Greetings Fellow BookNerds,
Since it’s been a little while since my last post, I just wanted to let you all know that I’m still here, and that I’m currently reading what is easily among my top ten favourite books of all time. I’m hoping to have finished within the next week, but there has been a lot of things going on in my life as of late that have been interfering with my reading schedule, one of which I will be addressing today.
Like most people in this modern age, I spend a lot more time on the internet trolling social media sites than I probably should be. Facebook is the worst for that, especially when sometimes that’s the only place you can get in touch with friends you never get to see.
There’s something I’ve come to notice after all of those hours clocked online, and it’s that so many people are so careless with their use of the English language. I know that meanings of certain words have changed a lot with the growing influence of popular culture, but there are just certain terms that shouldn’t be thrown about without a bit of consideration for what that term might mean for someone else. There are two words in particular that spring to mind: anxiety and depression.
Far too often, I see someone claiming to feel depressed because they didn’t have the bag they wanted at the store, or that they’re going to have a panic attack because their favourite celebrity broke up with their husband. People don’t realize how much of an impact we have on the meaning of a word based on how we use it, and how something that should be taken quite seriously, is instead turned into something of a joke.
I feel like there are still far too many misconceptions surrounding the idea of mental illness and what it actually is, and the only way to quash some of those preconceived notions is to keep shedding light on the issue until it is no longer the elephant in the room, and we can talk about it as freely as we talk about celebrity gossip or the latest grumpy cat meme.
First of all, mental illness is a lot more common than you might think. There is a very good chance that within your group of friends, at least one or two of them suffer from some sort of mental illness, and you might never be made the wiser because it’s not something that they can open up about so easily.
Second of all, mental illness comes in so many different forms and levels of severity, that it’s impossible to generalize the effects it can have on a person to everyone who suffers from it. It’s not like the common cold, where the soar throat, coughing and sneezing are pretty well the standard symptoms for everyone. It’s also not something you can cure with some cold medicine and a cup of tea… although mind you, I do find tea to be very relaxing for the mind. But I digress.
Thirdly, the worst thing you can say to a person who has a mental illness is that they should just get over it, or that it’s all in their head and they should just ignore it and move on. If it were that simple, then having anxiety or depression wouldn’t be such a big deal, but the reality is that it is NOT that simple, even if we want it to be. After all, you’re dealing with something that is inside your mind, a part of you that has sway over everything you do. There are ways to treat it, of course, but treating something and curing it are two very different ball parks.
And fourth… okay honestly, there is no end to this list, so I should probably just try to get to the point. There are so many people in the world, heck, in our own neighbourhood, who are struggling with some form of mental illness on a daily basis, even if we may not notice it. Many of us deal with it internally, because we don’t want to scare people off with all of the chaotic thoughts that plague our minds. It saps so much of our energy just trying to deal with it… which is why it’s not uncommon for them to turn to creative outlets to channel it all and achieve at least some peace of mind.
As a child, I would often spend hours reading books. I loved the feeling of being part of this grand adventure, while remaining in the comfort of my own room. Even back then, my imagination was always running wild, and at some point reading became my gateway to creative writing. As I grew older, I became more and more obsessed with books, until one day, I realized that I was no longer just reading books for enjoyment and inspiration, but as a way to escape from the anxious thoughts that were becoming more pronounced every day.
This actually put me off reading for a time, because the last thing I needed was another means of escape instead of dealing with my issues head on. So that’s what I did… for a time. However, this did not last, as it soon became clear to me that I was looking at it all wrong. I wasn’t reading books to escape reality, at least not entirely. What I was really doing, without realizing it at first, was trying to look at reality through the eyes of other people, in some cases those who see the world much like I do, in the hopes that I could understand myself better and perhaps once again find the inspiration I once discovered as a child so long ago.
The authors of some of my all time favourite books have suffered with mental illness for most of their life, and yet you wouldn’t know it with how famous they have become and how amazing their writing is. John Green, for instance, who has written many a tale of love, loss, and finding oneself, has struggled with anxiety and obsessive compulsion disorder for a long time. I fell in love with the Nerdfighter community him and his brother created before I even knew he was a writer, but even in his videos, I had absolutely no clue. You wouldn’t know it when reading The Fault In Our Stars or Papertowns, but that’s the thing about mental illness; it’s not always smack-you-right-in-the-face obvious.
Whether you’re a world renowned actor, artist, musician or poet, everyone is susceptible to developing a mental illness, and in some cases it’s the reason a person is able to take their social status in the world to such great heights. It’s human nature to want to push beyond our own limits and discover the true potential that lies within each and every one of us. It can be more of a challenge for some than it is for others, but that just makes it all the more rewarding when we’re finally able to overcome our own obstacles.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for a very long time, but something I’ve found interesting is that in spite of that, I’ve managed to find a sense of peace and solace in the one thing I love to do most; write. My anxiety has hindered many things in my life, but the moment I have a pen in my hand or a keyboard at my fingertips, then those irritating thoughts and feelings become nothing more than background noise.
When you lose yourself in something you truly love and feel passionate about, and I mean really throw yourself into it body, mind and soul, it becomes possible to forget that you even have a mental illness. Of course, there will always be days when we doubt ourselves and our abilities, giving into the lies that anxiety spreads throughout our minds, but there will also be good days, and that’s our opportunity to shine the brightest.