Show Me All Your Scars

20 fascinating journeys through madness

What do you do when your father kills himself, or your mother is committed to a psych ward, or your daughter starts hearing voices telling her to harm herself—or when you yourself hear such voices?

In any given year, one in four American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness—but the tremendous stigma attached to being labeled as “crazy” still prevents many from reaching out to professionals or even loved ones for help. As former US Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy writes in his introduction: “The only way for this to change is for people to share their truth. Total honesty is essential not only for recovery, but also for changing societal attitudes and enacting public policies.”

Addressing bipolar disorder, OCD, trichotillomania, self-harm, PTSD, and other diagnoses, the twenty fascinating stories collected in Show Me All Your Scars vividly depict the difficulties and sorrows—and sometimes, too, the unexpected rewards—of living with mental illness.


Out of stock

Become a Supporting Subscriber today and get up to 10% off your purchase.



“Conveys what it is like to experience mental illness and … demonstrates that narrative … can be the most effective way to impart information and promote activism.”
               —Publishers Weekly

“Like a beacon of light, sending out a message of recognition … 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.”
               —Foreword Reviews

“The deeply personal essays—full of courage, resilience, and recovery—shred the stigma of mental illness and challenge our indifference toward the ‘mentally ill.'”
               —Pete Earley, author of Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness

“This collection stands as protest against silence, and challenges us to create a culture that fosters true mental health.”
               —Marya Hornbacher, author of Madness: A Bipolar Life

“Heartbreaking and soaring. This sensitive and carefully cultivated anthology stands as a testament to the private battle millions of families are waging.”
               —Sheila Hamilton, author of All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness

Show Me All Your Scars will shatter your stereotypes of mental illness and its treatment. The brilliant essays are at once gripping, chilling, compelling, and inspiring.”
               —Stephen P. Hinshaw, Ph.D., author of  The Mark of Shame: Stigma of Mental Illness and an Agenda for Change

“An intensely human exploration of the lived experience of mental illness. Harrowing, illuminating, and often surprising.”
               —Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine

“Courageous and redemptive, Show Me All Your Scars displays the most poignant and stabilizing force in psychiatry and life in general: hope. This collection will help people, and that’s no small feat in this world.”
               —David Fitzpatrick, author of Sharp: My Story of Madness, Cutting, and How I Reclaimed My Life

Beautifully written …  a remarkable gathering of human beings who have dared to tell their stories.”
               —Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

Author Bio

  • Edited by Lee Gutkind
    Lee Gutkind, recognized by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, and editor of more than 25 books. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication Gutkind has lectured to audiences around the world—from China to the Czech Republic, from Australia to Africa to Egypt. 
    Read More

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

  • Editor’s Note

  • Foreward

  • Take Care

  • Chairs

  • A Little Crazy

  • Goodbye, Suicide

  • Show Me All Your Scars: Why People Hurt Themselves and What They Can Teach Us

  • Flying High

  • How I Became an Angel

  • True Americans

  • Scuse Me While I Fuck the Sky

  • One of Those

  • Make It a Daisy

  • A Day in the Life With Bipolar Illness—And Nine Years Later

  • A Blessing

  • The Pain that Tore in You an Ocean

  • There’s a Name for That? Living with Trichotillomania

  • Playing Catch

  • Another Trail of Breadcrumbs

  • Like a Scratch on Vinyl

  • Sequelae: The Inner War

  • Thief of Souls