1. The Bell Jar
"I was supposed to be having the time of my life." This novel is one of the most accurate depictions of what depression in your 20s can feel like. The semi-autobiographical novel written by renowned poet Sylvia Plath is the only one she ever wrote. The story follows a girl through a summer internship in New York City where she struggles with reconciling her circumstances with how she is feeling. Easily one of the most beautifully written depictions of mental illness; The Bell Jar will flawlessly put into words so many feelings that accompany depression. This novel is perfect for helping you understand you are not alone.
2. It's Kind Of A Funny Story
"I don't know how I can be so ambitious and so lazy at the same time." Ned Vizzini's novel (and the associated movie) brings to light a issue that is often disregarded, high-functioning depression. The story focuses on Craig Gilner who is surrounded by the best and the brightest, at his elite New York City school, and constantly feels inadequate. Under the immense pressure from school, family expectations, and successful friends he goes into crisis mode and seeks help at the hospital. Looking a quick fix so he won't have to miss school and fall behind he agrees to be checked into the mental ward. The story follows Craig through his reluctance to believe he belongs there, his rejection of the other patients, and finally his acceptance of the process. This novel is ideal for helping you understand that not all depression looks the same and all struggles are valid.
3. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
"So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be." You may have seen the movie, which was very well done, but this book is worth the read regardless. Stephen Chbosky's novel is uniquely structured as a series of letters from the protagonist Charlie to an anonymous reader. Charlie has struggled with being a misfit his whole life. His successful siblings have cast a shadow that he cannot seem to step out of and he has always struggled making friends. The story takes place over his freshman year of high school and depicts the challenges he faces, the new people who come into his life, and his ongoing struggles with mental health. This novel is one that will help you see that everyone has a place in this world and it really does get better.
4. Save Yourself
"When you love somebody, you don't just give up on them when they do bad things. You fight for them." This novel may not suit everyones tastes, but it depicts a variety of topics in such an enthralling way that it definitely should earn a spot on your list. Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet is a dark novel that intertwines the stories of 2 very different families. This is one novel that cannot be described but must be read. The expertly crafted characters and weaving of narratives make this one of the most powerful books you will read this year. This novel is perfect if you like something a little dark and very character focused. It will help you understand how mental health impacts everyone in some way. Hope you enjoy these books about mental health! Happy reading, and remember reading can be an awesome self-care activity!