From Hostile to Peaceful – JT

From Hostile to Peaceful – JT

19 year-old JT shares about the crippling anxiety, panic attacks and fear of abandonment he tried to alleviate for years through being hostile and controlling (of course it backfired) before finally deciding to get help. He shares with Paul the painful working-class childhood he had including the death of his parents when he was 8 and embracing his sexuality at 16. He talks about the importance mindfulness has played in helping him find the peace that has allowed him to deal with his anxiety.

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling. To see if it’s right for you go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental , fill out a questionnaire and try a free week. Must be 18

This episode is sponsored by ZipRecuiter. To post jobs and find the right person to hire fast, and for free go to www.ZipRecruiter.com/first

To support the podcast through donations of money (one-time or recurring monthly for as little as $1) or frequent flyer miles, go to www.mentalpod.com/donate

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This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling. To see if it's right for you go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental , fill out a questionnaire and try a free week. Must be 18

This episode is sponsored by ZipRecuiter. To post jobs and find the right person to hire fast, and for free go to www.ZipRecruiter.com/first

To support the podcast through donations of money (one-time or recurring monthly for as little as $1) or frequent flyer miles, go to www.mentalpod.com/donate

Episode Transcript:

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

 

Welcome to Episode 335 with my guest J.T. My name is Paul Gilmartin, in case you were asking, in case you were wondering, who is this guy? Because a lot of people randomly accidentally land on a podcast. My name is Paul Gilmartin. Now that we've settled that, I'll let you know the name of the podcast that you accidentally stumbled into.

Welcome to the Mental Illness Happy Hour, a podcast about all the battles in our heads, from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas and sexual dysfunction, why, to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show, ladies and gentlemen, is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. I am a jackass. I'm a former stand-up comedian. I'm a former cable-TV host. I'm not a therapist. I'm not a doctor. But I am a hypochondriac [chuckles].

I can't tell if this part is going well or I've lost everybody. Welcome to my brain. The Web site for this show, as well as my Twitter handle is Mentalpod, so our Web site is Mentalpod.com, and my Twitter handle is Mentalpod. I could not have really found a lengthier way to explain those two things. I'm going to work on it. I am going to, as soon as I'm off mic, I'm going to see how much I can stretch that out.

Thank you for your outpouring of support. I got a little choked up at the end of last week's episode. I was reading something that was submitted by a listener and it just suddenly really, really spoke to me as I was reading it, and I got choked up and I decided to leave it in there. And it's just so lovely to see how much some of you care.

And there's a part of me that's really embarrassed, that feels naked and exposed and a little attention-hungry, needy, weak [chuckles], let's stop before I become depressed again [coughs]. I am feeling a bit better. Excuse me, I just, [chuckles] have you ever screwed up swallowing your own saliva? Wouldn't you think after this many years on the planet I'd be good enough, I'd have enough practice at swallowing my own saliva [coughs] that I wouldn’t still be fumbling around with it? Anyway, it could be that I just chewed a bunch of ginger. Ginger is my neighbor [chuckles].

Oh, good God. A little health scare with Ivy, our [chuckles] remaining dog. Yeah, her ass was a fire hose this last week, and she was throwing up, but she's on a diet now of chicken and rice and is doing better. But that was my fear, was like, really, on top of this now, our other dog is going to die, but it looks like she's okay?

I watched something that was so, thank you to the Twitter person who tweeted this to me. There is video of a guy confessing a, I don't know if you call him a serial killer or mass murderer, but it's video footage of him being interviewed by the police, and it's about an hour long. Apparently there's two parts. I just watched the first part of it.

And it's, you've got to do a lot of fast forwarding because the guy that is, who is taking the notes, the cop who is taking the notes, has the slowest penmanship I think I've ever seen. So, you know, the killer will share a short sentence and five minutes later the guy is done transcribing what he's written down.

Anyway, all of this is to say, it is a fascinating peek into the mind of a psychopath. I'm talking about the guy transcribing [chuckles], total psychopath. No, the killer is, I don't even know how to describe it. If you Google killer Superbike interview, because the store where he killed a couple of people was called Superbike.

First of all, like most killers, he was intelligent, soft-spoken, is looking in an awkward way to try to connect with people, seems desperately to want to elicit some type of recognition of his brilliance in planning. He was almost manic, like he was in, like in a great mood, like he had lived with all of this pride of him planning things out and executing his plans out in such a way that I think he thought that he was going to impress the police who are interviewing him.

And it's fascinating that this guy can't see that, yeah, while police may clear a room of criminals, clearing a room of innocent people is not the same thing. But this guy was talking about his carrying out this act in incredible detail.

You could tell that he was just, like read everything he could find about guns and the military and etc., etc., but it was almost as he was describing what he had done, it was, if you could imagine somebody had spent five years painting a painting that they feel expresses their genius and this was him revealing that painting to somebody, there was like an excitement in him that it was, you know, there was one time in it where it's so clear that this guy fancies himself as like a cop or some type of soldier, and in referring to having shot somebody or done something horrible, he said to the cop, you've been there, you know what I'm talking about.

You know, and then he started trying to present himself in as good a light as possible. You know, he said, I don't, how did he phrase it exactly? Oh, I prefer not to shoot a woman if I can, and I refuse to shoot a kid. And that phrase says so much to me, because he did shoot a woman, but I refuse to shoot a kid, refuse is such an interesting choice of words because it says to me that this guy is so divided, it's like there is a part of him that wants to do something and then there's another part of him that's battling it. I don't know.

It's disturbing, but it is, because I'm obsessed with, obsessed might be too strong of a word, fascinated by peeks into people who can't control their dark side, and this is probably one of the most fascinating ones that I've seen so far. I really wish that the camera hadn't just shown him from a high angle from behind. It would have been really interesting to also see his eyes and see where he was looking as he was talking.

But anyway [chuckles], switching gears, I want to remind you guys, coming up in October is L.A. Podfest. It's an amazing event that happens every year, and I've been fortunate enough to be a part of it, and this year my guest is going to be comedian Andy Kindler, and I'm really looking forward to it. Andy is one of the funniest people I know, and not somebody who talks about his feelings very often, but it's, I'm looking forward to it because Andy is somebody that I love and one of the funniest people I know. So, I’m so excited that he is going to do it.

The reason I bring Podfest up is, go to LAPodfest.com and you can get deals on hotels, hotel rooms at the hotel where it's taking place, which is in downtown Los Angeles.

What else did I want to mention? I did that. Oh, this interview with J.T., he's from Manchester and he has a pretty thick accent, dialect, whatever you want to call it. If you don't understand some of what he's saying at first, hang in there. You'll begin to pick up on it and it'll become easier to understand, because at first a couple of words that he said threw me, and then after a little while I was like, oh, okay, all right, I know what that is now.

The other thing, I think I told the story already about him and I going to get tea afterwards, we just hit it off, even though I'm 50-something and he was 19, there was like this connection that we had, and after this interview in Liverpool, I said to him, you know, I've got a couple hours to kill before I take the train back to London, I've always wanted to go into like proper tearoom and get English tea and just see what that experience is like.

And he [chuckles], he went with me, and so picture this kind of kid, you know, who likes heavy metal, got long hair, real working class, he and I going into a very, very upper-class British tea shop, like at noon, and the first thing we see when we go in there, and I'm not kidding, is a lady doing some kind of like 1920s dance while a Victrola is playing [chuckles].

We had the best time because we just sat and laughed for like a half hour at how absurd it felt that the two of us were so out of place in there, but it was one of my favorite days on my trip and talking to J.T. was as well.

I have mentioned before that BetterHelp.com is a sponsor of this show. It's also where I found my therapist, Donna. She's awesome. I talk to her every week, and she helps me with so many things. You know, a lot of times I don't want to participate in therapy. A lot of times I dread therapy because I don't like going in there.

I think a lot of you are probably like me and that when you're hurting or not feeling comfortable in your skin, you want to get away from everybody, go in the corner and lick your wound and find something to distract yourself, but I have to say, every time I finish doing a video therapy session with her, I feel better, I've got some more insight, and I feel heard. So [coughs], again, difficulty, I think it's what I ate before I came here that's [chuckles] making me have a struggle swallowing.

Anyway, go to BetterHelp.com/mental and complete a questionnaire and you'll get matched with a BetterHelp.com counselor, and you can experience a free week of online counseling to see if it's right for you, and you need to be over 18.

This, before I read this very, very brief Awfulsome Moment, and I have to say, it might be the most dense, brief Awfulsome Moment I've had on the show so far. It is definitely hall of fame. It's a single sentence, and it's so fucked up.

But I also wanted to mention, in this interview with J.T., he uses the phrase year 10 or year 11. I didn't realize until pretty far into the interview, he didn't mean when he was 10 or 11. He meant when he was in 10th grade or 11th grade, so just in case some of you [chuckles] don't understand that either, let you know that now.

And right after this Awfulsome Moment that I'm going to read is a little audio bite from a listener named Alana who describes her struggle in a sentence of living with bipolar.

All right, now that all of that is out of the way, this is an Awfulsome Moment, filled out by Ben, and he writes, in my mother's suicide note she misspelled the word loser.

 

ALANA: What my bipolar feels like. The most insane reality, the clearest of fogs, the highest of lows. It's me standing in the middle of the street, completely naked, dancing and smiling in the middle of a tornado, but feeling and believing that there is nothing but sunshine and butterflies around me.

To me, my bipolar is the perfect storm, the perfect storm inside of an all-inclusive VIP party that I arranged and invited everyone to. Yet I stand there and I feel as though I'm the only one on the guest list. I'm completely alone.

My bipolar disorder is the most beautiful disaster imaginable.

 

[Show intro]

 

PAUL: I'm here with J.T. He came down from Manchester. I'm in Liverpool, and it's so exciting. I've dreamed of coming here for the longest time and getting to see all the Beatles' stuff, and I appreciate you making the trip down from Manchester.

 

J.T.: You know, I had to. It's, you know, you won't be down here too often, so I just had to, and, I mean, the trip to Liverpool as well, it's absolutely beautiful around here, you know, with the River Mersey and you don't really get to see that much in Manchester. It's all just people and buildings. It's nice to see ships and stuff.

 

PAUL: Very industrial, right?

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Yeah, the hotel I'm at is, you have a view of the Mersey and the sun was setting over it last night and I was just like, I can't believe, here I am, after the years of, you know, hearing the Beatles sing about the Mersey and getting to see all their childhood homes and Strawberry Fields and all that other stuff. I was just like, the school court, the school where they sang together for the first time, where they got introduced to each other, yeah--

 

J.T.: It must be incredible, yeah.

 

PAUL: Yeah, it's pretty cool. So, let's get to your story. You're 19 years old.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: You started listening to the podcast about two years ago, I think you said--

 

J.T.: Yeah, something like that, about 16, 17.

 

PAUL: And what were some of the misconceptions it dispelled for you?

 

J.T.: I mean, at the time, I was struggling with abandonment, with anxiety, but at the time it was mainly abandonment and I didn't know it at the time, and when I was with friends and with people, I could be quite aggressive or quite nasty, quite in your face, very controlling, and I didn't realize it for a second. No one mentioned it. I just thought I was just normal.

Then I started listening to the podcast and I heard a lot of people's stories about how they were controlling people, and all of a sudden it was like a slap in the face, and I just sat down and I looked at myself and I said, something's not right here, because I could see that the people around me were just unhappy. They were scared to say anything, just case I'd snap at them or, and--

 

PAUL: They were afraid to be perceived as weak or vulnerable--

 

J.T.: Yeah. They were more afraid of just being themselves, in case I said something. And--

 

PAUL: Oh, they were afraid being around you of saying something or just in general.

 

J.T.: Yeah, yeah. It was like scared of doing something [inaudible], if you get that.

 

PAUL: They were afraid of doing something . . .

 

J.T.: Like say somebody got on my nerves, that they'd like say, they [inaudible] like, and I'd snap at them, like [inaudible] just by habit and they'd like apologize for it--

 

PAUL: Oh. Oh, so they were on eggshells around you.

 

J.T.: Yeah, they were walking on eggshells. There was one friend, she was my best friend, I told her where to go, I took her everywhere with me, and she'd just sort of be background noise. Like she was just, she was just, I'd just tell her everything and she didn't really have a chance to tell me her story, because I was just laying everything on to her and it just go a bit much for her, really, because I was just telling her my whole life story.

I was telling her how bad this class is, how bad that teacher is, and I just, and then when I'd fall out with someone, it was their fault, not mine.

 

PAUL: Hm.

 

J.T.: And I never realized that it was me that was the problem, not them.

 

PAUL: That is amazing, that somebody at 19 can get an accurate picture of their part in things when you're in that survival mode of trying to repress all your childhood feelings, which I assume is what was going on--

 

J.T.: Yeah, it was, yeah, because when I was younger, I was eight years old, between then, I lived with my mother and my father. They were alcoholics, did fight a lot. They wouldn't touch me, but they did fight a lot.

 

PAUL: Just with each other.

 

J.T.: With each other, yeah. There was times where I was laying in bed with them and my mum would be saying that, I'm going to stab him and stuff like that, my mum would get a knife out and I'd be fearing for my dad's life.

 

PAUL: What do you remember thinking about, do you remember having any conscious, other than fear for your dad's life, any kind of conscious thoughts or feelings outside of your dad at that moment?

 

J.T.: I think I just sort of felt useless, because there was nothing I could do. I mean, I just had to stand there and watch it or try and hide away from it. And, I mean, I don't remember too much now, thank God, because I think a lot of it I have repressed and forgot about, but they died when I was eight from alcohol.

 

PAUL: They both died.

 

J.T.: In six weeks.

 

PAUL: Oh, my God. Of what, cirrhosis or--

 

J.T.: Well, my dad died because something popped in his stomach, a vein, and he basically, internal bleeding. The day before he died, he was falling over and everything. I was, and by then I was in, living with my aunt there who took care of me, because they were alcoholic and social services got involved.

Yeah, when the ambulance came and I begged him to get in, but he just wouldn't, he refused, and he died the day after. And then six weeks later, my mum choked on her own sick because she took tablets and basically drunk herself to death because she gave up.

 

PAUL: So, it was suicide, in a sense.

 

J.T.: It wasn't sui-, in a sense, yeah, but it wasn't deliberate. I don't think she meant it.

 

PAUL: I see. She just kind of didn't care.

 

J.T.: But she just drank so much and took so many tablets, it just, she passed out and she couldn't get up and she just choked herself to death [sighs].

 

PAUL: What does it feel like as you hear those words come out of your mouth?
J.T.: I mean, it doesn't, I don't feel anything until I say it. Like, I can say it and I can think about it, and I just went, oh, well, it just happened, but just to hear myself say things like that, like I think, that's that little boy and it must have been awful for him, because it's hard to go back 11 years and say, this is how it felt, because I honestly don't really remember, but I know what the domino effect that it caused, bringing on abandonment issues, that I didn't want anyone to leave and just general anxiety.

 

PAUL: And what a combination to have rage and not wanting anybody to abandon you.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: It's like could you have a worse combination to try to cope with life?

 

J.T.: Yeah. To be awful, an awful person to your friends and not expect them to leave you. But, I mean, I'm so glad I became conscious of it. And I don't think I would have if it wasn't for your podcast, honestly.

 

PAUL: Well, that means a lot to me. Are you starting to realize that you're not an awful person--

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --that that was just the tools that--

 

J.T.: Yeah, that's the tools that you use to try and cope with the cards one is given.

 

PAUL: That is music to my ears, to hear a kid like you be able to make that realization, I mean--

 

J.T.: I mean, I'm in two different, my life, for me, is two different people. There was that person, and now there's this person. And I need to get, I've apologized to everyone who in the past, I sat down one day, I spoke to my counselor, and I just said, I need to apologize to everyone. I apologized to everyone. I got it off my chest.

I mean, even if I see them in the street and they still give me a dirty look, I know I apologized and I did the best I could. 26:23

 

PAUL: I'm just so incredibly moved. I'm just so moved.

 

J.T.: I [chuckles], I've told my story so many times, but I've never seen anyone cry to it.

 

PAUL: You know the part that moves me the most is that you've had this breakthrough, at 19.

 

J.T.: Well, I don't feel 19. I feel late 20s, mentally and emotionally. And, I mean, I'm not perfect. I still, like sometimes I'll have, I'll be having a bad day and I'll compulsively shop, but it's always something I control. I never go out and spend hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. If I feel like I need to do something, I'll like, say, I don't know, compulsively watch a TV series, or I'll go on eBay and just buy a load of things that are dead cheap, because, you know, when it comes, you get that rush, don't you, you're like, oh.

 

PAUL: Oh, it's the best. It's the best.

 

J.T.: Like, I understand shopping addiction because that rush when it comes through the door and you just see it, it's like, yes.

 

PAUL: Yes. It's like a rocket ship off of Earth.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Something to focus on. When I discovered the game Civilization, it was, I don't know, whatever the feeling of being back in the womb is like, that was like, I've never done heroin, but I feel like it can't be as good as Civilization.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: When you've got a good map and a good army and you've just taken somebody's city [chuckles]. What an awful thing to say--

 

J.T.: I get it. I honestly get it. Videogames, I love videogames. I mean, I’m a sore loser, but I still, I could play until the end of time, I really could. But sometimes you need to stop. That's about 4:00 in the morning most times, but, yeah.

 

PAUL: So, give me some snapshots from childhood. You know, you've obviously painted a great picture about the big events. But I, and maybe this is just because I live outside the UK, I would just kind of like a picture of the culture that you grew up in and your place in that culture, how you viewed yourself.

 

J.T.: I mean, most of my life I felt like an outcast because people just, they don't understand me. I mean, I've always had friends, but it's never, it's always just been friends for the sake of having friends, you know, all the outcasts come together, it was sort of that sort of group of people.

It's only really until now that I've actually found people that I click with, and, I mean, one of my best friends now is in his late 50s, and people think it's weird, you know, when they see me like walking down the street, like, is that your dad? I'm like, no, it's my mate, because emotionally I am, I'm much older than I am in age, and a lot of people have started to realize that, so that's the sort of people I get on with. I get on with the older people, and some people don't get it, but . . .

 

PAUL: Do you think it's because they're finally dealing with their shit--

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --whereas kids are just still trying to escape--

 

J.T.: Kids are still lost, yeah, they don't understand the world. And, I mean, I think I'm quite lucky at 19 to be emotionally where I am, but . . .

 

PAUL: Yeah. And you know, I got an e-mail from somebody yesterday, and it was a trans woman who was living in a just intolerant home and dealing with crippling anxiety, and, you know, I said to her, you are not failing your family. Your family is failing you, and society is failing you.

 

J.T.: Yep.

 

PAUL: You know, you having depression and anxiety and being trans should be on the level of somebody saying, I'm blond and I have diabetes. It's, it just is.

 

J.T.: It really, I mean, I do it myself. I'm not going to be a hypocrite, but, you know, I hate the judgment people give to trans people or people who enjoy, even a male enjoy dressing up as a girl, you know, sometimes I will be walking down the street and see someone like that, and I'll be like, a bit weird.

I used to be the sort of person that would go, why the hell is he dressing like that, [inaudible] but, I mean, now that, again, I've been listening to your podcast, I understand. I honestly think it's a beautiful thing and you should be able to embrace yourself without people's judgment, but society is in such a mess that you can't walk down the street without someone judging you.

You can't walk around with someone who's different because people have something to say, and people are so bothered about other people. They don't look inside themselves and realize that the reason they're judging them is because they don't feel their authentic self. They don't understand themselves yet, and I think that's just the way it is.

 

PAUL: That's exactly how it is. When I was 19, I was homophobic. You know, I would have, if I had had some beer in me and I was out with friends and I saw somebody like that walk by, I would have said something demeaning, and I wish I could take that back, but that's who I was in that moment. That's not, that wasn't my authentic self, I'm glad to say.

Give me a picture of the neighborhood you grew up in.

 

J.T.: I mean, it's just the usual detached style, lots of families around. I mean, we were very, we didn't really get involved with the neighbors. We just sort of kept ourselves to ourselves. Sometimes there was five or six living in the house. Now there's only two, because of people who's moving on [inaudible] and etc.

 

PAUL: Do you have brothers and sisters?

 

J.T.: Yeah, but I'm not in contact with any of them. I mean, I used to be in contact with my brother, but we just sort of fell out of contact. My sister [inaudible], but when my mum and dad died, that whole side of the family ransacked my house and robbed things and said they'd open an account for me when I was 18. So, when I brought it up when I was 18, there was just, just said don't have a clue yet about some sort of, I don't know--

 

PAUL: They said that they had opened an account?
J.T.: Yeah. They said they were going to sell everything, open an account and give it to me when I was 18, but it just, they never did, so I'm not so sure I ever want to get involved with them, because there was times where I do say, and my aunt, who I live with, [inaudible] brainwashing me and things and that's why I didn't want to talk to them, but it wasn't, it was because of them robbing my house and robbing my toys and stuff.

 

33:54

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

J.T.: Yeah. And, I mean, my aunt is, she's helped me through a lot, and I mean, I never did want to talk about my mum and dad, so she never really brought it up, but when I did sit down and, you know, try and talk about it, she told me everything. She was like, if you ever need to talk about it, you know, I'm here, I'll tell you what you need to know.

I'm gay as well, and obviously I think every gay person is scared to come out, but when I came out she just went, yeah, it's fine, I knew you were [chuckles].

 

PAUL: And what did that feel like to you?

 

J.T.: It was such a relief. You know, when you're gay and you're worried to come out, it feels like you got a backpack of bricks on you. There's so much weight on you. And--

 

PAUL: Especially I think being in a working-class environment.

 

J.T.: Yeah, because you just wonder what people will say, especially, I was about 14, 15, when I came out, especially that age, you know, you don't really know what people are going to say, and one day I just said, I have to, I have to do it, so I came out and everyone just embraced it and loved it.

 

PAUL: What did that feel like?

 

J.T.: It was amazing, because I hear about the stories of people being abandoned and people being beaten to death because of it, and I've just never had that experience. I've always had people accepting me for it, and it's been incredible.

 

PAUL: That, I have to say, is like one of the greatest things I've been able to see evolve, because I'm older, is to see so many more people being accepted and it being considered mainstream, as it should.

 

J.T.: It is. It's a very good thing to see.

 

PAUL: So, when you were a little kid, where did you escape?

 

J.T.: Mainly into toys like wrestlers and things like that, I just played wrestlers for hours upon end. I'd sit in my room a lot.

I mean, to get involved with the family but I'd be on my own, I was in fantasy world a lot. I used to like play with my cousins on the trampoline, but I think being in fantasy is one of the biggest things I used, just go in the garden and, I don't know, do dumb things like pretend I'm Bear Grylls, stuff like that, because I used to love Bear Grylls at that age, just things like that--

 

PAUL: I love Bear Grylls at 48 years old--

 

J.T.: Yeah, I love Bear Grylls now--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: It's like, I want to be that guy. He's like the closest thing to James Bond.

 

J.T.: Yeah. He is incredible.

 

PAUL: But go ahead, I cut you off.

 

J.T.: But yeah, that was mainly it, just being in my own little bubble, just, you know, playing my wrestlers, pretending I'm in a different world, mainly.

 

PAUL: And are the English wrestlers or American--

 

J.T.: American wrestlers, like, with the figures, like--

 

PAUL: Like who--

 

J.T.: --John Cena and [inaudible], people like that, wrestlers like that, yeah.

 

PAUL: Were you interacting with other kids at that point?

 

J.T.: Yeah, I mean, boys, mainly my cousins we were [inaudible] with like, we'd just go play on his trampoline and like go out and play with, like, well, I guess we did have one friend, but we'd just go out like, there used to be some woods and we used to go into the woods. I mean, it wasn't a big woods. It was a small woods. We'd just go in there and build things and stuff like that.

 

PAUL: Wasn't that the best?

 

J.T.: It was so fun.

 

PAUL: That was the best. You'd find a good tarp and you'd be like, oh, we got a roof.

 

J.T.: Yeah, it was great, looking back.

 

PAUL: And did you know you were gay at that point?

 

J.T.: I mean, I was looking at boys, but I never put a name to it because I didn't really know what it was until about year 10, and then that's when, well, year nine, and then that's when I realized that being gay was actually a thing. And I initially came out as bi, and it was like, no, I'm just not into girls. And so about year 10, 11, I came out as gay. Yeah.

 

PAUL: That's pretty damn brave at that age especially.

 

J.T.: Yeah. I think I grew up pretty quick.

 

PAUL: And how did your male cousins react?

 

J.T.: They didn't care.

 

PAUL: Whew. That is great.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: That is great. What was school like?

 

J.T.: I mean, primary school was good because I had best friends. You know, we used to play football and stuff like that. I loved primary school. High school is a bit rough, especially when, in about year 10, year 11, that's when the abandonment started coming up and that's when I was also realizing I was gay. I was falling out with people left, right and center because I was just so angry. And I guess they were angry as well.

Some of them, you know, they changed in a few years and they weren't great people. They weren't nice to be around. So, I sort of distanced myself. And in the end, I just sort of fell out with everyone and I was on my own. And I used to go sit on this little bench with my headphones in and I'd just sit there for an hour, and people used to come up to me like, are you all right? Like, yeah. Even though I wasn't, because inside I was screaming.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

J.T.: But I had to just say yeah because I didn't know how to say no. But . . .

 

PAUL: Please don't bother me, I'm using really primitive coping mechanisms right now, I'll get back to you.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: So, I'm confused, though, you said in high school you were realizing you were gay, but you said that you came out at like 10 or 11--

 

J.T.: I think it was earlier 10 that I realized. I came out late year 10, but I guess that was all that period. It was year 11 I was out of, starting to interact more with people again, but I guess the early stages of year 11 was quite difficult, too, because it was [inaudible].

 

PAUL: And by that you mean when you were 11 years old or 11th grade?

 

J.T.: Eleventh grade.

 

PAUL: Oh, that's why I was confused.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Yeah, I thought you meant you came out at 10 or 11 years old--

 

J.T.: Oh, no, no, no--

 

PAUL: --and I was like, wow, that's really [chuckles] . . .

 

J.T.: No.

 

PAUL: But I've heard of kids coming out at six, seven years old.

 

J.T.: Well, yeah.

 

PAUL: So give me some vignettes, some slices of life, moments that--

 

J.T.: I mean, I think one of the biggest parts when I started to change was, my friend sat me down. This was college. I think it was late, I was about, I must have been 17, and I sat down and I did a personality test, because he told me to, you know, everyone was doing them. And then it came up high in narcissism, and at the time I was struggling with health anxiety. I still struggle with that now.

 

PAUL: Worrying about your health?

 

J.T.: Yeah. And when I saw that, I burst out crying. I was like, I'm a narcissist, and I want to talk to the counselor and I want to open to it, I’m a narcissist, you know, I need help, [inaudible] a narcissist.

And then I started seeing him for about a year, and then he had to, there came a point where he just said, I can't see you anymore, it's been too long and the manager won't allow it. At that point, that was about eight months ago. I went back into a bit of a pit. I was anxious, definitely with health anxiety, because I had a bit of a stomach bug and, at the time, I was saying it's IBS and Crohn's disease and I had a gluten allergy and I had a milk allergy, and they're throwing all this at me and she didn't know what to do, because she knew I didn't have it but how do you tell someone you don't have it.

And one day my brother just went, J.T., stop, you don't have any of this. You've been to a doctor. He says it's a stomach bug. It's just a stomach bug. And then I just stopped and it was like, it's just a stomach bug, and the day after it was gone. And I had it for about a month.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: It's amazing when our mind goes into overdrive how it can affect our body.

 

J.T.: Yeah. I mean, I think I've only, only twice I've nearly passed out from anxiety, and one of them was in jury duty. That was quite the experience.

 

PAUL: Did you get dismissed from it?

 

J.T.: Well, they had to put me on [inaudible] and say I need to go, because my eyes were just blacking out, I had the ringing in my ears, I'm like, I'm going to pass out and I don't understand why. So, I just left. I thought I was ill, but, no, it was anxiety.

 

PAUL: I'm going to have to try that one to get out of jury duty.

 

[Chuckling]

 

J.T.: It was awful, jury duty, because, I mean, I can tell you the case because it's done, but it was this girl, when she was young, when she was about six, she got basically molested by her stepfather. She came forward 15 years later about it.

It went to court and, in the end, we had to find him not guilty because we just didn't have enough evidence, but you could tell from her, she was crying, floods of tears, I mean, I'm not saying just because someone cries means that it happened, but you could tell it on his face, you could tell on her face, it happened, but you can't say someone's guilty because it's beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

PAUL: Oh, that's awful. That's awful.

 

J.T.: I mean, it still sits with me today, that, because it's such a failure on the justice system because, you know, how she can sleep at night.

 

PAUL: And I always try to stress to survivors that just because something isn't prosecutable doesn't mean it's not valid, two completely separate things.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: So, you find out that you're narcissistic, and by the way, I'd just like to also say that there is a vast difference between somebody who has narcissistic personality disorder and people who have traits of narcissism.

 

J.T.: Yeah, that's the way it was.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

J.T.: It wasn't even saying I was narcissistic. It was you're not narcissistic, you've just got, you've just got narcissistic tendencies. You don't have the personality disorder. You've just got tendencies that you use when people, like you're so scared of abandonment, you use them tools to save yourself.

 

PAUL: You do. It's, you're in survival mode. You know, that's like telling somebody, you know, as they're trying to find the stairwell out of a burning building, you need to think less about yourself.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: You know, once you begin to make sense of it and learn some coping mechanisms, then I think it's, you know, some responsibility on your part to begin to learn how to cope in healthy ways and use the new tools that you're being taught. But a lot of, there's so much misunderstanding and lack of compassion for people who are in survival mode, because often the person in survival mode doesn't even know they're in survival mode.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: They just know that they don't want to live another day feeling like they don't want to be on the planet.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And what am I going to find today to take me out of that, to give me that rocket ship off the planet.

 

J.T.: I mean, that's how I was in college, early college.

 

PAUL: Tell me about that.

 

J.T.: It was just, like I said before, about so scared of people abandoning me, I was just an awful person. I mean, even to teachers, I was just, I was so difficult.

 

PAUL: Give me some examples, some concrete examples, if you can think of them.

 

J.T.: Like there's times where in class, like a teacher would just be teaching and I'd walk out and go to the toilet, like go to the toilet, and I'd just walk around the college about 10 times and then come back 20 minutes later, and they'd be like, where the hell have you been? It's like, just went to the toilet, and it got every single lesson, but they couldn't say no because they had to let us go to the toilet.

And I'd just be behind so many lessons, and, I mean, that's probably why I failed college in the end [chuckles]. But I was just, I was so difficult. I was just so angry.

 

PAUL: What were you feeling, though, that you felt like I've got to get up and get out of my chair?

 

J.T.: I think it's just the thought of stopping, the thought of being with myself, the thought of just being still. I've always struggled with being still. I've always got to be doing something. I've got to be, like when I'm at home, I like sit down for five minutes, I walk, I'll pop up make a coffee, I'll go eat something. I eat a lot. I just eat, eat, eat, eat, eat because I just need something in my hands, doing something, because I can't stop. I've got a fear of stopping. And, I mean, I've got that under control now. It's not as bad as it was, but it's still there.

 

PAUL: And so after you stopped seeing the counselor, has there been any other kind of--

 

J.T.: Well, I had another counselor. I was meant to be getting CBT, she said, because I went back to the counselor, and because I went back to the counselor my anxiety just dropped because I was finally seeing someone who can help me. So, I spoke to her. She said, you know, your anxiety isn't bad enough to warrant us putting you on CBT. I was like, what?

And then, just one session, she said, I can't see you anymore. I can put you on the list for another counselor or you can just go. I just went, I'll just go. And before that, actually, I went on tablets, beta blockers.

 

PAUL: Beta blockers.

 

J.T.: Beta blockers, yeah, for the anxiety, and they helped a lot during that period. I mean, I've come off them now and told I could stay off them. I've not been on, I think I took one a few days ago because I just woke up and I was so anxious, but I'd been off them for about three months now.

 

PAUL: And would you say that anxiety is the--

 

J.T.: That's the main thing.

 

PAUL: --the biggest, the main thing--

 

J.T.: Yeah. I mean, there was times where in work I was walking around and I'd do something wrong and I'd fear my job. I wouldn't just go, oh, I made a mistake, I'll, you know, fix it. It was straight to, I'm going to lose my job, I'm going to get sacked.

Well, then I'm going to have no job and no one's going to hire someone who's been fired in a past job. I'm going to have no money. I'm going to be a failure and just stuff, it'll just spiral and spiral and spiral. And that's why my eyes will glaze over and start hearing the ringing and it's just, I don't have panic attacks. I just pass out, but I've never actually passed out. I just nearly pass out.

 

PAUL: Hm, wow. There's an amazing article by a guy named Dr. Alan Rappoport about a thing he calls co-narcissism, which is the effects on the child of narcissists, and alcoholics are narcissists.

 

J.T.: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And one of the hallmarks of children raised by narcissists is black-and-white thinking, and I was just thinking, as you were sharing that, you've got somebody who is in survival mode, you in that moment, you go into the black-and-white thinking and you just start extrapolating the dominoes of, this is going to lead to that is going to lead to that and going to lead to that, and so a mistake means you're homeless on a street corner.

 

J.T.: Yeah. I mean, let me say, my parents weren't the worst people on the planet. Like, I'd come over on the weekend and they'd have toys for me. They'd buy me takeaway. They'd do everything I wanted, but that was the issue. They did everything I wanted.

Like, there was no discipline. There was no rules. Like I'd do something wrong, they'd say, you're grounded for two weeks, and they'd let me out the day after. And I became a liar. I stole. I just, I wasn't a great child, and then once my aunt got me, she was like, this is how it's going to be, and I was like, pfft, no, it's not [chuckles]. I was stealing. I was lying. And then she just came down on me like a ton of bricks and she said, you're not doing that anymore. And then, I mean--

 

PAUL: Who said this?

 

J.T.: My aunt.

 

PAUL: Oh, okay.

 

J.T.: Yeah, she was, she put me in--

 

PAUL: So she gave you the discipline you needed.

 

J.T.: Yeah, she put me in place. I mean, there was a lot of screaming, there was a lot of crying on my behalf, you know, you're an awful person, you know, it just, I didn't say it to her, but I was like, oh, you're awful, you know, and what a bitch, but I realize now that if she wouldn't have done that I wouldn't be where I am.

 

PAUL: Have you ever thanked her for that?

 

J.T.: No. And I should.

 

PAUL: I bet she would love to hear that. I bet, I bet she would really, really love to hear that. Do you feel like that's something that you would be comfortable saying to her, thanking her for that?

 

J.T.: Yeah, I think so.

 

PAUL: I bet she would love to hear that.

 

J.T.: Yeah, because, I mean, if I would have still lived with my parents, I wouldn't even want to know what I would have turned out to be. I mean, in a way, I'm not going to say I'm happy they died, because I'm not.

There's times even now where I fantasize about my mum actually faking her death and I meet her in the middle of the street and we all hug and cry and say, oh, my God, Mum, I can't believe you faked your death, and she would go, oh, but it was for the best. But I know it's never going to happen because she did die. I went to her funeral. She was in a coffin. Well, she got cremated.

But I mean, I do miss her, but in a way I'm glad that I wasn't in their care because I would have probably become an alcoholic. I probably would have just had no job, just [inaudible] all the time, probably homeless, and I wouldn't be in a great place, emotionally, physically, anything like that.

 

PAUL: On a scale from one to 10, what was your anxiety like, I'm guessing you would rate it a 10 if you're passing out in jury duty, and what would you rate your anxiety on an average day today?

 

J.T.: About then, I'd say it's about a nine, 10, yeah. Now, a three.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

J.T.: I still get the anxious thoughts, but some of that I just ignore now. Sometimes I do wake up and panic, and I'm like, oh, my God, I've got, like I'll feel a pain in my chest, I'm having a heart attack, I'm having a heart attack, I'm going to die, but that goes for then two, three, four, five minutes.

But then I would sit with it for hours upon end. I'd be spaced out. I just, I'd just sit there just in a daze, like I've got Crohn's disease and I'm going to have to live with this for the rest of my life, and I don't do that now. That was bad.

 

PAUL: You know, I'm just going to throw this out there for you to think about when you start panicking, is look at what you've been through and survived. Dude, if you can get to where you are now, you can handle anything.

 

J.T.: Yeah, I know that. I mean, there's still steps forward, but I like to call it enlightenment, and I don't mean spiritual enlightenment in terms of meditat-, I mean, I do meditate sometimes.

 

PAUL: Which I think is a great thing for anxiety.

 

J.T.: It is beautiful, just, I mean, my favorite thing is just mindfulness because most of the time I start work about 5:00 in the morning, and I go outside about 4:00 a.m. and it's just me, the cold air and the birds chirping, and if I could sit in that moment for the rest of my life, I would. Like, I've always, I love nature. I go out on walks in nature. I mean, I can't at the moment because I've got tendonitis, which is pissing me off, but I'd go like to Peak District and nature, like places with hills and it was just, it's not even the nature. It's the people as well. The people are so just nice.

Like I remember when I went last time, I spoke to this woman. We just started talking and she was just the most beautiful person. She had worked in mental health and, you know, I told her my story and how at the time I was suffering from anxiety, I just needed to be out in nature, and she went, yeah, this is, it's the best thing to do. And she was, she gave me so much good advice and, I mean, she was just a great person. You meet so many people like that.

 

PAUL: Yeah, I imagine when you're out in nature as the sun is coming up, you don't hear a lot of people going, what a dick.

 

[Chuckling]

 

J.T.: No.

 

PAUL: That's such a, it's such a mellow, mellow time, yeah. Anything else you'd like to talk about or share?

 

J.T.: Now you put me on the spot, I can't think of anything, but once I leave--

 

PAUL: You can take your time if you want to--

 

J.T.: I mean, I think I've spoken about most of the things, like my main story.

 

PAUL: You know, when I have guests that are around your age, they tend to be shorter episodes because--

 

J.T.: There's not much to talk about.

 

PAUL: Yeah, your story still remains to unfold--

 

J.T.: I've lived a lifetime in 19 years [chuckles].

 

PAUL: You have. You have, my friend. Well, I'm so glad that our paths crossed and I got to hear your story and I got to get a hug from you in person and--

 

J.T.: Yeah. I mean, when I e-mailed you, I thought we'd just meet up and have dinner. I wasn't expecting to be on the podcast, and, you know, it's such a great pleasure, you know, listening to 200, 300-odd episodes, however many there is, and to be on it myself, whether it's uploaded or not, I don't really care. Just to meet you in person, you know, this--

 

PAUL: No, this is going to air.

 

J.T.: Yeah, it's incredible, you know, just meeting you and stuff.

 

PAUL: Thanks, brother.

 

J.T.: Thanks.

 

PAUL: What a sweet man, and I’m officially a crybaby. I cried on last week's episode. Cried on this week's episode, although this was recorded a month ago.

Anyway, 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. I really appreciate it.

Yeah, judging the shit out of myself for having back-to-back episodes where I cry. Just telling you that because it takes the power out of the mean voice in my brain when I share the things that it is yelling at me. I hope you can relate, and if you can relate I'm also sorry that you can relate because you know what a pain in the ass that mean voice can be.

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Let's get into the surveys, huh? Enough of this mucking around. I feel like there was something else I wanted to tell you and I can't remember what it was. Oh, well.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by Jamie Jonestown, who is a trans male, and he writes, today is the first hot day in six years that I've gone outside without a chest binder. I got chest reconstruction surgery a month ago. Somehow I found an amazing, friendly, talented surgeon who took insurance. I feel free for the first time in six years. I can just go outside and live my life. That's so awesome.

Why anybody would want to deny you that joy or shame you for it is beyond me, beyond me. Actually, it's not beyond me, because as I shared with J.T., I used to be the type of person that would judge that, so anyway.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by Paul S., and he writes, this is rather small, but your talking of Marshmallow Crème reminded me of it. When I was about 12 years old or so, my family took a road trip, where the elevation was quite a bit higher than we were living at the time. My mother decided to make sandwiches for all of us. Unbeknownst to any of us, Marshmallow Crème tends to expand when exposed to areas where the air pressure is lower.

So, my mother opened the jar and there was what can only be described as a slow eruption of crème right out of the jar. She was on it in moments and making sandwiches by the second as the crème came constantly flowing out of the top of the jar. To this day, we laugh about it whenever we're eating marshmallow-and-peanut butter sandwiches or whenever it comes up in conversation.

I just realized that that is how I want to die, is I want to be at the top of Mount Everest with as many people around me as possible, unscrewing jars of Marshmallow Fluff and just suffocating me in it as I watch the sunset and says, God, my toes are cold. You're making me want a, I went through three jars of Marshmallow Fluff this week, three fucking jars of it.

You know, we cope how we cope when we cope [chuckles]. I'm going to need to eat Marshmallow Fluff to get over saying that phrase. I don't even know what I said. I blacked out halfway through it. Shame just came in and kicked me in the face and said, you pompous, boring ass, shut your fucking face. And I know that's Mean DJ Voice talking to me, [in Mean DJ Voice] oh, yeah? I know that's you, buddy. I don't know why I let you fucking rent real estate in my head. [In Mean DJ Voice] Well, Paul, I'm a good tenant. I got nothing. I have no reply to you, Mean DJ Voice. If you don't mind, I'd like to finish the show.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by a woman who calls herself Your Favorite Sad Clown. She's straight, in her 30s, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. She was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. She doesn't elaborate.

She has been emotionally abused. She writes, I grew up with a father with hugely undiagnosed mental illness. Nothing like having your father scream, you dumb fucking asshole, to your mother as you hug your blankie and know you're going to be captive to this forever.

Any positive experiences with the abusers? My dad likes to throw a good party and so do I, but he has terrible taste. One suggestion for a New Year's Eve party, cranberry mimosas and a buffet of nothing but chicken. Also, disco lights. I think that sounds like a wonderful night out, and I think your dad has terrific taste [chuckles], as long as everybody has platform shoes and the chicken is Buffalo chicken.

Darkest thoughts. In the throes of one of my dad's temper tantrums, I thought, I should end this Game of Thrones-style and save this family with the nearest weapon [chuckles]. Oh, I love that sentence. That is such a beautiful sentence, Game of Thrones-style, red wedding-style. God, that, GoT fans, do you remember seeing the red wedding episode and they would, just that fade to black. Like, is there anything more just like dramatic than that fade to black at the end of a Game of Thrones?

It is, it is like one of the greatest joys of being alive, is just sitting in that darkness for that three seconds before the credits roll and going, motherfucker, they did it again. How do they keep doing it? Oh, although I got to say, sometimes Game of Thrones, too many characters, too many islands. I'm having trouble keeping track. You're at my limit [chuckles].

Darkest secrets. One time my dad screamed he was going to kill all of us while driving on vacation. I closed my eyes and waiting for it to happen and was at least calmed by the fact that we'd go out together as a family. That might be a Hallmark card, a very low-selling, actually that would probably sell really well.

And by the way, I hope I'm not coming off as glib, he says after four minutes of nothing but pure glibness. It's, I'm sorry that you've had to experience all of these things. It's just when my caffeine is hitting me just right, the timing is right, and I'm in a good mood, I like to . . . [chuckles] I don't know the word for it. I like to space out and disappoint the audience.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. Being in an orgy as the, quote, turkey in the Thanksgiving meal. All the attention is on me. I don't want to sit in the corner twisting someone's nipples. At first when you said, I want to be the turkey in the orgy, I thought, oh, so you want somebody sticking something in you and then saying, it's a little dry [chuckles]. I just came up with that. I just came up with that, and I think we can all agree, it sounds like I just came up with that.

I'd like to be the thing actually in the orgy that actually steals the spotlight from the turkey. I'd like to be the exotic meat stuffed inside the turkey, you know, like the duck breast or the Cornish game hen or whatever the fuck those things are. I'd actually, I would like to be in, I would like to be, you go inside the turkey and then there's a duck inside the turkey, and then inside the duck is a chicken, and in the beak of the chicken is a mint, and I want to be that mint.

What, if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven't been able to? And by the way, chicken, they have notoriously bad breath. What, if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven't been able to? I wish my dad could acknowledge the damage he has done.

What, if anything, do you wish for? I also wish he could redo his life without dealing with mental illness and feeling calm and happiness.

Have you shared these things with others? I think on some level my dad knows and reiterating it would be unnecessarily cruel.

Thank you for sharing that, and, man, that is, I wish my dad could acknowledge the damage he has done, that is like the great hope of so many of us, and some of us drive ourselves insane trying, trying to make that connection with somebody who is, you know, metaphorically or analogously in the corner, licking their wound.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by Mmmyup, M-m-m-y-u-p. And she writes, this week I went to my first support group for codependence after listening to you and your guests talk about struggling with it. Leaving group that day, I felt a sense of warmth, purpose and belonging that I haven't felt in so long. Still, I was initially ashamed that I was the only person who didn't feel comfortable sharing, even though I wasn't the only first-timer in the meeting, but I realized that two years ago, when I first started going to therapy for anxiety and depression, I would have never felt confident enough to attend a meeting at all. My journey is far from over, but with my anxiety, just showing up is half the battle. I'm so thankful I had the strength to seek the help I need.

Love it. Thank you for sharing that, never, ever get tired of hearing about people telling that mean voice in their brain to go fuck itself and going and reaching out to another human being.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by an agender person who refers to themselves as Amoeba, and they write, for some time my depression has been getting worse and worse and I was struggling to function. Most of the depression was caused by my awful workplace, which is toxic and, honestly, emotionally abusive.

Right before my big boss, who works remotely, was coming to visit the office, he is always negative and the closest he gets to positive reinforcement is saying, I would do X and Y, but if you think what you have is acceptable, I guess go ahead with it. That's kind of a tough sentence to read.

I was coming to visit the office and I had a doctor's appointment. I told my primary care doctor that I hated work so much that I'd spent most of the previous weekend thinking about slitting my wrists, but immediately calling an ambulance so that I would still live but would be required to miss work. She told me I was not going back and sent me to a local mental health hospital.

Can we pause for one second and high-five the fuck out of your doctor. That is so awesome. That is so awesome.

I ended up taking three weeks of FMLA leave and doing four days of, quote, partial hospital, where I spent most of the day in group therapy programs. I also switched medications because apparently SSRIs work well until you're hyper stressed. Then they just kind of poop out.

The time off worked and the reassurance of all the medical professionals at the hospital that, yes, my workplace is awful, made me feel like maybe when I went back I'd be able to assert my need for accommodations. For example, of what I experience at work, at a company of less than 100 people, three different people, including the COO, had to personally approve the purchase of a $20 ergonomic mouse for me, and then in parentheses, I’m a salaried member of management with a specialized degree. When I asked my department head if we could start recognizing individual members of our department for their good work, she said that we couldn't give compliments to people unless they weren't making mistakes or they'd think they didn't need to improve.

I was denied a trashcan for the office I share for, quote, short-term budgetary reasons, while on the same day a pallet of wine was delivered to the office for the CEO. Un-fucking-real, un-fucking-real, and this is endemic in our corporate culture.

And we hardly ever talk about the mental impact that that has on people eight hours a day, you know, that the gap in wages between the rich and poor in this country has expanded by like, I don't know, 500-fold, I forget what the number is, but it's unbelievable how much it's grown since the '50s, and the average, the gap between the average worker at a company and the CEO has skyrocketed, and it's, I think it's because we put these people on pedestals. And that's not to say that none of them deserve to be rewarded well financially for doing good jobs.

It's that there seems to be a culture of, if you can get a good quarterly return and please the shareholders, it doesn't matter how you go about it and whether or not you fuck that company for the next decade, and bail out as soon as possible and go to the next one with your golden parachute while people get laid off. And you see it happening time and time and time again, and that takes a toll on people. That takes a toll on people.

She wound up going to the HR manager and said, I don't think I’m a good fit at this company and I'm looking for another job, and within two days she fucking found one. So awesome, it's so awesome. Love it. Thank you for sharing that.

This is a Awfulsome Moment that a listener shared. She calls herself Pussy Galore, and she writes, I took my cat to the vet because he's been an asshole and peeing on the door, and she puts in parentheses, I've already had him checked out for any medical issues. Some cats are just anxiety-ridden and nuts, the vet said, as he handed me a prescription. It was for 10 milligrams of Prozac, the exact same prescription I take [chuckles]. Thank you. That's so fantastic.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by a guy who calls himself Worthless in Walla Walla. He's straight, in his 30s, raised in a totally chaotic environment, was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. He says, I was molested by a male cousin who was 14 when I was four to five years old.

He's been physically and emotionally abused. He writes, grew up with a very abusive father who I'd routinely watch beat the hell out of my mother and grandmother. I wasn't beaten because he knew that, even as a child, all of my friends were adults, teachers, coaches, etc., and they'd know. He mentally wore me out, and 38 years later I still hear him tell me how utterly useless I am.

The worst thing he'd do to me physically was shove me around and bully me. He'd literally take his work socks off after a long day of work, he was a mechanic and truck driver during this time, sit on my chest and ram the socks into my mouth. So disgusting. It was all about a power trip and having attention with him.

That is so fucked up. I mean, how do you navigate the world with any confidence when that happens to you?

Any positive experiences with that person? All of the positives are seriously outweighed by the fear that I've always had of the guy. Darkest thoughts. I've come dangerously close to suicide before.

Darkest secrets. Once I got older, I always wanted to be accepted, which is something I felt I never was by people my own age. When sex entered my life, in my head, I equated sex with acceptance and went through a phase where I'd pay for sex just so I'd feel close to someone and for that time I felt accepted. There are still times I feel that way, but I haven't paid for sex in quite a while because I know if it was ever found out my career and personal life would be ruined. I always feel that I have to put on an act for people so they don't see the real me. There have been times where the lines have become blurred and I've lost myself. To this point, I think I've lost myself and never found who I really am anymore.

You know, I think for a lot of us, and maybe I should just speak for myself, but the first place I got a sense of self was feeling seen by people in my support group, you know, having them do the, you know, what therapists would call mirroring, that parents should do, which is to see you and not always have it be all about them, or at least see you in a way that has boundaries, you know, etc.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. I would love, I love to be dominated, not like dominatrix type of domination, but told what to do and being the submissive. I kind of like the idea of that, too.

What, if anything, would you like to say to someone that you haven't been able to? The people that abused me in the past, sexually, physically and emotionally, have no idea the real damage they caused. I wish they could walk a day in my shoes.

What, if anything, do you wish for? To be able to find peace with myself and to be able to accept myself for whatever I am now. Have you shared these things with others? Not really. My wife knows some of it and she's as understanding as she can be having not come from that background.

How do you feel after writing these things down? Ashamed. Is there anything you'd like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences? You aren't on an island and you aren't alone. I felt that way most of my life, but this podcast has made me realize that a lot of people can relate and have experienced similar things.

I'm so sorry that you feel ashamed. You were shamed. You were shamed for no reason by the person who was supposed to protect you from people shaming you. And I hope you can get to that place, where the shame isn't so debilitating and you can see that you aren't who your father treated you as. Sending you some love.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by the Burden, and she writes, Googling, quote, painless ways to die, unquote, and only getting a search result for the National Suicide Hotline with a quote that says, you are not alone, confidential help is out there for free. Well played, Google, well played. It actually made me laugh out loud [chuckles]. Thank you for that.

I love the shit that we're able to laugh about on this podcast. It is so freeing for me to find people who also sometimes can't do anything but laugh at how fucked up they think or feel.

Anyway, this is another Awfulsome Moment filled out by a guy who calls himself Vikings Freak, and he writes, I was 15 years old and had stomach issues due to stress from being tormented by the father and not having a safe place. Naturally my parents decided it was a medical issue and submitted me to many tests. The one that sets out, though, was a rectal exam. I was already embarrassed, vulnerable and nervous with the doctor in the room. He had me get on the table, lay on my side in the fetal position, then says, hold on one second, I have some students to observe.

In walks several college-age students, a lot of them being female, to watch as he sticks his fingers in my ass, narrating the whole thing and fielding questions so that I truly knew these college-age girls were getting a good, deep look. A truly awful moment, it was devastating at that age.

How is that, I experienced, many of the listeners know, I experienced something similar when I was 10 that just fucking deeply scarred me and it had to do with my genitals and a bunch of other horrible shit, and I don't, how is that legal? How is there not, you know, you have to get approval to like, you know, read your classroom Catcher in the Rye, but how is it . . . I don't understand. I don't understand how that can continue to happen without any checking in with that kid or the parent or talking about it beforehand. And how you would just surprise it on that kid, it's so fucking awful. I’m getting really angry right now.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey, filled out by a guy who calls himself the Lone Ranger. He's straight, in his 30s, was raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment, has never been sexually abused, is not sure if he's been physically or emotionally abused. He writes, my dad has never been the touchy-feely type.

I don't know why this memory sticks in my head, but I remember my dad once saying something like, in reference to a man making, quote, gay gestures, if you know or someone tells you that you are acting gay, then why wouldn't you stop acting that way, basically meaning that gayness is so bad that one wouldn't even want to be seen as gay. I'm not gay, but that cowboy attitude was always an awkward behind-the-scenes problem with my dad.

I'm 32 and my dad and I are only recently able to hug each other. It's pathetic. I haven't said the words I love you to my dad in so long that I can't, I literally can't remember the last time my mom and dad, the last time. My mom and dad divorced when I was in fifth grade. Both parents remarried people that are definitely more like themselves.

When my sister got married, I remember her crying and telling me that for just one day she wished she had that dad that cries when he walks his daughter down the aisle, the kind that gives a good speech at the wedding and cries again, but we don't have that dad.

Wow, that's so, that's so moving and heartbreaking. Any positive experiences? Of course. I think my dad does deeply care about his kids, but he has a really hard time showing his emotions and, as of late, can only seem to find financial ways of showing his kids he cares.

You know, and I wonder if that feeds into, too, this over-placement of importance on money in our culture and in our society because we think that I have to have this to be able to let my kids know I love them, and so then I have to treat the people that work with me like shit so I can get enough money. I don't know.

Darkest thoughts. I do sometimes think how nice it would be for the world to be ended for me or what little thing would I need to do to stack the cards in my favor. That's hard for me to admit, things I have absolutely no control over, like cancer or flying in planes, but then again, I never want to be selfish about the entire thing and hurt others with my pain or be bringing them down with me.

Darkest secrets. I masturbate to porn too often and it lengthens and deepens my depression. I don't know why I do it. I don't even want to do it, but it's a habit, like brushing your teeth. I don't even get turned on by it quickly anymore. I'll find myself browsing for half an hour, trying to get hard. It's pathetic, man. I tried to stop by creating roadblocks, but none of them work.

I live alone, and even though I get told I’m attractive and I am in fairly good health, I have very few girlfriends/dates. I always feel alone. Maybe that's why I masturbate to porn so often. I live in a smallish city of 50,000 or so people. I know most of the people that are into the outdoors community, which I mostly align with, and it's always an awkward community for me.

I moved here around three years ago and never really made any good friends besides one, and he is now married to a woman that is controlling. Now that one friend is moving an hour away. It's not the end of the world, but I always enjoyed him randomly showing up at my doorstep. I will truly miss him and will feel more lonely in a month when he is gone.

I'm not sure how to, quote, just get out and meet new people, when I've tried in various ways and it never works for me. The more I fail, the more I start believing that I’m a failure. How do I stop this downward spiral? I’m thinking of moving to a bigger city and starting over. Will that work? Will I ever be good enough for my own head? I'm so tired of being lonely. I’m so tired of being an outsider. It wasn't like this in college. In college I was cool and fun. What happened?

I don't know the answers to all of that, but I think it, if you want my two cents, why not give it a shot, moving to a bigger city, and trying to meet people organically through things like a support group for intimacy issues. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if that, those walls that are coming up around you are defense mechanisms that you created as a kid so you wouldn't be hurt anymore by having a dad that was emotionally unavailable.

And struggling with the porn thing, that might be a good place to address that issue. In big metropolises, there are just amazing, amazing support groups and that would be my two cents, but I think connecting to likeminded, sympathetic people, i.e., people who can show emotions, unlike your dad, I think that would be really cool for you, and I think you'd feel a lot of healing and I think you'd feel a lot less lonely.

And he asks, can you make episodes searchable by topic? On our Web site, there's a search box and type whatever you're looking for in that, you know, bipolar or anxiety or whatever, and any episodes that have that in the description should come up.

Oh, and the other question is, I hear some people talk about what they go through and I think, holy shit, who am I? I don't have half the issues that person does, and it makes me unsure if this is the show for me. Am I allowed to participate since I have had drug addiction or tried killing myself or some months I'm in a really good mood?

Yes. Yes. First of all, anybody is allowed to participate in this show, but those things that you've described are fucking big things. We get so numb to what it is that we've been through that we can only really give weight to it if we see somebody else going through it or experiencing it. And, again, I encourage you to connect, find a way to connect to people. You know, as nice as small towns are, it can be hard if you need a support group to make the connections.

You know where you might start is, there is a Web site called In The Rooms, and I don't know if it's dot com or dot org, but they have all kinds of 12-step meetings there, and I've heard great things about it. So apparently you can participate or you can just watch on video, jump in when you feel like it. I don't know all the details, but it might be worth checking out for those of you that want to either ease into it or you live in a remote area.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Saguaro, and she writes, I was in a, and she's a teenager under 18. I was in a bathroom stall on the phone with my mother, listening to her scream and threaten me more than she ever has in my life. For the first time, I was actually terrified to go home. Of course, I was breaking down and crying, but then the girls vaping in the big stall next to me were asking if I was okay and invited me into the stall to have a few hits and talk about what's happening.

Unfortunately, I declined, but when I walked out of the bathroom I realized my biggest supporters were a bunch of juvenile delinquents vaping in the girls' bathroom at 8:00 in the morning. My God, that is fucking awfulsome.

I got caught by the principal, 8:00 in the morning, my first day my sophomore year of high school, I got caught smoking pot. And my dad was very understanding [chuckles]. He told me it, that it, this is the saddest day except for the day his father died. So I said, okay, if you quit smoking cigarettes, I'll quit smoking pot, and we agreed, and I kept up my part of the bargain.

And I was on my way to a concert, and I think I hadn't smoked in like six months and a friend passed me a joint and I said, no, thanks. And he said, oh, you still doing that thing with your dad? And I said, yeah. And he started laughing. I go, what? He goes, I see your dad on the side of your house every night after dinner smoking a cigarette. I was like, give me that joint. And it was on. You know, I wonder why I have [chuckles] trust issues.

I just had an audio snafu. I read a really long Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by a woman named Scarlet, and it got erased. And I don't have the energy to re-read it, but it's a really moving survey, and, Scarlet, if you're listening, I just want to say, you are an awesome, beautiful soul and you deserve friendships that aren't abusive.

And your mother is an incredibly toxic person, and fuck her and fuck what she thinks and fuck people who would judge you for having fantasies of having lesbian sex. And I hope you can get to a point where you can reach out and take that power that is there for you, that you've been giving away to your mom and abusive partners, because that's what you were led to believe as a child. You are worth more than that.

But it's probably going to take getting out of your comfort zone and seeking some type of help, because you've been through fucking hell. You have been through hell. And you're worth more than what you're experiencing in your life right now. You can have a beautiful life, but it takes change and standing up for yourself and learning to be comfortable with other people being upset with you.

There is no way to grow without experiencing people being upset with you. People are going to be upset with you no matter what you do, so why the fuck not do what you want in life, as long as you're not hurting somebody, in a way that, where you're consciously trying to hurt that person as opposed to taking care of yourself and that person feels hurt because you pull away, oh, shut up, Paul. All right, moving on.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by Lucid, and he writes, I have recently been dealing with a relapse and a depression and suicidal ideation. One of my best friends, who is usually a macho kind of guy, came up to me the other day and gave me a huge hug. Before he let go, he told me that he didn't know what he could do or say to make things better for me but that he wanted me to know that he wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't in his life anymore.

All I could do was cry and tell him that he had just done everything I ever needed him to do. That is really, really, really beautiful. Mean DJ Voice told me he thinks it sounds pretty gay. I don't know why I passed that on to you. I guess just so you can get to know what a complete fucking homophobic douche he is.

Thank you for sharing that, Lucid. Mean DJ Voice just said, nice name. And then he made that noise, that pfft, pfft. He does that a lot, Mean DJ Voice.

This is an Awfulsome Moment. I'm going to put this one in the hall-of-fame category, and this is filled out by a guy who calls himself Good Night, John Boy, Good Night, Jim Bob, Good Night, Mary Ellen, which I think is a reference to the '70s TV show The Waltons, and he writes, I suffer from BDD, body dysmorphic disorder. In particular my brain has locked in on the idea that my penis is too small.

I’m a married man, mid 40s, and I know logically and rationally that this simply isn't true. I've measured and I’m solidly average. However, my brain just refuses to accept what I know is the truth. It's crazy. I've deal with this insecurity and irrationality most of my life, and it's been rather debilitating and embarrassing to admit.

Anyway, I decided to submit a picture of my erect penis to an online forum, one of those rate-my-cock Web sites. Was this a good idea? Hell no. This is just one of the many dumbass things I've done because of my irrationality or impulsivity.

So, I do it. An hour later, my wife calls me, wanting to know what the fuck are you doing? Here's the situation. My wife, me and my wife's mother all share a Verizon cell phone plan. We all have iPhones. And the feature that shares all photos between the phones was turned on. That's right. My mother-in-law has a picture of my penis next to a ruler, straining to reach the 5.9-inch mark. Dear God, where is the life undo button?

[Chuckles] That is so fucking awfulsome, that, oh, my God. How can you not think of that every single time you see each other, or a ruler? Oh, my God [chuckles]. Can you imagine how awkward that moment would be, if you're in the living room and you're sitting next to your mother-in-law and one of the kids comes by with homework and has a ruler? How hard would you both not look at each other [chuckles]?

Oh, dude, thank you for sharing that. That, oh, I would rather have, I would rather make somebody's toilet overflow at a party than experience that.

Oh, my God. I love, too, that all of this stuff is transcribed by a service, and that some person who is normally not even a listener to this show is typing all this shit out. In fact, right now, whatever I say, they're going to type. Big wet pussy [chuckles]. Antelope running around inside my butthole [chuckles]. I love to blow alligators. I know they're laughing right now. If they're not, they are quitting their job tomorrow [chuckles]. Oh, my God.

All right, this is, I got two more things to read. This is a Happy Moment, and the other one is, they're both Happy Moments. This is filled out by Sometimes I Think I'm Profound but I'm Probably Not, and she writes, I've been struggling a lot lately. I have that fun combo of anxiety, depression and ADHD and a myriad of other issues that I won't get into that have had me about ready to just give up.

Recently I've been experiencing some insane mood swings, where one moment I think I'm okay and the next moment I'm sitting in my car in a random parking lot overcome with emotion that I can't even identify or understand and punching my steering wheel as hard as I can to feel pain in my fist instead of my chest.

Anyway, I started on an antidepressant yesterday, and although I know it will be a few weeks before I feel the full effect, I do feel hopeful for the first time in a long time that maybe this will help me and that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

My therapist also pointed out to me yesterday that I spend a lot of energy trying to figure out why I feel the way I feel, what the point is of doing anything and why I'm even on this Earth to begin with, only to be frustrated and disappointed when I can't find an answer. Sometimes there are no answers, and if I can just accept that and accept the way I feel, maybe I can focus more on what I need to feel better.

And it really got me thinking, maybe I don't have to understand why I am here or what the point of anything is. Maybe it is just enough to be here as an observer of this amazing universe and to be thankful for every day in it. Life really is rare and beautiful, and people often don't realize this until their final moments. Struggle is an inherent part of our existence, but so is beauty and love and everything else that makes the struggle worth it.

Although I still have a long ways to go to feel truly okay, for the first time I do feel like I will eventually find the contentment I've been seeking for so long, and that in itself is a miracle. Thank you for that. That was really beautiful, really beautiful.

There was this thing that, I don't even remember where I read it, but a nurse who worked for a long time in hospice care and would be with, you know, was with many, many people at the end of their lives, she wrote this thing and said the most common thing that people say at the end of their lives is, I wish I would have worried less. And that makes me worry that I'm worrying too much.

This is [chuckles] a Happy Moment. I love it for so many reasons. I reminds me so much of my childhood. We never played this game, but all of the things that she describes in it, the physical experiences, it's filled out by a woman who calls herself S.S. Cumbucket, and she writes, as my husband gets closer to receiving his Canadian citizenship, my mind has been flooded with thoughts about what it means to be a Canadian.

Once you shelve the political garbage that normally accompanies such a thought, several childhood memories come to mind. One memory is so strong that when I shut my eyes I can feel the numb coldness of those winter nights. My brother and I would break from the warmth of our small home, grab our GT Racers, a type of sled with a blade to steer it, and walk to the nearest hill, which was perfect for tobogganing. It was bitterly cold and utterly silent.

As we walked through the park, our boots crunched, giving off the squeaky sound of dry, powdered snow. Apart from the yellow haze of the far-off halogen street lamps, the only light was from the moon bouncing off the untouched blanket of snow.

We stood at the top, taking in the perfection of a clean sheet, which would turn into a story written by us. Using my bulky gloved hand, I reached into my pocket to pull out a flashlight. I turned to my brother and he nodded. No words needed to be exchanged. This was a game we played many times and almost always in silence. There was something sacred about how quiet those nights were.

I whipped my hand back and threw the flashlight as hard as I could. We were off, bounding down the hill, chasing after it, watching the beam whirling around frantically, throwing a pinprick of light infinitely out. The beam would cross our path as we both raced after it. Whoever caught the flashlight was the winner. Oftentimes we'd crash into each other with violent force, laughing it off with the invincibility of youth, walk up the hill again, again, again, time after time.

I would learn later in my life that this is something called meditation. Our house was a noisy one and not in a good way. This was our church, silence. We grew tired of dragging our sleds up the hill, or when we grew tired of dragging our sleds up the hill, we would collapse at the bottom and look up at the stars. We would stay there until our teeth started chattering. Then we'd walk home and hang our GT Racers in the shed for another night.

Wow. That was poetic. Thank you. Thanks for that. For some reason, this memory is burned into my head, of walking home on like a December night. It wasn't Christmas break but it was, we'd gone, there was a reservoir that we would sled down, because where I lived was really flat but the reservoir, they drained the water and so it's this super-steep hill that kids would go sledding down.

And I just remember that feeling of being exhausted, but you had laughed so hard and your face like felt frostbitten and your nose and your toes and your fingertips. And you were so tired but you were just so relaxed, and just such a feeling of, a weird feeling of like accomplishment, relaxation and that melancholia that is so intense on those gray winter days, when the light is short in December. And I just remember one night walking home and just, I don't think I was consciously saying it to myself, but I remember thinking to myself, I feel so good and so bad at the same time.

I felt like fulfilled and energized and also empty and sad at the same time. I don't know how to describe it, but I would imagine some of you have experienced that before. And, fuck, isn't that what life is in a nutshell, is just two completely conflicting things going on at the same time. Hm.

Well, thank you for, thank you for all the nice sentiments some of you sent my way last week. It was not my intention, but we need each other. God, so much of my life I just was like, how can I do all of this on my own, and then wondered why I felt so lonely [chuckles].

Oh, anyway, I hope you heard something tonight that either entertained you or enlightened you--

 

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--or enraged you or did something to make you feel something. And just never forget that you're not alone. And thanks for listening.

 

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