I believe that everything happens for a reason. I’ve shared my story of how and why I decided to give romance a try but I’ve never discussed how in just a few short months after I picked up my first romance, my mental health began to plummet. I have depression and anxiety due to PTSD. Until March of 2018, I was great at ducking and dodging my triggers, but around the second week of March, I wasn’t able to anymore. It honestly felt like all the ghosts I tried to keep locked away were escaping the closets I locked them in and were free.
No shade thrown on the mental health system but the beginning of my process to get help was not the best. In the beginning on one of my darkest days, I went to the hospital only to leave within 20 minutes of basically waiting and being given an appointment a full two weeks away!
A Life Counselor at my job called a local mental health facility and asked if I could attend their outpatient group therapy. I did that for two weeks before starting a four week group therapy with the military.
I still have a long road ahead of me, but I feel I’ve definitely made some progress. Reading romance has made such an impact on my journey to getting better. Romance novels were what I carried in my bag with snacks back and forth to group, to read if we didn’t start on time or had a break. They’re what I listen to in the car on my way to appointments.
There are so many wonderful things about the romance genre, so many reasons I love it, but I want to share 3 reasons why I feel it is good for my mental health.
- Escapism: Now I have always been one who reads for the escape but I feel this was heightened once my mental health started to shift. When I started reading romance I was mostly reading authors like Debbie Macomber and Raeanne Thayne. These women authors write stories that take place somewhere that quickly feels like home for me, with characters who feel like such real people with real problems. Reading their novels, I instantly become sucked into the story and forgot about what I have going on. When you’re in a constant battle with your own mind and thoughts, it is refreshing to focus on something else–to get so lost in the story that for those few pages, few hours of reading, you weren’t in your own head.
- Perspective: One thing I enjoyed about attending group therapy is that I got to spend a few hours around other people who were also going through something. Our stories weren’t the same, our symptoms weren’t the same but we had the fact that we were in the same place for a reason in common. One thing I’ve really loved about the romance novels I’ve read is how there is always a big underlying element of hope in the background amongst the angst and characters whose lives aren’t perfect. Reading romance has helped put into perspective for me that everyone is battling, has battled or will battle something and because of that, I never have to tackle this thing alone.
- The Happy Ever After: Last weekend I re-watched a childhood favorite movie with my daughter, called “Now and Then,” and in the movie one of the girls tells her friend who just found out her parents were divorcing, “It’s normal for things to be shitty.” That is what I started believing during my darkest days and then I really started paying attention to the romances I was reading. The character’s have to put in work to grow through their issues and eventually make it to their happy ever after. There is nothing wrong with wanting that and reading romance has been a big motivating factor for me to continue getting better because I deserve, like everyone does, my own happily ever after.
I hope you had a wonderful weekend, Friends! I was a little hesitant to type this post but I want to be as honest and as transparent as I can with you. If you have any recommendations to send my way, I’m always looking for those. Until next time, take care of yourselves!