• Tom Robinson

Girls Aloud star Nicola Roberts champions reading your way to better mental health

I was so thrilled to see an article on the Music News page this week, in which Girls Aloud star Nicola Roberts discusses the benefits of reading to better mental wellbeing.


She is an advocate for The Reading Agency's new 'Read, Talk, Share' initiative which aims to combat loneliness through the power of reading, and is being launched at an especially relevant time with regard to the current restrictions and circumstances.


Known as 'bibliotherapy' or 'bibliography', reading has long been known to help people in all sorts of different and difficult situations. There has even been scientific research conducted, looking into the benefits of reading on mental health, with several positive results and correlations being reported.


In fact, it was one of the ways I managed to finally reach remission from depression and bipolar disorder - through learning and reading memoirs and self-help books.


I must have read between thirty to forty books on and around the subject of my condition, which then in turn, inspired me to write my own. I think the combination of relatable story, plus the self-analysis and real journal, is especially unique and important, so I'm determined to get it out there for other people to benefit from.


Although I've always read and acknowledged the escapism and pleasure that comes with getting involved in a good book, it wasn't until more recently that I came to appreciate the positive impact that it had on my mental wellbeing.


Nicola Roberts explains that this was the case for her too, and that she came to discover the benefits and pleasures of reading, later in her life. She reveals that she now wishes she'd made more time for reading as she was growing from a young member of a pop band, into a fully grown and independent woman.


She goes on to explain that she has found the solace and comfort that is gained through reading books therapeutic, and especially beneficial throughout the lonely times of the pandemic. She says;


"Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, a good book enables you to leave your reality and get lost in the story you can't put down. There's comfort in the occupancy you can't quite explain. During lockdown, especially for those living alone, while there is nothing to busy your mind but TV and your own thoughts, reading can be a therapeutic escape".

She's absolutely right of course, and I've been benefiting subconsciously by reading books throughout the pandemic and indeed the whole of my illness. I know that I benefitted from other sufferers' stories when I was in the depths of despair, because there's the empathetic and compassionate elements that come with reading their accounts of mental illness and recovery that are beneficial too.


At the moment I'm reading Cordelia Feldman's amazing book called 'In Bloom' which is a semi autobiographical account of her experience of bipolar disorder in the early stages of its development.


I'm loving the characters, and I will finish it tonight because I've only got a couple of chapters to go. I've taken a couple of weeks to read it because I've been busy with other things, but I think that's a good thing because I've been carrying it around with me mentally, and considering all the different insights and elements that the story offers.


I've been living through the main character 'Tanya's' story, which mirrors my own experience on so many levels. I am so drawn to books of this nature which explore the world of bipolar madness, and I hope that I will be able to meet Cordelia one day, because we've been in touch before and we're the same age. Our lives seem to have followed a similar pattern, with the illness disrupting everything and making life challenging and testing to say the very least!


I am going to write a whole post about Cordelia's book 'In Bloom' after I finish it tonight, so look out for a very interesting review tomorrow morning!


If you would like to read the article about bibliotherapy and The Reading Agency's initiative with Nicola Roberts then you can find it here.


I have also added an interesting video to the home page which discusses the benefits of reading on mental wellbeing.


What books are you all reading? Which ones help you to escape and combat loneliness in lockdown? I would love to hear from you, so do please send me a message.


Thanks for reading,


Speak to you soon,

TR

www.dyingtostayalive.com