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

Mental Illness & Stress

Great article about the relationship between stress and mental illness plus a lot more.

  

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Remembrance: A short film by listener Christopher O’Brien

I believe in stories. Stories are all that we are, individually, tribally, even as a race. Stories create the lives we live for good or ill, and after many retelling, stories can be hard to change. They may change, by accident, by tragedy, by force of will, but it ain’t easy.  

Two years ago I was committed. It lasted 10 days. Ten days of safety that allowed me to break the cycle of alcohol abuse and suicidal ideation. I am still not sure if I wanted that. And since then it has been two years of sometimes doing what I am told. Mostly showing up, occasionally doing the right next thing. Just this past summer I acknowledged baby steps.  

A year after being released, give or take, and just three weeks into a new living arrangement with strangers, I had an experience that made me pause. Like a frozen cod slapped against my numb face.  I handled it well, as I can be stoic in times of crisis. Then a year went by, and my drinking escalated, and my scratching returned and I suspected it might be due to the approaching of the one year anniversary of that  

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Importance of a Psychological Assessment: Guest Blog by Joel Schwartz PsyD

Imagine the following scenario:

You walk into your primary care doctor’s office. You are feeling sick, weak, and unlike yourself.  After describing your symptoms to the doctor, she smiles at you and says, “I think I have a general idea of what’s going on. I have about fifteen hypotheses about what is causing your distress. I am going to pick a hypothesis at random and treat it, hoping for the best. If I am wrong, we will try the next one.”

Wait, wait, wait, you may be thinking. Isn’t there a way to narrow this down before we embark on treatment that will be costly, time consuming, and may hurt me if it turns out to be the incorrect treatment. 

Of course this does not happen because medical doctors rely on tests to better understand what is going on. Unless they test for bacteria, they may be treating a virus, and your illness may be prolonged. Medical tests narrow down the hypotheses about symptoms in order to find the root cause, which can then be treated more efficiently.

However, the same cannot be said about the counseling profession. Even if a counselor is an astute diagnostician, diagnosis tells very little  

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What It’s Like to Have Tourette’s: A Guest Blog by Ellen

People are surprisingly bad at seeing minute details.

This has been what’s kept our species alive for so long.  If our ancestors heard a lion roar and saw a large shape prowling in the grass, they couldn’t afford to stand there and filter through all of the information pouring in from their five senses.  They had to take in enough to get a general picture so they could react in time.  Those who saw the lion and made a run for it were much more likely to be able to continue to live and have babies, while the person going over every little detail coming in to them before coming to a generalization was likely to be lion food.

It’s been in our best interest to scan something, generalize and then react off of that generalization.  We’ve become especially adept at doing with facial expressions, which is how we can tell if someone’s mad and might potentially hurt us, or if they’re happy and it’s safe to approach them.  Without this very necessary evolutionary gift, we wouldn’t be likely to have been able to have a society, much less survive.

When you’re walking down the street, your brain is telling  

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I Had an Abortion 4 Weeks Ago: Guest Blog by Jan

I had an abortion four weeks ago.  It’s hard to describe how I feel about it.  I don’t think there are many emotions in the human vocabulary I haven’t felt between the time I began to fear that I was pregnant to the present moment.  I have had the wonderful fortune of a loving and open-minded boyfriend, immediate family, and close girlfriends who supported my decision to terminate the pregnancy, and yet I feel totally alone.  Statistically I know that three out of ten American women has an abortion in her lifetime, and yet no one speaks about it.  I have a history of anxiety and depression, and a heightened sensitivity to hormones, so the entire process has been extremely difficult, physically and emotionally.

I hardly know where to begin, but perhaps it will be most efficient to name some of the emotions and the thoughts attached to them:

Terror that if I had a baby my life would be ruined, that my boyfriend of only a few months abandon me to raise a child on my own, that I would be trapped in my dead end job indefinitely and doomed to live in poverty for the rest of my  

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Her Unspeakable Trauma Healed Through EMDR: Guest Blog by Lynn

Healing trauma through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

 

You know fear is a hell of a thing, and when you live with it constantly, you forget what it’s like to live any other way after a while. I have suffered with PTSD for nearly a decade. In my early twenties, I was kidnapped and sexually assaulted before I escaped with my life after 3 days. I’ll spare you the unpleasant details, as they don’t really matter in the long run. At least they don’t matter to me anymore.

Before the birth of my son at 32, I dealt with the fear through self-medication, mostly with alcohol and meaningless sex, but I always mixed it up with various drugs and binge eating. I suppose for a long time, I didn’t realize I had PTSD because I was in an emotional and physical fog. After my son was born though, and I didn’t have the choice to deal with my issues through alcohol, everything started to come to the surface. I was like a dormant volcano about to erupt. My emotions were out of control and I was living in almost constant fear. I was afraid to sleep and had  

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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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