Reading, and the little obsession…

Reading is a truly dear and enjoyable activity for me, and I wrote a big long post which included some struggles I had for learning to read as well as my current reading obsession. I’ve decided to break that big reading post into two posts, so that it would be more clear and easier to read. 🙂
One for dyslexia, and this one for the obsessing.

—–

So the little obsession actually is to with reading, as mentioned/implied.
I have this thing, where once I’m reading, I don’t ‘want’ to stop reading until I hit a natural break.
(I have to bracket want with apostrophes because it is actually a compulsion. I give in to it because I do usually enjoy reading. Quite a lot. But these are instances where it isn’t about enjoyment. Even if it started off that way.)
I get frustrated with myself because I know that it’s not necessary to keep going, and I want to stop, but I feel compelled to keep going.
Thinking to myself: “I don’t really want to keep reading, why am I still reading? Am I really getting anything out of this now?”
At that point I’m usually thinking more about stopping than about the thing I’m reading.
But I still don’t stop, of course. It can get really frustrating.

Fortunately for me I’ve now managed this alright with books, so the stuff I read almost entirely for enjoyment is not very affected at this point. (Getting a book mark and knowing that if I put my book down it’ll still be there for me when I come back really helped.)

Things I read online however, which is most of what I read, are quite different. I’m endlessly worried that if I don’t finish reading, or at least checking/skimming, that I’ll never be able to find the page again. (even though it *should* be mostly unimportant, or findable again)
Because I spend so much time searching for new things to read and reading, and checking references, I can end up sometimes with dozens of tabs I haven’t gotten to reading looking at, even though I’m done and want to get off the computer.
I do genuinely like to read and reference this way, it provides the largest amount of information on a topic, usually adding to the information I’ve already read. It gets problematic though, when I actually want to do something else.
Sometimes this is as simple as wanting to start looking at something new, and I feel like I should finish with what I’m already looking at, even though I don’t want to.
Other times it’s a direct interference with something I need to do, like when I want/need to go to bed for instance.

It’s a very odd sort of issue, because it’s only an issue at all due to the emotions needlessly tied up in it that are causing problems. (Isn’t that so often the case?) I don’t seem to quite so easily shed them, and they are so much more difficult to wrangle when I’m tired.
I also can pull myself away from reading without real issue *if* I think I’ll be coming back soon, like if I get up to stretch, or eat, or need to go somewhere.

But, it’s still interfering with my life, so it’s clear it needs to be handled in some manner.
I’ve tried several methods of just managing it, and most things have improved it but not caused it to stop, and some have done nothing or made it slightly worse.
For example: Systematically book marking things so that I can just book mark it and then go.
This get’s problematic, because after a little while of infrequently getting back to things, I didn’t believe myself anymore and knew I was just doing it so I could close things.
I hate lying to myself, even over stupid things, so this needlessly tied up a whole bunch of self-dislike and distrust into an issue that didn’t need any more complications.

I tried to salvage the attempt though, as I thought to myself “well, what’s wrong with not getting back to this stuff? Nothing!” But some how this didn’t convince me emotionally.
Therein lies the rub: Knowing actively isn’t feeling, and it isn’t knowing unconsciously.
Sometimes feeling takes over while you aren’t paying attention very carefully.
As much as I know there’s nothing wrong with missing out on bits of information, and there’s something wrong with continuing even when I don’t want to, I can’t seem to convince myself in the moment that I’m acting on it until I’ve been doing it for a while. It’s so unconscious to just keep reading and reading and reading.

I find it’s especially hard to just close things I had half read, and only took a pause in (sometimes hours before) because I was checking a source, or because I had allowed myself to move on to something else with the internal promise to come back to this because I am still interested in it.
So far I’ve managed to convince myself that I can just leave the tabs and browser and come back to it later, since it’s so unlikely that things will freeze up or get closed. But it still leaves me with the problem of fighting to convince myself to stop reading and reach that point, and also remind myself that, that is indeed okay. As well as the issue of still coming back to so many damn tabs to deal with the next day. Bleh.

It’s not nearly as bad it could be, I have stopped myself entirely from feeling this way about reading things I dislike and/or am not interested in. (Except when I’m having an out of control day, or am too tired to be fully aware of my unobtrusive compulsive actions until I’ve been doing them for a while. This doesn’t come up much, but sometimes.)
When I first noticed I was doing this one, it was because I was doing it with everything, and I had pause to wonder why I felt the need to continue reading things which were just irritating/not interesting.
It’s odd how these traits just seem to develop.
This one started off so innocuous. Of course that makes sense, because the ones I notice, and get rid of right away, are those which jump into being unpleasant from the get go. (Probably an extension of the fact that so many of my obsessions/compulsions when I was younger were almost purely a form of mental self-harm. That part of myself hasn’t entirely gone away, I’m not sure it ever will. Even though it’s now been a couple years since those kinds of thoughts went unchallenged.)

An aside: This obsession is also the reason I hate facebook’s layout. I use facebook for messages because almost everyone I know is on there and I don’t like phones. But if I ever let myself think of scrolling to see if there’s anything interesting in the feed, it’s an infinite scroll with no natural breaks. (*Internally Screams* AHhhhhh!) I’ve learned to give myself about 5-10 minutes on there and then I have to either be writing on a specific post, or I’m off of there.

The biggest trouble with this whole reading obsessing, is mostly just that it interferes with my ability to get to bed. My husband asked me why I didn’t just come to bed when I was tired. I wish it was that simple, it never has been, between anxiety and insomnia, but this compulsion added to the complication. So I told him about the compulsion.
He was understanding, but didn’t have any suggestions unfortunately.
Maybe, as silly as it seems, I need to give myself a ‘natural page break’ by setting myself a bed time. (Hey, if it works with facebook, why not?)
I didn’t really have one as a kid, and I doubt I’ll ever be good at keeping them or have a proper one. But maybe if I give myself a spectrum, like “Sometime between 8pm and 2am I should start focusing on getting ready for bed, or at least away from the computer so that I can get to bed.” kind of a gentle guideline for myself.

Thinking about it, this is (fortunately) the only activity compulsion (-non thought-) which is interfering with my life at the moment. (I count anything which I can’t just push away as interfering.)
And the thoughts compulsions aren’t even as frequent as this one, certainly not every day, just more intrusive.
Yet again I’m glad my OCD is mostly managed at the moment. I remember a not distant past when this would have been the least of my OCD related worries.
Agoraphobic responses are bad enough to deal with on their own, I certainly have no need of obsessions on top of that. Heh.

Hope you all are having calm and enjoyable reading. 😉

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5 thoughts on “Reading, and the little obsession…

  1. You know what? These days I can literally put down a book mid-sentence and come back later and carry on just fine! So I certainly don’t fit into the same obsession box as you. My reading obsessions tend to be ones like “I won’t fall asleep at night unless I’ve read something before turning the light out” and “I need to have something to read with me if I’m going outside the house for more than ten minutes”.

    • That’s really interesting!
      So for you it’s more like a need to be able to, and to have done so. 😀

      Well in this case I’m glad you’re not in the box with me, it’s a place I’d rather not be either.
      I don’t think I could stop mid-sentence, though because of my bookmark I now feel safe stopping mid-page. And even when it falls out I’m still okay, because when it’s been in there it causes a gap which makes it easy for me to go back to the page I want.

      I always like to have either a book to read, or a book to write in when I go out, but I am okay without, they just give me something to do if I have to wait.

      Maybe we’ll have to trade reading suggestions? hehehe

    • Mm, tough question. Sorry, this is gonna be long. XP

      Fiction is my favourite for pleasure reading, science-fiction and fantasy being my favourite of the fictions. Mystery is enjoyable, historical and modern alike can be fun.
      (The fiction genre I don’t like is ‘romance’. Makes me cringe. But if a story is based around a love story I’m not opposed to that, like I enjoyed “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” it’s really very fluffy, and only a little bit fantasy, but it was fun.)
      Also true crime, and personal/true accounts of a variety of experiences can be enjoyable/interesting to read. (Though I’m iffy on popular figures, I tend to like it to be someone who isn’t, or at least wasn’t, in the limelight at the time of writing. — I’ve read things like “I am Najood, aged 10 and divorced” and “Stolen innocence” by Elissa Wall and found those to be very good reads.)

      I like books about science, especially psychology (preferably with lots of references/citations). Biology, especially evolution is very fascinating to me, also though I’ve yet to read one, I’d love to find a non-dry science book about plants. 😀
      (There’s a non-dry science book about the elements, so I’m sure this can be managed)
      History, although preferably bits of history which aren’t covered so regularly (so preferably non-European, or non-European-centric) bonus if it’s history from anthropological science, or comparative civilization style perspective.
      Books about cultures I’m also keen on, especially if it’s a modern cultures where some of the aspects of it are explored and given historical context.

      Books on semantics/linguistics — it’s really slow going for me to read them, as they are often somewhat heavy and dry even when they are trying hard to be comedic, but I do actually enjoy them.
      Likewise, books actually on languages, or language learning. 🙂

      Umm, some self-help books, and things posing as self help books. It might sound silly to some perhaps, but I find they can be interesting. Lots of them are based on utter woo (like the four agreements, I enjoyed screaming at that book. It’s awful to the point of funny, full of superstition.)
      Some of them however are very useful. (Like one of the books I’ve bought specifically on DBT to treat anxiety disorders, which has citations to studies [YAY!])

      Comedy books. Straight up comedy books, I love ’em. Usually utter fluff, and so good for a bad day. 🙂

      Yes, so there isn’t much I don’t like, I am open to trying new things I haven’t read before.
      About the only two types of books I tend to stumble over are romance (the aforementioned cringing) and books based on superstitions I’m already familiar with which are based around trying to convince the person their superstition is correct…

      How about yourself?

      • Well, like you, I like reading pretty much anything except romance!!! I also especially like speculative fiction (a cool term to cover sci fi, fantasy, and their various incarnations).
        Perhaps it’s easiest to give you a list of the last few books I’ve read:
        – the ‘Ender’ series by Orson Scott Card (“Ender’s Game”, etc; classic sci fi)
        – “The Science of the Art of Psychotherapy” by Allan N. Shore, which looks at the emerging multidisciplinary work being done between the fields of neuroscience and psychotherapy
        – “Valis” – Philip K Dick (more classic sci fi; I recently read “Among Others” by Jo Walden, which is a fantasy novel described as ‘a love letter to science fiction’, and was reminded of all these wonderful authors I hadn’t read in ages )
        – Some of Patricia Brigg’s urban fantasy
        – “Cryoburn” by Louis Bujold McMaster. It would be impossible to overstate how much I LOVE Louis Bujold McMaster.
        – “Poincare’s Prize” by George G Szpiro – about the quest to prove Poincare’s theorem
        – “Catcher in the Rye” – Salinger
        Like you, I prefer my non-fiction to have some basis in fact! There’s usually a bit more of a mix, but we’ve been on summer holidays over here, and I’ve been on a real sci fi binge. I also read some psychology,
        mystery, thriller and the odd bit of literature too.
        I can’t stand a lot of self-help stuff because, as you say, so much of it is just superstition and wish-fulfilment, or people trying to make a buck by exploiting others’ insecurities! Ugh. I do read the magazine New Scientist, and it contains book reviews, so I’ll let you know if I come across a book like the one you’re seeking on plants.

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