The brain is a part in our body. It is a very important part of our body, but it is still, at the end of the day, a part of our body. Like any other part of our body, it can get hurt. Or something can be different about how our brains work, just like other parts of our body. Maybe it’s too much of one chemical and not the other, maybe it’s not enough of any chemical.
Having your brain work differently is perfectly okay and perfectly normal, not crazy.
However there remains a hefty stigma around mental health and mental disorders, around being crazy. Sometimes, it can make a person feel alone in a world where they aren’t. We read frequently to feel like we are not alone. These books featuring characters with mental health disorders will make you feel not alone at all.
(At the end of each brief review of the book, there contains a trigger warning about sensitive topics within the material. A trigger warning is notice to let you know what sorts of things are dealt with in these books. If something in the trigger warning might trigger you, make you upset or revisit memories you’d rather not, don’t read the book. Stay safe)
The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller (Anorexia and super powers?)
Matt argues with himself, that just because he isn’t eating, doesn’t mean he’s anorexic, does it? He also wants to know if through his starvation, he suddenly has superhuman powers? Could those powers be the key to finding out why his sister left? Through this debut novel from Sam J. Miller reads like a rulebook for the art of starving and for the art of recovering.
(Trigger warning: discussion and actions on anorexia and bulimia, as well as delusions, or super powers)
The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf (OCD)
Set in 1969 Malaysia, Melati believes that she has been cursed by a djinn. He torments her with visions of her loved ones dying; the only thing that appeases him is perfect counting, in groups of threes. When racial tensions spill over between the Chinese and the Malays, Melati is stuck between trying to find her mother or believing that the djinn is right.
(Trigger warning: OCD behaviors, anxiety, panic attacks, disbelief in diagnosis)
Darius The Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Clinical depression)
Darius does not feel like he belongs in his small town. Between bullies, parental disapproval, and clinical depression, it feels impossible to find his place. However, a chance trip to Iran, to visit his grandparents could change all of that.
(Trigger warning: depression, intrusive thoughts, and bullying)
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (Schizophrenia)
Caden Bosch is leading two separate lives. In one he’s a regular kid starting to go through some unsettling changes in his head. His thoughts run away with him and he’s feeling out of control. In the other, he is the journaling artist on a ship that’s headed for Challenger’s Deep, the deepest part of the Marianas Trench. On this ship, he is lured in by adventure and by potential mutiny. But which life is the life he truly leads, and which is the fantasy?
(Trigger warning: anxiety, schizophrenia, suicidal thoughts)
This is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregorio (Depression and Anxiety)
Told in alternating perspectives, Jos and Will deal problems much bigger than their want to be a couple. Including, but not limited to: parental pressure, handling a failing business, fast and unrelenting change, tutoring siblings, and keeping grade points up for college. All that would be a lot for anyone to handle, but between anxiety and undiagnosed depression, it makes everything that much harder.
(Trigger Warning: anxiety, depression, mood swings, panic attacks)
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (Agoraphobia)
Solomon has not left the house in 3 years, 2 months, and some days. He likes it inside and stays there. He is perfectly fine.
Lisa Praytor wants to get out of Upland. She believes that by fixing Solomon, to get him to go outside, she can get into her goal college and escape this time.
But neither one of them thought that their friendship would be what changed everything.
(Trigger warning: agoraphobia, panic attacks, emotional distress)
(Don’t) Call Me Crazy edited by Kelly Jensen (Starting the discussion)
This book of essays is full of great conversation starters, tales of growth and knowledge, and the strong feeling that you are not alone in the way that you’re feeling. This book covers a lot of different mental health concerns and worries, from anxiety and depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders and more. If you’re feeling out of sorts, never crazy, reach for this to help you find some solace.
(Trigger warning: discussions of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, mental health, eating disorders, suicide, body dysmorphia, mania, and recovery)