Today’s review is on Life Inside My Mind edited by Jessica Burkhart
Life Inside My Mind was an interesting read because it is a collection of essays written by thirty-one authors who discuss their personal struggles with mental illness. Each author does their best to describe their particular struggles, and they don’t hold back. Each essay is very much a testimony of the realities of life with mental illness, and is a great reminder for those who do have these struggles that they are not alone. Several of the authors provide tips on what worked with them in coping with their particular struggles, others go in depth and talk about what goes through their mind when they are struggling with depression, anxiety, etc. Some of the authors that contributed to this collection include Francesca Lia Block, Melissa Marr, Maureen Johnson, Jennifer L. Armentrout and Ellen Hopkins.
I believe that this collection could be a helpful tool for two reasons, 1) it could help teens who struggle with mental illness to read from people who have had some of the same struggles and 2) it can help make other teens be more empathetic to their peers who do have to deal with anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.
One of the main mental illnesses discussed in this collection is anxiety, and it was interesting to read how anxiety manifests differently for different people and in varying degrees. While I was aware of that it was still interesting to read from someone’s first had experience on what that is like and how they have learned to live with their anxiety, especially when they have episodes that are particularly bad.
Another mental illness that is the theme of a good chunk of these essays is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which I also did not realize can be manifested in different ways. It was also interesting to see how depression and/or anxiety are often linked to OCD.
One issue that was discussed in a couple of the essays, particularly the essays by Melissa Marr and Ellen Hopkins was PTSD, and again how different issues can contribute to PTSD. For example, Ellen Hopkins’ essay focuses on her grandson, who her and her husband adopted (along with his siblings), because their mother is a drug addict and how they had to deal with his anger issues that were a result of PTSD from growing up in the home of an addict who was neglectful and abusive, as well as being separated from his mother. She also details how that was affecting him, but also how it affected the rest of the family. Another essay that dealt with PTSD was by Melissa Marr, who was attacked twice, once in a situation where she should have been safe and how she knows that people view her fears as irrational, and how she even recognizes that to some degree but there is very little she can do except put into practice the coping mechanisms that she has come up with in order to help settle her thoughts and make her feel somewhat safe.
Overall, this was a really good read, I enjoyed reading about the different experiences with mental illnesses and even the stigma that sometimes comes along with them. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to read the first-hand experiences of individuals who have learned to live with their particular mental illnesses. 4/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.