Radical Acceptance: The Days Of Wine & Roses

Happy Presidents’ Day! I hopefully will have some news coming soon to share about the future growth of Mental Filmness. I never really meant this to be “the Sharon show,” it mostly ended up that way after the first year because the pandemic hit, a lot of folks were understandably not into watching films about mental health due to the pandemic, and I ended up having a lot of time on my hands and thinking, the show must go on. Ideally though, I’d like to put the focus on different stories and storytellers (and will try to do a few more book reviews soon) and would love a diversity of bloggers, screeners, etc. to help. Do let me know if you’re interested. Until then, I’ll try to keep up at least a weekly post for the sake of keeping things active.

My fifteen-year work anniversary just happened on February 16th, and it gave me an opportunity to reflect a bit and think of how things have changed. Work has been a constant for me in an often rocky last five or six years, since I’ve had my diagnosis and worked on my mental health.

Have you ever had a time of your life that seemed almost too good to be true? For me, that period was my mid-thirties. I was at the perfect peak of my children’s librarian career, where I’d been there long enough that I could greet kids and their families by name and recommend new books to them, where I knew what I was doing enough to do great story times and book clubs and summer programs, and where I loved what I did so much that it seemed like I actually danced and sang and played through work every day and got lucky enough to get paid for it. I had a wonderful live-in partner who I made art and did shows with and looked forward to going home to. We had a wonderful friends’ circle with whom we did karaoke, danced, had book clubs, backyard barbecues, and parties. I had fulfilling hobbies like art and improv and film writing. Looking back at that photographic evidence, I feel like those were quite literally the days of wine and roses. In fact, I even have a picture I snapped of coming home to wine and roses one night.

Do I glamourize those days? Surely I do, and they are certainly painted with a rosy brush in contrast to my struggles to come. However, I remember even thinking at the time where I was in the thick of it that I was experiencing the best days of my life, and that they couldn’t last. Truth be told, I probably was. 

I’m generally more stable in my mood and sometimes, dare I say it, even happy these days. But even if I experience another golden period, it will be different because what I’ll never have that I had back then, other than youth and better metabolism, is my complete sense of carefreeness. I’ll always have that little fussy voice in the back of my mind now that will be worried about what affects my mood disorder, and whether whatever I’m doing will be good or bad for it. I’ll have a nagging worry that if I feel too good I’ll start to feel bad, and that if I start to feel bad I’ll fall down a sinkhole again. And then there are just certain realities I have to cope with like that some of my medicine makes me sluggish and flat at times, and that makes it harder for me to do the kind of energetic work and socializing I did before.

Now, this is not meant to be a sob story unique to me. I’m middle-aged, and by the time you get to be my age, unless you’ve actually been living in a cave, you’ve probably experienced some trauma and/or health issues. Most people have to exercise more caution at this age either due to mental or physical issues or just life experience. That’s why this is meant to be more of an in general, how do you cope with these life changes kind of thing.

There’s a concept in cognitive-behavioral theory called “radical acceptance.” It’s the hardest thing ever to do, but if you can accept your life as it is now you can begin to plan what to do that is best for yourself, where you are at now, and control the things you still can. I find it to be different than living in the moment, which I’ve never had much success with, in that radical acceptance seems like more of a big-picture thing.

I still get caught up in self-pity sometimes. More and more though, I’ve gotten better at catching those thoughts and thinking to myself, “I was so lucky to have had that experience, some people never have those things happen at all. Those are some lovely memories.” This clicked even more for me when I posted about those library years and a couple of other people who I know have experienced their own personal tragedies since then told me they fondly remembered them as a magical time, too.

I find it oddly helpful sometimes to think of myself as Version One and Version Two. In reality, I know there are many more versions of me, but for the purposes of helping regulate my mood disorder, I think of myself being one way pre-2015 and another way after I had my severe episodes and diagnosis. Version One definitely had a great life full of love, romance, friends, and family and fulfilling interests. But Version Two can’t compare herself to that, or she’ll get sad. This tends to happen over time anyway–people lose health, friends, or partners often as they age. What will help her move forward is radical acceptance of where she’s at. Only then can she begin to do the best she can with her current tools and environment to live her life and develop her current relationships, work, and interests.

Version Two of myself has done some things that I’m pretty proud of—in fact, some of the same things Version One did, in different ways and through different routes, with art and librarianship and film criticism. She’s even made some new friends and had a couple of parties. And she’s done new things, like go to law school and start a film festival. She’s different, but definitely not so bad, and honestly probably a little stronger, wiser, and more empathetic, even if it feels like a lot of the time she’s not having as much fun.

Will my life ever be like it was in those golden days? No, it’s best to accept that it won’t be, and not to expect it to be. It will be different. But almost everyone’s life turns out different than they expected it to, and different doesn’t mean bad.

The days of wine and roses–literally!

Is “Laziness” Real?

Here’s an interesting thought I came across recently—is “laziness” a real thing?

https://humanparts.medium.com/laziness-does-not-exist-3af27e312d01

Are people inherently “lazy,” or do they just have unseen barriers? In my own personal experience, I’d actually say the second statement is more likely to be true.

When I was lazy, I was depressed. I know I seemed very low-functioning, but it was like wading through molasses to do *anything*—the very simplest things that ordinary people could do every day, I struggled with. The idea of taking a shower, for example, seemed exceedingly overwhelming—I’d have to take all of my clothes off and then put different clothes back on. I moved slowly and accomplished less.

This psychologist, teacher, and author argues that procrastinators are often paralyzed by anxiety and the fear of failure, and that students often miss class because of trauma or depression. In most cases of “laziness” there’s usually something else going on that you can’t see.

“If a person can’t get out of bed, something is making them exhausted. If a student isn’t writing papers, there’s some aspect of the assignment that they can’t do without help. If an employee misses deadlines constantly, something is making organization and deadline-meeting difficult. Even if a person is actively choosing to self-sabotage, there’s a reason for it — some fear they’re working through, some need not being met, a lack of self-esteem being expressed.”

I tend to agree. In my experience, most people want to do their best and want to be seen as capable. In most situations where I’ve seen a person consistently flailing, I’ve eventually learned there was something going on below the surface—be it mental illness, physical illness, stress, a difficult family situation, or any number of other unseen barriers. So, is “laziness” a thing, an inherent character trait? Or maybe it doesn’t exist?

The Mystic Swims With Delight

I was recently reminded of the Joseph Campbell quote  “The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.” Many people who have psychotic episodes seem to have a heightened sense of prophecy or insight. Sometimes it is a vision that eventually manifests, and sometimes it is merely a delusion. Sometimes it borders on both.

I also recently picked up the Philip K. Dick VALIS trilogy for my train reading. I haven’t re-visited this science fiction series since my twenties, and this time I was much more tuned in to the fact that the mystical visions of the book, among which are that the Roman Empire never ended and we are still living in a Black Iron Prison from that age, are inspired by severe mental illness. I like how Dick, who wrote the series based on his own visions, hints that there may be some divine secret truth behind the visions even though they are fueled by madness.

I’ve never experienced prophecies or psychic visions. My closest experience is the rapid-fire revelations and insights that come with mania. These would range from silly to substantial. What is probably my favorite fictional book about manic depression, Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot, captures them so well. The main character is a brilliant scientist who, smart enough to realize mania gives him unique insights, decides to taper off his lithium just enough to hit the “sweet spot” where he can experience some of that divine inspiration without “tipping over” into full-blown mania. You can guess how that goes—much like judging the “sweet spot” for any drug, the problem is, once your judgment is inhibited you can no longer—well—judge. He experiences insights both silly and substantial. In one scene he holds a package of Land O’Lakes Butter and muses how the cover girl is holding a stick of butter with the same logo on it, and that logo has the same girl holding the same butter with the same logo, into infinity. On the other hand, he has an insightful revelation about time I still remember and think is very true–the reason time seems to move faster when we’re older is because we’ve experienced more of it, and we know how long it takes and are more accustomed to it.

My own mania came with similar mile-a-minute insights and revelations. Many of them were probably nonsensical and I remember some people telling me such. I seem to remember at one point I said I had a secret language where I could read vending machines, and I was also convinced I could make objects in my apartment move around by practicing feng shui. But there’s no denying there are some things I wrote down and I thought were pretty insightful that I expanded on later, and there are still some things I did that to this day puzzle me how I even figured out to do—one notable one stowing a taxidermied bobcat in the undercarriage of a plane on a trip home from Austin, Texas. I wouldn’t say I was thinking “smarter,” because clearly a lot of these things were irrational, but I was definitely thinking “differently.” And like anything else, if you’re having that many revelations in rapid succession, a few of them will probably hold a nugget of truth.

That’s one thing that’s attractive about mania in my experience—at least to yourself you *feel* brilliant, and sometimes, at least at first, people react to that enthusiasm and those insights well and seem to confirm it. Some point becomes the “tipping point” where it spirals out of control and hits a crash. I think this is the hard lesson the main character in The Marriage Plot learns—there is no “sweet spot.” The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight. 

Time & Tragedy

Another conversation I had recently was: How long should it take to recover from a trauma?

In late 2018 I made a new friend. She didn’t know much about my history or what had happened to me, and after a few “friend dates” I opened up a bit about my manic episode that occurred in fall of 2015. 

I don’t think she could have had any idea just how comforting and validating what she said to me next was. “Wow,” she said, “That wasn’t that long ago. You must still be struggling with that.”

I felt like I was constantly beating myself up for not being about to just “get over it,” for having nightmares about it, for trying so many different remedies. But how long is three years, really? It’s actually not too long in the grand scheme of things. 

I have a professor who speaks about how there is no aspect of American life that hasn’t been touched by slavery. And then he points out, for people who think that slavery was “long, long ago”: the average lifetime is eighty years. The Civil War was 160 years ago, so only two lifetimes ago, really. Many people still remember living through segregation. Historical trauma. 

They say time heals all wounds, but it’s probably more accurate to say time makes them hurt a little less. Some people make up math or rules, like it takes half the time you were in a relationship to recover from a breakup, or that it takes six months to get used to a new house or a new job. In reality, there are no formulas. And usually, we don’t really “get over” traumas as much as we just learn to co-exist with them. 

Sometimes you’ll be doing better, what you think is much better, with your grief over a parent’s loss, and then, like the short film “Her Resolve” points out, you suddenly see your dead dad’s favorite brand of beer on the grocery store shelf, or some other memory or image triggers you again and the wound comes back as fresh and painful as ever. 

I love this quote from one of my favorite shows, Better Call Saul, about getting over trauma:

“When will this be over for me?” 

“Well, here’s what’s gonna happen. One day you’re gonna wake up, eat your breakfast, brush your teeth, go about your business. And sooner or later, you’re gonna realize you haven’t thought about it. None of it. And that’s the moment you realize you can forget. When you know that’s possible, it all gets easier.”

No Man Is An Island

Suicide leads in the main topic of movies submitted to Mental Filmness, and I’m sure that’s for a reason. It’s hard to find someone whose life hasn’t been touched by the suicide epidemic in some way. Many stories of mental illness have some mention of suicide, even if it isn’t the main topic. I took a Constitutional Law class last semester and remember being moved by these words from Justice Stevens pertaining to the right to suicide.

“History and tradition provide ample support for refusing to recognize an open ended constitutional right to commit suicide. Much more than the State’s paternalistic interest in protecting the individual from the irrevocable consequences of an ill advised decision motivated by temporary concerns is at stake. There is truth in John Donne’s observation that “No man is an island.” The State has an interest in preserving and fostering the benefits that every human being may provide to the community–a community that thrives on the exchange of ideas, expressions of affection, shared memories and humorous incidents as well as on the material contributions that its members create and support. The value to others of a person’s life is far too precious to allow the individual to claim a constitutional entitlement to complete autonomy in making a decision to end that life. Thus, I fully agree with the Court that the “liberty” protected by the Due Process Clause does not include a categorical “right to commit suicide which itself includes a right to assistance in doing so.” 

Sometimes I’ve thought about the funerals I’ve attended, and my own in the future, and how many people will end up attending who were just on the peripheral vision of the deceased’s life. A childhood friend they hadn’t seen in years, a co-worker who was fond of them, a distant relative who brought them toys when they were young. It’s hard to go through this life without touching others in some way. Even a hermit living off the grid has some impact in their relationship with nature. We all send out energy into the world. “No man is an island.”

I’ve been suicidal and known others who were, and I know that telling someone to live their life for others isn’t necessarily the best thing to say. But I’ve also heard stories of those who found some kind of positive connection when they needed it most and it ended up making a difference. As sappy as it sounds, I mostly believe in the whole “It’s A Wonderful Life” effect, where if most people could see all the little ripples they’ve sent out into the world, many even unintentionally, they would view it differently.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Sixth Mass Extinction

I’ve always had a little bit of a gloomy streak, and I remember having the feeling the world would end sometime in my lifetime. In 1999 I irrationally felt it might happen, partially fueled by viewing the motion picture Magnolia, listening to the Prince record 1999, and hearing some panicked reports on the news about electronics going haywire due to the number change that I didn’t really understand. That was a little anticlimactic and I honestly felt kind of disappointed.

As I’ve gotten older, I feel like I’ve adopted a more reasonably objective view that it seems like humanity is unsustainable if it continues its current trajectory of population growth, depletion of resources, and widening economic gap. Now I feel like I’m less bonkers (in that respect) in that the world has probably felt vaguely apocalyptic to a lot of people lately, what with global pandemics, fires, and storms breaking out. People who are way smarter than me—researchers and scientists—have been predicting a “sixth mass extinction” of biodiversity approaching, and it sounds like the situation is becoming more dire according to the most recent study.

Top scientists warn of ‘ghastly future of mass extinction’ and climate disruption | Environment | The Guardian

“Dealing with the enormity of the problem requires far-reaching changes to global capitalism, education and equality, the paper says. These include abolishing the idea of perpetual economic growth, properly pricing environmental externalities, stopping the use of fossil fuels, reining in corporate lobbying, and empowering women, the researchers argue.”

All of those changes sound unlikely to happen to me. It’s a weird feeling of cognitive dissonance when a feeling you’ve had for a long time you thought was absurd shows at least some signs of becoming a reality.

However, despite the feeling, I’m not sure it will happen in my lifetime. It’s just a feeling. That would be too easy. I think it will probably be more drawn-out, and I hate to say it, I think humanity is probably going to have to reckon for more of its crimes. Some people think we might be able to colonize space and start over. 

I once wrote about the gloomy but lovely Lars Von Trier film Melancholia, where the clinically depressed character played by Kirsten Dunst is the only one ultimately prepared for the end of the world, because she’s been expecting it all along. There’s a great ominous line in the film where she says “Life on earth is evil. No one will mourn it.”

Von Trier, who himself struggles with depression, said a seed of inspiration for the film came to him from a conversation he had with this therapist where they discussed how someone with a depressed viewpoint would react differently to the end of the world, and might actually embrace it.

What’s the saying, “I love humanity, but I don’t like people?” I feel like it’s kind of the opposite for me. I really hate the human species as a whole and collectively, but individual people like, and of course there are so many wonderful people I’ve known who deserve to live rich and full lives. I would mourn them if I could separate them out. However, if I was told the world was to end because mankind sowed its own seeds of destruction, I would probably accept it as fair and reasonable. 

I’m sure my mindset does stem from my depression and the dim view its given me at times as well as my experiences with suicidal ideation. I also know that I am bad about “catastrophizing” in cognitive behavioral terms and expecting the worst, and I’m very often wrong.

One technique in therapy for “catastrophizing” is imagining the worst of any given possible scenario—if you’re anxious about work, that you’ll get fired and lose your job; if you have relationship anxiety, that your spouse is cheating, and so on and so forth, and how if that thing eventually happened, it wouldn’t be as bad as you thought.

What thing could you imagine make the end of the world feel better? Well, there’s the life that you had the chance to have. And then, there’s whatever’s coming next–whatever you believe happens after life and, specifically, humanity.  

The Happiness of Living Alone

It’s funny, I was probably more scared to live alone than anyone else. I lived with my family, and then went straight from that to living with my future spouse. When I eventually got divorced I tried living alone briefly. I very quickly became stressed about finances and responsibilities and felt overwhelmed, and ended up moving in with a roommate.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, and at the age of 30, it still wasn’t the right time for me to live alone yet. I immediately felt a sense of relief after moving in with my new roommate, another recently divorced woman around my age with an adorable menagerie of pets. I could breathe easier knowing I could manage my money and there would be potential help or company there if I needed it. Even though we spent most of our time in our separate bedrooms, there was still something that felt so much more comfortable about it. Maybe part of it was that her cats liked to sleep with me, and she was okay with that. Another part was probably that I was afraid of being alone with the dark, racing thoughts in my brain.

As they say, the one constant in life is change, and eventually the roommate who helped me to heal moved out of state to get remarried. I thought nothing of advertising for a stranger to come live with me and split my bills, something that would absolutely terrify me today. What followed over the next handful of years were a series of roommates and a domestic partner, a couple of whom showed me sometimes living with people wasn’t actually easy—in fact, it could be very hard.

So the last time I wound up alone, I decided not to seek another roommate. Just like feeling you’re stuck in a bad relationship, I knew I was better off being alone than possibly sharing a living space with someone who might depress, stress, or annoy me. At this point I was finally making enough money to afford the place on my own, had my own pets, had decorated most of it myself, and just decided to take full ownership of it.

Shortly after making this decision the pandemic struck, and suddenly I was faced with a lot more “alone” time than I had bargained for. I think I posted online a couple of times about how I felt lonely and overwhelmed. That very same original roommate, who I’ve stayed friends on social media with, messaged me and said I should enjoy my own company. You’re good company, she said.

I felt like that brought everything full circle. It was almost like the person who gave me a security blanket during a time in my life when I truly needed it gave me permission to put it away, and to live with and love my own company. The demons in my head aren’t really going anywhere. But they live beside my ability to make up silly songs and tell myself stories and make myself laugh and talk to my cats. I can really be a lot of fun sometimes, I would tell myself. I can be good company.

One of my friends who lives alone shared these illustrations awhile back, and I love them. If you overlook some of the snarky comments about the size of the house and focus on the essence of them, I feel like they truly capture some of the joys of living alone. I’m sure everyone has particulars they relate to. I love to have private fashion shows with clothes from my closet, spoil my pets (though I’m more of a cat person), make an artistic mess, snack without judgment. There is definitely some empowerment—and also just plain fun—in that freedom.

https://www.boredpanda.com/happiness-living-alone-illustrations-yaoyao-ma-van-as/

Book Review: Fallible

I enjoy a book that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. (I also, apparently, love alliteration). I’ve established that I love mental illness memoirs, but I also love nonfiction that gives you a powerful insider’s view into an unfamiliar territory. There is a lot to learn from Dr. Kyle Bradford’s Infallible, the story of a physician struggling with mental illness. Not only is it a portrait of the innate, physical, and environmental factors of depression, but it is also a fascinating glimpse into the world of practicing medicine and it even touches upon Mormon missionary work.

We’re probably all familiar with some of the horror stories of medical residency. Doctors showing up to work drunk, or forced to work on so little sleep they have the judgment or motor skills of someone who is drunk. The financial pressure of the pharmaceutical industry on the field of medicine which can lead to corrupt practices like improper diagnoses and prescriptions. Burnt out doctors who become abusive toward patients and staff. Dr. Bradford witnesses it all and despite some of this being common knowledge he still has harrowing and unique anecdotes to tell. It is no wonder that substance abuse and mental illness run rampant in the field.

Dr. Bradford takes a multi-faceted approach to exploring his mental illness, much as I imagine he takes a holistic approach to treating a patient. He struggles with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. He effectively uses the metaphor of a gargoyle to describe its presence—something looming in the distance eerily looking down on him. I liked that while he readily acknowledged that the enormous environmental and life stressors of medical residency, moving, and having children had a significant impact on his mood, he also felt he had a natural genetic and chemical predisposition toward depression and anxiety. He explores how he’d experienced these feelings in the past and coped with them through over-achieving, often referring to his “Superman” complex. He poses the classic chicken or egg question of whether he’d chosen his profession because he was anxious to prove himself and his worth, or whether the profession itself drove that perfectionist anxiety within him, ultimately concluding that it was a symbiotic relationship.

Another interesting angle to Dr. Bradford’s story is that he is a Mormon and spent two years as a missionary in Ukraine. He acknowledges that a feeling of disconnection from his faith has played a role in his depression as well. He also explores how certain aspects of Mormon culture, such as his inability to have coffee, drove him to unhealthy choices like trying to drink soda to stay awake during his long shifts, further exacerbating his depression. 

The doctor’s experiences seeking treatment for his condition from inept doctors were almost comical at times. He met therapists who kicked him out of their office after he talked for twenty minutes and they gave him a curt response like telling him to exercise. He also cycled through a few medications before finding one that worked for him. He spent years identifying factors in his life that could help alleviate his symptoms, which included medication, therapy, church, family, finding more fulfilling and less draining avenues to pursue in medicine and, finally, sharing his story to help others.

The book is written in a very conversational tone that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Dr. Bradford noted that someone suggested he write the book to help others after hearing him tell his story on the radio, and I can definitely see that. At times it seems to ramble or go off on tangents, and could have used a tighter structure or organization. However, it didn’t particularly bother me as a reader as I found pretty much everything he had to say interesting. 

I think it was very brave of Dr. Bradford to tell his story. We live in a day and age where more and more, it has come to light that people we once entrusted with our safety and looked up to as heroes—teachers, priests, doctors, police—can be deeply flawed people working within broken infrastructures. There is still enough of a stigma attached to mental illness that especially as a doctor treating other patients it was courageous of him to put his “fallibility” out there for all to see and to demonstrate that admitting some of this brokenness and seeking solutions is really a heroic act in the end. 

My Numbered Drinking Days

I have to reluctantly admit, post-New Year’s Eve, that one thing that is usually good for my mental health is moderating and even cutting out alcohol. 

Like a good portion of America I’d wager, I have a push-pull relationship with alcohol. With the medication I take, I really shouldn’t have alcohol. Not to mention, at times I definitely have the propensity to overdo it. Yet, there are still the good times when I drink: When I feel a little sillier than usual, a little more amorous, where it seems like alcohol is an enhancement and nothing bad happens.

As I approached middle age, I noticed more and more of my friends going sober. At least a few of them said it was for their mental health. One told me alcohol can make your medicine stop working, and I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced that a couple of times when my body processing the sugar from wine overrode the heavy sedatives I take at night and led to insomnia.

Another one of my friends on Facebook recently announced his sobriety. Someone congratulated him, saying American culture encourages alcoholism. While we may not be the most alcoholic nation, I think this is entirely true, and a big part is based on that idea of push and pull. When you try to stop drinking as I have a few times, you notice it everywhere, from characters on television revealing secrets at office parties on TV, to silly memes on the Internet about starting a wine “juice” cleanse. Alcohol is often advertised as both fun but also something with a bit of a shameful edge. I feel like America’s alcoholic culture is very wink-wink, nudge-nudge, like “we know you’re going to be bad tonight, so treat yourself, you deserve it.” 

I’ve given up and then re-picked up drinking again a few times over these past few years. Again, I know I really shouldn’t with my meds, and I have proven this to myself with a few bad incidents. Alcohol can affect me powerfully and especially exacerbate my depression. I guess it’s unsurprising that I picked up drinking again when I was trapped in my house during the pandemic. I felt alone and scared and even with the impact of the alcohol it was difficult for me to find calm or rest sometimes (in fact, alcohol probably acted to make me more restless in the end).

This sounds fairly obvious, but the good times are what make alcohol so hard to give up. And there are still good times for me. If I hit that sweet spot where I have just a couple of glasses of my favorite, a rich Spanish or Italian wine, and some really good food, and a relaxing evening by a fire or out on the deck with good company, there is not much better than that warm and pleasant buzz that helps you relax and just loosens your tongue a little bit, but not too much. Enough to become more affectionate and open, but not quite enough to let the demons out.

When I look at old pictures or think of the past, the good times were even more plentiful then. I drank quite a lot of red wine through a good portion of my thirties, and at the time would just get silly with my partner or my group of friends, sing karaoke, dance, make art. It seemed like bad things rarely happened and I’d even usually wake up in the morning feeling fairly normal, maybe a little drowsy. I can’t romanticize it completely because I still remember a couple arguments and embarrassing incidents, but it seemed like they were far outnumbered by the good drinking days. Of course, I have to remember that I’m over forty now, but probably most importantly, I did not have a serious mental illness diagnosis back then and I did not take meds. I could afford to be much more cavalier and carefree with my mind and my body.

Sometimes I become resentful now that I cannot do the things that many others can do for fun all of the time anymore, or the things that it seems used to be so much easier for me to do. I’ll go to a party or a bar and be so tempted to drink but know that I have a much higher probability than the other guests of having a bad reaction and starting to cry or pass out. I know I’ll be more likely to miss sleep, have nightmares, or feel like I was hit by a truck the next morning, even if I didn’t overdo it. 

It’s hard to separate how much of this is from age and how much is from having a mood disorder and taking meds. But either way, as hard as it is to refrain, I know I’ll probably feel better. I’ll get better sleep, have more energy throughout the day, and maintain a more stable mood. I’ve discussed this before with my psychiatrist and we talked about how relieving my anxiety during that little window in the evening is probably not worth potentially feeling worse throughout the next day. As many of us know, the hard part can be seeing through that window to the next day.