Saturday, 9 January 2016

How My Panic Disorder Affects My Reading

As you guys may, or may not know, I have panic disorder. Which means I get panic attacks in stressful situations, or sometimes, for no reason at all. And although I don't really get them that much anymore (Thank you, God!), I do still tend to worry a lot,  a habit which is quite hard to break. I've noticed throughout my life that anxiety taints a lot of things and can often be like an annoying pop-up that arises even in the most joyous of situations, telling you that you're going to get a panic attack, making you worry about the most illogical things ever and concocting awful events in your head, that you are sure is going to happen. Even though you know it's very unlikely that it will happen.

Anxiety has also, unfortunately, affected my reading, in quite a few ways. I've been wanting to write this post for awhile now but the reason I was even more determined to get my feelings written down on paper (figuratively speaking) is because the other day I began reading Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne, which I got for review. And although I really wanted to read it, I just couldn't, for anxiety reasons. And I just thought I'd share, as I think mental illness is highly overlooked. There's been so much amazing support and developments in the LGBTQIA community over the past few years, people have been so supportive and open-minded about it, however, I still feel as if mental illness is a taboo subject. I really think we need to change that. That's also one of the reasons I'm writing this post, so that more people can see - and hopefully understand - what people with anxiety go through and how it affects certain parts of their lives. Hopefully one day we can all feel more comfortable sharing our personal experiences and talk about these subjects that that terrify us and perhaps through that we can help overcome them, knowing that there is someone alongside us who may have it or had it or just someone who cares.


How My Anxiety Affects my Reading:
1. I can't read books with illnesses in, otherwise I will worry for days that I will develop said illness.
This is probably the worst. There are so many books I want to read that I just can't because I know I'll worry for the next week or so that I might have that illness. Books with cancer, diabetes or even other mental illnesses such as OCD (hence why I couldn't bring myself to finish Am I Normal Yet?) make me so anxious and by the end of the book I'm near to having a panic attack because of that. And even if I'm not actually worried about getting the illness, I'll start worrying that I'll worry about it.


Yes, T-Swizzle, yes it is. The only illnesses I'm fine reading about are panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, because I have or have had those two in my life, so I can't worry about getting something I know I already have, can I?

2. Books that are incredibly fast-paced used to have me near to a panic attack. Honestly. 
It's one of those lighthearted things we throw around (we really need to stop doing that), "And then there was a traffic jam, and I spilled coffee and I was twelve minutes late, and I totally had a panic attack." or "And then this scene happened with gunshots and ninjas and I literally had a panic attack." Hmm, I doubt you literally had one, but if you did I'M SORRY BECAUSE THEY TOTALLY SUCK. But seriously. I still remember reading Divergent and there were the scenes with the trains and the fighting and all that and I could barely read that part in one sitting because it made me heart race so much and I wasn't really able to breathe because it was just too much in one go. Luckily, I haven't had that sensation for 3 years or so as it only happened when my anxiety was really bad, but it sucks when it does happen.

3. Sometimes I'm just too anxious to read.
This has kind of been me for the past months, not anxious really, but unsettled. Anxiety can make you feel jumpy and restless ALL THE TIME and that's been happening to me. I feel so stressed or I think to myself I should rather be studying, I shouldn't be reading, school school school and these thoughts just bombard your brain at the speed of light and it's you just want to tell your brain:


4. That piling up TBR makes me feel anxiety when I look at it for too long.
I'm pretty sure this happens to everyone but I start worrying and panicking at all the books I have to read and the slight problem of NOT ENOUGH TIME and then I stress about all the books I have to read that I can't read because I'm stressed. Hence problem #3. 

5. Having to Google multiple reviews for books that *hopefully* include the trigger warnings that accompany the book so that you won't waste money or a publisher's time by reading a book that will cause you anxiety and have you unable to finish it.
I have to do this with most books, but especially with contemporaries. I seriously want to give each reviewer a huge hug who warns us of the things that might make us uncomfortable in books as it might prevent me from resembling Leonard: 


So yep, there are my top 5 reasons of how anxiety has affected my reading through the years! I'm really glad I wrote this post and I hope you liked reading it. I feel like we never know enough about the people behind their blogs and because anxiety is such a huge part of my life - and many others - I thought I should share. 

Have you ever had an anxiety disorder, or just anxiety in general? Has any of the above ever happened to you when reading? Do tell!

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