Mental Health Memoirs That Provide Hope

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Hope for a Better Future

When we hear stories of triumph over adversity, they feed into our belief that we can triumph, too. Even if the circumstances aren’t exactly the same, we feel connected to others who understand what we’re going through and can help shine a light toward a better future. Let’s explore some powerful memoirs about mental health journeys that are worth your time.

Memoirs of Mental Health Success

These authors come from all walks of life, with different professions, experiences, and stories. When you read or listen to their works, you have an opportunity to reflect on their life lessons and how they compare to your own. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll gain new insight into how you can manage mental and emotional health with promise.

What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah Winfrey

In this 2021 release, global media mogul Winfrey shares aspects of her traumatic and abusive past with brain and child trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry. Together, they explore emotional and scientific insights into behaviors and reactions shaped by the past in order to change the future. “Through this lens we can build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate our responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships. It is, in other words, the key to reshaping our very lives,” Winfrey says.

Dear William: A Father’s Memoir of Addiction, Recovery, Love, and Loss by David Magee

After the tragic death of his son from an accidental drug overdose, Magee unravels decades of his family’s intergenerational struggle with substance abuse and mood disorders. He also confronts his personal substance misuse, his dark family history, and how the destructive patterns repeat with his own children. Columnist and author Magee founded the William Magee Institute for Wellness Education at the University of Mississippi as a way to provide hope and connection to high school and college students. In a newspaper interview in 2021, shortly after the book came out, Magee says, “There’s a whole lot of pain in the story but in the end, there’s a whole lot of redemption.”

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks

Lawyer, professor, and psychiatrist Saks is an expert in mental health law and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship winner. She also lives with schizophrenia. Saks first experienced mental health issues at age 8, but serious episodes began in college. In this book, released in 2008, she opens up about her inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, paranoia, the voices in her head telling her to kill herself, along with the obstacles she overcame to become a highly respected professional. Saks says “there’s a tremendous need to implode the myths of mental illness, to put a face on it, to show people that a diagnosis does not have to lead to a painful and oblique life.”

Wasted Updated Edition: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher

Hornbacher spent years trapped in a circle of drugs, hunger, and sex. She was only 9 when she started binging on junk food and throwing up, developing bulimia nervosa. By the time she entered high school, she developed anorexia nervosa, priding herself on the “ability to starve.” After five lengthy hospitalizations, continuous therapy, the loss of family, friends, and jobs, she reached a death-defying weight of 52 pounds in college. In this updated edition of the book, issued in 2014, Hornbacher, now a successful author and professor, stresses that recovery from eating disorders is absolutely possible—with a caveat: “It is not a sudden leap from sick to well. It is a slow, strange meander from sick to mostly well…you fix it yourself. It is the hardest thing that I have ever done, and I found myself stronger for doing it. Much stronger.”

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

In the beginning of his 2016 memoir, Haig states, “Minds are unique. They go wrong in unique ways. My mind went wrong in a slightly different way to how other minds go wrong. Our experience overlaps with other people’s, but it is never exactly the same experience. Umbrella labels like ‘depression’ (and ‘anxiety’ and ‘panic disorder’ and ‘OCD’) are useful, but only if we appreciate that people do not all have the same precise experience of such things.” Haig began to realize something was wrong when, at 24, he suffered a panic attack that left him bedridden for three days. Slowly other troubles with mental health, specifically anxiety and depression, were revealed. Haig says he wrote this book because he found “that by reading about other people who have suffered, survived, and overcome despair, I have felt comforted. It has given me hope. I hope this book can do the same.”

Turn to Cottonwood for Support

Hope. There’s a lot riding on this single premise. But as you can see, there’s a lot of encouragement to be found within a unified community focused on wellness and true individualized care. If you or someone you love is ready for that kind of healing support, please give us a call.

Are you looking for an Arizona mental health treatment center for yourself or a loved one? For more information about Cottonwood Tucson, call (800) 877-4520. We are ready to help you or your loved one find lasting recovery.

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