The end of the year typically signals the announcement of many annual "best" and "worst" lists. So in that spirit, we have compiled a list of some of the best books, movies, and television of the past year. From a novel to a historical biography, from a reference guide to an Emmy-winning television comedy, 2005 provided an array of positive portrayals of the issues related to mental illness. Here's hoping that 2006 provides even more.
|72 Hour Hold, Bebe Moore Campbell
In her fifth novel, Campbell confronts the heavyweight issues of mental illness, race relations, and family relationships. The novel's main character, Keri Whitmore hangs onto the hope that her daughter, Trina, who was about to enter Brown University, will overcome her bipolar disorder and become her lovely, promising child again. But part of Keri's struggle is realizing that mental illness can only be managed, never eradicated.
|Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness, Joshua Wolf Shenk
Drawing on seven years of his own research and the work of other esteemed Lincoln scholars, Shenk reveals how the sixteenth president harnessed his depression to fuel his astonishing success. Lincoln found the solace and tactics he needed to deal with the nation's worst crisis in the coping strategies he had developed over a lifetime of persevering through depressive episodes and personal tragedies.
|Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia, Pamela Spiro Wagner and Carolyn Spiro, M.D.
This harrowing but arresting memoir—written in alternating voices by identical twins, now in their 50s—reveals how devastating schizophrenia is to both the individual with mental illness and those who love her.
|Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery, Gail Griffith
Gail, Will's mother, tells the story of the family's shock and sadness at Will's attempted suicide and their struggle to find a place where their once "joyous" child could mend and rediscover his delight in life. Her affecting account, which includes contributions from her son and recollections of her own battle with depression, is peppered with timely questions and bits of background.
|Fear Is No Longer My Reality: How I Overcame Panic and Social Anxiety Disorder and You Can Too, Jamie Blyth
This is Jamie Blyth's powerful story beyond the reality star's TV image--and a message of hope and healing for the 20 million Americans who live with social anxiety disorder. As one of the finalists on ABC-TV's reality dating show The Bachelorette, Jamie Blyth risked his heart before millions, while going public with his personal struggle against social anxiety and panic disorder in hopes of helping those who continue to suffer in silence.
Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Post-Partum Depression, Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields shares how she battled this widely misunderstood condition, despite the fact that it affects many new mothers. She discusses the illness in the context of her life, including her struggle to get pregnant, the high expectations she had for herself and that others placed on her as a new mom, and the role of her husband, friends, and family as she struggled to attain her maternal footing in the midst of a disabling depression. And, ultimately, Brooke shares how she found a way out through talk therapy, medication, and time. Winner of a 2005 Voice Award.
|Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned, Alan Alda
"My mother didn't try to stab my father until I was six," begins Alda's irresistible story. The son of a popular actor and a loving mother who lived with mental illness, he spent his early childhood backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on, after early struggles, to achieve extraordinary success in his profession.
|50 Signs of Mental Illness: A Guide to Understanding Mental Health, James Whitney Hicks, M.D.
The volume presents fifty signs that may - or may not - signal mental illness. Arranged alphabetically, the signs include everything from anger to sexual preoccupations, from cravings to obsessions. Dr. James Whitney Hicks, a highly regarded psychiatrist with extensive clinical experience, explains how a specific sign can be caused by several different illnesses and how it may even be a normal response to stress. Dr. Hicks outlines available clinical treatments and medications that may be helpful, and he provides practical strategies for coping with each symptom.
|Against Depression, Peter Kramer
In the new book from the author of Listening to Prozac, Kramer puts forth a comprehensive new theory of depression that defines depression as a multi-symptom illness -- linking it to disruptions in brain anatomy and exposure to the risk of heart disease and stroke. Kramer sets up a new framework for depression, one that has wide-reaching implications. These begin with the obvious public health conclusions, that depression must be confronted as a debilitating, even life-threatening illness.
Scorsese's portrait of maverick tycoon/filmmaker/aviator Howard Hughes is accurate in a "big picture" sense, even to its unstated but strongly implied attribution of Hughes's legendary eccentricities to an undiagnosed case of what we know today as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Winner of a 2005 Voice Award.
The film follows the story of two teenagers from different worlds--Mark Deloach and Dori Lawrence--as their lives quickly spiral out of control. The rebellious but privileged Mark delves into dangerous antics resulting in a nearly fatal drunk driving accident, and Dori, a wild actress and singer, slowly loses touch with reality as she lives from schizophrenia. Forced to straighten out their lives, Mark is sent to join the Marines and Dori is admitted into a mental hospital. Winner of a 2005 Voice Award.
|Monk (Seasons one, two, and three are now available on DVD, and season four is currently airing on the USA Network)
Adrian Monk (Tony Shaloub, two-time Emmy winner for his role on Monk) was once a rising star with the San Francisco Police Department. But after the tragic murder of his wife, the devastated Monk developed obsessive-compulsive disorder. His psychological disorder has caused him to develop an abnormal fear of virtually everything: germs, heights, crowds... even milk. Monk's condition eventually cost him his job, and continues to pose unique challenges in his everyday life. Winner of a 2005 Voice Award.
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