A friend in need is a friend indeed.

This is the quote that often plays in my mind whenever I turn to some book on a gloomy day.

I would like to begin by clarifying that I am not a bookworm. However, since my early college days, I did have the habit of reading at least a couple of books every month. One of the reasons was because I did not have any good friends. This was not because I lacked the social skills, but rather because I was a fairly straightforward person. I am someone who respects everyone’s opinions, so long as they do not try to thrust theirs upon me. While many people may not consider this a negative trait, those around me often misunderstood and even disliked me for my unyielding personality.

Things turned a bit ugly when they started bullying me. I became increasingly depressed, which eventually forced me into a social withdrawal of sorts. It was hard to pinpoint what was more disheartening: people judging me, or I not being myself anymore, just to obey the socially accepted norms. This made me feel lonely and worthless, with barely a hint of optimism or positivity.

I tried calling up my friends, but nobody had the time or patience to listen me out. Things got to a point where I started looking for medication, and I soon found one. Well, don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about a literal medication here. The one I turned to, however, was no less effective and soothing.

Prangyasri Priyambada struggled with depression as a result of bullying at college

Yes, I am indeed talking about books. I started by reading some of my textbooks, and then I re-read them before turning to non-academic e-books. The more I read, the better I felt from within. Little by little, I grew more optimistic about the future. Surprisingly, this phase came in the middle of the most stagnant period in my life, and I am really glad it did. Reading instilled into me the virtues of honesty and self-love. It reinforced my belief that we must understand and appreciate the fact that everyone is different and beautiful in their own way. Books reignited my self-belief, bringing back my zeal for life. And for this, I shall be eternally indebted to them.


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