Page diving

Last night I did something that I hadn't done in a really, really long time: I got lost in a book.

I know what you're saying. But Carrie, you say, I thought reading was your favorite hobby. I thought you read at least 2-3 books per week. And indeed, my dearest readers, this is all very true. I do read copious amounts, mostly geeky stuff with the occasional smutty novel thrown in for good measure. I enjoy my reading, and always have. I won every reading contest ever offered in my elementary school without hardly trying because I naturally read that much. My first job was at the local public library. I now go to the one that's a little farther away because I've already worked my way through most of their books.

You get the picture.

Most of the time, my reading is entertaining, interesting, and informative. I enjoy this part. But every once in a while, I stumble across a really good book that causes me to lose track of all time and place and almost literally fall into the pages. I re-read one of those books last night.

I didn't actually intend to stay up until 5am reading- it just happened. I only meant to leaf through a few pages until my eyes and brain tired out and I could fall asleep. After I flipped the first page, however, it stopped mattering how tired I became. At some point, I would have Scotch-taped my eyeballs open if it meant I could keep reading. I remember glancing at the clock at about 1 am. Then it was 3:30 am. Then? 4:57 am and my eyes were burning and my brain hurt and (this was what finally convinced me to close the book) I really had to pee.

It has been many months since I've done this. After about January or February of this year, this depression began to worsen and my reading stopped having that kind of deep, primal joy that could enable me to lose track of 4+ hours. Reading was a pleasant something to do, a way to distract myself while compulsively exercising, a means of passing the time on my subway ride to and from work. But I stopped looking up from my book with a start, realizing that oh crap, this is my stop, let's hustle it, baby! Instead, I stared at the blur of DC scenery rushing by me, at the rapid flicker of the lights in the tunnels.

As I slid back into the anorexia, the little concentration that hadn't been totally sapped by the depression was simply starved away. I couldn't lose myself in a book because the slightest mention of food would leave me drooling like an idiot. My stomach would grumble and knot itself up as coffee became the base of my "food pyramid," and these rumblings would rudely pull me out of my book and back to reality and the breathless anticipation of my next "meal."

Don't get me wrong- I read some mighty fine literature during this time. Reading was still one of the highlights of my day. But I wasn't with the book, I wasn't in it. The words were something outside of me and I was aware that I was reading.

Last night, it stopped becoming reading and started becoming experiencing.

One of the things I work on with my therapist is mindfulness, being fully in the present moment and not mentally running through a laundry list of Things I Need To Do or Things I Should Have Done. I'm not very skilled at this. To be honest, I kind of suck at it. Last night, though, I felt it.

True, I'm paying the price a bit today. I'm dead tired. My eyes hurt. But I'd say it was pretty well worth it.

posted under |


Julia Hell said...

Thank you so much for this post--I think that was one of the things that hurt most when my anorexia was at its worst--losing the ability to bury myself so deeply in language that everything else dissolved. It's coming back to me now, like gaining a self and losing a self all at once...

Melanie S said...

Really getting into a book like that is something I've missed since my depression started. I used to read at least 2 books a day and really get into the stories and absolutely loved it!

Depression has killed that--I haven't read a book that wasn't required for classes in 6 years. I can't get into any of them. It sucks.

I'm glad you could get so lost in a book. It's one of the greatest feelings. :)

Sarah said...

3 things:
-"It's the nutrition, stupid" applies here :) So glad you're getting back to health.
-I am just like you! Love books and am always reading--have been since the age of 3 1/2. I am lightning fast, which is actually irritating as I fly through books and can't keep up with enough new books to keep myself busy. On vacations I sometimes bring a suitcase of books along.
-What book were you reading?! I am always want suggestions of engrossing reads!

sad mom said...

57 days until my current favorite author's new book is released. I waited to read her last book until I was on vacation for a week and I read nearly non-stop for 4 days including one all-nighter. Then I started over to get what I missed the first time.

Book lust is a good thing!!!

maddog said...

yeah, what book was it?

dilma said...

Like other commenters, I'm curious: what were you re-reading?

Angela Lackey said...

I really missed reading - which was such an integral part of my being - when I started sliding into anorexia. When my depression and anxiety worsened around December, it was all I could do to read a newspaper article (and I'm a reporter!) I had read everything - everything! - I could get my hands on since I can remember, and to struggle with a few sentences ...

It was like part of me had died, and I couldn't get that part back.

I still struggle with reading (my doctor thinks I need more nutrition), but I'm finally re-reading a novel that draws me and keeps me there in the moment. And I can't believe how grateful I feel to be able to read say 10, 15 pages a night - it feels like I'm coming back to life, at least a little.

Miss Keira said...

I have missed losing myself in a book. As the eating disorder + depression worsened I lost interest in reading and lacked the concentration.

My book choice changed and I just read, well attempted to read, ed memoirs... and all that did was push me further down.

Now that I have increased my nutrition (and weight) I finally finished my first non-ED book in 2yrs. I hold on to that feeling now as a really strong reason not to go back to the ed.

I remembered how much I loved books + literature and even changed my university major so I could take english lit subjects :)

Cammy said...

I can't take the suspense, what book, what book???

I totally agree with you about being "in" a book versus merely getting through it. It bugs the hell out of me to see a book on the shelf that I know I have read, but can't remember anything about it because my brain was so starved and distracted at the time I read it. Memory/focus has been one of my favorite parts of recovery! I'm really glad that you were able to lose yourself in a book like that this weekend (which book???), maybe this can be a good motivator to remind yourself of when you're struggling. Even a brilliant brain like yours can't run on empty forever, and you deserve as many nights spent engrossed in literature as you could ever want. Take care, and please tell me what book it was!

PS word verification is "barful."

Carrie Arnold said...

LOL, okay this is kind of embarrassing but...I was re-reading the seventh Harry Potter book.

I meant to do another blog today, too, but my eyeballs still hurt too much!

raspberryclover said...

Haha! No need to be embarrassed. Rock on, girl. :)

Silly Girl said...

I know this feeling. I love to read and it was one of the things that took a hit with my ED. Since I have been recovering, my reading appetite has come back full force. I'm glad to hear a fellow reader is back.

IrishUp said...

I've been scouring the house to find HP#6 to reread, in anticipation of the movie. I've found 7, 4, & 5, I may have to start earlier.....

Rock on indeed.

Carrie Arnold said...

Silly Girl,

I *love* how your "reading appetite" returned. I just love that phrase!


Good luck finding HP#6. I really enjoyed the movie.

I Hate to Weight said...

if i can't get into books, i know i'm starting to get depressed. it's almost scarey.

on the flip side, if i DON'T have a good book, i'm more likely to get depressed.

i'm glad you could get pulled in again. there's nothing like it

Sarah said...

Have you seen the movie? I just saw it on Saturday and it was so engrossing.

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home

ED Bites on Facebook!

ED Bites is on Twitter!

Search ED Bites

About Me

My photo
I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

Drop me a line!

Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


Popular Posts


Recent Comments