Reading As Self-Medicating?

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This was inspired by a post called “Self Medicating,” written by Elle, who shares a blog with John called Mind Palaver: A Conversation on Mental Health. Many of you know that pre-diagnosis, I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. But I think I’m still self-medicating, by reading books instead.

Reading sounds harmless enough, and many people read to escape. As a writer, I’m also a prolific reader. But when I’m depressed, all I do is lie on the sofa and read book after book after book, back-to-back. They’re usually a series of detective novels/crime fiction, so I can read one after another. I use an e-reader, so it’s super easy for me to buy the next book in the series. I don’t have to leave my house.

I read to escape reality. But is it keeping me from facing my depression? Am I not addressing my issues? I feel like I’m contributing to my depressive state (mostly lethargy) by reading, rather than trying to shower, change out of my pajamas, or whatever. But my episodes can be so bad that I can’t even peel the foil lid off a cup of yogurt, which leaves me feeling dim — even more useless than I already am.

So I read.

Do you self-medicate, even though you’re in treatment?

via Daily Prompt: Dim

25 thoughts on “Reading As Self-Medicating?

  1. Maybe change what you are reading sometimes. Maybe true reading positive affirmations or romance novels for a change of pace. I know, I get into watching, serious crime shows on tv instead of being productive. Every night I go to bed thinking, “tomorrow, I am not going to watch tv.” But next night is the same.

      1. Not only read them once, read them many times, especially ones you really like and practise and try to believe what you are reading. It is not easy but it does work.

          1. That is good, just try to remember small, short sayings that you can repeat to yourself just whenever you feel like it, and before you go to bed. You don’t have to wait until you meditate. Say them to yourself when you are doing stuff, chances are you are more likely to start believing them.

  2. Reading as a form of self medicating. I’ve never thought of it that way before. I do find that when I need to escape reality for a second, I will grab a book. It helps soothe the craziness that is going on in my mind.

    1. I hadn’t thought of it that way, either! Sometimes when I’m depressed, I can’t concentrate on the stuff I usually read (literary fiction, nonfiction/memoirs). They aren’t as much of an escape.

  3. It’s interesting to think about how we self-medicate, but also interesting to consider why we think we’re doing it. I happen to think that avoidance is a perfectly legitimate reason to self-medicate! That’s what my drinking was about. But just as we tweak our real meds from time to time, so we might want to take a look at tweaking the self-meds too. I’m trying to medicate myself with IRL (in real life) at the moment – it’s something I’m quite fearful of but something I think I need a bit more of in my world. All the best to everyone who’s self-medicating just now!

  4. I think that like any drug, reading can be used well or misused. I personally read older Regency romances every night, sitting in bed with the cats, and it has been a decent thing for me to do. There have been times when i have been so PTSDed that I would not finish a book if it had the least bit of violence or sex in it, since my nervous system couldn’t deal with it. These days I read those but also more self-help and Tibetan Buddhist books, so it is coming along. I do spend the rest of the time standing in front of my computyer, so that is better for me than just lying around or sitting around all day, which drains my energy if I do it. Maybe break up the drugged-out reading sessions by getting up every X amount of time and walking around, going into the yard if you have one or somehow getting alittle fresh air and change of scene. Good luck with it. I sometimes am just a blob for a long time, but it doesn’t help me in the long run.

      1. I have an actual nice backyard, but sometimes I just stare out the window like it’s a tv and that makes me very dissociated from life energy and fresh air.

  5. I self medicate with a substance. I have done really well lately at putting it down. I’m using half of what I was at the beginning of the year. But still …..

    1. I’m still trying to kick my candy habit, which I use to self-soothe. I’ve cut my daily use by half, too. Go, us! 😊

    1. I suppose when I’m in a depressive episode, reading does keep me from most other things, even checking my e-mail because I don’t want to deal with anything.

        1. Now that I think about it, its more an avoidance issue, which is still a problem, especially when I binge-read. I’ve heard that Internet addiction is a real thing.

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