My mind is constantly going. I sleep to dream. I wake to the nightmare of reality.

Three themes fight for attention. My thoughts obsess over death, school, church responsibilities, school, church, death, death, church, school, death, school, church …

Like a black and white film on a constant loop.

Each thought is equally intense. It eats up my emotional energy. And I sleep to dream. There is no relief from the prison that my mind has become. I am trapped inside sentenced to repeat the cycle of thoughts until the end of time.

It’s a known fact that if you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. Routine brings on the barrage of thoughts in order. The only part of my routine that brings any respite is evening. This is when the TV is turned on.

Sometimes I’ll watch during the day but that comes with inevitable guilt. I try to do enough chores around the house to convince myself I deserve a break. It doesn’t always work. Either the guilt is still there or I can’t stop cleaning.

Cleaning comes with its own set of angry thoughts that always bring along guilt for company. It’s a mindless enough task that the other three competitors surface regularly.

When others tell me about their day I admit I don’t always hear. My thoughts are ruthless when it comes to demanding attention. As more and more family members come home they fill the house with their presence. My thoughts start to weaken slightly. School is usually triumphant until evening.

The black frame of distraction lights up. Story after story flashes across the screen beckoning me in. Cheap, shiny distraction. The drama in my head allows the drama on screen to take center stage. Total focus is required. Otherwise my three demons come back out to play.

Tides are turning in my favor. For a week or so I have had victory after victory over my own mind. My demons are tired and resting more often now. Though my mind is still a carnival of thoughts revolving around an old merry-go-round. I owe my temporary reprieve to books and the first season of Reign found on Netflix. (The second season is currently in progress on CW.)

Books are forbidden fruit to me. As much as I love reading I can’t afford to. It’s become a family joke. “Kids, say goodbye to your mom. She’s reading again. She’ll be back in a couple days.” I read for a couple hours last night while the World Series was playing a few feet away from where I was sitting. I can tune anything out for a book. I only saw the SF Giants win because I happened to be out of my seat momentarily.

I like to solve the temptation to immerse myself in a book by choosing quick and easy reads. Something short that grips my attention right away. It becomes a blockbuster movie of words and I read until it ends.

The last book I read took a lot more mental effort than that. The Blind Side was not a fluffy chick flick that called for popcorn and tissues. It was an intense view of social problems wrapped up in the joy of football.

Now I’m reading The Book Thief. It’s also an intense view of social problems wrapped up in gloom and despair. Yet I cannot put it down. In the middle of all the dreary oppression of Nazi Germany is the remarkable human spirit and its will to live.

I’ve noticed that I have been picking depressing stories to read lately. If it doesn’t have death in it, it at least has poverty and unfairness. I crave something real and these stories offer that.

Anne of Green Gables wasn’t depressing but I sobbed like a baby when Matthew died! Bridge to Terabithia was extremely difficult to read out loud. I skipped one line. It succinctly summed up what it feels like to lose someone to death and I couldn’t read it out loud. The Blind Side lit a fire inside me. The Book Thief is repairing my broken soul.

Every night I have to watch Reign. When we first started watching we watched several episodes at a time. On school nights there isn’t always enough time for more than one. Last night’s episode was called Dirty Laundry and it was really funny. I needed the comic relief.

I have heard authors talk about the horrible circumstances they keep throwing at their characters. Reign is a visual novel that does just that. The characters never get to come up for air before another impossible situation is thrown at them.

I really appreciate the writers for the entertaining way they handle most of the deaths on the show. Every episode calls for several deaths or murders. A good writer makes the viewer feel the magnitude of death, that these are actually people being knocked off for one political reason or another. Yet the writers outdid themselves with the accidental death of the Bohemian Royal. The cleanup was really funny. Subtle, sarcastic, and very funny.

I find myself thinking more of these fictitious worlds than any of my obsessive thoughts. It’s a coping mechanism I realize. A very welcome coping mechanism.

Now instead of feeling like I’m drowning in my own head I feel like it takes a long time to surface from my stories into reality. Since my mind never turns off, I would rather entertain these thoughts. Instead of wishing I could slip away for a while until my life calms down, I wish I could slip away for my stories. It’s kind of the same sentiment. Just prettier packaging.

Dishes, laundry, holidays … do I have to? They remind me of my own life. I would rather be distracted.