I have a confession to make . . . I self-medicate.
My addiction, and I readily admit it to be one, is relatively harmless. Granted, it sometimes interferes with my daily activities like keeping up with housework and feeding my family, but I manage and they accept and expect certain delays when I’m having a particularly rough patch and my need to self soothe is great.
I suppose I should begin with an explanation – the reasons I do what I do. I have spent many years in the clutches of an anxiety disorder. I battle with chronic pain and fight Diabetes and brain fog. I’m tired, so very, very tired. I’m entering year my 27th year of parenting, two of my four amazing children are autistic blessings (one with the added excitement of Bipolar), and still require a bit more assistance and guidance than most young men their age.
Sometimes I find myself in need of something more than patience and happy thoughts and all the other blah, blah, blahs we feed our psyche with, and I found a way to fulfill that need. Truthfully, I found it when I was younger than most, so it has always been a go-to of sorts for me. Honestly, while it does indeed help me deal with the not so easy parts of life, it enhances the good parts as well. It can be expensive, but I’ve found certain places where the cost is reasonable, though I confess to opting for the pricier options perhaps a bit too often. My favorite dealer is about ten miles from home, I usually go every Sunday to stock up for the week.
When (for lack of a better term) I get my * fix *, I am transported and transcended into a reality entirely different from my own – the one I find the need to escape now and then, the reality where anxiety and pain and frustration thrives. I find peace and comfort and tranquility in the altered state of consciousness I drift peacefully into when I take refuge in another world that opens itself up to embrace me when I come to the door and knock.
Hours can pass, sometimes entire days and nights in that magical place. When one journey ends and I return to my own plane of existence, I oftentimes hastily return, not yet ready to face it all. Days can be lost, but the journey is so pleasant. I always come back – eventually, though the thoughts of my return are never far from the forefront of my mind.
I wish I could describe with even some amount of accuracy and clarity what I experience each time I cross over into whatever place it is I go, but each time is different than the last. I never know what awaits me, sometimes it’s simply glorious, sometimes, though not often because I am quite careful to choose my product carefully, I am left disappointed and greedily reach for more to fulfill the still burning need within me.
I don’t want to give the impression that I live life in an always altered state. I do all the things, well, many of the things everyone else does. I run errands, (I do partake while outside of my home quite often, never while driving of course), I watch television, (sometimes my attentions are divided, but I am able to maintain my focus even though part of me has one foot on the other side of that door), I laugh and talk with my children, sometimes they join me and we all sit together, separated only by the unique experience taking place within each of us. They don’t indulge nearly as much as I do, however. My husband abstains almost entirely, though I do try to entice him with tales of my own experiences. It doesn’t affect him the way it does me though.
I realize that my particular need and how I choose to satisfy it is not for everyone. There are those who cannot understand why I do it, or at least why I do it so often. For them, once a month or once every few months is enough. I know there are those who don’t even go near it. Personally, I think their lives, their hearts, and their minds would be better if they did. But, to each their own as they say. I’ll not stand in judgment of them, and hope they’ll not judge me.
The fact is, without this outlet – this relief – I might very well lose my mind. I truly believe, in fact, I know, it helps me focus, keeps my mind sharp and my heart calm.
You may be wondering what my particular drug of choice might be . . . it’s books. Glorious, wonderful, beautiful books. Words, words, and more words. I can’t get enough of them. New words, old words, classics, new authors, short books, long books, serious books, scary books, sci-fi, fantasy, memoir, biographies, auto-biographies, essays, poetry, research, history, inspirational, funny, etc., etc., etc..
There is sufficient enough research compiled to conclude that reading is akin to downing a wonder-drug of sorts. It aides in stress relief, sleep, memory, and focus – basically, all the good stuff we want to maintain.
“Reading reduced stress levels by 68 per cent, said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis. Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started. Listening to music reduced the levels by 61 per cent, having a cup of tea or coffee lowered them by 54 per cent and taking a walk by 42 percent.” The Telegraph
“After reading a novel, actual changes linger in the brain, at least for a few days,” The Washington Post
“Neurological researchers have spent years studying the impact of books on the brain. They’ve identified a compelling link between the act of chomping through a novel and enhanced cognitive ability. Reading, it transpires, has a profound effect on mental agility, the memory and our aptitude for imagination and compassion. It can also help to alleviate stress and aid sleep. Stylist
“Snuggling up with a good read tamps down levels of unhealthy stress hormones such as cortisol,” Readers Digest
”In fact, the practice of using books, poetry and other written words as a form of therapy has helped humans for centuries. Fiction is a uniquely powerful way to understand others, tap into creativity and exercise your brain.” bufferopen
“Reading for pleasure in general can also help prevent conditions such as stress, depression, and dementia,” says Wilkinson. “Research has shown that people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers.” “ . . .people who read books regularly “are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.” A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76% of them said that reading improves their life and helps make them feel good.” Fast Company
Now – grab a book for your body, mind, and soul and slip into another world for a spell – I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be glad you did.