- Credit the original creator, whatthelog
- Answer the questions!
- Tag as many or as few people as you like 🙂
That’s it! Now onto the questions…
1. Name a book that lifts your spirits, even when times are tough.
That would have to be The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I tend to fall into a fixed mindset when life is challenging, and this book is all about the growth mindset. Plus Rubin also gives a lot of small (and some big) ideas for ways to change your life and promote your own happiness.
[This book is not diverse, so I’ve linked to Goodreads because I won’t be reviewing it.]
There are many on my TBR, but the one I’m most curious about at the moment is Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz. This intersectional book about a gay, PoC ballerina with an eating disorder is on the Disability in Kidlit Honor Roll, but doesn’t have a review, so I would like to read it and learn why it’s so highly recommended!
3. Name a non-fiction book about mental health.
Down Came the Rain: My Journey with Postpartum Depression is a moving personal story of infertility and depression that does not read like your typical celebrity memoir. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wouldn’t be triggered by the topic.
4. Read this, not that – name a book with a good depiction of mental health, and one with a problematic depiction of mental health.
I’m going to recommend two books with very different depictions of depression, both historical fiction set outside the U.S.
Secret Keeper is a work of historical fiction set in 1970s India, focusing on Asha, her mother, and her older sister. After her father dies, the women experience various hardships, social and economical challenges, and more than one character in the novel experiences depression. There are lighter moments, but this is a sad book and more realistic than hopeful, so please don’t read it if you feel it will trigger you.
Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go is a novel that’s currently realistic fiction but will become historical fiction as it’s set in Haiti directly after the 2010 earthquake. Magdalie’s mother (really her aunt who unofficially adopted her) dies in the earthquake and her not-really-twin-sister Nadine leaves the country; Magdalie is left struggling with depression and PTSD.
These two novels were interesting to me because they deal with depression in specific foreign and historical contexts. Asha is prevented from doing anything meaningful about her depression by her society’s constraints, while Magdalie’s caregiver seeks healing for her through a manbo (a priestess in Haitian vodou).
For a problematic depiction, popular YA romance Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. To say much about it would involve spoilers, but my review has more information.
5. Other than reading, what helps when you’re feeling low?
I enjoy doing some of my hobbies. Particularly, taking long walks outdoors, knitting, and traveling can all lift my spirits, although reading is my favorite!
6. Name a book that is intersectional – e.g. there is a character of colour or lgbt+ character with low mental health.
I would absolutely recommend The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork, which has several Latin@ characters dealing with mental health issues (MC is going through the aftermath of a suicide attempt.)
My feelings about Will Grayson, Will Grayson were more mixed, however the aspect of a gay character dealing with ongoing chronic depression was well done.
If you are looking for intersectional books that deal with people of color or indigenous people who are disabled as well, I’m just going to take a moment to plug my Diverse Disabled booklist and remind everyone that if you know of any book that isn’t on my list yet, please leave me a comment.
7. Why do you think accurate representations of mental health is important?
Modern society and social media come with so many pressures – other people appear perfect and we often judge ourselves by those standards. Most MG/YA/NA and even adult fiction seems to glamorize suicide attempts (and other sensationalized aspects of mental health) and brush off the real work of maintaining health with a chronic condition or the difficulty of regaining stability after losing balance.
Also, in general I think it is important for everyone to see mirror characters in fiction! Plus all the stuff Wendy said.
8. Name a book about a less well-known mental health condition.
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo deals with pseudocyesis, among many different topics, and does an excellent job of portraying it from the individual’s point of view.
9. What book would you recommend to someone looking to learn more about mental health?
This might sound weird (I was the nerdiest), but in my younger days I read the DSM IV. It was long, and there were definitely parts that I got bored and skipped, but it gave me sort of a general understanding of how psychiatrists looked at certain things. Knowing the lingo was also unexpectedly helpful shortly after I finished – if you know the names for things doctors are sometimes willing to give you a bit more respect.
However, I wouldn’t generally recommend a several-hundred-page diagnostic manual! I’d say go to Wendy’s blog and find something there that you like… Because I haven’t read many nonfiction books about mental health yet.