As a kid, I loved reading. I remember reading books in my room for hours and hours at a time. I was so happy doing so! It was like my own little world of characters I adored and plots that left me wanting to discover more. It was really special.
As I got older and began struggling with anxiety and focus and attention, I got out of the habit of reading, and slowly lost this skill that fostered such a sacred space for me. I was then diagnosed with ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder) as a teenager. Reading for long periods of time was still a struggle for me despite trying a medication.
This year I’ve been challenging myself to read more. I’m on a new medication that helps a lot. Quite often, I would just read articles online and learn a lot about what’s going on in the world, as well as topics I appreciate such as mental health and body positivity. With online articles though, a long attention span isn’t required, so reading a book became very difficult for me.
Last year I had many beautiful books around me, but when I picked them up to dive in, I’d quickly find myself frustrated as I would re-read the same page over and over again, not fully consuming the information. I’d place the book back on the shelf, defeated.
Now that I can focus better through practice, patience and prescribed medication, reading has become a really special place for me again.
One of my friends recommended I get into Brené Brown’s work because she thought the vulnerability topics would resonate. I often blog about mental health, and within that vicinity, a willingness to be vulnerable comes up. To talk about mental health struggles is one of the most vulnerable and brave things one can do in a world that still has a ways to go in understanding it. It was perfect that I already had a copy of one of Brené Brown’s “Rising Strong” on my book shelf! I like to think of it as a sign, as she is well known for her work in vulnerability.
As silly as it may sound to those who read books naturally, one of my biggest goals this year is to sit down and read a book. Maybe a couple more if I finish this one. I’ve been getting there one chapter at a time! Last month, I did just that, and on the beach! It was really nice — to sit in the sun, waves crashing, nice breeze and sand under my feet, re-discovering this magical place.
To be honest, it is a bit shameful to admit that my focus and attention wasn’t that great to read books because you can find so much wisdom and solace in them, and I once had that but lost it. I remind myself that this is just part of my journey.
As Brené Brown says in this gem I’m reading right now, “The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens”.
It may take some time for me to fully get back into reading all the time. It may be messy. But I’m motivated!
In the chapter I’m on right now, she writes about “the rising strong process”, a method Brené developed upon a few life experiences she had before getting a better understanding of vulnerability. She writes, “Write a new ending to our story based on the key learnings from our rumble and use this new, braver story to change how we engage with the world and to ultimately transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead”.
My story used to be, “I’m not smart enough to read. I’m not able to focus enough to sit down and read. I’m never going to have that space of magic and solitude again.”
Then, my story started becoming, “I found a great medication to address my attention and focus concerns. I’m going to slowly work up to reading a book. I can do this.”
Now, my story has transformed into, “I’m going to finish this book and actually enjoy it now that I have the ability to focus! There is no shame in needing help. There is only shame if I invite it and allow it to take over my life. I am proud of myself for finding my path with reading again. It’s never too late”.
This is my Rising Strong process. And I’m going to trust it! This is truly the perfect book as I’m beginning to lead a more vulnerable and brave life and continue taking good care of my mental health.
This article was originally published by Lexie Manion.
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