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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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

1. The Darkest Child by Delores Philips

The Darkest Child audiobook cover art

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

The Secret She Kept audiobook cover art

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

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest audiobook cover art

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.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)

NARCISS

Narcissistic personality disorder is a subject or disorderI never really wanted to blog or research. Moreso than those with Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic personality disorder are disliked and hated by many ex-lovers. However, since I have released a new book  where the main character is suspected of having traits of NPD (it is never confirmed or denied in the book), I wanted to delve a little in the world of narcissists. 

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But first, a little self-promotion of the book:

The Best Thing

ebook

Paperback

TBTPAPERBACK (2)

“I’M THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED to Hope Richardson. She was Hope Meyers before we married five months ago. Up until meeting me, my wife admitted that she’d given up on finding a good man.”
Habitual cheater , Xavier Richardson, likes his women naive, subservient, and plus-size. Hope Richardson, his wife of five months is all of the above in addition to being a homebody who’s self-conscious about her weight; something Xavier takes full advantage of. After attending her husband’s class reunion, Hope forms a friendship with socialite and social media influencer, Vivica Love, who’s happens to be an old high school nemesis of Xavier’s. As a result, Hope’s self-esteem flourishes and is evident in an inner and outer transformation, something her husband isn’t too supportive of. When one of Xavier’s past affairs comes back to haunt him, he’s forced to face his demons and insecurities in a fight to repair his marriage.

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Gaslighting

Speak to those in relationships with narcissist and i’m pretty sure they’ll mention the term gaslighting. Like the main character in my book, narcissist tend to gaslight, or manipulate, others.

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Have you or anyone you know ever encountered a narcissist? Have you been diagnosed with NPD? Let me know in the comments below.

Aphantasia (inability to visualize)

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I wanted to briefly touch on a condition that I recently learned about this weekend. It’s called

APHANTASIA

and it’s basically the inability to imagine or visualize. Of course, as an author and an avid reader, this caught my attention and prompted me to further look into this.

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This condition may also be a reason why some folks just don’t like to read. As a bookworm, and a writer of fiction I must admit this is kind of shocking and a little heartbreaking. As stated in the video, this would also be a reason why some do not do well with guided meditations.

(EDIT: I’ve gotten alot of feedback on my instagram (@author.wenda) over this post from people who have Aphantasia. Particulary the part about reading. Apparently there alot of folks with Aphanstasia who are bookworms and even authors. Go figure! There may also be a specturm as well.)

See the source image

See the source image

What do you think about aphantasia? Do you or someone you know have this condition? Have you heard of this condition before? Let me know in the comments below.


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Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

According to studies, about 1 in 50 Americans suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (also known as BDD or Body Dysmorphia). The thing about BDD is it’s important to be knowledgable about the difference between normal insecurities and BDD.


So then, what exactly is

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

Check out the video below by Dr. Tracey Marks


SYMPTOMS

symptoms

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TREATMENT

Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (individual or group)

Medication (serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs)


*Sources:
https://bdd.iocdf.org/professionals/prevalence/
https://www.medicinenet.com/body_dysmorphic_disorder/article.htm
https://bdd.iocdf.org/about-bdd/how-is-bdd-treated/

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Obsessive Love Disorder (O.L.D.)

If you’ve never watched the Netflix Original series, You, I’d suggest you check it out if you’re into psychological thrillers.

The series follow a seemingly friendly guy name Joe Goldberg who meets this cute young woman, Guinevere Beck aka “Beck” , at a bookshop where he works. As the series goes on, viewers discover just how obsessed Joe is with Beck.

Image result for you netflix show

The series is based on a novel by Caroline Kepnes of the same name.

Book cover of Kepnes's 2014 novel

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. Therefore I cannot diagnose anyone. However, based on the characteristics and actions of Joe Goldberg, there’s a slight chance that he would have been diagnosed with Obessive Love Disorder, or maybe not. However the series is awesome and I thought it’d make a great segue.


So what exactly is OLD?

Unlike erotomania, which is an individual’s paranoid delusion of someone else (most times a celeb or someone theyve never met) being infatuated with them, the person being obsessed over are alive, real, and someone they may even be romantically involved with However, both erotomania and OLD are considered attachment disorders. ( Borderline Personality Disorder is also another attachment disorder)


Symptoms of OLD:

  • Posessiveness/Controlling behavior

  • Overwhelming attraction to one person

  • Obsessive fanatasies about the person

  • Inability to accept rejection

  • Popping up/stalking

  • Extreme jealousy

  • Low self-esteem

  • Making/drawing images of the person or obsessive thoughts

  • Going out their way to spending an excessive amount with the other person

  • Desire to “protect” the person


DANGERS

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I’ve recently published a nouvella where O.L.D. is mentioned just to bring some awareness to the disorder. In the story, one of the characters becomes obsesseed with a coworker.

You can check it out below:

Click here to purchase or hear a sample of the audiobook.


Treatment

PSYCHOTHERAPY- As always, seeking a licensed mental health professional is highly recommended. Medication may be prescribed, as OLD is often a disorder attached to other underlining mental illnesses.


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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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Image result for bpd favorite person


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 Depression is REAL

We’ve all heard or read how the infamous Sylvia Plath stuck her head in an oven and committted suicide at the young age of thirty. (If you haven’t, click here) Plath suffered from clinical depression. We’ve also heard about other writers and creatives who suffer from depression. Many writers forget or may not even be aware that we’re more prone to writer’s depression.

My aim in blogging about this today is to ease and help cope with my own depressive state at this very moment.

Out of all creatives, those who write are more prone than any other type of creatives.

 

 

If you’re not a writer but know someone who is, check in on them from time to time. Even if they seem happy. A mental health check is pertinent to that writer because we tend to isolate ourselve for hours to day to weeks or months when creating. We’re also our own worse critic and even the slightest bad review on our work can set off doubt and self-loathing within ourself. 

The best advice I’ve ever received as a writer is to write in a public setting around other people, such as a library.

This helps with the isolation aspect of it. I personally tried this and agree that this does help with feeling isolated as well as my overeating.

So check on your fellow creatives..especially our young and teen writers.

If you or anyone you know are having thoughts of suidicide, there is help:

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

You call or chat with someone using the above link.

Deaf or hard of hearing? tel:1-800-799-4889


Recommended read:

Amazon.com Review

In 1985 William Styron fell victim to a crippling and almost suicidal depression, the same illness that took the lives of Randall Jarrell, Primo Levi and Virginia Woolf. That Styron survived his descent into madness is something of a miracle. That he manages to convey its tortuous progression and his eventual recovery with such candor and precision makes Darkness Visible a rare feat of literature, a book that will arouse a shock of recognition even in those readers who have been spared the suffering it describes


This blog post is dedicated to the late Haitian blogger and writer, Kreyolicious.


References:
https://thoughtcatalog.com/cody-delistraty/2014/03/the-neurological-similarities-between-successful-writers-and-the-mentally-ill/

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