In early 2017, I had been living in Thailand for over a year. I was, by all outside accounts, living the dream. My carefree life involved weekend trips to other countries, gourmet Thai food for $2 a plate, afternoons spent at beautiful waterfalls, nights spent playing at bars with the band. I was living the good life.
Except that life is never really how it seems from the outside, is it? My depression and anxiety were at all time highs. I survived on a mix of Xanax and wine, barely sleeping, and achingly dissatisfied with my life. I began to yearn for a life that was stable, reliable, healthy, happy. I didn’t know how to achieve it, but I knew things couldn’t stay the same.
I was tired of so many of my friends being long distance. I was tired of not having lasting relationships because I dated men who were just passing through, or picked those whose hearts had bigger holes in them than mine. I ached for stability, for a feeling of home.
I began to see the life I wanted, the person I wanted to become. I saw it rising up from the corners of my life, eager to find a foothold. So I decided to embrace it. Which meant trying to change almost everything about my life. I decided to chase after what mattered to me instead of falling into reckless habits.
It’s been a year since I gave up drinking. At first, it was to be a three month break from drinking and dating, to start fresh. I also abandoned social media and the ever pressing feeling that everyone else’s life was better than mine. Do I really care if my 8th grade crush got a new job? No thanks, Facebook news feed. I was focusing on living my life fully and in the present.
3 months turned into 6 months and I felt I should keep it going. My break from vices hadn’t fulfilled its purpose yet. But I could begin to feel the ground firmly beneath my feet. I rose up from it with renewed confidence and purpose. I tested out the waters of dating again. And it went pretty well. I met a nice guy, went on a lot of sober dates, and made decisions with a clear head. It felt good.
But, as ever, the good things were held together precariously, and they did not last. I got meningitis again, which racked my body with sickness and fear. The relationship that was blossoming quickly withered and died. I could feel depression creeping up from the edges.
But there’s something that comes with the clarity of living a purposeful life. Depression has haunted me for more than a decade, so this feeling is nothing new. But my approach to it is. I am not trying to smother the feelings and squash them down. I’m not attempting to drown them in the vacuous thrills of late night partying.
I am approaching my depression with the same purposeful attention I approach my entire life now. One step at a time, making the best choices possible.
It’s not easy. Yesterday was a particularly hard day for absolutely no reason at all. It happens. And in those days when I feel such a stark void lying between myself and joy, I push on. Because overwhelmingly, the good days have been outnumbering the bad ones lately. I have become more confident in who I am and who I want to be and am piecing together the life I want slowly but surely.
Not drinking for the last year has been a good experience. A nightmare at first, but as the months progressed I gained the ability to address stress without it, to enjoy social interactions sober, and to make relationship decisions unimpaired. And that’s been a great thing. It has forced me to be brave and stand on my own two feet and to seek out the best for my life.
I’ve returned to drinking, but not in the way many of my friends thought I would. I’ve fully embraced my old lady lifestyle, and have begun to enjoy the absence of drunkenness in it. I had a glass of wine the other day with my friend, and it was lovely. But it was also not followed by a second glass. I think that’s the vibe I’m going for these days. Moderation, as they say. ❤
To close: Here are some pictures of the last couple weeks, including a visit to my beloved Seattle.