Mental Illness & Literature.

Lately i’ve been trying to find the words to a lot of ideas i have. After a while, i ditched a few posts i was writing and i couldn’t find my way back to the blog. I guess, what i am trying to say is, sorry for being absent this much the last few months. The why is without a doubt related to the topic i want to talk about today.

Yesterday was my birthday World Bipolar Day and i thought it would be good to talk about this topic in general since mental illness and literature go far way back together.

It’s not a secret that many famous authors had a Bipolar Disorder, and many of them either tried to hurt themselves or succeeded in committing suicide.

Authors like Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway are only a few of those who left their mark in literature’s history, authors whose books are still relevant and loved by many.

Personally, i haven’t read many books written by mentally ill authors, mostly because they have a huge impact on my life when i do. I’ll forever remember the time when i read J.D. Salinger, it was about 7 years ago and i was obsessed, but also, i felt more sick than usual while reading his works. For this to make any sense you need to know that i suffer from Depression and have an Avoidant Personality Disorder.

So, his works weren’t the best i could read at the moment i did read them and the fear of falling into a deeper state of depression stayed forever in my mind. Still, i will always love Holden Caufield and all the letters i wrote to him at the time are well preserved.  But we aren’t here to talk about me.

The thing is, these past few weeks i’ve been watching (obsessively so if i say it myself) a tv show where they touch the subject of mental illness. The show is mostly for teenagers (…) but is great. It teaches so much more than all the crap going on most shows these days.

The portrait of the mental illness in the show many be a bit off on timing because it is a show with short seasons, but it really shows not only the way a person suffers from a manic episode and then the fall to the depressive one but also the side of the people around the person in a very real way. (if you want to know the name of the show just tell me).

The thing was, it felt real, very real, because of many things. The fact that a person may not be as comfortable on sharing even with the people they care about that they have a mental illness, how people that don’t understand about it may  find it hard to be around mentally ill people even if they are their family, the lonely feelings of a suffering mind, and the truest fact of them all;  Love may help you get through difficult times, but it will not cure your mental illness.

This was the fact that got me the most. As a person suffering from a mental illness myself, as i said before, i have my share of feelings and emotions i went through while in my worst times. Obviously, each one of us is a world on our own, but many tend to feel the same or pretty close to each other in the kind of feelings and can relate to these stories, this is not a thing that happens. I’ve meet a lot of people with mental illnesses and many kinds of them, and never ever saw that falling in love suddenly saved someone from themselves.

And now to the very point i wanted to make. As you can see from my blog, i mostly read YA books, and this is just fine. You see, there a lots of topics to read about in YA literature as in any other genre. The thing is, for some reason, the tropes in YA literature blook-down down on the readers.

This happens with most tropes but the mental illness card or the illnesses at all in YA literature uses love as a magical weapon that can save you from everything. Ridiculous. There is a terrible amount of books I’ve read about mentally ill characters where the love interest somehow manages to get them to feel all better and then life is amazing again, like these characters weren’t ill at all, ever.

Are you seriously trying to sell me the idea that finding love can cure me of my depression? Well, i’ll be damn, i need to get me a boyfriend ASAP then.

No, really. For some reason, as the internet became a place where people look for validation from others and for them to be the most special person ever, mental illness becomes a way for them to stand out(and i do realise this may sound ironic, because i just said that i’m mentally ill myself and i could be looking for the same validation, but i don’t) and so the YA literature gives them, even more ideas and reasons for them to pretend to be ill.

Obviously, there are mentally ill people, young people and older ones and they are all valid and real, but also there are some people looking to sound ‘cool’.

Well, mental illness is not a ‘cool’ thing to have and that is exactly why i think the way YA literature uses many times the topic in a very loosely way and that feels just wrong.

Sure, mental illness is a topic that needs to be talked about, it’s important because many may not even know they should get themselves some medical help and such and these books create awareness on the topic. But they need to take themselves seriously enough and be more real with the people so they don’t create false expectations on the readers, especially on those who suffer from these illnesses.

Well, i wish i could go on and on on the topic right now but i have some other stuff to work on right now.

I hope this didn’t feel disrespectful or anything like that, obviously this was written only because i felt the need to bring this issue to my blog somehow. I’ll be writing more on the topic as the Mental Health Month Awareness get closer.

Have a good day!


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