Featured Image: My long-unused bong finally finding her new purpose.
Everybody’s got their vices. There are just certain things we do to cope with the horror that is human existence. And if you try and quit one, you inevitably find a different vice to replace it with.
Vices have been especially prevalent this past year because there is pretty much nothing we can do to save ourselves from the mental agony of being stuck in our homes. Now that it’s been nearly a year, those vices have become more than vices, they’ve become habits that may never leave us.
I discovered my first vice when I was [too young] years old and had already been dealing with untreated depression for a few years. It was the hip thing to try at the time: marijuana. At first, it was just a fun thing to do with friends, but by the time college came around, it became more or less just habit. I smoked to help with my anxiety, my depression, my inability to eat due to antidepressants, my anger issues, or any negative emotion I had. This lasted up until about two years ago when I decided to slow down and eventually quit for the health of my body (and wallet). I have since gained better coping skills because I don’t have that easy “fix” anymore. Instead of smoking, I had to figure out other ways to calm down.
Unfortunately, quitting smoking did make me drink more. Pre-covid, I was going out drinking every weekend to ease my mental anguish. I also saw a lot of people drinking excessively during quarantine, and at the time it seemed perfectly fine, even funny and popular (See: SNL). Thankfully, I didn’t fall into that habit but only because drinking alone is so boring, but it did make me notice how much of a crutch drinking is for the majority of Americans. I didn’t drink a bottle and a half of wine on Valentine’s Day just for the fun of it, but because I was willing to trade a hangover for a night out of my own head.
So, no smoking, no drinking. What else is there? Nicotine. I am embarrassed to say this but I did Juul for a bit. It took some time to realize how ridiculously stupid and unhealthy it is, but by that time the addiction had already set in without me even noticing. I quit cold-turkey and had about a week-long headache and what felt like the flu. It just didn’t make sense to me to continue doing something that no longer gave me the headrush I was initially chasing and what was only going to give me cancer in the long run. Like, how dumb would you feel if you got lung cancer because you Juuled?
So, no smoking, no drinking, no nicotine. Caffeine? I drank coffee for about a month before I had to quite due to gastrointestinal issues, plus it gives me anxiety. But man, do we as a country have a caffeine issue. One of our most prized establishments in New England has a slogan that says Americans literally “run on” them. If for some reason every Dunkin Donuts closed in Massachusetts there would be goddamn riots– or would there even be? Because they would all have withdrawal headaches or wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. But I’ll let caffeine go because it’s the one drug you can legally do at work.
So, no smoking, no drinking, no nicotine, no caffeine… Food! Ah, yes, food. Food was such a big vice for me after college that, after eating mutiple burgers a week for several months, as well as one very bad Olive Garden experience, I got a stomach ulcer. Now, the ulcer was also caused by my extreme stress, but it did not help that I was eating like that guy on Super Size Me. Sigh, another vice bites the dust. The good news is, good food doesn’t have to be greasy and made of questionable ingredients. Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve been making fresh meals for myself and am still able to be a glutton without giving myself another ulcer.
So, no smoking, no drinking, no nicotine, no caffeine, no greasy foods. What’s left for you, Andria? It’s chocolate. I won’t give this one up until you pry it from my cold, diabetic hands.
But we still haven’t gotten down to the real issue behind all these common bad habits. What are we running from? Clearly, it’s from our own minds– most of these things create chemical reactions in our brains that make us feel different than normal. But why are our brains such a hard place to be?
It’s escapism, plain and simple. There are other forms of it, which may become habits and addictions in and of themselves, like endlessly watching Netflix, or daydreaming, or playing video games. Even my reading addiction is me trying to fill my day with something other than my own thoughts (or being on my phone).
It’s been increasingly difficult to be present anymore because the present fucking sucks. Our government (the United States’, that is) and our planet (Earth, that is) are in shambles. Who in their right mind would want to be here?
The main conundrum of my favorite book, Catch-22, is that you can’t go home from the war if you think you’re crazy. Because if you think you’re crazy for being in a war, that means you’re perfectly sane, and so you have to stay. If you’re perfectly fine with being in the war, then you definitely are insane, but you’ll stay there because you don’t know any better. Either way, truly sane or insane, you’re stuck.
You’re not crazy for wanting to escape, but you certainly are crazy if you’re perfectly happy with the state of affairs. However, I do implore you to be careful with what vices you choose to escape with. Don’t let endless Netflix, drinking, or smoking be your life. You have to come back into reality at some point.