5 books that will broaden your perspective on mental health below..
Lily Bailey has been an OCD sufferer since she was a little girl. For years, she suffered completely alone with no understanding of what was ‘normal’ until as she moved into adolescence and began to understand that her self talk was in fact, very different from of those around her. Lily talks about OCD in an extremely candid and visceral way. She brings awareness to the illness and breaks down stereotypes of “hand washing”, “stepping on cracks” and “turning on and off lights”. Instead Lily takes the reader on a journey of the mental effects of OCD and the subsequent impact on her personality and her relationships.
If you’re still not convinced, have a listen to her interview podcast with Mia Freedman. After listening to Lily personally share her very difficult story, I was completely taken by her spirit, courage and authenticity. If the thought of reading the book feels a bit confronting, I’d highly recommend at the very least, listening to her podcast.
On Mental Health: Lily’s complete candour shows us a vulnerable and endearing side to mental health. We view the wold through her eyes and see how those who suffer from mental health issues can struggle with the day to day tasks many take for granted. I personally would like to thank Lily for her true courage; as per the original latin definition, to tell the true story of who she is with her whole heart.
Taming Toxic People: The science of identifying and dealing with psychopaths at work and at home – David Gillespie
You may know David Gillespie as the author of “Sweet Poison”, the book that took the world by storm and influenced our ongoing fear of sugar and diabetes. When I first came across this book, I was confused not only that David had chosen to explore it, but I questioned whether I could see him as being credible on the topic. I can say, David does do his research. He provides clear conclusions while injecting personal anecdotes and stories of bad behaviour which not only keeps this book an interesting read, but wraps up the lessons in a highly emotional story that makes the insights difficult to forget.
If you’ve ever stumbled across someone who you felt; “made you feel crazy”, demanded complete adoration or promoted an autocratic leadership style – this book is for you.
On Mental Health: David teaches us to identify and tame the most malicious toxic people in our lives. He shows us how to toe the line between having compassion for the individual while working to protect ourselves.
Thinking Fast and Slow is, without a doubt, my absolute favourite book of all time. Fair warning though, it is very cerebral and in some places, quite academic. You’ll need to find a quiet place to indulge in Daniel’s every word and savour it in the way the book deserves, but it will absolutely be worth your time.
Daniel gives us the ‘footnotes’ of his work on Behavioural Economics which he coined with his then-partner in crime, Amos Tversky. Their friendship, on both a personal and professional level will warm your heart. In fact, this beautiful article from The New Yorker outlines the nature of their friendship and will leave you longing for a similar friendship.
The premise of Daniel’s book is based on his research surrounding what he describes as System 1 and System 2 thinking which he explains, is the difference between our fast, intuitive thinking and our slow considered thinking. He outlines when we should and shouldn’t trust our brain’s ability to make decisions and leaves you wanting to practice the philosophy of Essentialism (which in itself, requires a book review on another day) to always engage in “less but better” (as author of Essentialism, Greg Mckeown professes).
Daniel also covers some very well known psychological theories including but not limited to; sunk cost fallacy, prospect theory, the endowment effect, human irrationality, regression to the mean, attention vs. effort and many more.
On Mental Health: Daniel shows us how even seemingly “healthy” individuals fall victim to our often irrational and self-concept-protecting based impulses. Daniel explains how every single one of us, even being the best version of ourselves will be influenced by bias and tricked by our brain’s in-built mechanism to protect us.
When you’re finishing reading it however, you’ll want to sink your teeth into something a bit lighter… enter Sarah Knight:
What I loved most about Sarah’s writing is her ability to make you laugh out loud. Her lessons are light-hearted, candid and fuss-free. Sarah will certainly not be bestowing profound wisdom upon us however she does have a way of calling attention to the way we often speak to ourselves and others, making excuses for what we really want to do and instead, making decisions without much considered thought.
Sarah will make you laugh and remind you of the lessons you probably already know, but serve as a very welcome reminder.
On Mental Health: Sarah teaches us all that overwhelm is around the corner when we don’t protect the asset. She teaches us no-fuss, palatable advice for the majority (especially for those who are yet to admit their struggle). The book for those who aren’t yet willing to admit they may be struggling with their own work-life balance or mental health issues.
I’m Okay, You’re Okay – Thomas A. Harris
Despite sounding like a self-help book, it is anything but! Thomas discusses the theory of Transactional Analysis in psychology. The theory that all people have three mindsets in which they can adopt information and perceive the world around them; the ‘parent’, the ‘adult’ and the ‘child’. It explores a number of ‘games’ people play based on power dynamics and arms you with the tools to gain the right response by understanding the power dynamic road map and thinking one step ahead. It left me with an understanding that personal relationships can be merely a chess game, in which we have the ability to carefully understand how to make the moves that will lead us to the most desirable outcome. It’s a long game.
Disclaimer: This book is from 1969 and still in print, which says quite a lot in itself, however it is important to note that there are some concepts that are certainly out of date. This read is for the overarching concepts. Don’t get hung up on the detail in the examples provided.
On Mental Health: Thomas teaches us not only how to understand our own struggle, but how to mitigate how we are triggered and change our tone and approach to others to improve our interpersonal relationships.
What books have you read that have impacted the way you see mental health? Tell me in the comments below!