I met Will after he had just arrived at a peer respite center run by the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network.
Will: I lost my son in 2010 in a car accident. I had a nervous breakdown. I had been in AA at that point for 15 years, sober. Before I lost my son I had never thought about my mental health condition . I was just a contractor, going at it hard in sobriety. I kept busy. Well, when he died I found I couldn't really address it all in AA.
I had heard old timers say, "there may come a point in your life that you need to address some things with outside help." When my son died that somehow came back. I knew I needed outside help.
I've lost a lot of other people including my own mother in a house fire when I was young. I lost friends to the disease of alcoholism. I was a hospice caregiver for 14 years, so I lost a lot of people. You do as much work as you can to get better, but when another trauma hits and you haven't gotten better from the last one... I had no clue until my son died, that I was still accumulating a lot of stuff, man, and it was mounting up.
So that's kinda how it went. From that point I was numb, shut down, hated everybody for no good reason. I was just mad and rejecting of everything. God too.
So it was tough for those first three years after his death. I went to counseling and groups and doctors and everything. They diagnosed me with bipolar mixed, PTSD, and dysthymia.
BW: So, what is it like for you today?
Will: Oh today is just like every day. I try to be part of recovery both mental health and AA.
I'm a little tired, Brent. I go a lot and I do a lot. I have three friends that are in the hospital right now in Athens. Two of them are AA guys and one of them is a street guy that I was working with.
So, what brings me here is that I needed a timeout, a respite. I knew of this place because I worked for Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network in 2010 and 2011. I've got to take care of me if I'm gonna have anything to give to anybody.