It used to be that I could never be found without a book within arm’s reach. I had a purse book, a nightstand book, a bathroom book, and a car book at the very least. (I kept them straight by having a different genre in each location.)
Now that I have a Nook e-reader, I have hundreds of books with me everywhere I go. But I’m doing a lot less reading.
I think it’s a function of my lack of concentration, but whether that’s the disorder or the meds, I couldn’t say.
I do know that when I was in the depths of my most recent breakdown, I barely read at all. I watched moronic reality shows like Trading Spouses, on the theory that these people’s lives were bigger train-wrecks than mine. And I watched cooking shows, because they were calming. (This was before cooking game shows really got going.)
During an earlier meltdown, I tried to watch sitcoms, but the relentlessly upbeat theme songs made me weep.
Now I have to hoard my concentration like I hoard my spoons. I am fortunate enough to be able to work freelance from home. But it’s the kind of work that sometimes has deadlines. On days when I can force myself to work, I can concentrate for about 2-1/2 to three hours at a spell. Some days I have to do two sessions like that with a nap in between, if a deadline is approaching too rapidly.
But when it comes to non-work activities, I can usually only concentrate for an hour at the most. Sometimes I try really hard so that I can watch a movie, but mostly I stick to half-hour or hour-long shows.
But reading takes concentration too, especially if the book has a plot (which I recommend) or is information-rich nonfiction. I do a lot of my reading in bed at night. (Yes, I know you’re not supposed to do that because it keeps you from falling asleep. But it’s a life-long habit.)
My mind flitters, the hamsters and sometimes the badgers stir, and I find myself several pages along with no idea what happened. At that point my need for distraction and my attention span collide and I have to find something moderately absorbing but short-term to do. It’s a good thing I have some games on my reader so I can play a hand of rummy or work a sudoku puzzle.
Reading has been one of the great joys of my life, since I was four, and it bothers me that I no longer have the ability to immerse myself in it the way I used to.
But, like so many other things, it’s something I’m having to learn to live with.