Mental illness and alcoholism often go hand in hand. When people struggle with depression and anxiety, turning to drugs or alcohol may seem like a short-term solution. They can forget about their problems for just a little while. TJ struggled with mental illness throughout his life. After discontinuing prescription medication, he turned to alcohol to self-medicate.

Although TJ had years of struggles, the year 2020 brought a whole new level of anxiety with the COVID pandemic. Laid off from work, he was alone in his apartment, isolated from others. His anxiety grew and grew. He told his mother that COVID would ‘be a death sentence for him’ if he got it. Unfortunately, TJ was right, but not in the way that he thought. He never suffered from a coronavirus infection. He did, however, isolate himself more and more over time. His overwhelming fear caused him to turn down the chance to return to work again. 

His family worried and called, trying to get him to leave his apartment, to safely socialize with others, to return to work, but TJ refused. Instead, he turned to alcohol, to try to numb the fears. In late July, alcohol actually killed TJ at 36 years of age. His mother found him several days after his death. Today, TJ’s brother and mom come on the show to talk about TJ, his struggles, and what fear and isolation can do to a person already suffering from mental illness.