Celebrating despite some challenging realities.

Okay, let’s begin with the great news. This year is proving to be my best year ever!

My relationship with Rebecca remains as strong and loving as ever. Our pup, Luca, brings incredible joy to our lives. Rebecca and I experienced a great trip to Greece, and I spent a wonderful week in Copenhagen. I harvested and learned a lot from my garden, and I took a small batch of good pictures of it and its produce. We got some long-wanted improvements made to our house. I’m fit. I have a curious mind. I’m back to lobbying for renters’ rights, affordable housing, and homelessness prevention. And … and my mental health has been the best it has ever been!

Life — the actual experiences (e.g. the trips) — contributed greatly to this year going so well. But perspective is everything. Vacationing while depressed or anxious is not fun … nothing is fun.

And so, I am so elated about the state of my mental health. It makes joy and fun possible. It makes receiving love feel worthy.

Now, I do a lot of work to make my mental health stay positive. I exercise most mornings. I have a journal where I express gratitude for or to something daily. I try to remember to meditate. I work to make people happy (e.g. by wishing friends and colleagues a “Snazzy Day!”), and I recognize (actually publicly share) when people are doing good deeds. If they express happiness for this, I often feel a boost in mood as well.

As readers know, I always write-in my caveats. I’m not at 100%. I still experience Anxiety, although with less frequency and intensity than before my doctor and I fine tuned my mental health med cocktail.

That aside, as I said, my mental health as well as the past ten months have been the best of my life … Of. My. Entire. Life!

It’s in this context that I feel comfortable sharing some of the persistent challenging realities. For this post I’ll share two of those realities, one annoying and one sad side effect to the medications I take.

Now, before I share this I want to put an exclamation point on the fact that I am a fan of treating mental illness with a combo of medication, talk therapy, cognitive exercises, as well as personal work to live a healthy life. Exclamation point: medication is part of my mix!

Of course, what I’m trying to get across is that I don’t want to dissuade people from treating their mental health with medications. If your mental health doctor or therapist recommends medications, give it serious thought.

Point made.

Now one of the annoying side effects I have is that I can have a delayed reaction to things. A second or two may lapse before I get that the joke everyone is laughing at was funny. I may need to pause a bit to process something that’s just happened. Frequently feeling as if I’m catching up to everyone else is not a fun place to be. However, as my doctor tells me, “If only all of us could wait a second or two before blurting something out of our mouth!”

A second (and sad) side effect is that while my emotional valleys are not nearly as deep as they once were, the peaks are also sometimes not quite as high. Okay, let me restate that a bit. The truly amazing things in my life are still pretty amazing. But it’s in the more run-of-the-mill happenings that I don’t get as high. Case in point, most nights Rebecca and I watch the previous evenings’ late-night shows. Stephen Colbert or Seth Meyers will tell a joke. I may understand it’s funny. But rather than going through a belly laugh the joke deserved, I manage a small smile. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s laughing next to me.

Not feeling the full happy, especially in the company of others, can make me pretty sad. Now put the two side effects together: delayed reaction and damped-down happiness. Not fun.

But let’s not end this post on a sad note. Despite living with these side effects I just experienced the best ten months of my life.

None of that would have been possible had it not been for the combo: medication, talk therapy, cognitive exercises, as well as personal work to live a healthy life.

I know that life can turn on a dime, but right now, life is good.