Grapevine Online Exclusive

Published June 2014.

Rowing Up the River

After he started feeling worse sober, he realized that he needed to do things differently

Before I picked up a drink at the somewhat late age of 19, I thought there must be something wrong with me, even reading books on psychology and psychiatry to try to figure it out. Those thoughts and feelings were no longer a concern for a while after I started drinking, as drinking made me feel the way other people looked and I was able to join the party. It gave me a feeling of well being, a false one but I believed the lie.

When I got to AA, the first three steps looked like the mental gymnastics my church wanted me to perform as a youth. I didn't feel insane until awhile after I went off my liquid medication, but then I felt like I'd discovered a new kind of mental illness. I experienced mood swings, anxiety, fear and seldom missed a mole hill to turn into a mountain. I often felt impending doom and it didn't occur to me that it might just be that doom is not impending and that this just meant that my feelings were setting off a false alarm. They were all mixed up, lacking labels and seemed to tell me that something was dreadfully amiss in my life and it was even worse that I couldn't work out what it was.

-- Jim

Tasmania, Australia

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