Buzz Aldrin, born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., is an iconic American
astronaut. After Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin is the second person
to ever walk on the moon. Aldrin was the lunar module pilot on
Apollo 11, which was the first manned lunar landing in all history.
Aldrin set foot on Moon at 03:15:16 (UTC) on July 21, 1969. Coming
back to Earth, what lay ahead was alcoholism.
Despite Aldrin's great achievements in the name of space travel,
he has had to cope with some serious battles against depression
and then alcoholism. The book Magnificent Desolation
documents his battles with both diseases.
Buzz Aldrin had a particularly tumultuous relationship with himself
that was heavily rooted in a sense of not knowing exactly what
to do with his life after going to the Moon and back, a feeling
he described as "the melancholy of all things done".
As there were few people
that Buzz felt he could share his pain with, he
was deeply introverted in trying to decipher the meaning of his
despair. He turned to alcohol in order to ease his mind and see
himself through rougher times.
Because Aldrin believed that he could hold his alcohol well,
he was not significantly worried about losing control of himself
after consuming a very large amount. Aldrin was very open about
his battles with depression, but not extraordinarily candid about
his constant battles with alcoholism.
Aldrin didn't believe that there was anything particularly wrong
with drinking heavily due to the fact that so many of his peers
shared similar drinking habits.
When Aldrin wasn't drinking, however, his thoughts of a loss
of purpose came into full swing. Self-evaluation
ran rampant in Aldrin's mind whenever he was sober. Because he
had set out to accomplish all that he had ever wanted to do, Aldrin
had trouble understanding exactly what there was left for him
After he had left NASA and the Air Force, Aldrin felt as though
he had no more structure in his life to hold him together. With
no one telling him what to do or sending him on a mission, or
giving him a complicated work assignment, he felt as though the
drive, which led him to be great, had evaporated. He didn't feel
an exuberant amount of freedom as much as he felt a crushing sense
of isolation, aloneness, and uncertainty.
As a fighter pilot in Korea,
making life-or-death decisions in the fraction
of a second, and then as an astronaut who had to evaluate a constant
stream of data, he considered himself good at making sound decisions.
Years later, as Aldrin thought of divorcing his wife, he felt
that the simplest decisions were too hard for him to make.
According to Buzz Aldrin, "I moved from drinking to depression
to heavier drinking to deeper depression. I recognized the pattern,
but I continually sabotaged my own efforts to do anything about
Buzz Aldrin's alcoholism, unlike many others, was not borne from
a sense of not accomplishing anything. While the emptiness was
indeed there, Aldrin suffered more from believing he had already
fulfilled her purpose and that there was nothing left for him
to strive towards.