9 Memoirs That Address Mental & Physical Health Issues

Whether you're going through a difficult time with your health, are helping a loved one cope with an illness, or just want to gain a little perspective, reading about people living with mental and physical health issues can help. These insightful personal stories can provide comfort, information, and helpful coping mechanisms. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

9 Memoirs That Address Mental & Physical Health Issues

Title Author
1. Safety in Numbers Brittany Burgunder
2. Mermaid Eileen Cronin
3. Little Panic Amanda Stern
4. Glue Constance Ann Fitzgerald
5. The Dark Side of Innocence Terri Cheney
6. Moose Stephanie Klein
7. Someone Like Me John W. Quinn
8. Hollow Jena Morrow
9. A Few Minor Adjustments Cherie Kephart

Non-Profits That Focus on Mental & Physical Health

The Truth About Growing Up Disabled

In Depth

Anyone who's ever suffered from health problems knows how fragile and frightening it can be to feel like you're losing control. But even in dire circumstances, it's helpful to hold onto the words of those who have come before to gain strength and perspective. Whether you or a family member or friend has ever had a close brush with serious mental or physical health issues, having the right book on hand can make a difference.

For readers who long for wisdom, insight, and comfort on complex health problems, here, in no particular order, are some of the best books to draw on.

In the #1 slot, we have Brittany Burgunder's "Safety in Numbers." As a teen and young adult, Burgunder was obsessed with extreme weight loss. At the age of twenty, she found herself hospitalized and weighing in at 56 pounds. After being told of her slim chances of survival, however, she decided to pull herself up and reclaim her life. Taken from the author's diaries over a period of ten years, this painfully honest story of one woman's struggle with disordered eating and body dysmorphia is not for the faint of heart.

After being told of her slim chances of survival, however, she decided to pull herself up and reclaim her life.

At #2 is "Mermaid" by Eileen Cronin. Growing up in the 1960s in a devout Catholic family, Eileen Cronin didn't realize that the things that made her different could be seen as anything but strengths. But as she reached maturity, she started to understand that the world saw things differently. The disability that left her without legs would lead to taunting and teasing by classmates and a difficult adolescence.

Nonetheless, Cronin found a way to embrace her own uniqueness and live a beautiful, fulfilling life despite the mental illness and family drama that surrounded her from an early age.

For #3 we find Amanda Stern's "Little Panic." As a child, Stern didn't have a way of understanding mortality. To her, the world was a terrifying, unpredictable place full of death, mayhem, and the threat of abandonment. Growing up in the grungy world of 1980s New York certainly didn't help, even if it did provide a colorful background for her untraditional upbringing. In this deeply touching memoir, Stern examines her own anxiety and the ways in which it's both upended and shaped her life.

As a child, Stern didn't have a way of understanding mortality.

Coming in at #4 is "Glue" by Constance Ann Fitzgerald. How do any of us truly deal with mourning? How do we accept the loss of a loved one? That's precisely what Fitzgerald wants to find out by writing about her life in terms of loss. This raw gut-punch of a memoir explores the ways in which humans can be kind to each other in the worst of circumstances and the processes by which we become connected to one another in the face of grief.

At #5 is Terri Cheney's "The Dark Side of Innocence." Adolescent Terri had a perfect life. That is, until she didn't. At the age of seven, she tried to commit suicide for the first time. After that attempt, her life would change in wholly unexpected ways as she came to grips with her bipolar diagnosis.

With her parents struggling to figure out what's right for their child and Terri sinking deeper into a violent depression, what should have been an idyllic childhood soon became a nightmare for the young girl. In this explosive memoir, readers get a firsthand account of what it's like to have your life overwritten by illness.

With her parents struggling to figure out what's right for their child and Terri sinking deeper into a violent depression, what should have been an idyllic childhood soon became a nightmare for the young girl.

For #6 we have Stephanie Klein's "Moose." Anyone who's ever struggled with their weight knows how frustrating it can be to receive contradictory messages from society about how your body should look. For Klein, being told as an adult that she needed to gain fifty pounds to support a healthy pregnancy was the ultimate blow. As a kid, she'd been made fun of for being overweight. Grappling with self-image has always been a struggle, but now, with the well-being of her children on the line, she'll have to take a closer look at her painful memories of weight loss camp to break the cycle once and for all.

In the #7 slot is "Someone Like Me" by John W. Quinn. For a kid dreaming of a life on the high seas, it's a crushing blow to realize that a naval career just isn't in the cards. But when John Quinn was told that he couldn't have the life he wanted because of his cerebral palsy, he decided to prove everyone wrong. Through a grueling process of training and determination, Quinn found a way to live the life he'd always wanted. This story of strength and resilience is perfect for anyone who's ever defied the odds to achieve their dreams.

At #8 is Jena Morrow's "Hollow." Morrow knows what it's like to have anorexia overtake your life. It was her daily struggle for years, as she volleyed between institutions and inpatient stints just trying to get better. After getting the right help, Morrow finally found a way to see herself as more than a starving body. This gut-wrenching tale is an amazing story of religion, redemption, and reclaiming one's body.

It was her daily struggle for years, as she volleyed between institutions and inpatient stints just trying to get better.

Finally, at #9, is "A Few Minor Adjustments" by Cherie Kephart. Traveling all over the world was Cherie's whole purpose in life. Even as a little kid, all she wanted to do was have adventures and take in the sights and sounds of other cultures. But when she picks up a deadly disease in New Zealand, her travels have to take a backseat as she fights against the illness with all her might.

With bravery and determination, Cherie took back her body and fought with everything she had to survive, even as the life-threatening virus tried to extinguish her light forever.