7 Memoirs on Mental Health

Mental health plays a role in everything we do, from how we see ourselves, to how we interact with others, to how we view the world around us. The way in which mental health affects each individual is unique—no two experiences are alike. As Mental Health Month continues, we’d like to share the stories of those who have dealt with mental health issues, whether their own, a loved one’s, or those of millions of people around the world.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal

As she did in Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, Amy Krouse Rosenthal ingeniously adapts a standard format to explore life’s lessons and experiences in this funny, wise, moving work of art. Not exactly a memoir, not just a collection of observations, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is an exploration of the many ways we are connected on this planet and speaks to the awe, bewilderment, and poignancy of being alive.TEXTBOOK AMY KROUSE ROSENTHAL

Mental
Author: Jaime Lowe
Read By: Jaime Lowe

In Mental, Jaime Lowe investigates her story of episodic madness, including the stability she found while on lithium. She interviews scientists, psychiatrists, and patients to examine how effective lithium really is and how its side effects can be dangerous for long-term users—including Lowe, who after twenty years on the medication suffers from severe kidney damage. Mental is eye-opening and powerful, and tackles an illness and drug that have touched millions of lives yet remain shrouded in social stigma. MENTAL

My Age of Anxiety

Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Scott Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives. Stossel vividly depicts anxiety’s human toll—its crippling impact, its devastating power to paralyze—and explores how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it.MY AGE OF ANXIETY

How to Change Your Mind

A unique and elegant blend of science, memoir, travel writing, history, and medicine, How to Change Your Mind is a triumph of participatory journalism. By turns dazzling and edifying, it is the gripping account of a journey to an exciting and unexpected new frontier in our understanding of the mind, the self, and our place in the world. The true subject of Michael Pollan’s “mental travelogue” is not just psychedelic drugs but also the eternal puzzle of human consciousness and how, in a world that offers both suffering and joy, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives.HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND

A Common Struggle

On May 5, 2006, The New York Times ran two stories, “Patrick Kennedy Crashes Car into Capitol Barrier” and then, several hours later, “Patrick Kennedy Says He’ll Seek Help for Addiction.” It was the first time that the popular Rhode Island congressman had publicly disclosed his addiction to prescription painkillers, the true extent of his struggle with bipolar disorder, and his plan to immediately seek treatment. Kennedy has become the nation’s leading advocate for mental health and substance-abuse care, research, and policy, in and out of Congress. And since passing the landmark Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act he has been changing the dialogue that surrounds all brain diseases. A COMMON STRUGGLE

An Unquiet Mind

In her bestselling classic An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison changed the way we think about moods and madness. Dr. Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; she has also experienced it firsthand. For even while she pursued her career in academic medicine, she found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients.

He Wanted the Moon

Texas-born and Harvard-educated, Dr. Perry Baird was a rising medical star in the late 1920s and 1930s. Early in his career, ahead of his time, he grew fascinated with identifying the biochemical root of manic depression, just as he began to suffer from it himself. By the time the results of his groundbreaking experiments were published, Dr. Baird had been institutionalized multiple times, had his medical license revoked, and had become estranged from his wife and daughters. Decades later, a string of extraordinary coincidences led to the recovery of a manuscript Dr. Baird worked on throughout his brutal institutionalization, confinement, and escape. This remarkable document, reflecting periods of both manic exhilaration and clear-headed health, presents a startling portrait of a man who was a uniquely astute observer of his own condition, struggling with a disease for which there was no cure, racing against time to unlock the key to treatment before his illness became impossible to manage.HE WANTED THE MOON