Ask Erika Holmes MFT

Ask Erika Holmes MFT

Marriage and Family Therapist Erika Holmes answers listener questions from Facebook and Twitter.  Topics include Eating Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD therapies, Neurofeedback and damage caused by parents who are religious zealots.   Erika can be followed on Twitter @ErikaHolmesMFT and her website is www.erikamft.com

PillPack sponsors this show.  To check it out (and to help the podcast) go to Pillpack.com/happyhour.

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Erika can be followed on Twitter @ErikaHolmesMFT and her website is www.erikamft.com

PillPack sponsors this show.  To check it out (and to help the podcast) go to Pillpack.com/happyhour.

Episode Transcript:

Welcome to episode 188 with my guest, Marriage and Family Therapist Erika Holmes who’s going to answer your questions. This episode is sponsored by pi, not food pie, the number pi. This episode is sponsored by Pillpak, the pharmacy that delivers convenient, pre-sorted meds right to your door. You can support the Mental Illness Happy Hour just by checking out their website @pillpak.com/happyhour. Might be the first pharmacy you’ll actually like using. Pillpak.com/happyhour.

PG: I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour, honesty about all the battles in our head from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas and sexual dysfunction   to everyday negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. I’m not a therapist, it’s not a doctor’s office, it’s more like a waiting room that doesn’t suck, although we have a professional on today so weigh her advice more heavily than you would you weigh my advice. I kind of hate the way I delivered that last sentence, I felt like a newscaster, ‘And now we’re going to hear from Bob with the weather.’

 

Let’s kick it off with a, oh, by the way, the website for this show is Mentalpod.com. Mentalpod is also the Twitter name that you can follow me at if you’re into that kind of thing, if you go for that kinda horseshit. This is an email that I got from a guy who calls himself Nathan from St. Louis and he writes, “It might seem sad that my go to for consolation is usually within the anonymity of Internet forums and the like but there’s a certain beauty in finding deep, albeit brief land limited connections with people who otherwise would have nothing to do with us because of ostensible differences. It’s quite possible that the motherfucker that cut me off in that putrid Honda Civic with the crudely painted flames on the side and the bumper sticker that says some stupid, fucking Walmart-brand t-shirt style catchphrase is actually in fact a similarly insecure and terrified individual whose desperate search for meaning and satisfaction fogs his thinking. So I’d like to thank you for offering this resource to serotonin-starving individuals like myself so we can be reassured that the same struggles we deal with are seen all around the world in many types of people who have found their own insights and coping strategies.” That’s such a great email, thank you for that, Nathan.

 

This is from the Struggle in a Sentence survey filled out by a guy who calls himself Oni (sp?) and about his love addiction and he writes, “I need to be in love all the time with someone or I feel crushed by the weight of being alone.” About his anger issues: “Yes, I have too many thoughts at once and if someone adds another I will scream at them.”

‘Snapshot from my life?’

“The day after I thought my father was dying my girlfriend at the time left me knowing what I’d been through. I kicked a computer across the room. I cried for hours. I went and saw my father in the hospital, he asked what was wrong and I told him ‘nothing’.” Well, you coulda lied. You coulda said, well actually it wouldn’t have been a lie, you could have told him the truth you could’ve said, ‘My computer broke’ and then you wouldn’t have had to address the issue. And I hope it was a PC and not a Mac.

 

This is same survey filled out by Sarah about her alcoholism. She writes, “I can’t admit it to myself. I pretend that my friends can’t tell either. We all know I’m falling apart though.”

‘Snapshot from her life?’

“I’ve been using alcohol excessively since returning from the Peace Corp. I live with my boyfriend and I’m always trying to hide it from him. We live on the ocean. Sometimes I walk down by the rocks to where he can’t see me and quietly get wasted while he thinks I’m not at home. He went away for a night and I stayed up all night drinking, watched the sun rise, and slept for almost two days straight, missing a good friend’s birthday party.” Sending you a hug and letting you know there is help out there.

 

This is from Adam about his depression. He writes, “ It feels like you’re looking outside to see people playing and you can’t get past the delusion that you can’t go out because it’s raining.’

‘Snapshot from his life?’

“Holding my son in the hospital and trying to act happy, like a functional happy parent while ignoring the internal voice that tells me how worthless I am and how many ways I can fuck up his life with my own bullshit. The constant mental battle, the struggle to survive that I can share with only a few close friends that understand it.”

Well I’m grateful or I’m happy to hear that you do have friends that you can share with because that is a big burden to try to handle by on your own.

 

Same survey by a woman filled out by a woman who calls herself, Belaboring the Point, who, when I first read this survey, I pronounced it “Bella Boring the Point”, and then I realized, ‘oh no it’s Belaboring.’ About her PTSD. She writes, “Due to being molested and gaslighted, and this is my biggest trigger. Gaslighting triggers the fuck out of me. Why should it? I don’t feel like analyzing it anymore. Can someone help me understand this sickness?”

And you know, my thought on that is the real pain of being sexually abused especially by somebody who’s in a position of authority over you, or who you’re supposed to trust, them touching your body inappropriately is bad enough, but it’s the tricking of you, I think that really hurts us and I think that’s why when somebody gaslights you that’s why it’s so triggering, you know, it would be the physical equivalent of you being touched in the way you were molested. That’s my two cents on that.

 

This is the same survey filled out by a guy who calls himself Not A Lot O Fun, I fucking love him. His depression, clinical depression, “It feels like all of my school day bullies are following me invisibly and silently jeering at every single thing I do until I’m so tired I have to lay down.”

Oh my God, do I relate to that.

About his anxiety, “ I’m so afraid of interacting with you that it makes me angry at you.”

About his MS he writes, “Let’s go do this awesome thing we’ve been planning for months. Oh wait, my brain is fogging up, the vision in my right eye is blurring, my body is suddenly made of lead and I’m wearing one swim fin and a necktie that’s too tight.” I’m sending you a hug, buddy. And he, ‘suggestions to make the podcast better’ he writes, “Have a guest with MS please.”

So if you have MS and you live in the southern California area or are going to be here, shoot me an email, let me know. My email is Mentalpod@gmail.com. And I warn all my guests before we record that I can’t promise that their episode is ever going to air. So I discourage people from traveling out here for the express purpose of recording.

 

This is Struggle in a Sentence filled out by a woman who calls herself Ugh, U-G-H, and about her love addiction she writes, “I think about the scar on his neck like I used to think about a bottle of gin: That my lips wrapped around it in a warm bath would be all I needed to soothe my weary bones for eternity.” That was like a little poem.

 

And then this one is from a guy who calls himself Shame on My Genes, love the names you guys come up with, about his perfectionism. He writes, “Perfectionist personality traits make me want to know everything perfectly. In the end, I know very little.

 

(Taped Introduction Theme Music and Voiceover)

 

P: I’m here with Erika Holmes who is a Marriage and Family Therapist based here in Los Angeles and you contacted me through Twitter and asked if there was any way you could help out with the podcast.

 

E: Yeah.

 

P: You didn’t necessarily want to record anything. You just wanted to lend your services. Was it in light of the Robin Williams thing?

 

E: That was one of the kind of impetus of it. There was so much out there and I’d heard of the podcast before and was in one of those kind of states of ‘how can I help?’  There’s so much need and so much energy going around like if there’s any way to help out in some way and I’d liked the podcast so any way to be a part of that, I thought I would test the waters.

 

P: Well, that’s your mistake.

 

E: Noted.

 

P: We met. We had coffee yesterday. We talked about some of the things that you do in your practice, some of the passions that you have and I was like, ‘Let’s record some stuff. I’ll put some questions out there to the listeners via Facebook and Twitter and see if anybody has any questions that you could address. So, I am going to just go through some of the questions.

 

E: Let’s do it.

 

P: This is from Jennifer Clement Snyder and she asks, ‘What type of one-on-one therapy seems to be most effective for eating disorders and thoughts on effectiveness of meetings for overeaters. Thanks.’ So let’s handle the first one: ‘What type of one-on-one therapy seems to be most effective for eating disorders?’

 

E: The empirically based answer would be either CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I’m a little biased because I do Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. At the end of the day though, the overarching (?) research is for therapy in general that any therapy you do, whether it be Freudian, short-term solution focused, or DBT is the relationship. Having a trusting, caring, empathetic relationship where you can share and get your needs met with the therapist. That’s the healing part of it. But, the thing that helps most with CBT and DBT is skills-based. We want to make sure they get some behaviors reduced that aren’t effective like binging, purging, restricting, overeating to give you a safe place to then move into the underlying issues. So, those are the…

 

P: Cause it’s never really about the addiction. It’s about the overwhelming feelings that make the addiction seem like a good choice.

 

E: Right. But at your…the thing is, especially with any sort of mental illness, any trauma, your body and your mind are so interrelated. We need the person to feel safe and even if the person feels safe with another person we need to make sure that their body feels safe. And if your body is in a state of crisis from overeating, undereating,, purging or whatever it might be, the emotional stuff feels even more triggering and overwhelming and ends up compounding and making life feel even more unmanageable so it’s usually more effective to start to get some new coping skills in so then we have a safe place, mind, body, spirit to work on all the underlying issues.

 

P: If they’re addicted to binging or purging, you know, or restricting, is it difficult for them to go in and begin to change their habits around food immediately or are you talking about different habits of expressing themselves?

 

E: Both.

 

P: Because it seems to me that would be the most difficult thing is getting a hold of the addiction first, like, something else would need to happen.

 

E: Right, so that is where you would want to increase the other coping skills. There is a really lovely, in a book by Rife and Rife (sp?), The Eating Disorders Handbook, there’s a really lovely analogy about the process of giving up an eating disorder and it basically says like people who have eating disorders are on this plane and the plane goes into the ocean and they have a life raft, and they’re holding on to this life raft and then someone comes in from the outside and tells them like, ‘Hey, we want you to come with us, there’s something better out here but in order to do that you need to give up your life raft’ and that dilemma, like, ‘This is the thing that’s keeping me safe. Like no way. No way I’m gonna give up that life raft.’ That’s where, that’s at the point where treatment starts. And, just kind of acknowledge that, you’re not gonna want to give away this security blanket, this best friend, like lover, mother, like everything, you’re not gonna want to give that up immediately. Maybe, let’s give you some skills so that you don’t need it quite so much and make you feel more competent swimming a little bit so maybe you’ll give up that life raft and maybe we give you another type of floatation device so maybe you can give up that life raft. Over time, we work on both sides of trying to have some exposure to the feelings that people are trying to decrease or avoid through eating disorder behaviors, have some exposure to that so it is uncomfortable but then also some other coping skills too.

 

P: So bring up stuff from the past but not completely centered on that until some skills are at hand.

 

T: Right

 

P: What are some of the skills that early on, you try to begin to get them to utilize?

 

T: Some of the first ones would be ways like, oh man, there are so many that need to happen all at once, that’s why eating disorders are so tricky, but ways of self-soothing, but actually before that you need to start to notice how you’re feeling. Get in touch with, like, ‘ok I’m a little bit anxious. Ok, How am I gonna soothe myself?’ Maybe it is through the eating disorder or maybe it’s going to be through distracting with TV or calling a friend or going for a walk. So work on both identifying how you feel and then other ways to get your needs met. Communicating what you need. But, that takes a lot of work on getting in touch with how you feel and that’s something that not a lot of people have that skill, of knowing…no one’s ever taught, or very few people are taught, ‘This is how you feel and when you feel this way, this is what you do with it.’ So we’re left to like figure it out and people with eating disorders are pretty genius in that they found something that works. And it works until it doesn’t….

 

P: And I think the other thing that is so difficult is that so many people with addictions were raised in some type of toxicity where there may be still in proximity with the people who are toxic—

 

E: Sure

 

P: Who try to negate their feelings. Who try to tell them what they’re feeling is wrong, you’re being overdramatic, um, whatever, so you have to begin trying to communicate with these people who are often master-manipulators or guilters or whatever and so it’s like, ‘Hey, we’re going to teach you how to throw a football, and by the way, you’re going into this college game this week (laughter)

 

E: (laughs) Exactly. So there’s a lot of, at the same time there’s a lot of trying to change that environment work, the family, if needed, if they’re still living with the family, sometimes, like, create a new support system or decrease involvement with existing support system or family of origin, or um, what was the name of, who wrote that, question?

 

P: Jennifer

 

E: Jennifer mentioned, I think about meetings.

 

P: Which I’m a huge believer in. Saved my life.

 

E: Right. So having that support network and getting introduced even to the concept of like ‘I can say what’s going on. I can be completely genuine in myself, warts and all, and people aren’t gonna leave me or shame me or in whatever way they were invalidated as a kid’

 

P: And quite the opposite.  Often they’ll be moved to tears while you’re sharing your story because they’re hearing their story come out of your mouth or vice versa and the hugs after meetings, are, that was the first life raft for me. That was like, ‘My god. This feels so soothing’_

 

E: Uh huh

 

P: So soothing. Say sometimes when you’re living with depression or an addiction or some shame-based thing that you’re, where facing the world feels like walking naked out of an igloo-

 

E: Yes

 

P: You wake up in the morning and just the thought of facing your day feels like, to me a support group is like somebody coming up with a parka that’s been heated between electric blankets, you know. It’s just so…but not every meeting is like that. There are some meetings where I leave feeling kind of agitated because maybe there was no recovery in there or somebody was hogging it or there was crosstalk and people were commenting negatively and so I just don’t go back-

 

E: Sure

 

P: To those particular meetings.

 

E: Sure, which is part of the—on a different level, of just empowerment and trusting your gut and intuition and being courageous to get your needs met. Like, not staying in something that’s toxic. Maybe when you were a kid you had to stay in that toxic environment but through recovery, whether it’s meetings, or whatever initial therapist you meet or friends that you’re around or boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever, you, as an adult, get to choose who your support system is. And if you go to a meeting and it sucks, and it sometimes does, sometimes people are, people are people, and they’re not perfect.

 

P: And it’s not necessarily a reflection of the program.

 

E: Right. Right. And not even reflective of that meeting as a whole. Sometimes there’s just a day and people are just in a space. So, but, being courageous and sticking with like ‘I’m worth working on this. I feel like this could work for me so I’m going to persevere and find a place where this need can get met’ and not giving up.

 

P: The other thing that I discovered too is I began and to heal was I would use a meeting that I wasn’t crazy about to practice acceptance and surrender and to set boundaries if there was a person in there who was a little bit toxic and they’re like ‘Hey, I got this thing, you know, this weekend, or whatever, or can you come see me do this thing?’ I would say, ‘”Oh, I’m sorry, I appreciate the invite but I’m not going to be able to do that” and it was like, that was good practice. That was like training wheels to be able to do that in other instances and to just close my eyes… I was at a meeting on Wednesday night and this person gets on my nerves when they share. There’s almost no recovery ever. It’s just about…it feels like bad group therapy to me. And I was like, this is a chance for me to practice acceptance and so I just close my eyes and I literally had to breathe deep the entire time this person was sharing and because the feelings were coming up and it was triggering because it reminded me of my mom. This person talked a mile a minute and it was just—they were completely self-involved and I felt rage—

 

E: Mmm hmm

 

P: --coming up and I thought ‘This is my issue’ you know. This person is not, they’re not trying to piss anybody off. This is where they’re at. So that can also be …you gotta decide. Is this something that I need to leave right here or is this something I need to work through?

 

E: And right. There’s a learning curve on that that change day to day with how big of a fuse you’ve got going into it. Some days like, bring it. Let’s practice acceptance and patience. And some days, it’s like, ‘You know what? I’m spent. I didn’t sleep last night. Like, I’ve been running around crazy. I just had a fight with somebody. This is not my day to practice’. And be kind to yourself and meet yourself where you’re at and peace out. You can be kind and it doesn’t mean that it’s over and you’ll never going to come back or that you’re wrong or bad. You’re allowed to have boundaries and they’re allowed not be super rigid and I don’t always stay or always leave. It’s allowed to be fluid.

 

P: I like to do when I’m going to leave a meeting is that I bring a microphone and like Showtime at the Apollo I just drop it in the middle of the room.

 

E: (Laughs)

 

P: And go, “I’m out. I’m out.”

 

E: Namaste, bitches.

 

(Both laugh)

 

P: So you have positive thoughts on effectiveness of meetings for overeaters.

 

E: Yes, again, dependent on the amount of recovery in that meeting. But, there are tons of meetings that have some really good recovery in there. So don’t give up the baby with the bath water kind of thing.

 

P: And you were referring to Twelve Step meetings as well as other non Twelve Step meetings?

 

E: Sure.

 

P: OK. Great.

 

E: I’m all about whatever works. And what works for one person is not necessarily gonna work for another person but try everything. Like, just go for it.

 

P: Throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks. Um…this one comes from Ashley Zayus (sp) and she asks, “How can you talk to someone who has an eating disorder more than the usual come from a caring and loving place?”

 

E: So I’m assuming that Ashley has a friend or a loved one that has an eating disorder.

 

P: Sounds like it.

 

E: It’s tricky and painful to be around anyone with an eating disorder. They’re obviously suffering a lot and that’s a really delicate balance of not saying nothing and enabling it versus trying to fix it. And they find that it ‘s different for every person. But talking directly about weight, in particular, like ‘Oh you’ve lost so much weight’ or ‘have you been eating’? or being the food police does not help. Mostly it is through caring for someone and sometimes caring for someone means you have to set some boundaries, but caring for someone to help them find their own motivation to get help. But I would focus, if you’re going to talk to somebody, focus on things you like about them. Like, if you’re going to talk about them, don’t talk about them as an object or their body, talk about them as a person. Treat them as a person. They’re not the eating disorder. They’re still a person in there and the more---you never know what a person’s gonna take in and maybe that one comment where you treated them as a real person is gonna sink in and make them a little bit more open to getting help and to healing.

 

P: So would it be fair to say something like, ‘How are you feeling these days? What’s going on emotionally with you?

 

E: Absolutely.

 

P: You know. ‘I just want you to know I’m here for you. I love you and you know, feel free to share anything that you want”

 

E: Absolutely.

 

P: --with me. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here because I love you.

 

E: Yeah. And in that space----

 

P: And then drop the mike and say ‘I’m out’

 

E: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

 

P: I’m not here to judge you. I just want you to know I’m here for you, of you and um, and feel free to share anything that you want—

E: Absolutely.

 

P: -- with me. I’m not here to judge you.

 

E: Yeah, and in that space

 

P: Then I can say I’m out

 

E: Absolutely. Just leave em with that and let it simmer for a bit. But, yeah just treat it like the regular person that they are, not like a normal person, they are a normal person. They just happen to have that set of behaviors that is at very best ineffective and if not potentially deadly with eating disorders so care about them but you don’t need to fix it.

 

P: That’s a really important thing. It can drive that person even further away.

 

E: Right

 

P: (Um)

 

E: Good luck, Ashley

 

P: This one comes from Debra Mogarini (sp) I think I’m pronouncing that right. She says, “Why are eating disorders treatment centers success rates so low? Why do these centers insist on feeding patients fried foods and other unhealthy high calorie meals? As a recovering anorexic bulimic, I understand they need to put on weight but why don’t centers focus on organic, healthy, high calorie meals?”

 

E: So, was that the rest of the questions there?

 

P: Pretty much. You know, let’s, let’s---

 

E: You want to start there?

 

P: Yes. So, why are the success rates low? Let’s handle that one first.

 

E: Success rates are low because it’s such a tricky disease to work with. There’s the magic that happens with a skilled, clinical team and I say team because with eating disorders you need to have a therapist, psychiatrist, dietician, and maybe some other people as well in there. A team along with a motivated, at least marginally motivated, client so that when that happens there’s magic and then there’s hope. If there’s, if one of those pieces isn’t there, there’s something to be said, it’s not necessarily your fault. If you have an eating disorder there’s a zillion ways where why it happened, where it came from, why it was genius for you to decide to pick up that set of behaviors and at the same time it’s your responsibility as an adult to get help and that takes a lot of work and that’s a shitty place a lot of times and it’s easier to and legitimate to blame people and be angry and there’s something to be said for those behaviors are, the fancy word is ego syntonic. It means they work and you like it. There’s a lot of reinforcement for binging, binging and purging, exercise addiction, anorexia. There’s a lot culturally, internally, there’s a lot of reinforcement for it. It works. So, it’s---

 

P: Nobody tells you after, you know, a three week bender, ‘You look great”

 

E: Right. (laughs) No, but after going on just a complete calorie restriction, like ‘I’m just going on a hunger strike’ you’re going to get a lot of compliments. People are going to notice. And that attention, there’s that nothing, there’s no bad attention. It works. So there’s a reason why people stick with it. As much as it works, doesn’t work. But there’s a reason why people stick with it.

 

P: It’s like a short-term gain, it’s like binging on candy. Yeah, your blood sugar gets up but in the long run you’re going to get very, very sick from going to candy when you’re tired.

 

E: Right. Yep. So it’s a tricky one. And it’s deadly. I mean, at the end of the day, that’s not a popular thing to talk about but it’s deadly, anorexia being one of the most deadly mental illnesses out there. So it’s part of why there’s a low success rate, it’s just the mortality rate of it.

 

P: And just the insidiousness of addiction. That’s, there’s also a certain grace from the universe why some people are able to keep their addiction at bay and others just seem caught in a cycle of relapse---

 

E: And if we go with like a disease model and I bring up the comparison to cancer. It’s different but there’s a comparison there of no one didn’t try hard enough beating cancer. They don’t really say that but there is with any mental illness or addiction a genetic component to it and a chemical physiological component of it and it’s not a matter of willingness---

 

P: Or weakness

 

E: Yeah. And it’s not fair for some reason there’s a cultural stigma of, well, ‘Just get over it’ or if---

 

P: That makes me so angry

 

E: Or if you wanted it bad enough…oh, that makes my skin crawl. I wanna punch somebody in the face. It sucks that there’s just such a lack of information and so much stigma and judgment around mental illness or addiction. It’s sad.

 

P: And what about the, giving them, at the centers one of things she asked is why do they give you the high calorie fried foods and stuff like that instead of high calorie organic healthy meals.

 

E: That, personally, I am not in love with that. I understand the rationale behind it. There’s a thing of exposure almost to the level of phobia, if not full phobia of certain foods and by avoiding those foods your life gets really small. No pun intended, but so you need to have some exposure so you can live your life and not live in fear of those foods. At the same time I don’t think it’s super effective to go from one extreme of unhealthy eating to a different type of unhealthy eating in the name of breaking phobia. So I don’t think that in order to be recovered you need to be eating French fries all the time, however to have some flexibility and spontaneity in life which is part of recovery from an eating disorder.

 

P: Letting go of control.

 

E: Yeah, yeah. You may be out with a friend and they want to go to fast food once in a blue moon and for you to have the ability to say yes or no, just based on preference, not based on fear, but based on preference and that sometimes involved having some exposure to those foods.

 

P: This question comes from…her full name is Corky Kirsten Hacker Miller (sp?)

 

E: I love that

 

P: And she writes, “What is the recovery rate for PTSD sufferers at five, ten and fifteen plus years?” I assume she’s talking about after the event. And then she asks, “ What, if any, adjunct therapies can assist in the progress of event processing?”

 

E: So…

 

P: The recovery rate

 

E: The recovery rate, I would be lying if I spat out a number right now. That’s something that would be available in the DSM or I’m sure online they’ve got rates of what that would look like.

 

P: OK

 

E: No need for me to bullshit anybody.

 

P: Ok

 

E: But there is, it’s something that you can get over. And in terms of ways to get over that, talk therapy---

 

P: EMDR

 

E: EMDR is one of them

 

P: Which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

 

E: Well done.

 

P:   Rewiring your brain. I did some of it. I could feel a difference. I didn’t do it that long. I know other people who’ve had profound effects--

 

E: Yes

 

P: --from doing it

 

E: Yes. And again there’s one of a lot of different options and it’s finding one where it works and you find someone that you like that does this modality that works. There’s EMDR, somatic therapies---

 

P: Which is kind of touch space?

 

E: It’s based…uh, trauma, when trauma happens it, the trauma gets locked in your body, basically. Your body isn’t able to process what’s going on.   You have the fight, flight or freeze and your body just can’t tolerate, can’t process what’s happening so this trauma gets locked in your body and somatic experiencing is a way to unlock your body. It involves a lot of movement, like noticing, like here’s how I feel, the sensation I feel in my hand, or here’s the impulse that my hand has as it wants to clench it wants to move backwards and putting some mindfulness to that to help let some of that trauma out of there.

 

P: Being aware of the tension in your body.

 

E: Yeah.

 

P: And I would imagine meditation helps quite a bit.

 

E: Absolutely. There’s a lot of research going on with meditation. A lot of troops coming back are using mindfulness to help with PTSD

 

P: Stay in the present moment.

 

E: Yep. Yep. Be able to stop panic attacks, flashbacks, dissociation by being grounded in the moment. Those are all really helpful….neurofeedback which I do can be really helpful. There’s a protocol Alpha Theta which helps---

 

P: I’ve done it.

 

E: Yeah, it’s pretty great.

 

P: Yeah

 

E: It helps release and reprocess some of those memories and experiences, so there’s a lot of ways and there’s something to be said for time. Time helps with those things. And some exposure work too. You could do some CBT based exposure work if you, based on trauma, have been avoiding people or situations, places, you can gradually start to expose yourself to those places notice that you are safe so that you break that association that this equals danger. So there’s hope for it.

 

P: This question comes from Val Ciccone (sp?) and she writes, “How does Borderline Personality dissipate and what does that look like and why?”

 

E: How does it dissipate? So Borderline Personality tends to, it’s classified by a bunch of behavioral traits. So the dissipating looks like you identify those ineffective behaviors usually centering around interpersonal relationships or self-harm behaviors, identify those behaviors and similar to what I was saying with eating disorders you replace those with more effective ways of interacting with people, interacting with yourself---

 

P: Despite the feelings

 

E: Despite the feelings. That’s the thing.

 

P: What’s so hard with Borderline Personality Disorder is that the feelings on a scale of 1-10 are a fifteen.

 

E: Yes. And there’s the unfortunate thing of they go from zero to sixty faster than the average person. It takes a long time to go back to baseline. Like whereas one person might have anger and it shoots up to a ten and then in five minutes they’re feeling a little bit better, maybe it’s down to a six, a person who has Borderline Personality Disorder might shoot to a ten and stay at a ten for days.

 

P: Mmmmm. Wow

 

E: And that’s intolerable. How intolerable is that? To walk around at a ten all the time so then what do you do? Either you explode or implode. I can’t hold on to that much energy, it’s basic physics. I can’t hold on to that, so I gotta do something with it, that explodes or implodes.

 

P: Self-harm.

 

E: Yeah. So I fight with someone or I hurt myself and that again is that thing of ‘it works.’ People do things, people aren’t crazy. Anyone with Borderline Personality Disorder is not crazy. They have found ways to manage this emotional shit storm that goes on inside of ‘em which would be a lot of suffering to walk around unmanaged so they find ways to manage that and unfortunately, it’s my favorite thing, it works until it doesn’t. And people do the best they can and there’s a point where you gotta do something different. It just doesn’t work, so then that’s where they come in for treatment one way or another and we work on coping skills and ways to interact with people, ways to practice mindfulness, to be aware of those emotions and not be so emotion-driven, and having that space through mindfulness, creating a space where I can have anger and be effective. Can have anger and not fuck up my life. Have anger and not make it worse, cause usually what the worst thing is well maybe the exploding or imploding might make the anger go down in the short term. I add shame on top of it. So maybe my anger’s a little bit lower but now I’ve got just the shame that I’m sitting in and that’s intolerable and then the cycle starts all over again. And you’re walking through life just a raw nerve. Like your thing, that naked person out of an igloo, raw and exposed and vulnerable and reactive, so a lot of mindfulness helps to slow things down. Give you that split second to hit pause. That’s the first skill I like to teach people is hitting the big pause button. Slow down. Think for a second. And then kind of move forward from there.

 

P: I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed my Mom pausing and taking a deep breath and pausing before she says something.

 

E: It’s such a shame. I didn’t either, but it’s such a shame, like how genius would it be, how many world, fucking world problems would we solve if people from your like your next door neighbor to the president could hit pause? How genius would that be? And no one teaches you that. Like we talk all the time at work about shouldn’t they teach DBT skills at school?, If you learned this in kindergarten---

 

P: First grade

 

E: Oh my gosh. Like, it would change so much. No one teaches you that. But then, people because they weren’t taught go around thinking there’s something wrong with them, they’re broken because they don’t know how to deal with what’s going on inside of them and it ‘s not that. It’s just that no one taught you.

 

P: I’d like to say that we think we’re so progressive but we’re really are in the middle of the Dark Ages emotionally. There is a spiritual famine in this country that directly affects emotional illiteracy. People just think that ‘Well the answer to feeling safe and relaxed is just be financially more successful.

 

E: Sure

 

P: And to get more attention

 

E: Sure

 

P: and to get recognition and that that will fix me’. And I had to experience that dead end and wanting to kill myself having these things that society tells me would fix me to realize this clearly is not working.

 

E: And hopefully if there’s one thing that society maybe would take out of the Robin Williams’ suicide is that exactly. From the outside, this charming, wealthy, successful, funny person who is loved by millions still committed suicide. That wasn’t enough. There’s just a, like you said, a famine there. And we need to start paying attention in words.

 

P: This comes from…did you feel like you answered Val’s question ‘How does it dissipate?’

 

E: I hope so. It takes a long time. It didn’t happen overnight. It’s not going to go away overnight. Or not even go away. You’re not going to manage it better overnight.

 

P: This comes from Sean Kisbert (sp?) and he asks, he or she, I’m not sure, there’s no picture, “Do you think ultraconservative religious upbringing can be a contributing factor to Borderline Personality Disorder or Eating Disorders?”

 

E: Sure

 

P: I completely agree because invalidating is invalidating ---

 

E: Absolutely.

 

P: And imposing your – not allowing a child to explore independent thoughts is invalidating, every bit as invalidating, in my opinion as hitting them, molesting them,…your thoughts?

 

E: Yeah, I’m a hundred percent on board. Like it’s that thing where the environment and the child don’t match up. They just aren’t a good fit and that happens and that leads to invalidation and that can be anywhere on the spectrum. You could have a child feel invalidated from an ultra-conservative Christian upbringing. You could have a child feel invalidated by the ultra super hippie liberal and they have no rules and are invalidated by not having any rules and having free rein on everything. I’ve seen everywhere over the spectrum it’s just that lack of attunement, lack of attachment, attention, care, all of that can lead to invalidation though it’s not necessarily a religious or political thing, it’s just when the primary caregiver and the child aren’t in sync.

 

P: And like there’s not like a moderation of structure. It’s either completely rigid or you know, ‘you’re on your own’ there’s no guidance. And no consequences.

 

E: Right. Yeah, anything that’s too one way or the other and not individualized. That individual care and attention, that can be traumatic and it’s that insidious thing of where there’s no better or worse, but the trauma from daily invalidation---

 

P: And lack of mirroring

 

E: Right. That attachment piece goes missing and it has ripple effects all throughout life. Like if you’re not attached with your parents or primary caregiver, the ability to attach to friends at school, to a partner later, to your own children later, all of that is impacted and it’s not hopeless but you have to learn it a different way. And not everyone gets to do that.

 

P: We’re going to take a pause right here and give some love to our sponsor. (Pillpak live read)

 

P: This comes from Sue Chavillacheck (sp?), Hi Sue, and she’s up there in Montana and she works with troubled teens if I remember correctly.

 

E: Yay.

 

P: And I got a nice email from her and she writes, “I hear there are different kinds of neurofeedback treatment.” True?

 

E: True. So the different types there’s more and less invasive, more and less conscious that you need to be active. So the one I do is called Brain Paint, it’s pretty passive.

 

P: Brain Pain?

 

E: Brain Paint (laughs)

 

P: Oh, Brain Paint

 

E: Hopefully, pretty painless. Brain Paint and you are connected to an EEG which monitors your brain waves and there’s pictures and sounds that interact with your brain waves to keep them in a desired frequency. The easiest way…

 

P: And it’s reward based

 

E: That one…not consciously. There are some where it’s more like a video game—

 

P: That’s what I did

 

E: Where you’re trying to modulate your brain waves to produce some result. There’s one where you make a car go around the track.

 

P: That’s what I did

 

E: Yeah. And so there’s that one, this one that I do is sit there and look at pretty pictures and hear different tones come through.

 

P: Is that Alpha Theta?

 

E: It does have Alpha Theta. It also has Beta and one called SMR which is a lower frequency Beta.

 

P: Ok and just—

 

E: Super nerdy

 

P: The main brain waves are Alpha, Beta, Theta and, is there another one?

 

E: Alpha, Beta, Theta, Delta?

 

P: Delta, that’s right

 

E: Gamma is one in there too.

 

P: And they are all in a fraternity which is interesting.

 

E: (laughs)

 

P: They…at the end of neurofeedback they have too much to drink.

 

E: Yeah, toga party

 

P: And then they make fun of poor people.

 

E: (Laughs)

 

P: So, what else about neurofeedback?

 

E: Um---

 

P: And it’s basically a way they, correct me if I’m wrong, but when I did neurofeedback, and I’m not really quite done with it yet. I have to go back in and have them remap my brain to see how effective it was, and I’ve been putting off doing it because it’s what I do with everything in my life, um—

 

E: So it’s working

 

(Both laugh)

 

P: I am one of the toughest cases he’s ever had. He said he’s never seen one like me where somebody didn’t respond to like forty treatments.

 

E: Oh wow.

 

P: And from my understanding of it, they do a brain map and they go in there and they see what your predominant waves you are producing in different areas of your brain and they make an assessment that this might be contributing to your depression or your impulsiveness and so what we’re going to try to do is we’re going to try to get your brain to produce more of this other brain wave or less of this other brain wave to help you with these issues and so you do these games that they think will help and then they remap your brain and see how it worked.

 

E: Yeah. Basically. You could do my job for me.

 

P: (Laughs)

 

E: You should be my spokesman.

 

P: That’s what I was told. What am I missing?

 

E: That’s the, that’s the Cliff’s Notes version of it. You’ve got it. Things like depression, addiction, ADD, OCD, even things in terms of like sleep disorders, autism, can be a result of your brain either, like you said, producing too much or too little of a particular frequency, so what we do is take a look at what your brain is doing and then we encourage it through a reward system whether it be pictures and sounds from mine or video games from yours, we encourage it to act more optimally.

 

P: And it’s rewarded by tones or visual images because your brain is thirsty constantly for stimulus.

 

E: Yeah and it responds to, it just intrinsically responds to different tones, pictures, colors, shapes. Yours with the reward pleasure principle, like, yay I did it. It responds to that and wants to do more of it.

 

P: Anything else on neurofeedback?   How many, typically, how many sessions? I’ve been told thirty is kinda where things begin to change for people.

 

E: Yeah, so you’re gonna see within the first---

 

P: It’s about a half hour to forty minutes, a typical session?

 

E: Correct. And with this one especially at the beginning, more is more. It’s like if you were going to the gym. You’re gonna see results if you go lift weights one time a week, that’s fine, you’re not going to do any damage, but if you go in two or three times a week you’re going to see results much quicker and you’ll have a lot more muscle memory. Your muscles are gonna build faster and it’s the same with your brain muscle. So at least, more is more. There are sessions, tend to be I block out an hour, protocols in general take 30 to 40 minutes. Within the first four to six, sleep starts to change a little bit

 

P: For better or worse?

 

E: For better. Being able to sleep through the night, sleep, like fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, which,sleep is so crucial to just well-being, body, mind, spirit, so with that starting to change you start to just notice changes pretty quickly, they start to flow off of that. By thirty or forty you’re going to see some pretty noticeable changes.

 

P: If you’re not me.

 

E: If it’s not you (laughs). Right. Some people it takes a little bit longer. Some people, maybe it’s just not your thing. Again, it’s that you do the best you can, you try all the modalities that you can and give it your best shot and sometimes there’s people that respond better with medication. Some people respond amazingly well with medication, some people meh, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

 

P: And there’s a certain amount of trial and error. I mean, he tried everything with me and we’re not done, he’s been very nice and he’s offered, I’ve been going, since the thirty sessions he’s been giving me free sessions. Like the last twenty have been free. Because he cares deeply about what he does and he wants to help me. He’s also intellectually,..this is like—

 

E: You’re a puzzle.

 

P: I’m a puzzle to him and he wants to crack it.

 

E: Yeah. You both win then.

 

P: I would like that. The one profound moment that I had, and it really only lasted a day was I woke up from a nap and an episode of The Rifleman was on TV, which I never care about old shows, and I was like ‘Yes, you’re going to watch an episode of The Rifleman and I watched the whole thing and I loved it.

 

E: That is so great.

 

P: And then the next day that excitement for the little things was gone.

 

E: Yeah.

 

P: Let’s go to another question. Rumination disorder patients. Have you found this to be easily treated in the same way that you treat bulimic or anorexic or are you digging deeper via CBT?

 

E: Rumination disorder?

 

P: I wonder if they’re, if they’re referring to—

 

E: Like ruminating in the mind?

 

P: I believe so. They’re referring to OCD or Borderline Personality Disorder?

 

E: I mean, it could be. I’ll treat it as if that’s what it is. Ruminating, like obsessive thinking. So repeat that second part. Is it related to ---

 

P: Can they be as easily treated in the same way one would treat a bulimic or anorexic?

 

E: Not easily

 

P: (laughs) Yeah, I don’t think this person has an eating disorder.

 

E: Easily, no. But treatable, assuming that it is obsessive thinking treatable, yes. A lot of mindfulness techniques would be used for that and then a lot of looking at what the triggers are whether that’s environmental, body triggers, mind triggers in order to find out what’s making them ruminate and look at ways around that. (pause) Easy.

 

P: My friend, Mike Siegel (sp?) asks, I play poker with him once a month with a group of comedians and he asks, “ Why do you refuse to fold when you know you’ve got a shit hand?”

 

(Both laugh)

 

P: And I wrote, “Mike, because I’m dumb and don’t pay attention.”

 

E: (laughs) Probably has something to do with your mother.

 

P: What doesn’t? In my mind, what doesn’t have to do with my mother?   I feel bad sometimes talking about my mother so much.

 

E: I give mine so much shit.

 

P: Do you?

 

E: Yes.

 

P: Oh shoot. I can’t see any more questions on this because there’s no wifi in here.

 

E: Oh no.

 

P: Let’s see if there’s some from Twitter. This is an interesting one by Larry Cirk (sp?) He asks, “Does thyroid medicine and speed exacerbate the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?”

 

E: Oh jeez. Well speed, yes. I can’t think that it wouldn’t hurt everything. Speed’s no good. That’s gonna really make an uphill battle and depending on the functioning of your thyroid, extra thyroid medicine is going to speed you up potentially. They make you more irritable and agitated and someone who has a difficult time regulating emotions anyway, that’s just adding fuel to the fire. So can’t ever say anyone is ever going to recommend speed and thyroid medicine---

 

P: Even for ADHD?

 

E: You think that’s what they’re talking about? I took it as a ---

 

P: No no no this is clearly about Borderline Personality Disorder but I know that sometimes they give stimulants to people with, is it ADHD?

 

E: Yeah. And assuming that you meet criteria, it’s one of those ones that if it works it works. People who it’s appropriate for feel calmer so then yes that would make your life easier if you’re taking a stimulant. If you don’t have the whatever chemical brain situation that would make stimulants effective it’s going to make your life more difficult.

 

P: Now this person asked, Amy Whipple (sp?) asks, “ Anything hopeful for Borderline Personality Disorder? “ And you wrote, “Hope yes, easy no. Skills, support and willingness to make change possible”

 

E: Yes. I thought about Amy last night. There’s a lot of hope. I think one of …people feel ready, willing and able to change. One way that helps that is knowing other people have gone through and come out on the other side. That’s where meetings are helpful, that’s where therapy’s helpful, that’s where documentaries and like, human interest pieces can be really helpful and It was really great, I think, last year, Marsha Linehan, who created DBT, came out of the closet basically—

 

P: Which stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy

 

E: Which is the predominant therapy for people with Borderline Personality Disorder and she came out and said that she had Borderline Personality and that she---

 

P: Had or has?

 

E: Um

 

P: What’s the correct verbiage?

 

E: It’s so, I feel the jury’s still out on that one. Depending on the person what you want to say. So she had been institutionalized. She was in a padded cell. She was like banging her head up against the wall in a padded cell in an institution after trying to kill herself and she went on to revolutionize treatment for people who are suffering with the same thing that she had. Hope? Absolutely. Read the piece in the New York Times on Marsha Linehan. It’s absolutely genius and the great thing about it too---

 

P: There’s a good YouTube video by the way on Borderline Personality Disorder where she is one of the people weighing in on it.

 

E: Yes

 

P: It is illuminating to anybody who wants to know more about the disorder. And by the way, it’s also, the DSM now calls it Emotional Disregulation Disorder, they’re phasing out calling it that, but whatever.

 

E: Yeah. It’s semantics on that one at this point. People aren’t their diagnosis so whatever we want to call it, whatever it changes, it’s a cluster of behaviors and helps the treatment. End of story. It’s not who you are. But there’s also been, I can’t think of them offhand, but there’s also been some celebrities have come out saying they have BPD

 

P: Really?

 

E: Bipolar. More people have been coming out: bipolar.

 

P: Catherine Zeta Jones came out as having bipolar disorder. Brandon Marshall the football player came out as having Borderline Personality Disorder

 

E: So yeah there’s people out there and it’s great that people are putting themselves out there and giving a face to it to kind of decrease some of the stigma that can come with such a heavy diagnosis, but there’s some hope around it.

 

P: That’s it for our questions. Is there anything that you’d like to talk about?

 

E: I think I’m pretty good right now. I’m just happy and honored to have been there and I hope that I helped in some way.

 

P: Well, I think your responses to these questions were fantastic and so wonderfully concise and accessible. It’s, I just wanted to clap like when you started just giving concrete answers for help because I noticed one of the things people like listening to the podcast because it helps them feel less alone but sometimes we can skip over what it is that helped these people because sometimes I forget to ask that. Sometimes just time has been the thing that helped some people with less severe things. Sometimes I think I’m afraid of the show becoming too dry and too…textbooky. And so I think it’s important to have a show once in a while that is not somebody’s story rather a just kind of tips.

 

E: Yeah, I think it was kind of genius just looking through the surveys, there’s the coping skills one which is not quite as sexy as the other ---

 

P: What has helped you, the what has helped you survey?

 

E: Yeah.   I read through and some people had some excellent insights. I want them to come lead group for me. They had really good ideas for coping skills to use so I would suggest looking through that if you’re going to be browsing through surveys. Any of the listeners out there.

 

P: Good. Thank you. Thank you for recommending that. Erika Holmes, thank you for helping out.. If people want to get a hold of you they can follow you on Twitter @erikaholmesmft. That’s spelled E-R-I-K-A H-O-L-M-E-S. Uh, erikaholmesmft on Twitter. Is there another way they can get a hold of you ?

 

E: There’s a ..I have a website, erikamft.com that has all my contact info on there and a little bit more about me, what I do, where I’m located, all that fun stuff.

 

P: Ok. Are you taking on clients?

 

E: In limited amounts, yes.

 

P: Ok. I know one of the things we talked about yesterday was that you enjoy how balanced your life feels.

 

E: Yes

 

P: And that you’re able to take a day off and go to the beach. That your life feels full but not overwhelming.

 

E: Yeah, I think for people in the helping profession you gotta have something to give in order to give and I need to refuel from time to time and so I like to keep things balanced and refuel at the beach.

 

P: You’re walking the walk.

 

E: Yup

 

P: Peace out, bitch

 

E: Namaste, bitches

 

P: Thanks Erika.

 

P: Well, I hope you guys got as much out of that episode as I did. I always love learning new things, getting new insights. Before I read some surveys and emails I want to remind you there’s a couple of different ways to support the show if you feel so inclined. You can support the show financially by going to the website mentalpod.com and making a one-time PayPal donation, or my favorite, a recurring monthly donation. You can sign up for as little as five bucks a month and it’s super easy to do it and once you fill it out you don’t have to touch it or change it unless you decide you want to cancel it or your credit card expires. It means the world to me and helps keep the show on sound financial footing and yeah, there you have it. You can also support the show by shopping through our Amazon search portal if you’re going to buy something from Amazon just enter through the little search box on our home page, right hand side about halfway down and make sure your ad blocker is not on otherwise it might not show up. You can also buy t-shirts through our site, not at Amazon, but t-shirts, Mental Illness Happy Hour t-shirts and coffee mugs. You’ll see the link there and you can support us non-financially by going to iTunes and say something nice, or giving us a high rating or spreading the word through social media. All those things help greatly.

 

Let’s get to some stuff. This is, and by the way, I believe the last episode I was kind of sharing that I’ve been feeling kind of numb lately and possible from playing a video game excessively, Civilization Revolution II for iPad and I’ve decided that apparently what my life needs is more accomplishments on the achievement list of Civilization Revolution II. I don’t need to expand the podcast and I don’t need to try to contact, for instance, Psychology Today to try to get an article written to bring more listeners. Nope. I need to check off all the silly little achievements that this game has. And I feel oddly good doing it. I’m like ‘Ok, I just won a domination battle as the Americans with the’…oh, I don’t even want to go into the details. It’s like a warm little cocoon that I get into. It’s so soothing and yet I know it’s numbing me out. I know it’s affecting my ability to feel and be present. And I hope I get out of it soon, but it’s better than a lot of other addictions I have engaged in in the past but I don’t like it. Anyway, that’s where I’m at..

 

This is an email I got from a guy who calls himself Michael and he writes, “Avid listener to the podcast. I have OCD and intrusive thoughts. I would like to talk with you someday about the long-term complications that have sprung from OCD and how they have left me shy and fearful of sexuality. More importantly I want to talk about how the shame of the thoughts prevented me from being accurately diagnosed until this year, at age 34, about two decades thinking I was evil and crazy. I’ve been on no more than ten dates in my life. I’ve never had a girlfriend and I had to lose my virginity in a Nevada brothel at age 30, which was a positive experience for me. I also checked myself into a psychiatric hospital which both saved my life and gave me more great stories to not tell in job interviews. The intrusive thoughts gummed up my mentalworks as did the shame surrounding them. I managed to finish a Masters degree but needed to be accompanied by my brother to make my return flight to defend my thesis because I was afraid of losing my mind. Airlines discourage mid-flight nervous breakdowns. To be fair, my grad school was in a warm climate so my brother had a very nice vacation/caretaking assignment. My biggest asset in life is my ability to see hope, even in shit, which has led me to seek treatment and improve. Still, I have a question. Am I always just going to be friends with girls or can I ever build sexual rapport? I’m 34. I can have a great philosophical discussion but I am unable to flirt or ask for what I want. Should I just give it up and bury myself back in the books? This seems a better question for a neighborhood bar or the waiting room than it is for my therapists. Thank you for the show.”

 

Well, Mike…I wrote Michael back, and I said, “We can always improve our relationships with the opposite sex or whatever sex we’re romantically interested in, or technically I think it would be gender. I think the best route is by working through our own issues and then the by-product of that is that we tend to be more confident and relaxed which people find attractive. Then, we’re also not putting on a mask to win someone over. What they see is what they get, which makes a good fit, a long-term good fit much more likely. And I think it’s much harder to find long-term compatibility than short-term excitement. And a lot of people hide their authentic selves to avoid rejection but it ultimately dooms us in the long run because your partner will eventually discover your mask. So in a nutshell, I think it’s much more about us showing up with the attitude of hey, if this works out, great, if not, no big deal. But to get there it takes a lot of interpersonal work, as they would say. So thank you for that, Michael.

 

This is an awfulsome moment sent from, no this is actually a happy moment from a listener, Kit Kat, as she’s known on the message boards, the forum and very, very faithful listener good supporter. I got to meet her when we were up in the Toronto area and did a group recording, very sweet person, and she just, she writes, “I just wanted to share this with you just cause, I have this happy memory, one of the few ones I have with my father, and their side of the family, I remember lying on my grandparents’ bed and lying with my head propped up on my hands watching TV on this tiny TV they had positioned in the top corner of their bedroom. My grandmother was cooking down the hall the kind of middle eastern food you could smell in the next house over and I vividly remember lying there while watching Edward Scissorhands on Dinner and a Movie for the first time. At some point, my uncle came to watch with me too and teased me about how I hadn’t seen this movie before. Eventually, my other uncles joined us too, squished on this bed and it’s just this nice memory I have and it’s kind of always in the back of my head when I’m listening to the podcast. I don’t know why that one in particular, since I know I watched it a bunch because I had a weird fascination with cooking shows but never actually cooking as a kid, ha ha. And I believe it was usually on Friday nights, which is when we would go to my grandparents’ for dinner and I would put it on while my grandfather watched boxing in the living room but that one particular time is inexplicably lodged in my brain. That’s all. I felt compelled to share your part in a childhood memory of mine for a while and I’m sure to   feel embarrassed after I do.   It’s nothing dramatic or profound, it’s just a calm, carefree memory which is maybe why I’ve held onto it. No biggie.” Thank you , Kit Kat.

 

Let’s see. People apologize sometimes, they’ll be like, ‘I don’t want to make you feel old but I was six years old when you were on Dinner and a Movie’, and, I don’t care. It’s not news to me how old I am, so, I’m just flattered that people remember. This is from the Shame and Secrets survey by a woman who calls herself Half Agony. She is bi-sexual, in her twenties, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment,

‘Ever been the victim of sexual abuse?’

“Some stuff happened, I don’t know if it counts but I was with a friend’s brother who wanted to do more. I didn’t want to because I just got disinterested and he kept pushing it and pushing it. He said that I wanted this. I started it and he was right” I don’t know if she’s saying he thought he was right or she thought he was right. “I started it and he was right so I just had sex with him. He was a nice guy. I felt like he made a good point and I felt horrible the next day because I was mad I did it, mad I asked for it and mad at myself for caring so much about something that everyone else seemed to be easy about. I told the friend it happened and it was awkward and we didn’t talk about it much after that. I ended up sleeping with him again a year later on my terms and it was awful and emotionless.” Every person has the right to initiate and then change their mind. End of story.

‘Been physically or emotionally abused?’

“Not sure. My parents were pretty intense. I had a really good childhood. My parents were in a religious commune where I was born and it has greatly influenced my life even though they left when I was four. The concept of what is truth versus opinion has instilled in me a myriad of feelings of inadequacy and shame. I got in trouble in third grade for a drawing a weird dirty comment to impress the other children who did not like me at all and asked me to draw it and then turned it into the teacher. When my parents found out, they made me sit in a room with them and listen to them lecture me for five to six hours. This was commonplace. Bad grades, bad words, being too loud, leaving lights on, etc. If we didn’t act like forty year old men then we were out of control and needed to listen to my father tell his stories about how he realized that God wanted him to help people be good when he was eighteen. We had to sit and listen until we could figure out what he wanted from us. I still don’t know”. He sounds like a fucking narcissist.

‘Any positive experience with your abusers?’

“I love my parents so much. They are funny and twisted and talented. They love us so much and I feel terrible that I have so many issues with them. Sometimes my father and I can have the most amazing conversations but mostly I feel dread talking to him because I can never tell what he wants from me or what mood he is in. That always dictates what he seems to want. He is so mean sometimes. He will say things that will stick with me forever and he doesn’t even realize.” Boy, I don’t know how that equates to a really good childhood. I’m sure there were nice moments and even more nice moments than bad moments, but the bad moments that you describe are fucking terrible. You don’t have to get hit to be abandoned or abused and your, the stuff you’ve shared is classic. A classic example of that.

‘Darkest thought?’

“ I very often think that I wish I would get a disease that is terminal so I wouldn’t have to kill myself.” You know, my first thought when I read this that, wouldn’t a better solution be to advocate for yourself and then you wouldn’t have to kill yourself. That’s how difficult it is for us to advocate for ourselves. And I put myself in that category because I hate disappointing other people or confrontation and for years, suicide made more sense to me than the thought of disappointing other people or confrontation.

‘Darkest secrets?’

“I did something horrible when I was fourteen. I was baby-sitting and I touched the little boy’s penis that I was entrusted to watch. I remember thinking I wanted to know if little boys could get erections. I’d never thought about that before and I have never thought about children sexually ever since. I touched him and then he said he didn’t like that and I said I was sorry and stopped.   I was not aroused and I have no idea what the fuck I was thinking. I don’t remember ever seeing them again but I know I did. I know I felt like a horrible person since then. I pray that he doesn’t remember. His mother died some years later and I pray constantly that somehow she knows how sorry I am. I have never told anyone this. It is inexcusable.” To which I would say that we all make mistakes, especially when we are children. And, I’m not making an excuse for what you did but growing up in the invalidating, toxic environment that you did, what child wouldn’t act out in some way? And that just happened to be the way you act out and thank God you only did it once. Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself. You are not a bad person.

‘Sexual fantasies most powerful to you?’

“Rough, rape-like sex. Most recent ex-boyfriend was the first boyfriend I ever enjoyed sex with and he would pick me up over his shoulder and throw me on my bed or fuck me on the edge of the sink.” Is there anything better than the edge of the sink? Possibly eating cookies while you’re fucking on the edge of a sink. “ I like when he would hit me and restrain me. He would go down on me until I was convulsing. My biggest fantasy was probably just someone wanting me so unconditionally.” Isn’t it interesting too that you were loved by your parents and your father so conditionally? That makes perfect sense as a sexual fantasy—now I’m annoying myself that I’m fucking being Mr. Turn-On Detective. And now I’m thinking of all the emails that you guys send to tell me to stop being so hard on myself. (Laughs) Welcome to the neighborhood that is my head. Continuing, “To be so turned on by me that he has an erection every time we are together. I’d never even came before my ex. I love talking about sex with people I feel safe with.”

It is a nice thing to talk sex with safe people. Very cathartic.

‘What if anything would you like to say to someone that you haven’t been able to?’

“I want to tell my father that I think he is a narcissistic asshole with a God complex.”

When I read that sentence I just wanted to cheer. I just wanted to say ‘yes. Thank God you finally got in touch with what you’re feeling inside.

“I want him to know that he has made me sick.   He has made me scared of men. Scared about being inadequate in life in every way and terrified I am not good enough for anyone to love. I can’t say that because I know that he didn’t do any of it on purpose. He’s just as fucked up as I am. Even worse, because he can’t admit it. He’s really just insecure, I think and he’s been taking that out on his wife and children for over thirty years. I also want to say I am sorry to all my ex-boyfriends and friends who have tried to be with me over the years. I should have not gotten involved with anyone especially my last boyfriend. I knew it wouldn’t work but I was so in love with his love for me that I let him persuade me it would work. He almost made me feel safe sometimes, but then I was completely unwilling to put up with his problems. I don’t know if he was just too young for me or if I’m too fucked up or if we just didn’t fit well together but I have hurt him and I really didn’t want to. I really wanted to be loved and love him back. I’m so sorry it didn’t work.”

Also forgive yourself that. You warned him. You know, on a certain level, you know that you have intimacy struggles. God, you’re so hard on yourself.

‘What do you wish for?’

“I wish for peace. I’ve been in mental angst 24 hours a day for twelve years maybe more and I just want some peace. I want to be able to control what I think about and when I think about things.”

Well, good luck with that. With controlling—I always think of the phrase, ‘you can’t control whether or not a bird lands on your head but you can control whether it builds a nest” so don’t flip out if you can’t control the thoughts that pop into your head but maybe try to find some way to control how long they bounce around in there.

“I want to love and be loved by someone I respect. I want to feel less afraid all the time of menial things. I want to be OK with being me.”

And all those things I believe are attainable.

‘How do you feel after writing this stuff down?’

“Like my survey is pathetic and poorly written and I have nothing to say to help anyone.”

‘Anything you’d like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences?’

“ I am just now beginning to examine myself without the “Dad glasses” on. The more I separate the thought patterns, along with medication and therapy, good friends and trying the best I can to not hide from life, the more I gain confidence. What I want to say is that I would be dead right now if I hadn’t gotten health insurance from the state finally and gone to a doctor to get medicine. I would be dead. I am not okay, not nearly where I want to be but I apparently had just enough hope left buried deep inside of me underneath all the anger and fear to get me to that fucking doctor. On the good days I know that I am getting better, it’s just so slow that I get discouraged a lot but it’s enough. I don’t want to die every day or I’ve whittled it down to about once or twice a week,”

So just find whatever the fuck it is that’s kept you holding on just grab the hell out of it. Just trying will give you some inertia. It did for me. Oh, thank you so much for that beautiful honest, I love when people dig deep in the surveys and you see the hope. You feel the hope in them. Oh, I just love that.

 

This is an email I got from a guy who wants to be called “Chase” and he writes, “I have a request. I really love the podcast and I’ve found it to be really helpful but I find one group really underrepresented and I wonder if you’d do a show about them/us. There are a lot of people whose issues are sub-clinical but making a huge impact on their lives. In my own case, I’ve only ever been officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Dysthymia but I deal with issues that are a lot more complex like self-injury that no one ever noticed, anorexic and bulimic behaviors doctors ignore because I am not in danger of starving literally to death. I would really appreciate to hear the story of someone who, like me, doesn’t feel like he or she belongs in support groups or whatever because our problems aren’t quite big or bad enough.”

And I wrote back, “Chase, I’m no clinician but it sounds to me like those issues you think aren’t serious are serious indeed. Just because they aren’t life-threatening doesn’t mean shit. Bad coping mechanisms often escalate and even worse delay us from finding healthy ways to express our feelings”. Fuck what anybody quantifies or labels your issues. It is a shorthand to navigate things but it is not meant to determine whether or not you have hit a threshold for being a valid client of a therapist or member of a support group. It’s your feelings that matter.

And, by the way, engaging in anorexic and bulimic behaviors, it doesn’t matter what your weight is it’s the behaviors that matter. I didn’t lose the house or the wife or the job from my drinking. But I was dying on the inside. And that’s why I went and got help. And a couple of weeks into recovery I began to hear people’s stories, part of me wanted to leave because I was like, you know, I’d hear somebody’s story about how they’d wake up at six in the morning and vomit bile and then they’d be chugging vodka just to keep their hand from shaking. And I was like, well, that’s not my situation, but when they talked about their feelings it was exactly what I was feeling. And chances are pretty good if I wasn’t getting help someday I would be that guy throwing up first thing in the morning and then drinking vodka straight out of the bottle. So don’t wait for it to spiral out of control.

 

This is Shame and Secrets survey filled out by a guy who calls himself David Curse (sp?). He is straight, in his thirties, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment.

‘Ever been the victim of sexual abuse?’

“Some stuff happened but I don’t know if it counts. I think that when my Dad left my Mom, my Mom then emotionally ‘married’ me. This was a lot of pressure and has led to taking on other people’s feelings a lot as an adult and I feel responsible for other people’s feelings in a way that is not helpful, I think.”

‘Been emotionally abused?’

“In addition to the stuff I mentioned above my Dad criticized me extremely harshly over little things as if I was an emotional punching bag.”

‘Any positive experiences with the abusers?’

“Yes. At certain periods in my adulthood my parents genuinely seemed to be proud of me. Attempt to be helpful and have owned some of their stuff from the past.   But because the stuff was so severe and intense at such a young age, it’s hard for me to take in their positivity now. I’m deeply conflicted at times and don’t know what to do.”

‘Darkest thoughts?’

“I was happy, even ecstatic, when Columbine happened, that I still feel pleased, soothed and validated on a deep spiritual level when there are mass shootings, especially at schools.”

‘Darkest secrets?’

“I pee in my pants regularly as an adult because I can’t hold it. “

‘Sexual fantasies most powerful to you?’

“Fucking seven hundred and fifty more women before I die.”

‘How does it make you feel?’

“Conflicted. It makes me consider leaving my wife but and trying to do it.”

‘What if anything would you like to say to someone you haven’t been able to?’

“I would like to tell one of my old college professors that she is a bitch and she can fucking kiss my ass. To vent, an anti-amends or an amends to myself?”

‘What if anything do you wish for?’

“The Philosopher Stone”

‘Have you shared these things with others?’

“Yes. It depends on who I share it with. Some people will feel similarly. Some are frustratingly unempathetic or they offer intellectual counterpoints and arguments. “

‘How do you feel after writing this stuff down?’

“Like it doesn’t change anything and I did this survey just to procrastinate other things.”

‘Anything you’d like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences?’

“Oh yeah, yeah, I’m with you!”

 

Well, thank you for sharing that stuff, David. And Herbert’s giving you a high five by scratching the carpet. This is an awfulsome moment from a listener named Gloria and she writes, “Many years ago I was living in Boston and my father suffered what would be a fatal stroke in New Jersey. I had been scheduled to go on vacation with some of my Boston friends but immediately changed my plans to be with my family. Unbeknownst to me, my friends decided to drive down from Boston to attend my father’s funeral in New York City before leaving on the trip. I saw them at the church right before the service and looked for them after the funeral procession to the cemetery in New Jersey. Not being able to find them, I assumed they needed to depart early to make their flights, but I was grateful they had made it to the funeral. Several hours later, my friends sheepishly arrived at my mother’s house. They explained that there was another funeral procession leaving from a nearby church and they had followed the wrong line of cars ending up at another memorial service somewhere in Long Island. They didn’t realize their mistake until they were seated for this other memorial service and couldn’t leave without being rude. They told me that they couldn’t stop laughing and played it off like they were crying. An unknown mourner gently patted them on the back saying ‘It’s ok to cry’, which only made them laugh harder. Needless to say, this was the funniest thing my family had heard all day and it made one of the most difficult days in our lives just a little lighter.” Ah, that is fantastic. I say it all the time but a good awfulsome moment is just like medicine to my soul.

 

This is a Shame and Secrets survey filled out by a woman who calls herself Procrastination Meister, love her already. She is a pan-sexual in her twenties, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment, never been sexually abused and she qualifies “I have had unsafe moments where I have been stalked and groped by a stranger in a public place but thankfully I reported it and never saw this person again in my life.”

I would qualify that as sexual abuse. Being groped, unwanted groping. You know, I think it is important to remember that there is a continuum of sexual abuse and something doesn’t have to fit a stereotypical version of it, you know which is penetration or rape or whatever for it to be sexually abusive. Unwanted sexual contact is sexual abuse.

‘Ever been physically or emotionally abused?’

“Been emotionally abused. I was the target of bullying throughout my life and it only ended once I reached university. I was bullied for being a non-gender conforming teenager, for being ugly, for being geeky and being awkward. Called a slut despite never having kissed anybody at that point and so on. And the stupid thing is I was mostly bullied by other geeks and they were the ones I kept wanting to seek approval from. I was also gender-queer so that didn’t help, a lot of my experiences as a child and teenager have all been negative so it’s sometimes hard to figure out when the bullying ends and it’s just another case of people being shitty in general, other people being shitty in general.”

‘Darkest thoughts?’

“I no longer sexually fantasize about my boyfriend. I strongly care for him and we’re incredibly compatible on paper but he’s asexual. He’ s still happy to engage in sex because it pleasures me but I want to be wanted and to be desired sexually. He’s never had a sex drive his entire life so it’s not exactly a possibility. Instead my fantasies are about an acquaintance of mine. I find him incredibly attractive and since I don’t know him very well, the lack of information continues to feed this intrigue. I feel that he has so much more power and experience compared to me and I want it for myself. I fantasize about cornering him, having him in chains to dominate him, degrading him and have him utterly surrender himself, mind, body and soul to me. I want his strength and how I can acquire it for myself is to break him. I would never do anything of that though. I believe in consent and healthy relationships and I could never turn the tables on him because I keep seeking validation from this person, despite the fact that he is practically a stranger and plays no role in my life whatsoever. I know who he is in my head is different from who he actually is and it frustrates me that I still can’t stop thinking about it. I want my thoughts to stop being so creepy. I wish my brain could just desire actual available people in my life or at least a celebrity far more removed from my social circles.”

Oh, that, what you just described is so incredibly common. Such a common way for people to avoid feeling whatever feelings they’re feeling in their life. I get into fantasies sometimes where it’s like, the places that my head goes, I don’t shame myself for it anymore. I just try to steer my brain back to being present but it’s, it’s just annoying. So just know you’re not alone in that.

‘Darkest secrets?’

“ I was turned on by women first before I ever got turned on by men. At the age of five, I masturbated regularly. I often thought of Jasmine from that Disney Aladdin film. I’d mentally strip her down and masturbate to the thought of her bare breasts. Even to this day I still have a strong preference for brown-skinned Asians with nice breasts but I guess it’s less creepy because I’m Asian myself. Thanks Disney. Around the same age I felt up a female kindergarten teacher. She didn’t discipline me or say anything about it though.

‘Sexual fantasies most powerful to you?’

“I am strongly attracted to older brother figures. My sexual fantasies involve sibling incest and I fantasize about dominating an older brother figure or a male mentor figure. The fantasies are just like what I’d like to do with that acquaintance, bondage, degradation and then surrender to me. The usual. The idea of having that much power over people who have power over me gives me such a sexual high. I’m only interested in degrading men. For women, I would rather have them dominate me.”

‘What if anything would you like to say to someone that you haven’t been able to?’

“Dear older brother figures I’ve met throughout my life. I hate you. I want to be you. I want to fuck you. I want to become you. I want to devour you. I can’t live without you. I want to be better than you and I want to stop seeking your validation. I want to stop living vicariously through you because I am too chicken shit to make the drastic changes I need in my life. I want myself to be as important to you as you are to me. But I also want to stop giving a shit about what you think. I just want to be my own grown damn adult but I still want to fuck you. I would never tell this to them, ever, because I know it makes no sense.”

‘What if anything do you wish for?’

“I wish I had less complicated feelings towards the male older brother figures/mentor figures in my life. I don’t have any of this shit with women. I just want to be genuinely good friends with a guy that I respect and admire and not have any feelings get in the way. I wish I had the courage to make the changes I want in my life instead of living vicariously through the lives of male friends I’d like to fuck. I wish I procrastinated less. I wish I spent more time on productive things and getting my shit together in life instead of fantasizing about doing weird shit to people I know.”

And that’s not weird shit. We all have stuff that we think is weird.

She has not shared any of this stuff with others.

‘How do you feel after writing this stuff down?’

“Relieved and lighter. I feel like less of a creep and more like I can just laugh at myself. It also makes me think that I should probably just explore BDSM and get it over with. It makes me think that I should also spend less time trying to suppress these thoughts. I should just accept them and move on with my life.”

‘Anything you’d like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences?’

“Your thoughts don’t make you a creep. It’s the actions you take that could make you creepy. Sometimes you should just stop fighting these thoughts so hard and just let them happen It makes for an interesting internal life.”

Ah, you took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you for that.

 

This is an awfulsome moment filled out by a guy who calls himself Tom 2370 and he writes, and he’s in his sixties, he writes, “Ten years ago I typed on my computer a long list of the moral/sexual lapses I’ve had in my life. I typed it trying to decide why I am the way I am sexually. I wrote of the bi-sexual things I have done, the adultery, my female cousin feeling me when we slept together as a young teen, the lusting after my sister-in-law, my porn history, my maturation history, all very private, personal stuff. I saved it under some weird name and hid it deep in my documents file. Well, one day we were sitting in our living room and my wife was on the computer and she started saying, “What? What? What? Is this you?” She had found it. I started to run out of the house but stopped, sat down and told her to ask me anything about it. Oh my, how embarrassing.”

That was fantastic.

 

This is from the Shame and Secrets survey filled out by a guy who calls himself Goshey (sp?) and he is asexual, in his forties, raised in a totally chaotic environment.

‘Ever been the victim of sexual abuse?’

“Yes and I reported it. My older brother used me as his sex toy when I was around eight years old or so. I really don’t remember exactly when it happened but my benchmark is when I played baseball when I was ten and how I felt different from all the other kids. It started one day when he asked me if he could kiss me. For some reason, I said okay. So he took me into the bedroom, closed the door and brought me to the closet. I still remember vividly how he used both hands, palms facing in, to separate the hanging clothes to create an area for me to stand. He had me stand in the closet in the space created and held my face in his hands. He then started French kissing me. Totally gross to think about this. I still remember how disgusting it felt and how gross it tasted. To this day I cannot stand the sound of people eating or drinking because it reminds me of that moment and hearing the noises of his kissing me. Can’t fucking believe I’m writing this. That started an ongoing pattern of sexual abuse often with threats when I tried to refuse. He had a bunch of knives and a twenty-two rifle which he would threaten me with. He was also fucking one of my sisters and he would tell me what he did to her. One night I snuck out of my room when I knew he was in hers and heard her whimpering.”

 

That breaks my heart. And you know sometimes I am like, well, I should edit that out but I feel like this podcast is one of the few places where we can really get the unvarnished, and I do sometimes edit things out, but I also sometimes leave things in because I feel like some of this stuff needs to be said out loud, and maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. I second-guess myself as you can tell. He’s been physically and emotionally abused. “My mother who was an alcoholic and very unavailable. Sometimes she was good to me but other times she would berate me for bad behavior and I just remember the things she used to say the most often, that I was a nothing.” Oh my God. “My sisters had a clique among themselves and I always felt isolated even at home. Never felt part of the family, not even that a family existed. My older brother physically abused me by threatening to break my arm. He would twist it behind my back. “

‘Any positive experiences with the abusers?’

“I’ve always felt sorry for my brother, how he must feel about what he did to me and my sister. He apologized to me when I was eighteen. I can’t imagine the burden he must feel. The fucked up part is he has a family and children and I can’t even keep a pet, I’m so fucked up. I have no relationships.”

‘Darkest thoughts?’

“Constant thoughts of being fired from work. The people are talking about what a dick I am and that I have absolutely no function in this world. I contribute nothing. I’m a fucking mess. I’ve planned out elaborate massacres too. I’ve never thought about actually taking action on them but it feels good to think about hurting people who hurt me sometimes. Then again, deep down on know it’s worth it for people to stay alive and suffer in this world.”

 

 

 

Buddy, I just want to send you a hug man, you sound like you’re in a lot of pain.

‘Darkest secrets?’

“Convinced my girlfriend to have an abortion when I was eighteen. I killed that baby.”

 

He doesn’t have any sexual fantasies.

‘What if anything would you like to say to someone that you haven’t been able to?’

“Just that I don’t have the ability to communicate with people. I want to be helpful to others and to fit in and be a friend. I come across as an asshole though. I can’t participate in life.”

‘What if anything do you wish for?’

“Cancer. Full body, metastatic cancer followed by a sweet demise in the care of a hospice team with lots of pain meds for my last days. I pray for this every day.”

Goshee (sp?) I think we all just want to send you a hug, buddy. And encourage you to go talk to somebody. That’s a lot of stuff to hold in, man. That’s a lot of stuff to hold in. And no single person could bear the weight of that on their own so….just know you’re not alone in what you’re feeling.

 

This is an awfulsome moment filled out by a woman who calls herself the Queen of Self-Hatred and she writes, “I live with my Mom and she has known that I self harm for almost a year now. The other day she found the instruments that I use to cut for the first time and didn’t say a word but that night she got drunk just like she has every single night for as long as I can remember, so at eleven PM when she thought I was sleeping, she thought this would be the best time to confront me about it. She was angry that I avoid her and don’t talk to her about anything, which is hilarious since every time I try to talk to her while she’s sober she ignores me and stares like a zombie into her Facebook. I can’t stand talking to her when she’s drunk even though that’s the only time she ever wants to talk to me, so I’m now awake as a result of her screaming. I continue to pretend to be asleep. She claims she was going to call the cops and have me committed. Funny thing is I hadn’t cut for weeks and was trying to stop but she was now triggering my need to cut for the first time in weeks. On a side note I was able to subside my urge to cut and decided to write instead. Of course she didn’t follow through with her threat and the next day when she was sober and it was like nothing ever happened.”

 

That, you should try to cut the ivory off of the elephant in that fucking room. Oh my God, that is, that is, whew. Sending you some love, check out a support group. Let that be your family. And hopefully your Mom will get sober and see what an unavailable Mom she’s been.

 

This is a happy moment filled out by a guy who calls himself Jessie.  “It was really hot out and we were going up and down a flight of stairs. I could tell that a new acquaintance wasn’t feeling well. He was breathing heavily and didn’t look too good and when we went back downstairs he said he wanted to leave because he was overwhelmed. I told him I hoped he would feel better and said I understood how he was feeling. It was just a simple honest statement but he touched my arm and said, ‘Thank you so much for saying that.’ It made me feel so happy to feel connected to this other person. To have helped him out in some way I’m not entirely sure of. It’s moments like these that remind me that reaching out to people even in small ways is important and rewarding.”

 

I want to frame that but I’m too lazy to do it. But I want to frame that because those are the moments that we have access to every fucking day and it may not seem like a big deal to us but to the person who receives that moment of genuine caring that can make the difference between life and death some days for that person. So, when we got our face in our phones or like me my face in my iPad playing Civilization Revolution II I miss those moments, you know, I miss them.

 

This is a Happy Moments survey filled out by a woman who calls herself Living in a Guilded Cage and she writes, “Venetian Fest comes to our town every year,” I think that’s just a fancy word for a carnival, “and every year locals break their routine to gather at the festival. Every year my daughter and I wait in line like little kids to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl. She knows it’s my favorite ride. I think this is the oldest ride at the carnival but there is something about making it spin around and have the g-forces pasting our heads back making us laugh uncontrollably hoping the carney has forgotten how long we’ve been riding and gives us extra time.” There’s a good chance that the carney is asleep because he’s been smoking meth for five days. I like too the way you just shared a beautiful moment and I shit on it with an addict stereotype. She adds, “I hope to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl until I’m a hundred years old.” That is beautiful, that’s a beautiful moment. For me, I think the hardest I laugh is on roller coasters. Like, the minute the roller coaster starts moving I just start laughing and then when it starts climbing I start laughing harder and I just, I’m like a little kid. I’m like a little kid. And I never think to go do that. We should plan a Mental Illness Happy Hour day at an amusement park and just be ridiculous children. I did that one day with a group of my friends from my support group. We went trampolining and it was so much fun, it was so much fun. The other thing that makes me laugh uncontrollably, one of my favorite things in the world and I don’t think I’ve done it in fifteen years, is being pulled behind a boat on an inner tube. Just the anticipation of falling off of it when you turn and you swing around and you know, you’re hitting the chop of a wake it is just nirvana to me.

 

And then finally I want to read this Happy Moment and this, I’m only going to read part of it because it’s kind of on the long side, it’s filled out by a woman who calls herself Sherlock. And the first half of it she’s describing how she’d been going to college, getting financial aid, her depression got super bad, she had to drop out and she was re-applying, appealing trying to get her financial aid reinstated but she knew that she was going to have to give a history of her mental struggles and was having intense anxiety about how she was filling the paperwork out and was she putting too much in it, was she not putting enough in it, and she had contacted her psychiatrist and she writes, he said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid of stigma. Fight it. The ignorance, denial and prejudice surrounding mental and addictive disorders kills people. It’s in the news almost daily. The simplest way to fight it is to seek services. The next step is to be open about your own struggles. The next step is to advocate. Do what you can’. “I started crying again but because I was so happy. They’re the most comforting words I’ve heard all day. He reminded me that I want to be an advocate for mental health and for understanding mental health that I want to be open about my struggles. He empowered me in no way that I’ve ever been empowered before by my disorders.   Once the tears were gone, I copied that part of the text onto paper. I’m going to bring that paper with me when I go to school on Monday and read it whenever I feel down about having a mental disorder. He didn’t tell me to be strong. He told me to fight society’s prejudices, ignorance and denial, everything I want to do anyway. He knows my feelings weren’t my fault. He realizes how hard it is to live when others might think you’re crazy or fucked up and society confirms it for you daily through media and other means. Simply, our language reminds you that crazy and insane are bad stuff. He’s confirming and validating my feelings while empowering me. I wasn’t expecting that kind of response at all for some reason. I feel like I accidentally got the best psychiatrist in the state and I feel so thankful for him and his words.”

 

There is nothing like having, you know, like Erika shared, there is nothing like having that empathy from a mental health professional or provider. It is so healing, it is so healing and empowering and thank you for sharing that and I hope if you guys, or anybody out there listening, I hope you had a little more hope, could I overuse that word more? I hope you have more hope than you did when you started listening some 110 minutes ago. I just know that if you’re feeling stuck there is help out there, if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, and say ‘please help me, I don’t know how to do this.’. I do it all the time and there are so many people willing to help but they can’t help if they don’t know what’s going on with you. So uh, thanks for listening, and oh, you’re not alone. I almost forgot. Go fuck myself.

 

(Close of show theme music and voiceover)