In the interest of full disclosure, I just did a stint at a psychiatric facility due to a recent manic episode. For anyone who has ever been there, you know that there is very little that you’re allowed to do. Every minute of your day is scheduled and every bit of control is stripped from you for the seventy two or more hours that they decide to keep you there. Its slightly dehumanizing. Between group therapy, one on one appointments with a therapist, and regularly scheduled meal breaks, one of the only places to find solace is in books.
I checked myself in, so I was able to prepare a bag of supplies that would see me through. This wasn’t my first rodeo. In that four day period, I read three books. My suggestion in these situations is to read things that are funny and inspiring. I would love to share with you, now, the three books that saw me through, so that maybe, if you ever need to go through this, you’ll have a little something that helps pass the time, while also inspiring your recovery.
So let this small list begin.
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian by Any Weir is one of my favorite books. It absolutely resides in the top half of my top ten list. The novel follows an astronaut stranded on Mars after a freak accident and his journey to survive. I find this this to be a very therapeutic book for the reason that it takes what could be a heavy depressing story of isolation but instead is humorous and hopeful throughout. It never presents a problem that makes our hero give up.
In other words, its inspiring. Through the main character’s struggle, we see that hope and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds can have an amazing outcome. But most importantly, it teaches us that we can beat the things that plague us as long as we never truly give up, as long as we don’t lose the will to go on. No matter how hard and impossible it seems, and through st back after set back, we can break down our own barriers.
If you’ve never read the book, I highly suggest it. The movie is great too, so give it a look.
Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith
I’m not usually a person that reads or enjoys the self help genre. It seems that most of the success for the authors or speakers comes solely from the self help book or seminar that was started by them. Which, to me, seems a little disingenuous.
That being said, Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith is a rare book for me. Its mostly memoir, but with very uplifting and motivating things to say. The book is littered with Smith’s unique sense of humor, which helps it transcend the self help genre. What can be taken from this book is the very simple lesson to not listen to the people that say that you can’t accomplish something. Don’t surround yourself with all the negativity and pessimism. Carve your own path. Its that message wrapped in Smith’s signature humor that makes this one of the most genuinely inspiring books I’ve ever read and reread.
It has gotten me through many tough times, and maybe it will for you too.
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
This is probably the most “on the nose” book selection concerning my condition. The late Carrie Fisher was an outspoken proponent of mental illness, and more specifically, Bipolar Disorder, seeing as she suffered from the disorder herself.
Wishful Drinking takes us on an unedited look into Ms. Fisher’s wonderfully disjointed brain. Through stories of her life, she shows the struggle and the odd beauty of the mental illness. It’s a book that taught me how to accept the condition and never let it hold me back. It’s a shining life raft in a dark and scary ocean, that shows us that no matter how isolated and alone we feel, the opposite is always true.
I wish I had read this before her passing.
Mental illness isn’t impossible to fight, but it is difficult. We can rarely succeed if we block ourselves off and refuse to seek help. So, if you feel like you need help, please seek it. There is no shame in it. You are worth more than resigning yourself to depression or any other mental disorder.