Achieving success never comes without a few hurdles. While working hard and building a career or a company can seem easy on paper, unexpected issues crop up for everyone. No matter how well everything may seem to be going on the outside, taking care of the inside is just as important. Nearly 50 million Americans suffer from some kind of mental illness every year, and that number continues to grow. It can be tempting to ignore mental health in favor of work, assuming problems will resolve themselves with time.
The truth is that mental illness needs to be fully addressed early to prevent further issues. Achieving work-life balance is impossible without getting your head in the right place first.
Mental health means different things to different people, so it's important to find solutions that work for you. Literature can be a great way to understand the varied experiences of others and how they cope with issues you're facing as well.
Reading to Heal
Books are an opportunity to take a step back and think about what's best for you and your mental health. Some worth considering include:
by Trevor Campbell
Pain -- mental or physical -- is a fact of daily life for many. As common as it is to resort to medication, Trevor Campbell claims that there are ways to get around pain using the power of the mind alone. By identifying pain-inducing triggers, behaviors, and attitudes, The Language of Pain focuses on how you can use your mind to overcome difficulties.
by Rick Huttner
Childhood trauma can plague an individual's mental health well into adulthood. In Resilient People, author Rick Huttner details his childhood abuse and his difficulties in moving past it. As painful as certain passages are to read, Huttner's story is a must-read for anyone wanting to move beyond a traumatic past.
by Andrew Sean Greer
Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Andrew Sean Greer's satire about being middle-aged, American, and abroad isn't an obvious choice for a breakthrough novel about mental health. What makes Less so much more than just a satire is its focus on getting away -- from responsibilities, friends, and family -- and the impossibility of truly escaping. Achieving a healthy mental state is about facing problems head-on, not running away.
by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is one of the most common mental illnesses in the country, particularly among the entrepreneurial set, and it's also one of the most difficult to work with. Driven to Distraction contains numerous case studies of patients and how proper treatment and diagnosis impacted their lives. If you're looking for a way to understand the value of giving proper attention to your mental health, this book is a valuable choice.
by Anna Burns
Anna Burns's Booker Prize-winning novel is a fascinating and funny look into how people deal with the seemingly endless amount of tension present in their lives. The protagonist of Milkman is an 18-year-old Belfast girl trying to balance her intellectual development, her political positions, and a stalker known as the Milkman, all while coming of age. While it cuts some of its serious notes with moments of humor, Milkman is an insightful way of seeing how someone can turn strife into inspiration.
by the Arbinger Institute
Your mental state can have powerful effects on the way you work. Getting your mind where it needs to be is key to doing your best work, and this book is a great how-to for getting everything in working order. Though written as a novel, Leadership and Self-Deception is specifically written for people looking to get the most out of their work by breaking down mental barriers.
by Gloria Horsley and Heidi Horsley
Big events, whether they're holidays or business achievements, can make a person's absence that much more apparent. Entrepreneurs grappling with the loss of a loved one often feel they can't set aside time to grieve, but this book delves into the ways that people have endured hectic seasons. Best of all, Open to Hope provides practical steps leaders can take to take care of themselves and find hope again.
There's no easy way around mental health issues; getting past them can take years and require professional assistance. While no book can solve those kinds of problems, literature is a powerful way to understand how others cope -- and to gain perspective on your own situation. It's impossible to operate at your full potential if your mind isn't in the right place, and reading can be a step toward getting there.