Middle-Aged Expansion: Hope for the Future

I am 37, about to be 38. Antipsychotics have resulted in significant weight gain for me: I am 50 pounds heavier than I would be without them. But I exercise daily and find it almost comforting to not be flirted with constantly when I go out. Perhaps I’m also less of a flirt myself because my mood-stabilizer fights mania. Regardless, weight expansion is actually not what this post is about.

I am happy to say that my suffering in my late 20’s and early 30’s paid off. Ask me in a month and I might have a different story, since my moods shift how I view my life, but right now I must say that I am feeling an expansiveness that I haven’t felt at any other time in my life. And it is not manic expansiveness. It is just calm and persistent joy.

When I was 20-something and losing what I thought was my career at the time, there seemed to be only one alternative to becoming a professor: dying. I took meds and survived. Now I have come to the point that I no longer identify with my looks, I no longer identify with my career, and all I want to do is help people. I know people in their 60’s and 70’s who aren’t even this motivated to serve others. Some people never grow up.

If you’re having a hard time and are at any age or stage in life, really, don’t give up, commit to finding your purpose (make it so it’s about serving others), and trust that over time wisdom will rush upon you and you will find joy even if your circumstances haven’t changed. Even in the midst of deep depression several weeks ago, there was a sense of joy and a knowledge that I would survive. Previously such insight would have been unimaginable. Don’t give up.

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