Mid-life Crisis

Mood Elevators

When my grandmother went around the bend after a series of small strokes, she drove my mother crazy. In the midst of this, my parents were planning my first wedding. Mom went to the family doctor and asked if he would prescribe something for my grandmother, “maybe some of those mood elevators?”

He shook his head sympathetically. “I won’t do that, but I will write a prescription for you and one for Songbird.”

I don’t think my mother ever filled hers, but in the high-tension final days before that big Southern wedding with 300+ guests, she started doling out the Librium to me. Let’s just say I floated through the whole thing. Maybe the Runaway Bride could have used some. (By the way, I didn’t develop a habit, but I was relieved to find them in the side pocket of my overnight bag about a year later when we had traveled to a family funeral and the mood was, shall we say, tense.)

As I lie here curled on the couch, using my laptop sideways while pondering the mysteries of peri-menopause, I find myself mulling the mood elevators that have come and gone in my life: food, friends, TV shows, music. For instance, I remember cooking many a dinner while Star Trek: The Next Generation played in the background. I rarely looked at the screen; I just liked the sound of Captain Picard’s voice–better than a glass of wine for this seldom-if-ever drinker.

Here are some of my mood elevators that don’t come from a pharmacy:

TV–I just love “Lost.” In fact, as I was lying here, #2 Son pointed out that I had something to look forward to later: a fresh episode this evening.

Food–Well, there’s chocolate. I love powdered Ghirardelli in my coffee. I adore Stonyfield Farm ice creams, especially Cookies’n Dream, the best ice cream ever. If you haven’t had their ice cream, go visit your local chi-chi purveyor of whole foods. You won’t be sorry. But the best mood elevating food ever, bar none, is the Apocalypse Chocolate Cake (via Camera Obscura and The Cake Doctor).

Music–Show Tunes!! I once told a friend I needed to go back and close my car windows, because someone might steal my CDs. She snorted, “They’re show tunes!” Something about the musical appeals to me, what can I say. As a child, I wanted to be Julie Andrews when I grew up.

Books–But books are the best. When I’m really glum, I turn to the familiar books that feel like worlds into which I can escape. After a difficult pregnancy loss, I escaped to the realm of Jane Austen, and there I stayed until, after reading every page and every word, I finally felt ready to peek out into my world again.

What are some of your mood elevators?

27 thoughts on “Mood Elevators”

  1. Hmmmm. Chocolate and ice cream, though, since I’m consuming Stonyfield Farms by the pint these days, I try to stick to frozen yogurt (the Creme Caramel is really pretty good). But the Ghiradelli in the coffee suggestion is at the top of my to-do list.
    Silence. Music. Being alone. (Yeah, introverted much?) I have trouble reading books when not alone — or not being left alone, at least. So I don’t rely on books so much these days.
    But your writing is a mood elevator for me, as well.

  2. Favorite mood elevators:A guilty TV pleasure is Desperate Housewives. Yeah, I know, I know, it’s banal. That’s why it’s guilty pleasure. The other best show on TV is CSI.
    Otherwise:
    A great cup of coffee, a great glass of wine, me and my sweetie on the couch in front of the fire, a hearty workout, a Sunday afternoon nap, getting to read the Sunday paper first before anyone else tears into it and disrupts the order in which I read it, (front section, lifestyles, food, editorials, funnies, Parade magazine, real estate, then any intersting ads), shopping with my gay guy-friend,
    I don’t think of books as mood elevators. To me they are oxygen.

  3. I’m all about better living through chemistry, and I’ve been much more pleasant since I discovered anti-depressants. But when I’m low, a good book or a funny movie, talking to a friend, watching a favorite episode of Buffy (some good girl power butt-kicking), or chocolate will usually take care of it.

  4. I love Judging Amy and I love watching it while I walk on the treadmill.
    Also King of The Hill & The Simpsons. Old Friends episodes make me laugh out loud!
    Iced latte.
    My 6 lb. Maltese, Josie.
    Reading. New one by Susan Wittig Albert! and Jan Karon.

  5. My Mood elevators —
    My partner: she is just a person that has a positive outlook all the time
    My dogs: who can stay in a bad mood when you come home to those silly grins and waggy-butts?
    Friends: I have a great group of friends both in real life as well as my new one online. What a blessing.
    Books: my biggest weekness by far.
    I do enjoy TV, but a good book will almost always pre-empt even my favorite shows.

  6. …Sunday afternoon with a good football game on the tube, The boy napping and me on the couch with the cat on my lap.
    … belly laughs with friends.
    … playing a sport so hard you become in the zone and finish totally exhausted.
    … good sex – see above :).

  7. I’m with cheesehead, books are more like oxygen, a necessity for life.
    Mood elevators — definitely chemical at times, but at other times the chocolate works too. I’m not familiar with Ghiradelli, so I must go look for it.
    My cats, our favourite fleece blankie and a good nap on a Sunday afternoon…….now that’s living.

  8. After the kids go to school, sitting in the sun on my sofa reading blogs, drinking coffee/tea (depending) with the kitchen appliances humming in the background, candles burning on my table, a little prayer, kitty on my shoulder or my lap — complete contentment. It’s a must have.
    When I’m feeling blue and out of sorts, hard work in the garden, playing the piano really loud, getting completely absorbed into a painting, stained glass or embroidery design. Flying kites with the kids and letting the world pass me by…. or just flying period. Hopping in the plane, slipping the surly bonds of earth and going absolutely nowhere, just up. Getting really loud and rowdy with my posse (as my daughter would call them) while drinking wine and listening to jazz. Or dancing in the kitchen, singing into a wooden spoon microphone.
    A really hard hike up a mountian to gain perspective and then sitting back on my haunches on a sun-warmed rock to gaze out over the landscape. Or laying spread eagle over sun warmed living rock to feel the pulse of the world.
    OK, and because I am strange, I watch Clean Sweep and get inspired — also Mission Organization. Then I clean something that hasn’t been cleaned in a while and something I don’t do continually — like behind the refrigerator or sofa. Or organize a kitchen cabinet. Setting something to order somehow makes me feel better….
    Since the kid and I have been homebound for the better part of 6 weeks, I’ve been realizing that it’s anything that breaks the routine — getting out of the house and doing something just outside the usual space…..

  9. 1. Water. Swimming or a hot bath or a hot tub.
    2. Food. Chocolate, diet coke, super-hot salsa on fresh tortillas. All three together work even better.
    3. Books. They’re always good, but especially if I’m feeling low or sick. I read and re-read thousands of pages of books each time I went through severe morning sickness because it would distract me from the nausea and vomiting better than anything else (plus, I couldn’t watch TV at the time; any jumpy camera work made me more nauseous).
    4. Lipstick. Somehow, putting on bright lips makes me feel happier.

  10. I tried to comment last night and yesterday and had trouble!!!
    Anyway, my mood elevators are definitely hot chocolate while curled up on the couch.
    Books, any and all books, I love ’em.
    TV, I do love TV, especially law and order.
    Do you know I’ve never seen Lost??? I rented the first season so that I could see what the fuss was about.
    My pups, they could cheer me up anyday.

  11. So much on TV (Picard being a personal favorite as well since one of my daughters was named based on him), Earl, Gilmore Girls, West Wing, I could go on and on…
    My husband
    Chocolate
    Good beer–not a lot, just good.
    Napping
    My kids
    Sleeping in
    Autumn
    Good music

  12. I have confidence in sunshine
    I have confidence in rain
    I have confidence that spring will come again (rhyming with “rain” in that Julie Andrews way)
    Besides which, you see, I have confidence in me!

    That is at least the third time your blog posts have set me to singing. My family will thank you to cut it out.
    🙂

  13. My mood elevators:
    Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food
    walking out-of-doors
    good music of all kinds, but especially — ironically — the blues
    amusing people — Ellen deGeneres, Garrison Keillor, Bill Bryson, et al
    my goofy li’l dog (also a Maltese)
    great coffee
    a good book — very often books with lots of pictures, like cookbooks, gardening books, travel books and the like
    the Eucharist (funny how I thought of that AFTER coffee…)
    my wonderful food coop, where I can happily commune with my crunchy-granola peeps, breathe in air redolent of ground coffee and spices and herbal soaps and find all manner of fun foods
    good art
    flowers
    e-mails from friends

  14. CHocolate
    A warm tub
    Reading
    TIme alone
    Chocolate
    Playing with the girls
    CHocolate
    MIndless computer surfing
    And did I mention chocolate?

  15. Bad Alice, I love a good mystery, too.
    Allison, does lipstick really work for you? I have gone without makeup for so many years, I wouldn’t have thought to try it. But phase one of the Mid-Life Crisis was a trip to the makeup counter, which made me feel a little ashamed. Perhaps I shouldn’t feel that way at all?

  16. Ashamed about makeup?
    Then I am in deep trouble.
    There are only a few things I do without makeup on–swim, sleep work out, shower and have sex. The rest of the time I am painted and spackled.

  17. I am on my second husband in a row who doesn’t care for makeup on women, and I also have ridiculously sensitive skin, so that’s part of it, I guess. I really used to enjoy wearing it, once upon a time. But I don’t think I have a clue what looks good on my face at this age.

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