Author:Paul Gilmartin

Crack, Fights & Looking For Love – Charlie King

Paul’s support group friend has led an astoundingly painful life especially in regard to his mother (schizophrenia, depression), father (workaholic, hoarder), and sister (drug addict). He describes his descent into drugs (crack), emotionally damaged women and violence before finding the key to understanding his behavior.

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Leaving Domestic Violence – Jenna Brister

The comedian/storyteller (The Moth) shares about her whirlwind 86 day romance that led to a Vegas wedding to a man who soon turned into a man she didn’t recognize, leaving her in fear for her life.  Jenna talks about her experience escaping from domestic violence and stalking, especially how family and friends reacted in terms of supporting her (or not).  She also shares about having to cut her mercurial, often emotionally abusive mother out of her life and the freedom she feels in learning how to stick up for herself even if it means disappointing someone.
Links for Jenna: 
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I Didn’t Want to Take Psych Meds But I Tried Them: An email from Kimberly

About an hour in to your episode with Jennifer Tracy, you started talking about medication and some people’s aversion to it. You both shared your views on using meds and I figured I could share my experience as someone who struggled with taking them.

My mom was an alcoholic from the time I was 8 until I was 18, when she died from liver failure. This affected me profoundly in many ways but one notable way is my aversion to alcohol, drugs, and medicines. I never thought anything of it until recently, but I remember cheeking Tylenol that my parents gave me when I complained about headaches or cramps, I refused to take NyQuil and Benadryl because they made me sleepy and it terrified me.

I’m 23 now, and I’ve become more relaxed about those kinds of things, but when I finally faced the reality that I needed help for my depression and anxiety that had gone unchecked since I was at least 13, I panicked. When I got prescribed Prozac, I spent an hour pacing my room with the pill in my hand, crying and arguing with the walls, trying to convince myself to take it. In my head, me taking this pill was no different from my mom drink vodka. Here’s an awfulsome moment for you: having an anxiety attack over taking anxiety meds.

Eventually I took the pill. It wasn’t right for me, so I got switched to Effexor. I forced myself to take it regularly, and I remember the first time I noticed a difference: I started to feel myself go into a downward thought spiral (“Why is this happening to me, why am I  such a shitty person”, etc) when suddenly I just said, “No. Stop that. Stop.” And the sadness, the clenched jaw, the tightening of the throat that signaled sobs that normally would have come out and continued until I felt numb – all of it disappeared. Just vanished. This whole event occurred as I walked across a parking lot to my car and by the time I opened my car door and sat down, all I was feeling was shock. I said aloud, “Is this what it’s supposed to be like? Is this how people deal with their feelings?” And then, “I’m getting ice cream to celebrate.”

Sometimes I still get scared when I miss a couple pills and realize how dependent I am on this chemical, but I’m glad I finally convinced myself to try. It changed my life.

Kimberly can be followed on Twitter @Whimsium


I Was Born Afraid – Jenny Jaffe

The comedic writer/performer and mental health advocate who started Project UROK shares about the tremendous support she received from her family when depression anxiety and OCD had her close to suicide by age 10, and even more despondent from 15-17. Her story is a great example of parental support, the power of coping skills, and proof that even people from safe supportive homes with no trauma in their lives can suffer from mental illness because the issue is often one of chemical imbalance.

Follow Jenny on Twitter @JennyJaffe and @JennyJaffe on Instagram

Check out her Facebook page

Visit her website

And of course check out

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I Am The Worst Person Ever – Mike Levine

For most of his life Mike has been wracked with shame and self-hatred, convinced he was the worst person ever and fantasizing about suicide when he was hospitalized at 15. He and Paul talk about where his self-hate may come from as well as his ADHD, emotionally sterile and achievement-focused childhood, body dysmorphia, cross-dressing, kink as a submissive male, and how he finally summoned the courage and self-love to end an abusive friendship. Mike is a great example of someone learning to embrace his uniqueness instead of hating and shaming himself for it.

Follow Mike @BizMichael on Twitter and Instagram

Check out his books: At Least You’re Not These Monsters and All The Feelings

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Literally Pulling Her Hair Out From PPD – Jennifer Tracy

It wasn’t until she began to literally pull chunks of her hair out she knew she might be battling something out of her control; postpartum depression. She talks about her battles with cyclical depression starting at an early age, being an only child with depressed, anxious and angry parents, not feeling seen or heard and being a high-bottom alcoholic who finally sobered up instead of self-medicating. She also touches on her body issues and how it was exacerbated during her few years as a model.

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Family Secrets & Hiding Depression – Patricia McKee

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

Patricia can be reached at her website and on Twitter @Patricia_McKee

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Being Trans in a Red State – Olivia Haidar

The 29 year-old trans woman dispels myths about what it means to be trans, including those she used to believe. She shares about hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery, the prejudice and stigma of “passing”, feeling dysphoric growing up, coming out in her Indiana hometown and her upbringing by an overprotective mother, an absent father, and an alcoholic and emotionally abusive stepfather.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @hitherehaidar
Follow her on Instagram @ohaidarling
Follow her on Facebook at

This episode is sponsored by Young Health’s probiotic Probimune. To get your first bottle free (plus $6.75 shipping) go to and use offer code MENTAL

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Trypophobia: WTF is it? A Guest Blog by Lue

Trypophobia is a condition I’ve had since I can remember. In a nutshell it is a nervous, flesh crawling response to particular patterns and textures, typically organic and often involving small holes. It’s especially bad when associated with skin. It’s a known condition (although obviously I’ve never Googled it, lest I turn inside out), however it’s not recognised in the DSM. This is probably because of the large pool of possible triggers which are different for each person. So, it’s not like being deathly afraid of a single thing, say, snakes or cotton wool, And this is one of the particularly awful things about it – you never really know when you might come across a trigger. They often come out of the blue, you might come across something in the street or scrolling through images online and completely by accident trigger yourself.

My Mum has it too, although because I also have anxiety and depression it can be much more acute for me. If I see something particularly bad, it can put me out for two weeks or more. So that’s like 2 weeks of prickling skin, adrenaline rushes, flesh crawling sensations, obsessively imagining the trigger (where my mind very helpfully transposes the pattern onto my skin because why not?), panic attacks etc. I only know one other person who has symptoms like mine and who experiences it so acutely. But it’s really hard to talk about because even talking about it can be triggering! There doesn’t seem to be any specific treatment for it, other than anxiety management.

Having spoken to  few people, I get the feeling that lots of people have this condition to some degree or another, it’s just that my symptoms are really severe. I spent most of my life not knowing it was even a condition with a name, I came across it through a friend when I was about 26. Before then I just assumed it was a weird quirk that just me and my Mum had.

I have two distinct memories of trypophobia as a child. The very first was at a natural history exhibition, I was very small, maybe only 4 or 5. There were pictures and information about a species of frog whose female incubates and carries it’s young inside it’s back. I remember seeing a picture of it and feeling immediately terrified. Prickles ran up and down my spine and it felt as if my flesh was crawling off my bones. My Mum leaned over and asked me, “Does that picture look a bit weird-y to you?” weird-y was the word my Mum always used to describe her trypophobia triggers and now we both knew this was a shared experience.

The second and more acute attack from my childhood was on a camping holiday in Spain with my parents and some of our close family friends. My Dad was explaining to me how taste buds worked and what happened when they ot burned (I must have burned my tongue) and his description of them as little pots with lids just sent me into this insane flesh crawly, panicked state. I remember telling my Mum that his description had upset me – it wasn’t my Dad’s fault, how could he have known? – and she reminded him that I too was afflicted with the ‘weird-y’ disease and to be careful. Unfortunately, it was too late. the entire 2 weeks we were away on that holiday I woke up and went to bed feeling panicked, my skin tingling and being utterly unable to stop thinking about this trigger as my mind festered on it and bent it into all sorts of things. After initially telling my Mum that it was upsetting, I don’t think I said anything else. I don’t think anyone had a clue what was going on in my mind and my nervous system that holiday.

It’s only in the last 6 years that I’ve had the word trypophobia in my vocabulary. As you can imagine, the idea of trying to research this bizarre quirk is less than appealing, both online or in books. I have no doubt that any information would be associated with triggering images. By chance, a friend of mine who had experienced one or two very minor triggers had looked it up online and discovered there was a name for it. It felt good to finally have a real name for it and to know that someone else at some point had recognised it as a state of mind. Being able to label any illness is immediately less isolating.

Phobic spells, some lasting only a few hours and others lasting for up to two weeks, occurred sporadically throughout my teens. Trypophobia triggers are like literal tigers in the bush, pouncing on you from out of nowhere when you’re minding your own business. Looking back on it, I think my acute reaction to these triggers and my inability to stop obsessing about them were probably the first signs that I suffered with anxiety, but nobody was really thinking about these things in the late 1980s.

As an adult I’ve suffered on and off. As I become better at general anxiety management, I can deal with the triggers more proactively. The last time I had a really acute attack was about 7 ago. I was dealing with a string of panic attacks around Christmas 2010 and completely by accident saw one of the worst triggers I’ve ever experienced. The panic attacks, which were already causing visual distortions because they were so acute, became enmeshed with this trigger and I completely fell off the edge. For a few days I couldn’t even leave the house because more and more everyday patterns were becoming triggering for me. Brickwork on the side of buildings was the worst – living in London means you can’t walk down the street without seeing brickwork. Luckily I was able to get some emergency Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which helped to reduce the intensity of the panic attacks and the trypophobic responses became less difficult to handle and eventually dissipated. My sensitivity to triggers is definitely increased when my general anxiety levels are up, so the two are certainly intrinsically linked.

I would love to know if there’s anyone out there researching this phenomenon and to understand more about the mechanism underlying it. I have a few evolutionary-developmental theories of my own, but for now this is just another brain quirk I have to manage as and when it comes. I hope that anyone experiencing these symptoms can find comfort in this shared experience and to know that CBT and other anxiety management tools can help to reduce the response.

You can reach Lue at