Episode 65: Mike Carano
The photographer, podcaster and video artist opens up about his debilitating bouts with anger, mistrust of therapy, difficulty in asking for help and chaotic childhood, including spending a year in a cult, and living with a mother so spiteful towards her ex, she sacrificed the safety of her children. Listeners may also know Mike from his relationship with Dr. Drew Pinsky, who discovered Mike from his Five Minutes With Mike videos. Mike also co-hosts the Loveline After Disaster.
Paul: Welcome to episode 65 with my guest, who the fuck is my guest…Mike Carano is my guest. It’s always good to hit the record button before you know what the hell you’re going to say. Uh, my name is Paul Gilmartin this is The Mental Illness Happy Hour. An hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive negative thinking. Feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, inadequacy and that vague sinking feeling that the world is passing us by. You give us an hour and we’ll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. It’s not a doctor’s office. It’s more like the waiting room that hopefully does not suck. To those of you that are English, hopefully it doesn’t sucketh. Uh, I’m already I’m already [laughs] completely judging myself for that lame joke uh so I know I’m doing the right show. Um the website for this uh podcast is mentalpod.com. There’s all kinds of stuff there. There’s a forum you can post on. There are a couple of different surveys you can take. There’s the basic survey, there’s the shame and secrets survey. There’s the babysitter and boys survey, which I find particularly uh fascinating. Um you can support the show on the website um and you can sign up for the newsletter. Please continue doing that, we got about 700 people now signed up on the newsletter and I’ll send you a shame of the day, a guest blog, a blog by me or anything interesting that I think you guys might want to see. So please uh please go do that. This episode with Mike Carano I taped about I guess about a month and half ago so um…the reason I mention that is sometimes I will have talked about something during the recording um that I’ve since talked about on the show and it feels like I’m repeating myself. So I just want that to be in context to quiet that part of my brain that has you guys sitting there listening and furrowing your brow and going ‘but he said that already, that’s redundant, he’s full of himself’. All right. I need this show so much more than you guys do.
Lets kick things of with a couple of surveys. The first one I’d like to read is from a guy named Hanas, I think that’s how you pronounce it he’s Swedish, he’s in his 20’s. The environment he was raised in he writes “emotional fireworks from my mother and a there and at the same time not there father”. Oh I think I know that guy. The lump at the end of the couch with the checkbook, yeah I know that dad. Uh he averages uh average amount of exercise/healthiness of his diet uh he writes “good, overweight but healthy”. Been through therapy “no, no intention of trying meds”. He shares his feelings on a regular basis but doesn’t know if it helps. He writes, “I’m not sure how much I should share being Swedish and all, we Sweds aren’t the sharing kind”. What best describes your spiritual life he writes “Nonexistent. Sweden is pretty much an atheist country. A lot of new age, but that seems fake to me considering all the evidence”. What best describes uh how you feel about how much money you make he writes, “I’m ok with how much money I make. I’m a subway driver. Lower middle class and I get by”. Most common negative thoughts he writes, “As soon as I see myself naked a wave of repulsion hits me which quickly try to accept and swallow”. Any behaviors you wish you didn’t engage in he writes “I always assume people aren’t interested in my romantically. Occasionally overdrinking due to anxiety, just sitting breathing in beer after beer, occasionally overeating. His primary emotions are “blah, empty, vaguely unsatisfied and peaceful”. That’s kinda how I picture the Swedish people kind of uh kind of like uh I guess a Bergman movie. He was Swedish right? Bergman yeah. Uh his primary thoughts are “I’m not enough and am I in the right relationship”. And his primary activities are procrastinating and accepting others as they are. Does anything cause you to feel ashamed he writes “My body and mostly due to parents who could not cope with having a child with childhood obesity and handled it by mostly blaming me. Telling me to exercise and so on from an early age instead of changing their eating habits. If there is a God what would you like to say to God he writes “Why the fuck did you give us bodies”. And do you have any comments or suggestions to make the podcast better he writes “I would really like to hear an interview about obesity. Even if you have had some guests with some food issues you usually gloss over it. Now I don’t know if its you seeing obesity as a symptom more than a problem or if its like I think I huge reservoir of pain and shame and hard to talk about honestly. A short description is imagine feeling you're fat fucking body all time. Shorts don't fit, shit jiggles and chaffs and sweats etcetera”. Well my heart goes out to you Hanas thank you for that honest um and articulate email about that so I do hope to dive into that issue um a little more deeply than we have so far. There are many issues that you guys write to me about that you want us to cover on the show and I'm aware of that its just I'm I'm I'm just one man I’m just one man and its hard uh sometimes the guests that I get are just driven sometimes more by availability. Hopefully as the show becomes more popular uh it will be easier to get guests on a variety of topics and I’ll be able to cover all these things you guys want to hear about.
And I am going to read one more survey. This is from the shame and secrets survey this was filled out by uh a woman named Caroline, she straight, she's 19 um have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse she writes “some stuff happened but I don't know if it counts as sexual abuse”. She writes “I'm not sure if this is abuse exactly, but my virginity was taken when I was so drunk I have barely any memory of my day or night I just remember crying and saying I didn't want to, but I don't think I can considered that abuse”. [pauses] Wow. I just that just leaves me speechless. The degree to which we will minimize the things that have happened to us because we're so afraid of erring on the side of making too big of a deal and uh boy that sure sounds like abuse to me, that sure sounds like abuse to me. Deepest darkest thoughts she writes, “I want to kill myself. I used to feel this was because I was severely depressed and felt like this on and off from the age of about 11 til just a few months ago, but now I just see no future for myself. I'm not exactly sad I just don't want to be alive”. Boy do I know how that feels. Um sexual fantasies she writes, “I want to be abused”— and by the way these fantasies are not things that we want to actually happen but just things we think about she writes “I want to be abused, raped, in a gang bang, used, ashamed. I don’t know why I feel this way. Most of my sexual relationships, I’ve had 11 only 11 so far. Only once have I had any emotional attachment involved. This is the current relationship I’m in now”. Um would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend your fantasy she writes, “I’ve told the guy I’m currently with about my preference for rough sex and bondage and being hurt during sex. He likes the same things as I do, but I could never tell him about my other fantasies because I think he would find me disgusting”. Deepest darkest secrets things you have done or things that have happened to you she writes “When I was 10 to 13 I would have online camera sex with much older men usually between 20 and 30, that I found through various websites. I used to masturbate at this same age to rape porn. When I was 17 as previously mentioned I lost my virginity in the least ideal way and everyone thinks it was consensual. I was labeled a slut and people I didn’t even know in all the high schools in my town, there were four, spread rumors about me. I’m not sure if they were all lies or had some truth because I had a severe binge-drinking problem. Other guys then took advantage of me. The week after I lost my virginity my best guy friend had sex with me when I was drunk. I found out a week later from some people I barely knew. Another best guy friend of mine also had sex with me while I was drunk and the only memory I have of it is crying asking if we could stop. Others guys friends also took advantage of me but it wasn’t as extreme of sex, but I still have little memory of it. One guy trapped me in a room once and made me give him a blowjob and my guy friends all laughed at me for being a slut. There are more things like this but it’s painful to write them all down”. Um do these…I cant imagine how painful that is and my heart so goes out to you. Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feeling towards yourself she writes “I hate myself for letting myself get into these situations and for trusting my friends to protect me. I feel sick when I realize this all happened to me. I usually disassociate myself from these memories. Sometimes they will come into my head and I’ll think ‘wow that is really sad and it will take me a long time to remember that it actually happened to me not someone else, I just feel sick”. And then I wanted to save this part of her survey for the end because it think its very telling. What best describes the environment you where raised in she writes, “my dad was very depressed for most of my childhood and emotionally abusive. Uh he would only smack us if he was very frustrated but I would never consider it physical abuse. My sister was also depressed for most of her teen life. I got the feeling that she was sexually assaulted in high school. I remember her having to talk to the police and go to counseling. She also self harmed which affected me. My parents never liked us openly crying. If we wanted to cry we had to go to our rooms. As I’ve said many times on this show I am far from being an expert but I think anybody listening to those emails that I read can’t help notice the correlation between growing up in a household where emotions aren’t dealt with, where they’re swept under the carpet especially really painful shit and those children then choosing coping mechanisms that are self destructive it uh I don’t know. Those two kinda left me speechless. I want to read uh I want to read this uh little section from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön, I though this…this is about fear and the reason why I think this kind of applies is underneath all this shit that we feel I think is just a huge sea of fucking fear that eats at us everyday and talks to us and tells us how we should feel about ourselves and what actions we should take and its usually that voice of fear is terrible terrible advice. Its impatient, it’s usually not moderate. It’s usually one extreme or the other and uh Pema Chödrön writes about this little fable:
“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went towards fear, prostrated three times, and asked, "May I have permission to go into battle with you?" Fear said, "Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission." Then the young warrior said, "How can I defeat you?" Fear replied, "My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power." In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ”
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna go watch the Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Paul: I’m here with Mike Carano who I heard about through a uh some of your listeners were tweeting me and saying “you’ve got to have Mike Carano on, you’ve got to have Mike Carano on” and um—
Paul: —so I checked uh a little about stuff on the web. I don’t know a whole lot about you but um—
Paul: I sometimes I just get the feeling ok lets go, lets lets talk to this person.
Mike: I dig it man, thank you for doing it.
Paul: Yeah! Absolutely!
Mike: I appreciate it.
Paul: I’ve heard you’re really open and honest and those are the two most important qualities to me in a good guest.
Mike: How would they know that? Total strangers have told you that I’m open and honest.
Paul: Well I would imagine because you’re open and honest about stuff in your…they my not know that there’s stuff that you hide but uh—
Mike: Well you have to hide something.
Mike: Because nobody wants to really hear how honest you are.
Paul: You’ve gotta keep something to masturbate to.
Mike: I was just going to use masturbation as a reference and I didn’t know if that was off limits—
Paul: Oh no no we—
Mike: Because you can’t just tell some girl that you’ve been hanging out with that “I really think about jerking off to you all the time”.
Paul: Yeah. No that’s—
Mike: “I’m flattered”
Paul: Any and all things are welcomed on this show. Mike’s uh main…he does a lot of different things, he has a show on the web called 5 Minutes with Mike that uh is very popular and he’s a photographer, you’ve been a guest on Loveline.
Paul: You do a show that is on after Loveline and it’s about Loveline?
Mike: No well it started initially, its called The After Disaster, it was going to be us commenting on Loveline and we never got around to it cause we’re excessively lazy and we just we honestly open the show with “what do you want to talk about” and it just somehow gets rolling. And I was telling you earlier I leave there with a sick feeling in my stomach and complete regret. I wish—
Paul: Every time?
Mike: Almost every time. And when I don’t if I listen back to the show I’m like ‘that wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it was’. Its this weird double like uh I cant explain it.
Paul: You mean that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was?
Mike: No if I leave there going ‘that was a pretty funny show’—
Paul: Oh I see.
Mike: —or ‘that was good at least we didn’t talk over each other the entire time’ and if the next morning I will put it for five or ten minutes I’m like ‘this is really boring, I don’t know why I thought it was great’.
Paul: What’s that about? Why do you think and I relate to that.
Mike: I know well a lot of guys that are comics and in bands I’ve heard friends in bands, big bands and they get off stage and they’re like ‘that was the worst show ever’. I’m like that was magic. That was 50 times better than the show last night and it’s the same thing with comics. How many comics…being a comic for starters is a very weird thing to begin with because you’ve got giant ego combined with ‘I’m a piece of shit’. So you know what I mean? Its ‘everyone look at me, look what a piece of crap I am’. Its you know…and I know you’ve experienced this and I’ve experienced this for being around comics for 24 years all the time. Its you know your on stage and everyone is looking at you and your killing. Then you get off stage and talk about how shitty you did and how horrible it was and what a hack…it’s the same thing. You don’t your perception is not right. Which sort of ties into this whole show.
Paul: Yeah never underestimate the power of your inner critic. Uh I was talking to a friend of mine just this morning and he actually did something that a therapist was recommending to him, where he have a dialogue with his inner critic and question the critic. And one of the things that he said that the critic was saying um uh ‘you don’t have enough work lined up’ um and he said back to the critic ‘but I’ve got this thing coming up’. And the critic was like ‘yeah but this is wrong with it and that’s wrong with it’ and so he said to his critic ‘you’re just really trying to hurt me’ and the critic said ‘No I’m here to protect you’. And that in a nutshell is at the core of the battles in our heads.
Paul: Its what is the truth and what is the negative voice that we were either born with or was in planted by our upbringing.
Mike: Its gotta be from your upbringing because I know people that don’t have it. And they still have a very communicative, is that a word, relationship with their parents, but the critic thing I started giggling because I immediately thought if how I would handle that and I’m sure maybe you and everyone else is i…eventually the critic would be like ‘listen fuck face I’m you and I know your fucked up and there’s no way out of this asshole, no rent’ and you’d be like ‘ah! my dialogue with my critic just went off in a horrible…he knows me its really me…I’m the critic from inside the house’.
Mike: Yeah no I’ve discussed this with Dr. Drew on many occasions you know especially when I first met him, got to know him, I’d be like had a million questions you know. And uh it really is your parents. Not everything. You know some people can be born…you can slip in the shower, hit your head then all of a sudden now I’m going to murder people, but I can trace it back…I’m in my mid forties now and I can actually settle down and relax and have a relationship with like my mom that I could have never have before and including my sister and my two brothers and we all went through the same bullshit. You know and we all talk about it now. Its weird and I don’t…I think part of it is one of my brothers got married and had a couple of kids and it was the greatest bonding experience we’ve ever had. Like the kids brought everyone together. And I don’t dislike my family, but I would have never given a shit if we had dinner together you know. Essentially I’ve been driving to San Diego every Sunday for family dinner because of the kids for eight years, only missed three and they were when I was on shoots.
Paul: So you enjoy doing it?
Mike: It’s the greatest experience it’s the greatest…a different level…its love that I’ve never experienced. Like if you look at these two little kids and they love you and all you want to do is care about them and protect them and it brought our whole family together like—
Mike: They’ll take the kids to Vegas to go…cause they like you know…its weird taking your kids to Vegas.
Mike: What was Bubble’s joke?
Paul: That’s nice to—
Mike: ‘Kids love whores’.
Paul: Yeah. That’s nice to show them to where their college money is going.
Mike: [Laughs] College—
Paul: You see that town—
Mike: We aint much for book learning in our family. Um but no…I forgot I just got…I apologize I just got off track. Point is it was this weird…I’ve forgotten what I was talking about.
Paul: What was not good about the family growing up.
Mike: Humh well looking back on it now that I’ve had this new rekindled relationship with my brothers and my sister over the past 10 years and my brother’s wife is included in that. We would all talk about the issues that are fam…you know it appears I get along with everyone in my family now. My dad was an amazing dad, did the best he could. You know there were a lot of issues that didn’t get resolved and I’m not saying this for empathy I’m not like all ‘look at me, wah wah wah, I’m a guy that makes more money than I should taking pictures of comedians’. You know ‘my life sucks’ but it really is perspective. I’m sorry I’m all over the map here I’m trying to focus in on one thought, but for us at least growing up my parents got divorced when I was seven and my dad tried to, didn’t try but you know was just going to throw money at every problem. We weren’t wealthy or anything but you know it was hog wild at Christmas time like a hundred gifts from my dad, nothing from my mom cause she had no money and they were divorced. It was a really really ugly divorce and then she continued for the next 37 years I guess its been to uh sulk and blame him for all of her problems. She’s never had a job yet she’s got this weird arrogance about her that she doesn’t have to have a job because she got fucked over in 1973 or whenever it was you know—
Paul: So she’s addicted to playing the victim.
Mike: Yes and then we’re sort…we all agreed as a family that she’s crazy and she’s not right mentally so we would let it go because of that and then my sister pointed out at sometime ‘I think she’s just mean’. And you kinda go like ‘oh my god your right I think she’s just mean’. And its weird I don’t mean that she’s a horrible…there’s just been…I don’t wanna sit here and dwell on horrible negative stuff because in reality I’ve had some crazy low points in my life that are so low that its what brought me to going ‘oh my god I need to something needs to change or I’m going to kill myself’ frankly. This only happened a couple of times but it was so low…I totally relate to your grey blanket thing because there was no reason to call anyone, I didn’t want help. It was like this there was no point to this. You know in the long…people don’t remember who fucking…no one gives a fuck about William Shakespeare who the hell is gonna care about me in a couple…you know what I mean. It was the bigger picture. I’m lower than an ant. This doesn’t make a fucking difference and why am I fighting through all these feelings and all this bullshit just to exist here for no purpose whatsoever when I’m doing…when I’m accomplishing nothing. What was I talking about before? There was a point. I totally apologize Paul.
Paul: No it’s all right.
Mike: Clearly I’m very discombobulated. There’s like a million things flying into my head and I’m trying…I don’t want this to turn into a ‘boo hoo’
Paul: Oh about your mom, about your mom just uh you realized she was just mean.
Mike: Yeah and I don’t know if that’s 100% true or not. I believe so but there’s just…she’s made choices that have affected us. I’m just gonna say some stuff and I don’t think…I gonna regret this, but you can leave it in. There’s been a couple of big ones that we laugh about now that we brought up to her. She made us move into a cult when we were kids. Just one day went ‘get in the car, we are going’ and we moved to a goddamn fucking church in Lake Elsinore, California. Moved into this military academy and it was an all encompassing like where like ‘oh we have tennis courts, we have a cafeteria, you never have to leave’. And it was like this Christian bullshit thing, but it was fucking ridiculous and I thought about ‘I’m gonna kill myself once I got up here’. And I wasn’t really thinking about it then, but I remember calling my dad going ‘I’m going to kill myself’ and was miserable and my dad drove up there and bought me a motorcycle, you know to compensate. Which was which worked cause I was like ‘this fucking sweet freedom, I can leave and drive around’. But looking back on it in retrospect and horrible shit happened there. There were five people living in one bedroom for two years and I never saw my mom fucking once that entire time.
Mike: No I saw her like in crossing, but we went out in the morning and did shit and then we didn’t go to school for like a year and a half maybe a year. No one gave a shit. And then they put a school on the property. We went to a public school for like the last three months of a semester and then didn’t go for like nine months or ten months and no one seemed to give a shit and no one seemed to notice. And frankly there were wonderful times there because there was a military academy and there was all these thousands and thousands of uniforms and parachutes and we would pile them up and jump off roof into them. There was a great deal of exploration, but if I was older or if I was smarter there I would have definitely gotten into drugs and I would have definitely tried to have sex. We did none of that. We were duds man. Other people were doing it.
Paul: What age were you when you were there?
Mike: I think I was 12. But I remember when we left cause things got really hairy and my dad drove up at like one in the morning and ‘take what you can fit in back of the truck, hop in’.
Paul: How did they get hairy?
Mike: I don’t remember. There was some kind of…huge fighting within the church and finances and all this bullshit. And then there was some sexual stuff and all and it was just creepy. It was so goddamn creepy. That is the greatest force for me just despising religion. And you know common sense tells me ‘just chill out, people get what they get out of it’ you know what I mean? ‘Just don’t fucking worry about other peoples’ things, but I’ve flown off the handle a bunch of times when people want to talk to me about ‘Well this is really the truth’ and I’m like ‘nah its really not’, ‘well yes it is’ and ‘now I’m like you now what now I’m going to hit you with a two by four’. Which I’m really not cause I’m a pussy and I can’t fight. I wanna hit people all the time. But you know its I think that formed us in a way and maybe a little bit for good you know good or bad, I don’t know it just is what it is. You get over it eventually you know and then other little things. I was—
Paul: By the way nothing ever good seems to happen on a compound.
Mike: No never.
Paul: Its always a bad intention semen being released on a compound.
Mike: Yes. [laughs] Nothing no matter what the compound is.
Paul: Just for once I would like to hear a good compound story
Mike: [sarcastic] It was wonderful, I met some of my lifelong friends, my wife, everything’s awesome. Learned how to cook.
Paul: Instead its usually common sadness.
Mike: Uh huh. Some might argue that like Harvard campus is a compound or something. ‘Well technically when I was at Yale that was a compound’. ‘Ah its not really the same’. Sorry I’m having a conversation with myself all of a sudden. One more thing though really quick—
Mike: —just to set this thing up a little bit more. I don’t want to sit here and bad mouth my mom because I get along with her, but in a weird sad way that we’re all aware of as a family. She’s paying the price now because I go to San Diego every weekend and I stop at her house which is literally one block away. One out of three times and its five minutes.
Paul: Oh so she doesn't attend this thing with the brothers and sisters, ok.
Mike: On occasion on occasion with the family get together, it’s a birthday or something she will and it's fine, but it's just grumpiness and she's complaining even though she's never had to do any work in her life and she's always too busy to do anything cause she’s got work and its just one of those things but I…a big one that come up that we were all laughing about which isn't funny I understand this. Now I don't know if she's a liar or or what it is and she's pulled a bunch of crazy bullshit with us over the years. I’m just trying to build on your question of where do I think some of this came from. Like we’d go with my dad at Christmas time and she eventually started claiming she was going to kill herself when were gone. Like ‘I wont be here when you get back, I’m killing myself’. Until my little sister called the police once and then she never did it again. So we had that to contend with. Which didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but now looking back on it I’m like ‘that kinda was a big deal to tell four little kids your going to kill yourself when they come back from Christmas’. And then she would tell us about her dad and her dad was a child molester and did stuff to her and beat up her brothers and all this horrible stuff. And then one day made us move in with him. Didn’t occur to me—
Paul: She told you that stuff before she had you move in with him.
Mike: Yeah. Didn’t occur me to as weird. No no she didn’t tell us before we moved in, we were little kids. She would tell us afterwards about what a horrible man he was and he would rape and he would do this and that. And finally like maybe three years ago Christmas I said “Hey if your dad was such a horrible guy why did you make your four little kids move in with him?’. And she goes ‘I had no other choice’ and of course she did have choice cause my dad rented us a great house in San Diego and she just packed us up and moved us to San Jose. That lasted six months by the way.
Paul: So she would rather enjoy the spite of not letting you be with your dad—
Paul: —then to have you lived someplace safe.
Paul: How can that not fuck you up Mike? That is that is the height of selfishness and narcissism.
Mike: Yeah I wasn't saying it didn’t fuck me up, but I'm trying not to be mean to her.
Mike: Cause I don't want like I wouldn’t want her—
Paul: She sounds at the very least mentally uh mentally ill.
Mike: Absolutely, Absolutely.
Paul: But she sounds…and here's a here's to me an important delineation. I can have compassion for people who are obsessive or compulsive or who are mentally ill and trying to get better. I don't have compassion for people who know there is something wrong with them, who had their bad behavior pointed out to them and do nothing about it.
Mike: That's a tough one though because I can recognize flaws in myself that are glaring and I know the steps to take to fix that and I don't do it.
Paul: Then this interview is over.
Mike: [Laughing] I would love it if you actually left, I’d be like ‘what the fuck is happening’.
Paul: That being said I know it is difficult because most people that are fucked up in that way it's…vulnerability is the most frightening thing in the world and to go for help with requires being vulnerable.
Paul: It requires exposing party yourself that you're ashamed of, your afraid is going to be judged. Um so that's really I think the first initial wall you have to climb over—
Mike: That getting over being judge thing is probably number three on my… If I can fix my head that is such a huge one because I look back in retrospect at all my failings and I’m proud of my failings cause at least I tried and I look back at all the things I wanted to do and I didn’t do cause I was a pussy and didn’t want to be judged and it’s a lot. And it’s a lot of stuff and I had a lot of opportunities that were goddamn unbelievable if you saw them on paper like unbelievable. TV opportunities, music opportunities everything. I still get em. At least now when I go on there I have to fucking force myself to be professional and not be a pyscho. But I look back on the shit I didn't do because I was afraid of being judged and I wish I could convey that to people that you just need to that life is short…I wish somehow I could make this stuff sink into my head and other peoples heads that you need to do what you gonna do cause your gonna look back on it and go ‘oh 10 years ago I had this idea and I didn't do it’.
Paul: So so what what you're saying is is if you have that impulse to take a risk professionally or creatively expressing yourself,
Paul: Or somebody gives you an opportunity put put the fear aside that you're not gonna be amazing at it and just try it. Is that what you're saying?
Mike: Absolutely and what what really struck out of me I cant remember which one of your podcast it was. I think it may have been Blaine’s, were he was talking about that. I think it was Blaine I'm not sure but it totally rang a bell and I was that's exactly cause we are almost the same age and and I went ‘that's exactly right, I've done the same fucking you know’…I don't know what I am. I’m a photographer because I had to become a photographer, but I've written I've recorded a bunch of albums, everyone in my family is a professional musician. I’ve made a million not a million, but I’ve done 39 five-minute videos. And I’m not a comic, but I just like talking sometimes that I have an idea and sometimes they resonate with people you know I’m not saying there…
Paul: Well that’s how you met Dr. Drew. He was a fan of your 5 Minutes with Mikes.
Mike: I meet somebody, I’m not a celebrity by any stretch of the imagination, but I get I meet somebody almost everyday that says “Hi”. Like especially you know places that I regularly go like I lived in Anaheim, Organge County not Anaheim for the last seven years. I just moved back up here three months ago and I went to Disney Land almost everyday for exercise and I’d walk two or three laps around the park and I’d run into people every single time, but I'm also twittering constantly that I’m there. These horrible mean twitters about people and trying to release my anger through twitter and Facebook. I totally apologize that my brain is not I cant stay focused on a topic.
Paul: Its ok, its ok Mike. The mean tweets are at people you know um and who know you or at just people in the park?
Mike: Oh just general anger. That’s number one by the way on my list of things I’d like to fix about myself. Cause my anger at a level where its off the charts on not healthy like I’ve done stuff that’s crazy and I continue to do it and I keep thinking I’m better and I…
Paul: Give me some examples.
Mike: Um ok I sold my house in Orange County, moved into an apartment on 3rd and Robertson. My entire history with apartments has never been smooth because any little noise sets me off and it sets me off to the point even if it’s a reasonable noise its not unacceptable. To the point where my heart is racing, I can’t breathe and at one point in my life I was laying on my bed pointing a gun at the roof and I was going to shoot the upstairs guy when I lived in this apartment in West Hollywood. And I was like I’m going to fucking put a bullet in this guys head and I was laying there crying going ‘my life’s over, this is done, I’m going to put a bullet in his head’. Now how insane is that? That I’m…
Paul: That’s pretty insane.
Mike: I’ve cut people off on the freeway. I’ve physically tried to fight people on the freeway. I can’t fight. I don’t wanna fight. I don’t want to get hit.
Paul: Well you can shoot him.
Mike: [Laughs] But I’ve had, its happened over and over. I’ve had fucking fights on the freeway. I’ve had people…I had a guy chase me off the freeway and we drove around Anaheim Angels Stadium parking lot until I just went ‘I have to stop and get out and fight now’.
Paul: And did you fight?
Mike: No. I stopped, he stopped. I saw a baby seat in the back seat and they guy was sobbing and he goes ‘you fucking asshole, you fucking asshole’. And I went ‘I apologize’ and he was sobbing and he was shaking and I just slowly drove on. Because he had a baby in the back seat and he was doing 40 and I went ‘fuck this asshole’ and I went on the shoulder and did a NASCAR style maneuver in front of him to teach him a lesson which wasn’t my lesson to teach by the way. And I was in no hurry, where the fuck was I going. I’ve got to get home and take a nap. Jesus Christ you’re ruining my private time.
Paul: You know what, but my opinion is on that because I’ve been that I’ve been that guy Mike many many many times and my opinion it is that we have this image that we have a finite amount of respect inside us and it's not enough and that person has taken a big scoop out of it and we’re eventually going to disappear and or not survive or becoming invisible.
Mike: That become invisible thing, yeah I believe your right. I mean I’m going through it right now with my new neighbor. I moved into this place, I loved it for two weeks and I get up and now the guy stomps around the place and its in a furious…Paul I’ll be honest with ya I’m trying to make a change and that was part of the reason I quit drinking and things got dramatically better when I quit drinking.
Paul: And you quit drinking how long ago?
Mike: Five months ago.
Paul: Uh huh.
Mike: I mean dramatically.
Paul: And you went for help to get it.
Mike: Yes, yeah well Dr. Drew sent me to a doctor who said he wouldn’t treat me until I quit drink. Apparently I had a lot of alcohol in my system.
Paul: Uh huh
Mike: But uh I drank a lot you know. I drank for 25 years all day everyday all night. I drink for free here. I drink for free at restaurants and Improvs all over the country.
Paul: We are at the Improv restaurant in Hollywood right now.
Mike: And you know I’d wake up I’d run a couple of errands. I’d uh go get lunch. I ‘d stop at the club. I’d pour myself a couple of drinks, during the day when it’s closed and sit and talk to the ticket girl for an hour. Have two crown and cokes, a couple of shots of Jägermeister, go home, take a nap, wake up, have a martini at 5:00 and this was just regular and I wasn’t drunk. And then I’d come here or to one of the other clubs in Orange County and I’d shoot who I’m shooting which is what I do for a living and then I’d have two or three martinis, two or three crown and cokes and five or six shots. Then I’d hop in the car and drive home. Every single fucking day for since the 80’s. And uh…wait I’m not trying to that sounds like I’m so trying to get sympathy, I’m not, I’m not.
Paul: Mike it doesn’t sound like your trying to get sympathy.
Mike: I’m trying to sound like ‘look at me how fucked up’ cause I’m not bad compared to some people.
Paul: You’re so hard on yourself Mike. You are so…your inner critic is so fucking loud.
Mike: Yeah well what I was going to say to you were I’m being honest like I like to sit here and act like ‘oh I’ve got all this stuff behind me’. Much better since I quit drinking, but my hatred, my vitriolic my fucking level of intolerance for my neighbor stomping around is at such a level that right at this moment as we speak there are two 500 watt subwoofers leaning against my closet door with the sound of a Harley playing off my Ipad. Like just this low bump bump bump cause I know low frequencies go straight up. So I know he’s to him he just feels like there’s a Harley somewhere and that’s going to be going for three hours.
Paul: You put that on a loop to fuck with him.
Mike: Oh yeah! Are you kidding me. I did think this was funny, but I’m like I have a crazy loud girl screaming and then a gunshot. So at like three in the morning I just go in the bathroom, one speaker super loud ‘Ah! Bang!’ and then silence.
Mike: I just want that in his fucking head until he fucking moves out.
Paul: Have you ever been to therapy?
Mike: No but I’m going to go to therapy.
Paul: I hope so Mike cause cause…
Mike: [laughs] I’m not trying to be funny. Seriously I have to go to therapy, I have to, I have to. I don’t wanna be this guy, I have a good life and I like people. I enjoy meeting I enjoy a lot of the people that I know. I feel like I’m honored to know them. There’s stuff I enjoy doing you know. I like things and I have no reason to be fucking miserable and I have to talk to somebody and its way more than that. Its every issue on the planet. I get crush, I have a girlfriend of six years and I still get crushes on other people. I don’t do anything you know, but I get these crushes on somebody and then when they get a crush back on me, all of a sudden I push them away like ‘oh this is inappropriate’ and then when they lose interest I’m devastated. And this all takes place in a couple of weeks, but its sincere genuine devastation. And I’m not proud of it, I’m embarrassed by this embarrassed. And it doesn’t happen often but when it does happen I’m like ‘I’m a forty something year old guy and I still get crushes on fucking girls’ and there not sexual I promise you I’m not trying to cover. Its just this—
Paul: Well you know…go ahead.
Mike: You look at somebody and go that’s the answer right there to all my problems. Its not fucking its like that girls the answer, she understands me. I can tell just by her eyes. Even though that’s fucking insane.
Paul: You know Mike my opinion on a lot of this stuff and you know I always like to preface it with uh I’m not a therapist you know I tell dick jokes but I have been through a lot of shit and been through a lot of therapy and I relate to your feelings and I think what we when our childhood is fucked up and there is not any kind of safety…cause it doesn’t sound like was any kind of safety in your childhood, it was pretty chaotic and…
Mike: I think there was some cause my dad was always there for us and he still is. You know my I know as…I’m an adult man and if I if something went horribly wrong I know I could go to my dad for money still.
Paul: Yeah. Did you but was there a point where you were living consistently with your dad and…
Mike: Oh my mom kicked me out. She goes ‘if you leave your not coming home’. And I left and I came home and all my shit was in the driving. She was trying to embarrass me. So I just took the important stuff and went down to my dad’s and he wasn’t happy. Like ‘Mom kicked me out’ and he’s like…it was the first time I’ve ever saw my dad not like be disappointed. I was like I expected to be like ‘good!’, he was just like ‘what the fuck’.
Paul: Well how does that feel safe then when your dads not happy to have you move in?
Mike: I think the safe I think the safeness I…what I interpreted as safe was knowing that he’s always there. Even though he’s not always going to be there.
Paul: But he’s not their emotionally if he’s not happy to see you.
Mike: True. Which is weird because I we sorta laugh about it know but like the depth of our conversations with my dad is pretty much ‘hey you seen that Aston Martin?’. I’m like ‘yep’. I don’t even know what he’s talking about. I didn’t know what Aston Martins are. You know you just want to get along. But my dad meant well and if you look at how his dad raised him it’s the same fucking shit man and its…I honestly can say this. I think my brother and his wife are the best parents I’ve ever seen because they both had the fucked up fucked up bullshit happening. And they’ve been boyfriend girlfriend since the fifth grade.
Paul: Your kidding!
Mike: I mean on and off. They met at a school named Toler Elementary School in San Diego in the fifth grade or fourth grade and they named their son Toler based on that.
Paul: In sixth grade they made a decision to see other people.
Mike: Absolutely. In the seventh grade they cheated, in eighth grade they got their secretaries pregnant. Um she but they both made a…they put a ton of work into it for starters. They listen which you don’t realize is important until you view it. Your like ‘oh holy shit what’s happening, your listening to your kids?’. And the kids are fucking amazing. And I know they are going to make mistakes you know but its weird how they both had to make a conscious plan to not do what everyone else did.
Paul: Did your sister in-law did she come from a fucked up childhood too?
Mike: Yes big time.
Paul: Did either—
Mike: Like parents cheats on each other openly.
Paul: How did they get to that place where they had something to give their children? Did they get help?
Mike: I believe so.
Mike: I believe so. I’m not sure though but—
Paul: It would be astounding to me the person that is raised without security love and just raised in chaos to then be able to calm down and give something to their child.
Mike: Without…I gotta say and I don’t know if this is the place to go into cause this conversation could last four hours, but I question therapy and I’ve never done it but I question…and I know—
Paul: That’s your critic.
Paul: That’s your inner critic.
Mike: Dr. Drew yelled at me a couple of nights ago.
Paul: He should.
Mike: I go ‘Has therapy ever helped anyone?’. He literally stopped and look at me and went ‘Fuck you’ and then he came on our show to yell. He goes ‘fucking idiot, its helped me, its helped my wife, its helped this guy’ and he’s yelling and stuff and I’m like…but I meant it. Does this really help or are we all just bullshitting ourselves to stay alive another year like its just this constant…cause it don’t want my life to be…I quit drinking, I don’t want my life to be about not drinking. I don’t want it to be this everyday is a struggle to not drink. I want to move beyond that.
Paul: I can guarantee you if you continue to seek help and just keep seeking and doing things that healthy people suggest that you do it will take care of itself. It will all take care of itself. Is it possible that when you were asking Drew does therapy work, is it possible that what you were trying to express was ‘I’m afraid to go to therapy because I’m afraid I’m so fucked up its not going to work for me.
Mike: Absolutely. Plus I’ve seen friends that have been in therapy, mutual friends, for years and years and years and years and they’re not better. I don’t even see any improvement and maybe there is but I don’t want to 50 and be like ‘Fuck i’m the same goddamn loser I was back then, that I was at 20, at 25’. I want to make a change. I want to snap out of this bullshit and I believe that power exists in short at least for me. I made a decision at one point a few years ago ‘fuck this, I’m done, I’m done moping, I’m done feeling sorry for myself’ and I actually forced myself into a decent place for weeks. And then you fall back into it. I don’t know if that’s based on being lazy or if its just poor work ethic cause it really is work.
Paul: Well I think there’s a couple of things at work there. Mike I think its 1) your trying to depend on just yourself. You have no support network.
Mike: Paul you can’t…what I’m about to say is going to sound like that I didn’t want to be on this show like you can’t imagine. I have jeopardized everything in my life, my jobs, everything cause I will not…I have worked with other people, I still get to work with other people. I get to work on films, I get to work with my friends all the time and its fantastic. But I have fucked up so much shit because I will not I don’t care. Its my way or no one else’s way over and over including my move which was the most stressful time in my entire fucking life. I sold this place. It wasn’t under the best circumstances. I lost a bunch of money and I did it based on dumb decisions that I made. Like I decided I’m going to fight with the bank and then that steamrolled into ‘fuck me, no fuck you watch this’. And then all of sudden it was like I had to go back and beg ‘can I just sell the place now then cause I don’t want to live here anymore’ and that’s after seven years of being…
Mike: And it was weird and uncomfortable. I knew I wanted to get out of Orange County and wanted to get back up here. Very very stressful time. One thing after…I was amazing. I quit drinking at the same time too by the way. But the shit that happened I was just like ‘this can’t be happening’. Like I’m not a bad person, why is all… up until…I moved every goddamn item out of my house by myself, 100%. I rented a U-Haul; I brought stuff down three flights of stairs. I had a three story place and I pushed it into the U-Haul by myself. Drove to the storage facility, unloaded it by myself, every fucking item. About 1000 toys um two entire Star Trek sets, all of my living stuff, tons and tons of other bullshit. Then the last night I had to be out of there I was up here dropping some stuff of at this apartment and my axle broke on my car and I’m riding home on a flat bed truck and I’m like ‘how can this be worse? How can my life be worse?’. But I look back on it ‘at least I did it all by myself, I didn’t ask one fucking person for help’ and I have good friends that would be glad to help.
Paul: And that’s a victory to you?
Mike: I don’t know. I don’t know what it is.
Paul: My opinion Mike, my opinion is that there is an illusion of that control is safety buried in your head. That if you can control everything you’re not going to get hurt and your going to be safe. And that's an illusion that ruins a lot of people's lives because buried in that illusion is the belief that other people can't possibly love us or help us. Their gonna let us down. And so we don't get vulnerable, but being vulnerable is one of the greatest things in life. I lived 46 yrs without really being vulnerable and then I've lived a couple being vulnerable.
Carano: Give me an example of what you mean specifically so I can get it through my dumb head.
Paul: Calling someone up and saying I'm lonely, I need to talk, I need to have coffee. Calling somebody up and saying I need love. Just this last Saturday I was really really sad and I called up two friends and uh I went and cried and we just held hands on the couch with these two women I feel really really safe around. Calling somebody up and saying you know I've been doing too much of this and I feel like a piece of shit or I'm afraid I'm never going to work again. And then we talk about things and it takes the power out of those feelings. Instead of then holding that feeling in and trying to find another thing to control to distract me from that feeling of fear. You know it's how we deal with our fear. And I've discovered that the real solution is to not seek more control, but to surrender to the things I don't have power over in a way that doesn't make me feel like I'm going to die.
Mike: Is it sincere though?
Mike: Because I can fake that stuff, but I want it to be in my heart. I want this anger in me, out of me and I want that fear…I love the idea of letting go. Because sometimes it will sink in, I’ll be in traffic and someone will go like ‘just chill out, we get there when we get there’ and I’ll be like ‘yeah your right, we’ll get there when we get there’.
Paul: Yeah. Experiment with it. I think—
Mike: Its hard though because you know what you said though sort of touched me because I want to be that guy that can call people up and not make…but I’m so terrified they’re going to think ‘oh he thinks it’s a booty call’ and I know it sounds insane but I’m like—
Paul: Then why don’t you preface it by saying, “please don’t think this is a booty call”?
Mike: I’m constantly trying to make myself appear to strangers like I need to not act like…let me move on to what I was saying. I do have this very big heartfelt feeling every time I’m at a funeral I’m like ‘this is it, fuck this, I’m going to tell people I love em, I’m going to call people, I’m going to spend time with my friends, fuck this life is short’ and I honest to God this is what fucks me up too is I get in the car and five minutes later I’m like ‘I wish all these fuckers were dead’. You knowing ‘fucking asshole, I wish you were dead’, ‘I’d fucking drive right over your fucking’. You know and then I’m like ‘Am I that dumb?’. That I cant like nothing sinks into this fucking dumb head of mine. I had something important to me that I want to build on or move towards then all of a sudden five minutes later its gone and I’m right back to the old guy and then I think I’ll never learn anything. Why should I read? I’m just wearing out my eyes.
Paul: Well you know Mike, fear and low self-esteem um are walls that we built up as a coping mechanism to protect us. We built up this ‘I’m not going to let you get too close to me so I’m not going to show you my vulnerability’. ‘I’m not going to let you know that I’m feeling low self-esteem right now. I’m not gonna let you know my fears’. Taking those walls down is really really hard. There’s a reason why cause they were built so intensely by us as children and young adults for that very reason to protect us. So to take thing down is not easy. It doesn’t come easily. Your impulse to try to do that in that five minutes were you said you know you were going to call your friends and tell them that you loved them—
Mike: I have that all the time though then I think it’s just like some weird—
Paul: Its not.
Mike: I always call it like my period.
Mike: Cause sometimes I’ll be in the car and I’ll just start crying and I’m like…Again that’s embarrassing to admit that I’m an adult man and I’m driving over the hill and I start crying.
Paul: No! That’s Beautiful Mike. That’s beautiful that’s—
Mike: I know but I don’t wanna be I want be more level than that. I wanna be—
Paul: You want to be laying in your bed pointing the gun at the celling. That is what the rest of keeping that wall up looks like. That’s how that looks.
Mike: I’m not gonna ask you to remove that from the show.
Mike: But I do want to say that was my biggest fear coming here and saying stuff like that because it makes me seem insane and—
Paul: You didn’t shoot it though.
Mike: I know but I’ve been through as far as my career goes it was things were always great, lucky. And then people started realizing that I am kind of insane and I do dumb things and that hurt me a lot and then I worked myself back into the illusion of oh I’m not gonna snap. And I don’t mean snap like violence.
Paul: Sure. Say something you’ll regret.
Mike: I not going to sit here and regale you with stupid stories, your like “ah we’ve heard all these’. But I will tell you this is…I was telling someone last night this happened cause uh it came up. My boss who owns almost all the Improvs and a bunch of other clubs and stuff and then the president of this company, I was having a meeting with them. And it was an tense meeting. I was regarding me. And in the middle of the meeting I got up and walked out the door and walked into a movie theater and saw a movie and came back afterwards. And I swear to God, in my head I did nothing wrong. I just wanted to get away from that meeting. And I got back and my boss goes “I need to sit down with you. What the fuck is wrong with you? What is going on in your head?”. And he goes “You cant, who the fuck, what”. He was so dumbfounded he stormed out and I was like ‘I guess I’m getting fired. And I didn’t of course but I look back on that and I didn’t know the difference between what was right and wrong right then. I just went ‘gotta get out of here’ and walked out. And I’ve been having this lately and I’ve been good for a couple of years like not horrible and lately its been bad again and I know I can put all the blame on my fucking neighbor buts not all him. I know there’s something, everything is not right. Like this relationship, six years of a relationship that’s not a relationship. You know I see her once a week, we don’t have sex anymore and she thinks its totally fine and that eats away at me. Then we just go on and it just keeps going year after year. It’s just not right. I had an incident yesterday that I’m fucking scared shitless of. I don’t want to be this guy. Cause I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth a million fucking times to the point were its so goddamn uncomfortable its not funny. It’s never funny when somebody’s not in the comedy business and you say some horrible thing to them about or you make a rape joke or something. You know or I make a convicted sex offender joke thinking ‘ah this is hilarious’. I realize I’m by myself in a fucking Del Taco and that wasn’t funny. And I did it yesterday. I was having anxiety, I drove over the hill…I don’t want to lead you to believe that everything is bad again its just been the last four or five days that I will explain why I believe that’s the case also. I drove over the hill. I park at Jerry’s Deli. I go inside, I pee and get back in my car and drive back over the hill. So I went to this bagel shop that’s a few blocks away from there yesterday and this is fucking retarded. This super attractive midget came in and uh I started to say to her “Are you a little person or a really hot kid?” and I thought this I going to be hilarious, this is going to crack her up. “Are you a little person or a really hot kid?” in front of a bunch of other fucking parents and their kids. Like to me this is going to be fucking…it wasn’t thought through it was just coming out. And I realized I’m fucking not normal. This isn’t good. This has to stop. I can’t just throw out any word I want to anybody on the street. Its not good, its not.
Paul: How did that person react?
Mike: I didn’t say it.
Paul: Oh you didn’t say it?
Mike: I stopped. I no I totally stopped.
Paul: Oh thank God. Thank God.
Mike: I’m going to tell you a story I told last night really quick and I’m sorry I’m talking so much. I totally apologize.
Paul: I’m interviewing you Mike!
Mike: Ok. When I lived in Orange County I lived this nice little area and I would run up over this hill on this park I lived on and I would run around the track on this junior college track. And there were kids at the junior college. This is just to explain an issue that needs to be addressed in my head and this doesn’t happen often, it doesn’t happen often. So kids would go hang out in their cars, you know junior college kids and read, eat um and sometimes take naps in their cars. And was going for I was walking and I saw this beautiful girl resting in her truck and she was laying her head on the passenger window which was open curbside. And I thought ‘this is going to be fucking hilarious if I go up and put my hands around her neck like I’m going to strangle her’. And it seemed totally sane until I got over the gravel up to her truck and then I started shaking and it ruined my whole fucking day. I went home and I laid down. I was like ‘what just hap’…I didn’t do it but I was like ‘what almost just happened’. Like I thought she gonna go like ‘ah! You scared the shit out of me dude ha ha, hilarious’. There was nothing about that’s right or appropriate or anything. Like I’m not gonna have to run home and then hid. Nothing about it and then never walk again in that neighborhood.
Paul: Do you thing it was a rage inside you that was disguising—
Mike: No, no I thought I was hilarious. This is going to be fucking hilarious.
Paul: Oh my God.
Mike: Cause I say stuff all the time that sometimes is funny like if somebody will—
Paul: But what do you was making you shake because something—
Mike: Cause I almost did it.
Paul: Oh I see.
Mike: And I didn’t know her. If it was someone I knew it would have been funny.
Paul: So it was the realization that there is a part of you that doesn’t know right from wrong that made you shake.
Mike: Yes, yes that’s totally it yes. And its not often, its not often but I’m afraid that’s gonna come out in a bad, I’m afraid—
Paul: Then why wouldn’t you seek therapy?
Mike: I’m going to.
Mike: I swear to God I am cause I cant I don’t wanna be who I am right now. I don’t like this. I don’t like this feeling where I wake up, I’m in a good mood. I feel alright then my motivation level is at zero. Then three months later is at zero. And I’ll tell you those videos that I was talking about earlier called 5 Minutes with Mike…I’m not trying to plug em by the way cause I don’t get anything from it.
Paul: No no no I want to plug em. What’s the website for it?
Mike: mikecarano.com. They up on YouTube.
Paul: And Carano is spelled?
Mike: That websites a mess like my life and people that’s I keep it like that. It’s just a flutter of a bunch of bullshit. Bunch of pictures of comedians and a bunch of videos and a bunch of songs. But um those videos started as I have to do something and I don’t know what I want to do. And I’m not a comedian and I’m not an actor. I was just in my house and I went ‘here we go video number one’. And I went “hey this is Mike Carano, 5 minutes with Mike and this is my house”. And I walked around my house and made fun of all my bullshit. I realized something then which I didn’t know before that which is work doing something brings me happiness. Not happiness but it brings me content which is all I really care about. Like if I’m not freaking out and I go this…if it was nicer out it would be a better example. I pointed out to the grey sky ‘this is beautiful isn’t it’. But you know I look forward to the day and I look forward to life. So those videos came from that cause I had to do something.
Paul: And you felt like you weren’t stuck. You felt like you were moving forward.
Paul: And so it sounds like work takes, decreases your anxiety.
Mike: Yes but how you do you start? Its so fucking hard because I did like 10 videos took six months off and couldn’t start. Just couldn’t do it. And Paul are they are is me into a camera going “hey its Mike Carano 5 Minutes with Mike”. Sometimes there’s a topic, sometimes I just go explore somewhere, sometimes I drive to Death Valley. I was obsessed with that for a while. Sometimes I go to Disneyland. I got arrested at Disneyland while I was making one. But one of the things that I’ve been thinking about going to therapy for is I want to to wake up with a motivation and look forward to doing this because I dread everything. And it’s the best jobs of my life I’ve dreaded. I dreaded fucking Star Trek and that was goddamn one of the things I’m most proud of that I’ve ever done. But that feeling in retrospect of accomplishing something look back on it was pure satisfaction. I don’t know if satisfaction is the word but it really is the antidepressant. And I need to figure out how to keep doing that, keep moving and not just mope and not just lay down, have an excuse. Drinking was my excuse before. I need to have a drink first. I have a drink to celebrate. I need to do this. And now it’s substituted with—
Paul: It also sounds like Mike when you accomplish something that it is physical proof that your inner critic is wrong and that’s probably comforting to have your inner critic be silenced and shut up just for a brief time.
Mike: That never stops by the way and I’m sure it’s the same way with you. Do you ever watch stuff you’ve done—
Paul: Oh yeah I pick it apart constantly.
Mike: Me too. I’ll watch a video clip of something I made that I’m crazy proud of one day and I’m like “God that was fucking awesome” and the next day I’ll watch it or a week later and I’m nothing short of embarrassed. I’m like “God what the fuck”. “What am i fucking 14 with a video camera, Jesus Christ this is horrible”.
Paul: Well my hunch Mike is while there maybe instances where that could be true. My hunch is the bulk of those times that that happens is that’s some form of a sickness in you doing that.
Mike: Paul you know what I would like. I need a direction…like is it therapy? What do you think people should do? And I mean this sincerely. Like people need an answer. Where’s the first step? Which way do you point? Like what do you think is that?
Paul: I think therapy is usually a good first place to start because a therapist can sometimes um let you know if a support group would also be uh a beneficial place to go. I think therapy is uh awesome, but a lot of times the help from therapy can really be exponentially better if your also going to support groups because then you get to go out and road test that stuff with people that are safe.
Mike: So do you go to support groups?
Paul: Oh yeah.
Mike: And how did you find these groups?
Paul: Recommended by my psychiatrist or my therapist um—
Mike: And have these people become um do you have to keep a support group on a professional level or are they friends now personally?
Paul: No they’re friends.
Mike: So its not like its not a there’s no weird—
Paul: No! No no no. Its—
Mike: That was a really dumb question cause—
Paul: No it wasn’t.
Mike: The more I thought about it I’m like ‘I’m a fucking idiot’. So if I meet someone at Disneyland I can be friends with them? It’s not like a Disneyland employee.
Mike: Hey can I bring up another—
Paul: Before you go into that point. I just want to stress silence that part of your brain that’s trying to predict how it’s going to be because that is one of the most destructive things. I’ve said this before on the podcast one of the worst combinations you can have is imagination and pessimism. It’s a dangerous cocktail.
Mike: Yeah its so weird isn’t it?
Paul: Yes it is. Cause imagination can be a wonderful thing but when it’s fused with pessimism it uh can really turn ugly. So go ahead what was the thing you were going to say.
Mike: Something pop into my head that I believe you can totally relate to and everybody can relate to that’s got any issues what so ever. This has been an overwhelming issue with not just me, my friends, lot of comics, writers and I had a relapse with this a couple of nights ago. And this is very embarrassing to talk about because I don’t want to come off as this petty fucking guy, but you know I used to take everything personally and I was very difficult to work with to my boss. I take unprofessional aspects of this company very personally. I take the fact that things look like shit personally. That no one cares. That people don’t pay attention and I do take it personally. It’s not my business. It’s not my company. It’s not my job. I’m a photographer.
Paul: And I think part of that comes from uh this illusion that we got as children when we found the safety of controlling what we had control over. We then had this illusion ‘oh I can control much much more than this’. So we go on about life frustrated as fuck because we’re trying…we don’t know really were that line is between what we can control and what we can’t and so then we feel like a failure and we step on people’s toes and we hate ourselves. But they way to go is really not towards more control, but to surrender. Yeah and let go.
Mike: To let go, yeah. And that’s going to be ringing in my head after this. So what I wanted mention was…and the reason I’m bringing this is fresh. This used to be a big problem; that oversensitive thing and taking everything personally. Like if somebody didn’t put a fucking smiley face in their email I’d be like ‘why are they mad at me?’.
Mike: No I really would, I really would. And so I haven’t had an issue like this, keep in mind I’m a fucking forty something year old guy. I showed up here a couple of nights ago to…I have a confession to make after this after I tell the story. But I showed up here to um take pictures of a comic who’s a mutual friend of ours I’m sure. And I was downstairs, had some dinner; she walked by and didn’t say hi. Walked by again didn’t say hi. I went ‘she’s clearly mad at me, clearly thought the last photo shoot we did sucked’ and I left.
Paul: Cause she couldn’t have anything on her plate that has to do just with her or her personal life.
Mike: This celebrity just walked by me and didn’t say hi in crowd by the way. Didn’t say hi, didn’t gush about how great the photos were last time. Clearly she’s angry with me and her manager didn’t even look at me so they’ve discussed it on the way over here. I genuinely in my head went ‘they clearly discussed don’t fucking don’t even look at Mike Carano cause he fucked up that last batch of pictures, we don’t like those, we had to act like we like them before’. You know and I left.
Paul: Cause your making it all about you.
Mike: Yeah, Yeah but here’s the confession part and I told someone at my support group about this and they kinda came down on me but I don’t consider an issue cause I don’t enjoy it but I recently bought some pot thinking that’s going to be the answer and it could have been that I smoked some pot because I noticed these two anxiety attacks which I haven’t had in over a year more than a year. Both were on days I smoked some pot.
Mike: And its only been three days or four days since I’ve bought it but and I know I don’t like pot. Never liked it before. Smoked pot in my entire life maybe 30 times max in my entire life and I just thought maybe this will calm me down and stuff. So it could be that but I haven’t had that issue that hypersensitivity ‘oh I’m leaving’ and I used to have that a lot on jobs. And I’d be like ‘yeah they didn’t say hi to me, the directors mad at me’. ‘Oh they didn’t invite me out to dinner with them, they fucking hate me and they’re ganging up against me’. Which is insane. Do you like how I talk for five minutes and even I don’t know what I just said.
Paul: No no no.
Mike: That made no sense.
Paul: Dude I get it, it get it.
Mike: Your like ‘delete this episode’.
Paul: No. Every once and awhile I wonder where your going with it, but I understand. You’re a very anxious person. You’ve got a lot of stuff bouncing around in your head and I know that feeling. I totally know that feeling. But what I was going to say at the core of…how do we how do we get that from the place of I need power, money and recognition to I want there to be meaning in my life? How do we get that place? I talk about spirituality in this program and a lot of times people don’t really understand what I’m talking about. They want me to be more specific. At the heart of spirituality I think is a belief that there is a kindness or a positive energy or a God or goodness or something out there—
Mike: Or a purpose.
Paul: Or a purpose that is connected to us and we have to trust in doing the right thing. In doing in not acting selfishly and out of fear. And that to me is spirituality. And so if we do things based on what is the right thing to do and what is going to make the planet maybe a little bit better as opposed to what is going to enrich me and make me uh you know have everybody point a camera at me. Um that’s were the peace and they joy come from, but the other illusion is so potent and our society is set up and our media is set up to worship the recognition and the wealth. If you get that you will be happy. But I can tell you as somebody who has done this other one where I’m trying to get some meaning in my life. It has brought me more peace and joy than I could ever have imagined, but I forget it almost everyday.
Mike: Paul I could talk about this for fucking five…what you said right…ok I believe you what you just said cause I want that too and I believe the natural…I think the correct thing to do in life is to make things better. And I believe that brings you joy and brings you a fulfilled life and that joy gets spread to other people and then I believe there’s show business which were both in and I think that’s everything wrong with life. Its narcissism, unhealthy narcissism. I think everything about this business is creepy and bad yet I’m strangely drawn to it and I think it’s a defect in our brains.
Paul: It’s exciting.
Mike: It’s exciting, but its not right.
Mike: It’s not right to go…and we still want it. Even after this we still want it, but it’s not right. Like I have young friends that are actors and they are getting a lot of attention now. The one of girls, the star I’ll see tonight, the star of the movie I’ll see tonight um you know she’s getting all this heat and stuff and I just see what’s happening you know. It’s not her fault. She’s an actress. She’s a little kid, but you see the road it’s going down. It is a road of unnatural behavior. People treating you unnaturally, it’s not right. You’re not that great.
Paul: And enabling your when you become egoti…your ego gets big people enabling you. I can tell you—
Mike: But it pushes the joy thing what you talked about farther and farther to the back and then it’s gone or you find it when you hit rock bottom and your not dead.
Paul: And I think the reason why it gets mixed up is because when your ego gets excitement, when it gets stroked it releases some of the same chemicals that are released when you feel peace and joy from your life having meaning and purpose.
Mike: Really? I didn’t…serious?
Paul: Well I don’t know if its scientifically the same chemicals but I get the same feeling the—
Mike: That changes me then because I was about to make an argument for morality then I was like ‘well if its natural fuck it’.
Paul: When I’m doing something that has meaning or purpose it’s more subtle. The feeling is calming in a more subtle way. When it’s my ego getting stroked or accomplishing something it’s a calm, but there’s also an intense desire for more of it.
Mike: Yes, yes.
Paul: And that lets me know that there’s a sickness in that.
Paul: But they can be misconstrued by people. People know the feeling of doing something nice for a neighbor. Of doing some gesture without wanting anything in return and seeing the look on somebody’s face and getting that warm feeling. Feeling good about yourself. People know that feeling, but our brain tells us that its we cant spend time doing that because we’ve got to take care of this other stuff. And while we do have to pay our rent and do all this stuff we have more time to do those things that have meaning and purpose than we think we do. Because the lie is we’re three steps behind the universe and we’re fucked and we made all the wrong decisions and we need to catch up.
Mike: That makes me smile, yes, yes.
Paul: And a support group Mike is where you are not only reminded of that. That there is something out there that can help you get you that peace and joy in a way you don’t have to scramble and act desperate. You can get it just by being of service to other people. The support group not only reminds me of that, but I’m there to remind somebody else when they forget that and then I get that feeling.
Paul: So its this amazing like reverse catch 22 where it feeds on itself in a positive way.
Mike: That’s funny. That’s a great phrase. I’ve never heard that. A reverse catch 22. I’m sure there’s another word that’s much easier than that.
Paul: I’m sure there is, I’m sure there is.
Mike: It’s the anti-god father.
Paul: But it involves taking that leap of faith. And the spirituality is the leap of faith of that we’re going to be taken care of in the future if we just do what is right and what is good and trust the process and the journey and just try to be honest.
Mike: I want to ask you for the answer for something but I know you’re not a professional but I do think you have some insight. That’s just say in regards to other people for listeners to our little show clearly Loveline attracts an audience that’s not totally healthy and we get the fringe of that that’s even more on the edge. And I’ve had several people over the past year and a half like send me texts and stuff about thinking about killing themselves and stuff and I don’t know what to do. And I don’t know what the answer is and I don’t know where to steer them.
Paul: Don’t try to handle it yourself. Give them the number to the suicide hotline.
Mike: I do but they won’t do it.
Paul: You can’t control that Mike. All you can do is give them that number. It is not up to you to save them.
Mike: I know but then there has to be a direction besides the suicide, there has to be a place for people listening to this and people that are like…I don’t mean like everyone’s suicidal but you know like people that are um. I don’t know you want to give steer someone in a direction where its not totally fucked. I don’t know what I’m fucking talking about. I want to be able to like tell somebody a way to go that’s besides like what I normally do and go like trust me it gets better when you get older. Which it does. I believe it does because the helplessness that you feel when you’re a little kid sucks and you don’t have a way you don’t have…at least for me I didn’t have transportation. I just felt like I was trapped. I’m like ‘oh I’m going to live in this fucking house and I’m not going to be able to do anything’. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do but you know. When you get to be an adult you kinda look around you see the world and your like ‘oh this is better’. But I wonder if how I understand what your saying. I know your probably right but I just want I don’t know what to tell people when they have their issues and stuff.
Paul: That goes back to that leap of faith that you have to trust that whatever, that they have their own path in the world and that path may be—
Mike: Maybe their path is to ask me what to do.
Paul: It could be. And their path could be that they are one of those people that take their life. But you—
Paul: I’m serious. But you…its not up to you don’t have the power to save that person. And I can see your getting choked up now, you’ve got tears in your eyes.
Mike: I just feel bad. I just don’t know I don’t know what to do for myself or for other people and I don’t want to be I don’t want to just throw out bullshit lines and go ‘oh you know what well Depak Chopra said’. Its like fucking shut up.
Paul: The suicide hotline will tell you…the suicide hotline isn’t going to cure you. The suicide hotline is going to give you resources so that you can begin going to those places and recover and heal. I wish there had been a class in first grade where they said ‘oh by the way um most of this shit your going to see on TV is not real. It’s a false dream that’s gonna make you want to put a gun in your mouth and—
Mike: Your never going to be satisfied…
Paul: —And uh your parents may paint themselves as authority figures but they’re fucked up and maybe even creepy’.
Mike: They don’t know shit either. They just fucked and you came out and now they’re scrambling. And even bigger is for women like guess what—
Paul: Your going to be objectified.
Mike: Yeah but even worse is ‘guess what guys your wife is never going to be satisfied with you because you didn’t sweep her off her feet in a movie and it wasn’t…that you weren’t Prince Charming and she’s going to have that in the back of her head for fucking ever’.
Paul: But the other they could tell people is that there are resources out there where you can go with other people who will feel the way you do and you will find that there is a comfort and a joy and a satisfaction in that thing that used to feel unsatisfying.
Mike: But is there a danger of getting stuck in that? Like I see people at my support group that you I know and I’m judging. I don’t know them. I don’t know I don’t really know. I’ve only been going there for five months, I don’t know what’s up, but in my head I immediately recognize this was this persons life. This was there stage.
Paul: But you don’t know what that person’s life is.
Mike: I know, I know, I know.
Paul: Your trying to…
Mike: But I’m worried about getting stuck. I’m not…I’m worried about me and everyone else—
Paul: How could it be any worse—
Mike: Your right, your right.
Paul: —than pointing your gun at the ceiling wanting to…how
Mike: I can’t believe I told you that story.
Paul: I’m glad you did man. I guarantee you there’s somebody listening to this podcast um that is so full of rage and is about to do something stupid and heard that and they decided not to do that rage full thing.
Mike: Yeah. But can you imagine the like that scares the shit out of me because—
Paul: It should!
Mike: That guy was going to I was going to shot a 357 through the roof because that guy was playing music and working out at 1:30 in the morning.
Paul: Cause you had the illusion that that was going to bring your control back. That was going to control him.
Mike: Yeah its not man was I not right about anything choice there. Nothing.
Paul: Police were going to come in and put you in a headlock and actually take more of your control away. But your ego will never tell you that lie, your ego will never tell that lie. Cause your ego wants you either better than everybody or worse than everybody.
Mike: So lets just say lets wrap this up with your…you know in your heart…now don’t take this as an insult cause like Dr. Drew did that all this therapy and talking and stuff has your better now than you were five or ten years ago.
Mike: Ok that’s all I want to know.
Paul: Oh yeah. I started going to therapy when I was in my 20’s and I would be dead, I absolutely know I would be dead if I’d never gone to therapy. I would have killed myself.
Mike: That is what I want to know.
Paul: Yep absolutely. Mike thank you for a great interview and being so open and vulnerable and raw and honest seriously um—
Mike: Honestly thanks for having me cause I know I’m not a celebrity and you know…
Paul: This show isn’t about—
Mike: But I know, I know and I’m a goofball fucking photographer that’s a mess and I’m not like a mess like ‘uh everyone feel bad for me’ everything’s fine. Its just moments.
Paul: People that have recognizable names on this show, the reason why I like to have them on sometimes—
Paul: —Well that, but I also like to highlight the fact that were no…money doesn’t really change the battle…whether or not we have a battle in our head. It just changes what the battle is and...
Mike: I was just saying that to be facetious by the way not trying to be an asshole. You want to have your friends on cause they’re your friends and they’re cool and people like them.
Paul: And I was just trying to be a pompous ass that talked over you at the end.
Mike: [Laughs] I apologize for that too my unprofessionalism because I start conversations, I start sentences and I don’t know where they’re going. I don’t know how to finish em and I have to focus not interrupt and if I did that I am sorry. Cause I know it’s annoying as a listener to listen to some guy that won’t shut his fucking trap.
Paul: Its all good, its all good. Thanks Mike.
Mike: Thank You.
Paul: Many thanks to Mike Carano for the sirens and a great episode. He thinks it was horrible of course which if you listen to his logic then means it was actually a good episode. And I talked to Mike, as I said I recorded that about a month and a half ago, and I just emailed him today to see how he was doing and he’s still sober and he’s doing well so that’s uh that’s good news. That’s good to hear. Before I take it out with a couple of emails from listeners I want to uh thank a couple of people. I want to thank the guys who help keep the spammers out of the forum: John, Michael, Manny and Dan. And I want to thank our transcribing and audio clip gathering team: Matt, Jennifer and Megan former guest Megan Parkansky been diving in and helping collect some audio clips for future use so uh thank you guys so much. A phone app for this show is in the works. Its still being tweaked a lit bit. Also want to mention if you live in the L.A. area I’m gonna be a guest on Alison Rosen’s live taping of her podcast. She has a podcast called Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend and I’ll be taping that Friday the 22nd of June at Nerdmelt Comics on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. I think the show is at eight o’ clock and so come on out and support the show and say Hi. What else? Oh uh speaking of supporting the show if you feel so inclined there’s a couple of different ways to support it. You can do it financially by going to the website and making a one time PayPal donation or my favorite a recurring PayPal donation. If you enjoy this show and you really truly want to make me super happy uh you can subscribe for as little, or whatever you want to call it, monthly donate as little as five dollars a month. And I know that’s probably a lot of money to some people. It makes a huge difference to me because it gets me that much closer to being able to do this as a full time job. You can also support the show financially by shopping using our Amazon link. That’s right there on the homepage, right hand side about halfway down. Amazon gives us a couple nickels, doesn’t cost you anything and you can support us by buying a t-shirt. And non-financially you can support us by going to ITunes, giving us a good rating and that boosts our ranking and brings more people to the show. All right I’m going to read a letter from Mike. I got this letter from Mike about a day or two after last week’s episode aired uh the episode with Dr. Zucker. And he wrote “Dear Paul, I just finished listening to the 2nd Dr. Jessica Zucker podcast and have one major comment I would like to share with you, but before I do I would like to give you the background. That I am a 17 year old boy who is seemingly in a similar situation with my mother as you were. I realize I’m still young however I feel that I have some insight as I can relate to your situation. Anyways I heard that one of your listeners claimed you are simply exaggerating and that your mother didn’t truly abuse you. My opinion here is that the term sexual abuse shouldn’t have some generalized definition. Abuse should be defined only by the person who is apparently receiving it and can’t be simplified to be either black or white. What may be abuse to one person may not be abuse to another and nobody else really has any right to say what it is for another person. Well I hope that made sense. Thank you for this podcast. It has truly helped me think about my own problems and has taught me better coping skills. Sincerely, Mike”. Well I felt compelled to not only write Mike back to thank him cause his email brought me some comfort and I thought was very articulate and wise. That really yeah the only person who should really be able to make that judgment is the person who is experiencing those feelings. But I was kinda curious to know what his situation was with his mom. And so I asked him if he could elaborate and he wrote “The boundaries she crosses are very similar to what you have described. In particular, one example would be that from when I was probably around six to around thirteen she would tell me that ‘you have a large penis for your age’ and then would continue by saying ‘your penis is just like your father’s’. Which is something that as I am typing it I realize is quite inappropriate. Especially since I would tell her to stop saying that and that it made me feel weird. Another example would be that she would frequently spank me and say in a very assertive tone ‘you are sexy for your age’. Simply typing this has actually been an experience for me as I am realizing how this has affected me for the first time in my life. Now my mom does have a serious history of depression and addiction to prescription medication and I wonder if that may have contributed to her inappropriate behavior. This behavior has definitely affected me and any relationships I had with really anyone up until the time I was maybe 14. I would feel unusually uncomfortable with anyone even mentioning sex or anything related to it until around when I was 14. I am now 17 and feel that I have definitely overcome the issues from my childhood as I have become comfortable with talk of sex and such and have had multiple girlfriends”. Well you know first of all thank you for sharing that Mike and the second thing I would say is um I think a lot of these issues when they’re kinda deep seated with parents, they can be like a lifelong battle. I thought many times that I was had kinda put my issues with my mom to rest and I think some times we can only take dealing with them in small amounts because otherwise it would be too overwhelming. So if you do find that your not done processing that stuff with your mom that’s ok and that’s natural. That’s just what I wanted to say. And then I want to end with this lovely email from a woman named Mel and she writes “Dear Paul, Thank you for your podcast. Fridays have become like the day of my favorite TV show except better. I come home from my morning meetings then snuggle up on the couch to your latest episode. It’s like a little piece of serenity. Thank you for validating those of us who did not have an explicit reason for feeling how we do. ‘Why are you sad? What’s wrong? What happened?’. Fuck. Nothing. It just is. I lived on the couch with my Kleenex box these last two weeks. Awful. Today I went to the doctor and I’m trying a new antidepressant. I found a counselor to see and came across a support group. All in part because you have spoken about these things in a way that makes me want to try and that it’s ok. It really is ok to ask for help. To have a non judgy voice is so appreciated whether you know your being that or not. I feel a warm closeness with you, your guests and the other listeners. Please keep the episodes coming Paul. My Fridays depend on them. Here in the middle of nowhere Canada. Hope this will bring you one iota of what you bring to us. Mel”. Well it did Mel. That made me feel really really good and warm and fuzzy and I know that probably sounds lame, but if you’ve listened to this podcast this long and your still listening I know that its safe to say that and you don’t think its lame. Cause I know your just like me and that makes me feel good cause lets me know I’m not alone and that there is always hope that if things are bad they’ll change and uh thanks for listening.