22 May 2016

Through the Darkness to the Light

The blackness of depression and white hot panic of anxiety are always near me. Without warning they can flare up and make any day a struggle. If you live with these twins of despair, you know what they can do to you. Clouding your judgement and making even the simplest things difficult.
The other day was a good one...until it wasn't. I cannot fully explain what triggers my emotional response sometimes and it is with much trepidation that I even type these words. The dark and empty feeling when you cannot make sense of the world around you can trap you in a spiral of doubt and shame that is hard to pull out of. Add alcohol to the mix and it can burn hotter and longer than you intended to let it.
In the old days, I would respond to this mood by trying to drown it with cheap beer. I've talked about not going Full Polkaroo before and it is part of my journey through craft beer that I must acknowledge every time I crack open a new one. I no longer want to be that guy, so my response to the trials and tribulations of everyday life are much more thoughtful and measured now. At least I hope they are.
Earlier this week the clouds rolled into my mind and I couldn't shake them off. Nothing really was the cause, but I felt the crushing weight return and I was at a loss. Instead of responding with copious amounts of booze, I decided to wait it out. I had grabbed three tall boys of my favourite beers and considered just downing them to ease the pain, but I couldn't do it. My appreciation for a well crafted beer means I don't want to waste even one on trying to cover my feelings. As I stared at the cans in front of me, I tried to imagine what it would be like to not care about what I drank and just pound beers until I didn't feel anything anymore. It is a scary thing to know how far you can go to try to escape yourself, But as I have grown in the last year and learned about myself, I discovered a reserve of strength inside and put the cans back in the fridge. Not wanting to pound one beer in anger on a bad day was a triumph to me and it helped to lighten my mood.
It took the better part of two days for the sun to shine in my heart and while I knew I was off the rails, there was nothing to do but wait. I'm impatient at the best of times and that was part of the problem before. I knew that popping the top on ten or twenty Brava lights would make me feel better right now and that was all I needed. But the false happiness of those beers was soon followed by the realisation that my problems hadn't gone away, I was now hung over and still faced my own demons. The fact that I could enjoy my one beer and not give in to those old feelings was part of what helped my come out the other side in one piece. I enjoyed each of those beers in time and I was so glad I hadn't just pounded them mindlessly. I've learned that sometimes the best beer is the one you don't drink.
Bad days come to all of us, but it is our response to them that counts. Being aware of my own problems and not hiding from them is part of what I am doing in becoming a better person. I say it all the time, but it deserves repeating...Craft beer saved my life and I am grateful for that. I will continue to sing its praises and enjoy the wonderful and innovative flavours I find when I open the next one. Brighter days beckon and with summer coming, I am excited to see what's next.

Raise your glass and your standards!



  1. That was so amazingly said, and so brave of you to share. Staying mentally healthly has been a real struggle for me over the last 4years, and honestly each day it is still a struggle some days are better than others, but staying true to yourself,and learning to work through those demons is lots of hard work. Good for you! One day at a time!

    1. I congratulate you on keeping the faith and believing it can get better. not every day is a gem, sometimes they need a little elbow grease and polish. I love my life and hope to keep pursuing happiness with a relentless fury. Cheers!