"Headline distress disorder" is real—and it's making many of us self-prescribe alcohol.
On Edge is a series about stress in 2017.
On a weekend this August, writer Danielle Guercio had a full day of work ahead of her when news broke that a car drove through a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The 30-year-old, based in New York City, found it hard to focus, and instead fixed herself a drink to cope.
“I was like, OK, I’m going to start drinking at 2 PM even though I haven't eaten a thing,” Guercio says. “Not eating food, but grabbing a bottle.”
This kind of behavior isn’t typical for her. Guercio said she had been making efforts to curb her drinking after she left the bar industry lifestyle that dominated her early twenties, cutting down to just one or two drinks a couple of times a week. But in late 2015, she began to backslide. Family parties became tense when some of Guercio’s loved ones voiced support of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. So she began drinking more at family functions.
“At family things, I would drink as if I was at a night out with friends,” she tells me.
After the election, things got worse. Self-perceived “anxiety and uselessness” started to affect her daily thought patterns, and drinking multiple glasses a night became a new habit to counteract the stress of current events and the difficulties she was having with work.
“[In] January, I was doing two to three glasses of wine a night for three months straight—which is totally not how I normally do things,” says Guercio. “It started to make me not feel bodily good.”
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