Many have you have been patiently and lovingly going through a journey with me into the low pits of depression and anxiety. I was repetitive, whiny, and a huge Debbie Downer. You know that I was referred to a therapist and prescribed not one, not two but three different types of Happy Pills until the doctor finally through his hands up in the air and recommended that I see a psychologist.
The drugs didn’t work and the therapist was hokey. I was in a constant internal wrestling match with myself. My thoughts were a whirlpool of negativity, self loathing, and despair. I wanted to escape my life and prayed for death.
Notice: I’m describing it all in past tense. 🙂
Every January my friend, Robby, quits drinking. Robby enjoys beer. I’ve never seen her have more than two. She’s not a heavy drinker but she’s always thought it good, after the heavy eating and extra parties from the holidays, to take a break from it all. The last couple of years Caren and I have joined her in having a Dry January.
About two weeks into it this year, I suddenly found that my head was clear.
My mind was quiet.
Like Robby, I was not a heavy drinker. I would have 1-2 glasses of wine 4-5 nights a week. At a party I might have more but my regular consumption was with in “healthy” limits and are even recommended by doctors for heart health. Typically, I would put my kids to bed and enjoy my wine while watching a show or reading a book. This has been my routine for years. A Night Cap, they call it. I did not go to bed drunk and I did not wake up hung over.
Before Grandma died I found myself on the cusp of a mid-life crisis. I know, it’s shocking to think of me as a middle ager, so young and sprite am I, but it’s true. This was coinciding with my usual Seasonal Depression. Then Grandma died. Grief exasperated the whole situation. I was low and my support system was gone. I needed comfort and had to find a new way to obtain it and to cope.
Spiral down, down, down, down.
I would wring my hands and feel the need to flee social situations. ME, the social butterfly, wanted only to be alone. I was constantly battling my emotions. My response to everything was emotional and I recognized that they were inappropriate but I couldn’t help it. I was sick to my stomach, had headaches, meat aversion, physical pain in my chest…
One day I told a friend that I constantly felt that there was a huge gaping hole in my chest. The hole felt empty but at the same time it wasn’t. It was filled with pain. A hollow ache deep in my being. My friend diagnosed a broken heart.
So I would spend the day with this broken, twisted, wrenching feeling and I would chase my thoughts and fears all day. By the evening I was exhausted. I’d put the kids to bed, pour a glass of red and grab a book. The wine would soothe me but my thoughts would never quiet enough for me to focus on what I was reading. I eventually quit the books and TV because I couldn’t focus. Instead I’d opt to drink my wine while listening to music and playing solitaire on the computer. It was mindless and cathartic. I’d play until I was ready to sleep.
Sleep. That’s a laugh. My sleep was restless. My dreams were exhausting. I’d wake at 12, fall asleep at one then wake at 2, then stay awake until 4 and wake up at 6 to start my day.
Two weeks without my Night Cap and I was fine. My mid-life crisis was still plowing ahead. I still desperately missed my Grandmother. Other life problems were still there but my head was clear and I felt that I was in a place to cope with all of those things.
I was no longer intolerant of my children and their constant need to be…children. I could get up and get things done in the house. I was volunteering at the school with out obligation or dread and because I actually wanted to!
I was me again!
One day I woke up with a pain in my chest. I was weepy and heavy hearted. I worried that I had been wrong and that the depression and anxiety still had a hold of me. Then I realized, it was Grandma’s birthday. It was grief and it was appropriate. I let myself grieve that day. I cried when I felt the need.
One day I was talking to my sister about feeling better.
“What’s different?” she asked.
“I’m dancing a lot for the show so…exercise maybe? I’m not drinking…”
“Alcohol is a depressent.”
“Even though you don’t drink alcoholically, alcoholism does run in our family. Maybe you don’t metabolize it normally.”
This began a series of experiments. The results are that my sister is right! I didn’t need a therapist or anti-depressants. I needed to quit drinking.
One night Man and I had some wine with dinner. The next day I was fine and we went out on a date that night and had wine again. The next day I was a BEAR. I was snapping at the children and at him. I wanted them to get out of my way and out of my house. I didn’t want to see anyone and…Oo! Chest pains again. That’s when I knew. Sissy was right.
“Babe, I can’t drink anymore,” I said to Man after chasing Buddy and Bug out of the house.
“Damn. No caffeine. No alcohol. Sucks to be you.”
“No joke! My life will be no fun anymore!”
“Oh, yeah! Because we were having SO much fun before,” he laughed.
The next experiment was to see if it was because I drank two days in a row. I had a few alcoholic bevvies and was fine all week. One time I noticed some hand wringing and slight chest aches but my emotions were in tact and my head was clear.
My BIL suggested I try and find out if it’s a certain type of wine, does beer bother me?
“If I were you I’d keep experimenting,” he said.
But I really don’t know that I need to find out the exact culprit. I don’t know that there even is. I just think that it would be much easier to just not drink regularly. I will partake at the occasional party but no more Night Caps or glass with dinner.
And that is that!
I have appreciated your encouragement and your prayers. I can’t say that I felt them but there were times where I thought, “someone must be praying for me because I would’ve driven the car off the mountain by now.” I’ve received so many texts, letters and emails and I’m sorry if I never responded to them. I cherished your words but was not in a place to say much about them. I have been absent and distant with many of my friends and I apologize but I thank you for still being there and patiently waiting for me. Believe me, I was no fun to be around.
Now that my head is clear, I just have to figure out what to do with my life.
*chin in hands. sigh*
P.S. My doctor asked about my drinking habits. My therapist was aware of my drinking habits. Neither of them thought anything of it. If you are depressed or anxious consider my story and maybe do some experimenting yourself.