I highly recommend The Noonday Demon, by Andrew Solomon, which is a memoir as well as a study of depression and how it is treated around the world. Excellent book, and, I found it personally very enlightening (as I am not clinically depressed). It won the National Book Award, so it’s not just my opinion.
Some really disturbing sex and physical abuse descriptions, beware. I have no idea *what *my mother was thinking to let me read it at 11 years old. But a fascinating book written by multiple personalities (alters) who chose NOT to integrate into one personality when that was unheard of in mental health treatment.
If you get a chance, pick up Jim Knipfel’s books. I’ve read both Slackjaw and Quiting the Nairobi Trio. Both are a tremendously witty, black humored look at severe depression, brain tumors, and genetic blindness. I can’t reccomend these books enough.
I haven’t read it yet but a friend just recommended that I pick up You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers. It’s the memoirs of a woman who grows up with a schizophrenic parent, and later learns that she herself has prosopagnosia, or “face blindness”. While prosopagnosia isn’t really a mental illness, it’s a neurological problem, and a pretty interesting one, at that.
Like I said, I haven’t picked up the book yet, but it’s on my holds list at the library.