Call it spontaneous sobriety. Call it an “aha” moment. Either way, alcohol slowly became something that today’s guest, Bowen, was just no longer interested in. Join us as Annie and Bowen discuss the evolving process that led him to ditch drinking – a process that was driven by a desire to live well. There was no rock bottom moment for Bowen; just a realization that for him – drinking and depression were mixing about as well as oil and water.
Have you tried The Alcohol Experiment? Okay, if not, drop everything and go to thisnakedmind.com/experiment. This free 30-day challenge is designed to interrupt your patterns and put you back in touch with the best version of you. You remember, it was that version of you that’s living your most joyful life, the version that doesn’t need alcohol to relax or to have a good time, and is having more fun than ever. Again, this is a totally free challenge that will change everything for you. So learn more and join me 100% free at thisnakedmind.com/experiment.
And as always, rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast, as it truly helps the message reach somebody who might need to hear it today.
I grew up here in San Francisco and I started drinking when I was about 10 years old and when I started to say that to myself later in life, I realized how exceptional that may be. There are plenty of other people for whom that’s true too, but it really was very early in life.
It was definitely part of the culture here in school and amongst my friends, going right back to middle school, just like sixth and seventh grade, coming into public school here in San Francisco. Alcohol and drugs were just everywhere. It was normal and lots of my friends were doing it. But of course it’s not normal really ever in any way for a kid of 10 years old to be, not just drinking but smoking cannabis and using LSD and whatever else we could get our hands on from those very early years. So it was very early and certainly not normal.
My group of friends after school most days, from seventh grade onwards, we would go find ways to buy alcohol and again, whatever other drugs we could get our hands on and that’s what we did. That’s what we did together. That pattern established very firmly. That’s what my friends and I did together. That was the main activity, it’s like, “What are we going to do?” “Well, we’re going to get together, we’re going to party, we’re going to drink.”
That is very pervasive for a lot of young people. But it really stands out when I started to think about that as an activity. It’s like that’s what we did. We weren’t doing something else and drinking or sometimes we were skateboarding or something like that. We had come to consider that, right off the bat as just like the thing to do, the thing that we did together.
So that was the beginning and then as I became an adult, my use of drugs in particular really moderated and ended really as I left high school. The advantage I suppose of getting into that stuff so early on was that I was tired of it even by the age of 17 or 18. I knew lots of people that were using hard drugs, like heroin and amphetamines and shooting drugs. I had friends die here in San Francisco. So I knew well enough to avoid that. I wasn’t going to go down that road.
Drinking Is Normal
But drinking is so completely normalized that it just became a normal part of my life. I was not a heavy drinker, but really for the most part I was certainly not the prototypical fall down drunk or the person who was dysfunctional. I drank as much as anyone else did. Enjoying some cocktails and nice wines and all that sort of thing. It really fit right in with everybody I knew as an adult in my 20s and in my 30s. It wasn’t until my 40s and I’m 49 now, that I started getting clearer messages about a different direction.
Or Is It Normal?
There were a number of factors. For one thing, I was getting a little bit older and the cumulative and repetitive effects of even relatively moderate drinking, I started to feel those effects more. Especially the occasional serious hangover, it really becomes something that you just never want to feel again, once you’re 40 or so, right? That was certainly a message. Also in my 40s or around that time, I started to get healthier in other ways. Eating better and exercising more.
I had never really been diligent or dedicated to any particular athletic practice in my earlier life. In my 40s I started to get fitter and more focused on my well being. I started to notice much more acutely the impacts that even just one or two beers or glasses of wine had on how I felt. That was a factor, that’s a sensible thing. Also noticing how alcohol affected me in my relationships.
I just started to become aware that, as I never had been before somehow, that I didn’t like how alcohol was interfering or how it was part of my conversations, my relationships and I started to feel like I didn’t want it to be part of my relationships. Now that was really much more recently, I’d say really only in the last like three or so years did I come to that clarity about it. But the biggest thing, the biggest thing, the thing that really, that was the tipping point for me was realizing the alcohol and depression connection.
Alcohol and Depression Connection
That’s something that I came to on my own after having suffered from depression and in that various levels, really throughout my life. I mean from the same age, from the same early age, really from my teens onwards. Of course alcohol and depression were co-evolved from the beginning. I had gradually improved my mental health through therapy and mostly through talk therapy, but also through improving my physical health. That greatly, also greatly improved my mental health as well. So I was gradually feeling better and better, especially as I got into my 40s and yet I would still have periodic episodes where I got pretty low.
At the end of 2017, so almost a year and a half ago now, I had one of those episodes where I was, everything was going great in my life, I was in a good relationship. Very engaged in a number of projects. I was traveling to exotic and beautiful destinations and doing great things. And I came back home from a series of trips and I was like on the floor, I was super depressed. And it just, it didn’t make sense really. There was no good reason and I had been in that situation before, now that I think about it.
The alcohol and depression connection affects so many. Learn more about the science behind it by reading This Naked Mind for free today!
What Is Causing This?
I had felt that way, I had been depressed in the past and been aware of this feeling like, why do I feel… I shouldn’t feel this bad, this doesn’t make sense. This time something clicked for me. Something more became clear and I realized as I was sitting here at home, by myself, watching a movie and drinking a bottle of wine. I had returned home from Brazil, where I was guiding kite surfing trips. So I mean, a fantastic trip and great work and beautiful places and great physical exercise. I should’ve been feeling great.
But I was depressed and I was soothing myself by drinking and it finally clicked. I realized the alcohol and depression connection. They do not go together or they do go together in a very bad way. I started to research the alcohol and depression connection a little bit. That put a bit more of a seed in my head because I was committed to improving my mental health. Ready to resolve this depression permanently. So that had been clear to me and once I saw this connection for myself, I then I felt ready to at least experiment, try just not drinking for a while. And I did and I immediately felt great. It was not very difficult to, just to stop drinking and the change again was very apparent. And so that was the beginning of the end, so to speak.
Tune in to the complete podcast to hear how life has changed for Bowen since discovering the alcohol and depression connection.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License