Buzz Aldrin on plunging into depression after moon landing – he had ‘no sense of calling’

Richard Branson discusses phone call from Buzz Aldrin

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The Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon in 1969. It was a moment that has inspired millions and according to the third season of The Crown, nudged Prince Philip towards a mid-life crisis. But not many people know the mission to Mars had a negative legacy on one of the pilots – Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.

Aldrin has opened up in the past about his experience coming home from the epic mission.

After coming home the star was plagued with the typical symptoms of depression.

In his memoir, aptly named Magnificent Desolation, he described feeling an overwhelming sense of meaninglessness.

“I wanted to resume my duties, but there were no duties to resume,” he recalled.

“There was no goal, no sense of calling, no project worth pouring myself into.”

It’s been reported in the past, that like many other famous individuals, Aldrin also sought drink as an escape from these feelings.

It’s estimated that one in eight men will develop a common mental health problem such as depression over their lifetime.

The Movember Foundation sadly suggests that three-quarters of all suicides in the UK are by men.

It’s known that Aldrin had depression in his family.

His mother, Marion, was tortured by the condition leading up to her suicide in May 1968 – merely months before Aldrin’s once-in-a-lifetime mission.
Aldrin has described the 1970s as the “lost decade” in the past, during an interview with The Telegraph.

He went through two marriages and worked as a car salesman shortly after the moon landing.

Is depression inherited?

Aldrin even suggested he was shunned by NASA and the Air Force after opening up about his struggles.

Society’s respect for Aldrin couldn’t stop him from slipping into depression. Neil Armstrong also went through a bout of mental health issues.

This raises questions about the cause of depression.

A team of researchers has actually isolated a specific gene that they have found is common among family members that have depression.

They discovered this gene in more than 800 families with recurring depression.

Since then, many scientists accept that just under half of depression cases are linked to genetics.

Despite his internal turmoil, Aldrin described years later how he’s “comfortable” and “at peace” these days.

“You make changes, you learn to accept things,” he told LA Times at the turn of the century.

“You become satisfied with slow progress. Now I’m comfortable and at peace most of the time.”

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