Family Secrets & Hiding Depression – Patricia McKee

Family Secrets & Hiding Depression – Patricia McKee

How does a family deal with its secrets? The PhD opens up about the inter-generational rage brewing beneath the surface of her extended family and the difficulty in trying to cope when favorites are played, a mother feels jealous of her daughter, trauma isn’t discussed, emotions are stuffed and through depression a smile is mustered for the unsuspecting outside world.

Patricia can be reached at her website www.PatriciaMcKee.com and on Twitter @Patricia_McKee

This episode is sponsored by Stamps.com For a free 4 week trial including postage and a digital scale, go to www.Stamps.com, click on the Radio Microphone at the top of the homepage and type in offer code MENTAL

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This episode is sponsored by Audible audiobooks. For a free trial go to www.Audible.com/mental

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling. To get your first week free go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental  Must be over 18.

To get rewards from Paul, like donor-only mini-episodes or personal videos & pictures support the podcast with a recurring monthly donation starting for as little as $1/month, go to www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

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Patricia can be reached at her website www.PatriciaMcKee.com and on Twitter @Patricia_McKee

This episode is sponsored by Stamps.com For a free 4 week trial including postage and a digital scale, go to www.Stamps.com, click on the Radio Microphone at the top of the homepage and type in offer code MENTAL

This episode is sponsored by Young Health's probiotic Probimune. For your 1st bottle free go to www.Probimune.com and use offer code MENTAL

This episode is sponsored by Audible audiobooks. For a free trial go to www.Audible.com/mental

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling. To get your first week free go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental  Must be over 18.

To get rewards from Paul, like donor-only mini-episodes or personal videos & pictures support the podcast with a recurring monthly donation starting for as little as $1/month, go to www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

Episode Transcript:

Transcription services donated by Accurate Secretarial LLC. You can find them at www.AccurateSecretarial.com.

 

Welcome to Episode 323 with my guest Patricia McKee. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour, a place for honesty about all the battles in our heads, from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas and sexual dysfunction to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. I am not a therapist. It's not a doctor's office. It's more like a waiting room that doesn't suck.

The Web fite [chuckles], the Web fight? Oh, never get in the middle of a Web fight. It is, oh, you think binary data is, I have no place to go with that [chuckles]. I wish I knew more about computers and the Internet. I could have run with that and beat it into the ground.

The Web site for this show is Mentalpod.com. Go check it out. Please fill out our anonymous surveys, where people share the deepest, darkest parts of their lives and their souls and their thoughts and their feelings and their fantasies, and maybe we'll read your survey on the show. There's also a forum on the Web site. There's ways that you can support the podcast there. There's blogs, guest blogs, resources to get help, all kinds of stuff.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by You Must Love Me, and she writes, I was cheating on my boyfriend because I thought having an affair would make me feel better about myself [chuckles], yet within no time, my codependency took over and, after only one date with my new lover, I realized that now I was chasing two guys that would never give me what I wanted. Oh, that is awfulsome. Thank you, thank you for sharing that.

I think it was about a year ago I was, maybe it was a little longer than that, I was convinced that Herbert was on his last legs, that he was going out and it was just a matter of days if not weeks until he died. He has an enlarged heart and it pushes on his windpipe, and it was, he was just, it was before we got his medicines kind of dialed in and he's been really good like the last, I don't know, maybe six, nine months, and he was having an issue with dry eyes and so I was having to bring him to the vet, and we call him the Shoe Bomber at the vet because, as soon as you bring him in there and the vet, you know, vet assistants pick him up to take him in the back, he shits on their shoes [chuckles]. It's so sad.

But we finally got his dry eyes figured out, and his mood has improved so much, and he is being more affectionate to me than he has ever been. I go over there, you know, as many of you know, my wife and I split up, and so I moved out but I go back there during the day when she's at work and I let the dogs out and spend time with Ivy and Herbert, and it's just been, it's just been really nice.

And thank you for all of your outreaches of concern about how I’m doing with the split from my wife and, all things considered, I'm doing very well. And it's extremely amicable, and yeah. I don't want to share much more than that because she's a very private person, and I'm the opposite. I will show my butthole as a half-time show at the Super Bowl. I mean, it depends on what it pays. I'm not a whore.

I know what I wanted to mention. One of the ways that people can support the show is becoming a monthly donor through Patreon. That's spelled P-a-t-r-e-o-n. And if you become a monthly donor there, you are qualified, depending on the level that you're donating at, qualify for free rewards that I come up with.

For instance, right now there is audio of me reading Herbert's Shame and Secrets Survey, audio with me reading Mean DJ Voice's Shame and Secrets Survey. There is silly videos of me like being made to eat frosted Pop Tarts and yelling at people. But I put it out to the monthly donors on Patreon, I sent them a message asking for ideas for additional rewards I could give donors, and they came up with some really cool ones.

So, one of the things we're going to do is we're going to do some donor-only surveys, and people are filling them out right now. And then I'm going to release the occasional mini survey just for donors, and people want to see personal videos or audio, stuff from my life, which makes me kind of [chuckles] uncomfortable because I so don't want to be that kind of narcissistic stereotype you see on YouTube, where the person is clipping their toenails and just thinks the whole world is fascinated watching it. And probably because I know that I have that gene in me, to be that person, so anyway, it's kind of a fun, new way that I can give back to the people that are giving back by supporting the show. And I really, I really appreciate it.

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I want to also give some love to BetterHelp.com. If you guys have never tried online counseling, I am a big fan of it. I do it every Friday at 5:00 with my counselor Donna, and the cool thing about online counseling is it doesn't matter where you live or what kind of therapy is available in your area because, with Better Help, there are therapists everywhere and there are hundreds, might even be more than a thousand, therapists on BetterHelp.com.

Don't quote me on that, but, or maybe I'll see you in court. Maybe Better Help and I face you in court because I was inaccurate about how many therapists I said that they had on staff. And then maybe you and I resolve it by going and seeing a BetterHelp.com counselor together. That could make for a fascinating episode of the Mental Illness Happy Hour.

But anyway, every Friday at 5:00, Donna gets to hear my crazy, and it really, sometimes I just need a fresh perspective on something that's going on in my life. Sometimes I just, I need advice, maybe a new coping strategy, and honestly, sometimes I just need to be heard by someone who knows and understands mental health, and I think we all do, and I highly recommend BetterHelp.com.

So, go to BetterHelp.com/mental. It's really important that you don't just go to BetterHelp.com, but you go to BetterHelp.com/mental, because otherwise they won't know that you heard about them from me. Complete the questionnaire, and then you get matched with a BetterHelp.com counselor, and you'll get to experience a free week of counseling to see if online counseling is right for you, and you have to be over 18 and I highly recommend it. So, go check it out.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Stinkerdoodle. I can't tell you how uncomfortable that name makes me, but I love this survey that they filled out. Oh, and the other thing, before I play this episode, this interview with Patricia, this was recorded a while back, so I may make references in it that you're like, oh, you and your wife are back together. No.

This was recorded actually a number of years ago, but this is the first time it's airing. I record so many more episodes than I will ever be able to air, so if I've ever recorded you and it hasn't aired yet, I don't hate you. But maybe I do. Maybe I hate you to my core.

Anyway, this is the Awfulsome Moment filled out by Stinkerdoodle, again, uncomfortable feelings when I say that name, and I don't know why.

She writes, my mother has never been the affectionate type as far as I can remember. She has never told me I was pretty, smart or that she loved me, except for once or twice when I went away to college, and only then when I said it first.

Obviously because of this I have a lot of issues with self-esteem, obtaining and keeping friendships and showing affection to others. Every now and then, I would break down and enter a depressive moment, crying to my husband about how no one loved me, not even my own mother. He would gently try to calm me, saying things like, of course she does, she just has a hard time showing it.

On occasion, when she drinks too much, she would call me and ask me to come over to dance and drink with her. One night, having been called on my way home from work with my husband, we decided to take her up on the offer and stop over. She is not a horrible person and can be quite enjoyable to be around at times, but like I said before, never affectionate. His parents have told me they loved me more than she ever has.

Anyway, during one of her drunken dances, I decided to come right out with it because I have been thinking about it a lot lately. I said, do you even love me, Mom? She didn't seem taken aback by the question at all. She shrugged and danced away from me. What do you mean? You don't know? No, I said. She said, I just never say it to you. Why, I asked? Because it's something I just can't do. Now let's dance.

 

[Show intro]

 

PAUL: I’m here with Patricia McKee, who is also an IU theater graduate, and you e-mailed me about, what would it have been, about a month or two ago?

 

PATRICIA: A couple, I think a couple months ago.

 

PAUL: And do you remember what you said in your e-mail?

 

PATRICIA: I was curious about what I would call like a high-functioning depressive and what the psychological/medical world does with those people because a lot of the time I think the, the goal is to get you back out there--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

PATRICIA: --get you medicated well, responsibly, get you in therapy and get you back out there, get you working, get you back in class, and I can do all of that and then, when I am there, I'm still miserable. Can I drop the F-bomb anytime I want to?

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Absolutely.

 

PATRICIA: Okay. So, that's something that I struggle with. It's like, sure, get me back in the saddle, but I still am, you know, clenching all the time, either struggling with just the pain of the depression or trying not to show it. That's a huge thing, is just trying to keep everybody else around you comfortable so that they're not made uncomfortable by your shitty mood.

 

PAUL: Uh-huh [chuckles]. Would you call that high functioning, because . . .

 

PATRICIA: No. No. I'm doing what I’m supposed to do and I’m producing. I remember telling my only good therapist, his name is David, I'll probably refer to him often, but I said to him one time in a session, I just am not very productive today, and he said, well, did you take a shit?

 

[Laughter]

 

PATRICIA: And so the idea that, you know, part of the meaning of our lives is to produce, produce, produce, produce, I can do that from people looking on me from the outside, but from the inside out, I just feel miserable every step of the way.

So, for me, it feels like I'm not functioning at all.

 

PAUL: Did you also bring up the subject of chronic pain?

 

PATRICIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Okay, because I think I remember that's why I thought let's record, because we haven't really touched on the effects of chronic pain, the mental effects of chronic pain on people.

Before we do that, I'd like to kick the episode off by reading fears first.

 

PATRICIA: Oh, great.

 

PAUL: I'm going to be reading the fears of a listener named Kaylee. And do you want to kick it off?

 

PATRICIA: Sure. My first fear is, never finally feeling at home.

 

PAUL: I'm afraid I won't feel like me if I’m not scared all the time. That's an interesting one.

 

PATRICIA: Mm-hmm.

 

PAUL: And that, I think, is one of the biggest myths about depression, is people think the real me will disappear if I treat my depression, and it's exactly the opposite.

 

PATRICIA: Right.

 

PAUL: The real you, the authentic you will come forward.

 

PATRICIA: I think, and my husband won't mind me saying this, he has, I think he has a little bit of that, of what will I do if I let go of this identity?

 

PAUL: Yeah. It's scary.

 

PATRICIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: It's all you know.

 

PATRICIA: Exactly. And, you know, he maintains, and I absolutely believe him, that he's not, you know, this is not what he wants, but sometimes it doesn't matter. It's just what you've always done, and you feel powerless, basically.

My second fear, being trapped in a nightmare situation because I'm broke.

 

PAUL: Hm. I think a lot of people have that one. I have that one.

 

PATRICIA: Because I won't ask for help, you know. So broke means, to me, also isolated. I was brought up in a very frugal household, mainly because my dad was a drywall hanger and my mom was a homemaker, and we barely made it week to week, and so money was constantly an issue.

So, I carry that all the time, I think, and feeling like, you know, it's week to week and what's going to happen if I do go broke? Who the hell will I ask? I'm too proud to ask my parents, and so that's, yeah, that's a big fear.

 

PAUL: Kaylee says, I'm afraid that I'll be dependent and that it's not bad enough to merit medication but that I'll have side effects that are worse than the regular effects.

 

PATRICIA: Wow. I'm lucky. I haven't had the side effects. My husband has side effects that are sometimes worse--

 

PAUL: He takes meds.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. And they come and go. It is scary. Medication, I think if it's not monitored well by a doctor who's paying attention, and you can't get doctors to pay attention now because they see 30 people a day, it's, I mean, I think--

 

PAUL: There are good ones, but--

 

PATRICIA: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And if you ever feel uncomfortable, move on. Find somebody else, and keep looking.

 

PAUL: I didn't realize that Kaylee's fear list was so short. She has more loves than fears. So, let's just--

 

PATRICIA: Sure.

 

PAUL: --power through your fears.

 

PATRICIA: Having to move home and take care of my parents. I haven't been home since I was, really home-home since I was in my mid-20s and I’m 39 now. And I don't want, I don't want to go back, but I think that's what will finally bring me back.

My mom is very, like her mother, she's starting to just let go of this will to live, and it's very scary to watch her kind of slowly die without really dying and just, and the depression. You know, I think my mom has been chronically depressed since I was a little kid. I mean, I've seen it my whole life, and she's never taken any step toward diagnosis or medication or therapy, and I really see her just deciding that, I'm done, and it's, it's very scary.

 

PAUL: It's got to be hard to watch it.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Okay. Let's just go through these, just boom, boom, boom, and then if we want to circle back and touch on them.

 

PATRICIA: Okay. Losing the any of the tiny, tiny handful of people I deeply connect with.

Never regaining a sense of physical well-being. Not having a playmate in my husband.

This is a big one. My resolve around suicide, when I do consider it.

 

PAUL: Afraid that you're not going to do it or that you're going to do it?

 

PATRICIA: That I will.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

PATRICIA: Finally concluding that life is more trouble than it's worth.

And never acting again. And lake water and all the monsters in it.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Don't go to Scotland.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Thank you for sharing that.

Let's get right into the issue of chronic pain, because we haven't dealt with that. When did it first start? What were the issues? How has it progressed?

 

PATRICIA: I’m a, I'm still a student. I'm a repeat student.

 

PAUL: How old are you?

 

PATRICIA: I'm 39. I’m a Ph.D. student, and--

 

PAUL: In what?

 

PATRICIA: In, the broad area is art and religion, and I’m specifically looking at the intersection of theater and the church around Shakespeare's era.

 

PAUL: Hm.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah, it's pretty, it's interesting to me--

 

PAUL: I don't think that's specific enough.

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles] I can get even more specific if you want me to.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

PATRICIA: But the point is, is that I sit and sit and sit and read, and about two and a half, three years ago, I started to get sciatic pain. I didn't do any--

 

PAUL: Shooting down the outside of your leg.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. I didn't do anything. I didn't drop anything or pick up anything that was too heavy. It was literally just from not getting up enough, frankly.

And, you know, I shook it off. It went away for a while. It came back. And when it came back the second time, it's gone on now for 11 months, and at one point, and it's, I would say it's been moderate to severe the whole time, and I've been on painkillers. Thank God I haven't gotten addicted to them because at one point I was taking a narcotic like two or three times a day every day, just to control the pain. I was--

 

PAUL: What were you taking?

 

PATRICIA: It's called Norco.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm, sweet, sweet Norco.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Actually, I've never taken it. I've just taken Vicodin.

 

PATRICIA: It's very similar, I think, in its effect. But at one point I did, it slowed me down so much and the depression was, I was teetering on a major episode and it really pushed me that way, because I--

 

PAUL: The physical ailment or the depression from the narcotic or both?

 

PATRICIA: I think the physical ailment.

 

PAUL: What were the thoughts behind it, this is never going to get better, this is only going to get worse--

 

PATRICIA: Oh, yeah. This is never going to get better. I've done everything. I keep try-, oh, the, I keep trying to do the right thing, yoga, chiropractor, the needles, what are the little needles, the word escapes me?

 

PAUL: Acupuncture.

 

PATRICIA: Thank you, the acupuncturist.

 

PAUL: Or crochet, if you don't have any money.

 

PATRICIA: Yes [chuckles]. And nothing was working, and so--

 

PAUL: That had to have been terrifying.

 

PATRICIA: It was. I did meet once with a good friend of mine, oh, and I am open to any kind of magic, baby. If you want to lay your hands on me or sing into my spine or whatever you want to do, and I sat with a woman for a while who was a professional singer and she had gone into the healing arts, and she did do that. She actually sang into my body, and it relieved the pain momentarily, you know, for a short period of time.

So then I started--

 

PAUL: I hope they were public domain songs so it wasn't more expensive.

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles] They were Tibetan singing bowls and her voice. I mean, we're talking very hip-, it was in Bloomington, Indiana, so it was very hippie-dippy.

 

PAUL: Love Bloomington.

 

PATRICIA: Me, too. So, then I thought, well, this must be partly psychological because I was able to give myself over to this person and it did affect it in a certain way. So then I tried--

 

PAUL: For how long?

 

PATRICIA: Like, maybe 12 hours. So then I started doing--

 

PAUL: Did the pain go away or lessen?

 

PATRICIA: It went away. It actually went away.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

PATRICIA: And--

 

PAUL: And when did she move in?

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles] Exactly. She told me she would, I was living, where was I living at the time? I was living in the San Francisco area and she actually told me she'd do phone work with me and, but I didn't pursue it, but I did try, then, to do, you know, kind of self-hypnosis and meditation and actually detaching myself from the pain.

 

PAUL: And did any of that work?

 

PATRICIA: No, and boy, did that piss me off, because I thought, well, all the physical things I'm doing aren't working. I'm dealing with the possibility of the mental side of this. That's not working. And then I started to think about, well, what if this is here to stay?

Bill Moyers did a book many years ago about this, about people living with chronic pain and what they did and all the number of acrobatics and mental acrobatics that one does to try to deal with this. And I was falling, week after week, month after month, behind on my dissertation, and when that started to happen, I took a nosedive and I was in the hospital.

 

PAUL: For pain or depression?

 

PATRICIA: Depression.

 

PAUL: Did you check yourself in?

 

PATRICIA: I did. I knew--

 

PAUL: Good for you.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. I knew that--

 

PAUL: I like how you say that you don't ask for help. You couldn't be more into asking for help right out of the gate, in the first 10 minutes of your interview, and yet you think of yourself as somebody that won't ask for help. You got into the solution for your sciatica, not that it all worked--

 

PATRICIA: Right.

 

PAUL: --but you kept moving forward. I mean, that's such an important trait that you clearly have but you can't see that in yourself.

 

PATRICIA: Right.

 

PAUL: Or have you gotten to a place where you don't have that energy and then that drive anymore to help yourself?

 

PATRICIA: You know, the thing with meeting with the woman who did the singing, you know, that was a happy accident. She presented it to me and I accepted it, but I don't think I ever would have sought anything--

 

PAUL: But you did yoga. You went to chiropractors. That's more than a lot of people ever do.

 

PATRICIA: Right.

 

PAUL: You went to a doctor. You, you know, you took pills for it, not that that's a huge--

 

PATRICIA: Right, right.

 

PAUL: --you know, step forward. Getting the pills, I think, for a lot of people that's as far as it ever goes and that can be kind of limiting, but--

 

PATRICIA: Right.

 

PAUL: --you know, for a lot of people, when a doctor says, you know, I want you to start doing yoga, they're like, yeah--

 

PATRICIA: Really?

 

PAUL: --that's going to happen.

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles] Yeah.

 

PAUL: And I’m one of those people. You know, when my back hurts my wife is like, you really should do yoga, and I think, you know, don't see it.

 

PATRICIA: Right.

 

PAUL: Don't see it happening. So, when I hear you be so hard on yourself . . .

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. It's--

 

PAUL: So, you know, continue. I just--

 

PATRICIA: No, I--

 

PAUL: --I had to, I had to point that out because I know the listener was sitting and thinking the same thing about you. And did you ever consider moving to Tibet and going to a karaoke bar?

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles] I didn't. I could try that, with all, and put it on the list of things I have done.

So, I think you're right. I think, as I'm speaking to you and it's being reflected back to me, I can, you know, I can see it. I think that what happens in those I-need-help-please-help-me situations, for me, is it's really hard to trust somebody's going to take care of me.

So, going to a doctor or chiropractor is always, or a therapist or any person who claims to be ready to help, [holding back tears] it's a, it's a difficult dynamic for me, because I don't trust I'm going to be listened to. I don't trust that that person is making the time and space to deal with just me at that moment.

So, the bullheadedness I have about going out and trying to get the help is there, and I often find, when I'm in the situation, that I'm very reticent about revealing how badly it really does hurt or any weird idiosyncrasies around the pain that I might have, so I even try to normalize it in the situation where I’m asking for help.

 

PAUL: It's so self-defeating--

 

PATRICIA: I know.

 

PAUL: Why do you think that, why do you think you minimize it, because, if anything, I would think, if you think they weren't going to listen to you, you would exaggerate it.

 

PATRICIA: I have actually started using that tactic [chuckles] very recently, and I think it came, I was talking to my mother about a situation she was dealing with, a physical situation, and she said she was going to the doctor, I think it was like a carpal tunnel issue, and I said, Mom, whatever you do, when they ask you how bad does it hurt on a scale of one to 10, you better fucking say 10 or they're not going to take you seriously.

And, because I know two things. I know that there is a tendency to, for everybody, to want to minimize a bad situation, but my mother is like me tenfold that she will, if it's a nine or a 10, she'll say three, four.

 

PAUL: Really?

 

PATRICIA: Oh, yeah, every time. And she did that with me as a kid, and this is--

 

PAUL: About you or about her?

 

PATRICIA: About me. Talking about one of those seminal moments, and this probably will explain a lot about the caretaking and asking for help.

When I was 19, I was home for the summer from my first year at IU and I had a pain in my left arm, and it wasn't severe but it was achy and it just wouldn't go away. Oh, you've pulled a muscle. Okay, so I'll ice or put heat or whatever. A day goes by, it doesn't go away, and I noticed that whenever I would straighten my arm the pain would become more intense and start to feel tight. And I said to my mom, I really think I need to go to the doctor. Well, I really think maybe you've just pulled a muscle.

Another day goes by and I look down and I can start to see the veins in my arm kind of turn more blackish-blue, like I can see them more clearly and I feel this tightness and this pain, and still, with the visual that my mom had, still the, no, you've pulled something or you've bruised something or etc., etc.

 

PAUL: Was it going to cost her money for you to go?

 

PATRICIA: No. We were, I mean, in my mind, I had talked about going to Wishard Hospital. I don't know if you remember, it's like--

 

PAUL: Sure. That's where my best friend did his residency.

 

PATRICIA: So, it's the county hospital, you know, and anybody, I mean, we didn't have any money. I didn't have any money as a student. My parents didn't have any money. It's like, no, let's just go.

So, I drove myself to Wishard emergency room, and I had a giant blood clot in my subclavian vein that could have killed me.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

PATRICIA: And I was in the hospital for five days, and they broke it up with Coumadin and heparin and blood thinners, but it was huge. It was larger than a golf ball. And--

 

PAUL: Did you think about suing your mom for malpractice?

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles] I'm telling you, you know, I remember her showing up, you know, getting the call, and her coming and being in the emergency room with me, never saying, oh, my God, I’m sorry, never even acknowledging that there was any kind of mistake made, and also saying that she was also terrified at the same time.

 

PAUL: For you.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. And so that was a big moment for me of trying to figure out, how badly has my mom fucked me up?

 

[Chuckling]

 

PATRICIA: And what am I going to do about it, because I can't, this was, I could have died. This was huge. I didn't really experience how bad of a situation it was until it was all over and the doctors really told me what could have happened, because they try and keep you from freaking out when it is a bad situation.

And I really just thought, this was so dysfunctional, what am I going to do with this? And that's the first time I thought about seeking out therapy to figure out, what is this dynamic between me and my mom? And--

 

PAUL: And how much longer until you did go to therapy?

 

PATRICIA: I think [sighs], my very best friend, Megan[sp?], she died in a car accident not too long after this happened, and that was the first death of someone that meant something to me, and I remember picking up the phone, calling my mom, and her being so unable to deal with just even the news of a friend of mine dying, she hung up on me.

 

PAUL: What [incredulously]?

 

PATRICIA: Yes. She was so upset and so ill-equipped to offer succor or console me that she just hung up the phone. So, I think that was around the time that I took my real, my very first nosedive into depression and I went to the IU student health center and started talking to therapists there. So, that was, that was the first time.

 

PAUL: What was your mom's childhood like? Has she ever talked about it? Have your aunts or uncles ever talked about it?

 

PATRICIA: I, this gets more and more interesting as we go down this road. I grew up spending a ton of time with my mom's mom, with my grandmother. Every weekend, we were over there. She only lived like two or three miles away. Dinners--

 

PAUL: And where were you--

 

PATRICIA: In Lawrence, Indiana, which is just kind of east of Indianapolis.

We would spend Sundays, dinner. We had a garden over at my grandparents' that we worked in. I would spend the night with my grandmother a lot. And I didn't put two and two together until much later that that was probably a really painful thing for my mom, because my grandmother was a real bitch [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Yeah?

 

PATRICIA: To everybody.

 

PAUL: How so?

 

PATRICIA: [Sighs] Unbelievably judgmental, almost to the point where it felt like it was a suit of armor that she wore, because it could never come back at her, that it wouldn't be deflected, and she would absolutely almost adroitly turn something around and make it someone's fault, someone's problem, someone's downfall or character defect, except for me. She even treated my sister that way, to an extent.

So, I was the only one in the small, in the close family and the extended family that didn't get treated this way.

 

PAUL: Do you think it was because you, well, why do you think it was that way, because you were a grandchild and you were safe from responsibility?

 

PATRICIA: I think, I was the first grandchild, and she was bad mommy. She may have been making up for being a bad mom.

 

PAUL: You know, mental illness and emotional sickness has this weird property where we unleash it on the people that love us the most.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And I think that, I wonder if that's a form of narcissism that it's, we have to present a picture to the outside world, because I found myself doing that to my wife when I was at my sickest, is I would be super nice to people outside and I would just be emotionally cold to my wife, sometimes even verbally abusive, not in a loud way but in subtle ways--

 

PATRICIA: Mm-hmm.

 

PAUL: --and it wasn't until I got better that I thought, why did I treat, why did I bend over backwards for complete strangers, and I think it's because I wanted to look good.

 

PATRICIA: Mm-hmm.

 

PAUL: And I wonder if that's the case with other people that have narcissistic qualities, that they . . .

 

PATRICIA: It was very much the pattern with my grandmother, because if there was ever a stranger that found themselves, you know, a visitor or, she loved to chat with delivery people or somebody--

 

PAUL: Oh, my God [chuckles].

 

PATRICIA: --you know, so it was her moment to shine and be nice, and it was just like, who is this woman? It was freakishly strange. And also, then, to be nice to some of the most shady people that had found their way into our family, like friendships and, so she would treat my mother like hell, who was, you know, a good person, relatively speaking, but then talk about so-and-so's kid or my neighbor's son or, it was, so I think my mom had a really awful time.

 

PAUL: And describing your grandmother, that's exactly how my mom was growing up, exactly.

 

PATRICIA: What I started to think about in my, I think my late 20s, I started to think about, because my grandmother had a fairly large family, like four brothers and four sisters and I remember funerals and the level of tension, I mean, funerals are sad, tense events anyway, but there was something seething and rotten, and I sensed this when I was a kid. And my sensitivity to it got greater as I got older because, as you get older, you start to have relationships with people outside your family and you see [chuckles] other ways that families behave--

 

PAUL: Yeah, quite shocking [chuckles].

 

PATRICIA: --thank God, yes, it's like--

 

PAUL: Quite shocking.

 

PATRICIA: --oh, you're nice to your kids.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PATRICIA: And I started thinking, there is incest going on here. I thought, I think that's what's going on, that these, there was something that went on with those brothers and sisters because the level of seething fury and hatred that some of them had for one another, that went on for years where brothers and sisters wouldn't speak to one another and no one could really ever pinpoint why, and--

 

PAUL: And these were the siblings of your mom.

 

PATRICIA: The aunts and uncles of my mom, so my grandmother's--

 

PAUL: Brothers and sisters.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. My mom is 20 years older than me, and my grandmother was maybe 17 or 18 years older than my mom--

 

PAUL: Oh, wow, so pretty close in age.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. So, let's see. I think there are two of those siblings left in the world. My grandmother died about three years ago. And I would finally like to sit down with one of my great-aunts or -uncles and just ask them, what the hell happened?

 

PAUL: You should.

 

PATRICIA: Because I see the dysfunction just get carried over, get inherited, and I do remember sitting with my grandmother alone one time. We were in at the kitchen table, it was just the two of us in the house, and I did say something very vague like, did something bad happen with you and Aunt So-and-so and Uncle So-and-so?

And the response was absolute silence, and this is a woman who doesn't cry, didn't, I mean, I maybe saw her tear up three times in my whole life, and that was one of them. And it was a tearing up that was absolutely filled with, stop, don't ask me anything else, and she never said a word. She just teared up and looked at me, and I knew she wasn't going to talk.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

PATRICIA: So, I still don't know to this day. I have the opportunity to find out, possibly, but that's my suspicion. So, I think having inherited that kind of dysfunction, it can explain some of what I deal with.

I like to have it there to help me think of, you know, how to detach from my mother and see her as a person separate from me, who is just using me as her object of anger. It has really nothing to do with me. I happen to be the most appropriate object of her anger--

 

PAUL: The closest thing to kick.

 

PATRICIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: But at what point do you, do you ever find yourself reaching your limit and then what do you do? Because there's a fine line between allowing somebody to be flawed and being a doormat, and I don't know where that line is. I think it's one of the hardest things in life to navigate.

 

PATRICIA: Well, I know exactly what I did about it. I ran away. I just, I said, I'm gone, and I've really never been back home. I moved--

 

PAUL: Did you cut all contact, or you still talk on the phone?

 

PATRICIA: No. I still see them, talk on the phone, see them at holidays, but I lived in Atlanta for a while. When I was finished with that adventure, I think I went home for just a while and moved, then I move to Minnesota, chasing a guy, broke up with him and then met my husband. Then we moved to San Francisco. Then we moved down here. Anything but, anything but moving back home.

So I have kind of lived a very nomadic life, whereas I feel like it might have been in my best interest to kind of go home and regroup and maybe get some financial stability. No way. I just, I think my ability to not be the doormat is so, it's, I negotiate it so badly that my answer was to get the hell out.

 

PAUL: Never to kind of stand up for yourself in person and say, the way you're talking to me is unacceptable, or to give them consequences like, if you're going to talk to me like that, I'm going to leave this get-together?

 

PATRICIA: No. I just can't do it.

 

PAUL: Hey, I get it. I get it.

 

PATRICIA: I just can't do it. I mean, I've got some big britches, man, and I’m pretty aggressive about a lot of stuff and have a really strong sense of justice about many things, but when it comes to dealing with standing up for myself--

 

PAUL: With family or--

 

PATRICIA: --with family, oh, God . . .

 

PAUL: It's weird. It's like we gave them this huge amount of power that they abused when we were kids, and it's like, it's almost like we're powerless, it's almost like we have to take that power back from them and we're still that weak person. And I know that there are ways that we can get our power without taking it back from them--

 

PATRICIA: Right.

 

PAUL: --and to make it easier to do that, but easier said than done.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. Yeah. Even my sister, I would say I’m probably more apt to just let lying dogs lie with my sister than even, than with my mom. It just feels like what would ensue, I mean, this is the dynamic that unfolds.

If I say, stop talking to me like that, or if I say, I, you know, I need to leave now because I just can't be in this situation, that triggers a response in them that is so enormous by comparison, it's terrifying to me.

 

PAUL: What do they do? Yell?

 

PATRICIA: Oh, they, oh, the yelling [chuckles]--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PATRICIA: The yelling and the, the opportunity it gives them to say, you never did this, you always said this, or, so what, for me--

 

PAUL: So it's a tally to them.

 

PATRICIA: It absolutely is. Oh, here's an opportunity for me to say what's been on my chest for 10, 20, 30 years, when all I was doing was saying in one moment, gosh, could you just not say that, or could we turn off the TV during dinner for once, or, you know, any exercise of my autonomy is, it doesn't end there. It becomes, then, about them, offering them a bone to pick.

 

PAUL: And when they, if they bring something up to you when you're not mad at them about something, how do you take it? Do you reflect on it? Are you able to absorb it, or do you feel like you want to unleash the stuff that's pent up in you? Or do they not say anything?

 

PATRICIA: It's very rare that anything is said. And I will say that, absolutely I often do feel the urge to just say, you know, to go back in time and just turn the soil over again. So, I get it.

I think that in my situation, because there's so little contact, the times where we can practice our dynamic is so few that I think there's this unspoken, let's not fuck up Christmas, you know--

 

PAUL: Yeah [chuckles]. That should be the title of a movie, Let's Not Fuck Up Christmas--

 

[Laughter]

 

PAUL: You want to make a blockbuster Christmas movie that everybody would go see, and just have the trailer be everybody just stifling their anger.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. My husband's a screenwriter, so I'll make sure I go home and give him that title. He can just freakin' run with it, man.

And he's done the same thing, except even to a further extreme. He cut off completely. He was dealing with physical abuse as a child. He was the youngest. And I don't know how many times I've heard people say the youngest gets the worst of it, in physical abuse situations, but he finally had to also just cut it off.

 

PAUL: How did that change how he felt about himself?

 

PATRICIA: It helped him. It makes him very sad that that's the way it has to be. But he says he'd be dead today if he hadn't just cut it off.

 

PAUL: What were his coping mechanisms before he cut them off? Was he . . .

 

PATRICIA: He was the youngest and all the other siblings, two brothers and a sister, had already gone, had left the home, so he was alone, home alone with Mom and Dad and Dad was the abuser. And he took it. His mom got sick when he was a teenager and died of cancer when he was 18 or 19, so I think he took it in order to be there for her, and as soon as she had passed, he got the hell out of there, and never spoke to the father or the brothers and sisters.

I think 17 years went by. And then he met me, and we chatted about it a few times, and then he finally started reminiscing about his brothers, in a good way, and very slowly considered the idea of talking to them. And over the past nine months, year or so, he has started, for the first time in so many years, to exchange e-mails with them. He found out his father died. He found out his sister died. And these are things that he didn't know because he completely cut off from the family.

So, but, and I absolutely believe him and honor him that he feels that he would not have made it if he hadn't done that, that the dysfunction was so severe.

 

PAUL: That's such great intuition.

 

PATRICIA: And I think a lot of people don't have that, or feel like that that's not even a choice.

 

PAUL: And that's where I think really dogmatic organized religion can be to blame for people that can't make that cut, because they think it makes them a bad person. It breaks my heart to see people stuck in abusive relationships with family members or spouses or whatever because they think they're going to go to hell.

 

PATRICIA: Right. Well, and he was raised Catholic, so, and when he did try to, you know, when he did make the break, make no mistake, his father, please stay and take care of me, please stay here with me, basically, be my companion, you know. So, I'm, I’m glad he's still around, because I think if he had stayed he's, I think he's very right, that he might not have made it.

 

PAUL: Have we missed any seminal events from your childhood or adolescence?

 

PATRICIA: Oh, you know, I was a smart kid, and I was actually yanked out of regular public school and shuttled into a program for kids like me, and we were really kind of quarantined from the rest of the population, literally. For three years, we couldn't play with the other kids on the playground. We couldn't take field trips with them. All the things that were created for us we did just within our group.

 

PAUL: How many of you

 

PATRICIA: About 20 of us. And I think one thing that I still deal with now, I know I do, is it was a source of pride for my parents when I was very little, when I was in the third, fourth and fifth grade. I was singled out and, you know, my dad did not graduate from high school. He left at 16. My mom barely graduated. I'm first-generation college. For them, it was a big source of pride.

And then just as soon as I hit those tween years, that flipped on its head for my mom. There was derision of my intelligence. There was, if I did make a mistake around some intellectual thing, factual mistake or a mispronunciation of something, oh, I paid dearly for that.

 

PAUL: Do you think she felt in competition with you because you were becoming a woman?

 

PATRICIA: Absolutely. I mean, it's so clear to me now that she was envious and jealous. And then the, you know, the double insult of her mother paying way more attention to me than she ever did to my mother.

 

PAUL: Oh, yeah. It must have been overwhelming to her.

 

PATRICIA: I just, I can't imagine.

 

PAUL: Here's this kid that gets my mom's love and she has a, you know, she's just entering the most powerful phase of her life physically--

 

PATRICIA: And they kept that from me as well. I didn't date at all through high school, never. The age was supposed to be, you can't date until you're 16, like literally I couldn't be alone with a boy until I was 16. By that time, you know, everybody had been going to mixers and dating and doing things together and going together, by that time, I had done none of that, and so I was everybody's friend. I was the girl friend. So, I continued not to date.

 

PAUL: Were you turning dates down or did you just give off a vibe of don't ask me out and that kept you--

 

PATRICIA: There were two boys that came to my house to ask my dad to let me go out with them, and the answers were no both times. I mean, that doesn't happen anymore.

 

PAUL: Wow. Were you raised in like Leave It To Beaverville?

 

PATRICIA: No. That's the funny thing. Absolutely not. And there was no religion in my household either. So, it was very a-religious, not atheistic, certainly, but a-religious and no, both my mom and dad were terrified of probably me getting pregnant, frankly.

They got pregnant when they were young, at 19. They were married. They'd been married for just a few months, but my mom had been signed up to go to school and that got flushed down the drain and I just--

 

PAUL: I imagine, on a certain level, too, they knew it was going to be one more mouth to feed and it was going to be medical bills and it was going to be baby-sitting and, because, you know, when a teenager has the baby, the parents [chuckles] have the baby as much as the teenager.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah. I really do think they were terrified that that's what was going to happen.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

PATRICIA: So, I was a late bloomer [chuckles]. I was a very late bloomer.

 

PAUL: Are there any other seminal moments you want to touch on? Past or present.

 

PATRICIA: Maybe not. I think I'm, I think I'm pretty unburdened.

 

PAUL: Good, good. Do you want to go to some loves or--

 

PATRICIA: Sure.

 

PAUL: Okay. Let's do it. I'm going to be reading the loves of Kaylee. I'll start with hers. I love dark beer. Oh, I used to love dark beer.

 

PATRICIA: Resting my arms and head on the ribcage of a wild horse.

 

PAUL: Oh, my God. That's awesome. How do you get that to happen?

 

PATRICIA: There's a wild horse sanctuary north of San Francisco and we got in the car and drove four hours one day on the off chance, not even the guarantee, that we would see them, because they come in to water sometimes or they don't come in at all, and they all came in that day

And there was nobody there and the gal who ran the place said, well, go on out if you want to, close all the gates behind you as you go, just be respectful. So, I walked out in the middle of 20 or 30 wild horses who had come in to water because so much of, it was a drought that year and they needed to come in to get the water. And this one big boy just came right toward me, and my husband is terrified of horses and he's like, oh, shit--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PATRICIA: And I, my dad actually tamed horses when he was a kid and I was on horses when I was a child, and he started coming toward me and I wasn't scared. And he literally pushed his whole body like right up against me, very consciously just wanted to like lean into me.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

PATRICIA: It was one of the most awesome things that has ever happened to me.

 

PAUL: I'm jealous.

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles] Before we left to move down here, before we left San Francisco, I wanted to go back up there one more time. We didn't do it, but I hope to get back up there again. It was wonderful.

 

PAUL: I was in Sonoma when we were doing Dinner & a Movie and there was, we were staying next to a farm and there was a horse on the other side of the fence, and I was walking with my co-host and I was eating an apple, and I thought, I want to feed this horse the apple, but I want to feed it from my mouth.

So, I held the apple in my mouth and I leaned my head over the fence, and it ate some of the apple and it was like the greatest moment. And then I shared it with somebody and they said, you are lucky it didn't bite your face off.

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles]

 

PAUL: That, and that had never even occurred to me, that, you know, a horse, they said, oh, yeah, horses can be, you know, aggressive with that. I don't know. Were they making that up or . . .

 

PATRICIA: I mean, I think it depends on the horse. Ponies, certainly, are assholes, but horses, especially, I mean, if he was owned, you know--

 

PAUL: Domesticated.

 

PATRICIA: --and been around other humans, he probably wouldn't have hurt you, but a pony will bite your ass any day [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Wow. It was a great moment. It wasn't, you know, a horse brushing up against me and putting my head on its ribcage, but--

 

PATRICIA: Well, they're huge animals, and it's very humbling to be in their presence. They're very calming. And to have that happen, for him to be like okay with that--

 

PAUL: To approach you.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: That's the beautiful thing. I love that. There's a great video, what is it called? Animal Odd Couples, and it's so good. It's on Netflix, and it's weird pairings of animals that become buddies--

 

PATRICIA: The elephant and the collie that fell in love with each other?

 

PAUL: Yes.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah.

 

PAUL: It's so, it's, Kaylee says, I love when my boyfriend and I are lying in bed and there's a breeze from the window and he's making me laugh. Oh, I love that one.

 

PATRICIA: When my husband laughs in earnest at toilet humor and the Three Stooges.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Kaylee says, I love when I get genuinely mad about something in therapy and my therapist gets excited to see that rare side of me. That's beautiful.

 

PATRICIA: Mm-hmm. A well-equipped, huge kitchen.

 

PAUL: Yes--

 

PATRICIA: Which I've never had. But I can't wait [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Yes. A Viking stove with a hood and brass pots and pans.

 

PATRICIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: I was just thinking about that yesterday.

 

PATRICIA: I think you wouldn't see me. If I had that, I would stay there and entertain and make food and send it out to people who needed it and bake pies and try and make--

 

PAUL: It's like a womb.

 

PATRICIA: Yes.

 

PAUL: It's like a, yeah. I love seeing my boyfriend on stage at that moment in his set when he realizes he's killing and gets completely comfortable on stage.

 

PATRICIA: That's very nice to see a partner be free.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

PATRICIA: I--

 

PAUL: What were the albums before Purple Rain?

 

PATRICIA: Controversy, Prince, For You, Dirty Mind, and they're all filthy, filthy wonderful, political, edgy, raunchy, great albums [chuckles].

 

PAUL: I like that one. The song Nikki, what album was that on?

 

PATRICIA: That was on Purple Rain.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

PATRICIA: It's tame compared to some--

 

PAUL: Oh, really?

 

PATRICIA: Yes. He wrote a song called Sister that is really dark and awful and, yeah, never mind [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Sister, as in female?

 

PATRICIA: Mm-hmm, as his sister.

 

PAUL: So it's about incest?

 

PATRICIA: Mm-hmm. And it's a little poppy, hip-pop, wonderful jazzy number, so the juxtaposition of the content of the song with the wonderful rock-and-roll pop music is just horrifying, so.

 

PAUL: Wonderfully horrifying.

 

PATRICIA: Yes, wonderfully horrifying.

 

PAUL: Kaylee says, I love the laugh right after a big, ugly cry. That's a great one. I can't believe we've never had that one.

 

PATRICIA: That is wonderful. It is so unburdening, it's just--

 

PAUL: The cigarette after the jizz.

 

PATRICIA: [Chuckles]

 

PAUL: I got to crochet that.

 

PATRICIA: Yeah.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PATRICIA: Needlepoint.

 

PAUL: Your turn.

 

PATRICIA: Oh, the right words in the right order. I think that Robert Frost said that. I think a few people get quoted as saying that. But really good literature can soothe me more than almost anything else.

 

PAUL: There is a divinity to a beautifully formed sentence and idea, where you know it couldn't have been expressed in a way more succinctly or stylish.

 

PATRICIA: Well, as trite as it sounds, I go back again and again to Hamlet's speech. I mean, everyone knows the very first part of it, but when you take in the whole speech, there is a treatment of the thought of crossing over and ending your life that comes close to no other in literature. It honors that feeling so well and so deeply, because people just want to tell you, oh, I wish you didn't feel that way, or you really shouldn't have those thoughts or--

 

PAUL: Look at all you have to be grateful for.

 

PATRICIA: Yes, let's fix it, and then you read Hamlet's speech and you see that he tinkers with it and really tries to unravel why he's even thinking about it and kind of finds an answer as to why he's thinking about it, and it makes perfect sense to him. And it's so soothing to have a voice come back at you and say, it's okay to have these thoughts.

Now, granted, he doesn't act on it. I mean, part of his struggle through the whole play is trying to figure out what to do about all of this horror that's happening around him, but I find that, if someone can put into words what's going on in my head, it's so soothing to me, so soothing.

 

PAUL: Kaylee says, I love when a regular customer at the grocery store I work at comes through my line on purpose and asks how I'm doing.

 

PATRICIA: That's awesome.

 

PAUL: I like that.

 

PATRICIA: I think one of the things that I, it's not on my list but it should be. I was reading through some of the survey stuff and one of the things that came up is similar to what she mentions, which is the happy accident of, you know, you're trying to do X, Y, Z and it doesn't happen, and in the course of that event you meet somebody or you come across someone that was not in your plan that day, and you have the best conversation or the best exchange with that person that you've had in weeks or months with anybody.

 

PAUL: Especially if you're like, ugh, I don't feel like talking right now.

 

PATRICIA: Exactly. And that's when it's like, oh, well, I think God will take over and make this a good experience for you, whether you like it or not.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Was that your last love?

 

PATRICIA: Yes, yep.

 

PAUL: And I think we'll just end on these. I know that you printed out some surveys that you wanted to relate to, but I like ending on the up note of the--

 

PATRICIA: Cool.

 

PAUL: --of the loves. She says, I love that moment in conversation when you feel like you've talked about everything but you still want to talk and then suddenly you find something you haven't even breached yet. That's a nice one. I like that.

 

PATRICIA: That's very nice.

 

PAUL: Patricia, thank you so much for coming and sharing, and I hope your battles with your chronic pain are getting better.

 

PATRICIA: They are. I had surgery three weeks ago, and it worked.

 

PAUL: That's awesome. What did they do?

 

PATRICIA: They found a spur, a bone spur that they didn't even see in the MRI while they were in there, and so, it makes me feel better to know that yoga wasn't going to make a spur go away [chuckles].

 

PAUL: No, yeah.

 

PATRICIA: So, finally opting for the surgery, so yeah, the sciatic pain is gone. I have, I'm still mending from the surgery, but the sciatic pain is gone, so.

 

PAUL: That's awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming by.

 

PATRICIA: Thank you, Paul.

 

PAUL: Many, many thanks to Patricia. And this episode will soon be transcribed and available on our Web site. Many thanks to Accurate Secretarial for donating their time and helping out the show.

If I get updates on Patricia, I will let you know. I'll either mention it on air or post it on the Web site for her episode.

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All right, let's get to some surveys. This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by Bort License Plate, and I'm mostly going to be reading portions of surveys here. Let me create a little room on my desk. I need a bigger work space.

They write, she is bisexual, in her 20s, raised in a stable and safe environment. That always makes me chuckle because very rarely do I find [chuckles] that to ever be true. She's never been sexually abused. See, right away, she describes about the emotional environment she grew up in. She had a mom who was constantly worrying and who was obsessed with outward appearances, not only hers but her children's, and that is not a stable and safe environment. Oh, my God.

Darkest thoughts. I often in stressful situations fantasize about my consciousness leaving my body and going to live on Mars or the moon while my hollow shell is left to deal with my problems here on Earth. By the way, what is a Blue Book on a hollow shell?

It seems more soothing that outright killing myself because, A, less mess, and B, I wouldn't want to inconvenience anyone. As I have suffered with depersonalization in the past, I try to quell this line of thinking quickly so I don't get locked out of my body again.

Sometimes I have thought in my lowest moments about killing myself, but it keeps coming back to the idea that people would be annoyed at the inconvenience of it and I'd just be a bother to them like always, and somehow this line of thought makes me feel ashamed.

That breaks my heart that that is the degree to which you value your worth to other people, is that you are something to potentially clean up, you know. I have never, ever heard after news breaks that someone took their life that somebody said, oh, they were such a burden, or, oh, boy, that sounds inconvenient. No. What they always say is, I had no idea, I wish they would have talked to someone, I wish I would have known, I would have helped them get help.

Let's see, what's the next question. Darkest secrets. My family does not know about my mental health issues. As a child, coming to my mother saying, I feel like I am annoying you, and somehow it turned into her being angry, like my child said I don't love her. Me saying I was sad and didn't know why around age seven or eight and not being met with much understanding either, since I had, quote, no reason to be sad.

I am currently in the process of being tested for fibromyalgia. The reason it took me so long was because being constantly tired, in pain and having a brain fog was treated as something I just needed to get a grip on and that it was, quote, rude to look so spaced out and it was embarrassing my mother. And then in parentheses, she suffered from chronic pain when I was a child and felt she had to appear perfect constantly, so this was probably her projecting a tad.

Thankfully, I have a small group of true friends who I can share my deepest secrets with and they can share theirs with me. Before that, I thought almost everything about me was a deep, dark secret.

It is so good that you are sharing that with your friends, and again, the things that people call a stable and safe environment, just because you're not getting punched or yelled at, it's, the bar for what society deems acceptable parenting is shocking, shocking.

And then one other thing. Is there anything you'd like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences? For people who suffer with depersonalization, you can come back from being locked out of your body. If, like me, you spent years in the fog, reconnecting with your emotions will be tough and sometimes confusing, but it is worth it. Don't worry about finding a label for everything you're feeling right away. That will come in time. Just enjoy being present and little ordinary moments for now.

To people who feel unlovable or afraid that if people get to know you then something horrible from inside will bubble up and scare everyone away, you deserve love and happiness.

People care about you so much more than you realize, and you've touched people's lives in ways you can't imagine. This will be revealed to you sometimes at the strangest moments. Showing your true self allows you to form true, stronger bonds with people and find real friends.

I couldn't agree more. I couldn't agree more, so perfectly put.

Any suggestions to make the podcast better? As many have said before, more dog butthole. I don't like that that was, that you just referred to it as generic dog butthole because that cheapens the work of Herbert and other Chihuahua mixes around the glove with closely shorn back-door tires. I don't know [chuckles].

This is a Happy Moment filled out by Eleanor Rigby, and she writes, this past month I ended a slightly unhealthy but deeply passionate relationship, left her knowing I had nowhere to go, so I became homeless. My car was repossessed. I lost my job. I had cleaned houses for a living. Due to losing the car, I couldn't do that. And I'm still alive.

I have very nice friends who offered me a room and bathroom in their house. They don't trust easily, and I'm pretty much the only one that they would ever have live there, especially with their son. But here's the kicker. I have borderline personality disorder and bipolar II. One of my medications ran out. I just moved in with them a week ago with no car to get my refills, which were now in a different city. You can see how one would think this is the end of everything for them.

The first night I was hanging out with them, with one of them, and it happened. A huge flame shot up inside of me and it was just me against my illnesses. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't stop crying. I didn't want to exist, let alone be touched.

This was her first time seeing what I had told her about. I have nowhere else to live but with them and I am extremely lucky to have them helping me get back on my feet and get my shit together. I didn't want to scare her away, but I knew if she kept fucking talking and comparing me to her and kept fucking touching me, trying to console me, that some shit was about to go down.

I finally mustered up the strength to slowly, in between sobs, tell her that what I needed is silence and to not be touched. I told her I didn't want to offend her, but she was making me angry. She got offended and took it as a strike to her ego, but she stopped talking and touching me for about two minutes, but I was so grateful for those two minutes.

After she started up her rant again and the flames began to rise up again, she said, we just need to figure out each other and tell each other what we need, like exactly what you just did, and then she shut up and just sat next to me outside, while I continued to cry for a while, and then it passed. It passed enough to know I could be alone in my room.

Looking back at that irritating and uncomfortable exchange, I know that I may heavily still struggle with my illnesses, but I know I am getting better. I know the pain and efforts I have endured through provide me with more choice and control where I had no hope of recovery.

I am grateful for mature, good friends that own their shit in order from taking care of them, that their shit in order, that they get their shit in order from taking care of themselves. I may feel alone 90% of the time, but I know that there are people to love me when I let them.

Any comments to make the podcast better? Say twat more. It's a funny word. I can't go along with that kind of humor.

I really loved this because it was such a nuts-and-bolts real-life example of what the front lines of intense mental struggles are day to day. You know, it's not like in the movies where just one person says something and immediately everything is patched over and everybody sees the light. It's just a lot of negotiating and rolling up the shirt sleeves and communicating back and forth and just chipping away at the bullshit until we get to the connectivity.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Scoobies Assemble, and she writes, I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I may never feel justice since I am not able to report my rape to the police. My friend was trying to help me come up with other ways I could feel vindicated. She suggested that I could mail him something to let him know I hadn't forgotten what he did. I said to her, what, like I know what you did last summer? We both cracked up, the first time I'd been able to laugh about it in a long while.

Thank you for sharing that, and I’m so glad you were able to laugh in that moment and make a joke instead of dealing with it. It's the laughing, laughing about it in addition to dealing with it. Even if there's, sometimes there's nothing to be done other than to talk about it with a trusted friend.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by L, and she is asexual, in her 20s, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Some stuff happened but I don't know if it counts. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I've always been repulsed by physical contact. I had no idea why until three years ago when I saw the group picture from my preschool days when I was about four years old.

A guy who was standing right behind me gave me the creepiest gut feeling ever and I asked my mom whether anything happened. She said I was having an absurd imagination and dismissed it. It might be possible that my parents have no idea because I was probably too young to tell them what happened, that is, and then in caps, if anything indeed happened.

She's been physically and emotionally abused. She writes, my dad was big on religious abuse and physical abuse. He always quoted the Bible whenever he was punishing us, even when I didn't understand why. I was being beaten with golf clubs, steel music stands and wooden sticks, etc., but it hurt me the most when he was using his own hands because I could feel his rage without understanding fully what I did wrong.

My mom, who I think, who I'm pretty sure has BPD, is extremely codependent on me, even though I had to set up boundaries with her by threatening to cut her out of my life. She would lash out with bouts of tantrums and verbal abuse, according to her mood swings. She basically had no filter as to what was coming out of her mouth.

I don't think she was intentionally being manipulative but she's unable to think about anything other than her own feelings. I was the one she, quote, liked the most, so I had to endure years of baby-sitting and caretaking her.

It was only until this year, I’m 23, that I learned from my therapist that moms are supposed to take care of their children and not the other way around.

Any positive experiences with the abusers? After beating me severely, my dad would always come and console me when I was crying. I never doubt his love, and I still think that he has more of a parental love than my mom had towards her children, but when he was consoling me, I would cry even more. He would ask, why are you crying more? And I said, because you love me so much but I can't listen to you like a good kid. I hate myself for being this way.

I can't think of a positive experience with my mom, other than the time when she wrote to me on my birthday, you are the joy of my life, you make me happy. She wrote me that because, before that, I would torture myself thinking that I was causing all the sadness and misfortunes of her life. I basically had to ask her directly and the answer was the sweetest I've ever heard from her.

Darkest thoughts. I want to hire a professional to co-conspire a kidnapping to emotionally torture my parents. I want them to watch the video of myself being tortured and telling them how much damage they have incurred on me and they should never have had us if they didn't want us. I want them to think that I was kidnapped, tortured, raped, killed and dumped in the river.

After they had drained out their sanity and soul out of guilt and shame, I would show up on their doorstep to tell everything that happened and then vanish forever. To have them suffer the worst, having their favorite and sweetest daughter do this to them would kill them.

Darkest secrets. I lie all the time. I lie to get out of things but also to get sympathy and attention. I think it's a coping tactic I learned growing up under my parents who didn't give a shit about how I was doing.

I absolutely think it's a coping tactic. I think people want to be honest. I just think sometimes maybe environment kind of rewires us that the thought of being authentic is terrifying to us. Or there's a high from lying. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't seek help for it and for the, you know, the other stuff that you were talking about. I mean, that's such abuse, such abuse. Oh, my God, and when you have so much anger, it's so important to let that out, find a safe way to let that out and find safe ways to cope with that rage.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. I've never had any particular sexual fantasy, but I'm having one right now. I want to secretly have sex with a professor that I really like in his office. I like him because he is the perfect father/husband figure and his wife is also very sweet. Oh, and it would be even better if I'd get invited for dinner at their house and have a threesome. It makes me feel good because I can see why I would fantasize about this. I fantasize because I want to belong in that family, the perfect family I've always dreamt of.

Have you shared these things with others? No. I've only told my closest friends about my depression. They are my family and they will always come before my family. I would have literally killed myself without them. They were very open and understanding, incredibly supportive when I told them I had depression.

I've renewed my relationship with my sister recently and I called her a couple of times to tell her about my mental illness but didn't have the guts to tell her. Oh, she intended to tell her but didn't actually tell her.

I’m still wondering if it's a good idea to tell her. Last time I mentioned Mom's emotional abuse and how it affected me, she was doubting and sort of critical. I'm afraid her lack of support would hurt me.

I would listen to your gut because, just from what you shared here, it does not sound like your sister would be very supportive and that might really put you in a tailspin. Just my two cents. Due to inflation, it's now three cents. Super-stupid joke, also proud of it.

How do you feel after writing these things down? I feel much better because I feel like I'm confiding to someone without being judged. Typing this survey down is strangely empowering.

It is, man. The act of writing or sharing verbally, or painting, or sending smoke signals. I bet you there is somebody that sent smoke signals and felt catharsis.

Anything you'd like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences? I often argue that people who commit suicide are probably one of the sweetest, kindest people on Earth. They often struggle with guilt and shame because they think they are a burden to others, even though many of them are victims of abuse, not the other way around. People with mental illness are the most creative, sensitive, humane and loving people just struggling to live in this apathetic, cruel, narcissistic society.

That's pretty heavy. That is pretty heavy, but there's so much truth in that. You know, man, if I could boil it down, it would just be find the good and set up a wall to protect yourself from the unhealthy. Find the positive.

And it's interesting, as we become more positive, more positive people come to us. There was a guy that I occasionally talk to who I try not to get angry with, but he is so draining because it is the same story over and over again, and he doesn't want to do anything. And I've had to set some boundaries around our relationship because I won't listen to him dwell on the past and beat himself up about it anymore.

You know, after hearing the same story for the sixth or seventh time, I had to stop him and say, you know, this is starting to drain me. I love you, but I can't be around this and watch you do this. If you want to talk about something else, let's talk about something else, but, and today, I had to get kind of, he's somebody who I think, and he has said this. He wants somebody to come and rescue him from the messes of his life. And nobody can do that.

Nobody can do that, and he doesn't want to grow up, and there's nothing I can do. I give him my opinion, but then I usually have to wrap the phone call up because then I start to get, I start to feel used, because it's, there's opening up to somebody, and then there is draining somebody, and I don't know how to describe the difference between the two, but I know the latter usually involves the same, repeating the same problem, the same issue over and over again but not doing even a minimum of work to help themselves with that situation. But I don't know, it's a hard one to put into words but I know it when I, I know it when I feel it.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Functioning Chula in Portland, and she writes, at the dinner table my dad proceeds to tell a story of what happened that day in the grocery store. He said he saw this fine ass walking down the aisle, so naturally he turned his cart and started following her. I was cringing already.

So, as he's describing and assessing her tight, plump ass in corduroy pants, he says he realizes that it's one of my friend's younger sisters that he we used to baby-sit. He thought this was the most hilarious thing ever. My mom then says, oh, that's just gross, can't you talk about anything nice? He then says, well, I realized I really like corduroy pants. Then I responded, and this is why I need counseling.

Good for you for speaking up. And your dad thinks that's, your dad thinks that's funny. That's, that's a really common thing I see in abusive boundaries between parents and kids, is the parents have somehow convinced themselves that something is funny, that it can be passed off as a joke or as funny, but they're not really listening to their kid's reaction. It's like they have a fantasy reaction of how everybody is accepting what it is that they're doing, and yeah.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by Grave Heart, and she is straight, in her 20s, raised in a stable and safe environment. Yeah, that's up for debate. She qualifies, but realizing as an adult that it wasn't stable beneath the surface and what my parents told us about their perfect love was largely fabricated, I've aspired for the kind of true perfect love I witnessed between them my whole life but grapple now with the reality that an illusion is nothing to aspire to.

Yeah, that is not stable and safe. We've got to find a name for that one. I don't know, what would you call it? Moldy family portrait [chuckles], like one of those you get in the mall and then, oh, shut up, Paul. Just shut your fucking hole and read the survey.

Darkest thoughts. Oh, so a big struggle that she has had, her first boyfriend was gay but hasn't come out yet, and so every time she would be affectionate towards him he would reject her, and it fucked up her head.

Darkest thoughts. I seek the approval and validation from all men I meet, even young boys. I think the reason I want to have boys when I have children of my own is for the unconditional love from males, even toddlers, even my freaking little kids.

I wanted to read this because I want to urge you, in the strongest way possible, to work this out before you have kids, because kids can sense the desperation in a parent and that need to be emotionally fulfilled by a child really fucks with a kid. It takes them out of listening to what they're feeling and becoming focused on what the parent needs, and they will struggle in every intimate relationship, romantic or otherwise, that they have until they do deep, intensive work to undo that.

So, this is a cliché, but nobody can give you the love that you need to give yourself. And how do you get to that place? It takes a lot of fucking work, and there's no simple answer to it, but for me began with therapy and support groups, and I'm still working on it.

Darkest secrets. I've stolen hundreds and hundreds of dollars' worth of food from grocery stores, never merchandise, like clothing or electronics, only food. Cue the drums as we kick off my binge eating disorder. I've consumed thousands and thousands of calories in single settings and gotten better at puking it up in recent years, but it usually just sits inside me.

I may not be able to fill myself up with love and acceptance from other people, but food will physically do the trick nicely, at least temporarily. If I've been in your home to baby-sit your kids or lived with you as a roommate, I've stolen some of your food. My therapist says this is textbook eating disordered behavior, but I think maybe I'm just too frugal to justify the enormous expense that a proper binge eating disorder requires.

I don't know if you're making a joke there or if you're serious, but you're hurting. You are hurting. And I really, really hope you can find a network of people that will love you and support you until you can love yourself, and then you'll be able to choose a healthy relationship instead of one to fill an emptiness inside you, especially with kids.

That one just brought up a lot of, those of you that know my story, that brought up a lot of feelings in me, reading this survey. And, but more than anything, I hope for you, for your own happiness and your own sense of peace, that you do it for you.

This is from our, this is just a little excerpt from our how-would-you-use-time-machine question from our Shouldn't Feel This Way Survey, and this person says, I would put the time machine in the closet on the bottom shelf. I need to practice mindfulness now more than ever [chuckles].

Oh, that made me laugh so hard. Thank you for that. And I like that you went to the bottom shelf. You didn't put it on the top shelf, which makes me think there's a point where you think you're going to need it in a hurry. I don't know.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by My Stripper Name is Celexa, one of my favorite pseudonyms from the surveys, and she writes, all through this morning I couldn't break away from my suicidal thoughts, but I was also so, so numb and tired from being depressed. Now I'm on my way back from therapy, still worn out, but happy that I am heard and felt. Good therapists save lives, and I feel so warm with gratitude.

That is so, so awesome, so awesome. Thank you. You know, when you really boil it down, I feel like this podcast is an elaborate cheerleader for therapy and support groups. Yeah, sometimes we have some tips and some experience here that helps you, but ultimately, the real transformation, in my opinion, happens in therapy and support groups and other places.

This is just a partial excerpt from a Shame and Secrets Survey. This was filled out by a guy who calls himself Shiny Broken Sex Toy. And he didn't fill out the whole survey. You ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Some stuff happened but I don't know if it counts.

My mother, who I should start out by saying is, for the most part, very supportive and loving, was and is very overbearing. Stop right there.

Supportive and loving cannot exist with overbearing because overbearing is not supportive and loving. I suppose you can go swing between being supportive and loving and being overbearing. Sorry I jumped down your throat there. I just, one of my pet peeves is people minimizing shit that has happened to them.

Continuing, I remember times as a young child but maybe a little too old, feeling very uncomfortable as she would chase me around the house and tickle me. I would scream stop and get my toy weapons and hide in my closet. She would always just laugh and seem to think it was just a game I was fully aware of playing.

This reminds me a lot of the dad telling the corduroy story. It's like they imagined what they want it to be in their minds so that they continue to do it. And I don't know, maybe you were laughing and your mom truly believed you were having a good time and wanted to continue. But, and the reason, here's something that I want to confess, and I've shared this before, is I'm guilty of this.

When I first started dating, I had it in my mind that whatever standard of, you know, timeline for having sex was, for me, was normal and okay, and so that if a girl I was dating or was fooling around with had a different idea about it, to me, it never occurred to me that it was something other than a moral decision on her part, because I, I was so narcissistic that I couldn't picture somebody else having a different sexual experience than me.

So, I would badger them as if they were being morally too uptight and that was, you know, as I look back on it, so abusive, and I feel so much shame about it.

So, when I point out that these parents aren't seeing their abuse because they have a kind of a narcissistic view of how the other person is experiencing it, I include myself with those people that have done that. I'd like to think that I’m not that person anymore, and I don't believe I am, but it's so easy to convince ourselves that what we're doing is okay because we'd be okay with it if it was happening to us. I guess that's what I'm trying to say.

She'd always laugh and just think it was a game I was fully aware of playing. When I first started masturbating, thoughts of her and me being the only ones home and having to hurry would creep in before I'd block them out and stopped masturbating. As I got older, the rest of the family stopped going to church with her, as she changed faiths and parishes quite often. Pretty soon, it was just me being dragged along to be her companion and emotional crutch on her journey of spirituality.

I'm not sure of any actual abuse. I do not have a lot of childhood memories. I cringe at the thought that she would know I wrote this or feel as conflicted as I do. It's never been discussed and never will be. I would be crushed to see the emotional wreck she would be if she knew I thought these things.

This couldn't be more textbook of somebody who is covertly incested. It could not be. If you want to know more about that subject, get the book Silently Seduced by Kenneth Adams. You could also listen to the episode of RISK! that I was just on and I did a, I don't know, maybe it was like 15-minute, told a 15-minute story about my experience of experiencing covert incest, and this, I so relate to that feeling of, if I'm honest, it's going to destroy my parent. And, you know, if I take care of myself, it is going to, my parent is going to die or want to die.

Ever been physically or emotionally abused? I often let people take advantage of me. I feel vulnerable to manipulation, despite my, quote, rough exterior and disposition. I won't get into all the instances, but in close relationships of any sort, I'm often placating and somewhat subservient. I feel like an easy target no matter how hard I tried to fight it.

And I can tell you that people see that. People, users spot that, because I am somebody who has been a user and I am somebody who has been used, and there's just an energy that somebody who did not learn to advocate for themselves in childhood, to a manipulator, they might as well have garlic coming off them. That's how, you know, obvious it is, the body language, the eye movement, the choice of words, the hedging of opinions, yeah.

Any positive experiences with abusers? Yes, always, which makes me wonder if I'm making the manipulation up. I often feel like a paranoid crazy person who just needs things to blame for being fucked up. I'm susceptible to apologies and people being, quote, vulnerable with me.

From what you have described, you have had the shit gas-lit out of you, and you, you know, as my therapist calls it, you do not trust your own integrity because you were discouraged from advocating for yourself because it was inconvenient or not what your caregiver wanted, and then it sounds like it was reinforced by the people that you hung out with in your life.

That's just my two cents, four cents now. That is how crazy inflation is. We have got to get some economic policy. We've got to, advice is almost unaffordable right now. There's a good chance by the end of this show, if not this next survey, advice will be at five cents. And I'm not even factoring in what's going on in Canada. Don't even get me started on that.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey. [Chuckles] That might have been the oddest introduction to a survey ever. This is filled out by Hatched, and she's in her 40s. She's never been sexually abused but she's been physically and emotionally abused, and she writes, I grew up in the spanking generation and my parents were no exception. My folks didn't like to spank, just spank with their hands. They tended to use rulers, wooden spoons, hairbrushes, whatever was handy.

I remember being caught in a minor lie. I must have been five or six years old. I was hungry. There were bananas in the kitchen, so I opened one only to find when I took a bite that it was underripe, so I threw it in the garbage. My mom found it and when she asked me if I threw it away, I was afraid and I insisted that it hadn't been me. When my dad got home from work, he took my pants down and hit me with a yardstick.

My brother had it much worse. We were both adopted, not from the same birth parents. My coloring more resembled our adoptive parents, dark hair, olive skin, and my blond/blue-eyed brother ended up on the receiving end of my dad's anger far more than I. Dad would regularly hit and punch him, even through high school.

My brother passed away unexpectedly a few years ago, after having had a very rough period in his life where he seemed challenged in just about every area imaginable. He'd been injured and wasn't able to work. He and his wife had divorced. His teenage sons were shooting heroin. The night after his funeral, my father was lamenting what a disappointment my brother had been to him, and he said, I think some of it's my fault. I don't think I was hard enough on him when he was a kid.

Anybody who argues that we don't need some baseline emotional education in our country or the world as a whole, right along with reading and writing and math, just come back to this survey. Just come back to this survey.

It would be so worth the 10 minutes a day it would take in a classroom to teach coping skills, how to recognize emotions, how to express them healthily, how to set boundaries, how to respect boundaries [sighs]. There is nothing that isn't negatively affected by emotional, physical and sexual abuse, nothing. And you cannot remove emotional ignorance from it. It's there in every one of them.

Any positive experiences with the abusers? My father passed away this year after having severe health issues and then dementia. After many years of therapy and codependency support groups, I had been able to set boundaries with him that meant I could be around him without letting his anger issues or his unreasonable expectations get to me. I was able to forgive him, to see him as a flawed human who lacked the tools to be a good parent, and in the last decade of his life, we ended up being very close.

Case in point, case in point. You know, every person wouldn't even have to pay attention to what was being taught, because then we could, you know, even if a third of the people being raised with some type of emotional education were equipped with coping skills and communication skills to deal with toxic people or difficult environments, then at least that information would be used on a daily basis and the people that were ignorant to it, after hearing it enough in actual use, somebody setting a boundary, saying, hey, you're yelling at me again, I'm leaving, dinner is done, enough people do that, that's going to sink in.

All right, I'm off my soapbox. And I turned my ankle. I have got to stop building nine-foot soapboxes. I have a real Napoleon complex and I like to hear myself talk, but I had a lot of leftover lumber and that's the end of that bit.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by Polka-Dot Socks, and they are gender queer and questioning, and they write, they're 16 and they write, I never wear my seatbelt. I know it's a dumbass thing to do, but I cling onto the hope that I will die tragically in a car accident without anybody ever knowing I was suicidal.

Anyway, one day after a particularly impactful yoga class, I hopped in my car and started driving home. Usually I zone out when I'm driving, but that day I felt alive. I rolled down my windows and waved my hand around in the air. I played music loudly and sang along. I took in deep breaths and admired the beautiful world around me.

When I reached my driveway, I moved to get out of the car but found that I couldn't. I looked down and saw that I had my seatbelt on. I buckled up without even realizing it. I think this is what recovery looks like.

That is so awesome, man. That is so awesome. High-five. Internet five-fucking-five. [Chuckles] Any comments to make the podcast better? Describe in vivid detail what you are wearing to preface every podcast. Well, it's too late to preface it for this one, but let me go head to toe. I got a haircut yesterday and I have to say I quite like it. I mixed it up. I went to, I went from a place that charges $15 to a place that charges $25, and why, you say, Paul, would you do that? Because I view myself as royalty, and I’m willing to spend that much money to get my hair cut.

I am wearing a, what do you call this, a crew, is that what this is called, a crew shirt. It's red. It smells a little bit like my apartment. My apartment has kind of a weird smell that I haven't been able to quite nail down, and I think I might be driving the property manager crazy, but it's like, I don't know if it's in the air ducts or if there's some like cheap plastic something, but, so my clothes smell a little bit like it.

I am wearing a pair of very lightweight pajamas, pajama bottoms that I think could be described as equally out of date and awkward. Like, if I went downstairs to do laundry in these, other people in the apartment wouldn't like look at me in horror, but they would turn away. Let's just say that. It's, it looks like the polypropylene underwear that you would wear when it's winter, but I bought them as pajama bottoms, and then I got slippers. I love a good pair of slippers. So, there you go. That's [chuckles], I know you meant it as a joke, but fuck you, you asked for it, I'm giving it to you.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey, and this was filled out by The Girl With the Black Hair, and she's 19, straight, raised in a totally chaotic environment, and was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it.

A guy spilled beer all over my shirt while I was at my high school friend's birthday party. The birthday party was being hosted at his older friend's house, so he told me to go ask him for a shirt. When I did, he nicely showed me his room and gave me a shirt to change into, but then he wouldn't leave. I was so drunk, I just turned around and was about to change my shirt when he grabbed me and threw me on the bed.

I laughed and told him no, I had to find my phone, and he kept saying I can find it later and tried to kiss me and take off my pants. I kept saying no and making up excuses, and he said I would come back just to get him off of me, and said I would come back just to get him off of me, but nothing stopped him. He got my leggings off and I kept saying no and started to cry. He didn't care and didn't stop until someone came banging on the door and laughed.

He turned around for a second, and I had just enough time to push him off, grab my stuff and run into the bathroom connected to his room and another room. I changed in the bathroom and went back out to the party, where everyone apparently knew, quote, what happened and thought it was consensual. No one believed me except two people. Even my best friend didn't care.

I cried on the side of the street and burned my arm with every cigarette I lit that night. I feel embarrassed, ashamed, ugly, pathetic, dead, tired. I want to be either drunk or high for the rest of my life, or asleep, just so I would never have to feel that away again or think about it.

That is one of, that would be the perfect PSA, because I think so many people think it's about the act of penetration, that all of the damage happens from, and this is what happens, even when there isn't penetration. And I was one of those people, as a younger man, that, again, applied my own comfort level. You know, oh, if a woman pushed me down on a bed and tried to take my shirt off, you know, I'd be okay with it, so she should be okay with it.

Darkest thoughts. I'm ashamed to admit that I think about killing myself but know I never would. I hate myself and I hate my parents, but I feel like I can't say it out loud out of guilt. I want to die a good 99% of the time.

Darkest secrets. I was arrested. I burn myself. I've tried to cut myself. I love drugs. I have epilepsy and at one point I had cancer. I hope it comes back and I hope I die.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. Lesbian porn turns me on but I'm straight because I'm not attracted to girls, question mark. Don't question it. Tons of women say the same thing. Tons of men say the same thing. And it doesn't matter, honestly.

Does really, does really make me feel anything, I'm pretty honest about, anything about sex. Oh, doesn't really, sorry, just typos, I got it on the fly. It doesn't really make me feel anything. I'm pretty honest about anything about sex. I think people already try to hide and shame it, so I am not going to be one of those people who really cares.

Have you shared these things with others? No, because I don't know how. How do you tell your parents you want to die? How do you tell your friends you hate yourself and want to be dead?

How do you feel after writing these things down? The same. No one will ever know who I am, so no one ever will or can help me.

That is a lie. That is a lie that you've been conditioned to believe. There is help out there, and it may not come in the form or with the speed we hope it comes in, but keep seeking it, keep seeking it and start with mental health professionals. Start there, maybe with a school counselor, maybe with a teacher who seems safe. I don't know, but I, we're so rooting for you. I hope you get to hear this.

And that, I have never read a survey, and I've read over 10,000 surveys for this podcast, and I have never read one where somebody froze or couldn't find the words to advocate for themselves when they were being physically or sexually violated, I have never seen an instance of that where that person had been raised in a home where there were healthy boundaries and independence was encouraged and boundaries were talked about and healthy communication was modeled, I've never seen it.

Every single time I read one of those, they were raised in a house where it was emotionally invalidating. Either the parent didn't care about emotions or it was swept under the rug because it was uncomfortable or hard to talk about, or there was abuse. Don't make me get my soapbox.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by E-Beth, and she writes, my best friends both get super hermity when they're going through some shit, but the other day one of them invited me to visit him in Portland where he'd just moved with his partner. I love him so much and I was the first person he came out to. In high school he got bullied for being gay and seeing him with a stable, loving, legitimately cool, sensitive and fun partner makes me feel so proud of him for finding contentment. Fuckin' love that, fuckin' love that.

Olivia filled out a Shame and Secrets Survey. I'm just going to read a little portion of it. She's 15 and raised in a stable and safe environment. Again, I think I've read one survey where I went, yeah, that sounds like a stable and safe environment. She's never been sexually abused, not sure if she's been physically or emotionally.

She writes, my mom used to say things like, oh, you can't wear that, you're too fat. Although it was mean, I'm kind of like, fuck it, I like my body.

Darkest thoughts. I'm so scared to get my driver's license because I think about jumping in the middle of the road or hurting myself all the time. I'm not suicidal but my brain just obsesses over these things. Imagine me on the road with thousands of other people, I probably wouldn't do anything to endanger anyone, but I think to myself, what if I swerved off the road? I could. I'm in control of the car.

Olivia, do you have any idea how common that thought is? I must have read that 500 if not 5,000 times in these surveys. Listen to the episode with Maria Bamford. That's a good one about unwanted thoughts.

Darkest secrets. Probably my deepest secret is that I'm bisexual. I live in the South, so a lot of my friends are religious. I've told some of them, but I'm scared I'll lose others if I tell them.

Well, I hope you hang on until you're 18 and you have more freedom, and then fuck anyone who doesn't love you for the true you. And don't worry about the unwanted thoughts. There's a difference between having unwanted thoughts that pop into our head, either because it's something we can't control or because, you know, it brings us some type of temporary comfort because it feels like, oh, okay, you know, there's an escape route if I need one.

There's a difference between that and, you know, planning something out and becoming excited about it. You know, if you were drawing pictures about that head-on collision and, you know, spacing out in the middle of conversations with people because you couldn't wait to get into thee car, you know, to possibly do it tonight, that would be different. That would be different.

Happy Moment filled out by Rocking the Quad Cities. Oh, yeah, this might be Mean DJ Voice. No. His happy moment, my dad and I played a concert together recently, and after a great show with a huge crowd we went to Steak 'n Shake at midnight, shared burgers and fries and laughed and talked about our favorite moments during the show. I felt connected to my dad in a way that was unique to my personality. So beautiful, so beautiful. Am I jealous? You have no idea.

This was filled out by Blue Mayflower, and just one excerpt I wanted to read from this. What, if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven't been able to? She writes, thank you for letting me speak to you through pictures drawn on paper when things got hard. Being autistic makes it hard for me to explain how I feel, but you listened to me no matter how I communicated. You have the patience of a saint. That really touched me. Thank you for that.

And finally, this is a Happy Moment filled out by Key Lime, and she writes, in my seventh grade science class, our teacher gave us an assignment for the weekend, color in a periodic table and bring it to class on Monday. Most kids photocopied the periodic table on a sheet of copier paper and then colored it in.

My father, however, had a different idea. On Saturday morning, Dad and I hopped in the car and headed to the art supply store. He bought a thick poster board, five feet by three feet, a long metal ruler, stencils, permanent markers and highlighters. We spent all day Saturday and Sunday drawing the periodic table on this enormous poster board and stenciling the 110 elements onto it.

While working on the project, we discussed the organization of the table and science in general. Dad never attended college, but he has always loved learning and passed that curiosity on to me.

During the weekend, Dad asked me about what I might like to do for a career. We talked for hours about different career paths, discussing the potential benefits and downsides. I was a bit embarrassed on Monday when I handed in an enormous project, since all the other kids handed in their assignments on a sheet of copier paper. However, I delighted in the fact that my father sacrificed his whole weekend to spend time with me for a school project.

At that moment, I felt loved. I was grateful I had a dad who cared about my ideas and who was starting to talk to me like an adult with her own point of view. Moments like that stand out as some of the happiest moments in my childhood. I think that weekend is when I first realized I wanted to go to college, and the periodic table project is probably why I am a chemist today.

Seriously, the hair on my arms is standing on end, I am, that is just, I want to frame that. I want to frame that. Thank you so much for that survey. Thanks to Patricia. Thank you, guys, for filling out the surveys, supporting the show. It just means the world to me, and if you're out there and you're stuck, don't give up. Don't give up.

Help is all around us. We just have to take that scary first step of asking for it. And if I hadn't done that in 1999, I would be dead and this podcast wouldn't exist and you'd be listening to something else and you'd probably be enjoying that more. I don't like where this is headed.

Seriously, I'm so glad I stuck around, because I get to share my experience with you. And I'm glad you stuck around because you get to share your experience with me, and it helps us both feel less alone, and then we can laugh about fucked-up things and not be [chuckles], not be so miserable all the time. It's nice to not be miserable. Just remember you're not alone.

 

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And thanks for listening. I don't like the way I said that. I'm going to do that one again. Thanks for listening. I don't like that one either. Thanks for listening? Ugh.

 

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