Noah Cicero’s exquisite poetry collection Bipolar Cowboy dances between the fine line that divides love and mental illness, all while taking the readers on a roller coaster ride through the recesses of the human heart.
Most of his pieces muse on what it feels like to love someone with your whole heart. Each poem evokes incredible emotions, from the giddy joy of falling in love for the first time to the depression that comes with mending a broken heart. The emotionally-charged poems go on to explore how love is the defining moment of our lives, but if we experience heartbreak, it is difficult to keep going since we feel as if we’ve lost a part of us.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, March 27th, 2015||No Comments »|
Teenager Aysel is a physics nerd with a difficult home life. Her father has committed a violent crime and she has a dysfunctional relationship with her mother, too. Aysel struggles from mental illness and often thinks about committing suicide, but she’s not sure she can take her own life alone. That is, until she stumbles across a website and meets Roman. The two make a suicide pact, but as the pact becomes more concrete, Aysel starts to have doubts.
Jasmine Warga’s thought-provoking debut young adult novel My Heart and Other Black Holes takes on depression, suicide, and mental illness. Whether you struggle from depression or know someone who does, Warga shows mental illness in all of its ugly light. Unlike other teen novels, she doesn’t glamorize suicide but instead shows how all consuming it is for a sufferer.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, March 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
Sabrina Benaim recited her heartbreaking poem “Explaining My Depression to My Mother: A Conversation” at the semis during the 2014 National Poetry Slam. In the poem, she explores the generational gap between herself and her mother and how each side views mental illness. Her well-meaning but clueless mother often doesn’t understand how one day her daughter’s depression could be the size of a pin prick and other days threatens to swallow her whole. With raw emotions and frantic words, Benaim destroys her mother’s ignorant advice that “being happy is a choice” and rips out her soul for all to see in hopes the audience may better understand what life is actually like for those who suffer from a mental illness. Thanks to her brutal poem, Benaim shines a light into the dark recesses of a mind that is constantly grappling with depression and anxiety in the hopes of eradicating the notion that you can fix mental illness by “just trying to be happy.”
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, February 12th, 2015||No Comments »|
Casey Renee Kiser’s chapbook And the Moon Said No is a fantastic exploration into the dark side of life. Even though the whimsical cover art gives the collection the look and feel of a children’s book, Kiser allows her readers to become intimately familiar with mental illness and how it can negatively affect relationships. The poet’s words are bold, blunt, and incredibly quirky. While not all of Kiser’s poems rhyme or even flow in a coherent manner, that’s the point—she wants her readers to know what it feels like to suffer from depression and everyone, knows mental illness can’t be packed into neat boxes.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014||No Comments »|
Linda Vigen Phillips’ poetic novel Crazy takes readers on an incredibly poignant journey through one teenager’s struggle with living with a mentally ill parent in the 1960s.
On the outside, Laura is a normal 15-year-old growing up in the ‘60s, but she hides a terrible secret from her friends: her mother suffers from mental illness. To make matters worse, the rest of her family absolutely refuses to discuss the previous breakdowns or erratic behavior. As an adult, Laura is an artist like her mother, but she’s terribly afraid the one day she will become mentally ill and suffer a breakdown. However, art becomes her refuge as Laura learns to come to terms with her mother’s grueling battle with her illness.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, November 11th, 2014||No Comments »|
Nic Sheff’s novel Schizo offers a heartbreaking look at what living with a mental illness is really like. After the disappearance of his younger brother Teddy, Miles feels an enormous sense of guilt. Even though everyone around him insists that his schizophrenia is actually getting worse, Miles insists that it’s getting better, which forces him into the role of an unreliable narrator.
The young teen starts to believe that if he can bring Teddy back, then all the dysfunction in his family will be fixed. So, unable to figure out what’s real and what’s imaginary, he embarks on a quest to find his brother’s kidnapper.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, October 14th, 2014||No Comments »|