Sunday, 20 March 2016

How Anxiety (and Other Mental Health Conditions) Actually Encourage Me To Crave Rereads


I don't delve into extremely personal things all that much in my blogging endeavours, and on those rare occasions when I do, they've been met with both support and kindness, or I've included them subtly and gently that people have based them by without a seconds glance, and that's a only a good thing. With that in mind, I wanted to talk about the magical properties of books, in that, they've managed to bring me comfort, joy, a sense of happiness and strength in dealing with some nasty monsters that have dared to arise again.

I've shared my life with depression in the past, and sadly, it's reared it's ugly head once more and has shaken up all aspects of my life - my hobbies, my work, my friendships and my family life, and while I absolutely hate how it destroys the very person I am, it has brought with it one uniquely strange positive. I've started rereading books, as an actual hobby. I've talked about the rarity that is rereading books unless it's over the seasonal festive period and how it's not something I do outside of that. Until now.

If you've been following my adventures on Instagram, you'll have seen me do nothing but bang on about Skulduggery Pleasant (only my favourite series of all time!), but it's not the only books I've had the itch to reread. I've felt a pull towards The Curse Workers series, Under the Never Sky, and others that have hit the spot very nicely previously, so why the sudden change of heart. Why am I racing to jump back into the arms of these series when I don't even see the point in completely book collections if I've already read them?

I find comfort in the characters/stories I know.


One of the truly horrible things anxiety and the trauma I've suffered does is separate me from people I previously loved being around. As of this moment, I'm only really at my most comfortable around my parents, which as you can imagine, is quite isolating. Even the mere of mention of social interaction, whether they be complete strangers or those I love is terrifying at an unexplainable level, and yet rereading combats those feelings.

Rereading allows me to accompany people, characters I've known, grown attached to, developed relationships and connections with on adventures I remember and can enjoy over and over again, all while not feeling any of the effects those conditions cause me to have. I feel comfortable, at ease, and happy with these characters, and I don't fear the unknown, the possibly frightening, terrifying expectations and things to come that are within books I've not read.

As strange as it sounds, the predictability of the books I'm rereading, and lack of unexpected actions actually makes the reading experience more pleasurable, and more enjoyable. The knowing isn't a hindrance, it's actually a massive help, and it's enabled me to continue reading as a hobby, even though it's a hobby I love.

Sequels also bring comfort and safety from negative emotions


This is especially evident in all of the books I've read in 2016 so far. All of them have beens sequels to series I know or rereads of series I love, and it's this comfort, this level of safety that keeps me reading. Even sequels that introduce new characters and new scenes, new adventures and new troubles can be comforting if many of the characters are ones I know, trust and feel safe reading about. It's the in-depth connection with these characters, how relatable, how real, how human they feel that keeps me going back to them, and even more so now.

Rereading series allows me recollect past parts of myself


As mentioned above, these conditions don't change my habits or my hobbies or my feelings, they have a huge impact on the person I am, and the kind of person I become afterwards, and more often than I'd like, I see myself becoming a person I don't like, and want pieces of my old self back. While you and I know that this isn't always possible, after all, time travel just isn't a logical nor safe mode of transport, being able to recall more positive moments from my old self, and my past, can help and impact my future, and myself.

Turning back to books I've read and loved before bring up positive emotions and feelings I've felt before, and this can not only help in the moment, but also in my recovery too. By no means is this a method to 'live in the past', but it does allow me to see how I've been shaped, and how the books I've read have played a part in that. Rereading books I've loved, and have created strong feelings in me teach me and allow me to create stronger, more positive feelings in myself for the future.

Suffering from anxiety, depression and trauma can seriously affect your love and enjoyment of certain hobbies in your life, but rereading and/or reading sequels combats that for me, and I'm eternally grateful for it.


That doesn't for one moment mean I think that it's other affects on me mean nothing and are acceptable, no, not at all. It's not an easy task, getting up each morning, leaving the comfort and the safety of my bed, trying to find the strength to go to work, or go out in public for life-sustaining food, or rejigging my brain to generate post ideas, but for as long as reading books I've read and loved before, and sequels to books I've really enjoyed keeps my love for reading and all things books alive, I'll take that small silver lining within a really dark, really difficult place, and treasure it.

Do you reread books? If yes, why, and if not, why not?


10 comments:

  1. I could not agree more with this. I find it less true with anxiety, but for me, when I am going through a depressive episode, one of the only things that truly helps is rereading an old favourite book. There is something soft and comforting and lovely in diving back into characters and stories I know like the back of my hand - those that I need not deeply analyse, only fall back into the routines that I know and love.

    It is an underestimated strength, I think. But certainly no less important. Thank you so much for sharing, love. xx

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    1. It's definitely a comfort thing I find. The more familiar something is, the more comfortable you feel about it and with it. I'm happy to have shared a little more about me too Topaz :)

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  2. Ooh, I like this post. THIS Post IS GOOD. And you are eternally awesome for sharing more personal things. <3 I struggle to do that sooo much. I find it easy to say in a comment that I struggle with severe anxiety than I do to actually ever mention it on my blog. *hides* BUT YEAH. Actually, I wasn't a big re-reader...until this year. ;D And I suppose I can't call my self a "big" re-reader when I've only re-read 2 books so far. ahem. BUT I'M REALLY LOVING IT! My #1 reason is because of my horrible memory. I've kind of avoided re-reading so far because I'm ashamed I don't remember books...but why?! Like, that's just who I am so why should I be ashamed about it?! If I want to remember = I can reread and not even worry about it. :P
    I also find it so so comforting to be back with old friends...even if I've forgotten most of the details. And I like knowing what's going to happen. :')

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    1. I've never struggled with the memory thing, which is probably why it sucks so much, because I remember loads of bad things all the time, but ah well. I think you should feel comfortable enough to share, and if you don't, that's fine too, it's all about what makes you happy really :)

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  3. I reread all the time and it's very therapeutic. It's like coming home.

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    1. Aw, I like that way of thinking, it is a bit like coming home :)

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  4. This is a lovely post! Also, Skulduggery Pleasant is my favorite series so LET'S BE BEST FRIENDS! XD I rarely reread and I think it's because I have so many unread books that I feel guilty for not reading those and because I have a fear that I won't enjoy those favorite books as much the second time around. I'm going to try to get over that fear though haha! :') I'm really happy rereading comforts you like that and I can see why it would - I'll definitely give it another go sometime! :)

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    1. Thanks Kyra! I also don't read as many as my unreads as I should, and it's a problem, but we certainly need to take time for ourselves and do what feels right, you know? :)

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  5. Yes to all of this. Thank you so much for opening up a bit more about your mental illness, Amanda. I know it's difficult, but it's so helpful. I, too, feel really isolated by my anxiety, and feel most comfortable around my parents. The fact that I can't see my friends right now is really lonely. I love rereads because of that -- its familiarity and the comfort it brings. These are characters I've grown to know and love, the world is familiar, and there are no nasty surprises. Personally, I always reach for Harry Potter when times are dire. They are the ultimate comfort for me.

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    1. It is really isolating, and it's nothing about not wanting to, but it's almost impossible to handle what it means to do it, but rereading characters and stories and worlds I love helps with that. I'm glad you appreciated my sharing Inge :)

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