Fictional Therapy

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a longstanding love affair obsession with the written word. My mom tells stories of 4 year old grumpyhawk annoying the crap out of my Pre-Kindergarten teachers because, while they were try to teach the other students how to sound out and read words, I was talking about sentences and wanting to read books. Even as a young kid, trips to the local library were one of my favorite things. I got older, and my health took a turn for the worse.

I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes right as I turned 13. On top of that, I had a long stretch of time where I just couldn’t seem to function on a daily basis. Getting out of bed was a monumental accomplishment, and trips outside left me drained. Doctors eventually diagnosed it as chronic fatigue, but that was mostly because they didn’t really know what was going on (fun, right?). Still, those weekly trips to the library were the highlight of my week, and one of the few things that forced me to get out of the house for an hour or so. I’d walk in, make a beeline for the new release science fiction section, and basically grab any book that hadn’t been there the last time, regardless of author or sub-genre.

Reading an amazing book became an escape for me. When I wasn’t fighting with my pancreas or overcome with exhaustion, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Jeff Noon, Bruce Sterling and many more helped get me through. I know it’s cliché, but a well written book is something you can close your eyes and almost see. For at least a little while, I could forget all the health issues and problems they cause, and just experience another world.

On top of the escape, I was exposed to new concepts in almost every book; transhumanism, robotics, computer programming, biology, chemistry, virtual reality; the list goes on and on. Many times, I’d read some idea and, in an effort to understand it better, look it up at the library the next time I was there (this was before the Internet was really a thing, kids, and you had to go to the library for things like that). Eventually, the chronic fatigue thing subsided, and I was able to join the outside world again. No matter how hectic things got, though, one thing never changed; I was always in the middle of reading at least one book.

Unfortunately, my health really isn’t that much better now. My pancreas still hates me, and I’ve got some major back issues (including multiple surgeries to try and fix the problem.) To this day, a good book is still an escape for me; almost a form of therapy. For at least a few hours here and there, my overactive brain can be somewhere else and not focused on the pain I am almost certainly experiencing, or fretting over my diabetes being messed up for some reason. I will eternally be grateful to my parents for instilling that love of reading in me at a very early age, and fostering it in me as I grew up.