7 great options for when you’re feeling down
This past September was suicide prevention month. The purpose of this month is to create awareness about mental health and, in so doing, prevent suicide. Many activists use this month to work with organizations on campaigns to make sure people know they’re not alone. September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day. And why is this relevant? Because the conversation around mental health is even more important after almost 2 years of quarantine and isolation, during which we have all realized how important it is to take care of our minds, not just our bodies.
In honor of this day I want to share with you a list of books that open up the conversation around mental health and yes, suicide. Ironically, books are great companions and many people have taken up reading again while being stuck at home. Why not read something that will strengthen your mind while also comforting your soul? Take a look at these 7 suggestions.
#1 All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Jennifer Niven’s heartbreaking and brilliant best-selling novel All the bright places follows the story of two teenagers Violet and Theodore Finch who try to deal with their past. Violet, grieving the loss of her sister and Finch dealing with family and personal troubles, both embark on a journey together. After being assigned a project to explore the wonders of Indiana, together they go on an adventure they never expected. This book masterfully deals with topics like grief, depression, trauma, bipolar disorder, and suicide. While exploring Indiana with Violet and Finch, you’ll learn to find the brightest place somewhere you least expected: Yourself. This book continues to find its way into teenagers' hearts, that feel seen in this story, and continue to feel inspired by Violet and Finch’s story.
PS: The movie adaption of this book is available on Netflix.
#2 The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: Chbosky’s Novel Perks of being a wallflower has stolen the hearts of millions of teenagers, making everyone who has read it want to drive under a tunnel and blast David Bowie’s Heroes. The book follows introvert Charlie during his first year of high school as he struggles through depression and trauma. The story is told through letters Charlie writes himself to process things. He meets high school seniors Patrick and Sam and becomes friends with their whole friend group. They open Charlie up to all kinds of experiences and help him through freshman year. This raw and honest story will capture your heart and make you feel for the characters that are so vividly painted. It will make you appreciate life, music, and friends and make you think twice about introverts. You never know what a person is going through. Most importantly though this book will make you feel infinite.
PS: The movie adaptation available on Netflix.
#3 Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul:
The novelization of the Tony and Grammy Winning groundbreaking musical Dear Evan Hansen is perfect for any broadway fan (like me). The story follows Evan Hansen as he battles severe social and general anxiety. Evan suddenly finds himself as the center of attention when a letter he writes to himself saying, “Dear Evan Hansen, Today’s going to be an amazing day and here's why” as a therapy assignment lands in the hands of bad boy Connor Murphy who takes his own life. Now everyone thinks he and Evan were best friends. This book teaches us that you never know what someone is going through and that no one is invisible. Becky Albertali said it best in her review on the cover of the book: “Required reading for anyone who’s ever needed to be found.”
PS: I highly recommend reading this book while listening to the Broadway soundtrack.
#4 Turtles all the way down by John Green: John Green’s raw, emotional and impactful book Turtles all the way down follows Aza who has severe OCD. This book is especially raw and descriptive because it's based on Green’s journey with OCD. The book follows Aza and her lifelong friend as she finds herself thrown into the mystery of the local town billionaire's disappearance and has to deal with her spiral of thoughts. This book makes you think about all the things that go around in our heads and how lonely that can be, but also how the people we love can bring us out of that dark hole.
#5 Looking for Alaska by John Green: The best-selling, Michael L. Printz award-winning novel Looking for Alaska arguably is one of the most poetic John Green novels. It deals with grief, hope, depression, alcohol, relationships, and suicide. It follows Miles “Pudge” Halter, a teenager obsessed with famous people's last words as he goes to Culver Creek boarding school. There he meets Alaska Young, Chip “Colonel”, and many more interesting characters. The whole book is counting down the days to a huge accident that already happened and, in the end, it tells what happened afterward. Based on Green's own time in boarding school, Looking for Alaska masterfully explores the complexity of a person and how deeply we feel like humans, and how to navigate relationships as a teenager. It also looks at how society and new people can affect you, delivering a message that whatever we’re going through will pass, that we do have a purpose. After reading this book you’ll find yourself looking for your own “great perhaps”.
#6 Am I normal yet? by Holly Bourne: Am I normal yet is part of a series called “The Spinsters Club” centered around three best friends that form their feminist club. Each book is told from the perspective of one of the friends. The series is inspired by Holly Bourne’s work with young people and everyday sexism. Am I normal yet? is written by Evie who has OCD and after a breakdown had to be put on medication. Now she's starting college and is slowly getting off her meds. This book is expertly written with beautiful prose and it explores how she handles university and falling in love (with the help of her friends of course).
PS: I recommend reading the whole series, which is fantastic.
#7 We Are Okay by Nina Lacour: This is Nina Lacour’s Michael L. Printz award-winning novel that deals with grief, depression, and loneliness. The story follows Marin as she battles the loss of her old life. When an old friend visits her in college, everything comes out. This beautifully poetically written book fills you with emotions and tears. Everyone who has ever lost someone can relate to this book.
Each of these books sends a message that can be hard to believe but is true: you are not alone.
Keep in mind that these are just some of the many books that deal with mental health. I encourage you to do more research on the ones that could be best for you.
This quote is the reason why I wrote this article. So read on and enjoy!
Photo credit: Baloo Living