Reader’s Withdrawal Syndrome

by perpetualflaneur

In the past few months and since my last post, I was so focused in enriching my professional prospects that I’ve forgone the opportunity to read (and write) during my personal time. It was not until recently that I realized that I haven’t read to my heart’s and mind’s content, that I was proactively causing my intellectual and spiritual imbalance. Certainly, it was close to wreaking havoc in my otherwise calm and balanced life.

So, it got me thinking. Could it be that I experienced a form of a reader’s withdrawal syndrome? Is there even such a thing? If so, what are those symptoms? Thus, my attempt in enlightening you, dear reader, of what it was like and in warning you of the dangers of not reading for a month or so. Of course, these can all be avoided with a dose of your choice of literature from your nearest library, bookstore, or online store (whichever you prefer!).

Late-night Munchies. A symptom that attacks at night. Regardless of how tired or drained you are from your day’s work, your mind just won’t let you sleep. It keeps on reminding you of works you have thoroughly enjoyed: of Haruki Murakami’s haunting yet beautiful words from Sputnik Sweetheart or Nabokov’s playful writing in Lolita or Toni Morrison’s depiction of Sula. It’ll force you to run to your bookshelf or even pull-out your kindle application from your phone. But you, knowing that there is a long day ahead, refuse to yield to the power of the late-night munchies. You struggle to move on to sleep. And so you will, until you give in.

Character Hallucinations. These come and go as they please. Sometimes, you think you see a cockroach-like figure (reminiscent of Kafka’s creation in Metamorphosis), or a little girl sweeping the street a-la Cosette or a lady with a baby like Hester Prynne with an “A” on her dress, or in some instances, at night, you see the Prince of Dreams from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Series. And you just can’t ignore them. They just appear everywhere you go.

Blank Stare, Zombie Mode. If you are a fan of Zombie flicks, then you certainly know what this means. Everything seems to be slow and lifeless around you. You become a Zombie, whose lifeline has been cut-off, and now you are out to chew out anyone within reach. With whatever energy you have left, you will eat them with gusto. Also, paired with this is the ‘blank stare.’ In this minor symptom, you simply give everyone a blank look. It’s not that you cannot understand what they’re saying or that they’re not making any sense, but it happens because your soul, your humanity, is losing its presence (thus, in Zombie-like mode). Because as a reader, your intellectual and spiritual energy together with your imagination are tied with those pages, bringing vivid hues to life, hence, the spark and sparkle in your eyes.

Minor Slurring, Lack of Words. Common in daily interactions, you start using the same words over and over and over again. Though your ability to interchange words still remain, your databank runs low on alternatives, resulting in you being repetitive and becoming, wait for it, mundane. At times, when you do find the words flowing out of your mouth seamlessly, you then start to slur a word or two, then some more. Think of a word processor with many red and green underlines for all the words and sentences. Yes. That.

While it is not my goal to list all possible syndromes, at least you are warned of the dangers of not reading. As to the moral of this blurb, it is simple, if not straightforward: to maintain an intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally balanced life, regardless of what you do and how busy you are, read. 

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