I Used to Love Reading
Books were my happiness.
You couldn’t tear me away from a book. I just always had to have one in my hands.
I’d eagerly search through charity shops and bookstores for new gems.
I’d blog about my books and my newest finds, taking pretty photos of them outside.
My floor was nearly collapsing under the weight of my prized book collection. A collection I spent years acquiring.
I switched to ebooks and bought myself a kindle for the sake of saving my floor.
I fell just as in love with ebooks as I had with paperbacks.
I loved seeing my library on my kindle and having the convenience of thousands of books at my fingertips.
I loved taking “e-selfies” of my kindle library and “shelfies” of my bookcase.
But then I got brain inflammation.
It changed me.
I lost myself, because I lost my love of books.
I still loved reading, but I was terrified of books. I was sure they’d hurt me. They seemed like the most dangerous thing in the world. I couldn’t stand to touch them. They felt bad, evil, rotten.
What had I been thinking, collecting so many?
It was a miracle I was still alive with that many books.
It felt like all my books were covered with paint that would forever stay wet. This paint was toxic, and if I touched it, I would never get it off me. It would stay on my hands, and anything I touched would also become contaminated with the toxin.
I donated most of my prized book collection to Charity shops. The few I couldn’t part with, I boxed up. I just couldn’t look at them, couldn’t touch them. I had to pretend they weren’t there.
I was diagnosed with rapid-onset OCD because of my fear of books and the compulsions I was doing whenever I was around them.
I was scared to touch my kindle. I couldn’t do it.
And when I did try to read on my kindle, I just couldn’t concentrate.
I was crying and alone, and it took six months to get diagnosed with the brain inflammation and to start treatment.
I’m seven weeks into the treatment now, and I have started reading again.
Yesterday, I picked up my kindle and I felt that pure feeling of excitement. I smiled as I looked at all the titles in my library. I felt like a child at the sweetshop as I tried to decide which book I wanted to read.
And this feeling overjoyed me, it really did.
It means I’m returning.
Madeline Dyer is a young adult novelist. She also writes personal essays on topics such as mental health, disability, and neuropsychiatry. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @MadelineDyerUK and visit her website www.MadelineDyer.co.uk. If you’d like to keep up to date with her writing, you can follow her on Facebook for both her novels and her personal essays, and subscribe to the Mad On Writing publication for her articles on improving writing craft/the business of being a writer.