Robin Williams’ death caused me, like many others, to reflect on my life choices. It is a nice legacy to have when the media bring attention not only to your death but also the psychological and substance abuse issues that many of us also suffer. Williams would have never suspected his death would lead to better health choices for many of his fans. And later we learned he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
Coincidentally, I decided to become sober myself two weeks prior to Williams’ suicide. I not only have been concerned about my drinking, like Williams, I have also dealt with minor bouts of depression. When life or work excites me, some have described me as manic. And my father, his mother and generations before her suffered with Parkinson’s disease. If somewhere down the line I am diagnosed with the disease, it will not come as a surprise.
A few years back I learned about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT teaches you to let go of the past and embrace the present. Terrible things happen, and it’s OK because there’s not a damn thing you can do to correct the past. And to be clear, while you can help guide your future, you cannot predict your future. I have learned to make the most of the present and to do my best to help have a better future.
Am I perfect? No way. As we all know, life can be glorious despite the challenges we all face daily. Living life takes practice and never-ending learning.
As journalists, we are observers of the world around us. When I came back to Glenwood, I not only signed up for the role of publisher but also that of ad manager at the Post Independent. Our other daily newspapers here in the mountains have two different people in those roles. While I am never bored or finished with my work at the end of each day, I am proud to be able to perform decently wearing both hats. I am driven by never being able to be personally satisfied with what I am personally able to accomplish.
My goal is to find a different internal method of creating personal drive.
Better than a decade ago, a criticism I received in a job review was that too much of my persona was tied to my work. I swiftly brushed that one off. As I am about to enter my 63rd year, I finally get it. Having a balanced life is important for all of us. And it is never too late to make a change in one’s life as long as you are walking this Earth.
Sobriety was my first step. Mind you, I wasn’t a fall-down drunk who needed a drink with my coffee each morning. After my usual 10- or 11-hour day at work, I’d typically have a drink and prepare dinner, or even better socialize at a local establishment, slamming down a martini or two and couple of glasses of wine. Drinking at night quickly drowned away the issues of my day and freed my mind. Drinking too much also made for a complete waste of my evenings, and in the morning I felt like hell.
Since July 27, I have regained my evenings and I no longer have to wait for the fog to lift from my head in the mornings. Minus alcohol I make smarter eating decisions. I have lost 6 pounds.
Thanks for listening. That feels better getting all of that out in the open and off of my chest.
Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.