Recovery in the Media: #72. To the Brokenhearted: Being a Christian with Depression

72. To the Brokenhearted: Being a Christian with Depression by E.S. Huberty

Nine years ago, when I was doing the show Cinderella, I met a lovely and sweet girl who played one of my stepsisters. Over the years, we stayed in touch a bit although we rarely saw each other. However, her strength and perseverance always inspired me. Thus, when she wrote this book and had it published online, I was thrilled that she requested me to blog about it. The topic and message fit perfectly with this blog. Plus, she is a talented writer and storyteller which makes this book even better.

Synopsis: Can a Christian suffer from depression? This question is asked far too frequently. For many Christians, being depressed or anxious is viewed as a sign of failure or even demonic forces. Emmaline Soken-Huberty explores mental illness and faith in this read that is both quick and helpful. She looks not only at how mental illness and faith affected her own life but also how others can use her experiences to deal with their own mental health issues while remaining strong in their faith.

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Recovery in the Media: #68. Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story

Henry's Demons

This story by father and son tells the truth about the struggles and recovery process of schizophrenia.

68. Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story by Patrick Cockburn and Henry Cockburn

Schizophrenia is a disorder that many people know about but few fully understand. People with it are characterized as crazy, murderous, vicious, impossible to interact with, etc. However, there is much more to these people than those negative conotations. Awhile ago, I wrote a review of A Beautiful Mind. For this Media Monday, I decided to focus on another recovery-focused work about suicide, this time a book titled Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story.

Synopsis: What can be worse than receiving news that your 20-year-old son followed the voices instructions and tried to drown himself? Patrick Cockburn and his wife experienced this with their son Henry, who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. This book, written by father and son, rides the ups and downs of this family’s life with this life-altering illness. Mother and father fight for their son to improve while he tries to convince the world that he is not ill. This and many other tensions fill this fascinating memoir.

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Recovery in the Media: #65. Pictures of Hollis Woods

Pictures of Hollis Woods

This novel depicts a young girl who slowly realizes the need to open herself up instead of staying locked in pain.

65. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Growing up can be a challenging time for any youth. However those in the foster system face many difficulties that those with loving families do not. Few books touch on this element as honestly yet tactfully as Pictures of Hollis Woods. Although written for children, the themes and emotions in it apply to all ages.

Synopsis: No one wants to care for orphaned Hollis Woods. Not only is she already 12-years-old instead of an adorable toddler, her isolated and stubborn temperate make her a less than ideal child. Hollis’ life changes, however, after she is brought to the home of a retired art teacher named Josie. Healing begins to enter the preteen’s life as she discovers her creative skills with Josie’s guidance. However, the elderly woman’s forgetfulness and the girl’s deep pain begin to threaten the new life for which Hollis deeply longs.

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Recovery in the Media: #62. Wintergirls

Wintergirls

Although potentially triggering, this book is a powerful depiction of an eating disorder and how it devastates lives.

62. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Few books have impacted me quite as much as Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. From the first sentence to the ending, the novel related to my eating disorder and life so much. At parts, I could not tell if I was more triggered or inspired. That was how powerful and realistic it was. Because of that, I debated blogging about it for several months. Would it be more helpful or hindering? That was the main worry that I had. However, my decision was to highlight it on Media Monday while cautioning that some might be triggered by it. On the whole, however, this is another amazing book by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Synopsis: Lia is shocked to learn that her ex-best friend Cassie has just died. Both high schoolers, the girls recently cut off communication with each other after helping to fuel each other’s eating disorders. This news haunts Lia, who is secretly still deep in anorexia. At times, the ghost of Cassie almost seems to be following the living girl, convincing her that life is not worthwhile. Thus, Lia decides to find out the truth about the puzzling death of her friend despite the pain it will cause.

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Recovery in the Media: #59. Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half

This book brings humor and laughter into recovery.

59. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Few books make me laugh aloud. However, I giggled from page one of this graphic novel. Many of the situations and thought processes were relatable in a sadly humorous way. Even my sister who does not like reading as much enjoyed paging through this book. Although some of the language was harsher than I like (more on that later), Hyperbole and a Half was simply too enjoyable and helpful to not mention on Media Monday.

Synopsis: Rather difficult to explain, this book is a mixture of a graphic novel and collection of essays. Brightly colored panels tell short stories from Allie Brosh’s life. The tale topics range from depression to teaching her “simple” dog to being a strange child. Humor fills the entire book, but there is also a sense of hope for a better future despite mental illness.

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Recovery in the Media: #56. Waiting for My Clothes

Waiting for my Clothes

This book of poetry tells the story of a girl who defeated her eating disorder.

56. Waiting for My Clothes by Leanne O’Sullivan

While looking for poems and other material written on eating disorders for a speech, I stumbled upon this book. Leanne O’Sullivan crafts each poem uniquely, displaying her ability to write in many different styles. The pieces touch on difficult elements of recovery, dealing with mental illness, and everyday issues. As someone who is easily bored by poetry, I found this book to be engaging and inspiring. That is why I decided to discuss it today.

Synopsis: Mental health, family, growth, relationships, eating – there are so many difficult elements of recovering from an eating disorder. Writing about these issues can be a very helpful for both the author and readers. That is what Waiting for My Clothes does. Leanne O’Sullivan shows how bumpy the road to health is but also gives hope for others who join her along that journey.

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Recovery in the Media: #53. Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Frightening but powerfully emotional, Frankenstein explores deep themes like nature vs. nurture.

53. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

One of my favorite novels of all time is Frankenstein. Reading it broke my heart but also made me contemplate deep questions. When you find a book that makes you both think and feel, you have found something special. This book might not address anything explicitly related to mental illness or health. However, anyone studying nature vs. nurture and the effects of our actions would do well to read this book. Thus, I decided to highlight it for Media Monday.

Synopsis: The novel opens with a captain attempting to sail to the South Pole. On the way, he encounters a dying, miserable man named Victor Frankenstein as well as glimpsing a large, horrifying creature. Opening up to the captain, Victor tells his life story, beginning with his fascination with life and its roots. This young man leaves his family (including his beautiful adopted semi-sister Elizabeth) to further his studies. The pinnacle of his achievements is piecing together human remains to make a creature. Once given life, this monster terrifies Victor to the point where he runs back to his family. However, Victor finds that he cannot keep running from his naive-turned-murderous creation.

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Recovery in the Media: #50. Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s book

Both witty and touching, this novel shows an odd but brilliant girl who learns to deal with grief and heal.

50. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Solan

Whenever I enter a library, a strong urge compels me to pick up book after book. Normally, I walk out with over twenty new items. Did you know that most libraries have a limit of 100 items that you can have out at once? Yeah, I found that out the hard way. Anyway, the book Counting by 7s stood out to me a few months ago at our little local library. Intrigued, I stuffed the novel into my overflowing book bag. Several times it almost was returned because I had plenty of required reading in school. However, I luckily kept the book and found myself enchanted with it. The main character is never diagnosed with a mental illness (despite the fact that she showed signs of one…more on that later), but the book still addresses important elements of recovery such as grieving, loss, hope, redemption, and support people.

Synopsis: Willow is not your average 12-year-old child. Her rapid thinking skills, ability to diagnosis medical conditions, amazing way with plants, and oddities distance her from classmates. Luckily, her parents give her great encouragement and support her dreams. When they are involved in a fatal accident, Willow is left with no relations or close friends. However her peculiar personality ends up touching more people than she ever guessed – the controlling teenager Mai, her moody brother Quang-ha, their loving but orderly mother Pattie, the under-confident taxi driver Jairo, and an unreliable, people-hating school counselor Dell. All of them come together to care for this young girl and grow through the process.

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Recovery in the Media: #47. Because

Because is a powerful, poetic book about what we desire in life.

Because is a powerful, poetic book about what we desire in life.

47. Because by Joseph Riippi

A few weeks ago, a friend from school mentioned he had a book that he thought I would like. His taste in literature is wonderful, so I looked forward to reading it. Despite being busy with school and theater, I was able to delve in Because. A mixture of prose and narrative, this book is a fascinating look at life and our desires. Suicide and other thoughts that might be linked to mental illness are part of the storyline. While reading it, the urge to blog about it continued to strike me. So, here is a unique book that I have my friend Graham to thank for recommending.

Synopsis: Almost more of a poem than a story, Because starts with a simple but powerful phrase: “I want.” These two words begin each sentence of the book. The author longs for adventure, a loving family, the ability to go back in time, and the desire for a better future. Issues such as the suicide of a friend and his own longings for death at times are dealt with in a poignant way. Slowly, parts of his story unfold as the reader is invited to think of what desire and dreams mean.

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Recovery in the Media: #44. . . .And She Sparkled

One of the best picture books I have read, this tells the story of a child being forced to grow up but stay unique.

One of the best picture books I have read, this tells the story of a child being forced to grow up but stay unique.

44. . . . And She Sparkled by Joan Steffend

Browsing in a cute little shop, I saw this book on the shelf. For some reason, the plush front with a simplistic but mesmorizing silver design appealed to me. The connection to my life was instant as I read the picture book. Right then, I was in residential treatment and struggling to want recovery. Staying a safe child or sick patient seemed much better than growing up in a frightening and uncertain world. Thus, this book played an important role in reminding me of who I was under all of my pain and healing that inner child. It might be a picture book, but . . . And She Sparkled has a deep message about recovery.

Synopsis: This book tells the story of a little girl who sparkles. Joy follows her as she brings beauty and light into the world. Each day, she dreams of the next one with excitement and anticipation. However, her dance falters as difficulties begin to come into her innocent life. Others start telling her to be quieter, more sensible, and less childish. In an attempt to be good, she locks up the sparkle inside of her and hides it from the world. Darkness increases as she struggles to live each day the way people say she should. The sparkle waits inside, hoping to shine once again.

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