Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I have been focusing on nonfiction titles related to mental health. See below if you want to catch up.
This week, I’m switching gears to memoirs. Memoirs can make us feel less alone in our struggles and provide us with invaluable insight into the experiences of others whose circumstances we may not always share. Here are ten memoirs about mental health that I believe will inspire and enlighten you:
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Everything Is Fine: A Memoir by Vince Granata (February 2022) Atria Books: Grief, mental illness, and the bonds of family are movingly explored in this extraordinary memoir "suffused with emotional depth and intellectual inquiry" (Rachel Louise Snyder, author of No Visible Bruises) as a writer delves into the tragedy of his mother's violent death at the hands of his brother, who struggled with schizophrenia.
All My Friends Are Invisible: The Inspirational Childhood Memoir by Jonathan Joly (May 2022) Mobius | In All My Friends Are Invisible, Jonathan Joly, known widely as one of social media's most successful content creators, shares the secret he's kept hidden for these many years. He shows the beautiful world he retreated to time and time again when life was unbearable for his "skin machine". Most importantly, he introduces us to his invisible friends, and in so doing, you may be transported back to the friends you had as a child that no one else could see and who may have saved you, too.
Behind the Facade: A Mental Health Memoir by Lauren Bartleson (September 2022) New Degree Press | To the outside world, Lauren Bartleson had it all: her dream job, an award-winning blog, and a picture-perfect marriage. Online and in person, she put on a smile, trying to convince herself as much as others that she was okay. In reality, she was anything but. Behind the facade, Lauren was struggling to manage two autoimmune diseases, insomnia, chronic anxiety, deep depression, debilitating pain, and the long-term effects of extreme bullying, betrayal, and losing her soulmate. In her darkest moments, she considered suicide on a daily, often hourly, basis. No one, not even her family, knew how much she was suffering.
None of This Rocks: A Memoir by Joe Trohman (September 2022) Hachette Books | None of This Rocks chronicles a turbulent life that has informed Trohman's music and his worldview. His mother suffered from mental illness and multiple brain tumors that eventually killed her. His father struggled with that tragedy but was ultimately a supportive force in Trohman's life who fostered his thirst for knowledge. Trohman faced antisemitism in small-town Ohio, and he witnessed all levels of misogyny, racism, and violence amid the straight-edge hardcore punk scene in Chicago. Then came Fall Out Boy. From the guitarist's very first glimpses of their popular ascension, to working with his heroes like Anthrax's Scott Ian, to writing for television with comedian Brian Posehn, Trohman takes readers backstage, into the studio, and onto his couch. He shares his struggles with depression and substance abuse in a brutally honest and personal tone that readers will appreciate. Perhaps not much of this rocks, but it all adds up to a fascinating music memoir unlike any you've ever read.
The Absent Moon: A Memoir of a Short Childhood and a Long Depression by Luiz Schwarcz (2/28/23) Penguin Press | A literary sensation in Brazil, Luiz Schwarcz's brave and tender memoir interrogates his ordeal of bipolar disorder in the context of a family story of murder, dispossession, and silence—the long echo of the Holocaust across generations.
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The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions by Jonathan Rosen (4/18/23) Penguin Press | Acclaimed author Jonathan Rosen's haunting investigation of the forces that led his closest childhood friend, Michael Laudor, from the heights of brilliant promise to the forensic psychiatric hospital where he has lived since killing the woman he loved A story about friendship, love, and the price of self-delusion, The Best Minds explores the ways in which we understand—and fail to understand—mental illness.
Agorafabulous! by Sara Benincasa (4/28/23) Avon Books: Comedian, writer, blogger, radio and podcast host, and YouTube sensation Sara Benincasa bravely and outrageously brings us "Dispatches from My Bedroom" with Agorafabulous! One of the funniest and most poignant books ever written about a mental illness, Agorafabulous! is a hilarious, raw, and unforgettable account of how a terrified young woman, literally trapped by her own imagination, evolved into a (relatively) high-functioning professional smartass. Down to earth and seriously funny, Benincasa's no-holds-barred revelations offer readers the politically incorrect hilarity they heartily crave yet are so often missing from your typical, weepy, and redemptive personal memoir.
Life B: Overcoming Double Depression by Bethanne Patrick (5/16/23) Counterpoint LLC | Bethanne Patrick, a writer and book critic, had struggled with depression her entire life. It wasn't until she was in her early fifties that she received a medical diagnosis that would put her on the road to wellness and stability. Recognizing the intergenerational effects of trauma and mental health struggles, Patrick unearths the stories of her past in order to forge a better future for herself and her two daughters, dismantling the stigmas surrounding mental health challenges that can plague families into silence and resignation. Life B is an intimate portrait we haven't yet seen—of a lifelong struggle with depression, of a midlife diagnosis, and of newly found strength. Most importantly, it's a life-affirming blueprint for how to accept and transcend the limitations of mental illness.
Glimmer: A Story of Survival, Hope, and Healing by Kimberly Shannon Murphy (5/16/23) Gallery Books | In Glimmer, Kimberly details her remarkable journey to the top of her field as a Hollywood stuntwoman for many A-list celebrities, including Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, and Sandra Bullock, while carrying the pain of her childhood of sexual abuse in a family that refused to acknowledge its reality. In her beautifully written, unflinchingly honest memoir, Kimberly reflects on her past and present, chronicling her path to recovery and calculating the long shadow of trauma.
Sure, I'll Join Your Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest to Belong Anywhere by Maria Bamford (9/5/23) Gallery Books | Maria Bamford is a comedian's comedian (an outsider among outsiders) and has forever fought to find a place to belong. From struggling with an eating disorder as a child in the 1980s to navigating a career in the arts (and medical debt and psychiatric institutionalization), she has tried just about every method possible to not only be a part of the world but to want to be a part of it.
A Reading List of Memoirs on Mothers Impacted by Mental Illness | The Mighty
Fall Out Boy's Joe Trohman on Mental Health, Mutton Chops and New Memoir 'None of This Rocks' | People
Motherhood, ambition and undiagnosed depression collide in a brutally honest memoir | Los Angeles Times
A family and a writer plagued by the aftershocks of Holocaust trauma | Forward.com
What are some of your favorite memoirs on mental health?
Did you find any good books to add to your TBR? This is just a small sampling of the nonfiction titles I’ve curated on this topic. Make sure to check out the complete list HERE.
Let's Read Nonfiction is a weekly newsletter that showcases the newest nonfiction titles, with a new topic or theme each week. Some past topics have been:
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Brilliant lists; thank you! I have a mental health memoir on submission in the UK at the moment which has led me to NOT read others' work... But I think I'm ready (nearly!) to dive back in!