The books that saved my life.

In honour of mental health awareness week, I could sit here and write a long blog post about my opinions on mental health and all the facts concerning the stigma, however that has all been done before and I’m sure you’ve read them a thousand times. Instead I want this post to be dedicated to a few of my favourite self-help / inspirational books that I always reach for to get me through some of the difficult times I experience on my own mental health journey. I also hope this post will inspire you to pick up these books yourself and enjoy them as much as I do! (unless you have read them already of course).

1) Reasons to stay alive – Matt Haig

For me this book changed my life and it holds a special place in my heart. I brought this book back when I was a patient in my first mental health hospital and it was the first ‘self-help’ book I had ever picked up. I was drawn instantly by the fact Matt was so open about his depression and his thoughts around taking medication and I felt the pain of being in very similar dilemmas, but also whilst reading, I began craving survival.
It’s incredible how reading this book made me feel less alone.
The chapters are short and easy to read, so I felt like even in a dark place I didn’t have to focus too much to get the full effect of what was being said.
I have re-read this book hundreds of times and I always finish the book in complete awe of Matt’s strength and determination!

2) Mad girl – Bryony Gordon

The reason I love this book so much is the way it is written. Bryony’s way of writing about her OCD, bulimia and drug dependency went down a very comical path and even though I spent the majority of this book laughing I still sensed the seriousness and desperation that she experienced in her life. I really appreciate her determination to not give up after what seemed a lack of luck for many years and I can see a lot of myself if her personality and behaviours too. The way she is so open about her struggles with body image makes me feel incredible proud because I know that even just admitting you have a problem in that particular area is incredibly hard due to the pressure these day to look a certain way. Overall this will always be a book I pick up when I’m in need of comfort. I laugh, I cry but mostly I feel like I can get through whatever life throws at me.

3) Beautiful – Katie Piper

Every time I read or hear about this book the word that pops into my head is ‘hope’. The very first time I read this book, I felt so much sadness to read the nightmare Katie had been through and although this isn’t a self-help book as such it has really helped me. Through each chapter you could see how strong she was becoming as an individual and it really helped me understand the process of acceptance to. (Acceptance is blooming hard and it takes lots of practise to master)
One of the most important messages throughout this book is centred around beauty. Katie proved to people that no matter what has happened to you physically or mentally, you ARE beautiful in your own way. Contradictory though, she also highlights that beauty isn’t everything and that health and happiness should always be your number one priority. Overall this book gave me hope that things DO get better.

4) Milk and honey – Rupi Kaur

(I want to put a trigger warning for this little section as it contains themes around sexual assault and other difficult subjects so please don’t read if you think it has potential to make you feel uncomfortable)

This collection of poems are the most raw and passionate poems I’ve read to date and although some of the content is heart-breaking to read, I feel that there would be no other way to express those situations than the way she has done. I connected to this book immensely as it takes you on a journey from hurt, love, breaking to healing and you can really begin to understand what life could be like for someone with such a difficult, diverse life. The poems do cover vulnerable topics such as rape and domestic abuse which can be difficult to digest at times so I would recommend reading it at a steady pace and not all in one go (I’ve learnt that the hard way). Nevertheless I do absolutely love how she captures culture and beauty in the midst of all the heartache and trauma.
The book can bring up lots of unexpected emotions howbeit it’s definitely one of those books to put on your ‘to read list’.  

Of course these books are not going to help everyone or even cure the symptoms you’re going through but if you can see that these people have gone through traumatic shit and survived then you can too. I know that unfortunately mental health isn’t simple or easy to understand and one blog post isn’t going to solve everything but always know that you’re not alone and things, no matter how bad they my seem at the time, DO get better.

I want to leave you with this…
NEVER be silent because we were all given a voice for a reason!

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