I'm writing this article for everyone out there who may need a little boost—not to drone on about my own issues. However, I feel a little background here is necessary to get to the therapeutic value books provide that I want to show you. I've always had severe anxiety and depression—it's just genetics and there isn't much I can do about it. Now that I'm older, it has definitely improved and I cope with life, in general, a lot better than I did for the majority of the life. However, I still have bad days. Days where I get home from class and can't help but lay in bed—falling in and out sleep for hours and hours on end. I'm certainly not the only one who goes through this kind of stuff and I know that there are people out there that may still be trying to get to a better place mentally. As I said, this is for you and I hope this seemingly simple advice might help.
Yesterday, I was having one of those days where I couldn't make myself do anything—at all. Even just being awake seemed like an impossible task because that would mean I would be consciously aware of myself and what I was feeling. At a certain point, my body wouldn't let me sleep anymore and so I decided to get up and try doing stuff. It was a slow process, but eventually, I got myself to pick up my book and read. I'm so glad I did.
There is a reason I really only read fiction—it is made up, not real. Not entirely true or reliable. Something that exists and doesn't exist at the same time. I get to choose where I can go, what I am thinking about, and what I get to experience—which isn't always the case for me and others who struggle with our emotions (or sometimes, lack thereof).
Books can make you feel something when everything just feels ashen and numb. Books can make you feel other things when your mind insists on only fixating on negative feelings. You just get to sit there and immerse yourself in something entirely detached from a reality you may not be wanting or able to face. You only have to worry about the story in your hands.
I feel like just telling other people to read is a little unrealistic of me. We are all enormously busy and sometimes reading more than we already might have to for classes is too much to ask. I know I have time where I could be reading that I spend doing something else because it really can be exhausting trying to process a story when there is so much else on your plate. I mean, I spent the middle of August until last night trying to get through just one book because I get so busy and worn out.
Yet, I still advise you to read because no matter what, even if it is just a few pages, reading has always made me feel better and it might just make you feel better, too. The smallest doses of literature are still a distraction for your mind that is definitely much more therapeutic than rotating through your social media for an hour (or more).
Obviously, this isn't helpful to everyone but I speak from my own experience and that of others I've met who do find it comforting to lose themselves (in the best way) to the lives and thoughts of others in a story. If you haven't tried reading as a way to cope, I would definitely give it a go. You'd be surprised how much the make-believe can do for you.
****If you or someone you know if having severe and possibly life-threatening issues with their depression/anxiety/etc., seek immediate and professional help. There are multiple national, state, and local level services out there. For general reference, the National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. Take care and look out for each other.