Episode 56: Morgan Murphy
Bouncing from family to family and always being the new girl at school forced her to adapt and gave her experiences to draw on as a writer (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, 2 Broke Girls). But a family history of mental illness, food issues, panic attacks and always being attracted to brilliant but broken men have not been so easy to adapt to. Morgan opens up about the power of friendship and the odd comfort of dark comedic humor from some well-known friends during her catatonic stint at a mental hospital.
Paul: Welcome to episode #56 with my guest Morgan Murphy. I’m Paul Gilmartin and 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, we’ll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental advice. It’s not the doctors office, it’s more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck.
Before we get to the interview with Morgan, want to mention a couple of things. The website for this show is mentalpod.com. All kinds of stuff there. There’s a forum, you can sign-up for the newsletter, which I’m hoping a lot of you are going to do because I’m just starting to now send out newsletters with, just sent out the first one yesterday. Or actually today, actually today was the first one. And it’s, I think I’m going to make it a regular thing. I’m going to send out a shame of the day. As I go through the shame and secrets survey and sometimes certain ones strike me in a particular way and I want to share with people, and so I shared one today. So if you want to get on that mailing list, go to the website, which I said is mentalpod.com. All kinds of other stuff that I haven’t even brought up that is at the website, so please go and investigate it. Investigate it like a CSI crime scene. That’s what I want you to do. I want you to bring a pair of sunglasses, wear them down on the edge of your nose, and then when you look at the body, I want you to take a drag off your cigarette, take a sip of coffee, then say something snarky.
I am going to kick things off with two survey responses. This first one is from a woman who calls herself Sunshin. She’s bisexual. She’s in her 20s. Was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. She writes, “I always thought it was a little dysfunctional, but as I get older and hear stories, I’m starting to think it was more dysfunctional than my parents let on.”
Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse? She writes, “some stuff happened but I don’t know if it’s sexual abuse”, and then she elaborates. She writes, “I was drunk and asleep on a couch. I woke up in the middle of the night and a man was spooning me. I noticed at this point that I had got drawn on by my other friends”, you know, drawn on with magic marker. “I went back to sleep, passed out and in the morning he was gone. He called the next evening saying, “hey we had a good time, yeah?”. And I was like, “we had sex?”. And he said “yes”. Two days later I found a tampon that had been shoved inside me. Later a friend who was there that evening told me I fell asleep on the couch, I was drawn on and everyone went upstairs to leave me alone and apparently that guy came back on and convinced himself that I was coherent. He said I talked to him. Coherent enough to make decisions about sleeping with someone. He said I initiated sex. If I had my faculties about me, I would have continued to have given him the brush off like I had all evening. I didn’t report it because I was living a promiscuous lifestyle and I didn’t feel the need to drag it out and then defend myself against an attorney that would basically call me a slut.” God, that, I can’t imagine how many fucking women there are that just heard their story read to them. You know, I’m sure slightly different details but, anyway continuing.
Deepest, darkest thoughts, not things you would act on, but things you’re ashamed to admit that you think about. She writes, “I think about cutting myself just to watch myself bleed. I think the scars would somehow make me more interesting and lend credibility to my mild and manageable depression.”
What are your deepest, darkest secrets, things you’ve done or things that’ve been done to you. She writes, “I did some sexual exploration with my little brother and my best friend at the time. I’m not sure he was old enough to understand what was going on at the time.”
Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings towards yourself? She writes, “I’m a bit ashamed about it, but we never talked about it, and it only happened that one time. I guess I wonder now if it affected him at all.”
Do you have any comments or suggestions to make the podcast better? She writes, “I love the fear offs, and the tangents it takes you and your guest on. Talk more about your dogs. The bit with your dog’s fears, priceless”. There was an episode where I read my dog’s list of fears. I can’t remember which episode it was on. She writes, “and I also feel like you are asking your guests, and I also feel like while you are asking your guests about his or her life, you inject your own lifestory, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s good to relate, maybe you should do a show where someone interviews you and you get to tell us all about your mom, your dad, and your long road to the present day”. You know, I’ve had quite a few people actually suggest that, and I am considering doing that but I feel like, I put so much of my stuff out there, that I feel like, I don’t know, it seems like maybe it would be redundant. Plus I’ve done a couple of other people’s podcasts where I talk about it, and tell my story and stuff like that. But I’ll definitely keep that in mind. I’m trying to work on the interrupting injecting thing. Some people like it, some people don’t. I’m trying to find a fine line, and I know that what you were saying was not meant as a criticism but you know, constructive criticism compliment. And speaking of compliments, she finishes the email with, “oh, and learn how to take a compliment! And then teach me how”.
Paul: I’m here with Morgan Murphy in her pad and she just mentioned before I hit record, tell me what you said.
Morgan: Oh I said, ‘I almost canceled this because I thought I was having a mental breakdown’. Which is, you know, I don’t cancel things that much anymore but, but I used to cancel a lot of things.
Paul: So tell me about what was causing you to—
Morgan: It’s funny, it’s not, it doesn’t, now it’s just going to sound like a go through this all the time, and it was actually kind of a rare occurrence, but I just started having like crazy panic attacks last week. Like it’s just absolutely, like after ten months of not missing a day of work, I had to call in and miss a day and go to the doctor and I don’t know what’s happening. And I don’t know, they were just bad and probably, I forget that this podcast is about stuff, I’m like, ‘I’m not going to go into it’, but then I guess going into it is what you’re supposed to do. Like in a normal story with a normal story I wouldn’t be like, ‘anyways, so my mother’s once refrigerator like, and that was driving me crazy...’, but no, I was just like having personal stuff and I don’t know. I got this tattoo and I have like a lot of, this, it sounds, this is like way too early to go into the depths of like—
Paul: Alright, let’s, we’ll ease into that. We’ll back up, we’ll start with how you and I met each other which was in ‘99 or 2000. You were a college student, and you were working at a internet radio, I guess it was also terrestrial radio but it was a start-up called, when internet money was flowing and free, it was called Comedy World—
Morgan: Right, the tail end of the dot com boom—
Paul: Before it busted. So it was around for about a year and you would be the phone screener for the show that I was doing, and, but we didn’t really get to know each other because I was, I would be in there for maybe two hours a week and then you started doing stand-up. I guess it would have been maybe about five years later after you had graduated.
Morgan: Oh no I was doing stand-up when I was working there.
Paul: Oh you were? I guess we, our paths didn’t cross that much—
Morgan: No I was doing open mics, you know. I started when I was 18 doing open mics and stuff so, but I think we were on different tiers. I still had to put my name in the hat at the Westwood BrewCo and I think you just got to go on.
Paul: Okay, alright, I’ll, I won't’ dispute that but understand that I had my years of doing that as well—
Morgan: No, no absolutely.
Paul: So then you rose very quickly as a stand-up comedian, you got a job writing for Jimmy Kimmel. Was that the first kind of big break? Why don’t you kind of tell people the arc of your career.
Morgan: Yeah, well I started doing stand-up the summer between my freshman and sophomore year at college, then I started working at Comedy World, and then—
Paul: And you went to college at Loyola Marymount—
Morgan: Loyola Marymount in LA, and then I, I think my first like job really was I started, after being like an audience member at places like Largo, I eventually started going up there and when they started Comedy Death Ray and that was at the M Bar, at my senior year of college Scott Aukerman and BJ Porter like kind of hired me and a couple other young like BJ Novak, to write on a sketch pilot, and that was my first—
Paul: Was that The Offensive?
Morgan: The Offensive Show, yeah.
Paul: The Offensive Show which was a pilot for Showtime?
Morgan: Yeah, Showtime. And that was when I was still in school and I was lucky, at that point I had been doing stand-up a few years, and professors who actually let me turn in work for that show as like thesis work basically.
Paul: Was it like because they were fans of Mr. Show?
Morgan: No, I was just, I think they were, it was clear like I had some kind of a goal, I didn’t know really exactly what it was, but I was doing work, and it was an English class, a writing class, and I was writing, so I think they let me sort of adapt some of those projects, and you know, turn in that work. Then got out of school, like had a, left my agent and my manager and was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do for a living’. And I waitressed for two weeks and I was horrific at it—
Paul: Why did you leave your manager and your agent and—
Morgan: I think, I just, I had a moment and I, and I used to have them more of just it’s not gonna work out—
Paul: Everything’s wrong.
Morgan: Everything’s wrong, it’s not gonna work out and kind of dump and go. Whatever it is, that would happen years later, even years later. Cause right, I would say a few months after I got out of school I got a job on Crank Yankers and, right after that I got a job on a season of Kimmel, hired me on his show, he was you know, kind of the first person to really give me a career I guess. And then you know, after two years of Kimmel I was like, put all my stuff in storage and like went to England—
Paul: You left Kimmel?
Morgan: I did. Yeah, yeah—
Morgan: I just, I’ve always, I don’t know. I have trouble staying somewhere that long and—
Paul: What are the feelings you get when you make that decision, what feelings are they based on when you make that decision to change, to bail, to severe ties, whatever it is?
Morgan: I’m trying to, I’m still trying to work on that kind of stuff, ‘cause I think it all has to do with permanency and commitment. That was kind of part of like, getting a tattoo triggering all these panic attacks last week. And obviously it’s something that, I’m not a stranger to therapy, I go, I have been going for many years and, you know, I moved around a ton as a kid. A lot. I moved—
Paul: Where are you from?
Morgan: From, grew up kind of out here, but I went to school,like when I really trace schools, not just cities or states, I went to you know, kindergarten through fifth grade was the longest I went anywhere. And then, you know, somewhere else, I went somewhere fifth and sixth grade, then somewhere for seventh, then somewhere eighth grade, then somewhere ninth grade, then half of tenth grade, then somewhere half of tenth and eleventh grade, then somewhere else my senior year—
Paul: Wow, that must have been really hard—
Morgan: Yeah, well it was at the time certainly, it was just bizarre and chaotic and in high school I lived with five different families basically. I lived with my mom. I lived with her sister and my aunt and uncle on my mom’s side. I lived with an aunt and uncle on my dad’s side. I lived with family friends for a summer, and I lived with my dad for, the first time I really lived with my dad was my senior year in high school.
Paul: Well I think we better back up. Start, talk about—
Morgan: Yeah, well it’s so funny because, I feel a little bit like, ‘well here’s my story’, and romanticizing the chaos, but I, not that it needs this sort of preface, but I feel like your podcast is, it feels like the most organic place if you’re going to tell it, otherwise it’s like, oh you know, go talk about comedy, and by the way I’m fucked up. It doesn’t feel so self-indulgent I guess. Or maybe it’s more, I can’t tell, is it less or more self-indulgent?
Paul: I guess as the host of it, that would be hard for me to judge, because I’m too close to it. But my hope is that it’s organic to it—
Morgan: Yeah, it feels organic. I feel like, it sounds so cheesy, but I do feel, when I was in high school especially and really liked comedy, it was always so helpful for me to hear and see stories of people who went through something and got better. Whatever it was. I remember crying through a Jenny Jones Hollywood True Story, because it was, there’s something about hearing someone’s shit and then, ‘oh god, they did something and then they didn’t do anything, and then they did something, and then it was better’. And it was like, ‘oh, I guess it can happen’.
Paul: There is nothing, to me, more soothing than realizing that I’m not alone. That I’m not terminally unique. That I’m not broken.
Morgan: You’re a little broken.
Paul: Hahaha. And that I might even be able to laugh with somebody about it. That to me, is like the ultimate healing is being able to—
Paul: So, you were born in Southern California.
Morgan: I was born in Oregon. I was born in Portland, Oregon. And moved down here when I was about three or so. My parents split and my mom moved back down here, to the arts center and was working down here so came down here with her and pretty much grew up with her for the most part.
Paul: And what was, you’ve talked about your mom a little bit on stage and it’s some of my favorite—
Morgan: She hates it so much—
Paul: It’s so good. You told and Jen Kirkman did this bit one night—
Morgan: Oh, Who's Mom Said it? Yeah, we did it like a talk show—
Paul: Who’s Mom Said it? and you guys would quote each other’s mom and I could just listen to that for ten hours.
Morgan: Yeah, it was really fun to come up with. I love Kirkman. We just had dinner last night, no one cares about that, god.
Paul: Well she’s a former guest on the show, and a lot of people really liked her.
Morgan: She’s one of my favorite people in the world. Like she’s one of those people that you know, again there’s certain people where you just go, ‘oh, there’s no filter here. I don’t have to, I can talk about whatever I want’. She’s one of my best friends.
Paul: Can you give just a quote, do you have any quotes from your mom that you can, give just people a feel for your mom. And we know that you’re not shitting on your mom here—
Morgan: No, no, I can’t think of a quote, but I do know one of my first jokes I ever told that seemed to get liked. Like people not like no Facebook liked, this was before people actually liked things in real life. Was a joke about, and I did it on TV and she hated that I did this joke where I said, about like when I discovered irony, and it was, it’s so weird to like tell a joke, but it was like, ‘I knew I wanted to do comedy when I discovered irony. I discovered irony when I was seven, which is when my mom started beating me with my own trophies’. I did it on Kimmel, I did it on TV and she was furious. And it’s like, it’s true, you can’t—
Paul: No, your mom did not beat you with your own trophies.
Morgan: She threw them.
Paul: Are you serious?
Morgan: She was a little bit erratic a lot of the time. So it was like, it wasn’t like a consistent, ‘you did this and here’s your punishment’, but there were instances. But otherwise I wouldn’t have thought of the joke and then...I tell it, like I told her, and I kind of told her early on in like stand-up, ‘look, you’re probably like a big reason I’m even doing this, so I’m sorry. I’m sorry if you don’t want me to talk about you, but if you weren’t you, I wouldn’t...’. I don’t know. There’s just this contact almost when I go, ‘you did some shitty things, and I get to talk about them. That’s it. I still love you, you’re my mom. We have a relationship, but you know, that stuff was fucked up, sorry’.
Paul: I feel like when you bring a kid into the world, that child has a right to talk about what their experience was like with you bringing them into the world. Hopefully they do it with some responsibility and tact and compassion, but do you remember what the trophy throwing was about and what the trophies were for?
Morgan: Well I don’t remember, you know, it’s hard because I don’t know what a lot of the negative parts of my childhood, anything that was, I guess I’d say abusive. It doesn’t sound like the right word, I was never, like fucked or I don’t know. That’s really the thing that you don’t want to get, I was never fucked. But—
Paul: You were wined and dined.
Morgan: Yeah, I was wined and dined.
Paul: A very sensitive molesting parent. Took me out for lobster.
Morgan: Yeah, really nothing, basically nothing sexually happened to me till I was 21. But I, I don’t when you grow up with a parent that is kind of erratic and not 100 percent, not the most stable person in the world. My mom is great, my mom has got incredible artistic qualities, but, and in fact, we probably suffer from a lot of the same stuff, which is unfortunate, but so I don’t really remember, there wasn’t a consistent reason for anything that happened. And there wasn’t a consistent response to anything that did happen consistently. So it wasn’t, you can’t—
Paul: Did she have mood swings, that kind of thing?
Morgan: Yeah, mood swings. And, you know, there was a lot of, my parents split when, my dad is 30 years sober, he’s an alcoholic and my mom never drank, never did anything like that, but had a lot of, but had a lot of food stuff. But like severe stuff. It wasn’t like, it’s like a hard thing to grow up explaining—
Paul: Like bulimic and anorexic or just really really concerned about food?
Morgan: Everything. Across the board, everything. It’s been a lifelong struggle for her and it was certainly like an addiction in our household and very, a lot of, just insanity around, apart from that, but it’s strange to go like, ‘that’s the addition in, active in my house growing up’. On top of it, certainly personality and emotional issues—
Paul: Because I mean, that’s really what’s underneath it. The manifestation of it is food issue or the whatever and so it, it’s the fear or the need for control or that’s kind of the classic with the person with food issues is it gives them a feeling of control and also makes sense because people who have issues with control are often attracted to alcoholics because here’s somebody who I can get that hit if I can get them to behave, I get a little bit of a hit.
Morgan: Oh, well that would become my later years very quickly—
Morgan: Oh yeah. That’s my cup of tea—
Paul: You were attracted to broken kind of broken or high maintenance men?
Morgan: Absolutely, yeah still to this day. I don’t chase it the way I used to, but that’s I kind of realized that fairly early on. I wasn’t really into, like going back to the trophy thing, I was a jock and I played a ton of sports, and I didn’t really get into guys till like college age. A little bit after that and from the time that I really started you know, being intimate with men I realized very quickly that, ‘oh there’s a pattern here and it’s...’. I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to people, ‘oh another asshole, what a coincidence’. It’s like, no it’s you. You’re picking them, I pick them, and I still do. I mean, but yeah, I’d say like 22 or 23 I started realizing that I was consistently attracted to addicts.
Paul: Do you think there is a, it’s the excitement, because it’s not boring?
Morgan: I think that’s a big part of it. I think that I, I’ve tried to say it concisely before and I talk about it on stage a little bit, so as to not veer into bits, I—
Paul: It’s okay to quote something you say on stage if it’s—
Morgan: Yeah, well I say on stage I do have kind of a joke where I say, ‘if I’m attacked to you, it’s not a compliment, it’s a diagnosis’, and it’s true. I’m not, I’ve never, I can pick somebody out from across the room, and I think a lot of people can say that if they’re—
Paul: Shifty eyes—
Morgan: Yeah, but it’s also, there’s a dynamic, there’s a bigger than life quality to I think a lot of fucked up people. I’ve spent so many years of my life, obviously there’s the father issue stuff. Not having a father around growing up. Having a father who is an addict, there’s all of that childhood stuff that I don’t consciously think, but I accept based on every book that’s ever been written about anything. Like I admit that, also because they’re usually older, quite a bit older and—
Paul: The men that you pick.
Morgan: Yeah. So I accept that there are certainly these subconscious daddy-issues, for lack of a better term, and I go, ‘alright okay’. Once I realized it, it was like, okay. I remember seeing some picture of Jeff Goldblum making out with his 20 year old girlfriend a couple years ago or whatever, and I remember immediately being jealous not that she was making out with him, but that she wasn’t even old enough to realize she had daddy issues. Like that’s the greatest time, when it’s just fun, and you’re not conscious of the problem and of the mistakes you’re making. You’re just like, oh god, I’m so, I remember that. I remember thinking that I’m totally normal and I’m just amazing.
Paul: The bliss of ignorance.
Morgan: The bliss of ignorance, but yeah, so I don’t know. Just one after the other you start going.
Paul: And I think that’s something that you hit on something that’s kind of important to mention, which is you can know something about you that intellectually, intellectually you can know something about yourself, but that can’t fix it. And that to me is why, and I know some people get tired of me talking about spiritual this or spiritual that, but there is like a fourth dimension to our lives that has nothing to do with intellect or physical health or any of that other stuff. And that, I think is at our very core. Is the very essence of who we are, and that stuff needs to be addressed for that other stuff to change. It’s kind of hard to talk about because it’s kind of nebulous and each person is different and I certainly don’t want to get into the territory where people think I’m talking about religion, because that—
Morgan: No I’m not religious at all but I think people would be surprised at the amount of searching or digging for something for reprieve from something I don’t even know exists, and I do it all the time.
Paul: That to me is spirituality. It doesn’t mean I know what’s going on. I think it’s saying I don’t know what’s going on and I’m open to whatever might come my way for me to learn how to become a kinder more loving person. So let’s go back to, you were moving around a lot as a kid, what do you remember thinking or feeling about yourself and was it sports kind of a thing that helped with your self esteem?
Morgan: Yeah, it definitely, yeah it was, I was naturally very good at sports.
Paul: And you’re how tall?
Morgan: I’m almost, I’m 5’11”. But I wasn’t always tall, I just was, I was just good. I was good at sports and I liked the fact that people liked me because of that. It was the skill that I had. I liked getting sort of, looking back I go, ‘oh, coaches and teachers’, I really wanted to impress coaches and teachers. And I actually was a crappy student, but I was sort of the crappy student who was, my essays were great and my test scores were great, I just never did homework. So I was the, that kind of, the gifted slacker of sorts and I liked that attention from figures that now I look back and go, oh I was looking for parents, I was looking for mom’s and dads in these different places, where I had authority figures and structure and I was kind of a hot-shot athlete, to the point where when I was 13, 14, I was playing almost every day year round, something. I played really intense intense softball which is one of the many, more masculine things that I’ve done in my life.
Paul: Why is that, why are you laughing?
Morgan: Because I just always laugh at how, how often, I mean my friends will joke and everyone, there’s so many arrows pointing to lesbian in my life, and like sometimes I’m like I wonder, I’m gonna wake up at 40 and go, ‘ohhhh that’s what it was. That’s what everything weighing on me was’. But to this day, I play a lot of softball. I stand up and I like fixing things and learning how to wire lamps, you know, like I just like a lot of dyke-y shit, but oh well. So, eating pussy I love. No, what was I talking about? Oh the sports thing.
Paul: Do you, are you comfortable talking about your sexuality? Is there—
Morgan: Oh yeah. I mean, there’s not a ton to it, but, and it—
Paul: Do you ever fantasize about women, or is that—
Morgan: I thought you were going to say about you, that’s weird. Is that what this is for? This whole podcast—
Paul: Do you ever fantasize about me dressed as a woman?
Morgan: I do, yeah. No, I don’t, it’s funny because I’ve actually thought about whether or not I do, or you sort of put yourself in the position, could I fuck that? And I’m like, no. I have no, I have zero sexual interest in women. I like, I love female camaraderie, on a level that I think is depending on your definition of intimacy, I feel that the older I get, I realize I really cherish my female friendships. And there are times when I’m like, ‘oh I could live with my friend, we could move into a house’. You know, kind of Golden Girls style. Do that stuff. But no, it actually, this is somewhat of an organic full circle, but the reason that I think, that I really like guys who are, bigger than life in certain ways, part of that is that I’ve spent so much of my life including my work life, being the only girl. And, or one of few women, doing things that are traditionally male dominated, and at the end of the day, I really, whether or not it’s healthy, I don’t want to be the funny one. I don’t want to be the smart one. I prefer to kind of I guess, I don’t want to say take on a traditional female role in a relationship, but I like the feeling of being impressed and being, this is the part where it gets unhealthy, but like winning somebody. Winning somebody who I love, I’ve always been attracted to people who don’t like people. They don’t like anybody, but they like me, so I win.
Paul: My theory about that is, is when we encounter somebody who is kind of negative or there’s a lot of things that they don’t like, it feels like more of a victory, because we’ve managed to get that sour person to like us. When somebody like, if a woman liked me when I was in my teens or 20s, it kind of ruined it, because it’s like, well she doesn’t know. She obviously, there wasn’t any satisfaction, it was almost a turn-off.
Morgan: I’ve always been turned off by pursuers.
Paul: So how do you go about getting that guy? Do you try to approach it by, discreetly that I’m going to win them over without making it look like I’m trying to win them over? Or do you just come out and say, ‘hey let’s go out for a drink’?
Morgan: I mean, first off, first of all, I haven’t won many people over. It’s I think a lot of my interests, or a lot of the people I’ve been interested in have been sort of fantasies. And there aren’t that many. There are, I always say I have a crush like every couple years. And it’s intense because I think in part because they’re so rare. I’m like, I’m never going to meet somebody like that again. I’m never going to meet somebody like that again.
Paul: Can you describe, when you have that crush on that person, because this is a component of anxiety and, mental illness is too strong of a word, but a fantasy like—
Morgan: You can say mental illness. You can go look in my medicine cabinet and then come back and say mental illness.
Paul: The reliance on fantasy to soothe ourselves is something that is kind of hard to put your finger on, but is really important to get in touch with within ourselves. Can you talk about, and I don’t mean necessarily sexual fantasizing about somebody—
Morgan: No, no, no, absolutely, I totally get it—
Paul: Picturing you know, going to a movie or you know, something with somebody, what is that fantasy in your head, without naming the specific name of somebody you had a crush on, unless you’re comfortable doing that, kind of walk us through the fantasy in your head of what...
Morgan: Well the fantasy is, my idea is like, I have a crush on this guy. He’s crazy. He’s great. He’s brilliant. He’s smart. He’s hilarious. Hilarious is a big, not a lot of people really make me laugh, and it’s just this kind of, he realizes I’m great, and you know, I never like anyone. He never likes anyone. We find each other, and that, you know, that’s it. That’s the goal—
Paul: And now at this point you say he realizes I’m great, he’s into you or he likes your company? Does he know that you’re into him at this point—
Morgan: Well I think I’m a big fan of you know, banter of sparring, of that kind of dance. So, I think it’s you know, every crush I’ve had sort of begins with that, and it either remains that, or it becomes more. And so—
Paul: Kind of busting each other’s balls—
Morgan: Absolutely. Yeah, it is funny with comic’s, I mean I’ve always thought this, and I’m not the first person to say it, clearly, but just the idea that, ‘fuck you’ or ‘suck a dick’ are terms of endearment. It’s just so, it’s, and I don’t know why, I really don’t know why, but I find it really soothing, but when you see your best friend, and you’re like, ‘hi cunt’. And you know, they say hi cunt to you, and you have a sandwich.
Paul: Yeah, as comedians if we don’t like somebody, we just clam up around them or we avoid them—
Morgan: Exactly, or we’re just, yeah the anxiety of not wanting to talk to somebody at all is horrific, you know, you love somebody, you make fun of their shirt. But yeah, I’ve always, I have that with guys that I like certainly but there have been so few. I’ve been with very few people and, I don’t know, it’s so rare to find somebody that I like who really does it for me. I think part of it is a combination of I’m picky because of my, sort of the ingrained nature of what I like because of my DNA makes me picky, my environment I grew up in makes me picky, all sort of in negative ways, not in ways that help me. And then on top of that, you know, the job I do, and the world’s that I’ve lived in make me, sort of want to be the lady at the end of the day. So it’s also, it’s this perfect storm that sort of weeds out almost everybody. There’s a few remaining, and if you talk to my friends, if you talk to any of my girlfriends, and you ask them the common denominator, like, I honest to god, could give you a list of the people I’ve been really into, and you’d go, ‘oh those are the craziest people I’ve ever met’. It’s not good, you know, it’s not good. I mean, it’s good, I think it’s good, there’s somebody for everybody, and I think that unless I really get 190 percent comfortable with myself and who I am with me—
Paul: Thank you for not saying 200 by the way, because 200 is, that’s arrogant.
Morgan: I’ll never be with someone who’s just sort of, a banker, you know. The people that my aunt tells me I should go out with. ‘Why don’t you just meet a nice, somebody who doesn’t do that? Someone who doesn’t, why do they have to be funny? You’re funny’. I go, ‘well that’s not the point’.
Paul: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting somebody who can make you cry with laughter, I guess the question is, is there somebody who’s not completely fucked up that you can find, that can make you, have you ever come across somebody that isn’t broken that makes you cry with laughter?
Morgan: I think so. I think, maybe not someone who isn’t broken, but someone who is broken and aware and in the process of working on themselves. I think that that is, that seems to be where I, if there’s, if this was like a club that you were going to or something, that seems to be like the best option for me right now. Is not necessarily somebody who’s not plain and bland, but somebody who is kind of where I am, which is, I don’t, again I don’t want to romanticise my shit. I don’t. I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s a positive way to go about your life. I try to better myself. I think the other thing is, I want the person I’m with to be able to relate to my past experiences and vice versa and I think, I have been attracted to people who have been in the same place as dare I say recovery. And also because I, at this point in my life, I also need somebody to be at least able to acknowledge that I am in that place. And understand it, a little bit, even if it’s not their thing. To understand like, yeah, I’ve got a couple of affirmations on the mirror. Don’t, you don’t need to make fun of it every day, but—
Paul: And I think there is a huge difference, like you can have two people that are in the same place, in terms of the issues they’re dealing with, but the person who is not willing to get into the solution is vastly different than the person who is seeking to better themselves and to be more compatible.
Morgan: And I, it’s funny because it’s part of why I’ve never been alone so consistently as I’ve been the last couple, two three years. And part of that is that I’m not chasing what I used to chase. I like it, I see it, I want it, but I’m not, I literally was going to make a food metaphor and go, I’m not putting it in my mouth, and then I realized that’s disgusting. But yeah, I’m a lot more reserved. I come home, I watch TV, I go to bed, and probably to a fault as well, I isolate to a fault. But it’s it’s much better than the alternative which is some of the stuff I’ve gotten myself wrapped up in mentally around men and—
Paul: Chasing unavailable people. What are some common negative thoughts you have towards yourself?
Morgan: Hmm, wow.
Paul: If you’re comfortable.
Morgan: Yeah, yeah. No I’m, I’m comfortable. It would be really funny if these were like the questions on a mainstream talkshow at night. Like in the middle in a Conan interview, ‘what are things you hate you?’. I’ve always felt unattractive. I think that’s an easy one. I think partially, I think I have a decent gauge of where I am now, but I was never, nobody was ever interested in me in school growing up, or even college—
Paul: That you knew of.
Morgan: That I knew of, sure. But you know, I was also a late bloomer, and I was, I was wearing like a size twelve shoe and I was giant hands and long arms. And when I look back at old pictures—
Paul: You know what that means. Big clit.
Morgan: Yes. Giant. I have ten inch clit.
Paul: Like a wiffleball bat.
Morgan: We used to have a board up, I actually shouldn’t say, at Kimmel, Jimmy didn’t know about this, but we had, the writers had a white board where we just wrote ‘clit like a’, and anytime somebody would think of like a funny imagery, they would write down what it was. And I just remember like, clit like a Mike and Ike. Clit like a traffic cone. Clit like a, it was just a list of clit like a. Grown-ups. I’ve always felt very insecure about, in that regards. Why would somebody like me or be attracted to me. A have a bit of a better sense of myself and a bit of a better, you know, my self esteem is a bit better than it was. But that’s, it’s hard when you’re not, when you don’t get that attention at that age when I think people really develop their sense of self-worth. You don’t ever really truly believe that you’re worthy of that and that you’re attractive. You’re just used to being, ‘oh, I’m the girl that’s good at basketball, and that’s the pretty girl, and that’s what we do’. Yeah, there’s a lot, I don’t know. I’m constantly guilty of beating myself up over everything I do—
Paul: Give us some examples. Are you a perfectionist?
Morgan: I don’t do anything perfectly, but—
Paul: What I’m saying, do you beat yourself up because you don’t do things perfectly?
Morgan: I beat myself up because I don’t think I’ve ever tried hard enough to do something perfectly. I think that I am very guilty of doing well at things because they came easily, but not trying hard enough to get a lot better at them. I think—
Paul: You beat yourself up for that.
Morgan: I do because, that is one of many things I feel that has held me back in certain regards, the other stuff that’s held me back is my own, what amounts to sort of real illness, which is depression and anxiety and things that have really crippled me. I think all of that stuff obviously meshes together somewhere.
Paul: When were you diagnosed with depression?
Morgan: 15, 16, 15, my junior, the summer before my junior year of highschool, I started having panic attacks and I didn’t know what they were and I thought, actually, you think, I just thought I was sick. I didn’t know what was happening. So that was kind of the beginning—
Paul: How did it manifest itself?
Morgan: In all honestly, I felt sick and scared. I didn’t know what was, I was hot and my stomach hurt and I was crying and I just was so overwhelmed with a sense of I don’t know what my body is doing or what my mind is doing and I’m afraid of it. And for many months I thought I was sick and eventually I think a lot of people probably rule out, meningitis or I was in Connecticut at the time, so Lyme Disease or whatever it is. And then, you know, doctor comes in and goes, ‘you’re crazy’.
Paul: He didn’t say that.
Morgan: He did. No he didn’t, but that would be fantastic. Like, well, we’ve ruled everything out, you're a fucking lunatic. I’m a doctor. Nice to meet you. No, that was when it started and in fact they were so bad, I was agoraphobic. I would constantly, I was afraid, I would have fear leaving my front door. And it was bizarre, because I was also very independent at like eleven twelve thirteen fourteen, I was walking down Ventura Blvd at like 13 years old by myself, taking the tram up to Century Walk when it first opened, holding a cigarette so it looked like I was smoking. I so cherished my independence, and so then this just knocked me out, and—
Paul: And that’s an aspect of depression that a lot of people that don’t understand depression don’t know, they think that depression is just about being sad. There are many aspects to depression, difficulty making decisions, a generalized feel of dread, panic all kinds of things, anger—
Morgan: And the panic and depression is so cyclical because if you’re overwhelmed and overtaken by anxiety and that keeps you from accomplishing or doing anything or functioning, you can’t get in a place of believing it will end, and that is part of that cycle of believing that, that depressive hole of where you believe there is no point. If I’m going to be like this forever, then there’s no point. And I felt like that for a consistent year, my junior year. Meanwhile, like had a joke notebook. Like had a joke notebook and watched a lot of standup. I really like writing. I don’t know what about jokes I liked, but I liked them. That’s so lame, but it’s not—
Paul: How is that lame?
Morgan: I don’t know, it just—
Paul: It’s beautiful—
Morgan: Oh yeah, whatever. So I had, well don’t read the jokes. It’s like, ‘well my mom’s Jewish and my dad’s Irish and blah’. Like it’s just horrific. I have it still, somewhere.
Paul: I think it’s awesome. Do you want to read a couple of them?
Morgan: No I do not.
Paul: I think it’s awesome because what I see in you describing that is that part of you that is still in there, is that seeking. You know, that—
Morgan: Sure that something, yeah. I mean, I still played sports but my mom would have to drive me, and I couldn’t take the bus. I couldn’t go to malls and movie theaters made it really, you’re really at that point, when you get sick mentally, it is so shameful because you don’t know what’s happening to yourself and you can’t change it and you’re just like, two weeks ago I could go to a mall. Why can’t I go to a mall. There’s just something so bizarre about it, and when you’re young you can’t process it, it hasn’t gotten better yet ever, so you can’t even say to yourself, ‘well I’ve been through this before and it’s gotten better’. I mean that, that period in my life was terror. I mean it was awful and it was, I thought, I absolutely thought there was no way I was going to do anything, accomplish anything, go anywhere. I did not believe there was life past high school, whatever that was, or ever in high school. It’s the kind of thing that makes you understand why people take on causes and stuff, because I always thought, if I get better I’m going to go help kids, you know, you do that kind of thing where you, every promise that you can make you, but I still feel that way. I feel like if there is a message to be had, it’s like, oh god it does get better. It’s, you know, not just for gay kids, it gets better for just kids who are generally fucked up.
Paul: And that’s what really breaks my heart about when parents are openly homophobic and they’ve got a kid that’s still in the closet and they have no idea. That kid may be despondent, even outside of the sexual issues, and then you’re pouring that unnecessarily on that kid, condemning the very essence of who they are.
Morgan: I was actually very lucky that I had parents who maybe didn’t do the greatest job as parents but were very supportive of me getting help, getting psychological help. And I could have missed out on that. I could have, I have friends who’s parents who like don’t believe in that. Don’t believe in therapists and don’t believe in all of that. And I was lucky, they tried to find me help, and I got help. I found, I had life saving help at a certain point.
Paul: Can you talk about that?
Morgan: Yeah, yeah. The summer before my senior year I was, I had therapists and I, this was after a year of depression and anxiety that was just relentless and there was, I tried a bunch of different medications and nothing worked. And I was suicidal and I went into a got put into a hospital, adolescent psychiatric unit in Oregon. And again, at that point a shameful, you know, shameful lower step, like, ugh, really, now this? Oh great. Fantastic. And it’s like kids, it’s so funny because, this was not my last time in a facility, and you go in and you see other people there, and you’re like, ‘am I that? Am I that’. But it was actually—
Paul: You have a timeshare don’t you?
Morgan: I do, yes. And but no, yeah. They found a medication that worked and it saved my life. It absolutely saved my life. If it was like all of a sudden I got put on, you know, after trying three four five medications, they put me on one and it was, I literally had ground under me for the first time in over a year. And probably in a long time. I was probably not well prior to that, I was sort of holding on in different ways and trying different techniques that would, you know, disassociating and detaching.
Paul: And fantasy. It’s such an easy kind of blunt tool to deal with that, to get out of the present moment.
Morgan: Yeah. But certainly the medication I was put on the summer before my senior year—
Paul: Do you still take that medication?
Morgan: I don’t. I took it for like ten years, I’m on something else now but it, it gave, I mean I keep saying it saved my life, but it did save my life. You know, it wasn’t like I felt great. I didn’t feel euphoric, there was none of that, I just felt like I had the ability to function in the car, in the shitty car. It was like, I remember driving places and going, ‘I’m driving somewhere. I’m going somewhere by myself and I’m not trapped in my head and trapped in this problem’—
Paul: And that feeling of doom. That grey blanket that just covers everything. Depression is like it sucks the color out of everything and everything is just grey and nothing is exciting. And when you find a medication that works, it’s like, oh, I forgot there’s color in the world.
Morgan: Yeah, it was the first time I thought there was life past that I would be able to go to college, that I would be able to do anything past 17. I just didn’t, I was certain that wasn’t going to happen. And yeah, strangely that year was the first year, I had played four years of varsity, I played four years of, you know, varsity athlete freshman sophomore junior year, my senior year I did a play. And I really think that that’s, I don’t think that that’s coincidental. I think that I was starting to veer into the creative stuff that I had always wanted to do. And I did a play and I didn’t play basketball and the fact that I could even get out and go on a stage after not being able to walk into a crowded room or get into a car, it changed.
Paul: Do you think, your history of playing sports made it easier for you to get up on stage?
Morgan: It maybe, I never even thought of that. But it’s never been that easy for me to get on stage. I mean, it’s been easy, but I’ve never been a performed per se. Like I’ve always was doing stand-up because, I was doing a play because that was like what you do in high school. There wasn’t like a stand-up night in high school. But—
Paul: The reason I ask that was because I think there’s a kind of confidence that kids can gain from playing sports that can be applied to just the kind of competitiveness of life. I cut you off, you were starting to say something—
Morgan: Oh no, well I was going to say about my trophies, talk about confidence. If you can see—
Paul: I see a huge trophy over there on your desk, what is that?
Morgan: Will you hold my microphone for a second?
Paul: Yes I will.
Morgan: It’s a bowler without an arm.
Paul: The arm broke off. Is that from your mom throwing it at you?
Morgan: It might be, it just—
Paul: Summer of ‘93, junior stars Morgan Murphy.
Morgan: Yeah, I was a bowler. I had a locker at SportsCenter in Studio City.
Paul: That is awesome.
Morgan: And a ball, a pink ball with my name on it.
Paul: So you were a pretty good bowler, huh?
Morgan: I was a bowler, but you know, karate and bowling and basketball softball, all that. So cheesy but I love it.
Paul: But it’s awesome—
Morgan: So that’s my only trophy that I keep with me.
Paul: And it looks like it’s been through the ringer. That thing is wobbly.
Morgan: Well I’ve used it to hit other kids. Hit them with it when they’re out of line.
Paul: I thought of a good line that you could’ve said to your mom when she threw the trophy at you. You could have said, ‘and you missed, and that’s why you never got a trophy’.
Morgan: That’s fantastic.
Paul: So, we were talking about this kind of, all of a sudden you had hope and you were driving around and—
Morgan: It wasn’t like flying or doing anything crazy, it was just living—
Paul: Yes. And you, so you did this play.
Morgan: I did the play. And my grades kind of went up, and my ability to function went up. And I was living at that time, things were very chaotic still at my home life. That when I got out of the hospital I moved in with a family member, but not a parent—
Paul: And why was that?
Morgan: I think just general just dysfunction in my family and—
Paul: It was your choice or their choice or mutually agreed upon?
Morgan: It was overall mutually agreed upon choice and I’ve had two aunts and uncles. My mom’s sister and her husband are basically like second parents and have been my whole life, and then I had another very generous aunt and uncle who took me in Oregon and that didn’t ultimately work out as like a permanent situation, but you know, when I look back at it, it’s very cool for people to say, yeah, I’ll take a 17 year old kid, I wasn’t a bad kid at all, I was just depressed. It’s just you know, when you hear, ‘your niece is getting out of a mental hospital can she live with you?’. I can imagine they think I’m gonna, you know, like light the cat on fire or something. But I was just, the worst thing I think I did was just not do anything. I would like not come out of my room or whatever.
Paul: Can you be more specific about the dysfunction that you were trying to avoid by going back home.
Morgan: I’m trying to think of the most respectful way to go about it, I just I think that my dad was my mom was in Connecticut, I had moved from Connecticut to Oregon to spend a summer with my dad and ultimately ended up staying in Oregon. My mom was going through her own stuff, just mentally and emotionally and that was not a good place, and we were not in a good place in our relationship, and my dad was just not, I don’t think he had. It was him and his girlfriend, it was their household, and that just wasn’t the right place. I had never lived with him before, since I was an infant, so clearly there is going to be some things to overcome there. And then there was just insanity in that household. As there was most of the places that I lived. I had other family friends that were really great, that I stayed with for summers. I definitely had gotten my, the meat of consistency of structure and solid parental teachings from extended family. One aunt and uncle in particular. And when I look back on it, I’m very lucky to have even had that. Actually, from just a general life perspective I feel very lucky to have even been able to witness so many different kinds of families and levels of dysfunction. I think I spend most of that time of my life as just a spectator in a home and watching people and watching how they do things. This person doesn’t drink and this person does, and just the minutiae got very interesting to me, of just the ways different people behave. I think you can’t help but sort of be obsessed with all that stuff, as long as you’re not really in your own home, you’re a guest.
Paul: And I know some people are going to think that this sounds cheesy but sometimes the pain that we’re going through in the present moment is kind of a future gift that kind of just hasn’t been opened yet, and if we try to predict what this is going to lead to, and this is the height of arrogance, to try to predict how the universe is going to unfold, but to just, I think you rob yourself of enjoyment of the present moment by just thinking it is going to get better or something that you’re going through in this current moment is going to be of use to you later down the road. I mean, I would imagine there are things that you lived through as a teenager that helped you make your art better.
Morgan: Yeah. I mean I always think that, I mean I just said it, but I always think that I think living with all these different people, you can’t not get better at observations. And at observing, at sort of painting little images of daily life, and maybe it’s always why I like part of in writing I’ve kind of always found it easy to go from job to job and write for different people. And I think, you know, the combination of having to adapt to different, I mean the combination of having to adapt to different place and different schools, and different social groups and adapting to households, it’s just adaptation adaptation adaptation. Eventually you can go somewhere and go, ‘alright, I’ll figure it out’.
Paul: You have to learn to be flexible I suppose.
Paul: Any other seminal moments in your life. You mentioned something in the beginning of the interview, sounded like you were alluding to something traumatic that happened maybe when you were 21, or am I reading something into it?
Morgan: Oh no no no, I was just saying I hadn’t been sexual til I was 21. I lost my virginity at 21. That was it, nothing bad happened. No, you know, it’s just been a, that period of high school feels so heavy because, like I said, that’s the one, your first go at it, at any kind of depression or anxiety, whatever your thing is, is so horrific because you have again, I’m repeating myself. But you don’t know yet that it can get better, that it can lift. And the last—
Paul: And no matter how old you are, your 30s 40s 50s—
Morgan: Well you still don’t believe it, but at least, it’s funny because even a couple of weeks ago I started really starting like, I feel like I had slipped about seven years. I was felt like I really, it was the first time I ever in 15 years of dealing with this stuff that I was able to consciously say to myself, that this isn’t permanent. It’s not permanent. It’s never been permanent. The chances of it being permanent now, after every single, I know I’ve always said it’s not permanent and it’s never been permanent, but you just believe that it is—
Paul: Because it’s so real.
Morgan: But you know, it’s just been 15 years if navigating it and dealing with it. It’s such a prominent part of my life and the way that I even, okay I’ll take this job, and I’ll do this, but god, what if I have a freak out and I can’t stay. I’ll, I don’t know if I’ve, I guess it’s okay to admit this, when I was at Kimmel before I left, I missed, I was out for two months. I was very young, and I had no ability to process anything going on in my head and compartmentalize that and go to work and do my job. I didn’t know how to do both. And I was really stupid and I went off my medication and I was eventually a 100 pound mess. I’m like 150 pounds right now, so I was two thirds of me and I was a disaster, and I had to take a break and—
Paul: Had you just lost your appetite?
Morgan: No. I fell into like weird eating disorder stuff, which is funny only because I never did in high school, never did in college, and I got in and out of it very quickly. It was very clearly a weird symptom of whatever was happening, I started getting depressed. Or you know, I kind of skipped over this—
Paul: Were you bulimic?
Morgan: For a little bit, yeah.
Paul: Because I mean, to get down to 100 pounds—
Morgan: I was—
Paul: I mean, 5’11” 100 pounds, that’s like, that’s crazy skinny.
Morgan: So I had no appetite and I was also, I was at Kimmel. I was 22 I think, yeah 22. Had this job that paid me more than either of my parents were making, you know what I mean? I was just like, oh my god. I couldn’t, I couldn’t even fathom making what I made at Crank Yankers and then all of a sudden you have this network writing job at 22 and I felt like I did a decent, good job and was good at it, I think. But I didn’t want to be on, at that point in my life, aside from work, I didn’t want to be on meds. I didn’t want to rely on them. I hated it. I hated that it was something that I was stuck with.
Paul: Did you hate the idea of it or you hated, there were side effects that you hated?
Morgan: No, I just hated the idea of it. The side effects, it kills your libido, and everyone seems to know that, and that was something I was almost okay with because I was so into work, but—
Paul: And I just have to interject, certain medications can drastically reduce your libido, but I’m on some now, and my libido is pretty decent—
Morgan: Well you have a raging boner as we’re speaking, no one can see that. You should really do these interviews in pants, but it’s fine.
Paul: It comes and goes, so I would just hate for somebody out there on the verge of taking medication to go, ‘well now I’m not going to have a libido so fuck that’.
Morgan: No, no no. I was on Paxil at that time which is a little bit more notorious for having those kind of side effects, but in all honestly that wasn’t what made me want to go off. My own ego and the idea that this was a forever thing was still not ingrained in me, and I went off and I just, you know, it was a six month slide into various, I had tried to go off a few times before, and had made it two weeks, and it was like, okay, this isn’t happened. And for whatever reason I think throwing myself into work, I was able to get past the first few weeks, which are not fun, and I just became this very isolated mess. I stopped having, well I became depressed very quickly and that just spiraled and I didn’t want to hang out with anybody, I didn’t want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to do anything. I started working out, and I was never like a gym person, and that’s what really started the anything having to do with the weight stuff, I just couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t socialize and I couldn’t, I could work and that was it. So I would get up and go to the gym, and go to work and I’d go home, and I’d go to the gym. And I’d really just keep going to the gym to tire myself out so I could sleep. And that’s how the food stuff started, was after the exercise, it was like workout workout workout, got basically addicted to that. Started restricting my diet, kind of got addicted to that, and then, and this is all, all of this is in a matter of like six months. This was drastic and I slid fast.
Paul: What would you get out of restricting your diet, what was the feeling you would get?
Morgan: I don’t know. That’s the weird part, I don’t know why I did any of it. I mean clearly there were serious control things happening, but consciously I was so out of control. I was so, the weird part too was I was still able to work and do things, I really don’t know. It’s weird, I’ve never talked about this, it’s uh, I mean I’ve talked about it with therapists obviously but—
Paul: Do you think there’s kind of a way that when we do that that we’re saying that ‘oh our life isn’t out of control, look at this structure, this discipline’?
Morgan: Yeah, I think so. I mean my problem is that I think all this stuff is so crazy that I can’t, I really have a problem consciously wrapped my head around a problem why I’ve done some of the things I’ve done, or behaved a certain way. And I get most of my education on it from professionals and from literature and I believe the things I read because I trust the science behind it, but I can never truly grasp onto, ‘well, I wanted control, and so I decided I’m only going to have a piece of tofu for lunch’. It’s, I have such trouble believing that stuff, especially at the time that I just think, ‘oh well, I don’t know why I’m doing this’. It’s really bizarre how much I didn’t know why I was doing any of what I was doing, and the minute I started, basically the minute I started throwing up I was like, alright that was the—
Paul: Making yourself throw up?
Morgan: Making myself throw up, that was the—
Paul: Would you binge before you would make yourself , because I mean that makes sense to me? If you’re going to throw it up, you might as well have a party.
Morgan: To be honest, like I was very, this was a very, this was brief for me. That was the ultimate sign of, oh I need to get help, and I need to get help now, again. And I basically checked in. I had had a couple of people say kind of comment about my weight at that point, and the weird thing is that, I actually kind of ended up moving in with a friend, a mutual friend of ours, for a little bit, who was sort of, like monitoring me in a weird way. I think some of my friends were worried about me thank god. And I had to go into my boss’s office, this man who had given me this incredible opportunity, and that’s another thing, is that I had such a fear of letting people down that, I’m like the person who falls and says I’m sorry. You know what I mean? So on top of feeling so terrible, I felt even worse for letting somebody down who had given me so much, and I had to go into his office, and of course, you know, my thing is I hold it in, hold it in, I start talking about it with someone else, I start sobbing. I started crying and saying I need help and I need to figure out what’s wrong with me and I need to go and, it’s funny because I don’t know if anyone’s going to be upset that I’m saying that this was at Kimmel, and this happened to me and stuff, but I will never, he was beyond supportive and kind throughout this entire process in a way that almost makes you feel worse because when I’m going through something like that I want people to cut me off because I don’t want anybody thinking they’ll still be able to rely on me again. I remember thinking, in my head, I was like, ‘I’ll never be back here. I’ll never work again, cut me off, let me go, I’m so sorry to do this to you’. Like that was my mindset, and instead I went, I tried a little bit to get help outside of the hospital, and then I woke up one day white knuckling a carpet and just, in, I was done, I was done. It was a bottom, it was not going to go any further, and you know, went into the hospital, and you know the funny thing is they put me back on the medication I had gone off of. And in two three weeks I was, I had none of the, well none of, the food compulsion stuff was gone entirely. And that was so very clearly not my issue. And I was on my way to sort of another recovery, and within two months I was back at work. And it’s just, and it’s funny because I kept in touch with a couple people, my boss included, I feel weird calling him my boss, because I don’t want to bring him into this, but the whole time, you want everyone to just leave you alone and let you fall. You don’t want people relying on you or thinking you’re going to get better, because you think you’re not, and you don’t want to let them down again.
Paul: But aren’t you, can’t you see that you’re more to them then your work service? That you’re a person that they love and they care about?
Morgan: Sure but I think that there’s to anybody who’s sick, you don’t want to be a burden, and I felt like these were not people who owed me, I don’t know, they didn’t owe me their undying support through me being a burden. And I was lucky enough to be working at a place that was a bit more like a family I think than just a job and, I mean to this day, I will never be anything but extremely grateful for the way that they, I mean it’s funny because they, you look at, you think about the comedy world, but the people who really supported me heavily at that time, I mean like, it’s so funny because obviously saying people’s names makes you feel, I’m like hesitant to do it, but I think these are all positive things. But Sarah Silverman was the first person to call me out about, you know, you gotta kind of, I think about my weight it was. But I remember sitting on a couch with her going like, ‘I got a problem’, and you know, when I was in the hospital, and this point again I was 23, 24 I think, you know, my visitors were like Kirkman and Zach Galifianakis and like, you know. Comics, as cynical and shitty and mean and ball-busting as they are, when they come out to help, it is the greatest form of help because it’s infused with, I remember playing Scrabble in, you know, outside. When I say hospital, it’s kind of lucky to be in, it had grass and outdoors, and Zach was, I think he was just on like Tru Calling, and he brought me like a Tru Calling watch, just like the dumbest shit. Where you’re just like, oh my god. And Laura Kightlinger, just like, ‘they have a bed?’. She’s just like, comics are just like, Zach, when my dad was out visiting and he was staying nearby and coming to see me everyday, he’s just looking at my friends who are there visiting me, and I’m like overly medicated because I’ve just destroyed myself, so I’m on something that’s like making me drool basically, and I always think about what my dad must have thought when he saw Zach is like literally on Scrabble going like, ‘I don’t have enough letters for crazy’, you know. He’s just like spelling out, and I just, at that point I was not able to laugh at anything, but at this point of course I look back and I’m like, ‘oh my god, thank god, thank god for comics and their undying, unwavering ridiculous support’—
Paul: And I think they also knew the last thing you wanted to feel was pitied.
Morgan: Of course. Yeah, I mean that’s, and in fact the last thing I probably wanted to do was be visited, it, it’s there’s something, there were a couple people that I called. You know, you have your cell phone for some time in these places, and it was people who had been through the exact same thing, and worse, and far worse. And I’m sort of lucky to be in a community of people who, there are a lot of people who I can talk to about stuff, by a lot I mean a few, but a few is enough, who can not just go, ‘oh I’m so sorry’, but go, ‘oh that’s like when I such and such’. And I would talk to an old writer friend of mine, much an older gentleman, on the phone at the hospital and he would just sort of regale me with the time he was in one for a year, and I’m in for like a couple weeks, you know, this is, and it’s very, I don’t know, I found that very helpful. And you know, that certainly was my last big, you know, I haven’t been in a hospital or anything like that since then. And that was certainly, kind of hammered home the idea that this might be a lifetime of monitoring—
Paul: Taking it seriously.
Morgan: Taking it seriously.
Paul: You know, I’m with you in that I don’t like being beholden to a corporation for my sanity, that scare the shit out of me, but everytime I try to go off them, that scares me more. And the other thing I would say—
Morgan: Not to interrupt, but it’s not just that, ‘oh god, I don’t feel good when I don’t take them’, it’s like I, when I’m not well, I’m so disproportionately not well compared to the things I have in my life and that is, that is what becomes ultimately terrifying is that you can’t even see what you have. YOu can’t even live in the reality of what you are and who you are. I look around I’m like, I have a job, I have everything I basically need, and then you get into a place where you basically go, ‘I would give up every dime, every everything just to feel sane for a second, just to feel normal for a second and not feel depressed’. It’s so crazy how much it takes you out of your own existence and your own reality, it’s bizarre.
Paul: It’s like suicide without the good part. You know, you’re sure alive, but you’re dead. You’re just this flat spirit walking around still with responsibility. It’s, and the, something that—
Morgan: This is a hilarious podcast by the way. This, I really think people are, why are you laughing out loud on the treadmill? What’s that? Oh? She didn’t feel like she existed within her body, good. I heard that part, that was pretty funny.
Paul: Well one of the things that won’t be in the iTunes description will be the word hoot. But you know, I just want to touch on something—
Morgan: Did the impression move her from her truth? I like that. I have a tag for that one.
Paul: I, but what I wanted to touch on, was when you were in his office, and you were looking at it from the attitude of I’m a burden, I just want to cut this off because I don’t want to disappoint them again, you’re depressed self, was missing the most important truth to me about being a human being, is if we don’t ask for help, and we don’t allow people to give us help and love us, we deny them that good feeling that you get when you’re of service to somebody and you care for somebody and you love somebody. We get so wrapped up in our own bullshit and we, our self-esteem gets so low that we forget that there’s a basic human connection in helping each other and caring about each other that is elemental to keeping our spirit up. So you, it’s about more than just us and our problems, when we isolate we’re denying other people a chance to have that good feeling in their life that they’re caring for somebody. So I just wanted to, I just wanted to stress that, because I know there are people listening to this podcast who are like, ‘I don’t want to burden anybody, I don’t want to do this’—
Morgan: Yeah, and as somebody who’s also been on the other side of that fence where I’ve had friends going through similar things, there’s nothing you want to do more than to, you know, help your friend be in as little pain as possible. So it’s, yeah, it’s interesting and hilarious—
Paul: It’s a chance for you to genuinely show your love in a practical way. Because we all tell each other, ‘hey man, I love you, I love you, I love you’, well here’s a chance to get to show that person how much you love them. So don’t deny, if you’re hurting don’t deny your friend that chance to show you that they love you, and that was nice that we managed to end on a cheesy note. Was there anything else you wanted to add before we go?
Morgan: Uh, no. I think that’s all right. I’ve listen to some of your podcasts, but is this the worst one?
Paul: Oh my god. I love that you didn’t even wait until it was over to start beating yourself up. I think we should end on that, you second guessing yourself before we even say goodbye. That, I love you Morgan Murphy.
Morgan: I love you Paul Gilmartin.
Paul: Thank you for being my guest and so honest, and now I know you a little bit better. And I like that.
Morgan: Well thank you. I’m glad you can get something positive out of it.
Paul: I know I did, and I’m sure other people will too. So thanks. It was a good interview. Now go live uncomfortably with that.
Morgan: Thank you.
Paul: Many thanks to Morgan for that warm and open interview. Before we take it out with a, and first I want to thank everyone who helps make this show possible. My guests, Stig Greve who does the website, my wife for her feedback, you guys for your feedback, the guys that help keep the spammers out of the forum, my friend in Seattle who wants to remain nameless that helps me with the social media, all you guys, thank you thank you so much. Before we take it out with an email, I want to remind you there are a couple different ways to support the show if you’re so inclined. You can support it financially by going to our website and making a PayPal donation, or searching through the Amazon link, that way when you buy something at Amazon we get a couple of nickels and it doesn’t cost you anything. And you can support us non-financially by going to iTunes and giving us a good rating. That boosts our ranking and it brings more people to the show. What if I just started doing the rest of all the episodes as Al Jolson? I wonder if my numbers would drop.
I am going to read a letter from a guy who calls himself Burt. We’ve, I contacted him after he emailed me, and we decided with, he’s more comfortable with holding his last name. And I’m only going to read you part of his email and you’ll understand why.
He writes, “Hi my name is Burt. I’m 25 and at the time of this email I’m in my last week of my time in the army. After which I’m attending a university. I went to Afghanistan in early June of 2010, and after a few months we went to a small patrol base where I acted as my platoon’s medic. Being a medic I was very close with every soldier and I was tasked with keeping them healthy. When we started doing missions I found myself treating many combat injuries, from superficial injuries to multiple amputations. I was injured in September of 2010 by a bomb that killed a close friend of mine. I didn’t lose any limbs, but it affected my ability to walk and run for some time. After the injury I was moved from the front lines as it were to our squadron aid station where I rendered routine rather than traumatic medical care. After finishing the deployment I returned home where I found myself alone. I convinced my father and brothers not to come see me off the plane, and feeling sexually hungry and inadequate at the same time, this led me to spending almost 2000 dollars on hotels and prostitutes. I tried to express the fact that I had a problem to appropriate army mental health officials, and was told, ‘we are swamped right now, and if you don’t have TBI, traumatic brain injury, or PTSD, then I should call a 1-800 number’. After blowing thousands of dollars on clothing and food and booze, my prostitution addiction came to an end.”
He then tells a story about his brother that is sort of long and involved, that I won’t get into here, but it’s it’s own story onto itself. And he closes the email with, and then he ends his email with, “your show helped me because of the episode featuring Teresa Strasser. I lost it when she told the story of her father telling her that he would never be okay no matter what of her killing herself. It’s been really cool writing this down, thanks Paul”.
I contacted him and said that I would like to hear his story. You know we always, and I mentioned this a little bit on the episode with the Vietnam vet Bobby T, we always say that we support the troops, you know what I would really love to do? I would love to fly Burt out here to LA, put him up in a hotel, no prostitutes, just the hotel, and have him come by a guest on this show. I don’t feel like a Skype interview would be enough with this guy. I don’t know why but I just want to see him in person. And we always talk about how we support our troops. I’m going to throw a crazy idea out there and let me know what you think, what if we tried to pool some money together and tried to pay for this guys flight to come out and tell us what it’s like to be a soldier. And tell us what it’s like to cope with all the things that he’s coping with, and give him some of that love that we dole out. We dole out awkward and icky, but we also dole out some love on this show. And why don’t you guys give me some feedback and let me know what you think the best way to do that would be. Maybe we could do something, a Kickstarter page, or maybe when you do the PayPal donation you could specific it’s to go to Burt’s airfare and hotel, I don’t know. But I just want to toss that out there and see what you guys think.
That’s pretty much it for the show. If anybody that’s listening that hasn’t been scared away by the fact that the show is an hour and 35 minutes long at this point, god bless you for hanging in there. Just know, whatever you’re going through, I get so many emails from people, beautiful touching emails from people going through so much stuff right now and I’m kind of in the unique position of being able to see how we’re not alone, everyday I’m reminded I’m not the only one stuck in my head. I’m not the only one that wakes up with the feeling of doom. I’m not the only one who struggles to get out from underneath that grey blanket of depression and get some color in my day. So just trust me, trust me on that. There is hope, and it does get better, and you’re not alone. Thank you for listening.