How Books Have Helped My Mental Health in 2018

Good evening, friends. As 2018 comes to its end, I have been reflecting on some of the positive things that have arisen, or that I have come to realise during this year, which honestly was one hell of a fucking year for me. Since I am first and foremost a book blogger, I thought it would be neat to talk about how books have helped my mental health through the various struggles that the year has brought my way.

One of the things that I have come to appreciate about life are the small things and the unexpected treasures that can make someone’s life a little bit brighter. Reading, and literature in general, has been a big passion in my life for a very long time, to the point where I am aspiring to become an author one day. My recognition of how books are a wonderful companion to life’s shitty occurrences may have happened in 2018, but in hindsight, I believe that they have been supporting me and offering me companionship since I was a wee brat.

Before I dive in, I’d like to offer a brief heads-up that a couple of these may become a tad bit emotional, so you may want to grab a tissue.


no game no life escape

Escapism

The first one is rather basic and probably an aspect that many people will relate to: escapism. In my worst days of depression when nothing would help me get out of my own head, reading provided me with the solace of escaping. Depending on the narrative, it would transport me out of my hurtful and harmful brain, and deep into the pages of the stories I’d be holding. That time spent within the forests, or walls, or vast expanses of fictional worlds was time spent without the burden of depression on my shoulders. Escapism is quite a profound method of coping with depression, if used in a healthy way, and is something that I have grown to cherish with the dawn of each new day. My favourite genres to read for situations such as these include horror, thrillers, and science-fiction.

your name inspiration

Inspiration

Another typical one, but a vital one nonetheless: inspiration. Whenever I felt like giving up, whether it was on passions, projects, or even my own life, I would pick up a very specific book series that I knew would help inspire me. It’s my favourite trilogy of all-time and I have read it and re-read repeatedly and will do so probably until the day that I die. It is jam-packed with representation of PTSD and loss, genuine, heart-warming friendships—some of them unlikely—and people who must face adversity unlike any other in unexpected ways. I also greatly enjoy the rich world-building, fantastical creatures, and amazing action. I also like to read this series when I’m falling into a writer’s rut. My heart is always left feeling motivated and refreshed and warm upon finishing it. The trilogy I’m talking about is The Blade of the Flame Trilogy by Tim Waggoner via the Eberron universe.

skull face bookseller stress shoppin

Stress Shopping

I feel this one may come as a bit of a surprise for some folks as I’m not going to talk about it in its emblematic form. Like many bibliophiles, sometimes the best way to deal with stress is to buy mountains of books. I’m very much an individual who has emotional impulses that are triggered when I’m under significant amounts of mental and emotional strain, impulses like shopping. About a year ago, when my insomnia was at its absolute worst, I lay in bed at 3am and spent roughly $400 on books on a whim. Afterwards, I had felt so utterly terrible with myself and it only exasperated the things that were causing my insomnia. So, in March 2018, when I had another irresistible urge to shop on such a grand scale, I went out and got a library card instead. Since then, I have read 75 library books, and I’ve checked out far more (but never got around to them). This has greatly decreased my out-of-control bookish spending, which then helped us out a lot when we had to pay for my cat’s surgery later in the year. Libraries are true magic in the world. I hope to dive into this experience in a future Self-Care Sunday segment.

levi ocd

Satisfying OCD

I don’t like to talk about this one too much because I’m sensitive about my OCD condition. I will occasionally make jokes about it, but in all honesty, my OCD, mysophobia, and my incessant need to have everything around me be neat and clean is a result of some traumatic living conditions I experienced for about ten years. Nevertheless, here we are. When my anxiety is severely horrid, particularly after a PTSD episode or a terrible panic attack, I tend to clean, no matter how clean everything is around me already is. I will clean it and re-clean it. Same thing with organising stuff. These inclinations are further heightened during bouts of anxiety and paranoia. By being able to physically participate in an act that is wholly under my control, it helps me to feel calm and grounded. So, in these instances, I will take an unorganised stack of books (I have a few of them laying around the house specifically for this occasion, which I must force myself to keep around) and I will organise them on a designated bookshelf. They’ll be organised by colour, author, genre, etc.; it really depends on what I’m feeling in that moment. I’ll leave the books like that for a week or sometimes even a month, before I take them down and shelf them properly, leaving the bookcase empty for the next time that I need it. This entire ritual, as it were, is remarkably therapeutic! Please, let me know if you’d be interested in a self-care post that goes into more intimate detail about how it helps me on a mental and emotional level, and how I came about doing this.

cowboy bebop grief

Grief

The last thing I struggle with is insurmountable grief from losing my brother many years ago. When my mourning and sorrow become so bloody overwhelming so as to completely incapacitate me, I think about the extraordinary passions that we shared: music (pianoforte) and literature. I have a few precious books that he gave to me that I cherish with every fibre of my being. When I start to miss him so dearly and in agonising ways, I will pick one of those books up and hold it close, smelling the pages, and just taking comfort in one of the finest gifts he has ever given to me: my love of reading. Most of them smell of old ink and aged wood, sometimes from the shelves where they were housed before they found their way to me. A couple of them have lingering essences of his cologne or hints of his favourite cigar. These fragrances bring me an unfathomable amount of comfort and really work to alleviate the sadness that tends to sweep me away into oblivion.


Those are five different ways that books have helped me cope with mental health illnesses in 2018 (though I’d argue as I did above, that it’s been far longer than this year; I just finally felt it). These are some of the reasons why I treasure reading and how it will always be something very near and dear to my heart. Yes, I go through ruts and slumps, and books can annoy me at times, but that is rather representative of things you love the most, isn’t it? Such as your closest family members, friends, and/or companions in life?

Please, come chat with me in the comments! Do books help you in anyway? If yes, then how so? I’d love to see the positivity that books instil into others!

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Thank you so much for visiting me today. I appreciate the support! Until next time, keep reading and keep otakuing. 🖤


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20 thoughts on “How Books Have Helped My Mental Health in 2018

  1. Escapism is something I can relate to as well. I agree that it’s better to get out of that negative head space because ruminating is a spiraled mess. It’s not completely escaping and forgetting about the issues, (I roll my eyes at people who have told me I’m escaping my problems by watching anime) because we can go back to those issues when we have a better mindset.

    I’m glad you got a library card! I should go to the library more… 😅 I used to go very often but then I got lazy haha… These are all very helpful reasons and I’m glad that books helped you in all these ways. Books are magical to me (sounds corny but it’s true 😂). I loved reading this post! & I’m glad you’re back with blogging!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! We can always return to those problems, but if you face them with a terrible mind-set, you’re probably going to make it worse. At least that’s what I’ve experienced. I’m glad you get that. 🙂 🙂

      It doesn’t sound corny to me. Books are magic and I love them so much.

      Thanks, Rose. It feels awesome to be back at it again. Wishing you a happy new year! ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Books are one of my list of a million things which have saved my life. Books are the reason I’m still here, and I truly believe reading and writing is my main purpose in life.

    I don’t tend to use books as escapism so much as a filter to see the world through. All fiction books, and many non-fiction books, deal with people. To deal with people is to deal with feelings, thoughts, emotions, life, etc. Books are a way to process all the sh** going on in your head, by providing it with a guideline – what do *I* think about this character? Do I empathise with them? (The answer to this is always ‘yes,’ b/c I can empathise w/ practically anyone,) Why do I empathise with them? How would I help them? What would I say to them? What are they feeling? Do I feel the same? (And many other questions – but it helps me break the downward thought spiral!)

    Blogging about books is also uber-important for a billion reasons (I never have just one reason for anything! Lol,) including understanding that *my opinions matter* – *I* matter! 🙂 ❤

    Awesome post, as usual! XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • I started to be more aware of the power of books and, as you said, using it as a filter to view the world in 2018. I went through some of the worst emotional and mental episodes last year (whoa, that feels weird, lol) and it really helped me gain a lot of perspective. I’m hoping those lessons and insights will help me create a much more rewarding and compassionate 2019. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and for your awesome comment. Wishing you a year filled with joy, laughter, and beautiful bookish experiences. ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Books for me are very much an escape, whether it was the loneliness when I was a kid who moved around a lot and had little friends. Or now picking up some random Gaiman, MeVielle, or A. Lee Martinez book when I need something absurd or just flat out weird to escape the pressure and stress of everything else. Books allow me to relax, laugh, or dream of worlds that amaze and tickle that part of my brain hat fully believes in magic and that all things are possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Escapism, at least when things are very difficult or frustrating, is a healthy and necessary (for me) way to deal with life’s obstacles. If you’re constantly facing it and rushing into it, you never get a break and it can wear you thin in unimaginable ways. I know it gets a lot of shit (dunno why), but escapism is magical and very much a form of self-care, so I’m glad books can do that for you.

      Like

  4. This is something I can really relate to myself, given that I’ve been slowly taking up reading as a hobby after many years of absence.

    Although much of what I read these days are self help and spiritual writing books, they provide me with a sense of inspiration and allow me to get things in order or look at things from a new perspective.

    Thanks for sharing this one! It was really interesting to hear about your own experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My goal this year is to read more non-fiction, spiritual and self-care type of books. I feel like it will be very inspiring and motivational to me as an individual as well. 🙂 Thanks for visiting! Wishing you a very happy new year!! ♥

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      • It most definitely is! I can highly recommend “The Self Care Project” if you’re looking for a place to start, as that book has really helped me out and changed aspects of my life for the better. It’s a very proactive book that even comes with little exercises in between the chapters!

        And it’s a bit late, but you too!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I also deal with depression, seasonal affect disorder, and PTSD. Like you, books have probably saved my life on numerous occasions. Don’t knock escapism – when you are escaping obsessive thoughts, or horrific memories that are set on repeat in your brain for days at a time. An absorbing book can put a stop to that like nothing else I’ve ever found. Hope. I gain hope from books. I love to read biographies where people have overcome situations of all types and made a good life or success or whatever. It gives me hope. Knowledge – I have an insatiable curiousity and love of learning and research that can drag me out of obsessions and memories. Speaking of learning, I have gained so much from self help books, feminist literature, history, spiritual subjects that has helped me build this good life I have now. A facebook post by a friend early this year about a great library visit got me to the library in this new city where I find myself. OMG what a great treasure trove it is. Two or three trips a month are now routine. Which also keeps me from hoarding books. I live in a tiny house (an RV actually) and storage space is limited. My kindle collection numbers over 1000 books and I’m working on releasing hard copy books as I finish them. Outside of a few beloved favorites…okay, I’ll never be without hard copy books. What if we do get hit with EMP and all my Kindle books vanish? Never fear – I have three full sets of Lord of the Rings. Part of 2018 I was bedridden with an injury and reading (and video games) kept me from spinning totally out of control. (My other fail safe is physical activity so being bedridden was my worst nightmare come true) And now I’m reading this great blog with book reviews and my “saved for later” list at the library grows longer every day…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m SO glad books help you in so many ways. They really are very powerful and soothing, and it amazes me more every time when I discover a new way that books have made my life better, or more enriched.

      I don’t mind reading digital books, and if it didn’t hurt my eyes so much, I’d probably read more of them. Especially since a lot of the physical books I own are giants and my little hands get tired of holding them. *sobs*

      I’m working on be able to be more physically active, but it’s a slow process for me since I have to build up my heart for even the basics. But it’s nice to have other things that help bring you joy and comfort. Sometimes relying on one thing only can cause it to burnout, if that makes sense?

      Well, thanks for you awesome comment. I hope that 2019 will bring you much more comfort, good memories to cherish, and smiles that will last a lifetime. Happy new year! ♥

      Like

  6. Books gave me vocabulary to describe things in my life and gave me models to deal with them. So, really helpful!

    Good to see you are spending less! I probably should renew my library card too… 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is absolutely beautiful. 🙂

      The library has helped my spending so much, I’m amazed lol. It also helps when I get the urge to spend money, because I’ll go to the library and browse books (like I would in a store) and check stuff out. It satisfies the part of my brain that wants to shop. But it’s all free. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: December’s Blogsphere Highlights #2! (2018) | BiblioNyan

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