Life Inside My Mind
31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles
Other Editions of This Title:
“[A] much-needed, enlightening book.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
Your favorite YA authors including Ellen Hopkins, Maureen Johnson, and more recount their own experiences with mental health in this raw, real, and powerful collection of essays that explores everything from ADD to PTSD.
Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t get out of bed? Not the occasional morning, but every day? Do you find yourself listening to a voice in your head that says “you’re not good enough,” “not good looking enough,” “not thin enough,” or “not smart enough”? Have you ever found yourself unable to do homework or pay attention in class unless everything is “just so” on your desk? Everyone has had days like that, but what if you have them every day?
You’re not alone. Millions of people are going through similar things. However issues around mental health still tend to be treated as something shrouded in shame or discussed in whispers. It’s easier to have a broken bone—something tangible that can be “fixed”—than to have a mental illness, and easier to have a discussion about sex than it is to have one about mental health.
Life Inside My Mind is an anthology of true-life events from writers of this generation, for this generation. These essays tackle everything from neurodiversity to addiction to OCD to PTSD and much more. The goals of this book range from providing a home to those who are feeling alone, awareness to those who are witnessing a friend or family member struggle, and to open the floodgates to conversation.
Praise For Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles…
— Booklist *STARRED REVIEW*
Teens may be unlikely to seek out this collection on their own, but it is a valuable read to put in the hands of those who need it. (Memoir/essay. 14-18)
— Kirkus Reviews
Renowned writers of fiction and nonfiction candidly speak out about their experiences with often stigmatized mental illnesses, including agoraphobia, OCD, Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and depression and anxiety, which frequently go hand in hand. Some of the authors focus on what it is like to be in their shoes, such as editor-poet E.K. Anderson, who expresses her experience with bipolar disorder entirely in verse, and Megan Kelley Hall, who details her suffering in her essay “My Depression—A Rock and a Hard Place.” More often than not, however, the aims of the authors—who include Ellen Hopkins, Francisco X. Stork, Maureen Johnson, Sara Zarr, and many others—are to help readers, advising them on where to turn for help and advocating for a society that is more sensitive and informed about mental and emotional health. Author Tara Kelly provides a concrete list of tips ranging from medication to stargazing to help relieve symptoms of acute anxiety. These bold, brave essays will educate the uninformed and inspire hope in those who may feel alone in their suffering.
— Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW
In this collection of personal essays, thirty-one authors of children’s and young adult literature (including well-known names such as Hannah Moskowitz, Francisco X. Stork, and Francesca Lia Block) reveal their struggles with anxiety, depression, compulsions to self-harm, suicidal ideations, and other mental conditions and disorders. A few discuss their experiences with close others who are suffering, but most describe in detail what their own good and bad days are like. Some use evocative metaphors and images, while others are quite literal, and nearly all describe the therapies and strategies that they have found effective while highlighting that there are no easy, permanent, or one-size-fits-all solutions. Most of the essays are explicitly directive in encouraging readers to seek help, and comforting in the authors’ insistence that seemingly abnormal mental conditions are in fact more prevalent than one might realize and certainly survivable given proper treatment. The individuality of the approaches does tend to constitute such problems as being entirely intrapsychic, since there’s no talk of wider social conditions that require activist rather than merely therapeutic solutions. For teens who are suffering, though, these authors prove that, with the help of friends, professionals, and/or the right combination of meds, people with mental health issues can flourish, attain success, and help others by sharing their stories, whether personal or creative.
From anxiety attacks and depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and drug and alcohol addiction, each of the authors (many of whom teens will recognize) pens an essay describing their experiences with mental illness. Some write of their suicidal tendencies; others share their struggles with ADHD. Authors describe such issues as how they learn to recognize the symptoms that signal a recurrence of their symptoms, and how they employ coping mechanisms that enable them to continue with their lives. These include medication and therapy, yoga, exercise, meditation, and help from health professionals. Other writers describe what it is like to care for a loved one with mental illness: Dan Wells caring for a beloved grandfather with Alzheimer’s, Ellen Hopkins bringing up a grandson damaged by early childhood trauma, and a mother interviewing her sixteen-year-old son in order to show that others who are depressed and have OCD are not alone. Cindy L. Rodriguez writes about cultural issues regarding the Latinx community and the treatment of mental illness.
Importantly, this book emphasizes that many people live with mental health issues and that, despite the ignorance about and negativity toward mental illness, there is nothing of which they should be ashamed. Writers of these essays offer support by demonstrating that they are survivors who are willing to acknowledge and discuss their different illnesses. These are important messages to make available to teens.
Gr 9 Up–In this much-needed, enlightening book, 31 young adult authors write candidly about mental health crises, either their own or that of someone very close to them. Ranging from humorous to heartbreaking to hopeful, each story has a uniquely individual approach to the set of circumstances that the writer is dealing with. Many authors address readers in the second person, inviting them to imagine what it’s like to live a day inside their heads. The symptoms of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction are frequently discussed. Readers will learn of the many different ways these conditions can be present and in which they often work together. Despite the intense emotional content, teens will warm to the authenticity apparent in every voice. Many, if not most of the essays offer a list of the techniques and treatments that have been successful in handling symptoms, including medication, therapy, exercise, and yoga. The difficulty in recognizing mental health issues, as well as the unfortunate stigma associated with asking for help, is frequently acknowledged and may help teen and adult readers work toward achieving a more open dialogue. Perhaps most importantly, the collection’s overarching sentiment points toward acceptance and the idea that treatment is a journey. As contributor Tara Kelly writes: “If anxiety gets the better of me again, that’s okay. I give myself permission to fall down and get back up.” VERDICT A first purchase for all young adult collections.–Kristy Pasquariello, Wellesley Free Library, MA
— School Library Journal, Starred Review
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781481494656, 320pp.
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
About the Author
Maureen Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, The Name of the Star, Suite Scarlett, and Truly Devious. Visit her at MaureenJohnsonBooks.com, MaureenJohnsonBooks on Tumblr, or @MaureenJohnson on Twitter.
Amy Reed is the author of the contemporary young adult novels Beautiful, Clean, Crazy, Over You, Damaged, Invincible, Unforgivable, The Nowhere Girls, and The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World. She is also the editor of Our Stories, Our Voices. She is a feminist, mother, and quadruple Virgo who enjoys running, making lists, and wandering around the mountains of western North Carolina where she lives. You can find her online at AmyReedFiction.com.
Amber Benson is a writer, actress, and director who has written for the stage, screen, books, and comic books. She is perhaps best known for playing the role of "Tara" on the hit television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Amber lives in Los Angeles, California.This is her first children's book.
Sarah Fine is the author of Of Metal and Wishes, Of Dreams and Rust, The Impostor Queen, The Cursed Queen, The True Queen, and The Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast. When she’s not writing, she’s working as a child psychologist. Visit her at SarahFineBooks.com.
Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous young adult novels, as well as the adult novels such as Triangles, Collateral, and Love Lies Beneath. She lives with her family in Carson City, Nevada, where she has founded Ventana Sierra, a nonprofit youth housing and resource initiative. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenHopkinsLit.
Hannah Moskowitz is the award-winning author of the young adult novels Sick Kids In Love; Not Otherwise Specified; Break; Invincible Summer; Gone, Gone, Gone; and Teeth; as well as the middle grade novels Zombie Tag and Marco Impossible. She lives in New York City.
Wendy Toliver has explored a variety of jobs, from impersonating Marilyn Monroe for singing telegrams to impersonating a computer geek at an ad agency. She lives in Eden, Utah with her husband, three sons, two dogs, a cat, several fish, and an occasional mole.
Jessica Burkhart (a.k.a. Jessica Ashley) is the author of the Unicorn Magic and Canterwood Crest series, which you can learn more about at CanterwoodCrest.com. She is a former equestrian who writes from her apartment in Tennessee. (It’s not the size of Crystal Castle, but Jess tries to decorate like a princess!) Jess’s aura would be hot pink and she loves glittery things. If she had a unicorn, it would be named Sparkle. Visit Jess at JessicaBurkhart.com.