Welcome to Texas guys, so this is day #34 with no autistic rocking back and forth. I want to talk about Asperger’s and alcoholism-not a good combination – as a heavy alcoholic for 16 years.
But I wanted to talk about the effects of alcohol and how it hit me like a Mack truck and how I fell in love with it, and how it became a love hate situation really fast.
So, you know, all my life I was picked on by my friends – they were kind of bullies, my dad was a bully, teachers were bullies, and I just didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. My self esteem was super low. And the only thing I had to really get any kind of relief, was rocking back and forth, and listening to music.
I still remember the first day that I discovered Hard Rock. It was Iron Maiden, I was 12 years old. My mom was driving me home from school and it just blew me away. It was like, I never heard anything like it. It gave me a sense of power. It gave me adrenaline, and I learned that the more you turned up the volume, the more you got an adrenaline high, or dopamine high. So I would just play rock and roll in my headphones and rock back and forth on the carpet at my parents’ house.
It got to the point where I couldn’t even do homework anymore. I just wanted to listen to music and rock, especially after a long day of school. You know, I’d watch cartoons from three to six, have dinner, then rock from after dinner, all the way till bedtime – and that became my life.
I wanted to be a rock and roll drummer. I didn’t care about school at all. And, I only had a few friends in high school and I always played with them one on one, I never played with people in groups, but mostly, my love affair was music and rocking.
But when I was 17, or I was almost 17, I discovered alcohol. And I was actually scared of it. I was, I was so sheltered by my parents that I didn’t really understand alcohol and how it worked. I thought that one beer would make me wasted. I was so scared about it, that when a friend gave me a beer one time I pretended like I drank it all but I went around the corner and dumped half of it out. So I really didn’t understand the power of it.
But the next time I drank, I had wine coolers and I remember drinking a wine cooler, and that’s when the buzz hit. I was like, Oh my gosh, it was like 17 years of weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt effervescent. I was just shimmering with this energy I’ve never had. I felt alive. I felt uninhibited. I felt like I could speak my mind. I felt free. I felt like a prisoner released with that first buzz from alcohol.
I was 17. I would drink once in a while, and then I started to get a little more buzzed over time and then I’d start getting drunk, until it was a common thing, and hangovers were horrible and I would be sick all day after drinking. I couldn’t really handle it.
But then there came a time when you know the hangovers weren’t that bad anymore and I started drinking more, then it got to the point where I introduced beer in the morning. I’d wake up and have a beer and life seemed pretty good, you know, it was crazy. I would black out, people would have to tell me what I did the night before.
It got to the point where it wasn’t romantic anymore. Like I was starting to get in more trouble with it than without it. It got to the point where I was really pushing the envelope because alcohol and music became my two best lovers and I really didn’t need people after that.
Now alcohol in the beginning was supposed to be liquid courage for me and helped me socialize with people. But eventually I self-isolated even more with alcohol and just became a drunk, and people would come over and they’d see me pathetic drunk in my home. I got fired from jobs. It got to the point where I was either drunk or I was hung over – there was no in between.
Asperger’s and Alcoholism Tips
So I was back to just being beaten down by my actions, and before alcohol, it was friends, family and school teachers that beat me down, and myself. I didn’t think too highly of myself. I kind of weird and a loser, and alcohol kind of led me back to that point where I was still a loser. It took away from me, eventually, robbed me of any morals that I had or anything.
So long story short, it was great for a few years. I felt a ton of energy. I felt manic when I was drinking. But in the end, it took away from me more than it ever gave – it was kind of like an illusion. It was like a fantasy, it was like a dream and the dream slowly became a nightmare.
But I didn’t want it to end, I lived by alcohol, I mean I literally had a beer by my side 24/7 near the end of it when I was 36. I had a beer by my side. And if I got below two cans of beer in the fridge I was freaking out. That was my security. I was so naked and scared and trembling with alcohol withdrawals.
At the end, that beer was the only thing I had, and if I was coming off of beer my heart started to hurt. So in my insanity of alcoholism, I was like, I need to thin my blood with more beer or I’m going to have a heart attack. So, my thoughts were twisted that I was like I need more beer, or I’m gonna die from a heart attack.
At the end I had no friends. People were telling me I was gonna die in a year, people at work were like, Dude, what is wrong with Erik? I’ve never seen him this way. And I was in my own little world. I didn’t care about people, I didn’t care about myself. There were empty beer cans all over the backseat of my car, my car was breaking down. I was wetting my bed at night, every night, getting just wasted.
This is all because alcohol gave me a sense of freedom in the beginning. I wanted it so bad. In fact, that’s how all the addictions worked. I wanted it so bad that I clung to addictions, because I wanted to escape. I wanted relief. I wanted to feel alive.
So, first day in Texas. Beautiful. Flat, gorgeous areas. It’s not really a quiet road I wish it was. This is my first day walking this road. Oh well. Welcome to Texas.
So, I met Misha and his family. Last night, or at least her sister and her husband. And they were prepared for me to be very nervous. It kind of gave me relief because I feel more freaked out when people expect me to be normal, and extroverted and energetic and Hi How are you, you know, the more people expect me to be that way the more nervous I get because I’m not like that. I don’t want to fake it. I don’t want to perform. I don’t have the energy to perform, I just want to be me. That’s always been a struggle.
So, anyways. We talked and they’re really cool, you know, I shook the guy’s hand and hugged her sister and we got moved in. I was hardly nervous. They didn’t want to talk, they didn’t want to sit down at the dinner table and talk. That’s what always freaks me out, you know, I had a panic attack at a dinner table once. So now I’m kind of leery of dinner tables and that was with my parents.
So, you know, I’m scared of dinner tables and I don’t want to be formal with anyone. I just want to be chill and have an easy time – and they were great. They’re just like Hey Erik. I hugged them. Then they let us move in and unpacked our stuff. We have a little studio apartment behind the house. So it was fine, I passed the test. But I spent three days in the hotel worried about it.
It’s ridiculous living with anxiety and Asperger’s. That’s why I clung to those addictions, because I was tired of feeling anxiety, and dread and anxiety. So alcohol was great for a while. It relieved the dread and the angst, I could actually talk to people. But I would always get drunk too fast. Then they would be really embarrassed about me.
I actually did better sober. In the long run, I did better sober. Alcohol is just a lie. But I clung to it. Just like a sugar addict clings to candy bars, you know, they know it’s not good for them, but they just do it anyways because they want to feel good for five minutes. But it’s not worth the lie.
It’s almost better just to work out. You know, it’s better to work out and just build up your serotonin, your natural feel good chemicals, instead of depleting them with drugs and alcohol.
So real quick. I’ve been sober for about 13 years. I just had enough one day, I stopped. And I switched to smoking cigarettes for a while and ate candy bars and worked out – and the dry sauna was my reward. You still have to have rewards and feel good things. Just got to switch them to more healthy or less destructive. Then eventually I got off the cigarettes, and the candy bars. But I really needed those cigarettes and candy bars in the beginning.
But eventually I started working out. I had two jobs. I saved up $20,000, which is a lot of money for a short order cook that I was flipping burgers. But life started to get better with sobriety. Is it worth it? It’s totally worth it, it’ll open up so many doors for you. You might surprise yourself with what you can do.
Asperger’s and Alcoholism Remedy
So before you call yourself Asperger’s or autistic or alcoholic or addict, you might want to reconsider your labels, you might be using them as a crutch. I didn’t think I was until recently.
In fact, I thought that way last night. I was like wow they don’t care if I have Asperger’s or not. They’re just glad I’m here in Texas. And for a second I was scared. I was like, What they don’t care about my Asperger’s!? How am I gonna be unique? And then I was like, Ah, is that my subconscious drive to have a label to say that I have Asperger’s, so I can have this slight edge of being unique because I always wanted to be unique growing up?
I wanted to be that abstract artist who was eccentric and had mood swings and mania because I wanted to be different. But in the end, I just want to be normal. That’s the bottom line: sobriety and normalcy is actually the best thing to be. So I’ll talk to you later, show you a little sunset. Pretty cool. Love you guys hit that subscribe button, leave a comment. How are you doing, we’ll talk to you soon.
Here’s more Resources for Asperger’s and Addiction
Erik C Johnson