Foreword Reviews

Show Me All Your Scars

True Stories of Living with Mental Illness

These accounts of mental illness are like a beacon of light, sending out messages of recognition and acceptance.

Though everyone seems to know someone who suffers with some sort of mental illness, it continues to be a taboo subject. Show Me All Your Scars, a collection edited by Lee Gutkind, seeks to change that by sharing twenty intimate stories written by those who have experienced mental illness firsthand.

Each narrative is different. Some come from people who have personally suffered. Others are told by someone who watched a loved one dealing with mental dysfunction. A myriad of different illnesses are covered, from unusual conditions like trichotillomania, which compels people to pull out their hair, to far more familiar ones like PTSD and depression. This breadth of coverage results in a widely relatable text. As Susie Meserve puts it in “A Little Crazy”:

I thought being crazy was a binary: you were or you weren’t. But Will and I were both at once, functional and dysfunctional, happy and sad, free and not free. We all live with this dichotomy. We are all at least a little bit crazy.

These narratives prove to be eloquent, coherently capturing thoughts, feelings, and actions that are themselves beyond perfect clarity, and doing so in a sympathetic way. That these writers are able to communicate frankly while maintaining strong emotional impact—as they write on topics such as self-harm, suicidal ideation, and psychosis—makes for some very powerful stories. Though each story is unique, they all cohere in their ability to relate the almost brutal beauty that comes from honesty and acceptance.

For those who suffer or have suffered with mental illness, Show Me All Your Scars is like a beacon of light, sending out a message of recognition. For those who have a loved one who suffers from mental illness, these narratives offer insight and clarity into something that can be very difficult to understand. Anyone whose life has been touched by mental illness can find hope in the stories included in this book.

Reviewed by Catherine Thureson

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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