Mental health struggles have become a large part of my life in the last couple of years. Only this year have I started to take care of myself by naming the mental health issues I walk with, depression and anxiety, and finding the extra support I need to find more harmony in my life. But even though these are new ways to help myself, reading and writing have always been my barometer for where I stand emotionally.
I have been through short and much longer stretches of not being able to read or write due to depression. This often throws me into a spiral of shame and despair because reading and writing are what I love doing. Books help me learn and relate to new ideas or similar experiences. But in the depths of depression it becomes so much easier to lay down in front of the TV and blast through all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, again. Which isn’t to say that can’t be good or what I need at the time. But there is something about losing the ability to read that leaves me feeling hollow.
I’m still learning how to be nice to myself. I thought I would share a few ways that I try to keep reading and writing in my life, even when my mental illness starts closing doors. Continue reading “4 Ways to Keep Reading and Writing When You Struggle With Mental Health”
Really, if I’m going to be a writer, I should invest in one of those ergonomic ones which swivel round and go up and down…Maybe they sell chairs like that on the Internet. Maybe I should just have a quick little look.
Last week, I read Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, the second book in the Shopaholic series. After writing my research paper last year on the first novel, I borrowed Manhattan and Ties the Knot from a friend so as to continue my Becky Bloomwood education.
In Manhattan, Becky has been given an advance to write a financial self-help book for those of us living with the type of debt addiction she is plagued with. She, of course, spends her advance before typing a single word. When she does finally decide to sit down and write, she is swiftly distracted by the plethora of items one can buy to look like a good writer. This scene had me stifling giggles under my bed sheets in an attempt to not wake my sleeping husband while I read by iPhone flashlight (sometimes I am a 12 year old trapped in a 30-something body) because I know this procrastination method all too well.
As the saying goes, writers write. It doesn’t matter on what or where; if you have a pen and paper or a computer screen with a keyboard, you can write. But wouldn’t it be so much nicer to have the perfect tools?
Here is my list of items that I find myself dreaming about to make myself a better writer without ever typing a word. This list ranges from the useful yet probably unnecessary, to the expensive and utterly ridiculous.
I finally decided to go back and look at a few papers I wrote last year to edit them in an attempt to get published. While going through my files I came across this short paper that I wrote last fall on Miriam Towes’ A Complicated Kindness. The novel is a fascinating coming of age tale about a young Canadian Mennonite girl , Nomi. Although I am not or ever was Mennonite, I could relate to her experience of isolation, confusion, and frustration based on my own religious background. A Complicated Kindness quickly became one of my favorite books from last year.
While reading, I noticed the recurring motif of blood, menstruation, and otherness. This is what I decided to write my short response paper on and eventually a full length final paper. Today, I share my short paper thoughts with you.
Continue reading “Bleeding Memory in A Complicated Kindness”
This summer I found myself in a researching, reading, and writing haze. Caught behind stacks of books that threatened to bury me alive and the continued soft glow of a computer screen on my pale skin instead of warm summer sun, I began to think about what I might do with my time once this MRP business was over with. Most students go through this phase; we dream of other activities or careers as a means to escape the low points of academic solitude. I have known some people to book flights to far away locals in an attempt to out run the work load. There is something freeing about the idea of physically leaving behind all your books and edited pieces of paper. But, after about ten minutes of glancing at the price of European flights, I clicked those browser windows shut and took another route.
Continue reading “Blind Spots: Reading Outside My Comfort Zones”
“I think it’s finished,” I called to my husband from the second bedroom, which had ostensibly become my office over the previous ten months. Then tentatively, “can I print it…? Is it ok if I print it?”
It was a Saturday evening in August and I technically still had a whole day before my major research paper (MRP) was due. “Shouldn’t I use that day to edit it more?” I thought aloud. Since I am a devout procrastinator, motivated by time crunches, and therefore accustom to writing, printing, then running to a drop box with seconds to spare, this feeling of completion was foreign to me. It was freaking me out a little bit. Admittedly, part of this feeling included a strong desire to no longer look at the words I had written over the previous three months. This paper was over forty pages long. I researched, evaluated, and then did it some more. At point half way through the summer I trashed a whole section and started over again. This process took away my sleep until the days came where all I did was sleep. I consumed coffee and tea beverages to keep me running and my part time job as a “wine enthusiast” kept me flush with grape based alcohol. I even quipped that my grad school experience would gain me a certificate in wine knowledge.
Continue reading “My Masters Degree, Myself.”