A Personal Note about this list: This is not a complete list of all the mental illness memoirs I have read, but it is a running total of my favorites. These books are the ones I couldn’t put down, that gave me new insight into mental illness, and that I keep returning to. Each one has been a stepping stone in my quest to live a healthy, whole, joy-filled life. I am continually reading new books, and will post them as I can. I wish you happy, comforting, truth-inspired reading.


Terri Cheney delivers an honest and humbling look at what bipolar can cost so many who are high achieving, smart, and even affluent. She bravely depicts her depressions and manias with gut-wrenching clarity. A must-read if you are bipolar or love someone who is.


Laura Flynn recounts her childhood in San Francisco as her mother is overcome by schizophrenia. This book is brutally honest, depicting the enormous impact that mental illness can have on children.


Can I just say ‘WOW’? Marya so bluntly explains her long battle with rapid cycle bipolar, and so fearlessly points out the irrevocable decisions she made along the way. Her honesty and courage are undeniable, and I would give/read this book to any young patient who struggles with complying with their meds.


Marya Hornbacher tackles the relationship between mental illness and addiction. A must-read, especially for those who struggle with the 12 steps because they do not believe in God.


This is the first book I read after being diagnosed. Even though reading made me nauseous at that time, I was desperate to find someone to relate to. I felt instantly connected to Kay as I read through these pages very, very painstakingly, sometimes a paragraph at a time. She was worth the struggle. I highly recommend this memoir for the newly diagnosed, as well as for their families who are struggling to understand the symptoms and side effects of bipolar disorder.


If you ever need to laugh out loud with a friend about all of the funny, horrible, and embarrassing aspects of your mental illness, Jenny Lawson is the girl for you. I laughed so hard while reading this book that Jack would often come in to check on me. Note: do not read this book if you are easily offended or dislike vulgar language. Lawson utilizes all things offensive to deliver this beautiful commentary on life.


Written from a teenage girl’s perspective, Susanna Kaysen’s classic is crucial in understanding the perspective of teenage mental illness.


Melody Moezzi’s memoir of her journey with bipolar disorder is funny, insightful, and romantic. One of the only bipolar memoirs in which a first marriage survives bipolar, Melody’s life is all but typical.


Elyn Saks delivers an amazing account of her own refusal to succomb to schizophrenia. Her journey will open up your eyes to what can be possible in spite of a serious mental illness diagnosis: professional success, true friendship, and even love. She will amaze you.