During the Covid-19 pandemic
It is important that we all look after our mental health during this time. The NHS has advice about isolating. They also suggest some good apps.
Sometimes you just need some basic information to help you get started.
I recommend having appropriate therapist support in place before reading books which may open up deeper issues in ways you had not expected.
Feelings of shame are universal, but can lead to unhealthy feelings of contempt or self-loathing, and the belief that others will feel the same. Brené Brown's famous Ted Talk The Power of Vulnerability is a great start, then follow-up with her best-selling books Daring Greatly (Penguin Life, 2015) and The Gifts of Imperfection (Vermillion, 2020).
Extreme anxiety whether in young adulthood can be deeply disabling. Eleanor Morgan's Anxiety for Beginners (Bluebird, 2017) is an account of her struggle to find explanations and treatment for panic attacks, and her journey towards living with and managing her anxiety as a meaningful part of her life.
Death is a subject we tend not to talk about. But an awareness of our own and others' deaths can enhance our experience of life by reminding us of how precious and short it can be. Staring at the Sun: Being at Peace with your own Mortality (Piatkus, 2011) is a thought-provoking read by Irvin Yalom, an eminent and very readable existential therapist.
A bereavement can result in a confusing mixture of feelings, including deep sadness, anger and fear, and it can be helpful to hear from other people with similar experiences. This kind of support can be found in a group setting, but also in books like Grief Works by Julia Samuel (Penguin Life, 2018). The books includes practical advice about how to cope in different situations. If you've lost a parent in young adulthood, and particularly if it leaves you feel different from everyone else your age, Rebecca Abrams has written, When Parents Die (Letts, 1992).
Sue Johnson's Hold Me Tight (Piatkus, 2008) she prioritises the importance of a sense of safety in relationships, describing how it develops and preserves the bond between you and important others. Landscapes of the Heart by Juliet Grayson (Jessica Kingsley, 2016) describes how she as a relationship psychotherapist works with couples. Using clear examples, she shows how her clients have been encouraged to be much more honest with one another about their vulnerabilities, and through this improve their relationships.
Family rifts and estrangement in adulthood
A total relationship cut off between close relatives is surprisingly common but not often talked about. One of the most readable books about estrangement in adulthood is Healing from Family Rifts by Mark Sichel (McGraw-Hill Education, 2004). He describes and normalises the unbearable pain and sense of loss which comes with being rejected by, or deciding to reject, a family member. The book also offers advice on how to reconcile, and if this is not possible, how to come to terms with the shock and ongoing sadness of being estranged.