For as long as I could remember I would bury myself into books, reading for hours on end. I was most comfortable with my nose between the pages of a book. My family probably wouldn’t see me for hours at a time. I would barely move, probably only getting up to use the bathroom and get the occasional snack. I figured reading was just a fun experience, something I enjoyed because it gave me somewhere to go: a different world to visit when I was tired of living in the one I currently existed in. It was a way to go on an adventure when I couldn’t even leave the confines of my own house.
What I never considered was that I was actually running away from my life. Running away from my emotions and my depression. I didn’t even realize I was suffering from depression. But as I reflect back on my experience when I was younger compared to what I’m dealing with now I am almost positive I was using books to self medicate my depression.
Recently I’ve been dealing with a lot of depressive episodes and anxiety attacks. I find myself sinking lower and lower until I can’t cope anymore. It wasn’t until yesterday actually as I was beginning to experience that sinking feeling again that I decided to pick up a book and I didn’t put it down for anything. I think I read from 6 am to 1 pm before I realized I hadn’t eaten, my bladder was bursting and my arms were going numb for being in the same position for so long. But what I did realize was my depression was kept at bay the entire time I had been glued to my book. Reading was working as an active defense mechanism against the depression that was threatening to swallow me whole. It was like my mind was too consumed with the story that I was reading that my depression was unable to plant its seeds and continue to grow.
Now I’m not saying this is the perfect defense. But at that moment it worked. Usually I don’t start reading when I feel these episodes come on. Once I am full developed in an emotional breakdown it is actually harder for me to read and I believe this is due to my ability to focus. So this isn’t a sure thing that I can use but it is definitely helpful.
This brings me back to my experience as a teenager and young adult. I was a lot calmer during this time and had more of what I would call mental peace. I was also reading a lot more. I think due to my reading so consistently I was actively able to fight off a depression that I didn’t fully realize was trying to get to me. Now that I am a bit older and don’t have as much time to read I have realized that I seem to find myself in these darker moods a lot more often. Now I don’t believe is purely based on my lack of time being able to read but it definitely does play a role in my opinion.
After realizing how much reading can help me I have decided to try to make it a part of my daily self care routine. I’m hoping to set aside at least 15-30 minutes of time each day to just focus on reading. Having three children I understand that it’s going to be tricky but I believe it’s possible. I may have to wake up early or stay up late but if it’s something that will help my overall mood than I am willing to do whatever it takes.
Do you find that reading helps you get through the day or combat depression? Share how reading has helped you or how you incorporate it into your daily routine.