My Mental Illness Struggle & How Reading Helped

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Hello! My name is Brandi, from, and I wanted to share with you a very personal story. It was tough to write about and share with you guys, but my goal was to show the world just how much reading means to me and how it helps my every day struggle. 

Since I was little, I remember always having irregular stomach pain. I tried tracking what I ate, thinking maybe it was a reaction to a certain food; was I gluten intolerant? Did my stomach not agree with lactose? Was it when I ate too much sugar?

Slowly but surely, I was able to rule all these options out. There was just absolutely no rhyme or reason as to why all of a sudden, I would be keeled over on my bed unable to do anything because of my stomach pain. 
Eventually, my mom took me to see a doctor when I reached high school because the pain began occurring all too often. 

I learned that day the probable reason for my stomach pain was none other than anxiety.
“What? I don’t have anxiety, that can’t be,” I told the doctor. “I mean I guess I get nervous a lot, but ha! I do not have anxiety.”
Well, he was right. 

The years following this diagnosis, I learned more about the mental illness that had actually been with me since I was little. I learned I wasn’t just a weird, unsocial, awkward, and sensitive child; I just had a mental illness that prevented me from confidently making friends and socializing. Basically, I had a mental illness that prevented me from being… me.

I felt like an outsider. I felt like I did not have a place in this world. I felt as if I was too “weird” or too “different”; I felt as if I was the only person in the world suffering from this emotionally depilating illness.
Then, I got into reading.

I started reading book after book after book. Reading served as my distraction from the dangerous thoughts that invaded my mind. Because of reading, I was able to relieve the anxiety that would be supposedly taking over my mind, heart and body. 

"Because of reading, I learned I was not alone in this world"

I began book blogging and bookstagramming. Through both, I met so many other like-minded people who not only love reading, but understand what having “this anxiety thing” felt like. Personally, I believe just knowing you are not alone in this world can make a big difference in whatever you are going through. Finally, I started feeling less and less alone. I felt like I finally found a place in this world where I actually belong.

However, reading does not eliminate my mental illness. (Though I do wish it did more than anything.) It gives me confidence, motivation, and persistence to keep fighting my anxiety day in and day out. For some people, playing an instrument or partaking in a sport makes them feel whole. For me, it’s reading.

Each day, I am still learning more and more about anxiety itself and how it affects me individually. I am still learning how to fight it, how to beat it, and how to simply not let it take over. Anxiety is something I will have for the rest of my life, but thanks to reading, it is something I no longer feel alone in.
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