Author:Paul Gilmartin

Dr. Jessica Zucker #1 (Voted #1 Ep of 2012)

Dr. Jessica Zucker graces the show as our first mental health expert and she does not dissapoint.  We learn helpful tips in finding the right therapist, the benefits of it, and common pitfalls.   We discuss her upcoming book about porn stars and what sex means to them.  We talk about a listener’s harrowing experience with postpartum depression.  And finally, Dr. Zucker lends a gentle hand in helping Paul to confront the most painful truth in his life; the lifelong patterns of abuse by his mentally unstable mother.   They discuss sexual abuse of boys by female babysitters.  Dr. Zucker is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in women’s health, with a focus on reproductive and maternal mental health.  Visit her website www.drjessicazucker.com.  She can be followed on Twitter @drzucker

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Sklar Brothers

We talk to the comedy duo about the drawbacks and benefits of being identical twins; how they’re alike and how they’re different.  So often this show focuses on families torn apart by dysfunction, we thought it would be nice to show that all artists don’t have to be tortured.    We talk about their unique approach to combining sports and comedy.  Listeners know them from Comedy Central Presents, Curb Your Enthusiasm, guest hosting for Jim Rome, ESPN’s Cheap Seats, and their popular podcast, Sklarbro Country.

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The Power of Shame & Secrets by Paul Gilmartin

The Power of Shame and Secrets

I’m in a funk.   I don’t want help.    I don’t want the healthy solution.   I want the unhealthy distraction.

I want some fucking excitement.

I’m sad.   Not suicidal.   Just flat.   Nebraska flat.

I felt so whole a while back and now I feel like a part of me is gone.   I don’t know what happened.   Am I doing something wrong or is it just my brain chemistry?   I haven’t changed my meds.

This is the part of depression that really fucking sucks.

I ACHE to get out of this feeling.    I can feel my inner-addict trying to break out of the healthy way I’ve been living – because sometimes it feels like jail.   Most times it feels awesome.   But today it feels like jail.

I know listening to other people’s shame and secrets is good for the show, but it’s addicting.   It’s an escape for me.   I can turn anything into a fantasy, and I often find myself triggered by people’s secrets.   I feel like I’m walking a tightrope.   It’s good for the show, but I can become addicted to it.   I’m using it to jump-start my emotions.    Being privy to other people’s secrets is REALLY exciting when I’m flat.

In particular women’s shame and secrets.   I’ve always had a voyeur/exhibitionist streak in me, and while I usually feel healthy and helpful when dealing with women and their secrets, it can be triggering.    I grew up without sisters.   I was a late bloomer sexually, so for the first 20 years of my life girls and women were mysterious and powerful and it left a strong imprint on me.   A cute girl wasn’t just on a pedestal  – I gave elevated status to the people she ASSOCIATED with.

I think when I’m privy to a woman’s deepest shame and secrets it can be intoxicating because it was the Holy Grail when I was in puberty.   It was the inner sanctum.  And let’s be honest.   Most of us have a lot of shit left over from puberty.   Hell, middle school. Maybe I should just speak for myself.

Here’s the weird part.   Three fantasies get triggered when I read or hear certain shames or secrets involving females.

1)   Run of the mill sex stuff.  It’s usually about me being in a position of control or in a position of submission.   Sometimes it’s me, sometimes its younger me.  Sometimes much younger me.

2)   Being comforted.  Totally non-sexual. The same fantasy I had when I was in first grade; an older girl on the playground would see my sadness and wrap her arms around me and let me cry.  I would feel protected by her – understood.   I would feel safe and loved unconditionally.

3)   A combination of the two.   I know.   Fucking weird.  The comforting leads to her taking control of me sexually.  I would be completely under her control, but she would treat me well.

I was sharing these feelings with a woman who felt very safe to me.   She then shared something that made me feel less freakish.   She is a rape victim and she has sexual fantasies about being raped.  She said that her therapist told her it’s quite common.   It obviously doesn’t mean she wants to be raped again, its her way of emotionally reliving the experience but giving her consent – a way of going back in time and CHOOSING to give her consent, so it can’t be taken away.

I was blown away.  It made sense.   I was so grateful for her honesty.  And of course because she let me in on a deep secret, I also felt triggered; a feeling of intense neediness and wanting to give her my power.

This human being shit is COMPLICATED.   God Bless my wife.

I’m a little embarrassed to post all this, but I think it might help someone to talk about it, like it’s helped me.

To take the Mental Illness Happy Hour “Shame & Secrets” survey anonymously, go here

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LWYBXZD

If you’re uncomfortable posting publicly, email me at mentalpod@gmail.com

To subscribe to the Mental Illness Happy Hour newsletter sign up here http://mentalpod.us4.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ac394b066e362cb0dbaa3af47&id=81cee42ab3

 

Paul

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Morgan Murphy

Bouncing from family to family and always being the new girl at school forced her to adapt and gave her experiences to draw on as a writer (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, 2 Broke Girls).   But a family history of mental illness, food issues, panic attacks and always being attracted to brilliant but broken men have not been so easy to adapt to.     Morgan opens up about the power of friendship and the odd comfort of dark comedic humor from some well-known friends during her catatonic stint at a mental hospital.

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Guest Blog by Amy: Coping with the Rollercoaster

Yesterday, as I was driving home, I suddenly felt empty.
One would think that after a pleasant hour-long conversation with someone who inspires you would be enough to provide a good high for the next couple of days.  But for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder and a long, troubled history with Bipolar Disorder, the highs can immediately turn to extreme lows within hours and in this case, within minutes from pulling out of the coffee shop’s parking lot.
The tools I was provided from years of individual and group therapy sessions didn’t seem to work.  But let’s be honest, once you’re already at your lowest point, you still struggle to go through your coping steps.  Step One – go somewhere where your mind is quiet, Step Two – close your eyes, Step Three – take deep breaths, etc., etc.  We all know them.  And so I go through the motions.
I feel nothing.  I always feel nothing.  I always know what happens to me next.  Feeling nothing then turns into frustration and then the frustration just immediately turns into self-loathing.  There is no in-between.  But then again, there rarely is for someone with my condition.
I have accepted that the extreme is where I live – it’s my emotional home.  It’s familiar, it’s confusing and it’s SAFE.  It has taken me years to realize that having “episodes” is where I feel most comfortable being.  It’s who I have become and is what happens in the life of someone like me.
So what triggered the crash?  The feeling that I wasn’t the person I presented myself to be to a new friend.  The self-doubting questions of ‘Did I mean what I said?’, ‘Did I say the right things?’, ‘Did I make him feel comfortable?’, ‘Did I seem all there?’, and worse yet, ‘Did I seem crazy to him?’
I always think this way.  I always imagine people who meet me to go home and tell their spouses or partners that Mae Flores is much crazier than they thought – insane really.  Then they would proceed to laugh hysterically as the new friend would recount the direction the conversation went.
CUE IN:  Self-Deprecation
I let it happen.  Feeling the shame and the need to lay in fetal position under the covers that do not provide the security I need right then and now.
Then, I cry.  Actually, I wailed.  I felt like a child who was bullied in front of everyone in the school yard.  My thoughts immediately jumped to the time I was a freshman in high school back in Chicago.  Walking up the hill towards the school’s side entranceway was always a bit steep during wet snow.  Wearing my school uniform, underneath that goose-down coat was neither stylish nor appropriate for the weather, but all the girls did it.  Before I knew it, a group of boys that took the bus with me began throwing snow balls at me.  They all made bets on who would be able to knock me down from that hill first.  The girls who I thought were my friends stood near them laughing as I rushed in quickly through the doors soaking wet and feeling humiliated.  All I heard was snickers and whispers surrounding me most of the morning and it wasn’t long after I switched to public school.
And now as an adult, this is how I still feel when I meet people – like an audience is always laughing and pointing fingers at me.  But as I write this, I realize that this simple coffee meeting was not how I imagine it at this moment.  As a matter of fact, it was not even close to that.  It was uplifting and real.  We laughed so hard there were tears in both our eyes.  There were moments when it felt so positive and motivating that there was no other reason to feel but good.
And as I now sit here and provide myself a play by play of the discussions that took place, I realize that my condition is creating an alternate conclusion for the hour that took place with my new friend.  And as the calm approaches and with it provides a feeling of newfound self-worth, I tell myself that I’m alright.
REPEAT LINE: YOU ARE ALRIGHT.
It turns out, this is just another one of those days.  And I fall asleep; exhausted with the unnecessary emotional Olympics I just put myself through.  Then I hear that voice again….
“What is wrong with you?”
Here I go again….
FADE OUT.
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Blaine Capatch

The comedian and former writing partner of Patton Oswalt (Mad TV) didn’t grow up with abuse or tragedy, but his mental and emotional battles are shared by most of us.   He thinks he’s lazy and is worried he’s missed out on the success many of his peers have achieved.   This is a nice episode for listeners who want a break from the darker episodes.  Blaine is a comic’s comic and a Renaissance man –  sensitive, thoughtful, articulate and darkly funny.   Follow him on Twitter @blainecapatch and see him in the touring Wrestling/Burlesque show Lucha VaVoom.

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Meghan P.

Hear what happened when this listener, a popular Wisconsin farm girl moved to the big city and crippling anxiety set in.  Now throw in her discovering she’s a lesbian and her mother’s dislike of gays.   Sounds like the recipe for a schizophrenic break.

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What it’s Like: To Be a Wreck – Guest blog by Naomi

 

What It’s Like: To Be A Wreck

 One stifling Midwestern afternoon last July, I was taking one of my breakdown drives: I couldn’t concentrate on music, podcasts, anything except the pressure cooker teetering atop my slumped shoulders. That air-conditioned bubble was the only place I wanted to be in that state of mind. Where else could I scream myself hoarse like a bottomless tea kettle and be sure that no one else would hear me wail? Once I had worn myself out, I noticed that a car had been tailing me for a few miles; he refused to pass, creeping up closer and closer. Already a tight, hot ball of inwardly-directed anger, I had plenty left over for road rage and was instantly and intensely annoyed by the intrusion — didn’t he know this was my sanctuary? — and squinted into the rear view mirror, determined to figure out why he insisted upon riding my ass so closely in such sparse traffic.

 But instead of boiling over, I just broke. I felt my emotional sauna of a head detach from my body, my vise grip on the steering wheel relaxed, my thumbs fell into the 10 and 2 o’clock notches, and my car began to drift to the left. I was still glaring at the driver behind me when I noticed I was no longer within the lane lines, but only just. And then just a little bit more, and then a little bit more, and time seemed to slip away just as languidly. My burning, red eyes fixed on the inexorably advancing chrome grille of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler, entranced by its geometric pattern. I wanted to run my fingers along the shiny silver bars, feel the bubbles in the welded corners, and test their density with my thumbnail. If the driver was honking, I couldn’t hear it.

Somewhere deep down, I unshakably believed that I would survive that collision and I felt compelled to experience it. The impulse was more like pyromania than a sincere wish for self destruction. To me, it didn’t feel like a death wish, it felt vital. I needed to prove to myself that I could endure the highest possible level of excruciating pain. I needed to let loose the ultimate tortured shriek as my body was torn apart and my limbs were mangled so that nothing could ever make me want to scream again. I needed to bear the unbearable with the knowledge that it could not crush me completely.

My attention returned to my body and moved through its parts methodically, starting with my shins and feet, which were closest to the potential point of impact. I became aware of the sensation of clothing on my skin and moved my concentration inward to the bones, imagining what each limb would feel as it shattered. As I continued internally probing my anatomy, testing my hypothetical limit for physical pain, I felt myself use shards of broken ribs to pierce my lungs and I gasped. I caught up with my breath and returned to the present, where split seconds still mattered, and that life-affirming lungful brought purpose back into my limp arms — barely in time for me to veer back into my own lane.

 Once I pulled back onto the right side of the road, the whole episode registered immediately as unhealthy, as something I needed help comprehending and preventing. When I tried to puzzle over it alone, I became too preoccupied with finding a rational explanation for what I had felt. My therapist, an invaluable sounding board and guide on my path to healing, helped me drop my obsession with the logical inconsistencies and focus on what it was that I felt during that drive. Her approach was to concentrate on the emotions behind the compulsion and work backwards from there based on facts.

“So,” she asked, “what do we know about you and what’s going on in your life right now?” I had been feeling especially stressed, lonely, and purposeless, but I was deliberately ignoring my depression. I was more terrified by uncertainty than anything else. I worried constantly that the hardships yet to come would blindside me beyond what I could survive.

“This event was a clear, ringing alarm bell. Why was it so important for you to warn yourself right then and there that something wasn’t right?” She explained that this was my way of capturing my own attention, the “engine overheat” warning light flashing on my mental dashboard. If I kept avoiding the truth about my mental state, more malfunctions were sure to follow. I admitted to both of us that I had not been acknowledging the depth of my depression and anxiety, nor had I been actively cultivating inner strength or serenity.

 “Survival mechanisms that have helped you cope in the past are failing you now, in the face of more abstract problems.” With the assistance of my therapist’s more objective explanations, I realized that I had become far too adept at sidestepping my mental issues. The exact nature of the problem was finally clear: my incessant worrying had been eroding any confidence in my ability to face life’s surprises, no matter what they may be. We spent several sessions exploring how my inner critic affected my behavioral patterns, identifying exactly where and how I undermine my own self esteem, and training me to slow down my self-perceptions to examine how seemingly uncharacteristic emotional episodes indicate where my depression has been warping my actions and my internal logic.

—-

 That day was the most mentally ill I have ever felt in my entire life. I have no desire to return to that state of mind again; I can learn those lessons from the sidewalk instead. I know now that I cannot harbor enemy selves inside of me and expect to function normally. When I neglect my anxiety, it becomes so pressurized that it dominates my consciousness. I respect the power of my emotions too much to ignore what I don’t yet understand about them. In order to face the unknown without letting it numb me into a question mark, too, I practice creating calm. Only then do I not expect and attempt to steel myself for pain.

 

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