Hello everyone! Welcome back to the blog!
If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to write this post or not. It was something I had been thinking about doing for a long time, but there are already so many great discussions about this that my take felt a lot like a needle in a haystack. I’m still not sure if I’m actually going to post this, but for now, I’ll say this – I want to get some things off my chest and I realised that writing it out is the best possible way for me to do that! So let’s get going.
I’m someone who has been struggling with her mental health for a very long time. Particularly, I’ve become best friends with a little someone called anxiety that hasn’t left my side in more than five years! Unfortunately, some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about – that gnawing feeling in the back of your head that keeps telling you you’re not good enough, you’re not doing anything well enough, you’re wasting your life away and you won’t amount to much if you keep going like this, but also, why even bother trying to do anything to change if you already know what a failure you’ll be at it! Yeaaaah, that one. I think I’ve gotten better at managing my anxiety over the years, but I’m definitely still not the best at silencing my thoughts when I need to. I have good days, and mostly okay days, but when the bad days happen, all I want to do is still just curl up into my bed and not have to deal with life for a solid twenty-four hours. (Having my dog next to me always helps, though, always 🐶)
Here’s the thing about anxiety – it tends to lie to you a lot. I know this for a fact, and yet, as soon as my brain starts spiralling into meltdown mode, I’m still more inclined to believe the negative things that it’s telling me, and not the good ones. This directly translates into me feeling guilty for doing the things that bring me joy and make me feel happy, because I feel like I don’t deserve to. When listening to music, I’m not up to date with all the newest releases, or I’m not listening to enough genres and artists to be able to call myself a music fan, so I shouldn’t enjoy music at all. When I’m out with friends, I’m only focused on how awkward and unimpressive and completely lacklustre I am, so I forget all about the possibility that they might actually enjoy spending time with me. And when reading? I’m not reading fast enough, or critically enough, or get intimidated by the sheer volume of books that I could be reading, or my extreme care when it comes to books leads to me checking that I haven’t damaged any part of it every five seconds and I lose focus really quickly, so then, am I passionate enough about it? Should I even be allowed to read books at all????
This, coupled with university and having a rigorous schedule that required reading a lot of novels, plays, poems and assorted pieces of critical literature, has led to the absolute biggest reading slump that I’ve ever been in. Sure, I read – technically. I’ve picked up the occasional book or two recently. But this slump has been going on for more than three years and it’s time for me to 1. give it the acknowledgment and respect that it deserves, because, wow, this reading slump has been with me more than some of my so-called best friends, and, most importantly, 2. kick it to the curb. I miss the days in which I would devour a book in one sitting, get completely lost in the characters and their world, live vicariously through their experiences, fall in love with places I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met. I miss spending days on end so engrossed in my new favorite novel, that I forget everything around me, including worrying that I’m not doing it well enough. I just want to read for the sake of reading again. I want to find that spark that allowed me to finish “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in two days straight, I want to experience all the amazing stories that literature has to offer, I want to let myself love to read again and I want to let it bring me happiness. Easier said than done, though. I still haven’t picked up a book for myself in weeks, and I keep telling myself that it’s because I’m very busy right now, I have a part-time job and schoolwork that have to come first, right? The truth of the matter is that I’m allowing my anxiety to get to me, and I’m letting this all-or-nothing mentality keep me from doing the things that I enjoy. I’m doing my best to ignore it, though, and know that on bad mental health days, I should be taking refuge in doing what I love the most, and not be self-deprecating and punish myself instead. Your passions are what help you make sense of life, and they can also provide the perfect escape from routine, or from a hectic schedule, or from recent disappointments and setbacks. Books should be the way I let myself live as someone else for a little while, in order to be able to continue living as me – and they still are that, I still want them to be exactly that, and I’m working towards finding my love and passion for reading again, little by little.
I sincerely hope that each and every one of you doesn’t relate to my feelings, and doesn’t struggle with anxiety like me – but for those of you who see yourselves in this post and who are also trying to make sense of your own mental health, how do you make sure you beat that reading slump? What are some steps you actively take in order to fully enjoy reading again? I know that this post has mostly been me rambling on about my relationship with my brain, but any and all suggestions or helpful insights are more than welcome in the comments – someday soon, I hope to be able to say that I’ve beaten my reading slump, too!