I recently began reading and writing again. I’ve missed it more than I can express.
I consider myself a rollercoaster reader and writer, in the sense that life’s ups and downs profoundly affect my ability to participate in the two activities closest to my heart: reading and writing.
It’s more than unfortunate and quite the Catch-22 that, with regards to my mental illnesses, what most brings me relief and helps me heal are the same things I cannot do when I’m unwell. Reading and writing are the greatest casualties in my war against the phantasmagoric mental illnesses that haunt me.
I stop reading as soon as my depression and anxiety decide to visit. Writing follows shortly after. I quickly find myself unarmed in the midst of a raging war.
I go through a period of desolation. Then guilt. How could I be stupid enough to forsake the one thing that makes me better? That guilt escalates to self-condemnation, then loathing. I push myself over the edge and force myself to read or write. The result is always awkwardly robotic and very obviously faked and forced. And, even worse, the pitiful creation proves painfully draining to produce. It only reinforces my negative emotions and leaves an overwhelmingly bitter aftertaste.
I truly wish my ability to read and write wouldn’t be susceptible to the constant misgivings of my personal afflictions. In a sense, I feel like my identity as a loyal logophile is fundamentally questioned by how easily I turn my back on words when darkness seeps back in.
I am not unwavering. I am not constant.
Yet, when words make a reappearance in my life the ray of hope is twofold: I am embracing words, again, which is amazing in it of itself, and I am getting better, for if I weren’t I wouldn’t be embracing them.
In a sense, the fact that mental illness betrays me by taking that which I love most makes me love writing and reading even more; being away from it for so long makes me appreciate it a lot more when I come back to it.For me, words flutter away so easily. Yet, when I try to catch them, much like Thoreau’s butterfly, they elude me.
I have to ask myself: should I focus on the fact that I stop reading and writing when I get bad? or should I concentrate on how, sooner or later, I always come back to it when I’m better?
Perhaps someday, I’ll learn to sit still and be patient. After all, regardless of how far I fall, I always pick myself back up, and when I do, words always flutter back and alight upon me when I least expect it.I have yet to embrace myself as a rollercoaster writer and reader. But I’m working on it. That’s what’s important.