, and all sense of what it means to be "normal," Marya Hornbacher lovingly embraced her anorexia and bulimia--until a particularly horrifying bout with the disease in college put the romance of wasting away to rest forever. A vivid, honest, and emotionally wrenching memoir, "Wasted" is the story of one woman's travels to reality's darker side and her decision to find her way back on her own terms.
Updated 08/21/2014
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