How Reading Keeps Saving Me

There’s an interesting phenomenon associated with feeling well: once the illness or darkness or depression has passed, it is very easy to forget to take the medication keeping it at bay.

The good news: I’ve discovered that phenomenon because I am feeling much, much better. I’m not willing to give all of the credit to the medication, especially since lamotrigine doesn’t necessarily work this fast. There’s always the chance that my mood has swung naturally upward due to de-escalating my stress at work or because of happy news from friends around the country. Maybe it’s the fact I’m reading again. Maybe it’s the little fictions I’ve scribbled in my notebooks. Maybe it’s the meditative midnight drives I’ve been taking.

To be honest, my bet is on reading. Harry Potter saved me from grief when I was 12. Kvothe saved me from loneliness when I was 22. Maybe Jamie and Claire Fraser saved me from myself.

If I may wax philosophical for a moment. . . .

When I was 12, my grandmother died. She was the closest thing I ever had to a “dad” (apart from my mom, who still plays both roles as best she can). At 12, I needed to believe in something new. My faith in God was flagging for the first time as I started to ask more and more complicated questions at church. I needed something to believe in, and there was Harry. He was my age. He’d lost his parents. Hogwarts offered him an escape. Because of him, and because of my friends at the time, I started seriously writing my own escape. I created a place where I had a mom and a dad, where I was raised with my brothers and sisters, where the cute boys liked me back.

Then, when I was 22 and living alone 1500 miles from my friends, Kvothe grew from a loved child to a wise-ass teen to a lonely adult. I could relate to him, too well in some ways. Even in Kvothe’s loneliest moments, he was never truly alone. Denna or Elodin or Bast or some other character would appear. In that time, I needed to believe that someone would always appear to steal me from my loneliness. Kvothe kept me company on the long days, until I made the decision to move back home and solve the problem myself.

Now we’re here, to this past week–to these past months. If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know I’ve been in a bad place. What I need this time is to believe in love, as sappy and old-fashioned as that sounds. To read a story like that of Jamie and Claire Fraser–to read about a love so clearly destined, that time nor circumstance could stand in the way. . . . God knows what the long-term effect of the novel will be. Right now, the effect is a settling of my spirit into an odd sort of peace.

That was a very long way to say, I’ve been feeling consistently better since Monday evening, since I first opened the cover of Outlander, which makes nearly a full week without a dark depression. It’s the longest stretch since mid-March. I really hope it lasts.

There’s another interesting phenomenon associated with feeling well, particularly in the face of something that may be deemed “chronic:” the chilling fear of not knowing how long until feeling well is barely a memory.


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