I’ve written about my issues with anxiety and depression on this blog before, but I want to talk about a specific problem that arose out of my depression that I wasn’t aware of until recently. I’m a bit ashamed of it, but I’m proud of myself for being aware of the issue so that I can be more cognizant of it.
I was compulsively buying books whenever I’d feel anxious or sad in order to get a brief flash of pleasure.
Looking back on the last couple of years, I’ve realized that I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve always been surrounded by stacks of (mostly unread) books and it’s nearly impossible for me to pass up any book that is on sale. There are days when I’m feeling really down and hopeless, but also restless, and on days like that it’s not uncommon for me to go to a thrift store just to buy discounted books.
Amazon Kindle deals have been absolutely dangerous for me over the years. I have over 500 ebooks on my Kindle, almost all of which I bought because they were discounted down to $1-3. I’ve read perhaps 5% of them, which is shameful. I still want to buy Kindle books occasionally because they are a wonderful deal, but for the past couple of weeks, every time I’m about to hit “Buy Now,” I ask myself if I need to pay money to read this or if I can’t just pick it up from the library. Every time I’ve asked myself this question, I’ve opted for the library. It’s not a fix, but it’s progress.
I found a way to justify any purchase.
Even when I really shouldn’t have been spending money, I would talk myself into buying a book because I had a 15% off coupon or because I had to read that exact book right now. This is one of the hardest things for me. Hell, I literally found myself doing this today while browsing YA fantasy hardcovers on Amazon. It got especially bad in the first few months of starting this blog when I felt justified in buying all the books because I was now a book blogger.
The last decade has had a lot of lows and just a few high points in terms of my mental health. I’m finally getting the help I need thanks to the fact that I have health insurance for the first time in ten years. Over the years I fell back on several forms of unhealthy self-medication, such as smoking copious amounts of marijuana and drinking to the point of blacking out several times a month. Thankfully, those dangerous coping mechanisms are years behind me. These days, I have two things I resort to when I’m feeling down: books and food.
I have a long way to go before I would say that I no longer use purchasing books as a relief for depression, but I feel like just being aware of it has made me think more about my habits the last couple of weeks. I’ve purchased books in March, but not at the rate that I had done in January or February (in February I’m pretty sure I bought around 40 books). I’m embracing the library more (which I should have been doing all along!) and trying to focus on reading the books I already have.
I love books and reading. Reading is healthy and is a great coping mechanism to escape from things that are causing you stress. I want to embrace that aspect of reading over the blind purchasing of books I don’t need in order to get that brief ten-second boost in my brain.