I never thought that my reading ability would change. Obviously, I don’t mean reading level or vocabulary, but with the depression, I have had to re-learn to read. I struggle with outwardly expressing emotions, that doesn't mean I don’t feel them, only that they stay locked inside my head, not my blood stream. The exception is through books.
Whether my own that I am writing or another’s that I am reading, I am an incredibly empathetic reader. My body hurts, my heart hurts, my mind soars, and my emotions race, right alongside the characters. This empathy is both incredible and can cause problems. Here’s an example. Would you give an alcoholic a beer and tell them not to drink it? Don’t give a suicidal teen a bottle of pills. Don’t give a depressed person a tragedy.
Now I need to qualify that. Reading doesn’t make me sad, and I only have my own experiences to go off. I read about characters who have heartbreak, and I can’t stop reading until their life turns around. Thankfully, I can read a book in a sitting; I tend just to get one hell of a book hangover. But if I am reading a book that is overly sad or even one that just has the characters going through a rough patch (read all novels), then I get down. My heart plummets, I get cuddly with my husband in that, hold me, I’m trying not to break, kind of way.
Overall my empathetic reading is a blessing, but recently I have had to update the way I read so that I can function after I am finished, have another book to jump right into, or can crawl into bed and sleep off the hangover.