Author:Paul Gilmartin

I Wrote a Hit Now What?!! – Seth Swirsky

He’s authored Grammy-nominated hits for the biggest artists, put out his own albums, written best-selling books on baseball, and directed a documentary on the Beatles.  And for as long as he can remember he has struggled with anxiety, panic attacks and feeling disconnected.  What happens when you’re achieving your dreams but you haven’t dealt with the feelings underneath the drive to be recognized?  Seth got his masters in clinical psychology.  He opens up about his life and his approach to dealing with mental illness -especially depression and anxiety-, making art, raising kids and finding peace through a life lived with authenticity and meaning.

For info on or to purchase his book 21 Ways to a Happier Depression click here.
To see all the books, music, documentaries and art he’s done visit Seth’s personal website:
To learn more about him as therapist in Los Angeles visit
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7 Little Ways to Help a Person with Depression: A Guest Blog by Cindy Wolf

Seven Little Ways to Help a Person with Depression

These seven little ways to help a person with depression come directly from my life.  This is not an extensive list.  It is just some things that stand out to me.  Things that mean a lot to me now that I am in a good place mentally and can look back on the dark times.  Maybe some of these ideas can help you help someone you know who is struggling and cannot do it on their own.

Seven little ways to help a person with depression:

1. Validate feelings.

After graduating from college in Chicago,  I went as a missionary to Africa.  I lived and worked in a village for a year.  I did not have electricity or running water.  Many of the people in the village did not understand English and I did not know their tribal language, making it hard to communicate.  There were many things during that year that were very good, but also things that were difficult for me.

I returned home to the US, and everyone wanted to hear stories about my African adventure.  They wanted to hear stories of how God had worked.  I felt that I had to be upbeat and tell stories of how wonderful it was for me to be a missionary.  Inside though, I started to become depressed.  That year in Africa had put me in positions that were more than I could handle.  I felt I had failed.  I felt that no one could understand why being a missionary would make me go into depression.

It wasn’t until my pastor said to me at church one day, “Wow, that must have been hard.  You shouldn’t have been sent out there alone,” rather than, “Wow, what you did was amazing,” that I finally felt a little understood.  I finally felt that someone saw me.

Sometimes, just saying, “Wow, that must be hard,” to a depressed person can bring a little relief for a moment.

2. Help them get help.

I did not have the strength or know how to get help for my depression.  It took a friend saying, “Can I make an appointment with a counselor for you?” for the first steps to get help to be taken.

Then it took my counselor saying, “Can I make an appointment with a doctor for you?” for me to know that I may need medical help.

When it came time to go to the doctor’s appointment, it took a secretary at the church going with me to even get me to go there.  My anxiety and depression were so bad.  I got a prescription for antidepressants, but even that I could not get on my own.  The secretary took me to the pharmacy, then took me to her house and let me rest on her bed while we waited for it to be ready.

The steps it takes to get help may seem easy to a person who is not depressed, but for a depressed person it can be more than they can handle on there own.  Sometimes a friend, a counselor, or even a church secretary needs to say, “Can I do this for you to get you help?”

3. Follow up.

One of my friends knew I had gone to the doctor.  He also knew that I was prescribed antidepressants.  I don’t know what made him think that I might not take them once I got home, but his hunch was right.  I was scared to take them, and probably would not have, except that he came over and encouraged me to do so.  When my friend did this, it was almost like he was saying, “Can I give the courage and desire to you?”  I could not find it on my own at that point.

Maybe you have seen someone you know who is depressed be given help.  That is not the time to just relax and walk away.  A friend is still needed to give encouragement to take that next step in the healing process.

4. Just be together.

I remember when my sister lived with me for a while.  In my depression, I would lay on the couch in a dark house watching TV or just staring sadly ahead.  I know it made her sad and that she wanted to help, but she did not know how.  I remember one day when she got home from work, and I was covered in a blanket laying on the couch.  I don’t remember if she even said anything, but I do remember that she came over, lay down on the blanket on top of me, and just hugged me.  I don’t know how long that hug lasted, but it made me feel loved.  My sister doesn’t even remember that she did this, but it is one of the encouraging moments that I remember still.

You don’t need to always say something to someone who is in a state of depression.  Sometimes making a point to just be in the same room silently with them can be as good or better than giving advice.  A hug or a soft touch can often communicate a feeling of being cared for that words cannot describe.

5. Be encouraging without expectations.

There was a time when something very hurtful had happened to me, which was magnified by that fact of my depression.  I found myself crying deeply, shut in my room.  One of my roommates must have heard me crying.  Without saying anything to me, she slipped a 3×5 card with a verse she had written on it under my bedroom door.  The verse from the Bible came from the Psalms.  It was a verse about the love of God.  She didn’t expect me to thank her or explain my hurts to her.  She did an encouraging act and then let it speak for itself.  I stuck that 3×5 card on my wall by my bedroom door and often looked at it as I left the room.

An encouraging quote or caring note, an invitation to do something together, or a word of love or appreciation can go a long way when a person is depressed.  The person may not have the energy or ability always to respond back to you, but be encouraged, your encouragement has meaning.

6. Offer to go the extra mile.

One day I was having a very hard time.  All I could think about was wanting to hurt myself or to kill myself.  I knew I needed to go to the hospital.  I went there and was sitting outside of the emergency room.  I decided to call my dad first.  I had not been very open with them in the past about my struggles, but now I wanted their support and love.  That is what I got.  My parents were very concerned.  My dad even offered to get in the car right then and drive the three hours from where they lived to come stay with me.  Though I did not take him up on his offer, I treasured the fact that he loved me.

There was another time that I had a breakdown and could not handle going to work.  A family I trusted offered for me to come stay with them so that I would be safe from myself.  This I did, then my mom made that three hour drive to come stay with me and to just be with me while I recovered.

Are you willing to do the big things that need to be done in time of crisis for your friend or loved one?  Will you go the extra mile?  It may be inconvenient and take away from other things, but it may even save a life.  I know it kept me safe at those dark times.

7. Help others understand.

Depression and other mental illnesses are not always understood in our society, and there is often stigma against them.  When these things show up in someone’s life, the people around often do not understand what is happening.  The person who it is happening to is often in no state to explain.  Fear can build up in friends and family.  Sometimes it would be helpful for the people who do have an insight to explain it to those who do not.

I remember a time that I was in the psychiatric ward in the hospital.  I had not been open with my roommates about my mental state.  My parents explained to my roommates for me what I was going through and about the depression and mental illness that I was dealing with.  This took some of the pressure off me to try to figure out what to say to them.  After that, I knew that my roommates cared for me, that they still accepted me, and that it was ok to talk about it.

Do you understand much about depression and other mental illnesses?  If so, great.  If not, would you be willing to learn about it?  All of us need to have good mental health.  People with depression and others with mental illnesses are just that, people.  Let us all be open to start talking, and listening, and learning.  We can learn how to help.  We can learn how to love.  We can break the stigma against depression and mental illnesses.

And, to all of you who I have mentioned in my examples, thank you so much for caring enough to do something to help me.  Whether it was big or small,  I love you all.

Cindy Wolf
My blog is  “Cindy’s Story” ( My story of depression, mental illness, and death, to a story of life, healing, and hope)
I can be contacted through the contact form at the bottom of each blog post.

Dear Food: I Want To See Other People – Chelsea Frank

Fat-shamed as a child by her mother and classmates, writer-performer Chelsea Frank, now 24, opens up about the complex role food plays in her life.  She talks about her struggles with weight, self-hatred, bingeing and restricting, going to “fat camps”, life inside an eating disorder rehab and cutting contact with her abusive mother.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter @ChelseaSFrank and on Instagram @ChelseaFrank

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling.  To try a free week go to and fill out a questionnaire.  Must be 18

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East German Repression & BPD – Anne from Berlin

Creative and sensitive, born and raised in 1980’s communist East Germany by a dysfunctional family, Anne’s abuse was not dramatic, more like death by 1000 cuts.  Bearing the brunt of being a first child and resented for her intelligence, she developed BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) but has always turned the anger inwards, rarely if ever lashing out.  She talks about the benefits of learning DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) as well as her struggles with anorexia, bingeing, cutting and being passive aggressive as well as the greater context of her personal battles taking place alongside her country’s people fighting for freedom and independence from a regime that shot its own citizens for trying to leave the country.

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Jealousy & Online Affairs – Mila

What goes on in someone when they’re jealous, possessive, obsessive or need to create drama?  Mila was born into a family where her parents “couldn’t live with/couldn’t live without each other”  and she found herself as an adult becoming like them, She also began snooping on her partners and engaging in online and in-person affairs despite knowing better and wanting to stop but unable to leave her cold and uninterested husband.

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I Thought My Turn-Ons Made Me a Monster: Nicole S.

My husband doesn’t always want to do what I want him to do, and I’m not talking about the dishes or laundry. I can’t really blame him. He’s a good person.  He doesn’t want to hurt me.

That’s the problem.  I want to be hurt.

Let’s go back a few years.

There was this guy that everyone thought was amazing.  Tall, handsome, dark and brooding, the whole package. Let’s call him Keith. We hung out in similar circles, and I knew him casually.  We used to hang out at this coffee shop that was a couple miles from my place – close enough to walk, but far enough to make it inconvenient.

I don’t remember what happened to my ride that night.  It’s likely that my roommate got tired of waiting for me and left, or maybe we were fighting. We fought a lot in those days.  I don’t really remember.  A friend of mine agreed to walk home with me and crash on the floor.  Then, like a Knight in Shining Black Armor, Keith appeared and offered to walk with us – after all, it was dark and we’d be safer if a guy was with us.

We arrived at my apartment – my roommate was out – and my friend and Keith pulled up some floor space in my bedroom (such as it was  – it was really more like a large hallway) and everyone proceeded to crash.  Well, everyone except Keith.

I was drifting off when I felt him slide under the covers.

“Mind if i sleep here?” he said, obviously not planning on sleeping.

Of course, I agreed.  This guy was like a legend, the way my friends talked about him.  I was flattered.

After a few minutes of typical young adult making out (oh, did I mention he was almost 30?) his hand found its way to the waistband of my underwear.  I caught it and whispered to him, “I’m a virgin. I’m not ready.” He replied, oh so smoothly and sweetly, that he could still use his tongue.

I relented.  My ex had gone down on me a couple of times, so I thought it would be ok.  It’s nothing i haven’t done before, right?  It’s fine.

So I let him kiss me.  I let him take my panties off.  Then he rolled on top of me, pinning me, trying to get inside of me.

I tried to push him off.  I couldn’t.  I tried to block his way with my hand, saying “wait, no.  Please.”  My hand offered no resistance.  He ripped through me like tissue paper.

I was so quiet. I didn’t cry or scream.

After it was over – how long was it?  A minute?  Two?  – i stepped over my still-sleeping friend and headed to the bathroom.  I sat there for a long time, bleeding, not sure what to do.  Hoping that maybe he’d just leave.  After a while i went and stood in front of the sink, washing my hands and brushing my teeth, and staring at myself in the mirror.  I stood there a long time – 20 minutes?  45? – working through what just happened.


Listen, you knew that not every guy is going to be satisfied with oral, right?   I mean, you did accept his offer to come with us, you let him in your bed, you let him take your clothes off – I mean, what was he supposed to think?  I must have wanted it in some way.  I mean, you can’t ask a guy to stop after he’s gone so far, right?   If I didn’t want this, I should have said something earlier. So this is who I am now.  Everything is fine. I didn’t just get raped.  I didn’t.  

And i believed that for a long time.

For the record, he didn’t leave.  He was still in my bed when i came out of the bathroom, motioning for me to come back to bed.

“Are you alright? You were in there a while.”  Like he didn’t even know.

“yes, I’m fine”.  And I thought I believed that, too.

Then, a month later – get ready for it – I fucking married him.

You might assume that this marriage would be a shit-show, and you would be 100% right.  Predictably, he wasn’t the “love, honor and obey” type.  More like the “fuck, belittle and cheat” type. Though, to be fair, it wasn’t technically cheating because technically we were in an open marriage. What?  Of course.  And you thought this couldn’t get any more fucked up.  

Now, let me explain what this open marriage, as he called it, meant.  It mean that we could each have sex with whoever we liked.  He happened to like extremely young women – 16, 17, 18 years old –  and he liked to get me to “join in”, or more accurately, lay there and watch. I suppose it’s fair to ask why I let this go on. After all, this is illegal where I’m from. I struggle with this now, the thought that I might have prevented someone’s future pain, or that I somehow caused it by my inaction. I don’t have an excuse.  Thinking back, I think the reason it didn’t occur to me to get the authorities in involved was twofold.

First, I saw these people as my peers. I was 18 (and a young 18, at that) when this started and 19 or maybe 20 when it ended. I didn’t see them as fundamentally different from myself. They were my friends, and more. I didn’t want them to leave me.

Second, I wanted to make my husband happy. I know, it’s ridiculous. He made me miserable, destroyed my life, and yet I wanted to make him happy. I suppose that all boils down to not wanting him to leave, either. That was the implication, at least to me. If I couldn’t give him what he wanted, I’d be alone.

Being in an open relationship also meant that he could invite his friends over and tell them, “go for it, man. She’s down.”  Whether or not I was actually “down” didn’t matter.  My husband let everyone know I would fuck pretty much anybody, and so I pretty much did. I hesitate to say that I was forced into any of these relationships.  I certainly had the appearance of choice. By that time, though, it had become what was normal, what was expected. Was it training, or grooming?  I don’t know.  I just know that it was my reality, and i had to exist within it.

Eventually, someone was able to talk me into leaving him, though not before I’d found a replacement, of course.  That was a pattern that would repeat throughout my life. I would fall madly, passionately in love for a blissful, short period of time.  Then, the passion would turn sour.  The same energy that was so fulfilling would become toxic (or maybe I needed it to turn toxic, needed the drama.  I don’t know) and I would have to find a different partner so that I could leave the previous relationship without ever being alone.  Rinse and repeat.

I never claimed to be a saint.

Years later, after a dozen relationships, a few women’s study classes and a hospitalization, I finally accepted that what happened was without my consent and, in fact, rape. I had to face a few uncomfortable facts about myself:

  1. I had married my rapist.  Which meant that aside from the shame, the stupidity and the nausea that I felt about it, I knew i could never tell anyone.  Even if, somehow, they chose to believe me, I feared the judgment and rejection I perceived would follow.

For much of the time since I’d been sexually active (also:  since I had my virginity ripped away like an old band-aid) I’ve had some very dark fantasies, the kind that most (normal) people never talk about. In a word: violent. I want to be shoved against a wall with my wrists pinned behind my back and taken from behind.  I think about being bound, immobile, and force-fucked until i come against my will. I think about a knife to my throat, being told what to do, how to move, when to come.

Confused?  Me too.

My initial conclusion was that something was just broken.  That somehow the few years of alcohol and drugs and abuse forged some permanent pathways in my brain and now I was some sexually deviant freak. I was certain, absolutely dead certain, that i was the only person this had ever happened to and other survivors would be horrified to hear my story.  I even questioned my own narrative: did it really go down the way i remember it? Am I a fraud?  Did I really want it, after all?  I would see people say things like “all girls secretly want to be raped” and I would be angry because it was so disgustingly awful, and I would be ashamed because, for me, it was a little bit true.  It’s girls like me that make people say those things, I thought.

That’s an awful, irrational burden to bear.  That a survivor would see her very existence as a propagation of rape culture seems insane, but that’s what had happened.  My talk about Feminism and Empowerment rang hollow in my own ears.  I felt so desperately alone, unwanted, monstrous and so deeply, deeply ashamed.  I didn’t dare expose the depths of my depravity to my partner. First, they might leave, suddenly realizing the extent of my crazy.  Even worse, having seen my vulnerable secret, they might use it against me.

Not to mention, it was dangerous. Once, before I had my realization, I confessed some of my feelings to my then boyfriend.  Specifically, I told him I would like him to choke me. The first time, he was understandably apprehensive, tentative. Still, I remember nearly blacking out before having an orgasm that encompassed my whole body. I’d never come that hard or that completely. I asked him to do it again.

The second time, he was stronger. He didn’t hold back and even after I came, he didn’t stop. I felt he would break my neck, he was pressing me into the bed so hard. It wasn’t until I finally scratched him in the face that he came to his senses. He refused to try again.

I stopped asking people to choke me after that.  Bondage, sure, candle wax, but the other stuff lived in my head, a fantasy to help me along in bed.

I had never heard of hypersexuality, or of Rape Trauma Syndrome. I didn’t know that increased libido and paraphilic desires were a part of Bipolar disorder and Borderline personality disorder.  I didn’t know that i was not alone.

My first therapist was the one to tell me that these feelings didn’t make me a monster.  I am not the first, nor will I, unfortunately, be the last person who experiences these feelings after or as a result of a sexual attack.  Hearing that from him helped, as has listening to similar stories on the podcast and seeking out some information online. That doesn’t mean that i don’t still feel it, though, the feelings of guilt and fraudulence. But I know, at least on a cognitive level, that I don’t deserve to feel guilty.

That makes a world of difference.


Nicole S.


Young, British & Anxious

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.

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Abused By Her Therapist & Learning To Speak Up – Christina L

Christina L (a pseudonym) shares about learning to stand up for herself after an abusive rehab therapist preyed on her as she was getting sober and the confusion of not knowing what he was doing was wrong.  She shares about her dysfunctional family, being bullied by boys in middle school, binge eating, and always being the “good child” by never making waves (unlike her sister who got most of the attention through speaking up or getting in trouble) but also never learning how to talk to her parents about her struggles for fear of bringing more chaos into an already unstable home.  She also talks about the difficulties in getting mental health treatment in her country, England.

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling.  To try a week for free go to and fill out a questionnaire.  Must be 18.

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When Sex Abuse Victims Become Adults & Avoiding Help/Work Burnout – Katie Vernoy LMFT

LMFT therapist Katie Vernoy and Paul respond to listener questions around the topics of 1) How childhood sexual abuse affects the survivors when they become adults and 2) How can people avoid job or helping burnout. They talk about the specifics of self-care and coping tips, acceptance vs approval, forgiveness, anger, misguided generosity, overprotective parents, people who can’t say no and is it possible for a younger child to sexually abuse an older child?

Katie’s website: 
Katie’s Facebook group for helpers to combat Sacrificial Helping, called The Helping Collaborative: 
Katie’s Twitter: Katie Vernoy
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