Most people, when they’re sick (flus, colds, etc.) they don’t want to do much of anything when it comes to normal activities– or they may lag a bit at least on their well-liked activities until they’re better and can get back to a regular schedule. I’m almost sure at least everyone can relate with this at some time in their lives.
But there’s a real difference between physical illness and mental illness. Mental health, in any state, is just as important to take care of as our physical health. And when any bit of it is just slightly off, we can feel these effects in a number of ways, through many forms, and it will affect how we do or do not handle our normal activities as well.
Of course, I haven’t met everyone in the blogging community (yet!), but many bloggers I have met or chatted with through the years, I’ve learned that they either deal with anxiety and/or panic, depression, is an introvert or extreme shyness, stresses easy, etc. All of this contributes to their mental well-being, and while they are not at a constant state with these, there are harder times or struggles than others–days when they can’t explain why they feel worse, when they were probably feeling just fine the day before. I relate. I understand battles like this.
Pixie, what does any of this have to do with reading??
It has everything to do with reading.
Most times, when I hear about anyone who deals with any kind of mental illness or has dealt with it, has been through any kind of emotional trauma, or is simply an introvert-type personality/deals with extreme shyness, I also find out they’re avid readers. They usually had started their reading habits at a younger age when first trying to just find a quiet, simple activity that didn’t require any interaction. Reading also provides a fantasy world, this escape from reality that many really crave.
While it may have started someone on a path of books, for someone else it may be a different approach or with each book. Each individual takes their ‘attacks’ with a varying view. Through the years, I’ve seen my own habits vary whenever I get hit by anxiety/stress/depression. There have been moments where all I wanted to do was lock myself up in a room of books of a particular genre, with particular characters, until I couldn’t focus on the pages anymore. And then times when I didn’t want to pick up a book, no matter if it was by my favorite author or not, for months because the desire wasn’t there.
So, here’s the big question:
Should someone, blogger/reviewer/avid reader, that deals with any mental illness through life be forced- or force themselves- to be on a specific schedule for reading?
There’s always some kind of small schedule in blogging, despite how you decide to read for the year. I think it’s necessary to keep up the posts and followers. But the biggest concern for anyone dealing with anxiety, depression, stress, etc. is probably feeling forced reading books they don’t want to read at that time in their mindset. It’s usually hard to get the motivation to do much of anything, but then the guilt weighs in more. Maybe forced schedules are good. But easy and light, gentle, until the person is well enough to add more to it themselves. Don’t make them feel like you are pushing too hard, too fast. Many times if I force myself TOO much with books when my mind isn’t quite in the right place, I will dislike or even DNF books quite often that turns out to be favorites much later down the road when I give them another try (in a better state). That’s why I often recommend being careful with the forced schedules, at the least on the lighter side of it.
Reading habits are an important thing to note while considering a schedule. When you are at your “lows” and you do pick up the occasional book, which genre do you gravitate toward most? Do you also find yourself in any other particular patterns to make note on? Certain authors you’d normally read, but stay away from during these times? All of these things I’d say to consider when crafting together a reading schedule. Even if it’s a small one, give yourself at least two-three books in a month to have read (if you’d read 5-6 or more on a normal basis).
But most importantly: It’s not just about reader habits. It’s about reader health. If you don’t feel mentally healthy and ready for that 600-page book, don’t sit and worry about letting everyone down just because you may not read it right away or read it in the way you normally would. Take care of you. Take care with those books. 🙂