Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Reading Tastes

Anybody who knows me, or who has read this blog, knows that I love to read. It's one of my favorite activities and has been for as long as I can remember. 

Growing up, every member of my family loved to go to their own corner of the house and read. My older brother is famous for disappearing, only to be found reading in some odd spot, like, say, the woodpile. It was what we did.

I get attached to the characters in the books I read. That's why I read books over and over again. I like discovering new books, but it can be scary. I hate being disappointed by something I read, so it's easier to keep reading what I've read before. 

Out of all the genres, my absolute favorite is Fantasy. I don't like Science Fiction, which often gets lumped together with Fantasy. I think I make the taste distinction because most science fiction is based on some scientific fact or possibility, whereas fantasy is most often pure imagination. 

I like the escapist nature of Fantasy. I like visiting worlds where good and evil are fairly well defined. I like that a normal person can wake up one day with magical powers and save the world. It's a nice feeling. 

And Fantasy taps into daydreams and, well, fantasies that I have. The last work of science fiction that did that was the movie the Matrix. I've often wondered, "What if this life is a dream and I just can't wake up?" I don't often dream of laser guns and flying through space. I dream of seeing the world around me in a new light. I dream of tapping into the elemental forces of the world and using that power to create something wonderful and new. 

Not too long ago, I discovered a new sub-genre of Fantasy: Urban Fantasy. These are tales of magic and mythology that take place in the real world. These creatures that people think are just legends and myths are real, they've just been in hiding, waiting for a chance to step into the light and be accepted. Or they are struggling to maintain the secret of their existence. This again ties into my daydreams and fantasies. I like to think, "What if these creatures and people were real and had to exist in the real world? How would wizards and dragons and vampires and werewolves deal with technology and a population that doesn't believe they can exist?"

I love Fantasy. I want to write Fantasy. I make forays into other realms of fiction, but I always come back to the realm of the impossible, so that I can dream and wish that I lived in that sort of world.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What It Feels Like...

...when I am depressed.

It usually takes me a while to figure out I'm actually depressed. Sometimes it can take days. Usually, the quicker I figure it out, the quicker I can get over it. 

I know that depression is rather baffling for those who don't suffer from it, so I thought I would try and explain how my depression feels to me. I realize it is different for everyone, but I imagine that there are aspects that are similar, if not the same.

When I am in the middle of a depression, it feels rather like I am in the middle of a dense emotional fog. Any plans that I have for the future feel like they're rather unlikely to succeed, because I can't see that far ahead anymore. I try to stay on track, but it's hard to see the path and know where it's going. Even more immediate endeavors that are successful surprise me. About all I can see and cope with are my immediate decisions and actions. For someone, like me, who likes to plan ahead and choose my actions carefully, this state of mind is rather stressful.

I begin to fear talking to other people. Not because I'm worried about what they'll say to me, but because I'm worried about what I'll say to them.  See, I'm an intelligent and clever person. Sometimes the first thing I think of as a response isn't very nice. It's clever, but not nice. While depressed, I can't always filter what I say, and I don't want to ruin a potentially long-lasting friendship because I'm depressed.  Plus, generally, I try to be careful of the feelings of those around me. If I can't be sure of how someone will react to what I'm going to say, it feels safer to just withdraw into myself until I'm more in control of my words.

I find myself getting bored very easily, yet I find myself possessing a kind of nervous energy. I feel like I should be occupied with something, but can't focus. It's distracting and has a tendency to make me rather irritable.

When reading or watching a TV show or movie, I like to get emotionally involved in the characters. At least, while I'm in a normal state of mind. When I'm depressed, I can get too involved in the characters and it can have rather surprising consequences for me.  About eight years ago, the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had just come out on DVD. I had missed watching the show while it was being broadcast, so I was very excited to finish off the series. Of course, I was in the middle of a depression and was a little too involved. During the course of the season, a character that had been around since the very first episode got his eye poked out rather maliciously by one of the season's villains. At the end of the episode where that happened, I came back to myself huddled up in the fetal position, crying my eyes out. I could barely breathe. Now I choose what I entertain myself with very carefully when I'm feeling down.

My last observation is that, while depressed, it's not that I can't feel happy. I do sometimes. It's more like there's a damper on my more positive emotions. If I hear something that would normally make me laugh, I'll usually just smile. If it would make me smile, my mouth will twitch. I still enjoy the same things, my enjoyment is just reduced.

So that's it. If i observe other effects the next time I'm depressed, I'll try to make note of it and make a post about it.