A six-mile ‘walk of shame’: Opening up about my drinking and depression helped me cope

Last Halloween weekend, my housemates and I went out partying and everyone made it back safe. Except for me. They thought I was dead.

It was the day before Halloween and we took a party bus downtown to an open bar. I was dressed as the rapper Eminem dressed as a candy M&M. My costume was about the only good choice I made that night.

We got there and the bar was pretty much empty. I was eager and depressed, so I started drinking right away. I didn’t want to feel the depression anymore so I tried to drink it away. My drink of choice was equally depressing.

Ordering “sex on the beach” is a weird experience because it feels like you’re propositioning the bartender. I didn’t care about the slight amount of awkwardness because fruity drinks are the best.

Manly? No. Delicious? Yes.

I drank too much in the next hour. Suddenly I was “that guy.” Anyone who’s been to a bar or a party knows what I’m talking about. “That guy” who doesn’t understand personal boundaries and will talk to anyone, and by talk I mean scream obnoxiously in their face.

I remember talking to a group of guys. They must not have enjoyed my company because one of them punched me in the back of the head. I remember drinking more after that.

After that my memory is blank. Nothing. I existed and was conscious for another three hours or so but I have no memory.

The next day I woke up at noon alone. I had no clue where I was or how I’d gotten there. The house I was in was empty.

I turned my phone on and called one of my housemates so they would know where I was and could come get me. My phone died after the first ring.

I left the house and buttoned my jacket all the way up so no one could see the gold chain or the red shirt with the big white ‘m’s’ on the front of it. I picked a direction that looked good and walked, walked and walked.

I thought about stopping a stranger and asking to use their phone but I didn’t know my roommates’ numbers by heart. Plus, I wasn’t exactly sure how to word my situation to a stranger. Excuse me ma’am. I’m terribly hung over and don’t have a single clue where I am. May I borrow your phone?

Finally, after about an hour of walking, I realized I was by Daemen College, which is relatively close to South Campus. Luckily, I’d ended up in a familiar place.

I walked another mile or two to South, took the bus to North Campus, and walked from North to Sweet Home Road. I must have walked about six miles that day.

Talk about a walk of shame.

I came into the apartment. Only one roommate was home, the rest were out looking for me. He was relieved, shocked and incredibly pissed.

“Where were you?” he said. “We thought you were dead.”

The last time they’d seen me I was ridiculously drunk and was complaining about getting punched. Then I just disappeared. They called the cops when I didn’t show up or respond to their dozens of texts by noon. They were planning on looking for me in the alleys of downtown Buffalo that afternoon.

Some people might think, “Why didn’t your friends keep track of you to begin with?” But I’m a guy. We don’t watch each other that closely when we drink. Plus, it was an open bar and everyone was having trouble keeping track of themselves that night, let alone someone else. I don’t blame my friends or the bartender or anyone else for what happened.

I blame myself because it was my bad choice.

I was depressed and pretty badly so. There is no specific reason why I was depressed – that’s the scary thing about depression, it doesn’t really need a reason. Some days I wouldn’t even get up for class and the days that I did I was in a haze. I existed but didn’t feel anything. I drank like that because it temporarily made me feel better.

Admitting this isn’t something that I’m proud of. I don’t like admitting I need help with little things like directions, let alone my mental health – but I’m trying to be more open.

Things didn’t get better immediately and I struggled with depression for a couple of months. After that night I realized that alcohol wasn’t helping so I stopped drinking all together for the rest of the semester. I think it’s impossible to get your life together when you’re constantly getting blasted out of your mind every weekend.

My life isn’t completely where I want it to be right now but it’s better than it was last semester. Some days I wake up and feel like doing nothing but I think that’s normal for a college kid. The depression comes back every once in a while but now I know how to get rid of it when it does. Exercising and talking to other people are the two things I find most helpful.

Things only got better for me because I opened up and actually talked about my problems. I talked to my friends, family and a counselor. Most guys my age don’t want to talk about their problems because they think admitting they’re flawed is synonymous with admitting weakness. I thought this too for a long time and it stopped me from getting the help I needed.

Breaking news: everyone is flawed. If someone judges you for being honest about your struggles they’re not worth your time. If you’re struggling, talk to someone who’s willing to listen. Open up.

Things get better when you let them.

John Jacobs is the assistant features editor and can be reached at: john.jacobs@ubspectrum.com