15 Books To Read When You've Been Diagnosed With Mental Or Chronic Illness

The period immediately following your diagnosis with a lifelong condition manifests as a whirlwind of emotions that can be difficult to navigate for even the most-well-supported individuals. To help you through this trying time, I've got 15 books to read when you've been diagnosed with a mental or chronic illness.

In February 2009, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder, Behçet's disease, one of those illnesses that you have to explain to most people you meet, because they've never heard of what you've got. Later that year, my doctor diagnosed me with anxiety, depression, and IBS. I sank into a very dark place as it dawned on me that I would be taking multiple medications for the rest of my life — no small ordeal when you're a 19-year-old college student.

Even as I railed against my inability to go out and party into the wee hours like my friends, I felt guilty for my negative attitude toward my diagnosis. At that point, I had been living with this condition — one that usually shows up when you're somewhere between the ages of 20 and 40 — for as long as I could remember, at least 15 years. I had been misdiagnosed with Herpes Simplex 1 and Coxsackievirus, told I did not have the condition with which I was later diagnosed, and treated as a suspected intravenous-drug user in the meantime. My diagnosis was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel, so why did it feel more like a cave-in?

I wish I had had these books when I was first diagnosed with Behçet's. They're just the kind of thing I needed to recognize that my response to the news was nothing to be ashamed of. Check out my recommendations below, and share the books you read after you were diagnosed with mental or chronic illness with me on Twitter!