New Year’s morning I woke up after a good sleep and a night filled with a movie and sparkling apple cider. I had spent the past few years feeling like the worst is yet to come, at the worst time possible. After a couple of years of debilitating panic attacks, I knew life was only steady moment to moment. My husband, a musician, was out of town for a few days for a New Year’s gig, but as I made coffee and busied myself getting ready to leave for my part-time retail job at the mall, I had a curious feeling that was so unfamiliar I almost didn’t recognize it: hope.
Maybe this was the year I would go down on my medications, or at least find one that didn’t make me feel and look as large as a whale. Maybe the marriage counseling really would work, and my mental illness wouldn’t stand between us like a shadow. Maybe my husband and I could find good, steady jobs and buy a house. Maybe I wouldn’t be scared to be in my own body. Maybe I would enjoy sex again.
I am not an optimist. In fact, in the years since I had been hospitalized and gone on medication, I began to feel like life would never again be okay; it would never be recognizable as the kind of life I used to have in my twenties. I had given up that I could ever look the way I had before I began taking antipsychotics or be as carefree or energetic as I once was. I didn’t go camping anymore. I was scared of bears even though I had been camping hundreds of time with little fear of them. I had accepted that I had a lifelong sentence of being fat and never being able to tell anyone that I was overweight because I took psychotropic drugs, not because I ate fast food or didn’t exercise. I had accepted that this mysterious thing I couldn’t see – my mental illness — had wormed its way in between me and my husband and changed our relationship for the worse.
But that morning, I didn’t make a resolution. I simply accepted the feeling for what it was – the winds of change, perhaps. Maybe no transformation would occur, but just being able to accept the possibility that it might was something I could hold with me for that morning and revisit when I surely would need to remember it.