Top Ten Tuesday: Characters With Mental Illness

Top Ten Tuesday banner made by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. This week is a freebie week, where we got to select what kind of character traits to highlight. So since I have recently been reading more books that feature characters with mental illness, and I myself am battling depression and anxiety. So here are 10 characters with mental illness, and books that I believe actually show a realistic view on mental health.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley cover1. Rachel (Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley)

Rachel is suffering from grief and the depression after her brother drowns, and she moves back to her old town, where no one knows about his passing.
She doesn’t tell anyone because she doesn’t want to be treated different, but eventually she opens up to her old friend Henry. Where she admits to having depression. I enjoyed how realistic this scene is and how important it is to people suffering with depression to admit it out loud.


2. Evie (Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne)Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne cover

In Am I Normal Yet? Evie is trying to overcome her OCD. After having a breakdown and not leaving her room or eating properly, Evie has attended therapy and is on medication to get her OCD under control. The novel starts with her reaching a point in her recovery where she can start to decrease the dosage of her medication. Trying to be perceived as “normal”, which isn’t the right way to go about recovering, which the book covers when she inevitably relapses.


3. Charlie (The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky)The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky cover

Charlie’s mental illness is a bit different to the others. Whilst he suffers with social anxiety and general awkwardness. He suffers with immense guilt over the death of his Aunt, who died in a car crash going to get him a birthday present. Its not revealed until the end of the novel that he also has PTSD of some kind as  he suffered a childhood trauma when he was sexually molested, which causes a complete rethink about his actions and responses to situations during the novel.

4. Theodore Finch & Violey Marley (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven)All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven cover

Theodore: suffers from depression, and bipolar disorder. He and Violet meet on the school bell tower, where they are both contemplating suicide. But then Theodore wants to bring Violet out of her darkness, but in the process he starts to get worse, and is in denial about his own mental illness.

Violet: is suffering from depression, grief, and survivors guilt. She was with her sister in a car crash that killed her sister, and she hasn’t been able to overcome the guilt of surviving which is why she wanted to jump from the bell tower. But by the end of the book, she has started to let go of her guilt, and is remembering her sister by continuing their website

5. Adam (Where She Went by Gayle Forman)Where She Went by Gayle Forman cover

Set after the events of the first book If I Stay, Adam is dealing with separating from Mia, in the worst way possible. He becomes dark, moody and depressed. With manic anger episodes. He uses drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism and is losing himself and pushing those closest to him away. Even his new found fame can’t help pull him out of the slump Mia left behind. But a chance encounter with Mia, finally gives him the opportunity for closer and to realise that he is heading down a dangerous path if he doesn’t pull himself together.


6. Cath (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell cover

I see a lot of myself in Cath, she is a complete nerd and fangirl, with a flair for writing. However, she also has quite severe social anxiety. To the point where she tries to live off of protein bars instead of talking to someone and finding out where the dining hall is. She barely leaves her dorm room, and only socialises when in class. But throughout the course of the book we see Cath come out of her comfort zone and really start to find herself.


7. Cadence Sinclair (We Were Liars by E. Lockhart)We Were Liars by E. Lockhart cover

Now this is an interesting book, I can’t give too much away because this is a book you don’t want spoiled. You just have to experience it. I highly recommend you read this.
However, I can say that Cadence is suffering from some form of PTSD from a trauma during a family summer holiday that she can’t fully remember. It has left her feeling meek, and more withdrawn. Until the summer she returns to the family island and begins to piece together what really happened.


8. Eleanor (Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell)Eleanor and Parks by Rainbow Rowell cover

This was a darker novel than I was expecting from Rowell, after having read Fangirl. Eleanor suffers at the hands of an abusive stepfather, a mother who is run ragged by the angry drunk husband, and making sure that she keeps him happy to keep the children safe. Eleanor feels overlooked, and is bullied at school for her apparent difference and her style. Her biological father is also distant, and has remarried and left the entire family behind. This paves the way for Eleanor to have lots of conflicting feelings about herself, her family and her life in general.


Binge by Tyler Oakley cover9. Tyler Oakley (Binge by Tyler Oakley)

Whilst Tyler Oakley isn’t a “character” perse (even though Tyler’s real name is Mathew), his book which spoke about his eating disorder was just too powerful to not include him. When he was younger Tyler was more of a chubby kid, and children being cruel would tease him about this so he decided to do something about it. Unfortunately he went about it the wrong way, by over exercising and not eating properly he ran himself ragged. But he was pushed on by the fact people had noticed the weight loss and began to compliment him on how he looked. Luckily someone found out about how unhealthily he was going about his weight loss and stopped him before he burned himself out completely. But it just shows that you don’t know what people have gone through to get to where they are. He now eats properly and works out the right amount.

The art of asking by amanda palmer cover.10. Amanda Palmer (The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer)

Again another actual person instead of a character but I still think she should be included in the list. Whilst Amanda Palmer is a well known singer/songwriter, she took quite the unconventional path to where she is today. Her fan base is treated like close friends with her often crashing with her fans in between shows. But in The Art of Asking: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help we see that it wasn’t always easy for her to accept the help from people, especially her husband, Neil Gaiman. She even had a couple panic attacks leading up to their wedding about money and her Kickstarter, she has definitely exhibited signs of anxiety and potentially depression in the years where things seemed bleak. But she just proves that things can always turn around, and that we need to accept the help whether we think we deserve it or not. People wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to go through with it.

So these are some of my favourite characters, whilst they have all had or have some form of mental illness, it doesn’t completely define them, and for most they go on a path to recovering. Let me know what you thought and if there are any characters you think I missed.

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3 comments on “Top Ten Tuesday: Characters With Mental Illness

  1. I’ve been meaning to read Words in Deep Blue for so long – I received it in a subscription box last year but just keep failing to pick it up *facepalm*. But it being on this list makes me want to push it up my TBR a bit more! Charlie from Perks always gets me, he’s such a tragic but realistic character! And YES – I think when I read Fangirl that was the first time that I really thought about mental health being portrayed in a realistic fashion. I don’t even have anxiety and I could relate. Great choices!

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