Many of us will remember 2016 as the year the world lost so many vibrant talents and wonderful minds: the novelist Umberto Eco, the comedic actor Gene Wilder, the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and completely wonderful actor and human being Alan Rickman, to name only a few. But I was perhaps most moved by the death of the multitalented Carrie Fisher, the actress and author most of us remember as the fearless, defiant Princess Leia in the original Star Wars films. She had other film roles, but she played her most important part in real life: writing and talking about what it's like to live with addiction and mental illness. For most of us life is difficult enough: but imaging having a mix of chemicals in your brain that attack you on a regular basis. She knew some people would dismiss her as "crazy" or a "drunk," but she knew there were others who suffered like she did, and they needed to know they weren't alone. Fisher spoke bravely about her life in television appearances, and wrote about her struggles in autobiographical fiction as well as memoirs: books such as Postcards from the Edge, Wishful Drinking and The Best Awful There Is.
Our library network has a number of books by others recounting their lives with mental illness, including the graphic novel, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me, and the memoirs Killing the Black Dog, Nothing was the Same and Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness.
If you read blogs and struggle with mental illness or are interested in it, you might find The Bloggess worth your time: it's the witty, sad and endearing blog of Texas writer Jenny Lawson, who's also written about her life with bipolar and anxiety disorders in her books Let's Pretend this Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir and Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things.