Susanna Brisk

Susanna Brisk

Borderline Personality Disorder is often misunderstood.  The blogger, author, performer and mom explains what it’s like to live with, how to manage it and when it’s most challenging.  She also shares about her emotionally volatile childhood with her Russian Jewish relatives who emigrated from Estonia to Australia and being the mother of two boys.  She also shares about living with the idea that her performing dreams may never come true.



Episode notes:

Visit Susanna's blog at Buy her book I'll Be The Death of Me at Amazon.

Episode Transcript:

Paul Gilmartin: Welcome to episode 141 with my guest, Susanna Brisk. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This-- that was a weird how I, “I’m Paul Gilmartin.” This is The Mental Illness Happy Hour: an hour or two of honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas, and sexual dysfunction to everyday compulsive, negative thinking. This show’s not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling, I mean, Christ, listen to me. You’re in trouble. You’re in trouble if you start taking what I say seriously [laughs]. Actually, I have some good advice. The show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. It’s not a doctor’s office. Oh I’ve gone way off-track. Danger, Will Robinson. It’s not a doctor’s office. It’s more like a waiting room that doesn’t suck. I should just stick to what I’ve been saying every time instead of trying to ad lib. I just get off track.

The website for this show is All kinds of good stuff there. You can read blogs by me, blogs by guest bloggers, and you can fill out surveys, which as you know, I love to read on the podcast. You can see how other people have filled out surveys. They’re done anonymously, so people really spill their inner lives onto these, and they’re quite fascinating. You can support the show by going to the website, as well. Not a lot of surveys. This show is going to be light on surveys. I’m getting ready to head to Toronto. I’m actually recording this a couple of days ahead of time even though it’s being posted the usual time. Really looking forward to doing the group recording on Friday night and the live recording with Scott Thompson on Saturday night. If you want any more details about that, go to the website, They’re on the homepage, there’s details about when and where and how to get tickets, etc, etc. Though the group recording you don’t need tickets for. La la la la la la la. Yeah, so not a lot of surveys on this episode. Let’s get into it.

This is from the Struggle in a Sentence survey filled out by a woman who calls herself Demink. She’s in her 30s. About her depression she writes, “I am stumbling in a dream where the lights are dimming and I can’t quite keep my eyes open.” About her anxiety, “I’ve lost control and I’m dying. Going insane and letting everyone down all at the same time.” About her codependency, “I can’t want to leave, because it means I am stuck with stupid old me. Man, that sounds pathetic.” Being a sex crime victim, “I hate my body for fooling men into stealing from me the experience of trusting my emotions, mind, and spirit with another person.” That is heavy. That is really heavy. I would take the blame off of yourself though, by saying that you fooled men into stealing that from you. You had no part in them taking that from you. That was taken from you. So that would be me coming in with a red pen and proofreading your pain.

This is from the Struggle in a Sentence survey, and this is filled out by L. She is between 16 and 19. I love when I get young listeners that are so articulate. It usually seems to be young women, just seem to be so much more articulate about their emotions than guys at that age. About her depression she writes, “My heart’s attached to an anchor at the bottom of the sea.” And then why is the teenage girl poetry always so horrible? Yet when they do the Struggle in a Sentence it’s so beautiful? Maybe I’m not reading the right teenage girl poetry. About her anxiety, “Needles pricking into every pore.” About her alcoholism and drug addiction, “Euphoria in the form of liquid or smoke. The crashes are catastrophic.” About her bulimia, “Filling with emotion, only to be emptied to a husk.” About her anorexia, “Abstinence. I am nothing. I need nothing. A permanent guilt for existing.” About her codependency, “The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming and shameful, but it outweighs my pride in depending on others.” Thank you for that, L.

This is from M. Same survey. She’s in her 20s, and she writes about her depression, “It feels like everything I am looking at and everyone I am talking to is on the other side of a thick plate of glass. It’s there, but it’s distant and unreachable.” That is how I have always been describing my depression and my alcoholism and drug addiction. That’s what it feels like when it’s bad, yeah. About her anxiety, “I’ve lived with it for so long that its presence is comforting, and its absence, fighting.” I’d never thought about the absence of anxiety being frightening. About her alcoholism and drug addiction, “I love feeling as close to nothing as possible.”

I suppose this is where I should probably say something pithy to kick us into the episode, but I don’t have anything to say, so I’m going to lean on Pema Chodron and read just a quote from her book, When Things Fall Apart. “At the root of all the harm we cause is ignorance. Through meditation, that’s what we being to undo. If we see that we have no mindfulness, that we rarely refrain, that we have little well-being, that is not confusion, that’s the beginning of clarity. As the moments of our lives go by, our ability to be deaf, dumb, and blind just doesn’t work so well anymore. Rather than making us more uptight, interestingly enough, this process liberates us. This is the liberation that naturally arises when we are completely here, without anxiety about imperfection.”


[intro plays]


PG: I’m here with Susanna Brisk, who I just met for the first time. We corresponded via email. I’m not really sure where to begin. There’s so much from your life, and I’ve just gotten the broad strokes from reading about you. I’m not really sure where to begin. So I guess let’s start from the beginning. You’re how old roughly?


Susanna Brisk: Ooh, ouch. Is that where we’re starting? I can’t imagine where we’re going to go if we start there. I’m 39.


PG: Okay.


SB: I’m actually going to start lying about my age next year, but this year I really am 39.


PG: Awesome, well then you’re going to be 39 forever, so that’s awesome.


SB: For the next ten years, and then I’ll be 49 for the next ten.


PG: What’s the fear underneath people knowing your real age? That you won’t get work? That you’ll be judged?


SB: I think I’ve probably just lived in Hollywood too long, because there’s definitely a stigma about women aging. I haven’t done anything to myself yet. But I think it’s probably just from being an actress and a model when I was younger. It’s probably left over from that. I mean no one really gives a shit about anyone but themselves, so.


PG: [laughs] That’s the bottom line.


SB: Yeah, it’s kind of an irrational fear, as if anyone’s going to be sitting at home taking notes on how old I am.


PG: I mean, have you ever said to yourself, “Oh no, not that person. They just turned 40.” [laughs]


SB: No. But women, we do have to deal with a little more stigma. I mean look at Sean Connery, and then all the love interests are like 25. It’s kind of disgusting.


PG: Oh yeah, the double standard is pretty gross. My favorite, too, is the schlubby guy on the sitcom that has this smoking hot wife.


SB: Hot, hot size-zero wife. Yeah, I know.


PG: So you were born in Europe.


SB: Estonia, in the former Soviet Union, yeah.


PG: What was that like? So you got about, what, ten years of living there? How long--


SB: Actually I was three when I left, but I have a very good memory for some reason. Very good long-term memory, so I remember a lot about it. But yeah, I grew up with these kind of communist intelligentsia parents. Actually intelligentsia and they hated communism. That was their whole thing, was like they were anti-communist. That’s why we left.


PG: Did they know anybody that was pro-communist? It just seems like everybody except the people in charge were miserable under communism.


SB: No, there were party members. I had a great uncle who was part of the communist party. He definitely was really gung-ho about communism. He lived in Australia, and he would always complain about how everyone was on the street and the way that they just let people down. The government wouldn’t take care of its people. Meanwhile he was living in like a projects kind of a thing for free in a lovely apartment, care of the government. So it never really made sense.


PG: In Australia?


SB: Yeah. I mean you can’t say the projects, exactly. It’s more like the housing commission, public housing.


PG: They have unwaxed surfboards.


SB: In Australia?


PG: Yeah, that’s the ghetto of Australia is where they can’t afford wax.


SB: [laughs] Well that’s why I had to leave, because I’m not a surfer and I don’t drink beer.


PG: I want to give a shout-out to our listeners in Australia. We have tremendous support from our Australian listeners.


SB: Oh that’s great!


PG: A lot of donors, I get a lot of emails from people down there. I just want to take a minute to thank them for being so awesome.


SB: Hi, Aussies! How are ya? That’s because you don’t really get to talk about these things in Australia. I think that there’s a real-- it’s an English thing. It’s a stiff upper lip kind of thing. “Here, have a beer, mate. You’ll be alright. She’ll be alright.” You don’t talk about depression, you don’t talk about mental illness. They’re not topics like they are here. Well certainly in Los Angeles, most people I know have a therapist, most people have some kind of something going on, and they’re very open about it. But it’s definitely not the case in Australia. They have a very high suicide rate, did you know that?


PG: No I didn’t.


SB: One of the highest in the world.


PG: I did not. That is one of the last places I would’ve guessed. I would’ve always thought the Nordic countries.


SB: That’s right, but no. There is a high suicide rate. It’s Japan, it’s Australia, and I think it’s Sweden that are high.


PG: So sad to think of a blonde person in a sauna wanting to end it all. It’s like, if you could just see yourself through my eyes.


SB: [laughs] Are you talking about an Australian or a Swedish person?


PG: No, a Swedish person.


SB: Because that could apply for an Australian, too. A lot of blondes.


PG: Yeah I don’t think of saunas when I think of Australia, though. So is that where you moved, from Estonia to Australia?


SB: Yeah, I grew up in Australia with these Russian parents, and I went to Orthodox Jewish school. I was picked on a lot for being Russian.


PG: And having red hair, I would imagine?


SB: Yeah, there’s that. There’s always that. Then you grow up and you’re like, “Well, now you try to get my color, bitches.”


PG: [laughs] Excuse me, I forgot to plug in my laptop, so I was just wandering over to go do that.


SB: That’s okay.


PG: By the way, we are in-- this is our first recording in my new digs, my new rented office. So far so good. We were getting some audio noises, some hums and crackles and pops before we started rolling, but so far, nothing yet.


SB: Good, fingers crossed.


PG: Fingers crossed.


SB: Yeah, it’s kind of bare in here. There’s nothing on the walls. It kind of feels like you’re face-to-face with your own demons. There’s nothing to distract you.


PG: If you had to pick for a movie a room where a businessman at the end of his rope would shoot himself, this is the room. But the table that we’re recording on was--


SB: Gorgeous.


PG: --the front tree of my yard. So I feel like that brings a little bit of warmth and--


SB: A little bit of cheer.


PG: A little bit of cheer to it.


SB: Maybe you could put a poster up of The Shining on the wall. That might help cozy the place up a little.


PG: [laughs] So tell me, what was your childhood like growing up in Australia? So you were considered--


SB: Oh, it was fucking fantastic.


PG: You were a red-haired Russian. What was your family dynamic like? Were you guys close? Were you emotionally-- did you guys express emotions to each other?


SB: We expressed too much emotion. There’s no shortage of emotion in my family. Everyone is very intense. They’re Jews and Russians, so everybody screams all the time, even-- they’re just talking, but they’re screaming. My grandmother, who did a lot of the job of raising me, because a lot of children of these Russians who came out in the ‘70s were only children and then they were raised by the grandmother. My grandmother was borderline. I know that now, borderline personality disorder. But at the time, it was just like she’s very strange. Everybody knew babushka was a little strange.


PG: Could turn on a dime.


SB: In a second, very mercurial. She was very hard to predict. She was kind of like up my ass all the time. Not literally, thank god. But she was a force of nature. She never stopped. She only had one mode. She was manic. She drank six cups of coffee a day, massive cups, with like six things of sugar in it. She was obsessed with sugar. She used to read Der Spiegel magazine, which is this German--


PG: German, yeah.


SB: --S&M porn. Random--


PG: Der Spiegel was?


SB: Often, often featured. Yeah, there’d be a page open and there’d be some weird photo shoot with people in leather. I’d be like, “Oh I don’t understand.”


PG: That’s so funny, I never remember-- we had a German deli across from me in Chicago, and I took German in college, so every once in a while I’d thumb through one of theirs. All I can remember is occasionally there were topless pictures. But I would see if there was anything I could read anything in German, and of course I never could. But I don’t remember anything kind of that--


SB: All I remember is the S&M pictures, because I was just like, “What’s that?”


PG: So would she come down ever? Or was it always up?


SB: No, she was always up, and that’s what I was trying to figure out from my mom years later. I was like, “Was she--“ because I thought maybe she was bipolar because she was so manic. She was like, “No, she never needed much sleep. She very rarely even sat down.” She never seemed to be depressed, but at the same time she was always angry. There was always an undercurrent of anger. Everything you did, if she didn’t like what you did, the eyebrow would go up. She’d have this collection of sounds that she made, like “Ah! Cha! Gah! Ah cha!” like this. Sort of like your snap crackles that are happening on your podcast. That’s what she sounded like. Her hand would swipe at you, “Ashhe! Ashhe!” Be like, “Babushka, you look so good today.” “Ashhe!” Like anything you said was just not good enough. It was not good enough.


PG: Was she ever pleased by anything?


SB: No.


PG: What a sad--


SB: She would sit at family gatherings and be like, “What is this all for? What is this? What is this for? What a waste of time.” You couldn’t please her.


PG: Did you ever turn the switch off trying to please her?


SB: I still haven’t [laughs]. I don’t think-- she’s dead, long gone. I’m still trying to please her.


PG: Do you feel like you have her voice kind of inside you guiding you sometimes?


SB: Probably, yeah. I feel her with me sometimes. I had a car accident about a year ago, and I felt her there when I survived it. So maybe--


PG: So a positive thing.


SB: --she was taking care of me. Yeah, and I loved her. I adored her. I saw her more than I saw my parents, because my parents were immigrants struggling and working all the time. All I wanted to do was be with my parents. I really didn’t get to be with my parents much. My father was starting his jewelry business. He worked all the time. He was kind of angry all the time. I always felt like I was in the way. My mother’s just a character. My mother’s been swearing, since I was like seven years old, in Russian. It would be the kind of thing where - there’s an episode in my book, actually - she was washing the floor in the kitchen. I was like, “Can I help you, mommy? I want to help you.” She’s like, “Ah, fuck off. I don’t need your help.” It was like that. It was just very intense, and I didn’t really understand it. I would just kind of run to my room and cry a lot.


PG: There is a team in my hockey league that is 90% Russian. If they get down by one goal, they just start attacking each other.


SB: [laughs]


PG: You can hear them from across the ice, just screaming at each other. I’ve always wondered, is that just them? Or is that like a cultural thing?


SB: It’s genetic and cultural. It’s in our blood to be down on ourselves and on each other. I mean, “Failure is not an option.” It’s just the culture. It’s like you wean it from your mother’s breast kind of thing. It’s just in there.


PG: Do you ever wonder what-- do you think it’s because of all the wars and the dictatorships and the abuse of power over the centuries in Russia that just kind of ingrains that collective suffering?


SB: I think so. And then when you have the Jewish thing on top of it, you’ve just got a very traumatized people. It’s just in the blood. It just becomes passed on through the generations as kind of soul darkness. I don’t think that your real soul is actually dark. I think that everyone has a light inside them. But just above that, there’s a little layer of “nothing’s really going to work out”. If that was the ethos, it was just like, “Life will fuck you. Deal with it.”


PG: It is such a poisonous way to go through life. So completely understandable, but it’s such a-- it’s like we get one shot at the buffet. Do we really want to just sit and complain about the food and say, “Eventually this is going to come out in the form of a shit”?


SB: [laughs] Yeah, you don’t want to focus on the whole toilet part of it. You want to enjoy the food.


PG: Yeah. But it’s so hard. Easier said than done.


SB: It’s true, yes.


PG: So you’re around your-- you call her your “babushka”?


SB: Babushka.


PG: Babushka.


SB: Mm-hmm.


PG: What do you think you’ve gotten from your relationship with her that has benefitted you?


SB: That’s a very good question. She used to bring me books, and she encouraged me having a stamp collection. She taught me how to knit. She taught me how to play the piano. She spoke eight languages fluently.


PG: What?


SB: I speak five, yeah. I’m like a slouch in my family. They’re all just geniuses. They’re all brilliant.


PG: What languages did she speak? Obviously Russian.


SB: She spoke Russian-- well in Estonia, you spoke Russian, German, and Estonian. Then on top of that she’d picked up French, Yiddish--


PG: English.


SB: English, that’s right. Her English and-- let me think. I haven’t thought about this.


PG: Oh that’s enough.


SB: I think she spoke maybe Hungarian and maybe… What am I missing? Little bit of Hebrew. Yeah, I mean she was just amazing. And she had perfect pitch. She could play the piano, and she taught me piano. She gave me, genetically, I have a talent for playing the piano. So I think it’s kind of more the genetics.


PG: She must’ve been annoyed by people that couldn’t keep up with her.


SB: She couldn’t stand people. She couldn’t stand people anyway. She was just the complete isolationist. She had these decades-long correspondences with people, but she couldn’t stay friends with somebody if you lived nearby. She had a best friend called Madam Wartmann, and they were always fighting. They were always not talking to each other, because it was too close. I said in my book, she would’ve loved Facebook, because it was like the perfect amount of intimacy for her. She just couldn’t handle-- she didn’t suffer fools, and to her, everybody was a fool. So I mean, I kind of think she was probably suffering, but my mother doesn’t think that she was suffering. She just thinks that she was the only person who ever lived like that on the planet. But that’s not possible. Everybody is in some way like somebody else. It took me decades to figure out that she was borderline because of that. Because my mother was always like, “Well your grandmother, you know. She was singular. There’s no one ever been like her.”


PG: When did she pass?


SB: My son is now eight, and it was right after he was born.


PG: How many kids do you have?


SB: I have two kids. They’re eight and nine. They’re boys and they drive me insane. I really hope they’re not mentally ill. That’s basically my whole--


PG: Did you have any brothers growing up?


SB: No, no siblings.


PG: So you are getting an education.


SB: Nothing.


PG: You were an only kid?


SB: Yeah, totally. Only child, yeah. I don’t understand boys. I don’t understand anything about it. I finally actually bought myself a Barbie townhouse, because I just gave up on being able to play with dolls, because they’re such boys. They’re best friends and then they’re punching each other a minute later. Some moms are just, “That’s alright. It’s alright, honey. We’ll let them sort it out.” But it’s very troubling for me, because I don’t understand boys. I understand men more, but I don’t understand boys.


PG: You know how girls will hold hands and--


SB: Talk to each other and stuff, yeah.


PG: --talk to each other. Boys’ way of doing that is wrestling and punching and getting into trouble. That is how we find our place in the world and that’s basically how - at least for me - that’s how I related to my friends, was tackling each other, playing jokes on each other, daring each other, doing things that were gross to make each other laugh. That’s how. Because you wouldn’t grab your buddy’s hand and go, “I just feel really close to you.”


SB: [laughs]


PG: You know? Everybody would’ve piled on top of you and called you a fag.


SB: Right, a homo.


PG: Etc, etc, yeah. So yeah, that’s so--


SB: Wow, I got an education today. I really didn’t understand that until this moment.


PG: Unless they start torturing animals and burning shit down--


SB: No, my kids are not sociopaths, no.


PG: --then I think, in my opinion-- I mean, I don’t know, I’m just a former standup comedian that used to cook chicken [laughs]. But in my opinion, that’s totally normal. That’s how I was, that’s how all my friends were.


SB: Interesting.


PG: There was almost like a, “How far can we push things until there’s blood, and then pull back just a tiny bit?” So just know that that’s inside them, constantly, “How far can we push this until one of us bleeds?”


SB: Oh god, what a nightmare. Thus, the trips to the emergency room.


PG: But eventually they’ll--


SB: Settle in and become productive--


PG: --be interested in girls.


SB: They are already.


PG: Well that takes some of the edge off.


SB: Yeah. Sometimes one of them will play with themself and he’ll look right in my eyes, “Look, mommy.”


PG: [laughs] Seriously?


SB: I’m dead serious. I’m like, “Sweetie, do that on your own time.” I don’t want to shame him, I want him to be able to explore his body. But I’m just like, “That’s not for mommy, sweetie.”


PG: Good for you.


SB: “Do that in your bed.”


PG: Good for you.


SB: In a few years, ew, ew. I’m going to be changing those sheets. Ew!


PG: [laughs] Kicking the pillowcase to the laundry room.


SB: [laughs]


PG: That must be a tough thing for moms and dads to navigate, when there is that burgeoning of their sexuality that you don’t want to shame them, but you also want them to know-- you don’t want them to--


SB: When it’s appropriate.


PG: Yeah, you don’t want him to--


SB: You don’t want him taking his dick out in class for god’s sake.


PG: Exactly, or at somebody else’s house in front-- “that” mom, and him saying, “But my mom says it’s not a problem.”


SB: Yeah, that’s right. Well it’s hard enough I think when you’re mentally well. But when you have issues, everything just becomes more difficult. Because I feel like I feel my kids’ pain more. When they’re upset, it’s taken me a long time and a shit-ton of therapy to be just like, “Okay, he’s upset right now, and that’s okay.” Because I had suicidal ideation from when I was seven. I mean I literally was seven years old, and I remember wanting to kill myself. That was like 32 years ago, I’ve had suicidal ideation.


PG: Do you still have it?


SB: Occasionally, yeah. It’s actually been pretty good right now. But it’s almost like I want to say, “Just do it already.” [laughs] “Stop thinking about it.”


PG: That’s funny, because somebody would see you in a coffee shop, they would be like, “Why can’t I be that put-together? She’s got the gorgeous, curly, auburn hair. She’s statuesque. She’s got two beautiful kids.”


SB: Right yeah, but you just meet me for a couple of minutes and that whole illusion will slide away very quickly. Because I’m very open about my struggles. On my blog and even just when I meet people, I’ll often just say-- they’ll be like, “Oh you seem happy today,” or something, and I’ll be like, “Yeah, I’m medicated. I’m correctly medicated.” I don’t want there to be a stigma about what we all go through. It doesn’t seem fair to have to deal with that and then to have to hide it as well.


PG: Exactly.


SB: So that’s why I love what you’re doing here. I do.


PG: Aw thank you. I appreciate that. So let’s talk and go back to when you were seven. What do you think that was about, the suicidal ideation? What do you remember wanting to avoid or get rid of that suicide would bring you?


SB: That’s a very good question, because I think it happened after my grandfather died. I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral because suddenly-- I mean my dad’s an atheist. These are not really Jewy-Jews. We had traditional Judaism. It was mainly about the food. Suddenly they got so Jew-y and so Orthodox and I couldn’t go to the funeral. I think that affected me--


PG: Why couldn’t you go to the funeral?


SB: Because if you haven’t had one parent die, you’re not supposed to hear the Kaddish if you’re a kid. Again, this archaic lore that they just randomly decided to follow when they would totally eat pork on Shabbat. They were totally not religious. I went to school with religious kids, so I was always trying to get them to light candles, just trying to reconcile all of these worlds, I guess, and trying to figure out where I fit in. I just remember being in my classroom and just putting my head on my desk and just thinking, “I want to die.” The kids were picking on me, I was crying every day. I don’t even know how I got it, but then I made these suicide pills. I had a little Hello Kitty or a Bobby and Kate little plastic pencil holder, and I took my mom’s paracetamol, which is like Tylenol, like a little capsule, and I opened it and I crushed up some of her other pills. They turned out to be birth control pills.


PG: [laughs]


SB: I don’t know if I thought she had cyanide in her bathroom thing, but so I closed them up and I kept them for just in case. I mean who does that at seven? That’s weird. That’s when people say to me, “America’s over-medicated. Everyone’s on medication.” It’s like, “Well that’s not really my problem,” because I know that I had a problem really early on, because that is not normal.


PG: Common--


SB: But not normal.


PG: --but not normal maybe.


SB: Right.


PG: So many people I know, if they didn’t think about suicide at that age, they wanted to be with a different family. I had that one, where I just - oh God - I so badly wanted to be raised by a different family. And just going into fantasy. Was fantasy kind of a drug for you as a kid?


SB: Oh absolutely, yeah. I loved to read, and I was so caught up in this whole thing that I’m going to be an actress. Even when I was really little. I would draw billboards of myself, and I would play different characters. So I’m 39 and that hasn’t happened, but we plug on [laughs].


PG: [laughs] As you say that, what feelings--


SB: [laughs] I just feel like I want to cry right now.


PG: Why?


SB: Because it’s so funny to think that you get older, and to have the same dream that you had when you were four is kind of ridiculous in a sense, because I’ve changed so much even in the last six months. How can I be the same person I was when I was four? But I just think life is kind of a little bit of a bait-and-switch, to be honest.


PG: What do you feel like was promised to you, and what do you feel like you were given instead?


SB: I don’t think anybody really ever promised me anything, because I didn’t grow up with a great sense of entitlement, because we didn’t have very much. But I think I thought I would be happy more consistently than I am. Even though I am, at a baseline, pretty content. I have to say that I’m better than I was a couple of years ago or ten years ago. The lows are less low. But I just feel life’s kind of a gib. Everyone’s like, “Oh have kids.” Don’t fucking have kids. Seriously, listen to me. Listen to my words. Do not have kids. It’s not what it seems to be. It’s a lot of shit-work, housework. Not that I think I’m better than that, but you know what, I’m better than that.


PG: [laughs]


SB: It’s like, what is this life that I have? I can’t believe my life sometimes, honestly. Like you said, from the outside, it looks wonderful. I live in Malibu, for god’s sake. Malibu, California. What’s wrong with Malibu? Nothing. But it’s like driving these kids to football and soccer, I mean really? Is this it? Is this life? Parenting’s the ultimate bait-and-switch.


PG: What do you do to feed yourself? Because if you don’t have something other than driving the kids to soccer practice and cooking dinner or whatever it is-- I would think it would be the rarer person that could be completely fulfilled by that.


SB: There’s lots of women in Malibu who are totally fulfilled by that. They’ve had big lives, and they’re happy with what they’ve achieved, and they’re on the PTA. They’re volunteering and they’re room-mom this and parent-mom that.


PG: But are they really happy or are they just presenting it? We’ll never know, but--


SB: They’re happier than I am. I mean, I write. That’s my thing. I write and I act, and that makes me feel like it’s okay. Even if I never make a living in this business, which it’s been 22 years and I’m kind of tapping my watch going, “Okay.” I know I’ve moved a lot of people and I have a lot of people who really appreciate my work, but the creativity itself, the actual process, is what saves me, definitely. And sex [laughs]. Lots of fucking.


PG: Are you married?


SB: No, I’m separated, yeah. 11 months.


PG: Oh no.


SB: We were together 14 years and married for 12. I was married to someone who I’m sure that you know, because everybody in comedy knew him. I became sort of his wife as opposed to-- you know, I was a stand-up comic for 12 years, I was obsessed with it. I got on TV very early in Australia, and then I think I was kind of young and couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities like I could have. But who knows all the reasons why things happen the way they do? Then I went to New York, because I was like, “I’m going to be a star!” Then New York didn’t care. Then I met my husband and it was really much more about me being his wife. I felt like that overshadowed even my huge way too big personality. It did overshadow it for many years.


PG: Are you comfortable sharing who your ex-husband is?


SB: I was married to Barry Katz. It’s very easy to find out on Google, so I mean I may as well. Do you-- you know Barry?


PG: Yeah, the manager?


SB: Yeah.


PG: Yeah, yeah.


SB: And he’s doing a podcast now that’s really successful and--


PG: With Jay Mohr?


SB: Yeah. Actually he’s doing his own podcast called Industry Standard. It’s doing really well.


PG: Oh good.


SB: Yeah, we’re still really good friends. We live in the same house. It’s kind of unusual. I wanted to do a reality show, but he’s too private. I hate that. Bravo were interested in maybe doing a show with us, because I live downstairs in the guest room next to the kids, and he lives in the master. We’re just totally amicable. It’s been 11 months, and we’re really good friends. It’s unusual. It’s an unusual situation. We love each other! We’re still family.


PG: What was it that drove you apart, then?


SB: I don’t want to go into that too much, because I do want to safeguard his privacy--


PG: Say no more. Say no more.


SB: --but let’s just say I turned 35 and he turned 50. I wanted one thing, and he wanted to nap.


PG: [laughs]


SB: So that really pushed us apart.


PG: Do you ever feel like there was an extra allure to him because he was powerful in comedy and you were trying to become powerful in comedy?


SB: I think it was probably about 10-20% of my attraction for him, but I was really in love. We were really in love. We have a very sentimental relationship. There are thousands and thousands of these greeting cards - they’re in boxes now in his closet and mine are in the garage - of, “I love you. I live for you. You saved my life. You’re my world.” I think, for him at least, he got very stuck on the idea of the relationship more than the reality. I think he went through a really hard time with my mood struggles. I didn’t really understand it until we were separated, what he went through. It’s terrible to watch someone you love suffer.


PG: Do you think he picked you because he’s a fixer?


SB: Yeah, I think he’s a bit of a rescuer, yeah.


PG: I think most managers are. The ones that are successful have to be invigorated by putting out fires and soothing and comforting and taking a call at two in the morning and telling people what they think they need to work on.


SB: He’s like the papa. He’s so paternal. He’s like the father or the daddy of comedy. For me, I worked out all my daddy issues, let me just tell you that. In being with him for 14 years, I have no daddy issues [laughs]. I do not need to date any more older guys, because I worked all of that out. I got all my soothing, I got all my daddy stuff, my daddy attention. I get to keep that.


PG: So now you’re looking to get some cougar on?


SB: [laughs] What do you mean “looking to”? I don’t waste any time.


PG: Yeah?


SB: Come on, it’s been 11 months [laughs].


PG: So you’re out there and you’re dating, or you’re--?


SB: I’m seeing someone, but I see other people. I see people. I see lots of people.


PG: Okay, so you’re sowing your oats. Your post-marriage oats.


SB: Yeah, and I sowed enough oats before I met him, believe me. I thought I’d had enough oats, but apparently things change when you’re older, and yeah, I’m having a good time.


[music plays]


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[music plays]


PG: There’s so many things that I want to talk about, so I guess we’ll take them as they come. But I do want to go back and talk about more stuff from your past, but--


SB: I feel like I should be paying you for this, 120 an hour.


PG: I get as much out of it as anybody I interview does. I feel embarrassed when people say that, because I’m worried that they think I think I’m a therapist, which is the furthest thing that--


SB: No, I’m not getting a therapist vibe from you.


PG: Okay good.


SB: No, and I’ve seen tons of shrinks. So I know a therapist when I see one. I can usually pick them before they’ve even told me they’re a therapist.


PG: Although most good therapists are fucked up on some level.


SB: Right, and they go into it themselves, as you said like the manager dynamic, is that it’ll distract them from their own problems. Yeah.


PG: Or they’ll have something to draw on. I think the really good therapists, because they’ve struggled, they know what their client is feeling. The empathy can’t be faked. When you share that you want to die with someone and you see the look in their eye that they-- if not that they’ve been there, but that they know what you’re feeling.


SB: Absolutely.


PG: And you feel them feel you. You can’t learn that in school.


SB: Yeah, it’s huge. It’s huge. I’ve actually been in a program, I’m in a program right now for 18 months. It’s called the Borderline Personality Initiative. It’s one group therapy a week and one individual therapy. I’m about halfway through, and it’s completely changed my life. I had no idea that I was borderline. I had to find out from the Internet, which normally is not a very good way to diagnose yourself. But when I read about borderlines, it was always from the point of view of other people looking at borderlines. There’s a big stigma with that, “Therapists can’t stand borderline patients.” Therapists always loved me, I was like their favorite patient. I would always entertain them. If I left therapy, they’d be like, “I just want to tell you I’m really going to miss having you here.” There were a lot of things that made it difficult to diagnose. But then I happened upon an article that was from the point of view of the borderline, which was attachment issues. Massive--


PG: Severe abandonment.


SB: --abandonment. Feeling uncentered, feeling like you have a completely changeable kind of identity that changes every day. It’s kind of unpleasant.


PG: Who you have to present completely depends on the situation in front of you because you are not enough.


SB: Right, yeah.


PG: And you feel your emotions, on a scale from 1 to 10, you feel them 11.


SB: Absolutely. And you can’t explain that to people. It’s like, “I’m not just sad. I’m not just irritable.” It’s like my skin is irritating me. You can’t explain that to people. Or the mood swings where you suddenly-- like I’d be with my kids, and it was like the lights went out. I was just like, “I have to go to bed.” I do believe that there were things in my life that were contributing to my unhappiness at the time that I had those kinds of mood swings. But it’s just all magnified when you have this disorder. Part of it is because my Soviet parents brought me up with this Dr. Spock. Dr. Spock, if you know, he was a child psychologist--


PG: My parents had all those books.


SB: Oh my god. He did so much damage, that Spock.


PG: [laughs]


SB: That bastard. Then he came back afterwards and said, “You know I was wrong about a lot of those theories.” Well what are we supposed to do now? Dr. Spock told them, “Don’t pick up a baby when they cry. Let them cry themselves to sleep.” I believe that’s when my attachment issues started, because my mother would stand outside the door crying, not coming to pick me up. You can’t do that to a baby. They form insecure attachment.


PG: Can you taunt the baby? Does that help?


SB: [laughs] Can you swear at the baby?


PG: So have you been diagnosed by a professional as a borderline personality, as having it?


SB: Yeah, and this is after decades of being like, “Well you’re not bipolar, because you’ve never had a real manic episode. You’re kind of cyclothymic, which they call bipolar III. Because I get hypomanic. Very difficult to medicate, because very very sensitive. You give me a tiny bit of a medication, I’m like a zombie. Nobody wants to do that. I have very smart doctors, I always have. My psychopharmacologist was always like, “I don’t want to give you that.” In fact, when I first came to see him - this was probably about four years ago - and I was like, “I just can’t feel any joy,” which they call anhedonia, “I’m just so depressed.” I thought, “Oh he’s going to give me more antidepressants.” He said, “You’re on too much medication.” He actually took me down. They have to be very very smart, these people.


PG: So what are you on now?


SB: I’m on a couple of antidepressants. A couple of weeks ago I went off my mood stabilizer because I had really bad side effects. I was on a new medication called Latuda, which is so new that when my insurance lapsed, I got to find out that it’s $750 without insurance.


PG: What?


SB: Per month. There’s no generic of it yet. So it’s so new. I can’t take Lamictal because I got the rash right away. I’m allergic to sulfa drugs. I tried Neurontin. It made me too sleepy and just--


PG: Dry mouth. I was on that one for a while, too.


SB: Not myself. Neurontin, it didn’t give me dry mouth. It just made me just kind of dull and not myself. I couldn’t think properly. The Latuda seemed like it was a gift from god honestly, and then a year in, I suddenly started getting akathisia. Do you know what that is?


PG: You’ve thrown out more big words--


SB: [laughs]


PG: --in five minutes than I’ve heard in my entire life.


SB: Google is my friend. I like to understand. I want to know, I want to understand.


PG: What was that last word that you said, and can I put a saddle on it? Because that was a big-ass word.


SB: Akathisia is when you have an inner restlessness. It’s very unpleasant. You feel like you want to move all the time.


PG: Oh my god, I’ve been getting that from the Lamictal. When I try to sleep at night I’m tired, I’m completely fine for like a half hour, and then all of a sudden I feel like I want to put my foot through a wall.


SB: It’s horrible.


PG: My wife says I do this thing where I like swim in bed, because I just--


SB: Yeah, that’s what I was doing.


PG: --none of my-- yes, I know what that is.


SB: But what dose are you on of Lamictal?


PG: It’s an augmented dose, so it’s 200 milligrams. It’s not for psychotic-- a full dose would be 400 milligrams for psychosis--


SB: Right, you’re on a pretty low dose.


PG: Yeah, but it’s--


SB: Sometimes you can make it lower, and that’s the way to get rid of the symptoms. But I was on such a low dose and I was doing weird shit in my sleep and kind of walking around in my sleep. I mean I’ve always been kind of a weird histrionic sleeper, where I talk and chat and speak in different languages, in tongues and stuff like that. But it got even weirder, so finally I was just like, I can’t. I can’t do this. You know what’s interesting is when I went off it, and it wasn’t as bad as going off antidepressants, because I’ve been on pretty much every one in my long mental history career. Paxil was the worst to get off, by the way. Really bad.


PG: Brain zaps?


SB: Yeah, and paresthesia. Sorry, that’s another really big word.


PG: What’s that?


SB: That’s when your lips buzz.


PG: Really?


SB: It’s just a festival of happiness, isn’t it?


PG: I’ve had my thighs buzz, where it felt like my phone was on, like my phone was vibrating.


SB: Yeah, that’s akathisia, yeah. It’s horrible. Then when you move, it actually kind of hurts. It’s not like you go, “Well now’s the time to clean my room,” because it’s painful to move through that.


PG: I haven’t had that.


SB: At least it was for me. So but going off it was not that bad. It was just a couple of days of kind of crying and feeling like I was 12. Then I got softer. It was funny, because I think that in detaching you from whatever it is in our brains that has a little seizure and makes us, for me, it had to control the anger or whatever the mood swings, whatever that thing was. In dulling that, it actually dulled some of my feelings. I felt like I loved my kids more, I just loved everything more. I can feel more. So it’s actually been really good, and so far I haven’t killed anybody.


PG: [laughs]


SB: So I probably won’t have to go on another mood stabilizer. Maybe I will someday, but I’ve run out of stuff. The only thing I could take is lithium, and that’s not right for me. I’ve never been manic. Lithium is mainly to control mania, and I’m much more on the depressed side of the scale.


PG: When you say you have hypomania, that’s just below mania.


SB: It’s really quite a deal below mania, because you’re not as grandiose as that. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve slept like four hours a night for a week or not slept much. I just get a little more productive and feel a little more entitled. It’s kind of a pretty slight turn. I don’t know, I haven’t felt hypomanic for a really long time.


PG: I was told that - when I was on my first like three weeks of Lamictal, somebody was like, “You’re hypomanic.” Because I went back to looking at pornography, but in a way that was super compulsive. Like six hours in a row of--


SB: Oh that’s a lot.


PG: --like, and categorizing like, “I’m going to want to look at this later. Let’s put this in a folder.” And then three weeks later was like, “Delete.” Couldn’t give a shit about it.


SB: Well that’s good. Because you know a lot of people go to a specific group for that specific problem.


PG: I’m not saying that I don’t go to a gazillion different support groups


SB: Me too! I know, I’m surprised I haven’t seen you at one of them.


PG: [laughs] But that was an effect of the beginning of-- as you know, a lot of meds, there can be a honeymoon - for lack of a better word - period where there are side effects that then will go away.


SB: Or the opposite which I had, where I had a year honeymoon and then suddenly the side effects were so bad. If I took it at night, then I would get the akathisia while I was sleeping, which wasn’t as bad.


PG: Remind me, akathisia was the--?


SB: Inner restlessness, yeah. Feeling like you have to move, but then when you move, it’s unpleasant. It’s, yuck, I’m really glad I don’t have it anymore.


PG: Would you find yourself when you get it, like your calves, pointing your toes relieves a stress in your calves?


SB: Yeah, like you have tension in your body. I mean I do yoga five or six times a week. So I do a lot of stuff for my mental health.


PG: So you’re stretching. It’s not like your body--


SB: Exactly, it’s not like my body is seizing up on me. It was about the medication.


PG: So how many different support groups do you go to--


SB: Regularly attend?


PG: --regularly or semi-regularly?


SB: I’m in probably about five.


PG: Good for you.


SB: I don’t know anyone else but you, Paul, who would say, “Good for you.” [laughs]


PG: I heard somebody say, “If you’re not in three, you’re in denial.”


SB: You’re lying to yourself, yeah. The first one-- well you don’t want me to be specific. But the first one I went to was for smoking cigarettes. I was like, “This is it. This is my only thing.” Everyone was like, “Yeah, stick around.” So you peel the onion, as they say. They say more will be revealed, which I always think is wonderful/disturbing.


PG: Yes, it is. Because you want to think you’re done.


SB: Yeah, I mean at some point we have to be done with this whole-- and that was part of the thing in my marriage, is that I have been working on myself for so many years, because pain is a great motivator. I mean if I didn’t fall into a hole every couple of months, I don’t think I’d be motivated to be a better person. I would be quite happy to just walk around and feel like everybody else feels. But when you get in that kind of pain, you want to understand. For me, I want to understand what is this and how do I get out of it? I want as many tools as possible, because you never know which one is going to work to get you out of the hole.


PG: I would imagine, too, that your desire to want to understand human nature beyond your own had to have been lit by your experience with your grandmother.


SB: So the thing about borderlines is that supposedly we don’t have empathy. But that’s not exactly the way it is, because borderline people aren’t necessarily sociopaths or textbook narcissists. It’s just that we have a hard time reading people’s facial expressions. Again, we’re not autistic. It’s not that kind of reading facial expressions. It’s just that a lot of the time, it’s hard for us to swing around and figure out what the other person is thinking. So in terms of my grandmother, I never knew what she was thinking. I had absolutely no idea what was going on in her head, because she could turn on a dime. So I felt like that with most people in my life, probably until about the last year, where I really - from doing this program at UCLA - I really am able to go, “You know, I feel like you’re mad at me right now. Are you mad at me?” Like actually check in and figure out what is going on with people.


PG: Is that DBT?


SB: No, it’s actually called Mentalization. There is a little aspect of DBT to it, but the program is this guy Peter-Somebody started it in the ‘80s, so it’s still relatively new, and it’s called Mentalization. It’s about being able to mentalize is like trying to figure out all the different things that the other person might be thinking that have nothing to do with what you’re projecting on them. It’s incredibly helpful. When you start actually noticing yourself doing it, it’s like-- I did so much cognitive behavioral therapy, and there were so many years where I didn’t act out at all. I was like the model citizen. I was still going after my creative career, and I was raising kids, and I had a great marriage. But I was suffering so much underneath. I just behaviorally had modified everything. I wasn’t smoking, I wasn’t drinking, I was monogamous, blah blah blah. But underneath, to get at the underneath stuff, that’s what this mentalization has been so good for. Because it’s no point walking around like an Automatron trying to do the right thing if you’re still suffering so much underneath. You want to get into the underlying causes of why we think this way.


PG: I think one of the most helpful things is to realize, people are probably thinking about themselves.


SB: Oh completely. That’s the first thing you learn.


PG: It’s not about you.


SB: No, it’s so not about you. That’s a process of maturity. You’re supposed to figure that out when you’re 20. And I kind of did. I remember doing this training, it was based on est. It was an ontological training, and I really did figure out at that point. That was like the beginning the door cracked open a little bit to being aware and conscious. Before that I was just completely running on ego. There was just fumes of ego for years and years. But that was the first time I realized, “Oh wait a minute. You mean everything’s not about me?” You’re 20, that’s kind of late to figure that out. My kids already, even being normally self-preoccupied like an eight or nine-year-old should be, they kind of have a sense that the entire world does not revolve around them. Even though they grew up in Malibu, they still have that sense. So I think that’s a borderline thing, too. Our growth gets retarded in a way.


PG: Have you seen that video that Marsha Linehan is in?


SB: Yes.


PG: Marsha Linehan is considered the expert, because she also has borderline personality disorder.


SB: She came out and said that she was borderline so many years after she developed that DBT. Even for her, she felt like there was a stigma and she didn’t want to say. I’ve read a lot of her stuff online, yeah. I have not seen video of her.


PG: The video is amazing. I posted it on my Facebook page, and I think we have a link on the website as well. If not, when this airs, I’ll put it up there.


SB: Oh great, I totally want to watch it.


PG: It’s the most informative thing about borderline personality disorder that I’ve ever seen. Everybody should watch it. One of the tips that they give-- self-injury is a common thing with--


SB: Yeah, that’s one thing I didn’t mention, yeah.


PG: Do you have a history of that?


SB: Oh absolutely, yeah.


PG: Let’s get into that in just a second. But the tip that I wanted to share that she had--


SB: I can’t wait.


PG: -- because as you know, it’s a way to release pain, because there’s so much inner pain, that’s a way of physicalizing it and have it “come out”. A tip that she gave is that, hold ice cubes.


SB: Oh yeah, I’ve been doing that for years.


PG: Oh okay.


SB: Yeah, I’ve been holding ice cubes for years. I’ve been throwing ice cubes in the bathtub for years.


PG: What does that do?


SB: It releases the-- see people self-harm because of a lot of different reasons. Sometimes you want to do it because you’re dissociating, and it’s a way to get you back into your body when you’re dissociating. That’s more of the holding ice thing, because the pain puts you back into your body. But sometimes it can be about the anger, and you’ve turned the anger inwards. So you’re cutting or whatever. I’m not a cutter, I have different self-harm things. I’m too squeamish to be a cutter. But throwing the ice is you get the sound and you get the impact of it. I’ve even taught my kids to do it if they’re frustrated.


PG: Water in the bathtub or no?


SB: No! So that the sound.


PG: I see, the clunking of it.


SB: Yeah, yeah, and you feel like you’re releasing something. I mean because you can punch a pillow. They tell you to punch a pillow, but in some ways I feel like, I mean I’ve read in different places that that can actually just build it up and make you more enraged.


PG: I punch seniors.


SB: [laughs]


PG: Because I find that most of them don’t stay on their feet, and there’s a sense of accomplishment.


SB: I hate old people.


PG: [laughs]


SB: I don’t know if it’s because of my grandmother.


PG: Seriously?


SB: I really cannot stand old people. I did a seniors yoga class the other day, because it was the only one I could get to, and I literally thought I was going to throw up, just from the toenails alone. And it’s terrible, it’s a terrible-- I’m a bad person for this. But I just can’t get with old people. People go, “Oh old people, they’re so cute and they’re so wise.” No. No.


PG: I like old people as long as they don’t remind me of my mom. I went to a support group a couple of weeks ago, and about half the room reminded me of my mom. I was like, “I don’t know if I can come back here.” I’m sure these people are way more recovered than my mom was, but there’s the outward signs of the talking a lot and just kind of getting into your business and invading your space. It was just very triggering to me.


SB: That’s the thing with old people for me. I’m assuming it comes from that, because my grandmother was very old when she had my mom, even. So I always remember, she was always old. It’s not so much with my mom. My mom [laughs] is, she’s a lot more like a normal kind of codependent.


PG: You don’t think that she has borderline?


SB: No, my mom-- it’s complicated because I feel like there is a tendency a little bit to pathologize everything once you get into a group, it’s like everything’s this. It’s like, “Oh they’re a narcissist. Oh they’re this.” It’s like, people can have traits. Someone can have borderline traits, but they may not be necessarily be fully borderline. Or the same with narcissism or so many conditions. So I could say that my mother has codependent traits and that she definitely has a lot of opinions about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. Not in a normal kind of way. I’ve had to really fight to become myself. I mean I moved 6,000 miles away, for god’s sake. It was a pretty radical move to say, “Leave me alone.”


PG: I like to say I moved to Los Angeles because that’s where I hit water [laughs].


SB: [laughs] Yeah.


PG: So yeah, I get it.


SB: “Keep going ‘til ya hat floats.” Yeah.


PG: But do you feel like your mom was an easier person to be around than your grandmother?


SB: Yeah, and she was sweet when I was little. I just had more issues with her after I became a teenager. Because then I was like, “Oh now you’re around? Now you want to tell me how to live? What happened a few years ago? Could you have picked me up from school one time so I didn’t have to walk with that smelly older human?”


PG: Who?


SB: Grandmother.


PG: Oh, grandmother.


SB: I mean, because they were working all the time. They didn’t understand how important those things were to me and their presence was to me. Luckily my children are spoiled for that. I’m always around or dad’s always around. They have no idea. Sometimes they whine about the separation, they’re like, “Mommy, it makes me so sad that you and daddy are separated.” I’m like, “Who’s separated? I’m here. We’re having breakfast. I live right in that room. What is your prob-- you need to understand how lucky you are.” Because we’re staying there to raise the kids. It’s for them.


PG: But they probably miss seeing your affection with each other.


SB: We’re still pretty affectionate. Not like, you know, we don’t kiss on the lips or anything. But we hug and kiss on the cheek.


PG: Do you feel like you have more appreciation for your mom now that you’re a mom and you know what goes into it?


SB: Sadly no.


PG: No?


SB: No. I didn’t have that big resurgence that I know a lot of moms have that. They’re like, “Oh my mom, she did her best.” I kind of got more resentful once I had children [laughs].


PG: I appreciate your honesty, because I know there’s going to be people that are going to have some problems with you.


SB: People are always going to have problems with me. I can’t worry about that.


PG: I appreciate that, though.


SB: I’m just pretending it’s you and I in a room and no one’s ever going to hear.


PG: This is great. We did an episode with Ted Lyde, who said many the same things that you said about being a parent. I got some emails from people that were like, “Fuck that guy.” I will probably get a couple of emails from people that will say that about you, but I appreciate that you are owning your inner life and you’re not sugarcoating it. Because I know there’s also going to be people that are going to email and say, “I feel exactly the way she does.”


SB: Yeah, well that’s why people read my blog. I mean I feel like my blog is like, “This is for you.” It’s like a public service, because people do sugarcoat it. I adore my kids. If I didn’t adore my kids, I wouldn’t care. If I didn’t care, it would be easier. I’d just be like, “Watch videogames all day, see if I care. I don’t give a shit. Brush your teeth or don’t, who cares?” But it’s because you care that it’s so difficult. So you can accuse me of anything you want, but you can’t accuse me of not caring. That’s why it’s difficult. But in terms of my mother, I was really hoping that I would understand her more once I had kids, but it just hasn’t really happened. Again, because I’ve had a lot of therapy, I recently went back to Australia and visited them. That’s where they live. It was much much better, I really saw a huge difference. It’s like, if you want to know if your therapy’s working, go be around your family and you’ll see right away how far you’ve come or how far--


PG: Or take a vacation with your spouse.


SB: Yeah, yeah. Well we didn’t really have that-- this was--


PG: You live in Malibu, where do you go to vacation?


SB: No, that’s true. But that was one of the problems with being married is that we never had any problems. We literally had no conflicts. I mean I was 23 when we met. So I was just like, “Oh my god.” I just put him up on a pedestal for ten years. Then once we started actually having conflicts, there was no structure to resolve them. People would say, “Relationship is work.” We would be like, “What are they talking about?” Because it was no work for us. We just adored each other. So it’s actually good to have those conflicts if you go on a vacation with your spouse or whatever. Those are the people that stay together. But for us, by the time we got to therapy, it was way too late.


PG: Because you didn’t feel like you had ways to communicate what you were feeling to each other. There was so much under the bridge that it was like--


SB: Exactly.


PG: --“I don’t even want to begin this project, because there’s eight miles of paperwork, and I’d rather just start another one clean.”


SB: Yeah. I mean I think that’s more how I felt. I can’t speak for how he felt. But I think, at the time too, I hadn’t started this program, so he brought in a list into therapy about all these things that kind of were wrong with me. I just couldn’t assimilate it. I was crying my eyes out. Now, you could sit with me and you could actually tell me all this stuff about myself, and I would own it. I would be like, “Yeah, it’s true, I talk too much,” and, “Yeah wow, it must’ve been really difficult living with me and not knowing if you were going to come home and I’d be swinging from the chandelier on a noose. That must’ve been really difficult for you.” But at the time, it was just like, “Oh my god, he knows I’m a bad person!” That’s one of the things about having this problem with your perception is that you can’t take even a little bit of criticism. So it’s a shame. It’s a shame we couldn’t make it work for the kids.


PG: What are the addictions that you struggle with? If you’re comfortable.


SB: I am addicted to everything [laughs]. I really feel like--


PG: What are the ones that bring you the most difficulty?


SB: I don’t have any right now, because I cut them all out. I don’t drink alcohol anymore, I don’t take drugs, I don’t eat sugar. I’m off sugar for like-- one of my good friends got cancer, and I started, again, Googling and I found out the link between why sugar and cancer. I’ve recently fallen back into one of my other addictions, which is so horrifying. I can’t even believe it. I had six years, nine months, and 23 days off cigarettes. And I had a moment in my relationship where I was just like, I’m either going to really self harm - which I hadn’t done in a long time - or I’m going to smoke. Because I know if I smoke it’s going to get rid of it. I started to smoke, and so now I smoke five cigarettes a day. I’m managing it and white-knuckling it from each one cigarette to the next.


PG: How were you going to self-harm yourself? “Self-harm yourself.” Harm yourself?


SB: Self-harm yourself. Well I used to beat myself. In fact when I was hospitalized last year, I had punched myself in the face, in the eyes. It’s horrible.


PG: That’s so sad.


SB: I know. I know, I’m so gorgeous. How could you possibly mess with this face? I’m not even hypomanic right now and I’m telling you that. No, it’s just coping mechanisms. Stress exceeding coping mechanisms. Then it’s like, that’s the best you can do at the time.


PG: What is the goal when you’re punching yourself in the face? Is it to feel a certain feeling or to get a physical result that you can look at?


SB: For me it was penance. It was like, “You deserve this.” I was hit as a child. I can’t say I was physically abused, because it didn’t happen often enough. But my dad had an explosive temper and he drank a lot. I got hit sporadically, and it was like always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think it has something tied in with that, where it feels like I deserve it, it feels familiar. Then, like I said, sometimes it’s about not wanting to dissociate. Sometimes it’s about just anger that you can’t-- it’s locked in there and you can’t get it out.


PG: What does it look like when you dissociate? And why do you think-- what triggers dissociating?


SB: It’s very complicated. It’s something to do with a mechanism that you develop in childhood, and then it becomes-- it’s something that can often help you in childhood. It’s a numbness. It’s a feeling of unreality, you’re not really there. It happens to me from time to time. Sometimes I do it on purpose.


PG: Are you just thinking about another place in time?


SB: No.


PG: Describe it, describe it.


SB: It’s like you just have no feeling suddenly. You’re just numb. You’re just going through the motions, but everything’s kind of unreal.


PG: Does it happen to you, or is it something you choose to do?


SB: It’s both.


PG: Can you give me an example?


SB: Yeah, it happened in the car with my kids. I was feeling so trapped in the car with them, they were just going crazy and crying. One of my kids was crying for half an hour because the other kid took his chip bag. It was just after I’d gone off my medication, so I just wasn’t in a good space. Then I was so worried, I thought, “God, is this the new normal? Is this what my life’s going to be like not on this medication?” Because if I stay centered, all of their hysteria, it does come down eventually. But if I don’t stay centered and I start screaming or freaking out, then it just escalates beyond. I don’t want them to grow up like that. Obviously I don’t want to be my father and be like this rage-y whatever, Cruella de Vil. But the one thing that I do that my father never did is that I apologize. I own it and I clean it up. The repair is very important for kids, to see you go, “Mommy made a mistake. I made a really big mistake. I raised my voice. I swore. I apologize. I feel really bad about it.” Then that’s it. Because I’m not going to beat myself up about it forever.


PG: What a great example for them.


SB: I think so, because they do-- one of my kids is specifically more hard on himself. So hopefully he’ll see that example. You don’t have kids, right?


PG: Mm-mm.


SB: Yeah, good choice. Yeah because one of the things that horrifies you-- I think I must’ve been over-medicated when I decided to have kids, because I can’t believe I didn’t think about like, maybe they’ll inherit all of my craziness. I was just like, “Oh my god, come inside me!” just like a moron. Now, it’s like, God, I really worry about that. You see that and you just think, “Oh my god, is that going to be a little baby alcoholic? What’s it going to be?”


PG: I get a lot of emails from people that worry about passing their crazy onto their kids. But I don’t think anybody should judge themselves for doing that. Because I think people, when they do confront their battles head-on, they really become an asset to society. Because we have to learn tools to survive, but those tools then are available for us to deal with everyday life. They can really improve our relationships with people. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already, but we can be of service to people in a way that somebody who hasn’t experienced the crazy rollercoaster maybe can’t. But the not-knowing if your kid is going to be one of the ones that survives that addiction or that mental illness, I can totally understand that wanting to have kids and-- that’s one of the things I think has kept me from ever wanting to have kids is that feeling of, “Oh if they’re going to feel like I do, I just can’t do that to somebody.”


SB: Right, yeah, you just can’t bear the thought of them suffering is just, you just can’t bear it. It’s unbearable to think about it. But I agree with what you’re saying, because it’s a very profound process. I do think often that it’s-- sometimes. I’m not going to say often. I sometimes think it’s a gift that we get to do all of this kind of work. Because it is really profound. If you can get that awareness, you can be more than the average schlub just sitting in their car going to their 9-5 like completely asleep at the wheel. There’s a lot to be gained from that. You get beautiful moments when you’re that aware and that awake.


PG: My favorite are the beautiful moments that are simple, that don’t require the universe doing something above and beyond for me. Just a moment of maybe having a nice lunch with a friend where you’re there for them, and you just all of a sudden feel this sense of purpose and that you’re where you’re supposed to be in the universe.


SB: Right, or just having a cup of tea and looking at-- I mean, I get to look at the ocean.


PG: Der Spiegel.


SB: Yeah, Der Spiegel. Whacking off to Der Spiegel.


PG: [laughs]


SB: No, I mean for me, I get to look at the ocean. I’m very lucky. But sometimes that’s how I know sometimes when I’m depressed, because I’m looking at the ocean and there’s nothing. I mean, there’s nothing going on. I’m just like, “Meh, more ocean. So what?”


PG: [laughs] What’s it all mean? It’s just wet.


SB: Yeah, fuck that. Fuck those dolphins, man.


PG: Flaunting their joy and their freedom in front of me.


SB: Yeah, what makes them so happy? I mean are they genetically happy? Were they raised better than I was?


PG: They’re probably happy that they’re not tuna.


SB: [laughs]


PG: That’s what drives them.


SB: Except in Japan, where it doesn’t make a difference.


PG: Did we miss anything in childhood?


SB: You know the subject of attention is interesting, because I am such an extrovert and such an exhibitionist. I don’t think there’s enough attention on earth available for me at any given moment. It’s something I just cannot blame on my parents, because I know that I was like that even at two years old. I would always be coming up to strangers, “Blah blah blah blah blah.” I got one kid like that who will just talk to anyone about anything. He will tell you anything you want to know and a lot of things you don’t. It’s absolutely adorable. You don’t want to squash that, because it’s sweet. It’s part of his personality. But in terms of getting enough attention, I don’t know what another upbringing would have done. But yeah, I didn’t get diddled or anything, thank god.


PG: I just want to clarify about the wanting to know the stuff about childhood and the attention and stuff. It’s not to blame the parents because oftentime the parents can be really great. But maybe we’re a super sensitive kid--


SB: We are.


PG: --that misinterprets something. Then we let it kind of shame us or whatever. It’s not important who is to blame. What’s important is how it made us feel and how we deal with that thing that’s kind of tattooed on our soul. I know I get emails sometimes from parents that feel like I’m looking to blame them. There are certainly times that I am, but mostly I just really want to explore those messages that we put into ourselves and those feelings that we can’t shake, that seem to so often spring from stuff that happened to us when we were kids.


SB: But there is a certain point, where if you’re still blaming your parents, you’re not doing your work. Because obviously you’re an adult now, and that’s your part, is that you have to get over it.


PG: Can we say “work through it”?


SB: Work through it. “Get over it! Pull your socks up!”


PG: Because I fucking hate that. I hate that phrase, “get over it”.


SB: I know, I had “Pull your socks up,” I hate that. That’s a very Australian thing. “Pull your socks up? Yeah, alright, I’ll get right on that.”


PG: You don’t have a silly word for socks? It seems like, you know, “Pull your jimmys up!”


SB: No, no. “Pull your Johnny’s on!” No, they’re just socks. But I think being a parent, that’s one thing whereas it didn’t specifically bring me closer to my mother, I did understand more about you can’t blame your parents for stuff because there’s so much that you do inadvertently all the time, even if you’re really conscious and you’re trying really hard to implant these ideas into your kids. They’re like little sponges. You don’t know what they’re going to pick up. So it’s frightening. It’s a lot of responsibility.


PG: I don’t think any parent is physically, mentally, emotionally capable of giving any child everything that they need.


SB: They’re not supposed to. Otherwise what would you write about?


PG: [laughs] One of the traits I’ve heard of people with borderline personality is they’re highly manipulative. How aware are you of that trait in yourself, and where you find it expressing yourself? Do you find yourself being manipulative?


SB: That’s a really really tough one. That was one that I really had to pause over and think, “Am I really borderline?” Ultimately, like I said, I didn’t make the diagnosis, it was made for me by people who are medical professionals who I trust. But I didn’t understand that, because I don’t think of myself as being manipulative at all. I’m so what you see is what you get, and so wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m so obvious, I’m so transparent. I know that because I have a kid who is a manipulator, who I realized - my younger son - when he was about three, I was like, “Oh my god, this kid is manipulating me.” It doesn’t even occur to me that someone is manipulating me. My ex-husband is very manipulative. He knows how to get you where he wants you. I just have none of that. However, there’s an unconscious manipulation that happens with borderlines, because we’re so afraid of being left. So sometimes I will look over my texts, for example, with, say, this guy I’m seeing who I just completely adore. I’ll look at the texts and I’ll be like, “Oh those are really borderline-y.” Like there’s something kind of semi-manipulative about it, but for me, it’s not conscious. It just has to do with not wanting to be left. Or I’ll say to him after the fact, I’ll be like, “I’m sorry, that was kind of manipulative,” and he’ll say, “I know.”


PG: So do you feel like it’s more of a you positioning yourself to not be hurt than you trying to change or fool that person?


SB: Yes, yes. I think that’s the kind of misconception, and I really found that out because group therapy is part of it, and I’m sitting with five or six other borderline women when they show up.


PG: By the way, some people have a real problem with being called “borderline”.


SB: Yeah, there’s a stigma.


PG: No no, I mean they prefer to say - even though it’s so wordy - “people who meet the criteria for borderline personality disorder”. That’s what Marsha Linehan says instead of calling people borderlines, because some people feel like that is summing up their entirety as that’s who you are instead of that’s a part of yourself.


SB: Yeah, I mean I understand that definitely. There’s also, in the DSM-5 now they’re calling it emotional dysregulation disorder, which some of the girls in my group prefer. But it’s just for the sake of time--


PG: I get it.


SB: --I’m just kind of making it shorter. I would hope, I would pray that people wouldn’t just classify me as, “Oh that borderline.” But I think, like I said, I’ve just done so much different creative work, it’s like this is just one facet, one thing that-- I put it in the forward of my book to understand more of my journey, but that I’d been writing for like ten years. It’s like none of that stuff really changed, it just gave it kind of a framework to understand why I reacted to certain things the way I did. But I see it in this group, this manipulation. It’s so fascinating, because it’s not conscious. I really think that people who meet the criteria for borderline personality disorder--


PG: [laughs]


SB: --get a bad rap about that. Because really they’re just trying to-- there’s one in particular, one girl, she’s in the hospital right now. Routinely people go into the psych ward and whatever. She just seems so manipulative, but I can see through it. I know it’s just because she doesn’t have attention, she’s not attached. She hasn’t found secure attachment within herself, which is what I’m working on. I read about it online, it’s called nondual awareness, that’s what some people call it. It’s just that part of you that’s like the observer. Once you get a relationship with that part of you, hopefully you’re not as intent on trying to get it all the time from everyone around you. But I understand her. I understand, and I have empathy for her. But if you didn’t know what she goes through and how that she just tried to kill herself a couple of weeks ago, you would think, “Oh wow, she’s really manipulative. What’s wrong with her?”


PG: Have you ever been to a psych ward?


SB: Yeah just once, last year.


PG: Can you talk about that?


SB: That’s the only time. No, it’s in the book. I’m not letting that out. You got to buy the book to read about that. It’s very funny.


PG: Is it?


SB: Yeah, I was writing the entire time. I mean it was really, really funny. It was great, because I’d never hit that bottom. My whole life I’d never been hospitalized, I never had a suicide attempt. I didn’t make a suicide attempt. You could probably call it a suicidal gesture. But I didn’t lose my sobriety or anything. It was just like I just flipped out.


PG: Did you commit yourself?


SB: I got put on a hold, but I didn’t know at the time that it was a hold. I thought I was free to go until I saw the sign as the door closed: “Warning, flight risk.” I was like, “Wait a minute!”


PG: [laughs]


SB: “I thought I was in here voluntarily!” But it was good. I was in there for like four days. It was very important. It was definitely the beginning of-- I was like the mayor of the mental ward. It’s all in the book. I was just all up in everybody else’s problems trying to fix everybody. It gave me a lot of perspective. I counted the number of PhDs at a certain point. There was a woman who had two PhDs, and almost everybody there had some crazy masters or PhD. This stuff has nothing to do with intelligence.


PG: Nothing, nothing.


SB: So I really got that.


PG: Is there anything else that you’d like to touch on before-- and we’ll give a shout-out to your book and your blog and your website and everything at the end.


SB: No, that’s all. I’m just really-- thank you for having me. I really believe in what you’re doing here.


PG: Thank you.


SB: It’s good. When I heard about it, I was like, “Oh please. I’m like a perfect fit for this thing. I’ve been training all my life for this podcast.”


PG: Did you get a chance to write any fears or loves?


SB: I did, actually.


PG: Would you like to do those?


SB: Sure.


PG: I’m going to be reading the fears of a listener named Dana. So go ahead, why don’t you start?


SB: Nice. Okay, I’ve always had a fear of big metal objects. Rusty cranes, pipes, and also silos. Any kind of industrial part of town with lots of mechanical objects and steam coming out really freak me out. I don’t know if I’m afraid the pipes will burst or the objects will fall on me, but I used to have to close my eyes passing them on the road as a kid. Now I’m driving so I can’t close my eyes.


PG: That’s fantastic, and that’s a first.


SB: [laughs]


PG: I always feel like that when I walk by propane tanks. I get very nervous.


SB: Yeah! Yeah, we might just be neurotic.


PG: Definitely. Dana says, “I’m just now at the age of 20 getting to see my parents’ marriage fall apart. I’m not just afraid of seeing them get divorced for the obvious reasons that it’ll suck, but also because all of my friends’ parents have been divorced for years, and they’ll be completely justified in telling me to suck it up and go fuck myself when I try to milk sympathy from them.”


SB: Funny. “Pull your socks up, Dana,” they’ll tell you. God forbid. I have a pretty nasty fear of heights. My ex-husband made me go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and I’m surprised the photo we took at the top wasn’t blurry, because I was shaking really hard. I don’t know why I feel safer on heights if I hold on to a person. It’s not like they’re going to be able to stay up if the building collapses.


PG: “I’m afraid that I need the sympathy so badly that the thought of theoretically not having it is enough to make me fearful. I imagine a woman figuring that out about me, and I can’t imagine it’d make her think of me as anything else but an overly sensitive unfuckable nancy boy.” I guess she’s gay.


SB: Gotcha. Yeah I got a little thrown by the genders there. Cool. I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to stop smoking again. I just started up after six years, nine months, and 23 days, and yes I was counting, because I had an app.


PG: [laughs] I know friends that have that app.


SB: Yeah, good luck to them.


PG: “I’m afraid that I’m going to have a child when I’m in my early 20s and penniless and not being able to provide for it or myself and being too crippled by the sadness of having proven my parents right about me being a loser to pay any attention to raising it.” I love how personal and detailed her fears are, and yours as well. It always makes for a great fear list.


SB: Thank you. It is hard to hear, though, because you just-- to think of someone that young already kind of catastrophizing about this future, children she hasn’t even had yet.


PG: [laughs] Yes.


SB: It’s kind of like, “Oh honey, please no.” I’m afraid my kids will end up mentally ill. Anything from alcoholic to heroin addicts to suicidal and depressed, which on the bright side, does put me in a good position to help them.


PG: The other plus is if they’re heroin addicts, there’s a good chance they’ll start a band.


SB: [laughs]


PG: [laughs] “I’m afraid that having isolated for the past two years means that when my depression finally eases up, I’ll step foot into a world that cares even less about me than it did when I first decided to hide from it.”


SB: I’m afraid my kids will be felons and then will be unable to get a job. Keep in mind, my kids are currently eight and nine.


PG: [laughs] “My parents really want me to have children. I’m just afraid that my kids will resent them for making me the person I am as much as I resent my grandparents for making my parents so fucked up. Because if that does happen, they’ll be sorely disappointed by the lack of nursing home calls they’ll receive.”


SB: Ouch.


PG: These are awesome.


SB: I’m afraid of what will happen if I have to move out of the house I share with my ex-husband as we raise our kids together. I worry about what the impact will be on the kids if we’re living apart and they truly feel the cost of our separation. But no doubt, there will be an iPad app for that by the time that happens.


PG: [laughs] That’s great. “I’m afraid that coming out to my parents about being molested as a child made my mom and dad’s problems with anxiety and depression infinitely worse. There’s not a day where I don’t regret telling them.” That breaks my heart.


SB: Totally.


PG: Never, never regret telling your parents that. Any good parent would want to know that that happened to their child. Stop taking the burden of your parents emotionally being overwhelmed. If they want help, they can get it. They’re adults. They know that help is available.


SB: It sounds like she’s definitely just taking overall emotionally way too much responsibility for her parents.


PG: I want to encourage Dana to read that article that Alan Rappoport wrote about co-narcissism.


SB: Co-narcissism, yeah. I listened to that on your show. It’s brilliant.


PG: It’s one of the most profound articles I’ve ever read. The mini-episode is just me reading the article. When I read it, I was like, everything was explained for me why I do the things that I do. I was able to have compassion for myself and for my parents because I realized these are real things. These are actual things that we’re all battling. This is not personal.


SB: Right, yeah. Well Dana’s a little young to know it’s not personal, sadly.


PG: Yeah.


SB: I’m afraid of the apocalypse of the earth [laughs]. Just keep it real simple. I often have dreams that are taking place during the apocalypse. Some kind of catastrophic event. Usually everyone is armed and it’s Lord of the Flies. Ironically, I’m not one of those doomsday-prep people, and if something happened right now, I’d have about one tin of smoked trout and one tub of Sparkletts water to get my kids and I through the rest of our lives.


PG: [laughs] That’s awesome. Dana’s last one is, “I’m afraid that I’ll always be a wicked downer.” I’m taking it she’s from the east coast.


SB: Yeah, sounds like Boston. Let me try to work which one. Oh here’s-- okay, I’m just going to read one more, which is, my biggest fear is of being abandoned. I endure this every day, as I’m the kind of person that feels abandoned when someone leaves the room.


PG: [laughs] That’s great. Do you want to go to loves?


SB: Loves, sure!


PG: Do you have loves?


SB: Yeah, I have my loves.


PG: I’m going to be improvising my loves because I couldn’t find the list of listener loves that I had.


SB: Okay. I love how my younger son talks. He says W for R and L, so even when he’s really mad, I have a hard time not laughing, because sometimes he says things like, “Weave me awone!”


PG: That’s very cute.


SB: He’s so cute.


PG: I love having a guest on that addresses an issue that we haven’t had a lot of on the podcast, specifically you talking about having borderline personality disorder.


SB: Awesome, thank you. I love my older son’s buck teeth. They’re so fucking cute. But he’s getting braces at some point soon, I’m sure he’ll complain about them for every minute of every year that he has them, because he’s not a tough kid.


PG: I love that I have this rented space now--


SB: Yay!


PG: --and my podcast feels somehow just a tiny bit more official.


SB: That’s awesome. That is exciting. Okay, I love sex. I love everything about fucking, even the awkward weird fumbling bits. Sometimes I think I should’ve been in porn, because I could fuck all day every day [laughs]. I’m not just saying that to get new male fans, it’s true. I dug deep for this one.


PG: I love that you admitted that, because I think a lot of people are afraid of--


SB: Well women especially. We want to empower women in your sexuality, especially if you’re late 30s or in your 40s, 50s, older. You got to own that shit now.


PG: You’re at your peak, isn’t that right?


SB: We’re peaking! Absolutely, as we speak, I’m peaking. No, not really.


PG: I love that feeling of when I haven’t had any caffeine for the first two or three hours that I’m up, and I do have that cup of caffeine, it affects me more deeply. Almost like when I used to do a bong hit first thing in the morning. It’s like it’s--


SB: Free rush.


PG: --hitting a clean slate, and it just feels like I’m squeezing more out of it than I would if I had drank it first thing in the morning.


SB: [laughs] Spoken like a true addict.


PG: Yeah, and I’m going to get one when we’re done, and I can’t wait.


SB: I know, now I want a coffee, too. I love my oatmeal in the morning. I make it with blueberries, shredded unsweetened coconut, and agave. Since I stopped eating sugar more than a year ago, I have literally nothing left. This is all I have left, is this half-sweet oatmeal.


PG: I love walking out into our front yard and picking a fresh vegetable and making an omelette out of it.


SB: I love the innocent look in my children’s eyes as they make jokes about penises.


PG: [laughs] Another thing so common for boys. We are totally-- it doesn’t change once we get older.


SB: No, I notice that.


PG: Maybe eases. Maybe eases once we get older.


SB: I don’t know, all the guys I date are pretty obsessed with their cocks, I’ve noticed. Anyway.


PG: Well speaking of that, I love that bit by bit, tiny bit by tiny bit, I get more comfortable with my genitalia.


SB: This is good.


PG: Yeah.


SB: I love babies. I love babies. I don’t want another one, and I might kill myself if I got pregnant right now. But when I see those chubby faces and legs, I just want to eat them.


PG: That’s a really common thing that I hear friends and people share, is that there’s like a desire to eat that toddler’s face. You know what I mean?


SB: There’s an article only a few days ago that they actually scientifically figured out what it is. It actually stimulates the same part of your brain that’s about hunger and satiating your hunger. There’s actually a scientific basis for wanting to eat a baby.


PG: That makes perfect sense. I love how ridiculous my dogs are when they hear a noise or a fly, and they both go hide either behind my wife’s computer or behind the toilet.


SB: Cute. I love the way my two dogs kiss each other when they’ve been apart for any reason.


PG: Aw that’s adorable.


SB: Yeah, one’s a Labradoodle and she’s brilliant. The other one is a Cockaterridoodle-something and he’s not too bright, but they love each other.


PG: That’s sweet. I love seeing the relationship between dogs.


SB: It’s so cute.


PG: Our little guy is kind of obsessed with the female dog who’s a little bigger. She’s always trotting around the house, and I love when he trots next to her and is just constantly looking up at her.


SB: So cute.


PG: I just love that. I love that kind of affection and admiration.


SB: They’re a pack. It’s adorable. Okay, how about this one. I love being the center of attention, except I have a bit of social anxiety at the thought of someone drawing attention to me when I’m not ready for it. I don’t like the thought of it, but in reality when I get to be on stage or in front of people where all eyes are on me and people are listening, I’m totally at ease and happy. Sometimes more than when I’m alone.


PG: I know that feeling. It’s the opposite of abandonment.


SB: Yeah [laughs].


PG: It’s like I feel a calm come over me, like this is where I’m supposed to be. Finally everybody has a chance to see what might be special about me.


SB: Isn’t that funny?


PG: Yet it’s kind of pathetic at the same time.


SB: Just a tad [laughs].


PG: Maybe more than pathetic, but I don’t know.


SB: No, no.


PG: The world needs performers.


SB: It’s a gift. It’s a gift to give people, to make people laugh. I just like making them cry as well, so stand-up’s not exactly the right form for me anymore.


PG: Susanna, thank you so much for sharing your life with us and you being so frank about things that I think some people would be afraid to say for fear of coming off as dislikeable or whatever. I love that you own your inner life.


SB: Thank you.


PG: I think that’s a great example.


SB: Thank you, I really appreciate it. Sometimes it’s harder in a podcast, because people can’t see me smiling. But anyway, we can’t really worry about that.


PG: The web address of your blog?




PG: And your book is called I’ll be the Death of Me?


SB: Yes.


PG: It’s available on Amazon.


SB: Yes.


PG: Got great reviews.


SB: Yes, yes.


PG: Anything else that you’d like to plug?


SB: No, really just buy my book. Read the blog and then buy my book again [laughs].


PG: [laughs] Thank you so much.


SB: Thanks, Paul. Thank you.


PG: I really enjoyed that, and I hope you guys found that as enlightening as I did. I was really glad to get a guest on to help enlighten us about what it’s like to live with borderline personality disorder. Many thanks to Susanna. Be sure to go check that blog out that she writes. Before we get to the two surveys that I have to read, I want to remind you guys there’s a couple of different ways to support the show if you’re so inclined. You can go the website, Also that’s the Twitter name you can follow me at. Good way to find out updates about the show or maybe articles that I’ve read that I like, I will often retweet that stuff. Go to, and you can either give a one-time PayPal donation or sign up for a recurring monthly donation, which means the world to me. It really helps keep this show going. You can sign up for as little as five bucks a month and then you don’t have to worry. Once you set it up it just kicks me five bucks a month. You don’t have to change anything until you decide to cancel, which hopefully you never will. Who knows, maybe you’ll turn into a bad person and you’ll cancel it. Then there you will be sitting by your fireplace in all your awfulness [laughs]. Now I’m feeling the need to apologize to anybody that doesn’t think that’s a joke. Yeah, once you set it up, until you decide to cancel it or your credit card expires, you don’t have to do anything. So big, big shout-out to those of you that are monthly donors and have given single donations as well. You can also support us by writing something nice at iTunes, giving us a good rating, or spreading the word through social media.

All rright, let’s get to these two surveys. They’re both Happy Moments surveys, and they’re both bittersweet. I think that’s what I kind of liked about them. This first one is filled out by a guy who calls himself Lyle. He writes, “I remember clearly the sound and feel of the buzz on my back and the tingle in my ears from the vibration from the tires on the road. I’m lying on my back, wedged behind the seat of our Ford Sedan. This was the late ‘60s, and I’m about five years old. My sister is wedged in the back window, sleeping, as we’re on a road trip to visit my grandparents. The smell of cigarette smoke fills the air as my dad takes another drag from his Pall Mall. He rolls down the window, and the smoke is replaced by the sweet smell of rain and sage from the desert. A storm has passed by, and I can still hear the distant thunder from far away. I close my eyes and try to fall asleep, but the hum from the road and the buzzing in my ears keeps me awake. As I start to drift off, I hear the slow song come on the radio, and Elvis is singing about a boy dying in a ghetto. I start to cry. Not because the song is so sad, but because I am so happy and safe and because I realize, even at that young age, that that will probably be the happiest I will ever be.” Thank you for that, Lyle.

Then this last one is from Allison. She writes, “My mom was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s when I was 19. I’m 23 now, and my mom is living in a nursing home. We can’t bring her home for fear of it being a trigger for her. Her condition is slowly getting worse, and a lot of the time she can be closed off or not able to form coherent thoughts and sentences. One night when I was getting her ready for bed, I sat down next to her and leaned on her shoulder like I used to when I was little. When I do this now, she usually laughs or just looks at me. But this time, she put one arm around me and started twirling and playing with my hair like she used to do. I had to try so hard not to burst into tears on the spot. I was so happy to have that tiny piece of her back to normal, even if it was just for a few minutes.” That one really stuck with me. When I read that I was like, oh my god, that is so beautiful and painful all at the same time. That’s like a lifetime of feeling packed into ten seconds. Thank you for that, Allison. That really moved me.

Thank you guys all for supporting the show. I don’t know, sometimes I’m just speechless. I’m just speechless. I feel so right with the universe when I do this show and so connected to you guys. Everything that I’ve been through in my life seems okay and seems like it was meant to be. There’s just nothing better than that feeling. Any of you that are out there stuck, know that it doesn’t always have to be that way. If we reach out for help, things can change. I’d be dead if I hadn’t asked for help. So if you enjoy this podcast, this is a direct result of a scared 40-year-old man putting up his hand and saying, “Somebody please help me. I don’t know how to do this on my own.” So I hope you take that plunge if you’re afraid to do it. It not only saved my life, but it gave me a life. That’s there for you, too, if you’re willing. Know that you’re not alone. You’re not alone. Thanks for listening.


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