I am a heavily anxious, if not mildly depressed, person. This is my reality. At the risk of sounding too self-deprecating, from time to time I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of anxiety. In the verge of drowning, I frantically try to catch my breath. The harder I try, the deeper I sink to the dark bottomless pit of negative thoughts.
That’s why I took meditation at the first place. Little did I know that anxiety is one of inbuilt components that makes me. So I try to accept the fact that I just simply have to live with it.
Most of the time, it stays in the background, but I’m still surprised when it pops out to the fore and it’s particularly worse during premenstrual.
Ugh, I know right? Woman.
When life gets rough like that, instead of facing it head-on some people turn to distract themselves; they watch TV, go on a shopping spree, update their Facebook status, drink, yada yada yada–I mean literally anything to keep their thoughts and reality at arm’s length.
Like everybody else, I too turn to distractions. At the risk of sounding too self-righteous, I think the best distraction of all is reading. It’s not only the best, it’s the noblest.
I know, I know, I talk a huge deal about reading but seriously what else I do besides slaving away at my tedious job? I rarely go out with friends or engage in social activities (I’m a proud introvert, yo), and I basically despise social media because it’s mostly made up of lies. TV? Seriously? I’d rather chop both of my hands off and eat my own detached limbs than have to watch shitty Indonesian television shows. Even the thought of it nauseates me.
So yeah, I find refuge in books. I seek comfort in literature. It’s not to say that I don’t scroll Twitter feed when I’m upset, or play Angry Birds when I’m bored. It’s just that doing these things for hours I feel a sense of life trickling away, wasted. It sometimes worsens me. But time spent on reading is always time well spent.
And on the upside, reading, especially fictions, allows me to forget that I’m anxious, at least for a while. It gently pushes the monster back to its cave in the back of my mind.
In contrast, looking at social media when I’m in my lowest only leaves me more miserable. I see people leading better lives, having successful career, doing high-status things. It makes me hate my life.
But literature, man! It presents you adventure with all the greatest characters enduring odds, venturing out into the unknown, slaying dragons and falling in love. It tells you stories about many worlds unfamiliar to you, about cultures different from yours, about those you can wholly relate to, those that convince you you’re not alone (like The Hours). Most importantly, it keeps you company, even at the loneliest hour. It never leaves you and it never fails you.
So there I said it, the real reason why I read (not that anyone cares or anything). In the end, it’s not about indulging in the vanity of trying to be smarter or more cultured and sophisticated. It’s more about staying sane, the act of surviving.