A friend and former co-worker recently died in a car accident as a result of erratically driving the wrong way on the freeway at 3:20 a.m.. He took an innocent life with him. So far, no details have been released regarding potential involvement of drugs or alcohol, but when you hear about a wrong way accident at 3 in the morning, you usually assume the driver at fault was intoxicated. I still have so many questions. I mean, it just doesn't seem like my friend. Maybe we'll never know exactly how and why it went down the way it did. I do know that the world lost a beautiful soul.
To be clear, I have no basis for assuming anything of anyone else... The event of last week got me thinking. What I'm writing is my own way of coping with the loss, relating to the situation, and sharing some of my own lessons learned in my journey to mental wellness.
Driving under the influence is never okay. Living under the influence is a whole other issue. It is difficult to identify and understand. It can be just as fatal. That is what I'm inspired to touch on today.
Beer is pretty much my entire life. I pour it, talk about it, drink it, make it, think about it, or read about it every day. Sometimes, all at once. I love beer and cannot wait to open my very own brewpub in the near future.
But, regardless of how delicious, artisan-made, craft, inspiring, or maybe even transcendent a well made beer might seem to you, it is still alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol fuels depression. It is addictive. It is all too easy to abuse. It can ruin and end lives.
These are facts. They don't change just because something is 'craft', if you're just tasting, if it costs $20 per four pack or if it's your 'passion'. There's a fine, vague, blurry line between hobby and alcoholism.
If you're prone to major depressive episodes like me, it is absolutely imperative to understand the correlation between something like a long weekend of excessive drinking and the mentally challenging / depressing week that will follow. Even within a single day, I'll notice that a two-pint lunch will leave me feeling irritable and lethargic by the end of the day. There's less margin of error for someone like me. The road is narrower and less forgiving. Like Rainbow Road vs. Mario Circuit, if we're talking Mario Kart terms here. Things entering my body are capable of affecting my psyche more dramatically than others.
I've had unbearably dark thoughts as a result of coping with alcohol. It pains me to say... but, I can imagine myself in my friend's spot. When I do, it's easier to imagine this as a suicide. In the middle of a depressive episode, it feels like there is no hope in the world for you to pull through. Hopeless, defeated, deflated, worthless. I have wanted to end my life in the past. If i happened to be behind the wheel of a car at that time... Who knows.
I used to be terrified of letting depression or a panic attack drive me to do something really stupid. Fear is a choice. Instead, I am choosing to take control.
This is why balance has become such a focus for me lately. Balance in work, relaxation, drinking, diet, etc. Working in the beer industry affords you the 'luxury' of being able to drink every day. It's taken an embarrassing chunk of my career for me come to really understand and believe that's not how I want to live. As I approach my 30th birthday, I feel like I'm finally beginning to understand how take control of my mind and my own well being.
I plan to continue writing posts about specific practices I've adopted to combat depression and go more in depth on how they've helped. Things like tracking 'healthy' days, monitoring what's entering my body, exercise, outdoor time, hobbies, etc... That'll be the goal for a couple future posts at least.
Be well & remember you are loved.