I feel like two thirds of what I talk about on this blog is books and witchy stuff and the remaining third is me being too open about my mental health struggles. Honestly, sometimes it feels like two thirds of what I talk about is books/witchy stuff and half of what I talk about is mental health, even though that math obviously does not add up.
Sometimes I do worry that I am too open about my struggles with mental health on this blog, because I do put it on my resume, so if you came to this post via that, hi, I struggle with mental illness, but I am fully capable of any job I set out to do and always do my best. Anyway. I think it’s important to be open about one’s mental health struggles if you can because there are lots of other people going through the same thing who might benefit from reading about it, and I think talking about it can ultimately help start removing the stigma from it. So that’s why I do it.
While I was writing my post on my reflections about my reading for 2019, I started realizing a lot of my reading habits and feelings about reading are being strongly influenced by my mental health right now, so today I’ll be sharing how my anxiety and depression is affecting my reading habits.
it affects what i read
For a while now, I’ve been mainly interested in reading fantasy books and contemporary fluffy books. I used to read really gritty contemporaries that would crush my soul, but also, I read books like that because I wanted to read about my struggles and feel validated and not so alone. For the past few years though, I’ve gotten to a stage in my mental health where I don’t want to be thinking about it all the time in everything I do, and I’ve started using reading as much more of an escape from my problems. I find I don’t want to read a hard-hitting serious book with lots of tough feelings, because I am already feeling a lot of tough feelings and just need a break from them when I read.
i’m more appreciative of content warnings
I have always understood the importance of content and trigger warnings, but up until a couple years ago never really utilized them for myself when reading other bloggers’ reviews. I’d skip past the trigger warnings because I thought I could handle serious and upsetting stuff and be fine, but lately, I’ve just wanted to avoid reading books that upset me or trigger emotions relating to past traumas. Therefore, I find any trigger warnings, especially about topics like suicide, grief, death, and sexual assault really helpful. That way, I don’t have to put myself in a situation where I can be set back emotionally by what I read.
my concentration really sucks
…which drastically affects how much and how fast I read. I learned recently that trouble concentrating or focusing can be a symptom of anxiety and also persistent depression or dysthimia, which I have. I find it a lot harder to sit down and read a book for a few hours, and can no longer binge read a whole book in a couple hours like I used to be able to. I also can’t read and watch a movie at the same time like I used to always do. This means I read a lot less during the year because I can’t focus on reading a book fast. I used to be able to read upwards of 100 books a year, and now I’m lucky to get to 50.
i feel really guilty about my reading
Having super low self-esteem is one of the symptoms of my depression, and that makes me beat myself up about things a lot more than probably someone without it might. I don’t know what to do about it, but I feel super guilty about how slow my reading has gotten, and also how little I read compared to how I used to read. I know I still read faster than the average person, but that does not comfort me very much. Reading has unfortunately somewhat become another thing I use to beat myself up and bring myself down, and I’m not sure what to do to fix that.
it affects my investment in the story/characters
I don’t want people to think that all depressed people have this problem, but for me, I’ve noticed that as my depression has gotten more consistent that I’ve had more trouble feeling fully invested in and connected to stories and characters. I used to feel super passionately hinged on characters in a story, and now I feel like there’s a wall between me and characters I read about. I think its because I’m trying so hard in other aspects of my life to feel disconnected from what I’m feeling, but I really miss feeling deeply connected and emotionally invested in a character or story.
In short, being a book lover with mental health issues has been a TASK lately. I’m not trying to say that all people with mental health struggles have these issues when reading or that I even have them all the time, but as of now, this is how being depressed is affecting my reading. If anyone has similar struggles or has any tips on dealing with these things, please feel free to sound off in the comments!