I often talk, dear reader, about my chronic pain and it’s something I’m coming to grips with. But there’s something that I don’t often talk about, though I do mention it from time to time, and that’s the deterioration of my cognitive mind. I was an English major less than a decade ago and I sailed through six years of college without much effort. I probably read more books than you can shake a stick at, and I read books beyond those I was required to for my curriculum because, well, I liked to read. Liked being the operative word here. Actually I was a voracious reader for most of my life. I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t love to read. Hell, I have a library on my computer that has over a thousand books, and I can say that I’ve read most of them. While I’m not a fan of the literary canon (Literature with a capital L doesn’t always appeal to me — don’t get me started on it… just don’t), I’ve read a lot of it because I had to. My professors and I went ’round and ’round in class about that enough. One good thing about being a middle-aged student in college was I totally wasn’t afraid to speak my mind. Most of my profs were my age or younger. I wasn’t afraid of them. ^_^ Anyway, my point is, that I was a bibliophile. Those of y’all who used to follow my old blog might remember me talking about books I’d read and posting memes about reading books and stuff. It was a big part of my life for a long time.
That all changed, I want to say about four, could be five years ago? Time and I are not friends… Anyway, it was about the time I took Cymbalta for my fibromyalgia. Now, I honestly cannot remember how long I took that vile drug, but it honestly and truly changed me for the worse. I believe it wasn’t more than six months. The withdrawal symptoms from the Cymbalta were much… MUCH worse than actually taking the drug. The drug just made me a zombie, but withdrawing made me… I got migraines again after a years of not having them, and I started getting brain zaps. There were other things, but worse of all — and I really cannot explain this — I started having trouble with reading comprehension. Don’t get me wrong, I can still read and understand most of what I read. But sometimes I have to read things once or twice to truly get it. This makes reading books difficult. Also, I can’t definitively tie this to taking the Cymbalta or withdrawing from it; it just happened around that time. I’m only in my mid-fifties, dear reader, I shouldn’t be losing my ability to read for decades.
I’ll tell y’all the truth, I didn’t even realize how long it had been since I’ve sat down and read a book until I started trying to a book. I can’t read for hours like I used to because I have to go back and re-read paragraphs and sometimes one or two pages because what I’m reading doesn’t make sense. Mostly it’s because I mis-read or misunderstood something previous. So, reading has become tedious rather than enjoyable. I thought at first that it was my eyesight, but I’ve had my eyes checked a couple of times these past few years, and they haven’t gotten that bad, so… I honestly don’t think I’m too old to read. I mean, I can read blog posts and such, but anything too long is just a chore. And even when reading blogs, I tend not to comment until I’ve read them more than once just in case I’ve read them wrong. Dear reader, I used to be able to read a book a day! Now I’m slogging through a 200 page book and it’s taken me a week to get through the first two chapters. I don’t even know if I can correct this or get better at it. I suppose I could get audio books, but it’s not the same. I mean, some of the books I enjoy reading are old, obscure, and not on audio books. LibriVox might have them, but that’s not guaranteed.
I think, in a way, that I’ve put a finger on why my mind has been so restless these past years. Reading books used to fill up a lot of my free time, and now that’s gone. I haven’t found anything similar to fill that void. Well, video games. I mean, whenever I play a video game it’s like reading and interactive story in 3D — one that changes every time I play. Especially the video games I play, which are RPG (role playing games). I have a pretty specific taste in video games, and I’m a casual player who doesn’t like hard games. I think I would love games like Dark Souls if they weren’t so bloody hard. I mean, I’ve watched other people play them and I think that the world they’ve built is pretty awesome and they’re very pretty games, but dying every five seconds just isn’t my jam. Those are stories I’d love to “read”. But, contrary to popular belief, I don’t sit around and play video games all day. I have this weird quirk that prevents me from even firing up my game until evening. It’s an “after hours” pastime, and I can’t really explain why. Doug says he doesn’t care if I play them from the moment I wake up until I go to bed, but I honestly just feel weird if I try to play them during the day. Even if I don’t have anything else to do. But I digress, what I’m trying to say is I think that playing video games has — partially — filled that void, but only partially. Anyway, I miss being able to read. Watching things — TV, movies, videos, just don’t cut for me. They’re all passive activities. I usually have to be doing something else while I’m watching something. So that’s just not the way. I have YouTube on while typing this — a video about true crime. It’s interesting. So yeah. There’s my ramble for today. Thanks for listening.