YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Weekly online podcast interviews with comedians, artists, friends, and the occasional doctor. All exploring mental illness, trauma, addiction and negative thinking.

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The Mental Illness Happy Hour is NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment. For information on treatment please visit HelpGuide.org

A Letter to Little Me: A Guest Blog by S.L.

I did not grow up on the mean streets of Detroit or Chicago.  I grew up in a mind-numbing number of homes that began modestly and rose like a soufflé into an Italianate San Franciscan Mansion circa 1906.  And yes, it survived that earthquake.

Had I had its foundation I might have come through better than I have. This is the reason I am writing to you — tiny, five-year-old me — so that as you grow up you will know how to trust your instincts, get help, and stay away from those who hurt you. I will always, strongly be with you in spirit.

As I’ve walked the corridors of this life that will become yours (with some changes I pray) I’ve met hundreds of people. Many of them shared their stories with me. I was privileged to write them.  The subject never was incest, but that’s my focus now — so that my story doesn’t become your story sweet child.
Number 1: First, it’s okay to adore daddy. I know he’s going to teach you how to ride a bike and tell time. But never let daddy touch you in your private places.  If he does, tell mommy  

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I Didn’t Believe in Addiction: Guest Blog by Marcus Freestone

I’m a 42 year old writer, musician, comedian and podcaster from Wales (the small bit to the left of England where they make Doctor Who and Sherlock, and where seagulls carry umbrellas). I discovered the show in February and have since listened to about 90% of them. It has helped me in many ways but one has come as a complete shock to me; it has overturned one of my longest-held opinions. Brace yourself Americans: until a few months ago I DIDN’T BELIEVE IN ADDICTION.

 

I’ve always taken the existential view on life: we have freewill, we just usually choose not to exercise it out of fear. I have always believed that alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders etc are not clinical conditions in and of themselves, rather they are epiphenomena – symptoms of an underlying depression or anxiety, and it is that which needs to be treated. I believed that people made conscious decisions but then denied it to themselves. I saw addiction as a cop out that lets people carry on doing something they want to do and say “It’s not my fault.”

 

It’s not as if a tractor beam drags you to the pub or off-licence  

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Freedom From Childhood Trauma Part 3: A Guest Blog by D.P

Freedom From Childhood Trauma part 3

By DP

With guidance from the 12 steps, help from my AA sponsor and from my grand sponsor I chose to go with Plan B. I would take any and all proceeds from an impending financial windfall and use it to go into treatment.

I returned to therapy and asked her to hold me accountable for the decisions I was to make about my life, help me find a treatment program and have complete access to all my records during treatment. I did not want to leave treatment until there was full agreement between my therapist and the counselors on staff that I was done, that I had done the work to resolve my trauma. I did not want to leave treatment on my own accord.

With the help of my therapist I found one of the best trauma programs in the country, one I would never have been able to afford in this lifetime. I’m just a poor white boy, born on the wrong side of the tracks and would never, never have had the opportunity to go into this type of treatment program without AA’s Promises coming true for me (Google AA’s

 

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Sometimes the Illness Wins: A guest blog by “Emily’s Twin Sister”

On this night, my husband and I had come home after a full day of driving.  He lay sleeping on the floor.  I lay on the couch, watching television.  I learned of Robin Williams’ suicide.  I snapped off the television immediately.  I avoided all news coverage and Facebook posts regarding him.  I did not tell my husband.  I answered monosyllabically when he brought it up days later when the news entered his sphere of reference.

“Robin Williams is dead?!”

“Yes”

“He Killed Himself?!”

“Yes”

I didn’t say anything to his statement “You would think he would have had everything to live for.”

You would think, and you are right.  But when you live with mental illness and its many accompanying demons- each day can be a struggle.  Giving up.  Not giving up.  We are trying.  Do we wake?  Or sleep?  This is the lonely life of one who suffers from mental illness.

You see, because as much as it seems to have become fashionable to say that collectively as a society we accept one another blemishes and all, body defects, physical differences, emotional problems, behavioral issues, mental illnesses…. You still do not want us around you. You fear us.  You  

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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

 

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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  

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

Freedom From Childhood Trauma part 1

By DP

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

 

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The Mental Toll of Being a Super Achieving Teenager: A guest blog by Emma age 18

       With several AP classes to study for and SATs to worry about, it’s like there’s no time to even think about breathing, because at any given moment there are about 12 different things you have to worry about doing. Staring at homework for hours, I could get to a point where my whole body was so numb with exhaustion that I felt almost outside of myself, like my brain was, with no help from me, balancing chemical equations and telling my hand to write them down without engaging any emotionally active response in my heart or head. It’s not that I didn’t want to engage with what I was learning, or that I didn’t care about it, but there were all these different things barreling at me from all these different directions, and my brain shut down the way it does in times of crisis or trauma, so that only the immediately necessary things got done and everything else stops. I knew the “necessary” things—homework, studying, essays, review—were not as important as my emotional well being, but I made the conscious short-term sacrifice of my a healthy emotional life in order to meet statistical standards that I  

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Pregnancy Loss Resources: An email between Dr. Zucker and a listener

This is a poignant communication between myself, a guest who goes by “G” and Dr. Jessica Zucker (a therapist and former guest)

Dr. Zucker,

My first son died unexpectedly one week before his due date. It has been five months and I’m so deep in grief and guilt and shame, I don’t see a way out and can’t see how I could ever have been a good mother since I am handling this all so poorly.

“G”

Here is what Dr. Zucker wrote to her.

G,

I am incredibly sorry for your recent loss. You must be experiencing incredible amounts of pain and mind-numbing disbelief.

Have you received any therapeutic support since your loss? If not, would you be interested in pursuing some help in an effort to process the grief and heartache? I would be happy to help you find a seasoned psychologist– please let me know what city you live in or where the closest city might be to you and I will do my best to find you support.

Thank you for reaching out to Paul and requesting that we discuss stillbirth on his podcast. I think that is a brilliant idea, as 1 in 170 pregnancies  

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