May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which focuses on fighting the powerful stigmas that surround mental illness and encouraging everyone to seek the care and support needed. We all can make positive changes in our lives, seemingly small things can have big impact on our everyday mental health.
Two of my favorite funny books just happen to be about mental health. “Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened” by Allie Brosh is illustrated with what looks like Microsoft paint.
This goofy, expressive art is what tips hilarious stories into the realm of laughing until you cry. Many chapters originally were posted on the author’s wildly successful blog of the same name, but lots of new material has been added as well.
Another book jumping the border from blog land is “Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess). She suffers from multiple physical and mental disorders, and makes fun of them with such brash sincerity that I only felt a little bad for laughing.
All the difficulties of her daily life are confronted head on and yet the tone is consistently hopeful. Her message that we all should be furiously happy is applicable to any situation.
“No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America” by Ron Powers addresses the history of how mentally ill people have been treated. He writes with understandable anger, as his own two sons have needed mental health care.
Their story and his own are intertwined with in-depth research into the current state of affairs.
The only fiction book on my list, “An Untamed State” by Roxane Gay, deals with PTSD from extreme trauma, surviving rape and sexual abuse, and the difficulty in trying to return to normal life after it has been ripped to shreds.
Be prepared for a brutal, engrossing read. Many reviewers confess to needing to take a break while reading, but said it was worth it in the end.
Many books about mental health issues are written by sufferers chronicling their own journeys. That is the case for both “The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought” by David Adam and “My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind” by Scott Stossel. Each of them guides us through personal experiences and descriptions of what it’s like to have OCD or anxiety, as well as research into the science and history of these diagnoses. The bravery of the authors in baring all is noteworthy; they don’t hold back even when things get humiliating or downright strange.
For additional resources relating to mental health (and resources of all kinds), stop in and visit the Sequim Library at 630 N. Sequim Ave., or get in touch with your friendly library staff by calling 683-1161 or sending an email to Discover@nols.org. The library is always open at www.nols.org.