Coping Mechanical

Last Friday was the hardest day of my no-drinking month. I hit a sort of emotional wall in the mid-morning, and felt my feet mud-stuck in the beginning of one of my least favorite things: the loss of energy, the feeling that even the smallest task will require a huge expenditure of effort, that often comes with clinical depression.

This is not to say that I’m feeling depressed–in fact, lately I’ve been feeling very good about my life. But for whatever reason, on Friday morning I dipped my toes into that energy-suck, and it freaked me out. In fact, it took ten minutes of horror at the thought that I had let an important project slide (I hadn’t) to snap me out of it. Then, of course, while I didn’t feel paralyzed anymore, I felt pretty stressed out, and I noticed something.

My very first instinct was to grab a bagel from the kitchen. Now, this was partly because Friday is Free Bagel Day and I like bagels and I’m doing a low-carb thing so I hadn’t had one and and and. It was also, however, directly connected to my desire for comfort when I was feeling bad. See, I wasn’t even hungry. I just really wanted a bagel, or maybe some hot chocolate, to make me feel better.

Then it was nearly three p.m., which on Fridays means Happy Hour in the office with beer and wine, and I really, really wanted a glass of wine. Three weeks into a commitment not to drink, three Happy Hours successfully come and gone, but because I was emotionally out of sorts, I badly wanted a drink. Just one, to take the edge off.

The only reason I didn’t have one was because I’d made my resolution to go without alcohol for the entire month so very public. See, I can negotiate with myself. Sure, my self can be a little disappointed, but she understands circumstances and the powers of temptation. Fifty of my closest friends asking me how Drynuary is going won’t be so understanding, or at least, won’t know not to ask me about it anymore once I’ve caved.

It was a really interesting day, actually. Frustrating as all get-out, but interesting in that it made me look at what I use to make myself feel better when I’m upset or stressed out. I’m not thrilled, but not surprised, that alcohol is one of those things, although I’m trying to keep in mind that it wasn’t like I was planning to go out and find some bar mid-day but instead trying to resist free alcohol all around me and all of my coworkers drinking. Comfort food (or comfort drinks like hot chocolate) came next. Deprived of those, here are some things I did:

-Went for a walk to Walgreens

-Bought mascara and lip gloss around with the toothpaste I actually needed

-Put on mascara and lip gloss at the office

-Turned on my “Girl Power” playlist

-Googled “Beyonce GIFs”

There’s a part of me that wishes that I hadn’t needed to do any of those things–that I could just think or will my way out of a mood. I try to just pat that part of me on the head and then ignore it. Positive thinking and strength of will have their time and place, and can definitely be part of the solution to a bad mood, but sometimes you just need good old-fashioned distraction, image modification/confidence boosting, and a little creative inspiration from the likes of Queen Bey.

Maybe someday when I’m a more enlightened being, I’ll be able to meditate my way out of a particularly bad funk. I look forward to the day. For now, I’m glad that I have understanding people around me, a (hopefully) healthy awareness of my own temptations and coping mechanisms, and the city at the ends of my feet, the whole world at the tips of my fingers.


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