Have you been watching American cop shows? You’ll get a laugh from the running gag featured in award-winning crime author Stuart MacBride’s Dying Light. It’s set in Aberdeen, Scotland, and our hero, Detective-Sargent Logan McRae, is constantly coming up against criminals who think they have certain “rights” – that they don’t have.
McRae’s endless eye-rolling offers entertaining insight into how each country writes its own laws and offers citizens different “rights”.
Dying Light (from 2006, and filed in Adult Fiction on Lennoxville Library shelves), is the second in the DS McRae series.
His last case went horribly wrong, and to say that he’s in the doghouse is an understatement. He’s expecting to be fired.
Someone under his command is clinging to life in hospital, and yes, it was McRae’s fault.
This fast-paced tale features a great cast of eccentric characters, a lot of dark humour, and is packed full of drama – oh, and there’s a creepy gore alert. A baddie entertains himself by watching people burn to death — preferably more than one at a time.
Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose, a drug war, and more.
Despite the police department being overwhelmed with work, McRae has been ordered off active duty, as he attempts to cope with stress and guilt and its complex impact on his psyche. And McRae refuses to accept a mental health professional’s help.
That leads to very, very many mistakes.
Here’s a different novel with mental health at its core: The Farm, a 2014 thriller by Tom Rob Smith (also in Adult Fiction). A woman, Tilde, flees a mental health institution in order to find and convince her adult son that her husband, his father, is involved in a murder.
Husband and neighbours are in cahoots, she says, seeking to drive her mad in order to cover up their crime.
Tilde’s son wants to believe her, and this thriller is her story, which begins fantastically but eventually begins to pull at a logical, narrative thread.
And then, the son goes off to discover the truth.
This is a harrowing read, a complex tale that leaves the reader guessing. Who’s lying, the possibly mentally ill Tilde, or the husband who wants her committed?
Both these books are good reads – because they’re fun and entertaining, not because they may or may not be good how-tos for coping with mental health, nor because they accurately or do not accurately portray mental illness. They are works of fiction. They are not real.
But where can real-life friends and family go to find out how to be supportive? Where can the mentally ill get the information they need? Well, there are books for that, too.
HOW TO HELP, HOW TO GET HELP
Mental Health Estrie offers support and resources to English-speaking families and individuals coping with mental illness. Here are some books recommended by Mental Health Estrie – and they are available for lending, for free, from Mental Health Estrie’s library. Call them directly, at 819-565-3777. Business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., from Monday to Thursday.
I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help: How To Help Someone With Mental Illness Accept Treatment, by Xavier Amador. Dr. Amador is the founder of the LEAP Institute. Through his research, professional experience as a psychologist, and personal experience as a family member to a brother coping with schizophrenia, Dr. Amador developed LEAP, a communication approach that strengthens family relationships. LEAP stands for Listen, Empathize, Agree and Partner. So often we hear, “I am not sick, I don’t need help.” This lack of awareness is a common barrier to seeking treatment, and treatment adherence. LEAP helps families come together, improving chances of sustained recovery. A must-read for family and friends.
The Bipolar Handbook: Real-Life Questions With Up-to-Date Answers, by Wes Burgess, MD, PhD. This book has a question and answer format. With more than 500 questions asked by real patients and families, this book is an invaluable tool to understanding Bipolar Disorder. Recommended for both individuals and family members.
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, by William Styron. If you are looking for a book to understand the lived experience of Depression, look no further. A true account of depression, this book has been described as the most accurate portrayal ever.
Surviving A Borderline Parent: How To Heal Your Childhood Wounds And Build Trust, Boundaries And Self-Esteem, by Kimberlee Roth and Freda B. Friedman, PhD, LCSW. An excellent read for children and adult children of parents with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Stop Walking On Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder, by Paul T. Mason, MS, and Randi Kreger. An informative book on the experience of living with Borderline Personality Disorder written for family and friends. Learn coping techniques, communication skills, and how to set boundaries.
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, by Elyn Saks. Saks, esteemed professor, lawyer and psychiatrist, shares her personal life story, of recovery, relapse and ongoing symptoms of schizophrenia.
When Quietness Came: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey With Schizophrenia, by Erin L. Hawkes, MSc. Hawkes shares her struggles with suicide attempts and schizophrenia, after her first psychotic break in her final undergraduate year.
Songs From The Black Chair: A Memoir Of Mental Interiors, by Charles Barber. A personal account of a man’s struggle with mental illness.
Courage Within The Chaos, by Sheila Johnston. A wonderful read for individuals with a lived experience of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), their families or health care professionals. Johnston shares her personal story of coping with OCD, and also includes accounts from others all around the world.
Loving Someone With Anxiety: Understanding and Helping Your Partner. One of the few books written specifically for the partner of someone coping with anxiety. This book helps readers learn how to support their partner, while also attending to their own needs.
The centre recommends a couple of Internet-based resources, as well.
Psychologist Fred Frese “came out” later in his career as a psychologist, as a person with schizophrenia. His talks, which can be found on YouTube.com, are truly inspirational.
After suffering for years with Bipolar Disorder, author Mary Ellen Copeland shares her story, her research on recovery, and strategies to staying well. Her website is at MentalHealthRecovery.com (but please remember, as is noted on the site: “Mary Ellen Copeland and her staff cannot address personal mental health problems and issues. We care very much about your concerns but we must focus our efforts on education and resource development”).
You can email Mental Health Estrie at email@example.com.
Good Reads thanks the folks at Mental Health Estrie for taking the time to pull together this list. But, as they themselves would say, sometimes a book isn’t enough.
Reach out to the people around you for support, and get professional help when you are ill. Just as you would if you broke your ankle.
– Eleanor Brown, May 15, 2015