Author:Paul Gilmartin

Lance L

The pansexual Iraqi war veteran talks about his plans to come out to his homophobic family, growing up with a mother who picked terrible men,  his deadbeat dad and meeting a half-brother & doing a joint road trip to confront the father that abandoned them both. This episode is sponsored by GoDaddy.  For 30% off your purchase go to and use offer code Mental199 This episode is sponsored by Harry’s shaving products.  To get $5 off your first purchase go to and use the offer code Mentalpod


Ask Erika Holmes MFT

Marriage and Family Therapist Erika Holmes answers listener questions from Facebook and Twitter.  Topics include Eating Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD therapies, Neurofeedback and damage caused by parents who are religious zealots.   Erika can be followed on Twitter @ErikaHolmesMFT and her website is

PillPack sponsors this show.  To check it out (and to help the podcast) go to


Susanna Lee

The comedian/burlesque dancer (she goes by the name Lucky DeLuxe) talks about the power, pitfalls and rush of performing with and without her clothes on, including being a sex worker at a “jack shack” to make ends meet.  She opens up about her low self-esteem, fear of the future, struggles with her dad and desire for truth no matter how bleak it may be.  She also opens up about being attracted to unavailable men who often hide their relationship with her from friends and family.


Freedom From Childhood Trauma Part 2: A guest blog by DP

In part one I recounted my most serious suicide attempt, spoke about a series of violent events that happened to me as a child and began opening up about my direct experiences recovering from trauma. And I sought the answer to this question, “Do you know anyone was worked through trauma and is now a happy functional adult?”

My abuse was worse than most, less than some and some died. I lived a very atypical life first as an adult child of an alcoholic, as an Army brat and then torture survivor. Having moved many places around the world, I grew up in the distorted world of an emotionally disengaged sex-negative family.

I lived most of my life as a “hungry ghost” trapped inside of myself and constantly under threat of re-experiencing unresolved trauma anytime my emotions were triggered.

Ok, so to the answer I found… the answer trauma survivors seek to replace the dread and horror we live with inside every minute of every day.

Instead of committing suicide I decided to sell the gun and use the money to help pay for my next therapy session.

In therapy and 12 step programs I did the journey of 1,000 miles one step at a time and it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t free of trauma. So I did it again. And it still wasn’t enough. So I did it again. And I still wasn’t free… I experienced relief but I never experienced freedom. And I wanted nothing less than freedom.

Looking back I realize I was somehow blessed with energy that allowed me to sell that gun and begin the process of recovery. This was grace even though I didn’t know it at the time.

The short answer to recovering from trauma is that it is the journey of 10,000 miles, one step at a time, or two lifetimes (!) to resolve trauma at the level I experienced it.

At the suggestion of my therapist I also began work in a 12-step program. With my history of drug and alcohol abuse I certainly qualified as an alcoholic and with my inability to psychologically separate from my family I qualified as a codependent.

Addicts and co-addicts stay current by doing the 12 steps over and over as things come up in our lives. I did the 12 steps like my life depended on it. I went to five meetings a week for five years and had 25 commitments (as a greeter, literature,

secretary, cleanup, etc.) in my first journey of 1000 miles. I experienced relief and I experienced joy. But it was temporary.

So I worked the 12 steps again. I continued to go to meetings and continued to hold commitments. I also went to therapy a minimum of once a week, tape-recorded all my therapy sessions and listened back to every session at least once. I experienced relief and I experienced joy. Once again it was temporary.

One time, my first therapist became very excited during our session and told me that I had gone farther than most people go in therapy. Here I’d spent all this time yet I knew wasn’t free. Inside myself I knew I’d found some relief, but not freedom.

I took time off from therapy but after two or three years I decided to try again. It’s possible my first therapist lacked experience or training with trauma. It’s also very likely that my communication skills, the pain I felt inside, prevented me from talking about my reality so I could get more help from my first therapist.

At one point my second therapist told me that she had never met anyone who had done so much work on themselves. And yet I still wasn’t done because I still wasn’t free.

So here it is no matter how you do it, freedom from trauma is the journey of 10,000 miles. It’s 1000 miles one step at a time, and then 1000 miles one step at a time, and then 1000 miles one step at a time, and 1000 miles one step at a time… It’s pure determination. Or is it? What is it inside, what is it inside us that drives us to first seek relief and then freedom? What is it inside that drives us to want the answer? What is it inside that creates energy to seek truth from our troubled reality?

Where did the energy come from that inspired me to sell the gun?

Well for me it’s the Universe, you could also say: God, Buddha, Allah, or whatever. One thing I learned in life is that I am not breathing myself – the universe is breathing me.

During my second pass through the 12 steps I began a meditation practice as part of my work on step 11 (Google AA step 11 for more info). Fortunately I discovered an aptitude for meditation. It was quite a challenge to bear discomfort in my body and take on an even greater challenge in quieting the thoughts that were running rampant in my head.

So there I was, without knowing at the time, I had developed a set of tools that would see me through the final exam of my recovery. My tool set included communications skills developed through 12 years of therapy, thoroughly working the 12 steps twice, and learning to quiet my body and mind through meditation.

The final exam for my recovery began when the Universe removed almost every physical asset I had. I lost everything. I could not find work for several years. I almost became homeless. I equate this time in my life with that section of the Bible that says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death…” I lost my sobriety and became suicidal again.

Interestingly my life began to turn around almost immediately once I restarted my sobriety and started working with a new sponsor.

My exam became more serious as I discovered an opportunity for a financial windfall. This is where my recovery tools really kicked in and I worked the 12 steps a third time in order to restore my faith.

I had a real opportunity to go left or go right. In one direction, I could take the financial windfall and go on a fabulous sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll tour of Western Europe, and parts unknown. I would have a great story, one I could share with my friends that would increase my standing in the community as a great speaker who had done it all! But I knew deep inside of me that no matter what I did, no matter what I had, I would still feel the same lifelong despair. I would not be free.

Or I could have a Plan B and go into one of the best treatment programs in the world and dedicate myself to recovery by seeking freedom once again.  I will touch on that in Part 3.

To read Part 1 click here.


Why Isn’t Mental Illness Treated Like Other Health Issues?: A guest blog by Maia Akiva

I have read many heartfelt, emotional posts the past few days about the passing of Robin William from a possible suicide. It’s a horrible loss of a great entertainer and person.  The first thing that came to me when I heard about it – was to my surprise huge gratitude for all the healing and deep work I have done that brought me to a place where I am learning to live next to my darkness and have a much more healthy relationship with it, than the days of complete darkness and thoughts of suicide. If you know me you may have heard me talk about this before: the thing that makes me the most upset about this (for all of us) is how, I believe, that as a western society with very clear rules, structure and a support system we don’t treat addiction, depression and emotional disability as a problem like we treat physical illness. It’s hard to ask for a meditation break at work but very easy to get a smoking one. It’s hard to go to a 12 step meeting once a week on work time but easy to go to a Dr. appointment. It’s hard to get sick days to go to an emotional retreat to heal your heart but easy to get sick days to heal your foot. Of course there are exceptions of people and companies who respect and understand all of this. But not a lot. I hope, and am going to do my best to continue to share my voice about treating emotional problems like physical ones. Both are human being problems that affects a life and both need to be supported equally by all of us.


Jimmy Doyle

The former Second City improviser turned drug & alcohol counselor talks about his mother’s suicide when he was 12, coming out at 16 (in 1981), getting physically sober but being emotionally toxic and being fired from the prestigious improv company.  They talk about the breakthroughs felt in doing EMDR (and CBT).  Paul also reads some surveys and emails on the topic of suicide given the nature of this week’s news about Robin Williams.   On the surface this may seem like a very dark episode and while it has its moments, it is ultimately not a downer.


Dese’Rae L Stage

The photographer and activist talks about her bookwormish childhood, coming out in high school, the abusive relationship she couldn’t bear to leave and her project which documents the stories of suicide attempt survivors (she is one) Live Through This.  To check out Dese’Rae’s website go to and follow her on Twitter at @DeseraeStage This episode is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  To participate or support their Out of the Darkness Walk which takes place on Sept. 20th in Chicago, go to This episode is sponsored by Bulu Box.   To learn more and get a MIHH listener discount go to click on the microphone in the upper left hand corner and use the offer code “happyhour”.


Freedom From Childhood Trauma (part 1/3): A guest blog by DP

Freedom From Childhood Trauma part 1


I remember the day when I took the 357 Magnum with hollow point bullets and put it to my head. I’d been rehearsing this for months. This was a way for me to get rid of the pain. I had bought a folding shovel so I could dig my own grave and the only thing that frustrated me was that I could not figure out a way to kill myself and burry myself afterward. I did not want to be found.

Today I look back at that behavior and clearly recall my pain. The insanity of my alcoholism, drinking every night, passing out over and over, drinking some more and itching. Itching all the time, all over my body.

I remember a time growing up when I was punished almost every day after coming home from school. One day the belt slipped and the buckle hit me in the eye leaving me with a black eye. My mother sat me down and told me about a “white lie.” Had someone confronted me at school the next day it might have saved me from the escalating violence that followed.

A few years later my father took me into his workshop and worked me over with a bamboo curtain leaving most of my back cut open with bleeding wounds. This was the first time I left my body in horror. I almost dared him to kill me. I knew the scars would last, and they have.

I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts and suffered from PTSD for most of my life self- medicating with alcohol, drugs and sex to take away the pain. I finally wound up in treatment and learned that I was not only an abuse survivor but also a torture survivor.

Today my story has vaporized, gone like a puff of smoke, it has finally left me. Inside I am happy… very, very happy. Peaceful, serene and able to reach out to other people in ways I never imagined possible. At age 59 I finally got the help that I sought for so long. The help that it was my right to receive when I was an innocent 10 year old child.

My journey is long, much longer than the period of my abuse. I grew up in hell likely parented by people best understood as hungry ghosts and lived in hell until I created a hell of my own by trying to survive my abuse by acting out.

The first time I found a way to deal with my pain was when I found marijuana in high school. I was finally free or at least I thought I was. So I self medicated with marijuana for about 10 years until it cost me the most important relationship of my life.

And when I paid that price, the price of the most significant relationship in my life, I vowed to never smoke pot again. And so I stopped but the pain inside of myself continued and without realizing it my drinking escalated. When I started gaining weight I switched from beer to rum and then to vodka.

Not aware of the impact drugs and alcohol were having on my life I began having blackouts. The problem I learned much later on was that after a blackout one simply does not remember what happened. During the time I smoked pot I was jumbling up experiences in my life so that I could no longer recall what the heck happened and when the hell it happened.

Left without a way to cope with trauma my alcoholism worsened. I had no understanding about how alcohol would destroy my life even though I was overwhelmingly aware of alcohol abuse by the adult perpetrators in my family.

Experiencing even greater levels of despair in midlife I began reaching out for help while I was still drinking. I found a book and then off to a therapist who then sent me to a psychiatrist. I was prescribed large doses of Prozac so large that I began experiencing seizures. I had to take another medication to suppress the seizures so I could continue with the dosage recommended to me by my psychiatrist. And I was to take this medication every day for the rest of my life. Looking back I realize how important it would’ve been had the psychiatrist simply asked me if I were drinking. Not drinking like a normal man, but drinking to pass out over and over again all night every night. It never occurred to me that the seizures I was having might possibly be related to my drinking. Frustrated because we could never hit the “sweet spot,” the spot where I felt good about myself and connected with the world for very long. And so I stopped this medication thinking to myself, “what a quack.” It was of course the psychiatrist whom I perhaps labeled with my own disease.

It’s been a long process in recovery and quite difficult for me to begin making my story public knowing that in doing so I might be confronted by my family for coming out as a torture survivor. I am the black sheep in a long line of black sheep that passes through my ancestry. My father was the black sheep in his family abandoned an early age running away many miles to live on a farm to live off food he could steal until he was old enough to lie about his age and go into the military. I do not know about the trauma that set him up to become a perpetrator but I do know that he was a very violent, extremely angry man with psychopathic tendencies. He loved the look of others in pain. And there were a few incidents where he acted out with animals when I was a child. But it was when he acted out with me in a series of increasingly violent episodes that finally resulted in an incident of torture that would forever, or so I thought, negatively impact my life.

I’m reaching out today as a man who found the answer for myself the answer that I sought for my entire life to questions many of us have: Will I ever be free? Will I ever be at peace? Will I ever live a happy and contented life?

I found the answer and became the change I wish to see in the world. This is not a change that made me rich or famous but simply changed my energy. I changed the way I see the world, changed the way I react in the world and changed the way I give back to the world.

The answer does not include mega doses of medication but does include incredible, tireless determination to find the answer to the question no one else could give, “Do you know anyone who has worked through trauma and is now a happy functional adult?

I remember asking this question of my therapist, an Angel, whom I had seen once a week for 10 years, “Do you know anyone was worked through trauma and is now a happy functional adult?

The answer was silence. And it has always been silence.

I am now completing my journey by facing my fear of confrontation by family by giving back in a hopefully unpretentious and humble way to say there is an answer and to share that answer even if it’s only one answer, possibly one of many, but it’s the only one I know.

To read Part 2 click here.


Pamela Martin

Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Fibromyalgia, ME, etc) a purely physical ailment or is there also an emotional component related to trauma.  Pamela shares about being an incest survivor as well as the challenges of living with CFS and  being a people pleaser.  She also shares about raising a child with Selective Mutism and learning to be emotionally intimate with her supportive husband.  Pamela is also a singer/songwriter.  To learn more about her or her music check out her ReverbNation Page


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