The actor (The Sopranos), standup and podcaster (The Self-Help Comedy Hour) talks with Paul about his lifelong battle with anxiety and low self-esteem, the Sedona Method, and the importance of welcoming fear instead of fighting it.
Paul: Welcome to episode 98 with my guest Ed Crasnick. I’m Paul Gilmartin and this is The Mental Illness Happy Hour, 90 minutes of honesty about all of the battles in our heads. From medically diagnosed conditions and past traumas, to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. It’s not a doctors office, it’s more like a waiting room filled with conversations that you want to have, but didn’t really know how to start, maybe you were too embarrassed, or maybe you were too drunk... It’s gone off the rails already. The website for the show is mentalpod.com. That’s also the twitter name you can follow me. Go to the website. Join the forum. A lot of people connecting to each other on the forum, and that’s a really cool thing. There’s other stuff that I can’t think of right now. Oh, you can read blogs that I’ve written, that other people have written, and there’s a bunch of surveys. Probably eight different surveys that you can take, and you can also see how other people have responded on the surveys. Literally, like the ‘shame and secrets’ survey, we are approaching 3,000 people have responded to the survey. And it’s fascinating what other people keep in the kind of, hidden, that they’re afraid to share with other people. And I always find it fascinating going through there and seeing like we really are.
Oh I want to give a shout out to a listener who won the ‘Hurt 100 Ultra-Marathon’. They run 100 miles through Hawaii, and she dedicated hers to The Mental Illness Happy Hour, and she was also the winner last year, and she sent me a really nice note how when she was about 60 miles, and kind of hit a wall, that she thought about the episode with Nadereh, the Iranian freedom fighter, and thought about all of the battles that Nadereh had to fight in her life, and she used that as inspiration to keep her going. And I just think that’s fucking awesome. So congratulations Hannah.
I wanted to mention, the episode with Lillith, there was some controversy as to whether or not she was right when she said, if you’ve ever taken lithium you’re at risk for having a child with birth defects, and that is not the case. You can even be on lithium and the risk is still very small that your child may have any type of birth defect. But there isn’t a risk if you’ve had lithium in your past. If you’re on lithium and you’re pregnant, one in 5,000 chance of the baby having some type of hurt thing, but I would not use this podcast as a place to find out information like that. I am a jackass that tells dick jokes. A pretty sweet one, but they’re dick jokes, and that brings me to this email that I want to read. Mya Stone, she says, “During the recent episode with Elizabeth Laime, she was trying to get pregnant and therefore was not taking any antidepressants. As a doctor, mother, and someone who suffers from depression, I want to make sure that women are talking to their doctors and being honest with themselves about their depression symptoms before deciding to go off medication for pregnancy. I stopped my medication for my first pregnancy and was miserable. I resented my unborn child for making me fat and tired, and often regretted getting pregnant. I finally broke down and restarted my meds a week before I gave birth. I stayed on my meds through my second pregnancy and had a much better experience. Many antidepressants have a very small risk of adverse effects on the fetus, and that should be weighed with nine months of depression”. So thank you for that Mya.
This was not an email, but this was somebody filled out at the end of a survey and I wanted to read it. This is from a guy who calls himself Taquito. And he says, “I don’t understand how people have money. The guests who got help went to a hospital, live in a house, speak with a therapist, purchase medications, etc. How do they pay for these things? Being depressed much of the time over the past decades has made it difficult for me to build a career and earn any money, not to mention wasting money on various things when my mind was not right. But I am not permanently disabled and keep trying again, working at something like a job, or graduate school program until I am depressed and generally fucked up in the head to where I cannot continue with it. Now I work full time, but I must pay off debts and try to keep paying my bills, I cannot see how to pay for an appointment with a counselor when that fee would totally fuck up my math problem. And I have this fear that it will just not help me. So it would be self-indulgent and self-destructive. Maybe this is all evidence that I need to get more help. I guess all this could be said more easily like, ‘how about addressing financial difficulties which are sometimes caused by mental illness, exacerbated by mental illness, and are a barrier to treatment’. If a person is many thousands in debt and have obligations like children, rent and bills and just barely makes it with a low paying job, is it even advisable for this person to spend 75 dollars on a sliding scale fee or whatever it is, for one to visit a world-class professional to tell them what they are feeling? This is what I am turning over in my head these days. Knowing I need help, feeling I do deserve help, but not sure it’s the right thing for me to do because of the expense”.
Thank you Taquito for that. That was actually perfectly worded. I am lucky enough to have insurance, to be able to see a therapist and a psychiatrist and I still sometimes find myself fighting the urge, when I’m depressed, to go for help, because it’s like sandpaper talking about it. It feels like a wound opening it up and talking about it again, because you don’t know where the truth actually lies. It’s a tangled bowl of spaghetti, and it is, ‘am I being a baby? Am I just feeling sorry for myself? Is this actually depression? Is it because I’ve been too selfish lately? What is really going on with me?’. And sometimes it just feels like it’s easier to just sleep and ignore it. So you throw a money problem on top of that. I wish I had an answer to that, Taquito. I just like calling you Taquito. I wish I had an answer to that, and that is a letter that I would like to have somebody read in front of congress, because I think there are millions of people that feel just the same way you do.
This may or may not be helpful, this email I got for somebody, but they found a way that kind of worked for them. And this is from Randy Huff, and he said, “I’ve been calling around and hitting some walls which can be demotivating when trying to do anything. Some primary care doctors won't see you for quote, mental health, and not all will accept cash. Some of the sliding scale places don’t treat mental health. And one that did, isn’t taking new patients. But here I am ten days later, and I had a stroke of genius last night. I had visited urgent care centers before, so I called one up and asked if they could prescribe antidepressants, and they said yes. I went and saw a doctor. The visit was 90 dollars and they gave me a refill, and asked that I come back in three weeks or see a primary care physician in three weeks. The prescription was for 20mg of Solexa and Target filled that prescription for four dollars off their generic plan. It is not the end all answer, but a step in a good direction. I feel incredibly accomplished today, and on a high. Yes I know how crashed-down to reality on point, but right now I feel a sort of success. I’m still trying to find a better location to treat my mental illness. They also recommend calling 211 for counseling from any landline. They said that number will help you find counseling in your area”.
Thank you for that Randall. I tried that from my landline and it is, I believe a nation wide number where you will get somebody who can help direct you to any type of community service there is in your area, be it mental health facility, you know, to a dog that won't stop barking. But that is good to know. So if you’re sitting there, and you’re just really feeling frustrated, dial 211 from a landline, and just start talking to somebody. Maybe it will lead you to help. It doesn’t hurt to try, and I think like Randall said, at least you feel like you’re moving forward.
And before we get to the interview with Ed Crasnick, by the way, we recorded the interview about a year or a year and a half ago, and one of the reasons why I kind of help onto it for so long was, I felt, I think it’s a great interview, but after it was over, I felt like, I worried like I didn’t get enough childhood stuff from his story, and I found myself wanting to know more about that. So I felt like it was kind of incomplete. And then just for some reason I decided to play it last night, and I felt differently, and I felt like now it, he gives some snapshots of his childhood that I think paint a lovely picture for us. So I’m posting it. And he’s just a great guy, Ed Crasnick. Right now I’m panicking that the intro is way too fucking long, and anybody that enjoys this show has stopped listening.
I want to read an email, and then we’ll get to the interview with Ed. This is an email from a listener named Fiona, and she writes, “I am a singer and an artist, and I listen to podcasts like yours when mopping floors and cleaning toilets at my housekeeping day job. I had been feeling pretty depressed and hopeless for the past couple of days. Today as I finished a good hour or two of ruminating about the past and worrying about the future, I decided to try writing a letter of encouragement to myself. You are stronger than you know. You have been to hell and back and are still moving forward. You have the ability to let it go, to let the past be the past, and the future with all it’s unknowns, be the future. You are here, now, in this moment. You can use this moment to do good, provide service, create something beautiful, and enrich a life. Whether it is your own, or someone else’s. Share your gifts with the world around you, and let the world within you grow”.
Paul: I am here with Ed Crasnick. Do you still go by Crazy Eddy Crasnick?
Ed: Uh, I did in college, and I have. My wife calls me those three names. Does not call me Ed, does not call me Crazy, it is all three consecutively in a row. That was my nickname. My nickname was Crazy Eddy—
Paul: Are you serious? I was just kidding.
Ed: No no, it’s true. Crazy Eddy, and because when you’re institutionalized, people talk, and you get a name—
Paul: Were you institutionalized?
Ed: No. But if you were—no, but I have other stuff. Not that, but there’s other stuff.
Paul: You and I talked, Ed is a stand-up comedian, an actor, podcaster, you may have seen him on The Sopranos, he was the stand-up comedian performing bad jokes at the retirement home in that episode of The Sopranos. He, you’ve seen him do stand-up. He’s got a podcast called This Week in Comedy. And just a great guy and very open and honest about what he’s gone through. When I came to do your podcast, we just couldn’t stop talking about what it’s like to suffer from depression and mental illness, and how it affects being creative and etc etc, so it was natural that you were going to come on the podcast, it was just a matter of when and where, but you’re here now, and I’m glad you’re here.
Ed: Me too, I appreciate it.
Paul: You are from I want to say...
Ed: Monroe, Louisiana. No, I’m from Boston, Massachusetts, and I am, I’m from a long line of mentally ill Jews, if I can put it that way. We have t-shirts, and I’m sorry, you weren’t really for it
Paul: There’s also a way when Jewish people hit the word Jew, that never doesn’t make me last. Did you ever see when Don Rickles, was on Larry King?
Ed: I tell people about that all the time.
Paul: “Larry, you’re a Jew”—
Ed: “Larry, you’re a Jew”, and then Larry who was hosting a program that was then live, goes under the table, you can’t see him. I didn’t know where he went for like a couple minutes he was gone.
Paul: Never doesn’t make me laugh, I suppose in some way it, that pronunciation of it, it’s kind of like when black people call each other the n-word, like when jewish people hit that word, there’s just a, you know that they’ve lived something, I don’t know, it just strikes me as, just makes me laugh.
Ed: Yeah, I know. You have a hard ‘j’ sound and it ends in ‘ooh’, how can it not be funny? It’s really, when they were called that, they were made to be funny, and had really no choice, and also had no choice with the mental illness. Was given to them—
Paul: Was it fair to say that the Jewish culture is a very mentally demanding in and of itself, and forget about how people outside the Jewish culture treat, treat Jews, but a lot of the Jewish people that I have met, and this is usually how sentences begin before someone is fired later—
Ed: A lot of Jewish people I have met—
Paul: There is a premium is placed on education, and on, go go go, achieve achieve achieve, and we will accept nothing less than awesome.
Ed: Yes, and introspection. And self-reflection, but also self-criticism. Self-criticism and self-reflection and what you don’t get to do as a Jewish person, I went to yeshiva, I went to Jewish day school, what you don’t get to do, is there’s a mysticism part of Judaism. There’s Kabbalah, and there’s a mysticism, and a fire, and a spirituality, but they don’t let you, but you don’t go near that.
Paul: Why not?
Ed: Uh, because you’re not supposed to look that up until you’re 40. Because you don’t understand it. It’s very complex.
Paul: I would agree that there are things that you can’t grasp until, you’re near that age, but I don’t understand why you would tell somebody not even to go near it—
Ed: You’re not supposed to do it because you’re not allowed to have pleasure. You’re not allowed to have flavor or pleasure. I mean the thing about it is, there’s a few different things. One is we’re talking about spirit. You say spirituality, and you say a great fire and a great spirit and there is story telling and there is culture and there is passion, but there is also, there is also, we’re outsiders. We’re not part of it, and we’re gonna, and we don’t feel that we belong—
Paul: And not just outsiders for a brief period of time—
Ed: No, it is—
Paul: You guys are the original outsiders—
Ed: Yeah, we were in the—S.E. Hinton wrote the book about us and the people in the movie of course were not Jews that were cast. They don’t cast Jews to play Jews, or lawyers to play, you know how it is. But I think the thing is, and this a weird way to get into it, but if you believe your brain, if you believe that what we are is the brain, that the brain runs your life, your mind runs your life, you’re going to be very unhappy.
Paul: Very unhappy, very confused, very sad, and feel very controlled.
Ed: And you’re going to spend your whole life believing that you have control over everything and you will try to control everything—
Paul: And you will try to will it, and there are people who can achieve some semblance of it. Like I’m reading, I keep talking about this book constantly, but I’m reading Steve Jobs’ biography, and here is a guy who literally willed things into existence, but was in many ways, one of the most pathetic human beings I’ve ever read about, in interpersonal relationships.
Ed: Well you know there’s something, the other thing is, when I used to hear all these terms, I thought, ‘oh it’s woo-woo, it’s touchy-feely’, but it’s balance. Incredible people, incredibly gifted people are not balanced, they’re not balanced, and that’s part of their gift, but what people don’t learn, is they don’t learn to be balanced, we don’t learn how to be balanced. We don’t learn that our emotions that are actually something that want to move through us. They don’t want to stay, they don’t want to be controlled, they don’t want to be part of your body, they don’t want to stay in your liver, they actually want to move out, and if you welcome them, instead of resist them, they go away. They leave you, and they move on, and that’s, but who understands that, who practices that? Who learns that?—
Paul: Nobody teaches us that, and so I think what we do, and what I often do, is when an uncomfortable emotion comes to me, I try to act my way out of that emotion or think my way out of that emotion, instead of just embracing that and saying, ‘oh look, I’m feeling sad’, or talking about it—
Ed: And it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t, there’s no meaning attached to it—
Paul: Do you think the most obsessive compulsive behavior is somebody trying to escape feeling an emotion?
Ed: You know, I’m not an expert, it could be. I think in some instances, whether you’re trying to escape it, control it. Control it, you want to control it, which you can’t. You want to control things, and you want to understand things, that’s the other thing. And understanding is another way of controlling. There’s a guy, this guy, this teacher, this Sedona Method, it’s actually a very—
Paul: It’s called what?
Ed: It’s called the Sedona Method, it’s a very good tool, and it’s a releasing technique, and it postulates that the only reason to understand your problems is because you’re planning on having them again. Why would you need to understand them if you weren’t planning on having them again?
Paul: Yeah, I suppose so. That makes total sense.
Ed: And there’s a lot of effort to understanding, like where do they come from, why did, you know, it’s not important where it came from. What’s important is that you’re here now, and that you can let go of it.
Paul: I want to go back to what you said about this identifying that your mind is who you are. That do me was one of the biggest breakthroughs that I’ve had, was learning to dis-identify with my mind and I learned by reading Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth, and The Power of Now, is also a good book, but A New Earth to me is just one of the greatest books about the mind and the ego ever written. And if you begin to dis-identify from your mind, and realize that your thoughts aren’t who you are, that you don’t have control necessarily over what pops in to your head, but what you do have control over, is how long you let them linger, and how long you just play with them. You then have a chance to tap into this other part of our being, and I know this sounds like a bunch of horse-shitty new-age stuff, but you have then a chance to feel your spirit instead of your mind, and I believe as many people do, that we are not human beings, we are not bodies with a spirit, we are spirits with a body. And the spirit in my opinion always has to lead, because if the spirit is ignored, I believe then that the mind and the body wither and suffer and it’s all downhill from there.
Ed: Well, I don’t know if it’s been this way throughout the history of the world, but certainly in this time, there’s a lot of stress, there’s a lot of trying to control stress. There’s a lot of panic, which is not fear, it’s panic, which is, ‘I don’t want to feel the fear, I want to control the fear’.
Paul: I’ve got to get rid of it right now.
Ed: Yeah, what am I going to do?
Paul: I can’t be patient with this feeling.
Ed: No, because I’m going to die, because I have, because it’s not a good picture, so I’m going to resist what I don’t want to happen instead of opening up what I do want to happen. I’m going to resist what I don’t want. I don’t want to not be able to pay the rent, so I’m going to talk about not being able to pay the rent. What I’m picturing is, I can’t pay it, and I don’t want that to happen, instead of, you know, I’m going to let that go. I’m not going to picture not paying the rent—
Paul: But how do you get to the point Ed, without calling yourself irresponsible for not paying the rent? Because most people would say, if I’m not obsessing about the rent that I can’t pay, I’m being a douchebag, I’m being irresponsible, and I’m not dealing with reality.
Ed: Okay, here’s the other spin on it though, if I’m panicking, I’m dead to other people. I’m dead to myself and I’m dead to other people. So when I’m sitting here across from you and I’m panicking, I’m not here. You know, when people say, ‘it’s not all about you’, actually it is all about you. It is all about you, because what you are, you take with you into life, and into every person you come in contact with. If you’re withholding something, you’re helping other people to withhold. You’re helping other people to be not their full potential, so it is all about me. And there is no other people out there. We’re all reflections of each other, so there is one person, and it is all about me. But you say, like the panicking, don’t you want to be responsible and you’re going to be a douchebag and not pay the rent. Panicking will not make you pay the rent, it does not bring you the rent. In fact, quite the opposite. It brings you not being able to pay the rent—
Paul: Because what may happen is in those two days when you’re wondering what may happen, you’re so unpresent in your conversation with somebody, for something unrelated to the rent, maybe that person is thinking about hiring you for a job, but you are so unpleasant to be around, you’re so wrapped up in your own bullshit, that never has a chance to happen. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of people, that when they get in touch with their spiritual side, for lack of a better word, dis-identify from their mind, to try to be present in every moment, and not give into fear, and not trip on the past or the future, but just look whoever you’re talking to in the eye, and be present, those people’s lives have a way of working out. It is amazing, and it tells me there is something going on that we can’t see that is too sophisticated for us to put our finger on, but when we just treat each other with dignity and try not to be controlled by our fear, that pathways open up. That shit gets taken care of—
Ed: As it is meant to do. There is, when you’re, when I’m withholding stuff, and I’m trying to control stuff, and I’m panicking, I’m riding around in a car with the emergency brake on, that’s the feeling. Everything is a big deal, everything is a chore. It’s never going to get better—
Paul: Are we talking a sedan? An SUV? A Volt?
Ed: In my case it would be a car that the nuns used in The Flying Nun. Which is a side panel, like a woody, but it’s a woody that has flat tires. It’s a woody that is not souped up, it is actually souped down. And this is the thing, you’re riding around with that feeling. The car wants to go, so take your foot off the emergency brake.
Paul: That’s such a great analogy. That’s such a great analogy.
Ed: And if you do, the car goes on it’s own. You don’t have to push the pedal, it just goes on it’s own—
Paul: You become your own worst enemy and obsessing about your fear almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Ed: It is, because what happens, when I’m afraid, I’m picturing, there are pictures that form. And the pictures are of the things that I don’t want, so if you let go of the pictures, of the things that you don’t want to happen, you open to the things that are wanting to happen.
Paul: So then how do you get, and I know this stuff intellectually Ed, and there are many days when I can actually execute what we’re talking about, but for instance, this morning I was just walking around in doom, convinced that I’m never going to make any money again. That the house is falling apart. That my mental illness is getting worse. That I’m going to be hospitalized. Just really it’s all bad, and it’s all getting worse. And I’m all fucked and I printed out this woman’s list of fears, this listener who had sent me this fantastic list of fears, and I started reading some of them, her name is Christine, and I began to feel my fear left. I began to feel a sense of being alone lift, and it just never ceases to amaze me how quickly we can think we’re the only ones going through this and that what we’re experiencing is absolutely reality.
Ed: Because the act of doing that to yourself, and I did it to myself on the way over here, I do it all the time—
Paul: What were you afraid of on the way over here?
Ed: I’m afraid that people won't like me. I’m afraid that I won’t be good enough, and what I’m thinking about is that I want your listeners to like me. That’s what I’m thinking about. I’m not thinking about be yourself, I’m not thinking about, be real, I’m not thinking about, be present. I hope that they’re driving in car, or washing the clothes, and they listen to this guy, and they think, ‘wow, this guy is really smart and funny and great’. That’s what I’m thinking about. You know what, I’m not living. I’m not living, I’m not present, and I’m not alive, and that is what being not alive is.
Paul: By the way, I think those things and it’s my show they’re tuning into.
Ed: Oh sure, sure.
Paul: It never ends, it’s like they’re coming back to listen to the show, and I’m still afraid they’re not going to—it’s like a woman taking her clothes off to have sex with you, and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘boy I just don’t think she’s into me’.
Ed: And you’re not there. But, and I started doing, everybody’s got some technique or some tool that you need, you need people. You need to connect to other people, but you, you need a tool. You need something that you can do. If you don’t have something that you can do, then you don’t have anywhere to go. Yeah, you have your brain. And that’s what where it will go. So something I never thought about this, but the Sedona Method and some other releasing techniques welcome it. What happens with these fears, is it’s resistance. You’re resisting what is, and so stop resisting and welcome it. I’m afraid, I hate myself, people never listen to my show, I can’t do this, nobody is going to like me, I’m going to bomb on Paul’s show, it’s going to be horrible. And you say, okay. I hear you, I welcome you, can you be more afraid. Encourage it to be more, and when you encourage it to be more, something very interesting happens, it goes away. It goes away—
Paul: Really? I’ve never tried that—
Ed: Encourage it. When you have a feeling in your gut, and this is starting to come, wow, I’m doing that fear thing again, I feel that it’s coming, you know what, be more afraid. And it’s a paradox, and what happens is you start opening up. What’s happening is you’re afraid and you’re constricting. You’re physically constricting, and when you say I’m constricting, could I make more space, then there’s more space—
Paul: How did you learn this stuff?
Ed: Well one is the Sedona Method, but for years I was with other comics, and while I was doing stand-up, and I was trying to be in show-business, I was seeing every single person on the planet, and new-agey people, and a shaman, and crazy people, and some people who were gifted and everything, because I didn’t like who I was, and I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be at peace. I don't think that you should have to wait til the end of your life to hear the words rest in peace. I think that’s too late, I think you’ve got to do it now—
Paul: I think it’s the perfect time. I have to disagree. I like to build. I like to build to close strong—
Ed: You close strong, and then now, finally—
Paul: Well you know, speaking of that apparently Steve Jobs’ sister was describing him in his last minutes on earth, and it’s like he was, it was like this relaxation came over him and he kept saying, and he was looking at everyone around him, and soaking in the love, and saying, ‘wow, wow, wow, wow’, and I just thought, here’s a guy that just ran over people his whole life, and then in his last couple of minutes, and this is my opinion, I never met the guy. I never spent any time around him, but judging from this book, it’s like he didn’t really get the power of just sitting and being with people and not working an angle and not obsessing about a project until the last couple of minutes of his life—
Ed: And that’s what you go out with.
Paul: And that’s what you go out with, and I’m sure that was what was meant to be for him. We all benefited in many ways from the products that he obsessed about, but I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to stumble onto what gets me to peace the last week I’m on earth. I think you hit the nail on the head, how do we do it now and not feel like we’re being irresponsible, and we’re being lazy. Because aren’t those the two things that pop into your head when you try to tell yourself to calm down and not worry about the future?
Ed: Well, it’s that I’m going to die. I’m going to die, and I have no control, so I’m going to die, and I have no control, and so this will, with me, it will always be this way. There’s a permanence to it. My life has sucked before, and it will, it’s never going to change. That’s the thing. And a gratefulness, being grateful has not been my strong suits. I don’t spend a lot of time in it, because I’m too busy making myself crazy.
Paul: Well gratitude can’t be faked. I’ve never been able to fake gratitude. I have to feel gratitude, and I can rarely feel gratitude if I’m trapped in my mind, I have to connect to something in my spirit, and when I say spirit, I mean that energy to another human being. That to me, I’m connecting to you in my spirit and not my mind. What you and I are doing right now, yeah, there’s a little bit of intellectual stuff involved, but we’re being vulnerable, we’re talking about our fears, that to me is where the spirit in our body enters into it. And that is the only kind of portal that I can get to gratitude to, is through my spirit.
Ed: You can’t, you don’t control it, I don’t control it, and also it’s very hard to be in your head and be grateful. If you’re in your head—
Paul: Because your head always wants more—
Ed: Yeah more, and there’s something wrong with it, or I’m not being grateful in the right way. You comment on it, instead of just be it, but we want to be, you want to be a human being, and it’s very challenging for me to be a human being and feel all this stress and feel like all these things mean something, because then I attach the meaning to it, and because I can’t pay my DWT bill, that it means something. That is means something. Not only that the electricity is going to be shut off, but I’m going to die. It all kind of goes to that—
Paul: Have you been in that experience where you can’t pay your bill?
Ed: Up until the recently.
Paul: So walk me through what—
Ed: Well you know, show-business it’s been very difficult for me, as it has been for most people, in the last few years—
Paul: Everybody is working for free.
Ed: Everybody is working for free, but there’s a basic thing. The world tells me there is no money. There is no jobs, nobody has any money. The world is going bankrupt. This is what the world tells you, and then what happens is, it feeds perfectly into my sense of panic. And what happens is I get smaller. I start to constrict, I get smaller, I don’t believe there’s any possibility, and I’m in the car and I can’t even see two feet in front of me, because I’m never going to, it’s horrible, you know, I hate my life. So this is the cycle of what happens, and I lost my train of thought a little bit, but—
Paul: The electricity bill, unable to pay—
Ed: What happens is, is your, you’re not, like you said before, you’re not open to really what is, and you’re not really in a state of being. And it’s all a lie. It’s a big lie. There is plenty of money, there is plenty of work, there is plenty of all these things, but not if you’re panic stricken. The economy is shifting, yes, and people have robbed America, the economy, that’s really, it’s shifting, but they’re telling people to panic, and people are buying into it. And the biggest inventions and the best things that have ever been discovered, have mostly been discovered at a time when people are telling you that there is no money. This is when inventions are born. They’re born out of times when people feel scarcity. This is when they’re born. I lost my original train of thought—
Paul: The Great Depression was when the double headed dildo was invented.
Ed: You know it’s funny that you mention that, but my great grandfather...and scene. Well it’s funny, oh this is what I was thinking of, besides the dildo, was—
Paul: When the double headed dildo was invented a couple of hobos were fighting over a can of beans, and somebody watching thought, these two really are the perfect angle for this invention.
Ed: And it was born out of a time, a man was sitting there and he was very depressed, and then all of a sudden, he looked at that, and he said, ‘there’s money here’.
Paul: I’m thinking, ‘fuck these guys’, and I think, ‘no, I could literally fuck both these guys at the same time’.
Ed: And I’ll invent something, and I know a friend, and his name is Wildo, we call him Wildo, and I’m not going to call it that, but maybe a harder ‘d’ would be good, because there’s two ‘d’s in it, double-d. The thing that I was thinking about was, for me, you have a like a core belief about yourself. For me, I always had struggled with the belief that I had no value, so if you have no value, it becomes very difficult to get money in your life. It’s amazing how that is—
Paul: It is! Because you think, why would anybody treat me anything other than invisible?
Ed: And you approach people as an invisible person, or you approach people and become ingratiating, just like, I’ll ask a waitress at a restaurant, like, ‘I hate to bother you’, it’s always, I hate to bother you—
Paul: It’s their job!
Ed: But it’s always, I hate to bother you, because if I need like a napkin, maybe she doesn’t like me. Too demanding—
Paul: Pushy Ed.
Ed: No, pushy and too demanding. And not likeable. So, want to be liked, believe you have no value, it’s not amazing, it’s like (unsure of names said), it’s not that they’re Nazis, it’s given the way things are in the world, why aren’t there more Nazis? It’s not why are there Nazis? If you’re doing this to yourself, and there’s eight billion people on the planet that are also doing this to themselves, then how is it possible that everybody is still alive, because it’s very violent, very violent. And you know, I’ve been to so much therapy, but also like the Shamans and the people, you make fun of it, but really you pick the wrong therapist. You pick people who are going to perpetuate what you are feeling, and what is happening inside of you.
Paul: What percentage of people have you gone to say who have been kind of full of shit and a waste of money and time?
Ed: Well no one’s totally, there’s always something in there—
Paul: Who was the worst one?
Ed: It’s not that, oh, probably an analyst when I was like 17. Was a guy who was divorcing his wife at the time, was going through a divorce, and he would call me up on the phone, and would say, ‘Mr. Crasnick, it’s my job to identify pattern of irresponsible behavior’. Now this was an analyst, so one time, and with an analyst, you lay on a couch. And the person is behind you. You don’t see them, you free associate, it’s based on free association. That’s analysis. And I can’t talk to someone if I can’t look at them. So my neck had like a neck brace, because I was turning my head the hold time, and he was saying, ‘just feel free to look straight out that way’, and he kept moving his chair, and it was like running after him on a baseball diamond. It was like a crazy thing. So the good therapists, the people that are good, are people who, to me, who challenge you and when you go make a joke in a therapy office, the woman looks at you and says, ‘I’m sure you’re very funny, but I’m sure that’s not why you’re here’. Then you know you’re in the right place. But therapy has helped me, I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for the therapists I’ve seen. But it is, what is really helping me is releasing, learning how to let go, and being, and learning how to be more present.
Paul: Well let’s talk about like your past, your upbringing, that kind of stuff—
Ed: I’m going to give you, I’m going to tell you a story, I’m going to give you a picture and it will tell you everything you need to know. It’s, I am, I’m like ten years old, and I’m living in the suburbs of Boston, maybe eleven years old. And it’s 8:30 in the morning, and I’m in my bedroom, which has royal blue half drapes. Royal blue was very big in this time, and so royal blue and a bedspread with red piping. Royal blue bedspread and red piping. And so I’m laying in the bed, and I’m face down in the bed, I’m panicked beyond belief, the TV is on in my room, and it’s on a desk, and it’s a Filco black and white TV, with an antenna. And you had to carry it around the house to avoid blocking other people, you know, you didn’t want to communicate with anybody, so I would carry the TV in front of me. So I’m in the bed, and outside, oh and I should mention, it’s snowing sideways, and it’s February, and it’s pitch dark. This is how I remember it. So I’m laying down and I hear outside the window, voices of kids on their way to school, and I can’t move. So, okay, now cut to later in the day. So it’s later in the day my mother has been out shopping. I have been in this position all day. The TV has continued to be on all day. I’m sleeping and I’m dozing, I’m eleven years old now. And my mother comes home, and I hear the garage door opening, and the garage door is opening, and I start to panic, because I don’t want her to think that I’ve been in bed all day, and I am in my pajamas, and I get out of my bed like really fast, and I start to put my hair together, like comb it, because I want her to believe, that even though I’m in my pajamas, I’m fine, and I’m on it—
Paul: She thinks you went to school?
Ed: She thinks, no she knows that I’m home. But she—
Paul: But she thinks that you got up and did something—
Ed: She thinks that I got up and did something, but now I’m, so it’s a kid who’s totally depressed, feels totally alone, trying to comfort himself, doesn’t know that it’s okay to have feelings, feels bad if you have them. Thinks you’re bad if you have them, and thinks there’s something desperately wrong with you if you have them, and that other people aren’t like that, and all that’s going on. Plus, no drugs, but stuffing feelings with food, the reason I was in bed in the first place, is because I watched Johnny Carson before, and at 11:30 I would walk back and forth to the kitchen to get more food, because I was so lonely, because I would stuff my feelings, and then I would make myself so physically sick, that I really couldn’t get out of bed. So I was depressed, but I was depressing it with food, and I was ill. I was physically sick. So this is the cycle of the way that I lived, off and on until I was in my thirties. Whether I was living with my family or not, I was living that way, and it wasn’t until I met another guy who was in a comedy group with me, that I said, and he said to me, ‘how are you doing?’, and I said, ‘well things aren’t that good’. He said, ‘let me ask you a question, do you hide?’, and I said, ‘I’ve never heard anybody ask me that before, yeah’. And we started talking, and we became good friends, and he was doing the same thing, but you can’t meet other people who are doing the same thing, because they’re hiding!
Paul: Unless you talk about it—
Ed: Yeah, you too. And then we’d start calling each other up on the phone and say, ‘how are you doing?’, and he says, ‘I’m doing it, I haven’t been out in three days, doing it’, and this is the greatest, this is a funny story. I’ll make this really brief, but I lived in San Francisco and I lived on the parade route to Seal Rock beach, which was Ocean beach, which all the dignitaries when they came into San Francisco, they would go right by my house. So outside my house, I haven’t been out in a few days, in my pajamas, I’m eating Quaker Natural Cereal close to 100 percent natural cereal, by the box, because I couldn’t even allow myself the flavor while I’m depressing the feelings. It’d have to be, ‘oh, it’s natural’, so I ate five boxes of it. So it’s not, I’m naturally depressed. So there I am, I’m sitting, my feet are up on a table that has a TV set, and the TV is playing, and outside I hear a motorcade, and I open my window like a little old lady, you know, who’s like looking out with a teacup, and I open the little jealousy blinds, and I open it up, and I see that the French prime minister, Francois Mitterrand is outside my window, and he’s waving, and there’s a crowd, and they’re going by, but in back of me, I hear from my TV set, the first song to Eight is Enough. And I have a choice to make, and I close the windows, and I go back to watch Eight is Enough. That will tell you where the choices are, and about what you’re trying to do. Everybody that is supposed to do anything in life, you try to get a basic core need met, you’re not trying to hurt anybody, you’re trying to get a basic core need met, you don’t know how to do it, so I go with what I know.
Paul: And if you have a history of that core need not being met, the last thing you want to do is extend yourself and be vulnerable to only have that happen again, so why not withdrawal. It’s better than the pain of rejection. Right?
Ed: Yeah, but you know what’s really, you know what’s a million times easier than that, having a feeling and opening up and letting it go. That’s really—
Paul: So what should you have done in that situation? Walked out in your pajamas and said, ‘hi Frenchie’—
Ed: I could have said, ‘hi Frenchie, and I need a ride, because I haven’t been out in a few days’, but I would have fixed my hair. That’s what it really, it’s, does anybody realize how hard, how difficult it is to be depressed. How difficult it is to depress what naturally wants to come out and up. What you’re doing is you’re holding your, it’s like a jack-in-the-box, you’re holding it in that wants to come out. It’s not trying to hurt you—
Paul: So why doesn’t it come out?
Ed: Because the brain says this is bad for you, it will hurt you, and you could—
Paul: Because they know this is inside you—
Ed: Yeah, this, just the fact that it’s here, there’s something wrong, because it makes you feel uncomfortable, and it means something, this feeling means something, so I must understand it. It means something, it doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s a feeling. When a kid has a feeling, they’re upset one minute, and they’re happy the next, and that’s what life, that’s what feelings are. There’s no, it doesn’t mean anything else, and you’re in the moment, and the other thing is, through entertainment shows that unite self-help and comedy, we do this show called Acting Out, and it—
Paul: Brilliant idea—
Ed: Well, it’s so much fun, but that’s what it is. It’s guests act out their real life issues with a therapist and a panel of comedic actors, and it’s like, it’s therapeutic role play, so an emotional Who’s Line, is what it is, and—
Paul: Describe it a little more because I think for somebody who hasn’t heard it yet, they can’t act out how it goes down—
Ed: Well a guest comes on, I’m on the stage, there is—
Paul: You’re the host—
Ed: I’m the host, and there’s a guest who comes on, and I talk to them about life issues, what’s going on in their real life. A woman comes on, and she says, I’m really upset, and so I say, ‘what’s happening?’, and she says, ‘well, I hate my mom, I just got off the phone with her, and I can’t stand her’, and I said, ‘well, do you think it’s ever going to change, what will you do with this situation?’. Yeah, it’ll change in a funeral home. Alright, the therapist is on stage with me, there is a panel of comedic actors. The therapist says, ‘You’re in luck today, this is your lucky day, because this is a funeral home, and I’m going to ask our panelists, one of our panelists to sit down in this grave right here, and be your mom, and now you get to do the eulogy’. Now these are funny people, tears are now pouring down this woman’s face, pouring down this woman’s face. Your friend and mine, Jimmy Pardo is on the panel. Jimmy looks over at the way that Moon Zappa is laying down in the grave, and he says, ‘why is Moon Zappa laying in the grave like she’s a guest star on CSI:Miami? Why is that happening?’. The audience is now roaring, they have seen somebody ball their eyes out, and now they’re laughing. Within the next ten minutes, this woman will play her mother, her self at different ages, the other panelists will help her with different parts of her life, and her mom, and her moms not there. So that’s what it is.
Paul: So the comedians that are a part of it, they play different roles of people in that panelists life?
Ed: Yeah, you might, but everyone is different, we never know exactly what's going to happen—
Paul: Is there the comedians role solely to bring levity to it?
Ed: Nope. The comedians role is to help the person.
Paul: It’s really kind of the ball is in their court, it’s their turn to decide when to be serious and when to try to be funny—
Ed: Well the therapist is guiding the whole thing. I work with a guy who’s been doing this for many years, he used to work with John Lennon. He’s amazing.
Paul: Oh, Pete Best.
Ed: And he was upset, for about 35 of those years. But for five years he said, ‘I’m going to start doing this therapy, and it will help me’, and his incessant drumming, there is nothing worse than space drumming, there is no drum there. But no, he’s very good at it, and it’s therapeutic. It’s not, the comedy comes out of it, but it’s not, it’s not comedic to be comedic, whereas you have, The Marriage Ref, these are comedic to be comedic, we’re not helping anybody, we’re not trying to help anybody, we’re not interested in anybody, we want to be funny. Well this is uniting comedy and emotion, and this—
Paul: To me that’s the best comedy, the stuff that comes from someplace really deep and painful.
Ed: There’s nothing but when you have both of them, I look at the audience and they come to life. All of a sudden people who were depressed and have no energy and are like, ‘how long is this show going to be?’, they don’t leave—
Paul: How often do you do this show?
Ed: Well I used to do it, I did it in San Francisco for a little bit, and in LA at a place called the Actors Art Theater, and then I did it at the Improv, and now we’re pitching it to TV, we’re pitching it to be a TV show. It’s a company that we’re starting, a sense for comedy and emotion, and it’s a company that produces and creates and develops self-help, unites self-help and comedy and all those in media. Little self-help tools, that you can use, that are really simple, like, when I’m feeling afraid, I can actually welcome it. I might actually try that, and if I’m feeling all this crap, I can ask myself a question, would I rather feel the way I’m feeling right now, or would I rather be free? And as soon as you ask yourself that question in your head, it goes away. Now it may come back, but it gives you, what it gives you is the perspective that oh my god, there’s something that I can do. I just had this thing, and it went away.
Paul: For me, sometimes that’s not enough to get the feeling to go away. I can recognize that I’m trapped in my mind, but still, like this morning I was just in a funk and doing all this stuff that I’m supposed to do, reading the books that help me and meditating, and I still couldn’t shake this feeling of doom, and obsessing about whether is this feeling that I have, is this something that I have control over, or is this a physical chemical depression, and this is just on a downward spiral.
Ed: Yep. I know it well. Well I mean—
Paul: So does that mean that I was experiencing something that is beyond my control?
Ed: Yeah, but if I had that stuff come up, and I sit down, and I don’t do this, and I say, okay, this is what's going on right now. What seals that stuff in is, it should not be going on right now. What’s going on right now, is not okay. That’s what keeps it going. What’s going on right now is not okay, instead of, I’m feeling doom now, could I welcome the doom? Yes, okay. Let me sit with the doom—
Paul: I have such a hard time doing that, and that’s not the first time I heard somebody suggest that, and I’ve done it before, but it is so, it’s so hard to go in the direction, it’s like turning into the fishtail. It’s counterintuitive.
Ed: Well, it’s only hard because we’ve been practicing something else our whole lives. It’s a practice, so now we’re practicing, it’s like saying I’ve been dribbling the basketball with my right hand for thirty years, and now I’m going to go with my left, oh I can’t do this. This is horrible, I can’t dribble with my left, certainly not as well as with my right. Well it’s hard to unlearn, to undo something, it can be confoundingly simple. It’s so simple, the brain can’t accept it. How could it be that simple? Well, it’s that simple—
Paul: Because our problems and our feelings feel so large and overwhelming that we almost refuse to believe that a temporary solution could be that simple and that easy—
Ed: Because I’m controlling it and that makes it bigger. And it’s walking around and with all these trapped feelings that have never been let out.
Paul: Do you feel like doing a fear-off?
Paul: Okay, I had mentioned earlier on the show, this wonderful named Christine who had sent me this really nice email that really picked me spirits up today, and I think only if you’re depressed and full of fear can you not be offended by the idea that I felt better seeing how scared somebody else is. Because on the surface it sounds kind of, mean and vindictive, but it’s—
Ed: This is what we all do to ourselves. And here’s the list.
Paul: So she, she writes, “this list is in no way comprehensive, I just decided this morning to write down my fears as they came up, so this covers about twelve hours of my day”. And then she goes to list like—
Ed: Oh, I didn’t realize you had a second page.
Paul: There’s three pages. There’s three pages single spaced.
Ed: That’s fantastic—
Paul: Yeah, she will defeat. She will probably defeat the next few guests, but her fears are so, I’ll just read them, because I just became such a fan of this woman, reading this. I’ll kick off her first fear. I’m afraid my bowels will never work normally again.
Ed: Not alone there. I’m afraid that the pants I’m wearing will offend other people who aren’t here.
Paul: Seriously? I don’t understand that one—
Ed: I don’t either.
Paul: You’re afraid that the pants that you’re wearing will offend people that aren’t here? How could they be offended by them if they’re not here?
Ed: Well, I think a family that isn’t here, and I think of other people that aren’t here, and I think they’d be, they wouldn’t be happy seeing me the way that I am—
Paul: Oh, because you’ve got a rip in your jeans?
Paul: At first I thought that you were being funny, but you’re being serious. She says, I’m afraid I’ll never find joy in daily life.
Ed: I won’t find joy in this moment, and it means that I’m never going to be happy.
Paul: I’m afraid I’ll screw up my kids because of my mental illness.
Ed: I’m afraid that what my daughter is learning most, is to be a depressed balding jew.
Paul: I’m afraid my kids will inherit my mental illness.
Ed: I’m afraid, I’m afraid that the weak will inherit the earth.
Paul: I’m afraid my kids will inherit IBS. IBS is irritable bowel syndrome, for those of you that don’t know, and a really, I had it in my twenties, and it is not fucking fun. Constant bloating and stomach aches and either constipated or you’ve got diarrhea. Awful—
Ed: I think that’s what I have, but I haven’t had a name for it until now. I’m afraid that I’m going to die and afraid that I’m going to live.
Paul: I’m afraid that our paycheck will never last more than a week, even though we only get paid every two weeks.
Ed: I am afraid that I will never be able to eat any food without having an allergic reaction and feel horrible.
Paul: I’m afraid every charity and organization we like will shut down because we, and people like us didn’t have enough money to donate to them.
Ed: That’s a good one. I was, okay this is not mine, but it’s so good, a friend of mine, her mother, when Kennedy was assassinated was on the toilet at the time, and was afraid that she would have to tell people when they asked her where she was when Kennedy got shot, she would have to say that she was on the toilet, that she in her mind at that time, got off the toilet, because she had that fear. How far ahead do you have to think? One day people are going to say, where were you when Kennedy got shot, and I’m going to say, I was on the toilet, okay, I better get off the toilet now—
Paul: So she wasn’t done on the toilet, she got off, so that she could say she was somewhere else—
Paul: Oh my god. That’s fantastic. Christine says, “I’m afraid I will never fulfill my husband sexually”.
Ed: I have the same fear about your husband. No I, okay, I could say it, not I’m not going to say it because I could get in trouble, but I have, I, no, I’m not going to say it.
Paul: Now you have to say it.
Ed: You know, I can’t say it. I’m afraid that I’ll, ooh, this is bad. You know, I always carry around this fear, I’m afraid that I’ll never be touched again.
Paul: That’s a great fear to let come up, because that’s not an easy thing to say—
Ed: Well it won't be easy when I’m taken in by my wife. Well it’s not going to be easy when it happens. It is, it’s very difficult to say, and I was that way when, I wasn’t, intimate with people, and then, and then I got into a relationship, it wasn’t real serious, like living with somebody relationship, of having sex, and I was paralyzed, because I wasn’t used to being touched.
Paul: When was this?
Ed: A long time ago, but it’s vivid memory, it’s a very vivid memory because I was in love with this person, and it just sort of happened like that, and then being a comedian, I was lucky enough that I saved myself with this, by doing some sort of a Woody Allen impression, I really did.
Paul: So did you wind up becoming comfortable being touched? And are you comfortable being touched to this day?
Ed: Yeah, yeah sure—
Paul: But you’re afraid that this feeling is going to—
Ed: Yeah, sure, and it goes along with intimacy, it goes along with intimacy.
Paul: There are very few marriages that exist that aren’t going through some type of little snag at some point, I think it’s just how big the snags are.
Ed: Well yeah, and if you have a foundation that you build, that you can listen to each other, and I’m learning how to do it—
Paul: And diplomatically express what you’re feeling instead of expressing it as blame on what the other person is doing, that has been the biggest gift for me, in keeping my marriage going and being a decent husband, and instead of say, ‘you did this, and that’s wrong’, I’ll say instead, ‘it makes me feel this way, and I don’t want to feel this way, I want to feel closer to you, and I don’t know what to do’, and the ball is just out in the air, and she isn’t cornered by me blaming her about how I felt, and it allows her a chance to come towards me, instead of me just blaming, I’ve pushed her back into a corner, she has no choice but to be defensive—
Ed: It’s a high instead of you—
Paul: Yeah, and if you really love somebody, you shouldn’t want to win an argument with them, that’s not, how is that love? It took me 15 years to realize that. Christine says, oh, I turned the page prematurely—
Ed: This is amazing, I just want to paint this, but I just want to say what’s happening here, there are three pages, and he, Paul just turned to the second page, and it is probably like a ten or twelve font, and the page is completely, it looks like the Torah, it is completely filled with words—
Paul: And this was just twelve hours of her day, she wrote this down as her fears come out, and I absolutely as fearful as she is, so I, I totally get this, and I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Not that she is going through this, but that I am finding other people that feel this way, and that aren’t afraid to share it with somebody. It just, this is the feeling I’ve been looking for my whole life. She says, “I’m afraid I will give in and have a three-way with my husband and regret it for the rest of my life”.
Ed: Here’s my fear, my fear, this big fear for me, is that my daughter is never going to really know me.
Paul: That’s a great one. Christine says, “I’m afraid I’ll shit myself in the middle of the crowd with no bathroom nearby”.
Ed: I’ve peed in a show. I was like in fifth grade, and they had a fashion show for some reason, and I walked out, and I saw the people there, and I just urinated all over the stage. I was just marking my territory. I was a very wolfish kid, no I, but I did.
Paul: I’m going to be that psychiatrist and give you the stone face while we’re going through the fear list. I’m going to try to lighten it up with your jokes. At least until I get the feeling, because I get the feeling that you’re being a little, not defensive, but you’re, I don’t know, I’m just getting a feeling that you’re—
Ed: I’m afraid of it.
Paul: Yes! That you’re afraid of the fear-off. So I’ll use that as your fear. And I’ll give her her next one. And I’m sorry if that seemed judgemental of me saying that.
Ed: Well it’s—
Paul: It just felt like it, getting in the way of us—
Ed: The real—
Paul: Getting this flowing. And know by the way that I’ve listed a gazillion of my fears, I’m not, I currently am out, because I’ve listed so many, it’s not that I don’t have fears. My list is about four times of what she has. She says, “I’m afraid my kids will be with me, when this happens”, when she shits herself in the middle of a crowd. And I’ll do another one that she has. I’m afraid I will screw up the relationship I have with my kids so bad that I won’t get to spend time with my grandchildren.
Ed: She has fear forwarding which is great, she has fear forwarding. You know, I’m going to go the other way, I’ll say, you know, with me it’s just basically a fear of not being known for who I am, and a fear of never living fully as myself in any moment.
Paul: That, that is a great one to, not only be aware of, but to express. And when I started expressing things like that in my life, my life began to change for the better, and I think everybody has that one, and that’s a good one. Christine says, “I’m afraid I will be a medical receptionist for the rest of my life, starting over every time we move to a new city”.
Ed: I’m afraid that I will never allow myself to do the kind of work that I want to do and am meant to do.
Paul: I’m going to do a couple of hers, because she has got so many. I’m afraid I’ll never finish college. I’m afraid I’ll finish college with student loans that I can never pay back. I’m afraid I’ll get a degree and I’ll never be able to find a job in that field.
Ed: You can go on with hers, because—
Paul: Okay, alright. I’m afraid I’ll get a degree, oh wait, I’m afraid I’ll get a degree, get the job I dreamed of, and hate it. I’m afraid I will always be fat. I’m afraid people will think I’m stupid because of my weight. I’m afraid my husband will find me when I’m hiding and eating. I’m afraid someone will hear when I make myself throw up. I just fucking love this woman. I just love this woman, her honesty is so awesome—
Ed: It’s incredible.
Paul: I’m going to save her fears for another fear-off—
Ed: When I was a kid, I remember being in, it was fall, and I remember being under a pile of leaves, and I remember like looking up at the sky, and I’ve had these moments, all throughout my life, and I’m sure people have too. And I heard the voices of kids traveling through the air, and I heard the noises in the neighborhood, and I didn’t want for anything. I was 100 percent happy, and I wasn’t thinking about the future, I wasn’t thinking about that it just sort of happened. I never forgot it. And I’ve had a string of those kind of moments when I don’t want for anything, and I’m there, and that is the state of the world, that is how things are. Everything else is a resistance of that. Is a something on top of that, but that is how things are all the time. The lights are always on but—
Paul: Why is it so easy to forget that and why is it so hard to get to that place—
Ed: You want it to last, and if it doesn’t, then there is something wrong and then we’re going to control, and then everything has meaning—
Paul: So is the place to get back there then, what you were saying, which is to embrace that feeling and that’s the road back to it and not fighting it.
Ed: Yeah, and allow there to be space around it, and—
Paul: What do you mean by that?
Ed: I mean, revel in it. Be there. Enjoy it.
Paul: Don’t think like, I shouldn’t be wasting my time in this pile of leaves, I got that thing—
Ed: Why am I wasting my time, why am I here enjoying this walk, I’ve got rent to pay? Well you’re not paying it right now are you? You’re on your walk. You might as well enjoy your walk. When you get back you can worry about paying the rent. Because it’s going to be there. Whatever is, is. But it’s not happening now. When I’m here talking to you, I’m sitting on a very comfortable couch talking with a great guy, having a great time, I’m not dying. I’m not, nothing that I’m projecting in my head is happening, it’s not happening now. So why live it? It’s not happening now. And when I get in the car, I’ll be in the car. And what will happen then, will happen then.
Paul: I want to go shut my dog up. Can you hear my dog barking in the background?
Ed: I can, but what I heard—
Paul: Oh, I’m sorry, I’m going to embrace my dog barking in the background—
Ed: You embrace your dog and what I’ll do is I’m going to take a look at the other fears this woman has, and I’m going to actually, and I’m going to see if I can actually find her number. Because she is somebody that you want to talk to. I do. Anybody that can be that open—
Paul: Yeah, I just, I just love that email and anybody out there that’s listening, if you’re full of fears, start writing them down and email them to me, and maybe we’ll use them on the fear-off. I’ve had a bunch of listeners send me fears and hopefully I’ll get to them at some point. I can’t promise I will, but, I just love when the listeners connect to the show like that.
Ed: Well I look at the website and I think, people are really connecting and they’re getting to talk about stuff that they don’t have a place for, and if you’re doing that, you’re doing something great. I admire what you’re doing. It’s great.
Paul: Well thanks Ed, I appreciate that. Anything you want to share with us before we wrap it up?
Ed: I’m a size six cocktail dress, I’ve got to get back to my butterfield eight. I have an hourglass figure and time is running out. I’m a Lazy Susan of love. I’m the James Brown of depression. I’m the Ken Burns of depression. I don’t know. I guess that’s it. I’m a trophy wife. No—
Paul: You’re the Ken Burns of depression in that when you talk about somebody abusing you as a child, you like to have Louis Armstrong playing in the background.
Ed: I do. It all goes back to Louis Armstrong and the Negro Leagues. Baseball in someway. Somebody was done wrong, I know that somebody was done wrong, and Louis Armstrong is usually playing in the background, and also Ken Burns is in my house. He is in my room, and he’s actually editing while I’m living. But he still has that bowl haircut, doesn’t he? He’s a genius—
Paul: He really is. Ed Crasnick, I want to thank you for coming by—
Ed: A pleasure.
Paul: Many thanks to Ed Crasnick for being so open and honest and so funny. He has a new show called The Self-Help Comedy Hour, and it is, streams live every Sunday. It’s archived at wreckingballradio.com. So be sure to check that out. Before I take it out with a couple of surveys and an email, I want to remind you guys that there are a couple of different ways that you can support the show. You can support it financially by going to the website mentalpod.com and either making a one-time PayPal donation, or my favorite, a recurring monthly donation. Which brings me a little closer to my dream of having this be my full-time gig. You can also support it by using our Amazon search portal. It’s on the righthand side of the homepage, about halfway down, and if you enter through there, anything you buy on Amazon, Amazon gives us a couple nickels and it doesn’t cost you anything. You can also support the show non-financially by going to iTunes and giving us a good rating. It boosts our ranking, it brings more people to the show, we like that, and also by spreading the word through social media. So, I would appreciate anybody doing that. And also if you would care to be a transcriber, we’ve had a lot of people sign up lately, and are busy at work transcribing past episodes. So I want to give a shout out to those people and say thank you so much.
I want to read an email from a listener named Deckard who writes, “I’m a straight male in his late 20s and I have a very close friend who is just four years younger than me. She and I have been close friends for about four years, and I think the world of her. We’re always hanging out, and we will talk for hours every day. I realized a couple of months ago, that I had strong romantic feelings for my friend. I found myself thinking about her more and more, and eventually I decided to tell her how I felt. I had never been more nervous in my entire life. I was literally shaking as I told, which I’m sure was very attractive. Well, I told her how I felt, and she turned me down, in the kindest and most mature way possible. She told me that she loved me as a friend, and she stressed that she wanted to remain friends if at all possible. My initial gut reaction was to feel angry and embarrassed. I wanted to hate her for denying me and I wanted to go make hurt like me because I deserved her after being alone for so long. This thought lasted about two seconds before I realized that none of that was true. I didn’t hate her. I loved her too much for that”. I just thought that was so beautiful and mature for somebody in their 20s to be able to, come to that, intellectually and emotionally. And I just thought that was beautiful, so I wanted to share that with you guys.
This survey I want to read is from the shame and secrets survey, and it was filled out by a woman who calls herself Katie Quicksada. She is straight, she is in her 20s. Was raised in an environment that was a little dysfunctional. Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Some stuff happened but I don’t know if it counts as sexual abuse. I dated and regretfully had sex with an 18 year old when I was only 14. Deepest darkest thoughts? Something attracted me about quote being taken care of by a rich older man. That and having really rough sex. Slapping a guy across the face, scratching, biting, being tied down and letting him give me orders. Deepest, darkest secrets? My freshman year of high school when I was 14, I dated an 18 year old high school dropout loser. I would lie to my parents about where I was going, and ride my bike to his house. We engaged in oral sex, dry humping, and after four months I lost my virginity. It was on his dad’s bed, and it only lasted for a few minutes, but it was a defining moment for me. It was a defining moment for the negative self-image I would carry throughout adolescence and early adulthood. I was no longer that bright, cheery, innocent, world-at-her-feet, Katie. I was now a different kind of girl. I was damaged. At 25 I wanted to tell 14 year old me, to value your mind and education. Ask question. Surround yourself with people who make you feel smart and encourage you to be better. And lastly your boundaries and opinions matter because they’re yours.
I would love to have that put in a textbook that all kids in middle school would read. I don’t know if they would listen to it or not, because sometimes I think you have to experience those things, to get that kind of perspective. I get so many people to fill the survey out, that dated somebody inappropriately older, when they were 13, 14 years old, and it really has, it really kind of fucks them up.
This also from the shame and secrets survey filled out by a guy who calls himself Ugh, U-G-H. He is bisexual. Well he says, bisexual I don’t know. He’s in his 20s. Was raised in an environment that was pretty dysfunctional. Have you ever been sexually abused? Deepest, darkest thoughts? I have several fantasies where I am a woman, woman parts and all. Being dominated by a strong assertive man. Although I am a progressive person, the thought is still deeply troubling. Deepest, darkest secrets? Growing up I was physically and emotionally abused by my family member. You know, it just occurred to me that, have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse, that should really have been, have you ever been the victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Because they all really kind of have, equally negative impacts. Sexual fantasies most powerful to you? I have a crazy range of sexual fantasies with varying power dynamics, sexual orientations and genders. Meaning where I am myself, a man, and others where I am a woman. It feels so weird to physically write this out. What the fuck, me? I get that a, when people are filling out the surveys, that there is something that happens when you see your words written out, that gives you a perspective, that is, really valuable, I think. But I think he’s being way too hard on himself. Would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend? He writes, “no. It just feels too bizarre, taboo. Maybe a special partner one day”. Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings towards yourself? He writes, “I’m not sure. Part of me weirdly takes pride in my complex sexual identity as if I’m now more interesting or equally complex. Anyways, I know this isn’t the case”. Any comments or suggestions to make the podcast better? In capital letters, MAKE IT AN HOUR LONG. I love your podcast but 90 plus minutes is a killer. I apologize about that. There are people that enjoy the length that it is, and if I could get everything that I wanted to say, and have my guests say in an hour, but I can’t. And I just want to say, that line where you say, part of me weirdly takes pride in my complex sexual identity, try to make that the, the whole you, because I think we are all, like Greg Behrendt says, we’re all beautiful in some fucked-up, weird way. And I’m not calling you weird, but your feelings about yourself, you feel like you’re weird. And I think what is unique about all of us, we feel that that makes us weird, but it doesn’t. And I know I’m preaching to the choir obviously here, but I wanted to send a hug your way.
The last thing I want to read is from the happy moments survey. And this is filled out by a guy named Cam, who is gay, and he’s in his 20s. Was raised in a stable and safe environment, and, describe, share one or two of your happiest moments. They don’t have to be huge. He writes, “there’s a lot of backstory here, but for the sake of brevity, I came out as gay to my parents at 19. They took it terribly, rather conservative, religious folk. I actively kept my distance for around a year, things we’re slowly patched up. On my 20th birthday, I was incredibly down. Alone at my apartment, dealing with issues both at college and at work, with no one around that I knew or could talk to in any deep aspect, my mind was in a very scared place, in terms of my future. I heard a knock on my door, and to my surprise, it was my mother with a cake, and a pint of ice cream, and a bundle of balloons. I broke down and cried. We spent the next few hours talking over everything, from my sexuality to my anxieties about my future career, to how the family was. Just the fact that she drove all the way out to my apartment to make sure I had a good 20th, was so helpful to me. I will never forget it. It sounds childish, but I don’t care”. I don’t think it sounds childish at all, I think it sounds fucking beautiful and I can never hear enough stuff like that.
So, anybody out there that’s feeling weird, broken, misfit, whatever word you want to use. Wishing that you were different, what would happen if just for the next 24 hours you embraced, you embraced your uniqueness and stopped caring what other people thought of you. Maybe, maybe I should try doing that. If you’re out there and you’re alone, and you’re struggling, you’re really not alone. Because we are everywhere. You may not be able to see it on someone’s face, but if we could turn our insides, inside out, you would be shocked to see how many people feel just the way that you do. Thanks for listening.