9 Years in 90 Seconds

There is life after addiction. One of the hardest parts about even wanting to attempt to get sober was that I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself without a drink in my hand. In no way was my last bloody mary the end of all my struggles—things actually got much harder for about a year and a half, and I couldn’t stay sober for more than a couple weeks or maybe a month if I was lucky. But it was a step in the right direction from drinking daily. That bloody mary was, however, the last drink I had before I knew that life as an alcoholic was not a life for me at all.

This video shows the stark contrast between my life as an active alcoholic and as a recovering alcoholic. I went through every single picture I own of myself (e.g. those taken with my camera) in which I am holding something in my hands. This collection spans 2005-2014, a time that begins my transition from a recent high-school graduate into adulthood. While these pictures include those of major milestones—meeting a best friend for the first time, graduating from college, attending my first music festival, traveling the world, meeting my musical idol, finishing graduate school—I have no idea what is happening when my focus is only on the drink in my hand. After I began recovery, I began filling my life—and my hands—with more meaningful things, and even when my only perspective is what’s in my hand, I can still tell exactly what’s going on in each picture. I met my wife, I got a dog, I made art and crocheted blankets, I played lots of games, and I fell in love with nature—and with life—again.

Apryl Pooley is a neuroscientist at Michigan State University, researching the effects of trauma on the brain and author of Fortitude: A PTSD Memoir