Call for guest writers: The Effect of Mental Illness on the Ability to Read

bookshelfLast semester I took an introductory psychology class about abnormal psychology, or psychopathology. As part of our course material we read two personal accounts of mental illness. The two novels we read were An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison  and The Center Cannot Hold, by Elyn R. Saks. These two women discuss their experiences with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, respectively. What stood out most to me in these novels is that both women described often losing the ability to read throughout school and work. These passages stood out to me because I could relate very well to this. Over the past few years my OCD has made reading torturous and something I avoid as much as possible, even though I used to absolutely love reading and would read nonstop as a kid. It was definitely an interesting experience to struggle with getting through these books while some of the content of the books was two other women’s experiences with struggling to read.

“Reading, which had been at the heart of my intellectual and emotional existence, was suddenly beyond my grasp. I was used to reading three or four books a week; now it was impossible. I did not read a serious work of literature or nonfiction, cover to cover, for more than ten years. The frustration and pain of this were immeasurable (Jamison 95).”

I was honestly quite surprised by the similarity of these experiences with reading. Here were three different people, with three different mental illnesses, and yet we all had one our favorite activities in a way taken from us. I began to realize it was likely many more individuals who have struggled with their mental health have probably had similar experiences surrounding reading, once a favorite pastime, now a hurdle. I wanted to hear from others, to have them share their stories and to compile all of these experiences and emotions into one place.

That’s where YOU come in, you super strong fighter! If mental illness has affected your ability to read for school, work, pleasure, etc. I would love to hear from you. If you would like to participate please briefly include answers to the questions below and then for the second part write more in-depth about anything you would like to express related to this subject and your experiences. A few example topics could include describing in greater depth why you love reading, a timeline-like description of when you could and couldn’t read, or the emotions that come with not being able to read as much. These are just sample ideas so don’t let them limit what you want to express from your experience. You can write as little or as much as you wish and then I will put all of the personal stories into one blog post. Responses can be sent to my email:

Questions for guest writers:

What is your current occupation/profession?

What is the last book you read? How long ago was this?

What is your favorite book?

What book has been sitting on your shelf that you want to read but haven’t gotten around to yet?

What do you love about reading?

Thank you in advance to everyone that replies! I can’t wait to hear the responses.


P.S. Yes, I am aware that this is extremely ironic to have people who have trouble reading get together to write and read. I find it funny and empowering.


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