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  • Writer's pictureErika Nichols-Frazer

Reading through Depression

I've suffered from major depressive disorder since I was a kid; it's part of having Bipolar Disorder. Though I'm now on the right combination of medications and engage in psychoanalysis twice a week, it still occasionally rears its ugly head. Those who suffer from depression, a very common affliction, know how it can take hold of you and weigh you down, how it can make it seem impossible to get out of bed, interact with others, or complete the simplest task. It can make concentration difficult, make you feel far away, useless, empty. When I'm going through an episode, which can last minutes, days, or weeks, everything feels hard, even simple things like vacuuming or going to the grocery store. It makes me question everything about myself, my value as a person, why anyone would want me around. Everything good seems to have a pallor over it. All I want to do is sleep.

Recently I went through one of these periods. Every rejection felt personal and devastating, every task daunting and exhausting. But there's one thing I've always turned to when I've been depressed - reading. Though creating and revising can feel impossible when I'm depressed, can make me feel unworthy as a writer, reading doesn't ask the same confidence of me. It allows me to engage, feel like I'm doing something, and escape into the story. Rereading old favorites can also help and give me a comfortable sense of nostalgia, remind me of better times.

I recently got a freelance gig rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and writing plot and character analysis for new study software (Best. freelance gig. Ever.). Obviously, once I'd read the first book in the series, I had to keep reading. It was the first time I'd read the series since it came out when I was a kid and teen. Besides enjoying rediscovering these stories, the process also allowed me to escape my sadness and self-deprecation. It provided a sense of nostalgia and gave me something to do that I could complete and even enjoy! Similarly, after the 2016 election, when I was in the same funk and state of disbelief as much of the country, I revisited my collection of Sherlock Holmes, another childhood favorite. I got lost in the stories and forgot the depressive feelings I was experiencing, at least for a little while. Much like when I'm depressed I want to watch movies from my childhood (Neverending Story and Homeward Bound are always go-to's), reading stories that take me back can help lift me out of the fog.

Do you have favorites you revisit when you need a pick-me-up?

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