To round off my mental health awareness week posts I wanted to share with you my list of books, podcast, articles and tv covering mental health all of which have helped me in one capacity or another. From encouraging me to seek help, reassurance that all will be ok to also providing me with a better understanding of what I am feeling along with a comprehension of how to help others who feel different to me.
First off I want to start with Blackwell’s book shop in Oxford. Next week they kick off their first mental health literature festival. A week with celebrated authors of mental health and wellbeing books showcasing their literature and research at Blackwell’s. Tickets are available on Eventbrite for anyone who is interested.
Anxiety and depression
Reasons to stay alive was one of the first mental health related books I read which I could resonate with. I strongly believe both of these books should be read by all, whether you struggle with your mental health or not. These books can help save a life.
Matt Haig brings a difficult and harrowing account of his battle with depression and the reasons he had to stay alive. Notes on a nervous plant is Matt’s follow up book which looks at how we can make ourselves happy in a world which thrives on building insecurities and anxieties to fuel and economy.
Eat it anyway – Eve Simmons and Laura Dennison
This book leans on professionals to help debunk myths and anxieties around food to help and encourage readers to fall back in love with food, eating and heritage of meals. They discuss their own struggles with food and anxiety around these issues to help readers.
Jog on – Bella Mackie
If I got paid every time I mention Bella Mackie I would be able to retire. Her memoir of living with depression and how running helped her with her mental health. Bella also speaks openly about therapy and her use of medication to help aid her mental health.
Body and image
The Reading cure: How books restored my appetite – Laura Freeman
A book I loved. This book explores how Laura’s love for literature and the food within these narratives helped with her recovery from her Eating Disorder.
Hunger a personal memoir exploring what it means to be overweight in current society.
Self-acceptance – Dr Harry Barry
I don’t usually lean towards self- help books. I favour more case study books and memoirs but I realise we are not all the same. Self Acceptance by Dr Harry Barry helps to understand how to learn to accept yourself and revolutionise your related mental health.
Just Eat it – Laura Thomas
A very similar set up to Eat it anyway. Claims to be a guide to help develop a more trusting, healthy relationship with food by author and nutritionist Dr Laura Thomas.
Elena Vanishing – Elena Dunkel
Written by Elena herself at 17 this is a personal encounter of what it is to live as a teenager with anxiety and anorexia.
The not so subtle art of being a fat girl – Tess Holliday
International supermodel, Mum, feminist, and body activist Tess Holliday released a memoir, learning to love yourself and finding confidence in your own skin.
Written in partnership with Mind this self-help guide for men is filled with straightforward advice and techniques to help improve their mental health and encourage men to look after their mental health with the same approach and rigour as they would their physical.
This didn’t need to be in the male-specific section but it is a part memoir part societal break down of what historically it means to ‘be a boy’ and how the stigma around not crying, being brave, being rough and rugged, loving sports and not showing emotion no longer needs to be the norm.
I haven’t read or come across much mainstream reading on addiction. It is also not something I have struggled with (unless we are talking about social media which we probably should) so it can be difficult to find reading to recommend however whether you love him or loathe him Russell Brand has for years discussed openly his addictions. He released Recovery – Freedom from our addictions this time last year. A book and a step by step self-help guide on how to begin to rid your life of addiction.
Bryony is another influencer, author, journalist and campaigner I love. Her campaigning for mental health has helped me in ways I never expected and finally made me understand the OCD thoughts I had in conjunction with my eating disorder. I was unaware this was a condition before her book and podcast. She talks candidly about Pure O a form of OCD and what it is like to live with Pure O. Bryony is always honest about her life with OCD and addiction to alcohol. She is a little eccentric but I think that is why I love her even more. Her podcast has since encouraged me to always take the time to ask someone how they are and not as just a passing comment.
Books I found helped or could help with my mental health
I am not going to pretend I have read all of these books because I haven’t but If I haven’t they are on my reading list. They are books which are not specifically mental health-related but all have an element of either therapy or mental health/ wellbeing involved in their story.
Everything I know about love – Dolly Alderton
Up there will Bella Mackie, Dolly Alderton is a wonderful Human whose book Everything I know about love helped me in a myriad of ways, one of the first steps in me going to therapy myself. Her book was a narrative through the years of love and what each decade taught her but her honest discussion about her therapy and her journey with her mental health really encouraged me to see a therapist myself.
Everybody died so I got a dog – Emily Dean
I am yet to read this book but it’s high on my list as a massive fan of her podcast series of the same name. After the worst was thrown at Emily, with the tragic loss of her beloved sister followed by the death in quick succession of both her parents, Everybody died so I got a dog is a heartbreaking story of how Emily learned to overcome the worst and rebuild her life with her little dog Raymond
Somebody I used to know – Wendy Mitchell
This is the first memoir ever written by someone living with dementia
What dementia teach us about love – Nicci Gerrard
A different stance on dementia from a more traditional perspective narrated by Nicci a campaigner and writer who lost her own father to dementia. This book looks at the disease which affects so many and how we care for those who are suffering from dementia.
How to fail – Elizabeth day
Again host of the podcast under the same name Elizabeth day recently released her book How to fail. Following the same format of the podcast but related to herself and not her guests the book looks into how failure is not what defines us but how we respond to our failures past and present is what begins to shape us as individuals. Day believes the learning how to fail teaches us how to succeed better and this book gives us all a grasp on understanding that.
Option B – Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
I have loved Sheryl Sandberg’s approach to life ever since listening to her utterly heartbreaking desert island discs. Option B co-written by Adam Grant looks at cases where people have overcome hardships in their personal and professional lives and how to handle a crisis. It explores post-traumatic growth and how people can actually come back stronger. A very uplifting and positive approach for anyone who feels things cannot get better
Grief Works – Julia Samuel
I had the pleasure of meeting Julia last year at an event. She is one of the kindest, warmest women I have ever met. Julia presented a lecture on her work in bereavement and discussed her book which I have since read. Grief works is a tool guide for anyone bereaved or struggling with grief. The book is built up of individual case studies, examples from previous clients of what bereavement they presented at the beginning and how they worked through it. The book also contains a lot of useful information to help friends and family who are bereaved. I found the book profoundly beneficial. As someone who always worries I will say the wrong thing to people it helped me know how to be more helpful and supportive to anyone, I find struggling with any loss.
I make no secret that I am a fan of Podcasts. As someone who is naturally an introvert, I like the chatter from other people without the company podcasts bring. I have pulled together a list of podcasts I have listened to which are either based on Mental Health or touch on how therapy has changed their lives.
Walking the dog with Emily Dean – A series I love. Not all guests featuring on this podcast struggle with their mental health and I have found the variety of coping mechanisms with their mental and physical health refreshing and honest.
Happy Place – Ferne Cotton – Happy place is one of my favourites. Ferne is such a positive, grounded influence. I enjoy the fact that her guests are all well-known celebrities but actively campaign that we can all feel the same and mental health doesn’t discriminate by social economic groups, race, gender, sexuality etc. We can all be affected. I have learned many useful tips from her guests.
Love stories episode with Lily Allen – This is a podcast on romantic love stories, not mental health. Nonetheless, this interview with Lily Allen touched on how therapy has helped both of them. They open discussion about therapy was reassuring to hear.
Mad world – Bryony Gordon – This was the first Mental Health related podcast I listened to. Famous for interviewing Prince Harry as part of Heads Together. Mad World explores the Mental Health struggles from a variety of celebrities and what treatment helped them to begin to recover.
Grief works – Julia Samuel – A follow on podcast to Julia’s book published under the same name
Happiful – A podcast which focuses on the power of talking and self-love.
Mentally yours – Metro – Yvette Caster and Ellen Scott discuss all the Mental Health and different triggering topics with guests each week.
The Naked Professors – The first male Mental Health focused podcast hosted by Matt Johnson and Ben Bidwell
The book of man – Professor Green – A weekly podcast by Professor Green discussing issues affecting men in society today such as Mental Health, Body anxieties and more.
I am a big fan of Brian Bilston’s writing. His poems always articulate simply everything I wish I could write. This post on male suicide is so poignant.
Another mention for Bella Mackie on exercising to improve mental health. Whilst I am a massive advocate for highlighting the links between physical and mental health. I do think its important to remember not everyone can exercise for various reasons and we need to be understanding of how this too can impact.
There are so much writing I would like to share here but I feel I may have already lost everyone so I will save that for another post.
Pure 0 – channel four
Lately, I have had zero time to watch TV so I don’t have a lot to add in this section apart from Pure O. A comedy-drama revolving around Marnie who experiences strong, intrusive and distressing thoughts. Based on the real-life experiences of author Rose Cartwright. The series follows Marnie trying to learn more about her OCD whilst beginning her life in London.
Nadiya: Anxiety and me
BBC creates some amazing Mental Health documentaries. This week in conjunction with mental health awareness week they released their latest documentary with Nadiya Hussain who won bake off in 2015. The documentary focuses on Nadiya and her battle with anxiety. I have not yet had chance to watch this but I know it discusses the CBT therapy she is currently having and living a life where anxiety and panic attacks heavily feature so I am looking forward to getting chance to watch this.