Hey everyone, I’m Sav and before I get started with recommending some books, I want to briefly talk about my own experience living with mental illnesses. Ever since I was young I’ve always known I had anxiety, and now I’ve discovered that I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) along with panic disorder and depression. It’s been a long journey discovering my mental health and figuring out what’s best for me. I still don’t have it all figured out but I’m kind of hopeful lol.
I wanted to share some books with y’all that have some of my favorite representations of mental illness. I also want to add that; not everyone experiences mental illnesses in the same way. For example, anxiety is such a varied, diverse experience and it may not happen in the same way it does for someone else. So even if you may not see YOUR anxiety, I think it’s still important to see it through the lens of someone else.
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Brown
Content Warnings: toxic maternal relationship, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, suicide attempt by a minor character
A beautiful story inside and out (the cover is stunning). The story of Kiko Himura as she learns to heal and grow out of a toxic environment really helped me heal in many ways. Kiko is a biracial teen who has social anxiety and faces emotional abuse. This book is also #ownvoices! I do recommend some caution with this one because of the difficult topics mentioned.
Some Kind Of Happiness by Claire Legrand
Content warnings: depression, anxiety, description of panic attack
This is actually a middle grade but I think it’s still a great read for those dealing with anxiety and depression. Finley is a young girl who stays with her grandparents during the summer while her parents are going through a divorce. She writes about a fantasy world called Everwood as a way to escape from her growing depression and anxiety. The way anxiety and depression are described in this is exactly how mine feel and I cried reading this. This has a similar vibe to Bridge to Terabithia.
Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
Content Warnings: depression, suicide attempt, suicidal ideation, germophobia/OCD, bimisia (challenged)
This is one of the funniest books I’ve read about depression. Humor helps me a lot with dealing with anxiety and depression and this book made me feel so much. I also appreciated that this was a book about depression where the depression wasn’t conflated with grief representation (which sometimes marketing in YA mixes up)
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Content Warnings: bimisia, ableism (challenged in text, racism (challenged), microaggressions
A stunning #ownvoices YA contemporary about step-siblings, Suzette and Lionel. Suzette, a bisexual Black girl questions and explores her sexuality, while also coming to terms with her brother, Lionel’s Bipolar II diagnosis.The thing I liked about this was how it called out the ableism in the story that, Lionel faces and that he has a supportive family, especially from Suzette. I also related to the depression that Lionel finds himself in and it helped me understand myself more.
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