It Began With Huntley Drinkley: A Journey Through Alcoholism And Bipolar Disorder

By Janny Becker
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It Began with Huntley Drinkley

What is it that can hold our lives away from disaster? And what happens when disaster finds us anyway? How do we survive? This memoir describes the author's experience of successfully managing the potential devastation of bipolar disorder and alcoholism and is a model for approximately five million adult Americans with this syndrome. It is also a guide for anyone trying to live with their life obstacles, rather than running away from them

Presented as a story rooted in a seemingly innocent practice in her family during the late 1950s, it shows twists and turns that can lead one life toward the edge of devastation, and to find its bearings again. When she was twelve years old, she was allowed to join the family in their cocktail hour as they watched NBC News with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley every evening . At their house this time was known as "Huntley Drinkley."

Her parents' philosophy was that if her sister and she were allowed to drink with them, they would not experiment with alcohol outside their home where they might get into trouble . In reality what happened was her sister and she became daily drinkers like their parents, doing "Huntley Drinkley" every evening for years . The danger of that pattern, along with a diagnosis in early adulthood of bipolar disorder, sent her on a parallel path of high professional performance and a secret spiral downward, until she almost hit bottom. The conditions that can lead a person there, and save them, are the heart of this animated story of hope, self-love and resilience .

This book pulls on professional and personal experiences as a person who has succeeded in living a productive and interesting life, while managing alcoholism and bipolar disorder. Becker's experiences are shared to encourage others that both diseases are treatable

About the Author

Janny Becker was raised in the State of Washington in Walla Walla until ten years old and in Spokane thereafter until at age eighteen, she went off to college at the University of Washington in Seattle . In the summer between her freshman and sophomore years she was privileged to get an internship in the US Senate which became a turning point in her life. She stayed at the U ofW to her junior year and then transferred to Columbia University in NYC to study in a specialized program for Occupational Therapy in Mental Health. She did her psychiatric internship at Chestnut Lodge in Rockville, Maryland, where she began to develop a good base for her work in the years to come.

After graduation from Columbia in 1968, she went to work at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York for the next four years. In 1972 she moved to Seattle and continued her career at the University of Washington in Seattle on the psychiatric in-patient unit.

Over the next period of time she worked in the public system and when she had twenty-one years of experience, she opened her own private outpatient agency. In 1975, she met a man who was involved in politics and eventually married him. They were together 20 years .

In 1977 she got into recovery from alcoholism and has been successful in living a good life in sobriety since .

Published: 2020
Page Count: 276

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
Compelling and inspirational memoir.

This memoir is a compelling story of one woman’s life. More importantly though, it is an inspirational account of how to live a full life after being diagnosed as bipolar; and a heartfelt and honest reckoning of overcoming addiction. But perhaps what was most moving to me was the author’s compassion toward all those who are disenfranchised in our society. In these troubling and divisive times, it is refreshing to read about a life not only well lived but also a life full of empathy for others. Empathy right now is golden.