Whether you are fighting a continuous battle with drugs and alcohol, currently receiving treatment for an eating disorder or struggling with daily anxiety it is common to feel like you are the only one struggling with a difficult disease. Personal accounts written by fellow survivors can be a great way to find comfort, learn about your disorder and feel connected with another individual who is fighting a similar battle. Below are seven inspiring memoirs written by real people who fought the daily battle of addiction, mental illness and eating disorders who live to retell their story and give insight into their personal battles.
Autism spectrum disorder: Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison
“Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world”.
Eating disorders: Wasted A Memoir by Marya Hornbacher
“A vivid, heartbreaking autobiography shares one young woman’s lifelong battle with bulimia and anorexia, chronicling her secret life of binging and purging, obsession with food and body image, substance abuse, and sex, as well as her harrowing battle with eating disorders”.
Bipolar disorder: All the Things We Never Knew by Shelia Hamilton
“Even as a reporter, Sheila Hamilton missed the signs as her husband David’s mental illness unfolded before her. By the time she had pieced together the puzzle, it was too late. Her once brilliant, intense, and passionate partner was dead within six weeks of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, leaving his nine-year-old daughter and wife without so much as a note to explain his actions, a plan to help them recover from their profound grief, or a solution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that they would inherit from him”.
Substance abuse: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
“Based on Fisher’s hugely successful one-woman show, Wishful Drinking is the story of growing up in Hollywood royalty, battling addiction, and dealing with manic depression. Her first memoir is an inside look at her famous parents’ marriage and her own tumultuous love affairs (including her on-again, off-again relationship with Paul Simon). Most notably, it’s a brutally honest – and hilarious – reflection on the late writer’s path to sobriety”.
Schizophrenia: Mind Without a Home by Kristina Morgan
“Have you ever wondered what it is like in the mind of a person with schizophrenia? How can one survive day after day unable to distinguish between one’s inner nightmares and the everyday realities that most of us take for granted? In her brutally honest, highly original memoir, Kristina Morgan takes us inside her head to experience the chaos, fragmented thinking, and the startling creativity of the schizophrenic mind. With the intimacy of private journal-like entries and the language of a poet, she carries us from her childhood to her teen years when hallucinations began to hijack her mind and into adulthood where she began abusing alcohol to temper the punishing voices that only she could hear”.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Nowhere Near Normal by Traci Foust
“When all the neighborhood kids were playing outdoors, seven-year-old Traci Foust was inside making sure the miniature Catholic saint statues on her windowsill always pointed north, scratching out bald patches on her scalp, and snapping her fingers after every utterance of the word God. As Traci grew older, her OCD blossomed to include panic attacks and bizarre behaviors, including a fear of the sun, an obsession with contracting eradicated diseases, and the idea that she could catch herself on fire just by thinking about it. While stints of therapy — and lots of Nyquil — sometimes helped, nothing alleviated the fact that her single mother and mid-life crisis father had no idea how to deal with her”.
Trauma: Denial by Jessica Stern
“Alone in an unlocked house, in a safe suburban Massachusetts town, two good, obedient girls, Jessica Stern, fifteen, and her sister, fourteen, were raped on the night of October 1, 1973. The rapist was never caught. For over thirty years, Stern denied the pain and the trauma of the assault. Following the example of her family, Stern who lost her mother at the age of three, and whose father was a Holocaust survivor focused on her work instead of her terror. She became a world-class expert on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder who interviewed extremists around the globe. But while her career took off, her success hinged on her symptoms. After her ordeal, she no longer felt fear in normally frightening situations. Stern believed she’d disassociated from the trauma altogether until a dedicated police lieutenant reopened the case. With the help of the lieutenant, Stern began her own investigation to uncover the truth about the town of Concord, her own family, and her own mind. The result is Denial, a candid, courageous, and ultimately hopeful look at a trauma and its aftermath”.
Have you read a book recently that has helped you during your recovery?