From the November 1944 magazine.

How It Feels to Join A. A. Long Before You Have to

It was a lovely spring morning last June, warm and full of promise--a day that fills you with love of life and a desire to live it fully, to accomplish all the things you have dreamed, to work, to love your fellow man. It was the first day of my vacation after a busy year--a vacation eagerly planned for and set aside to do a piece of creative work which was a joy to me. The night before there had been a late party to celebrate the finish of the old and the bright beginning of the new. I was shaky that morning, having celebrated thoroughly, so before I started to shop for my new equipment I decided to have a martini or two before lunch. I awoke at twilight with a bewildered sense of loss. The lovely day was gone. A shiver of terror went through me and then the slow, steady creep of smothering panic. Something terrible was the matter with me but WHAT? This wasn't the first time this had happened in spite of my best intentions and plans. It had happened with increasing frequency whenever I was released from responsibility. A cold, damp sweat folded around me like a blanket and I was filled with violent nausea. Later I phoned the liquor store. I had to have a drink so I could think this through clearly.

At the end of a week with days beginning and ending in the same way I was reduced to despair and gibbering panic. I couldn't go out in the street, let alone ride in a bus. I was afraid to get in an elevator. I couldn't sit in a movie for fear of screaming out loud. Safe in the apartment the walls started moving in on me. The long vacation yawned ahead like a dark valley of horror. In my despair I doubted if I'd find myself alive at the end of it, let alone well and ready for work. There was no reality but the fight between me and my panic and the only weapon I knew to fight it with was a drink. I had had psychoanalysis and supposedly should not be suffering this recurrence of panic but it was worse than in its original form. There was no further help to be sought from that angle. Slowly a thought had begun to focus in my terrified mind. Could the panic have any relationship to my drinking?

-- Beatrice

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