People who have never suffered from depression just don’t understand.
Our society overuses the word depressed to mean temporarily sad.
But depression is an ongoing illness.
Depression doesn’t just go away when life quality, finances, relationships, or circumstances improve.
Medications don’t always help. I’ve tried several and I tired of the side effects and being a guinea pig. I don’t like feeling numb or half here.
So many people think they’re really helping when they recommend trite self-help books that just tell the reader to be happier, listen to more Contemporary Christian pop music, read the Bible, and pray more.
I do appreciate the memoirs about people rescuing themselves by running with their dogs or finding something to live for – clinging to hope in a prayer, pet, memory, or child.
It’s just that every person with depression is different, experiences it differently, copes differently.
Here’s what depression feels like to me.
These books show a reality to depression and living and surviving…or not.
Depression isn’t just feeling down or having the blues or feeling out of sorts.
It’s a nagging, staticy feeling at the very base of the brain all the time, often rising to the surface and taking over everything.
I don’t think there are many books that show the harsh reality of depression.
Even having depression, I often look at others and characters in movies and books and wonder why they have it? I find myself believing the lies of “but they have such a nice life with no problems.”
If I wanted to not be this way, then I wouldn’t be this way.
Books about Depression
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression. Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt’s inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his parents and his girlfriend (and now-wife), Andrea. And eventually, he learned to appreciate life all the more for it.
Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness: if we do not suffer from it ourselves, then we have a friend or loved one who does. Matt’s frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope. Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Matt is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. He teaches us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings, and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink…
All the Bright Places is coming to Netflix soon! I’m interested to see what they do with it.
By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
After a lifetime of being bullied, Daelyn is broken beyond repair. She has tried to kill herself before, and is determined to get it right this time. Though her parents think they can protect her, she finds a Web site for “completers” that seems made just for her. She blogs on its forums, purging her harrowing history. At her private Catholic school, the only person who interacts with her is a boy named Santana. No matter how poorly she treats him, he just won’t leave her alone. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life . . . isn’t it?
In this harrowing, compelling novel, Julie Anne Peters shines a light on what might make a teenager want to kill herself, as well as how she might start to bring herself back from the edge. A discussion guide and resource list prepared by “bullycide” expert C. J. Bott are included in the back matter.
Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital—specifically, in the psychiatric ward. Despite the bandages on his wrists, he’s positive this is all some huge mistake. Jeff is perfectly fine, perfectly normal; not like the other kids in the hospital with him.
But over the course of the next forty-five days, Jeff begins to understand why he ended up here—and realizes he has more in common with the other kids than he thought.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele—Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles—as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.
Kaysen’s memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a “parallel universe” set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.
Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America by Elizabeth Wurtzel
Elizabeth Wurtzel writes with her finger on the faint pulse of an overdiagnosed generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues. Her famous memoir of her bouts with depression and skirmishes with drugs, Prozac Nation is a witty and sharp account of the psychopharmacology of an era
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment
I haven’t read these yet, but they’re on my list:
Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over by Amy Bleuel
Project Semicolon began in 2013 to spread a message of hope: No one struggling with a mental illness is alone; you, too, can survive and live a life filled with joy and love. In support of the project and its message, thousands of people all over the world have gotten semicolon tattoos and shared photos of them, often alongside stories of hardship, growth, and rebirth.
How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention by Susan Rose Blauner
An international epidemic, suicide has touched the lives of nearly half of all Americans, yet is rarely talked about openly. In this timely and important book, Susan Blauner breaks the silence to offer guidance and hope for those contemplating ending their lives — and for their loved ones.
A survivor of multiple suicide attempts, Blauner eloquently describes the feelings and fantasies surrounding suicide. In a direct, nonjudgmental, and loving voice, she offers affirmations and suggestions for those experiencing life-ending thoughts, and for their friends and family. Here is an essential resource destined to be the classic guide on the subject.
The Long Night: Readings and Stories to Help You through Depression by Jessica Kantrowitz
You’ve done what you can: you’ve seen your doctor, made an appointment with a therapist, picked up the prescription for the antidepressant and swallowed that first strange pill. But it can take four to eight weeks for the meds to start to work, and it might take two or more tries before you and your doctor find the ones that work best for you. When you’re in the midst of terrible depression, those weeks can feel like an eternity. You just want to feel better now. This book is for those who are in the long night of waiting. It does not promise healing or deliverance; it is not a guide to praying away the depression. It is simply an attempt to sit next to you in the dark while you wait for the light to emerge.
What are your most helpful coping tools for depression?
You might also like:
- What Depression Feels Like
- Breaking the Cycle
- I’m Angry
- How to Be Happy
- I am a Suicide Survivor
- It’s OK that You’re Not OK
- Step Away from the Edge
- Military Spouse Mental Health
- Balancing Act
- Love Hurts
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