10 Great Fictional Books/Audiobooks About Characters with Mental Illness

Three Things to Know for Mental Health Awareness Month - Healthy ...

Lately I haven’t been blogging but I couldn’t let the entire month of May go by without contributing to my blog to bring awareness to mental health (although 90% of my blog posts are concerning mental health).

Speaking of mental health, I’ve been working on finishing the sequel to Borderline, which is a story about a woman dating while secretly coping with Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve blogged specifically about BPD before in the past. If interested, feel free to read Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

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If you’re like me and are intrigued by fictional books based on mental illness, then this particular blog post is for you. I’ll also be posting another blog on movies of the same subject. This post isnt to make light of mental illness, but to help bring light and education on the subject. The below selections are also available on audio, incase you’re like me, and love getting lost in a good audiobook while working or driving.

So let’s get started shall we?

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1. The Darkest Child by Delores Philips

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I had to start off this list with the only book written by the late Delores Philips. The book is guaranteed to move you. It takes place in 1958 and tells the story of a mother with mental illness raising 10 children on her own. This fictional story is told from a first person account of her daughter, Tangy Mae, the darkest of the ten children. If you read the reviews, you’ll find that alot of readers have found it very difficult to read because of the sensitive subject matters, primarily physical and sexual abuse. I’d recommend listening to the audio format, as Bahni Turpin is a superb narrator.


2. The Supermarket by Bobby Hall aka “Logic”

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I must say that I didn’t even realize that Logic had authored the book until I was about mid-way through it. The book was so good, that I was eager to look up information about the author of the book. I don’t want to give too much of the story because there are a couple of twists and turns. It’s described on audible as a psychological thriller but there isnt really any violence in it. However it does get the job done at shedding a huge spot light on mental health awareness while being highly entertained. He also did a great job at narrating the audiobook as well. It’s definitely worth the read.


3. The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon

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This is the only book on this list that I havent gotten around to reading yet, but it was brought to my attention by a young reader on Instagram. The story details the suicide attempt and recovery of the author when he was only fourteen. Since I have yet to read this true story, below is a synopsis from Amazon:

“In The Burn Journals, Runyon describes that devastating suicide attempt and his recovery over the following year. He takes us into the Burn Unit in a children’s hospital and through painful burn care and skin-grafting procedures. Then to a rehabilitation hospital, for intensive physical, occupational, and psychological therapy. And then finally back home, to the frightening prospect of entering high school.

But more importantly, Runyon takes us into his own mind. He shares his thoughts and hopes and fears with such unflinching honesty that we understand—with a terrible clarity—what it means to want to kill yourself and how it feels to struggle back toward normality.

Intense, exposed, insightful, The Burn Journals is a deeply personal story with universal reach. It is impossible to look away. Impossible to remain unmoved.”


4. Psycho by Robert Bloch

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If you’re into classics and psychological thrillers, then you know all about Psycho and Bates Motel. This story is told in third person about Norman Bates, a motel owner with mental illness who kills his motel guests. The thriller is said to be based on the real life story of Wisconsin murderer, Ed Gein. In the story, Norman Bates suffers from dissociative identity disorder as a result of severe emotional abuse as a child. There is also an implication or theory that Norman may have been in an incestous relationship with his mother by readers. I, too, believe that this is the case. Alfred Hitchcock also directed a movie of the same name based on Robert Bloch’s novel.


5. The Secret She Kept by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

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This novel kind of has a slow start but it gets interesting. The main character, Tia Jiles, is a successul lawyer who suffers from both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. She’s just gotten married to a magazine executive who has no idea what he’s gotten himself into because he is in the dark about his new wife’s mentally illness. The audiobook is narrated by Patricia Floyd, who is my 2nd favorite narrator. (Bahni Turpin is my 1st.)


6. Tell Me Lies by J.P. Pomare

This book is only available on audio and only on the Audible website but it’s worh mentioning. The story is about a psychologist, Margot Scott, and her account of the various patients she sees. Things begin to get interesting when one by one her clients are targeted by a mystery person (one of her patients). It is considered a psychological thriller, somewhat a mystery, and is very fast paced. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the ending will have you feeling mind-fucked, because everything isn’t what it seem.


7. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Another classic. Girl, Interrupted takes place in the late 60s and is based on the real-life story of the author, Susanna Kaysen. The story follows her stay at a psychiatric hospital at the age of eighteen and her interaction and interesting drama with the other patients. During her two-year stay, Susanna is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This book is not available in audio format on the Audible website, but it is available on audio on Amazon in cassette format. (That was not a typo. Yes, cassette.)

Girl, Interrupted by [Susanna Kaysen]


8. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Allegedly is one of my favorite books and one that i’ve recommended to friends. Tiffany D. Jackson shows off her god-given talent in this wonderfully told story of Mary B. Addison, a teenaged fictional character convicted of murdering a baby when she was only 9. Mary lives in a group home with other colorful teens and soon finds herself pregnant. This page-turner also ends with the ultimate mind-fuck. Bahni Turpin does a wonderful job (as always) as narrator in the audiobook.


9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

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This best selling novel kind of reminds me of Girl, Interrupted except in this tale, the story only takes place inside of the mental facility and the nurses aren’t as trusting. Like Girl, Interrupted, the book was adapted into film. Randle Patrick McMurphy has just been sentenced to a mental hospital for a battery and gambling crime by faking insanity. The facility is changed by Randle’s antics and rebelliousness, such as sneaking in prostitutes and being a menance to the nurses. There are also a few other interesting patients in the ward as well. According to wikipedia:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was written in 1959 and published in 1962 in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement[6] and deep changes to the way psychology and psychiatry were being approached in America. The 1960s began the controversial movement towards deinstitutionalization,[7][8] an act that would have affected the characters in Kesey’s novel. The novel is a direct product of Kesey’s time working the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental health facility in Menlo Park, California.[9] Not only did he speak to the patients and witness the workings of the institution; he also voluntarily took psychoactive drugs, including mescaline and LSD, as part of Project MKUltra.[10]

This is definitely a recommended read if you’ve never read the book or seen the movie.


10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I had to end this list with another classic. The Catcher in the Rye has a history of being censored and banned in schools. Although it is told in the first person of a 16 year old depressed and pessimistic male teen who refers to most adults as phonys, it definitely held my attention. Tthe main protagnoist is Holden Caulfield and takes place in New York and Pennsylvania. I’m not really sure how to adequately describe the book or Holden, so i’ll copy and paste the synopsis from Amazon:

“Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.
There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.”

For some reason the audiobook isn’t available on Audible nor Amazon. It may be available on other audiobook websites, however, below is the full audiobook edition on Youtube.


Are there any other books that should’ve made the list? Please comment below as I am always looking for new books to read.

My New Year Book Reads (for self-development)

I recently wrote about Self-Care & Getting High (on vibrations) .

I wanted to share two well-known books that I’m currently reading while on my journey.


In conjunction with reading both books, I am using Higher, a self-care planner I created, as well as the Year of Yes Journal.

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Are there any books that you’d recommend for self-improvement?

Sugar: Toxic and More Addictive than Cocaine?

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If you’ve read my scifi book, Negus, you may have remembered a short story about aliens secretly conducting research on earthlings. In the below passage, the aliens provide feedback on sugar in a letter to other reseachers back home:

“There was one sandy textured ingredient in many of the food that we learned was called refined sugar. It is the most detrimental of all so far. We believe this is the main aggressor and contributor to the progressive aging and cell damage. The beings do not seem to be aware of this, as they feed their offspring this poison. It must also be noted that almost every single “food” here has this poison.

However, the chemicals have a very delightful taste! We have found in an unfortunate way, that some components of the additives are for addictive purposes. You see, after having sampled a few processed foods under the category of what they refer to as “sweets”, we began to experience a deep yearning for more. We have finally weaned off of the poison for good after numerous fails, with no intentions of ever consuming it again.” – Excerpt from my scifibook, Negus.


Virtually every processed food has sugar, including foods that most wouldnt classify as sweets (bread, pasta, pizza, etc). This may be one reason why processed food/comfort food is so addictive. There are other addictive additive in processed foods that also also accounts fot this. However, on this post, sugar will be our primary focus.


Why Sugar is so Satisfying

Hedonic Value:
According to verywellmind.com, “The hedonic value of sugary foods is the intensity of pleasure experienced by the person eating it. The point at which sweet beverages are most pleasurable has been identified at 10 percent. This is known as the “bliss point.” Food retailers keep their foods as close to the bliss point as possible to stimulate people’s desire to re-experience the bliss point by eating that food again and again.”
Dopamine:
Like drugs, sugar also releaeses dopamine, which is the brain’s reward system.


I also recommend everyone read or own a copy of The Brain Bible by John Arden, which explains in detail the physical affects of sugar on the brain.

An excerpt fromt The Brain Bible:
“Sugar is potentially destructive to the body, especially the brain. High levels of sugar contribute to premature aging, and aging makes you less tolerant to sugar in your blood.”
“Sugar stiffens protein molecules by creating pigments called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs act like a chemical glue that fuses molecules, causing a process called cross-linking. Consider what happens to a piece of meat when you leave it too long on the grill. Not only do you brown the skin, you toughen in. Overcooked meat is cross-linked, making it difficult to cut ot chew. When your cells have cross-linked, many processes become impaired.”

 


Just How Toxic is Sugar?


Beating Sugar Addiction

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References:
https://www.verywellmind.com/sugar-addiction-22149
http://theconversation.com/fact-or-fiction-is-sugar-addictive-73340

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11 Things Ive Learned the Hard Way About Being an Indie Author & Finding Your Purpose/Gift

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Imma gonna jump right into this. No need for an introduction as the title has already introduced exactly what this is about. This is to all the indie writers who had to learn the hard way, for those who may have already knew this before becoming independant, and to those who have no idea. (This may offend a few folks.) Here it goes:

  1. You probably aren’t as good as you think you areStop listening to your friends and family. They’re BIASED. Especially those who don’t read; they have no standard to go by. ( see The Dunning-Kruger Effect)

  2. Read your reviews (the real ones) for the right reasons- Don’t read reviews for an ego boost. Especially if majority of the reviews are from people you know. Read the real ones for a gauge on your work. Embrace criticism and learn what you need to work on. Even if the reviewer did not mention anything useful , be grateful that your work is out there and is being read by folks other than your loved ones.

  3. Your friends and family aren’t obligated to support you- Stop getting upset or down because your friends and family arent buying all of your books or sharing all of your posts. Not everyone is into what you’re into. Not everyone likes to read and not everyone is into the genre(s) you write. Also you may just not be as great of a writer/storyteller as you believe you are. (See #1). Go out and find your audience. This means you may need to pay for advertisements, do podcast interviews, give out a few free books, go out in person and find your audience through bookfairs, book signings, etc.

  4. Stop asking people to read your stuff (finished or unfinished)- It took me awhile to stop being offended whenever my boyfriend (ex-boyfriend now) would not read something I was working on or had just finished. I vowed to never be with another man who didnt or couldn’t support me by reading my stuff. But perhaps this is selfish of me (still not sure). However i’ve learned that not everyone wants to spend valuable time reading pages of whatever youve written. Not everyone is interested in hearing about your writing. Especially if they don’t even like reading. I like to read and even I dread reading something that I may have no interest in or just don’t feel like reading. It feel like homework or just plain work. Let them volunteer or ask on their own. Hire a beta reader or do what i do: I go on facebook and ask for volunteers to act as a beta reader for me. I will say that sometimes this isnt a good idea if you’re looking for honest opinions, though. Why? See #1.

  5. It’s okay to go back and revamp your sh*t- You will make mistakes. You will cringe on some of your earlier work and book covers. Hell, i’ve been thinking about changing my pen name for awhile now. I have gone back a few times and revamped lot of my old covers as well.

  6. Just because you spent so much time writing your book, doesn’t mean people are willing to spend $25 or more on an unknown author- PERIOD. I know there are some who say that you need to know your worth but do it within reason. Think about all the facts first and research. Are you a well-known author? How long is your book? Is it a hardcover, paperback, ebook? Research the average ebook price in your genre and platforms, etc.

  7. Hire a professional- This is something I need to take my own advice on. If you’re serious about writing and don’t want to embarrass yourself: hire an editor, proofreader, beta-readers, graphic designers, etc. I do hire graphic designers and once in awhile I hire an editor. (I know, I know)

  8. Your readers aren’t idiots- They can tell when you’ve rushed on a book (guilty), they remember if you said that a character was an only child an a previous book, but now has siblings in the sequal, they know good writing, they know bad editing or lack of, and if you’re lucky enough, they know if you’re usually a good writer but didn’t deliver as good as they know you can. Take your time and do it for the ones who support you (not talking about friends and family)

  9. It’s okay to take a break- I don’t know if it’s the virgo in me, but it’s taken me awhile to learn not to have Writer’s Guilt. I’ve always felt alot of pressure to finish or start on the next book to a series. Especially when I receive messages from readers who are questioning when it’ll be out. I’ve been guilty of rushing on books to please readers but in the end, it ends up backfiring on me. (see #8)

  10. Don’t beat yourself up too bad when bitten by Writer’s Depression. Be grateful for the fans you do have and have try not to take yourself too seriously. Remember to have funIf you’re a writer, you know this is easier said than done but it’s important to know that alot of writer’s suffer from depression. I talk about this more in Writer’s Depression is REAL. Create a blog to vent, journal, or join a community of writers on social media or in person who will understand what you’re going through.

  11. Writing may not be your calling, gift, or purpose- It’s the truth. This is something that takes some searching within and really being honest with yourself. Below are videos on finding your calling/gift/purpose.


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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Alas, the one post I’ve been dragging my feet on posting about

BPD

(also known as Emotional Dysregulation Disorder)

(Not to be confused with Bipolar Disorder, which is NOT a personality disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder.)

I want to apologize in advance on the multiple videos posted below. I wanted to include as many educational resources and references about the topic at hand.


What exactly is Borderline Personality Disoder?

I recommend listening to at least the first 10 minutes of the below video. Out of all the videos, I ‘ve found that Dr Ramani breaks down the traits and characteristics the best.

It is important to remember that not everyone suffering from BPD have the same characteristics or traits, as there is a spectrum. Not every individual with this disorder is “crazy”, violent, and obsessive as portrayed in media. Therefore not everyone with BPD are exactly alike. Also, only FIVE of the 9 criteria must be met to be diagnosed, which means not all suffering with BPD are suicidal or etc.

As always, it is recommended to not self-diagnose. Please seek a professional for a proper diagnosis.

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The Stigma of BPD

1. STIGMA ONLINE:

Borderline folks catch a lot of flack online. Just look through the many videos and comments on YouTube from disgruntled exes.

Men and women with BPD are often thought of as toxic, manipulative, and attention-seeking by some, when in fact, those with BPD feel love intensely and most have a fear of abandonment. Alot of times theyfeel a great sense of guilt whenever they do cause disruption. I wil admit that it does take a very patient person to be able to involve themselves romantically with someone with BPD. Of course this also depends on where the person with BPD falls on the spectrum and the traits they possess, as not all individuals are the same.

2. STIGMA IN HEALTHCARE SETTINGS

And if that isn’t bad enough, people with BPD are also discriminated against by mental health professionals

This is because they (people with BPD) are one of the hardest to treat because the disorder often misunderstood. In fact, not all therapist are willing to treat or understand enough about BPD. Those with BPD are often dropped as patients (see The Stigma Associated With Borderline Personality Disorder and Why Do Therapists Stigmatize People with Borderline? )

3. STIGMA IN HOLLYWOOD/FILMS

I’ve come to notice that alot of films based on a character with BPD are often exaggerated and doesn’t help the stigma already attached with BPD.

Such as:

Single White Female

Welcome to Me

A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

As stated, not all individuals with the disorder have the same traits. Many cannot work and receive disability, while others are high-functioning.

The lack of knowledge is one reason why I recently published a fictional short story of a woman dating while secretly dealing with BPD. The story was written to help education and bring awareness.

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(Click here to hear a sample of the audiobook)


Common BPD jargon:

SPLITTING:

when someone sees someone as all good or all bad and no in between. Its the reason why people with BPD tend to idealize others or demonize other people out of the slightest of things.

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“FP”: FAVORITE PERSON

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TREATMENT

1. PSYCHOTHERAPY (Talk Therapy).….Seeking a mental health professional is recommended. Most professionals will suggest group therapy with others with BPD. Individual therapy is often long-term.

2. MEDICATION.....Depending on the severity/circumstances, medication can also be prescribed for emotion regulation.

3. AGING/TIME....For some, BPD may not a life-long disorder. Some are only affected for just several years, with the symptoms decreasing in intensity as they get older. The disorder mostly affects young women, but there are older men and women who are affected.

4. DBT Workbook (Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook). DBT is considered one of the most effective methods for treating BPD. Some professionals use it for group therapy but the workbooks is also recommended for individual use and can be found at online retail stores like Amazon.


CONCLUSION

There is so much more that can be said about BPD that i’m sure was missed in this post such as mood swings, impulsiveness, dissociation, and etc.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, the best thing you can do is research. There are also online support groups on Facebook for not only those with BPD, but for loved ones of those with BPD, as loved ones are also often greatly affected. Some have admitted that being around those with BPD is like always walking on eggshells.

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Writer’s Guilt

A few weeks back I wrote about Writer’s Depression and how a surplus of writer’s suffer from depression. Well there’s another thing that I recently found out that writers also deal with regularly: Writer’s Guilt.

I have suffered from writer’s guilt for years now. Before I go further into detail about how it’s affected me, I must clarify that there are two forms of writer’s guilt.

  • Writer’s Guilt#1: Guilt of spending majority of your time writing. I think this is a good problem to have. Many people who have yet to pulish a book or finish writing haven’t done so because they don’t make the time or simply just procrastinate. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself to get your ass up and write your book, blog, essay, or etc. It’s simply procrastination and lack of focus. Well, these writers with this form of writer’s guilt are the exact opposite. They believe they are overly-focused and heavily motivated. They usually feel guilt because they feel that they don’t spend enough time with family and friends or doing other things. (Click here to read more about this type of guilt)

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  • Writer’s Guilt#2: Guilt of not writing. This is the guilt that most writers feel. This is the guilt that has been plaguing me over these past couple of weeks. I have not posted a blog in weeks, nor have I worked on my new book in days. (The Other Woman, coming soon!) I don’t know where this sense of guilt comes from. Even when I vowed to quit writing in the past (I’ve vowed to quit at least seven or eight times), I could never quit. It’s like a habit that I can’t shake. The longest I have ever gone without writing was about five or six months and whenever someone would ask about future projects or how my writing was going, a deep sense of guilt would seep in. I would feel like I just betrayed someone. I still feel that way when it’s been just a couple days. Maybe it is betrayal. Betrayal to my higher self, to God-who gifted me with this skill, or betrayal to the craft itself. I’m not sure. I do know that it’s like a pang of guilt that sits at my subconsious until I get to writing. Hell, maybe it’s my spirit guides urging/enouraging me to fulfill my passion/life work/calling. I don’t know.

Either way, below are a few links to help get you out of that Writer’s Guilt. Whether it’s guilt from writing too little or from writing too much.

1. How to Ditch Writer’s Guilt

2. Six Tips for Working Through Writer’s Guilt

3. Why Writers Feel Guilty and How to Overcome It

4. 10 Ways to Kick Writer’s Guilt to the Curb

I would also like to add that joining and participating in a writing group is also helpful. I am a member of writing group on Facebook, where writing challenges are posted each day. This helps in getting out of that non-writing funk.

You can also purchase creative writing journals under $10 on Amazon. Here are 3:

300 Writing Prompts

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Have you ever been a victim of Writer’s Guilt? Have you ever heard of it? Any suggestions on dealing with it? Comment below.

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