Monday, October 08, 2012

Reading While Depressed

I have to get off that suicide topic. Here's something a little more helpful:

In the current issue of the Paris Review, a reader writes in asking what she should read while depressed. Review writer Sadie Stein answers with a number of interesting suggestions, followed by 67 reader comments with additional ideas.

If you need to clean your head out from our last post and discussion, read this:

Life-Affirming Reads


Dinah said...


Anonymous said...

Hmm. Maybe you need a category for the "depressed" patient who is with it enough to even consider reading, let alone write into a column asking for suggestions, and for the "severely" depressed, patients who cannot even concentrate enough to read a sentence, let alone a magazine article, let alone follow the plot of a half hour sitcom!
Stuff like this really annoys me because it pushes the agenda that depression is manageable and not that big of a deal. Eh, you can still read. Eh, you can still work. Eh, you're not sick.

Anonymous said...


Yes, The Brothers Karamazov was on my reading list when I was depressed. I used it to block anyone from coming into my room. Good and heavy book. Really, who can read this when depressed? I agree with you and just like they do in real life, shrinks often change the subject you mention suicide or they give you suggestions like be good to yourself and go take a bubble bath with a cup of herbal tea and a dead Russian man.

Anonymous said...

I miss being able to read a book. Depression has taken that love away from me.

Anonymous said...

So that person wasn't a vegetable, that doesn't mean that they're free of depression. The woman writing in even said that the depression was beginning to lift!

I hate people who criticize others for not being "bad enough". It really annoys me when people can't see that all depressed persons, whether functioning or not, deserve support and open discussion on how to ease their suffering. Such attitudes push the agenda that those whose depression isn't at suicide levels are undeserving of support relevant to their needs.

And from a personal perspective, it especially pisses me off when I "shower" once a week so my (former) doctor doesn't have to smell me... and then when I tell him I have hygiene issues he tells me I really don't. You'd think he'd be thankful I put in the effort this one day to park my ass on the bathtub floor, plop some soap on top of my head and proceed to fall asleep for two hours. But, no, my hygiene issues aren't "bad enough" to be considered real hygiene issues because I dared to shower at all ever.

And on a personal note more relevant to the link, when I'm depressed the best thing you can get me is a graphic novel. Cat vs Human contains few words for me to concentrate on - and being unable to remember what I've "read" simply means I enjoy the book for longer (no having to go back and reread in order to understand what I'm trying to read now).

Anonymous said...

"being unable to remember what I've "read" simply means I enjoy the book for longer (no having to go back and reread in order to understand what I'm trying to read now)."

And I find that frustrating because it's a waste of my time and a reminder of how much I can't function. Then again, I can't read graphic novels when depressed, either: I have zero comprehension. Just more demonstration that everyone is different.

Also, shower? not related to comprehension. I'd recommend some CBT or a home health aide. Neither of those will help with depression-caused cognitive impairment, unfortunatly.

No one is saying that people don't deserve support on all levels - though apparently that struck a chord for you. What I heard was frustration at having depression painted as a bit of time off, free time to read and cry and moan about life. God, I wish that was my experience with depression.

Jane said...

I love to read, and I have noticed that an amazing book can suck me out of dark depressions. But it has to be fast paced, highly stimulating, and hopefully filled with humor. Anything slow paced and serious is too much. YA novels are good. The Hunger Games sucked me in. I'm glad Roald Dahl was mentioned in the article.

For someone really funny and fast paced, I recommend Augusten Burroughs. He always writes a bunch of anecdotes. His brother, John Elder Robison, has Aspergers Syndrome and wrote "Look Me In The Eye." That is the funniest twist Aspergers Syndrome I have ever on read. And I think what made that book so funny, was that it wasn't really about AS. It was a normal biography, and it just included all of these bizarre twists and turns in his life that are a product of his different personality.

Burroughs also mentions Robison in his books, and it's always hilarious when he is describing his brother's Aspie moments.

Anonymous said...

People magazine. That is what has helped me in the past. It is light and trivial and I just have to laugh at the absurdities that are written in there.

Never underestimate some good smut to temporarily lift your spirits.