Episode 61: Bald Bryan Bishop
Known as “Bald Bryan” to Adam Carolla listeners, Bryan Bishop’s life is actually a mental illness success story. After being a poster child for ADHD in his youth, he has managed to find the perfect outlet for his impatience, memory and excess energy. We then discuss his painful ongoing battle with glioma; an inoperable tumor on his brain stem, how his upbringing is helping him cope, the importance of family and some practical advice for anyone caught in the confusing beaurocracy of modern medicine in America. You may also know Bryan from his podcast, The Film Vault or his appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Paul: Welcome to episode 61 with my guest, Bryan Bishop, also known as Bald Bryan, from The Adam Carolla Show. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is The Mental Illness Happy Hour, an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads; from medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive, negative thinking; feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, inadequacy, and that vague, sinking feeling that the world is passing us by. You give us an hour, we’ll give (laughs) we’ll give you—I’m not gonna redo that. This is fucking podcasting. You give us an hour, we’ll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky.
Uh, before we get to the, uh, the episode with, uh, with Bald Bryan, uh, a few notes: this show is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional, uh, uh, mental health counseling. It’s, uh, it’s not a doctor’s office. It’s more like the waiting that hopefully does not suck. The, uh, website for this show is mentalpod.com. There’s all kinds of stuff there are the website. Um, there’s a forum, there are surveys you can take, um, there’s a newsletter I’d love you guys to, uh, to sign up for. And um, what else is there? There’s um—oh, I was also gonna say mentalpod is also the Twitter name that you can, you can follow me at. So, uh, please, please do that.
And um, it has been an interesting, uh, couple of weeks. Uh, those of you that listen regularly know that I’m going through, uh, through some shit right now and, you know, the really cool thing about being vulnerable and not being afraid to ask for help, which is all very new to me, but, uh, really rewarding, uh, the cool thing about that is people get to help you. And, you know, I’m so arrogant I can never predict that somebody’s actually gonna be able to help me. For so much of my life I’ve just had walls around, was convinced that I was gonna figure everything out on my own and get better on my own and I didn’t need anybody and wondered why I felt suicidal in my, uh, in my late thirties. Um, since I started opening up a-and kind of talking about my pain, and my past, and my childhood and my relationship with my mom and all this other stuff, um, opening up to people has just really been amazing. It’s not only the—to have these shoulders to cry on, but to get people’s perspectives, to have people email me and say, “Hey, I know what feels like, here’s my story. Here’s what I went through.” And i-i-it winds up making me feel so much less fucked up and makes me feel like I’m a part of this family that I never knew I was a part of. This family of—I hate if it sounds grandiose, but o-of survivors of, um, I hate using the word, but incest. Because that’s really—I’m having a hard time calling it that, but a listener gave me this book, um, called, The Emotional Incest Syndrome and I had had other people who knew my story say, you know, that sounds like emotional incest, that sounds like emotional incest. And incest is such a heavy word, um, I-I-I don’t want to throw it around unless it absolutely applies, and so this person gave me this book, The Emotional Incest Syndrome, it’s by a woman named Pat Love, which, of course, creeps me out because my mom’s uh, name is Pat, and on the inside cover it asks, “Were you a chosen child?” Uh, and then there’s ten questions and it says if you answer Yes to three or more of the above, you may have been a chosen child and suffered the emotional abuse of a parent who was overly involved in your life. Um, and the ten question are:
Uh, “I was the source of emotional support for one of my parents.” Yes.
“I felt closer to one parent than the other.” Yes.
“I got the impression my parent did not want me to marry or move far away from home.” Yes.
“Any potential girlfriend was never good enough for one of my parents.” Um, probably.
Uh, 5) “I felt I had to hold back my own needs to protect a parent.” Yes.
“I felt responsible for my parent’s happiness.” Yes.
Uh, “I sometimes felt invaded by a parent.” Oh yes.
Uh, “One of my parents had unrealistic expectations of me.” Uh, not so much that one. Uh, except when it came her needs.
Uh, 9) “One of my parents was preoccupied with drugs or alcohol, work, outside interests or another sibling.” Um, yes, my dad was a, was an alcoholic.
And, uh, 10) “One of my parents was like my best friend.” Yes.
What a relief. What a relief to know I’m not alone and that there is a name for this, this thing, um, and I know people that just heard me read that list, I know there’s a bunch of you right now going, “Holy fuck, what was the name of that book again?” So I’ll repeat it: The Emotional Incest Syndrome, by, uh, by Dr. Patricia Love. So thank you, uh, to my friend, uh, wh-who gave me that, uh, that book. I’ve been—I’m about halfway through it and it’s, uh, it’s blowing my mind and making me feel better. And none of that would be possible if I hadn’t, um, asked for help. And I know I keep hammering away at that message on this, on this show, but it’s so important. It’s so important.
Um, before we get to the, uh, interview with, uh, Bald Bryan, and it—I recorded it about six weeks ago so there’s a mention on there where we say the love-off is kind of a new thing we’re doing, um, it was new when I recorded this. I’m gonna kick it off with two surveys, actually. The first one is from the, uh, basic survey, and, uh, it’s a guy named Piper, he’s in his 40’s, he occasionally uses drugs and alcohol, was raised in a stable and safe environment, exercises once in a while, diet isn’t too healthy, um, he’s been through more than 20 therapy sessions. Uh, has never taken meds but he’s thinking about trying them. Um, he used to share his feelings with someone on a regular basis but stopped. Non-existent spiritual life. Unsatisfied with how much money he makes, uh, he makes between 25 and 50 grand. Um, “Most common negative thoughts?” “Shame about my sexuality. I hate my body. I’m afraid of putting myself for relationships. I don’t do things I enjoy because it seems like too much work.”
“Describe any behaviors you wish you didn’t engage in.” He writes, “I wake up in the middle of the night to masturbate because my computer isn’t in my room.” Um, well, that, uh, that seems like an easy fix to me. Um, unless you don’t want to masturbate.
Uh, “Do you believe some person, place or thing is keeping you from being happy?” He writes, “Just me.”
His, uh, most common emotions are, “Feeling trapped, and blah, empty, vaguely unsatisfied.”
His, uh, most common thoughts are, “I don’t do enough,” and, uh, that’s it, that’s his most common thought.
Um, and his biggest activity is, uh, and this seems to be everybody’s, is procrastinating. Everybody feels like they should be doing more than they’re doing.
Uh, “Does anything cause you to feel ashamed, if so what?” He writes, “My sexual feelings about men dressed as women. I also think that I am a cross-dresser but don’t do it because of both opportunity and the fact that I feel like I would not be an attractive woman. I feel like I’m not that attractive as a man, and why would I want to put myself in a position to be unattractive in both genders, which I think is both sad and funny at the same time.” Um, I-I-I agree, I-I don’t—I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing at the feeling of how fucked up we can feel sometimes. How it’s just incredible, um, how, yeah, how we can just feel like we’ve been dealt kind of a shit hand in terms of what interests us. Uh, he, uh, continues, “It’s even slightly possible that I might be transgendered but don’t allow myself to explore for much the same reason. If you were to pick a body type for a man to be least likely to be able to look like a woman, it’s probably mine. Thick, barrel-chested, hairy. In fact I have joked to friends in the past, I wish I was either hairy or fat. It seems unfair that I am both. When I see a show or read about someone who is comfortable cross-dressing or they are successfully transitioning, I feel happy feelings for that person, but I also feel jealousy and/or envy and sadness that it isn’t me.” Aw, that makes me sad. That breaks my heart.
Um, “Anything cause you to feel guilty?” He writes, “I have a very high IQ and feel like I am wasting my life and gifts in the job I have now.”
Um, let’s see … If there are—oh, that’s it, that’s it for, uh, for his, for his survey. And th-the—I’m sending you some love out there, Piper. Um, just know that everybody I know, um, has got some skeleton in their closet, something about themselves that they wish wasn’t how it is, a-and if you’re one of those rare people that doesn’t have that, you’re a fucking bore. There, I said it.
This second survey is, uh, also from our basic survey, which I think I’ve mentioned you can take on the website. There’s three different surveys and you can also see how people respond to those surveys as well. Um, this is from Kate. She’s, uh, in her 20’s and she ingests quite a bit of drugs and alcohol. She’s a daily pot smoker and a social drinker. Uh, the environment she was raised in was a little dysfunctional. Exercises an average amount. Uh, fairly healthy diet. Never been through therapy. Um, she rarely shares her feelings with anyone, um, she does a little yoga. Unsatisfied with how much money she makes. She actually writes, um, she’s unemployed with no faith in any economic system and paralyzed/hopeless by, uh, student debt.
Um, most common negative thoughts she has – she writes, “My body is majorly flawed and needs aggressive reform. Obsessed memories of things usually past actions which feel irredeemably pathetic and embarrassing and regrettable. I don’t belong here. My being here is invalid. There is no place for me here. I should leave here.” Uh, and then she writes, “I moved 12 times between three countries during my 20’s.”
“Describe any behaviors you wish you didn’t engage but do anyway?” She writes, “I throw up. Usually after intentionally binging on junk food knowing I’m going to throw it up while I’m eating. I feel fatigued, trapped, joylessly eating things I’d forgotten why I liked as fast as possible, then feel sick and moody for days after. I started throwing up when I was 15 and rapidly began regular, daily, on average up to ten times a day, binging and purging behavior until my mid-twenties. I’m now 29. I’ve tried many times to stop but could never make it more than a few weeks, consciously trying to stop exacerbates my obsession/controlling. I was regularly distracted and uncomfortable if my digestive tract wasn’t completely empty. After about ten years purging stop having the same euphoric effect and consistently made me feel worse physically. I watch TV solidly for days in a row, whole multi-season series in a row, get mentally involved in the storyline relationships to escape time and self-awareness; even shows I really hate I will watch while hating them to avoid not being distracted. I watch violent porn because I will get off quicker and then be so disgusted by the situation that I will not want to come again. I used to be concerned when I masturbated so often (and tried desperately to quit as soon as I started at age 11 until I left for college). And I would be unable to control continuing to elicit multiple orgasms once I started.” Um, well, if I can just say as somebody who, you know, is of the sex that cannot achieve multiple orgasms, uh, I think if I could achieve them, and this sounds like some horrible hack comedy bit, but honestly, if I could a-achieve multiple orgasms, I would never stop at one. But, um, that’s just me.
Um, what else? Her most common feelings are, “Feeling blah, empty and vaguely unsatisfied.”
Most common thought is, “I don’t have enough.”
Uh, most common activity is, “Procrastinating.”
And then, uh, “Does anything cause you to feel ashamed, if so what?” She writes, “Wasting time, masturbation, porn, my apparent physical failings/looking sick/out of control, throwing up/being bulimic, being attracted to others, being unattractive to some people, being attractive to some people.” Um, that sounds like a real, uh, lose-lose, th-that you have set up there for, for yourself.
Um, “Anything cause you to feel guilty?” She writes, “Throwing away things I go to great lengths to avoid feeling guilty.”
Um, and then, “If there is a God, what are some of the things you would say to God?” She writes, “If there was a God, I would be paralyzed by the fear of having to speak to God. I have a hard time speaking to anyone, let alone God. I would probably compulsively lie to try to conform to some half-fabricated, mis-remembering of religion, then I’d probably get a nosebleed and pretend not to while mishearing and misunderstanding any response.”
Paul: I’m here with, uh, with Bryan Bishop, who Adam Carolla listeners know as, uh, Bald Bryan.
Bryan: That’s right.
Paul: And you and I met a couple of times, spent a little bit of time together. We did, uh, one of Adam’s, uh, shows out in Vegas.
Bryan: That was ’06, how about that? That’s as long as we’ve known each other.
Paul: That was, my God that was a long time ago.
Bryan: That’s when the show launched.
Paul: Yeah. Um, one of the reasons that I wanted t-to have you on the show, I’m sure as any Adam Carolla listeners would know is, uh, health issues that, uh, that you’ve gone through. Um, I-I thought, um, you know, that’s an area that a lot of people wonder what it’s like when somebody has a serious health issue and, uh—
Bryan: Sure, I wondered what it was like before I had a serious health issue.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, um, before, uh, before we get into th-the specifics of that, um, maybe we could just talk a little bit about, um, how—where you were raised. You were raised in California.
Bryan: Northern California, Bay Area, uh, uh, raised in a town called San Carlos, which is, uh, 15-20 minutes south of San Francisco, between San Francisco and, say, Palo Alto. And, um …
Paul: Wealthy, uh … ?
Bryan: When we moved in, we moved—we bought our house in 1988, ’87, and I was in fourth grade, which is a tough time for a kid to move.
Bryan: Um, it was a hard—it was hard for me to make new friends in the new town. But it was, uh, it was—the town was very geriatric. It was a lot of old people, especially on our street. There was—the whole, you know, street was old—was retired people. They’d lived there for decades.
Paul: You couldn’t walk on anybody’s lawn.
Bryan: No, absolutely not. Oh my God, the lady across the street—a nice lady, but she got mad at us and yelled at us one day because we found some tennis rackets and were, um, destroying, uh, like, buds of flowers that were growing on her tree. Like, not like roses but I mean, like, pods. You know, like, flowers grow with like weird stuff inside, but we were eleven-year-old kids, we were bashing them with tennis rackets and making a mess, and “Now you gotta clean it up!” I’m like, “Oh, all right, well. Learned my lesson.”
Bryan: Won’t do that again.
Paul: So it was, uh—
Bryan: I’m sorry, to answer your question, it was not affluent per se, but this was ’88 and was right before the big .com boom, and San Carlos is sort of one of the epicenters of that, it’s very close to Google and AOL and, uh, Netscape at the time – all the big—eBay is right there, uh, in Mountain View for example, and, a few minutes away. And so it ended up becoming—they did a story on 60 Minutes, my parents were so shocked, it ended up becoming the most expensive place in the country to live next to Manhattan. It was Manhattan and then, you know, like San Carlos, the peninsula, and the Bay Area, because so many people were carpetbaggers, were flocking there, uh, to, uh, basically, pan for gold in the big .com rush. And so it was, uh, it was flooded with, uh, people. It was just old people who lived a sort of slower pace of life, and then literally fast-forward a few years and things picked up and it became sort of a hot spot for, like, .com, you know, generation people to live.
Paul: Yeah, and then Ernie was, uh, you know, paying Peggy 400 bucks an hour to, uh, go get him blow, and, uh, dance on the tables for him.
Bryan: Yeah, things went downhill quickly.
Paul: So did your parents stay there?
Bryan: They’re still there. Still in the same house.
Paul: What did they pay for their, for their house?
Bryan: I wish I remembered. I remember it was not much compared to the times. Let’s say it was, probably let’s say it was $250,000. It probably was, because I remember my mom’s dad, my grandpa, who’s awesome, he was an old Italian named Babe. Babe Lorenzini (sp?) and he was a fire captain in San Francisco. So he’s uh, he’s old school, and still lives in the house he and my mom grew up in, by the way, and he was like, “I can’t believe my daughter paid a quarter million dollars for a fixer-upper!” And now that house is worth, like, well over a million dollars. So it’s just funny the way things work, and you’re stuck in that sort of Depression mindset or whatever – it’s funny.
Paul: Yeah. Do they, um, not enjoy the turn that it’s made?
Bryan: Oh no, they love it. Well, I mean …
Paul: They’ve accepted it?
Bryan: They probably don’t love the fact that people have bought these small houses and literally razed them and built big giant houses on the same plot of land.
Paul: Cuz the land’s so expensive.
Bryan: Yeah, exactly. But, I will say that’s a small price to pay. They love San Carlos and th-they’re very happy there. It’s become a very sort of, um, what can I compare it to out here? I-it’s a little Bohemian, it’s got a cosmopolitan shopping area where, like, people—it’s a cute little downtown Main Street, you know what I mean, where there’s pet shops and all sorts of stuff and people—you see lots of strollers, lots of dogs, it’s uh, it’s a far superior way of life to anything we have around here.
Paul: Yeah. So, um, you came to Southern California f-for what reason?
Bryan: I (laughs) I was hell-bent on being the next great sports writer. I loved, uh, journalism. I was like a j—I was like a journalism nerd, like, uh, I-I wrote for like the city paper when I was in middle school. I used to write on, like, scores and stuff and stories about our local middle school. And then, um, I was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper. I-I loved everything about it, I romanticized it in my head. I loved—I used to write letters to like, um, local sports writers, you know, uh, Ray Ratto’s a famous, uh, Bay Area sportswriter and Scott Ostler is a famous Bay Area sportswriter, and I used to write letters to them. You know, on my grandpa’s typewriter like, “I disagree with this column you wrote.”
Bryan: That was before there was email – that’s how you had to communicate with sportswriters. And, uh, so I was a big journalism nerd. Probably the only kid in middle school who had a subscription to the San Francisco Examiner. Um …
Paul: Was it sports in particular?
Bryan: It was sports more than anything, but I liked the whole—I just like th-the image of the writer, you know what I mean, the guy who worked at the newspaper, typing away, chasing leads, doing the whole thing, it was—they romanticized it.
Paul: Did you love more than the details of sports and the excitement of sports?
Bryan: No, I liked them equally but I wa—I had no athletic ability, so my, my way to express or explore my passion of sports was to write about it, you know what I mean? And talk about it and do the whole thing.
Paul: What were your favorite sports or what are your favorite sports?
Bryan: I was really into baseball. I knew every player in the league and—at the time. And now, uh, still love sports just as much. Love baseball, but, uh, because, that’s why I came down to LA, to I went to USC for journalism. I was a print journalism major and I ended up becoming a huge USC football fiend. Probably college football’s my favorite sport.
Paul: Ok. And how did—are we bypassing anything in your childhood that is kind of, uh, seminal, or …?
Bryan: I had a—in thinking about your show, uh, doing your show, I, I’ll speak frankly. I feel like kind of an asshole because I don’t have the same, I don’t feel like I have the same experience as a lot of people have, and I don’t have the same insights into mental illness. I’m not—I was not raised even really aware of it. You know, the—I’m learning about it through your podcast, so I want to say I had a very happy childhood and all those things, but I feel like a jerk saying it because I know that people have real problems that are no fault of their own that are, uh, either brought on to them or they’re born with them, a chemical imbalance, I don’t know. I feel like, I feel like a jerk saying it, but I had a very happy childhood. And no complaints. Aside from moving in fourth grade, which was difficult, uh, on me because I had, like, ADHD and was—got really bad grades as a result, um, but otherwise I was raised in a very sort of nurturing environment and my parents, uh, were great and, uh, you know, it was overall a positive experience.
Paul: Well then, this is good. Please don’t feel like, uh, a jerk. The more people that have nice childhoods, the better. That’s the, that’s the goal we’re going for. A-and it’s always, uh, on this show I think it’s always nice t-to mix it up, and have a variety of people and, uh, you know, I think everybody has their trial by fire at some point in their, in their life, often many, and, uh, you know, it sounds like yours just came, uh, a little later in life, and so I don’t, I don’t think it’s, uh—makes your appearance on this show, uh, any less valid at all. One of the things I love about doing this show is each person is unique and that’s one of the things that really excites me about doing this show is thinking, “I will never run out of topics to talk about.”
Bryan: Paths, paths people took.
Paul: Paths, yeah. Because there’s just a billion different varieties and each person has their own spin on it, and uh, uh so I-I’m excited t-to kind of hear what—as painful as what you’ve had to go through is, I’m, uh, I’m very interested t-to hear what it was like for you, what it is still like, and especially because you’re such an upbeat nice person. I mean, you are truly one of the most, like, approachable um, easygoing people that, uh—
Bryan: Oh thanks.
Paul: That I’ve come across. A-and which is—yeah there are a fair amount of people like that in show business, but it’s not overflowing with nice, accessible people.
Bryan: That’s a very decent point. Well then in that case, I guess to frame how I dealt with this later crisis in life, uh, that I went through, a health crisis, you have to understand how I was raised, I guess. I guess that’s a very—that’s a really valid point. Ok, so 90% of my childhood and upbringing was extremely positive. I-I had a great family, I had a big family, a very close family. And you don’t realize when you’re a kid, but like, when like my wife goes, “Your family’s really close,” I’m like, “Oh, are they really? I never really noticed.” “No, they’re really close.” I’m like, “Oh.” I just grew up that way, I never really realized it. Um, I was—I always felt taken care of. I guess that’s probably the best way to put it. I never, uh, I never had too much, always had just enough.
Bryan: My parents did a lot with a little, like, my parents didn’t make a ton of money, but we always took advantage of the situation, like my grandparents had a cool cabin in like Lake Tahoe, we always went there for vacation. I was like, “This is the greatest thing in the world!” Although probably it cost us nothing, I was convinced it was the most awesome vacation you could ever have.
Paul: It sounds like an awesome vacation.
Bryan: It is, it is, it’s just a house in Lake Tahoe and we’d go there and play board games.
Paul: I mean, I have to say Bryan, a close family, enough food to eat, uh, no major drama, no kind of violence, um, that’s beautiful.
Bryan: Yeah, it was a remarkably simple—I talk—I’ve talked to my wife about it because we’re discussing, uh, having kids, and the one thing I-I’ve said—I’ve just brought up out of nothing is, like, I see so many kids these days who, especially in LA, grow up with access to so much that I know they don’t appreciate it. And it’s—I would not want to deprive my kid of anything, but I also want to put them in that sweet spot of you have just enough, you don’t want for anything, but you realize there are things out there that, if you work hard enough, you can get them. You know what I mean? It’s a sweet spot and it’s tough.
Paul: Absolutely. That’s a great way of describing it – is a sweet spot. And I think there’s something that parents can instill in kids that can keep their kids in their kids in that sweet spot mentally, even after they’ve kind of left the nest, of appreciating what it is that they have.
Bryan: I hope so. My wife definitely has it. She is a really hard worker and really self-motivated, you know what I mean, like, and I am to an extent too, she is more so than me but, uh, to figure out how our parents did it. It’s a challenge. It’s like trying to, trying to reverse engineer an equation, like, ok, here’s where they ended up, what did they do to end up there?
Paul: Right, right. And just to backtrack, people that aren’t familiar with The Adam Carolla Show, uh, or the, or the podcast, Bryan does what are called drops, uh, on the show. When you’re listening to a radio show and all of the sudden there will be like a sound effect or a clip of somebody saying something, Bryan is th-the master of that.
Bryan: Thank you.
Paul: H-he has this, uh, crazy ability to—you—to play these things so quickly after somebody says something you think, “How could he have anticipated that?” Uh, while I certainly don’t want this show to be about the technique of that, can you just, you know, for any Adam Carolla listeners out there, how the fuck do you do that?
Bryan: (laughs) Well you’re right, a lot of it is anticipation. I just sort of—a lot of times sort of know where a conversation is going, I just sort of get a feel for it, you know what I mean? Anything you’ve done for a long time you get a feel for where things are going. And another part of it is, I have a really, really good memory. I’m obviously really good at trivia, so I remember what everything is called. I-I physically input every sound effect into my machine, ergo I remember what everything is titled and it’s also just typing quickly. So, it’s a combination of those three things. Um, I was gonna say something else but I forgot. Anyway, yes, it’s those three things that—the combination of those.
Also, bringing it back to my childhood, um, the severe ADHD that I had, uh, I-I’ve since learned—I was not diagnosed at the time because no one knew what ADHD was—I’ve since learned, uh, that ADHD, um, can often be, um, misattributed to a kid being hyper or rambunctious or disruptive. A kid will be called disruptive a lot. And I was the most disruptive, the most hyper. I got in trouble a lot at school for, um popping off, or, you know, uh, talking back to the teacher, interjecting things. And this was a very early, um, iteration of my drop ability. I mean, I took it as something positive. But at the time it was very disruptive and it was not—it was frowned upon. It was not smiled upon.
Paul: Well um, I guess the longer we’re talking, uh, the more it seems you are actually, uh, qualified for the show, you know, having severe ADHD as a kid, I mean how does that not, uh …
Bryan: I don’t know if that—I only know what I know about ADHD because I worked for a time for a company called Channel One News and Channel One News is the in school news network that is like a CNN for teens. They pipe it into like 1000 schools across the country, um, and we did a story on ADHD, like examining, and I didn’t know anything about it. I’m watching the story that we produced and it’s like ADHD students can actually test very high, but their grades can be very low. I’m like, “Huh – that was me.” I tested really high, my grades were super low. I got in trouble all the time, I was on academic probation and detention and all those things. And they can be called disruptive and they can interrupt their teacher and often get in trouble for behavior, but like that was me. I hit all these criteria. I sort of reverse engineered my own diagnosis. I was like, oh, I was severely ADHD. I thought I was just hyper cuz on all those report cards in first grade, “Bryan is very hyper. Bryan is a little disruptive. Bryan likes to yell out in class – outbursts, has trouble controlling himself.” And outbursts and stuff. And I sort of—are you a comic book fan, are you an X-Man fan?
Paul: Not really, no.
Bryan: There’s an X-Man, uh, uh, Scott Summers, uh, Cyclops, and h-h-his mutant power is that he sprays, um, a like, uh, fiery lightning like beams, laser beams from his eyes and they destroy everything. So he has to wear these special sunglasses but in his adult life—he was a kid he was destroying everything just with his eyes, just by looking at things—but in his adult life he’s engineered these glasses where he can turn those lasers into triggers, where he can actually trigger the laser, and that’s what I’ve sort of done, is taken these laser beams that destroy everything and I’ve actually figured out a way to sort of make them into a weapon, a comedy weapon.
Paul: Yeah. To harness them.
Bryan: Kind of.
Paul: To uh, to make a living in a socially acceptable way.
Bryan: Yes, exactly.
Paul: That’s fantastic, that’s uh—I think a lot of comedians that, that is kind of what they are able to do too, is that they are able to mine that darkness and that negative fantasy voice th-that we have in our, in our heads and, uh, you know, in some ways offstage, it makes your life miserable because you’ve got this doom playing on a loop in your head, but if you can find a way to make it, uh, humorous for an hour a night, you can, you can make a living playing th-that loop of doom for people, if you could just find a way to, uh, stylistically, uh, uh, you know, share that with people.
Bryan: I was just listening to your Marc Maron episode, and you guys addressed this and said that, I think he may have said it, that the—
Paul: Him on my show or me on his show?
Bryan: Him on your show.
Bryan: I—he may have said, uh, the comedian gets on stage so that he can like almost preempt the audience laughing at like—like control their laughter. Yes, you’re gonna laugh at me, but if I tell the jokes, you’ll be laughing with me, like preempting their laughter.
Paul: Yeah. I think, I think, uh, he was quoting Harry Schearer who said comedians, uh, control why audiences laugh at them. Something, something along those lines.
Bryan: Yes, yes, that’s very, uh, insightful.
Paul: I-it really is ultimately about, uh, about control, which is why I think a lot of times when comedians are on stage and they lose the crowd or a heckler gets to them, why the comedian snaps, because you go up there anticipating th-this glorious moment of control in your life, where your darkness is finally working to your advantage and oh, the fly in the soup.
Paul: Yeah, yeah. Uh …
Bryan: What is it about comedians, do you think, that—it’s the thing that separates them from me is a lot—but the one thing is the solo aspect, th-the I’m gonna appear on the stage—it’s me and the microphone. And I’m telling you my thoughts and I’m in control of this whole thing. I could never do that. I-I respect—I love standup comedy so much, I respect it so much, but I realize this is not something I can do. This is something I can admire and appreciate, but I can’t get up there. Like the Marc Maron, uh, of podcasting, or Larry Miller on ACE Broadcasting, just talking into a microphone. I couldn’t do that. I have to talk to someone. I’m very comfortable talking to you, and exchanging ideas and thoughts with you, but like what is it about—
Paul: Well, I’m the same way, I look at people that do solo podcasting and I think, “H-how do you do that, how do you just talk into a microphone? Uh, I sometimes struggle to just do it for ten minutes at the beginning o-of my show and I have stuff that I know that I want to talk about, and sometimes I-I’ll just kind of hit a wall and be at a loss for words, so I-I don’t know, but as far as doing standup, again, I think it just goes to the need for, um, control, uh, th-there is a, uh, the, uh—kind of a drug-like quality to being able to control that situation and to manipulate a, a room to illicit laughter.
Bryan: It’s an orchestra – you’re a conductor.
Paul: Yeah, in many ways you are and it’s less scary to do it collaboratively, like in a sketch group which I’ve done before. It’s certainly a lot more fun but there’s a lot more hassles because you have to, um collaborate, you have to compromise.
Bryan: Split the money up.
Paul: Yeah. Exactly, you gotta split the money up, all that, all that other stuff, and uh, and you also have to split the glory too and wonder, “Am I the most popular person?” And all the other sick stuff that comes with narcissism and trying to fix yourself by having somebody other than your family love you.
Bryan: Yeah, there is, there is an element of that almost in reverse for being a sidekick on, you know, a popular show like Adam’s, like, I consider myself, in a lot of things, a really good team player. Like all I want is for the podcast to be successful and the show to sound good, and really for Adam to look good. You know, like we’re, Allison and I, or back in the day, Teresa and I, no matter how good we look, the show is not gonna look good if Adam doesn’t look good, you know what I mean? So a lot of it is, is supporting—not supporting him like, “you’re the man, boss,” but like supporting the comedy, supporting the narrative, supporting the whatever. And sometimes that’s disagreeing with him, sometimes it’s supporting—whatever it is, it’s making the show look good.
Paul: Yeah. Absolutely, a-and I wish more people realized that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done a standup show with, uh, somebody that doesn’t have a sense that the first two comedians are there to set up the headliner. You are there—you’re not there to try to bury the guy going after you. You’re there to do well. You’re there to entertain the audience but you need to think of the show as a whole, and, uh, I was performing a couple of months ago, uh, locally, and there was a guy that went up and did a guest set and just shit all over the stage, you know.
Bryan: He didn’t do well?
Paul: No, no, crushed but with really filthy material. Really, uh, button-pushing we kind of call it, really hacky, went way over his time, and just a complete disregard for anybody that had to go up after him. And, uh, afterwards he was at the bar, you know, with all these dumb girls around him, completely fawning over his horrible material, having no idea that he’s one of the most unoriginal comedians, uh, working.
Bryan: Sure, they’re very impressed.
Paul: But they, but they were impressed a-and in many ways, I get it. Because that guy, that guy is not performing, uh, to, uh, further the craft. That guy is trying to fix a hole in himself. And he found a way t-t-to do it that’s working temporarily but I couldn’t help but look at him and think, “Oh buddy. When, you know, fifteen years from now when you’re no longer the hip good-looking guy, uh, you’re in for some soul-searching.”
Bryan: Wow. Interesting. I-I so respect and admire standup comedy that I-I don’t, uh, I don’t understand—I understand cognitively what you’re saying but I could never pick up on that from watching. I enjoy watching standup comedy so much. I-I-I love movies. I host a show about movies. And after I go to a standup comedy show, I think to myself, “This is better than going to any movie.” Like, for a night out, for the money, if I had to give advice to anybody, like, t-take a girl to a standup comedy show. Sit in the back so you don’t get picked on. But i-it’s a fun time.
Paul: Um, your—the name of your movie podcast is?
Bryan: Film Vault
Paul: So when, when did the, uh, the health issue start and how did that, uh, present itself?
Bryan: Um, I—first—I was just talking to my wife about this—I first started feeling symptoms during the morning show. It was the last year of the morning show, so it was late ’08, early ’09. Uh, Christmas ’08.
Paul: And when you say the morning show, Adam was still on FM?
Bryan: Yes, this was—the station flipped formats and the show was dropped in February of ’09. So this was late ’08, uh early ’09. I would feel weird symptoms, um, like the corner of my mouth and my lips and my tongue would go numb. Or I would have some numbness in my scalp up on the top right side. Or, um, I would go to the gym every day after the show, because there was a gym across the street we got a discounted membership at, so I would go every day, it was part of my routine, and I noticed that I was having trouble skipping rope. I would skip rope every day and then little by little I was having a little more trouble, like, clearing my left foot, and I’m like, “What’s going on? Is my foot getting weaker? W-why am I not being able to do this?”
And I would notice that, uh, the one thing I really noticed was I went down and hung out with some friend in Hermosa Beach, at one of their houses. We were drinking beers, hanging out on a Friday afternoon or whenever it was, and, uh, I had two—I think it was about two beers and everyone had drank about two beers and it felt like I had drank about six or seven. I was, I was wasted. Over like to lite beers. And, uh, I couldn’t walk, and I was like, I fell off the couch. My friend’s like, “What’s going on? We’ve all had the same amount of beers and we’re lightly buzzed and you’re, you know, you’re a mess.” And it was that night that I said to my wife, I said, “I think something’s seriously wrong with me.” Like I actually made an appointment with a neurologist thinking, “I’ve got to get this looked at.” I was on like WebMD, thinking that I had had—I-I had ruled—I had come down to either I had MS, because the symptoms were all very similar, they’re all neurological, you know disorders. MS, or I had, um, a TIA, which is a mini stroke, which happens sometimes, you don’t notice it but you have stroke symptoms.
Paul: What’s TIA stand for?
Bryan: It’s Trans, you can probably Google it, Trans something Attack. Something—it’s a mini streak.
Paul: Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Bryan: That’s exactly what it is. Um, beautiful harmonies. Anyway, um, it was either that o-o-or—I don’t think I even considered brain tumor at the time, I was pretty convinced I had MS. Uh, and I went to a doctor, a neurologist, um, and he did some tests or whatever, an MRI and he was like, he did some, you know, uh, clinical tests on me. Move your knee, move your arm, blah, blah blah. He’s like, “I’m gonna send you in for an MRI but I-I’m pretty sure, I’m 90% sure you have MS. I mean, the symptoms all line up, your progression, blah, blah, blah.” I was like, “All right.” And I did a little research and it was a pretty, you know, it was a debilitating disease. There was a chance I would end up in a wheelchair, you know, before long. Did I know what type that I had, of MS, that I had? Went in for the MRI, got the results a few days later, and, uh, you know, he’s like, “Come in, I’ll give you the results.” And he’s like, uh, “You have a, you have a glioma.” And I was like, “I-I-I don’t know what that is.” He’s like, “Well, I recommend that you do not Google it, but I’m gonna refer you to, uh, o-our cancer center.” I was like, “Holy shit – I have a brain tumor?” All I knew about brain tumors was that I’ve seen a lot of people with surgical scars, and I was like, “Well if it’s bad they’ll have to remove it – brain surgery that’s pretty serious.” And I was like, “Oh, all right.” And so, uh, he referred me to the, uh, the St. John’s Cancer Center, which is on Wilshire Boulevard by Q’s, the bar on Wilshire Boulevard. You’ve probably passed it 100 times and not known what it was. It’s a big adobe building, yellowish.
And, uh, I went home and of course the first thing we did was Google it and it’s like, “A glioma is …. Blah, blah, blah …. The median survival rate is like less than five years.” And I was like, “Holy shit!” And I was like, “We better get in and get this thing—I better talk to these people.” My wife’s freaking out. So we called the center, and they’re like, “Oh yeah, we can see you today.” Because the appointments were like the next day or whatever, “Yeah, cool, we’ll see you today.”
Paul: C-can I have you pause for just a second?
Bryan: Yeah, sure.
Paul: Can you talk about, like, the thoughts and feelings that are going through you, for instance, when you think that you have MS and then when you hear—when you Google this and see the ….
Bryan: Well, yeah. I-I-I was leaving intentionally, um, some things out because there’s more to the story, but, yes, to fill in th-the blanks on this part of the story: number one, when we thought we had MS and it was gonna be a few days before we got the test results, to find out for sure—cuz the way MS works, there’s a demyelination. Imagine, like speaker wire, the plastic coating around the wire, uh, goes away. I-i-it disintegrates and you’re left with exposed, uh, wires basically in your brain. And that’s what, uh, causes the MS and the symptoms. Um, so when I thought that was the case, my wife and I—she had just gotten laid off, I had just gotten laid off. So we were both without jobs.
Bryan: We had a little bit of money saved up because she had a really good job.
Paul: Did you have health insurance?
Bryan: I had COBRA. Uh, which, uh, at the time extended for six months, I think? Obama had signed some law that extended COBRA because the economy was really bad and people were getting laid off, he extended COBRA for like 12 months, or something—like 6 to 9 or 3 to 6—it was some extension of COBRA, so, um, we didn’t think it was an issue because we’re like, oh, well, you know, she’ll get a job, she can take a couple of months off. Maybe we’ll travel, you know what I mean? We’ll explore the worlds. We’re young and we were engaged, by the way, we had gotten engaged in September to be married in June, and this was February.
So were engaged to be married, I had, uh, thought that we had—we had thought that I had MS, so we, the first—w-w-what do you do when you think you have MS? You go to Las Vegas. So we went to Vegas over the weekend, like, ah, I have too much stress, let’s just get away, let’s go to Vegas. Went to Vegas, had a really fun time, uh, and I knew things were bad because when I was in the lazy river at the MGM Grand, I was getting out of the pool, I, uh, couldn’t move my left leg as well as I had been, and I scraped my whole shin on the side of the pool and everything. So I was like, eew, things are getting bad. I was like I don’t know what’s gonna happen with my, uh, MS here.
So I went back to the, you know, I went back to the health center, uh St. John’s, got the diagnosis of the glioma, but it wasn’t a diagnosis because he was a, he was a neurologist who specialized in MS, so he was like, “This is not my area of expertise. I’m gonna send you to these people. Don’t Google it.” Went home Googled it, and it was like, don’t look at the details, and it was like, this is what Ted Kennedy died of, the median survival rate is five years, or five to seven, whatever it was. And I was like, “Holy crap. We’d better get in.” So this is when we called th-the—St. John’s—I think it was the, who was it, it was The Duke, John Wayne, the John Wayne Cancer Center.
And, uh, so we went up there and, uh, me with this doctor who admittedly did not have a great bedside manner and, uh, you know, we’re in the waiting room and he comes out and, I swear to God, doctors get their beside manner sometimes out of a book, cuz he comes down and takes one knee next to us and is like (hushed tones), “Hi, um, I tell you what – why don’t you guys, uh, come into this room over here and we’ll have a nice little chat.” I was like, “Ok.” And so, uh, I go into the room and he hands us a little pamphlet. The first thing he does hands us a pamphlet on like, you know Brain Tumors and You. I was like, “All right.” And he opens it up and he’s like, “This is what you have. You have a, you have a glioma.” It’s the typical thing out of, like 50/50, where the doctor’s giving you a lot of medical jargon, you know what I mean? Giving you a lot of, oh, you know, we’re gonna, you know, blah, blah, blah, chemotherapy and radiation is the, is the recommended course of, uh, treatment because of the, um, tumor’s location in your brain stem. It cannot be operated on. It’s in too risky of an area, we can’t operate on it, uh, we have to try chemo and radiation.
And it’s a lot of jargon, a lot of blah, blah, blah, like, a-and at this point, I just want doctors to get to the point, you know what I mean? I just want them to—so I said to him, this is how the conversation went, I said, “Doc, uh, uh, give it to me straight. What are we looking at here?” And he goes, “Typically in these situations, I say six months to a year.” A-and I, my first reaction, my internal reaction was, “Holy shit!” And my second reaction, was, “Oh, that’s not gonna be me.” That’s—for whatever reason, I was raised with a sunny outlook, maybe it’s just who I am, I was just like, “Well, that’s not gonna be me.” You know what I mean? Like, foolishly, I had no reason to think, you know, that I-I had any chance of living longer than six months or a year. But my first reaction was, like I said, “Holy shit.” My second reaction was, “Well, let’s, let’s beat this thing.”
So, uh my wife is fucking hysterical at this point. And, um, the doctor is—
Paul: Your wife is hysterically laughing, right?
Bryan: Ha ha! Exactly what she’s—that’s exactly what she’s doing. No, she’s a mess. Uh, the doctor is, um, to say he was unhelpful is probably inaccurate—an inaccurate description. Uh, and, uh, so. Do you have any questions at this point, because I can fast-forward in the story, but.
Paul: Yeah. I have a bunch of questions.
Bryan: I’m sure you have a bunch of questions.
Paul: I have a bunch of questions at this point. Um, what—and the first thing that obviously strikes me when you, when you tell me that is y-you know, Dr. Elana Kubler-Ross’s seven stages of death and dying, you know, the first one is denial. Um, so it’s amazing how—
Bryan: I skipped right to acceptance, like “Holy shit!” You know, that was my first reaction.
Paul: Right. Um, what—I still want to know what it is, if you can describe it, what you feel when you’re hearing news of this, of this magnitude. What you’re physically experiencing in your body, and what—kind of what your, what your thoughts are. If you can remember.
Bryan: My stomach—I remember my stomach definitely dropped because, like, basically, I-I imagine it’s a similar feeling to when someone has, like, a loaded gun pointed at their face. Because he actually told me I was going to die within a year, you know what I mean? And, and very quickly my mind went to like, “Holy shit, I’m supposed to get married in like three months.” You know what I mean? Like, this isn’t fair. I’m supposed to have kids. And I’m supposed to get married. I’m supposed to buy a house. And I just won Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? And things are going pretty well right now, you know?
Paul: You won $100,000.
Bryan: I won $100,000 only a few months prior on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? And so, um, I’d just gotten the check a month before. Um, and so, I remember having those sort of like scattered thoughts but honestly my first reaction, like I said, was the “holy shit,” was the stomach dropping, like “oh fuck.” And then it was, “Well, it’s not gonna be me.” You know what I mean, like, I’ll certainly figure out a way around this. I’m gonna figure out a way to wheel out of this one.
Paul: And how long did that feeling of your stomach kind of being down there, was it just temporary, was it something that stayed with you?
Bryan: No, it really was—it was like, it was like—not to use a cliché, but I can best compare it to being on a rollercoaster, when you go down the dip, your stomach, you know, goes into your throat or drops or whatever it does, you get that feeling in your stomach, and then as soon as you level out, you know, you’re like, “Oh, I’m back, I’m done. I’m off the dip.” You know what I mean? So I had that moment and it was a moment, it was like, “oh, that’s over.” You know what I mean? Like, I recovered, uh, emotionally.
Paul: So that feeling of your stomach going away, that didn’t keep coming back?
Paul: God, that’s amazing!
Bryan: It really didn’t. Certainly, certainly throughout the course of the next however many months and years, I felt—it’s not that I didn’t feel moments of low or moments of, you know, uh, sadness or whatever, uh, but that feeling of despair, I-I felt only once.
Paul: Wow! You’re just amazing to me.
Bryan: I-I-I don’t know
Paul: I mean, I think the average person would’ve just been: stomach dropping, and slowly coming back up, the stomach dropping, and slowly coming back up.
Bryan: I’m so—I-I don’t really believe in astrology, but I’m a Virgo. I exhibit many Virgo traits, uh, as they, as they are, uh, known. I’m very pragmatic. I’m very practical. I make a lot of lists. And so my mind right away went to, “Oh, fuck. I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna have to call my friends. I’m gonna have to call my parents. Ah, Christ, they’re on vacation. Ugh, I’m gonna ruin their vacation.” Really, m-my first thing was—we came—we went to my wife’s parents’ house because they lived here in LA and she told them, and it was a big emotional thing and they’re like, “You gotta call your parents.” I was like, “Nah.” We were actually, we were actually supposed to go up and visit my parents that weekend, the next day because—or two days later, because my wife’s bridal shower was gonna be up in the Bay Area. So I was like, “No, I’ll just tell them when we get up there. They’re on vacation, I don’t want to ruin their vacation. They’re with friends on the vacation, I don’t want to make it awkward.” And they’re like, “Y-You kind of have to call your parents right now.” And I’m like, “Fuck, I’m gonna have to call my brother, call my parents, I don’t wanna ruin their day.” You know, that was—my mind went to list making. I was like, “Christ! I’m gonna have to go through treatment, I’m gonna have to…” I was looking for a job. I was like, “I’ll have to put that off. How much savings do we have?” Like, my mind went right away to the practical, to the pragmatic.
Paul: And it never went to the place of, uh, “I should just kill myself and get this over with?”
Bryan: The only time I ever thought about that, and I never thought about it in any kind of prep—like, any kind of, “Well, this is the end”—I thought that I’d, like—cuz in thinking about what I had, I’m like, if this gets painful, this gets like terminal and painful and I’m a burden, and like, I don’t want to be in a lot of—I don’t want to be, you know, dying. So I’m like—I would—I’m like, I would consider, uh, killing myself in a way that was not painful, like a carbon monoxide type of situation, you know, a pipe—a hose in the car, but I never, you know, I never bought a hose. I never bought any duct tape. Um, and plus my car probably doesn’t give off enough carbon monoxide anyway. But anyway, I only thought of it in the context of, “Ah, fuck, if this starts to hurt, I’m gonna have to—I’m gonna have to figure out a way out of this pretty quickly.” And again – practical. Like I was only like, this is only if this causes pain. I-I-I can deal with almost everything else.
Paul: So it’s not something you dwelled on, like, uh, ok.
Bryan: I thought about it like once or twice. But a-a-again in the context of, you know, playing it out in my mind. Like, I’m gonna get treatment, I’m gonna get radiation, I’m gonna get chemo. I can deal with the sickness, I’ve been sick before. I can throw up. If this tumor starts to like take over my brain, and it hurts, and I’m like, you know, getting seizures and stuff and I’m dying, like I’d rather go out in a, in a peaceful, dignified way. I-I’m a big proponent of, uh, euthanasia, of o-o-of people choosing to die, right to die, all that stuff.
Bryan: Um, not to get political. I’m not very political, but a-a-as an issue, that’s something I really believe in. Um, so I was like, I’d find a way to make it happen. I-if it got to the point where I was, you know, really in a lot of pain.
Paul: Do you think hope is some—because you strike me as somebody who has an innate sense of hope inside you. Do you feel that’s something you were born with or something that was kind of instilled in you by your surroundings and your parents and your upbringing?
Bryan: Probably born with, but supported, you know what I mean? Like, my parents are very, very practical, very realistic. Like for example, um, I had very bad grades in high school cuz of the extreme ADHD. And uh, I was applying to bunch of, uh, journalism schools. Like I wanted to go to either, uh, USC, which had the best journalism school out here on the west coast, you know, obviously, you know, Syracuse, Northwestern, had very famous—Columbia—had very famous journalism schools on the east coast, but I didn’t want to go where it was cold. So I applied to USC, Oregon, uh, Arizona, Arizona State, schools with well-known journalism schools, or at least above average. And USC was my number one choice. And I remember my parents were like, “I don’t know, Bryan. You have to have pretty good grades to get in there. Maybe you should, you know, put that one on the back burner, and, you know, make it your wish school.” And I was like, “I’m pretty sure, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine.” Foolishly thinking, again, so, probably in answer to your question, more born than anything because I had the same attitude towards applying towards applying to colleges. I was like, “Yeah, my grades suck but I have good SAT scores and I’ll get a good recommendation, and I’ll write a good essay, and if it comes down to it, I’ll do a good interview.” You know, like I just blindly—not blindly, I got in—I confidently believed that it would be ok.
Paul: Th-there is something, an energy in the universe, that when we really believe we can do something, it somehow raises the odds of us being able to do it. E-even—I don’t know what it is, but time after time I’m—I hear stories o-of people, uh really just believing i-in themselves, and not necessarily deluding themselves, but believing in themselves. Um, th-they just seem to give of a different energy that sometimes I think, uh, changes.
Bryan: Yeah. I-I-I-I totally—i-it’s—I just thought of this, but it’s like a door is easier to kick open if it’s cracked open as opposed to if it’s closed and locked. Like if something’s out of the question, it’s gonna be hard—it’s gonna be hard for you to go to Las Vegas and say, “I am going to win $1000 playing craps.” Well, good luck. You know, it’s probably not gong to happen. But when I was on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I was convinced, like, I will be coming home with some money, I don’t know that I’m going to win a million dollars, but I’m certain I will do well. I’ll win at least $25,000, and we’ll see what happens after that. I was just convinced that it was gonna happen. I could have been stumped by a question in the first five questions, but I truly believed that it was, uh, it was just gonna happen.
Paul: Yeah. And I wonder too if that belief allows you, when you’re in that moment then, to relax more and your faculties are firing better. I don’t know, just a, just a thought.
So, uh, getting back to, uh, your diagnosis, so y-you’ve been told, um …
Bryan: Six months to a year.
Paul: Six months to a year. Um, now at this point what are you thinking about doing with your cable subscription?
Bryan: Oh, let’s see. It’s funny because all the plans that we had aside from the wedding were just put on hold. I was—cuz we were, we were considering, you know, because we had just won the Millionaire money, and w-we were—both had decent job prospects, so we’re like, well, listen, we’ll take a few months off, we’ll get back into it and, you know, within a year maybe we’ll, uh, look to get a house, maybe get pregnant, who knows, you know? All this stuff and all those plans, just put on hold. Just literally pressed the pause button on everything but the wedding. Um, and what we did was we went, uh, called my parents, called my brother, did the whole thing. Called our friends. And then, uh, went to the Bay Area for the, the shower, um, and over the course of that weekend, we—it came to light—made it our mission to—there is coincidentally in Los Angeles, there’s a hospital called Cedars-Sinai and there’s a guy who works there named Keith Black. And Keith Black is the authority, the world-renowned surgeon on brain tumors. He is the leading person on brain tumors. There’s books, and he’s on, you know, he’s the guy you go to when you want to, you know, interview someone on your TV show about brain tumors. So we had to get—we had to see Dr. Black, we had to get in to see Dr. Black. Uh, so w-we called everyone we knew who had some connection to Cedars, both, uh, friends of Kristy’s family and friends of my family, and through hook or by crook, we got in there on the Monday we got back from the Bay Area, like literally two days later we got an appointment. And, uh, it was a, it was a twelve minute meeting, because he’s like, “I’m a surgeon. Your tumor’s inoperable, I can’t really help you.” But….
Paul: What do you feel at that moment when he says that?
Bryan: He followed up quickly with “But”. B-because I knew it was inoperable, but I-I-I knew that if anyone was gonna offer me, um, a more realistic, full, um, picture of what was going on, it was going to be him and his team. I don’t want to put him up on two big of a pedestal, because he is just, he is just a doctor. One thing I learned about doctors is—and they call it practicing the art of medicine for a reason, not all doctors are made the same, and not all diagnoses and not all people, you know, uh, agree on everything, you know. Some people might be like this is the course of action I’d recommend, or this is what I think, no you’re wrong, h-h-he might be wrong. There’s—you’ll always get a second opinion, on anything major, just get a second opinion, uh, on what to do and what it is, on everything. Uh, if ever it’s anything major.
So, I met with Dr. Black. He’s like, “Listen. We have a whole, uh, uh, we have a whole team who deals with these types of tumors. They can’t be operated on. We only treat them with radiation and chemotherapy, but, uh, I’m going to refer you to them because, you know, they’re on our team and we trust them.” And blah, blah, blah. And so I met with them and this is my current doctor, Dr. Rudnick at, uh, Cedars-Sinai, and, um told him what the initial diagnosis was, the initial prognosis, he’s like, “What did the doctors tell you?” “They told me six months to a year.” H-he just had an ashen look on his face like doctors shouldn’t say that, you know what I mean? He’s like, he said, like what he said and how he said, he said, like, “Oh, I-I would take that with a huge grain of salt.” I mean, come to find out that these types of tumors can grow fast, they can grow slow, they cannot grow at all. They—I mean there’s—it all depends on how you treat them, where they are, what they do, how you, uh, attack and how you treat yourself, you know what I mean? There’s so many factors. And one thing that I convinced myself of, which I’m pretty sure I’m right, don’t ever listen to statistics. Because that statistic about your median survival or whatever it is, that’s everyone everywhere who’s ever had this kind of tumor. Uh, that includes old people, sick people, people who don’t have access to great care, people who live in the middle of nowhere who don’t have access to good hospitals, people ten years ago who don’t, uh, or emerging technologies didn’t exist. You know, there’s better radiation machines. There’s better chemotherapy. There’s better everything. Uh, and there’s even better, two, five, ten years down the road. So I am a very, at the time, super healthy, thirty-, whatever I was, one-year-old male living in Los Angeles, access to the best care, for this type of situation. So my statistics, my survival probability, whatever it is—you wanna call it, are gonna be inherently different than, uh, grandpa whoever living out in wherever who can’t get to whatever, or is maybe not a healthy person anyway, you know, or a smoker or whatever. So my statistics are not your statistics. That’s what I convinced myself of and turns out I was kind of right.
Paul: Yeah. So, uh, what, they started treating it with, uh, chemo and radiation?
Bryan: Yeah I went in—I started doing radiation I think within a week, like it was very quick. Uh, and um, didn’t notice the effects of radiation at first, I mean it was so subtle, uh, you know, I felt fine for the first few weeks. And then the chemo obviously took its toll, I-I mean I never had, thankfully, never had the, um, never had the throwing up that everyone has, I mean I took the anti-nausea pills they prescribed to me, which worked out really well. But you just feel crappy, just feel blah, and then the fact that the tumor was being radiated on my brainstem, uh, the, uh, side effects of radiation were really severe. I lost almost all use of my left side. I couldn’t use my left hand almost at all. I couldn’t—I-I—at a certain point, I was in a wheelchair. Cuz I was on a walker almost all the time. And it got so bad that I was in a wheelchair, uh, for a lot of the time because I couldn’t walk long distances. I was in—when I was in inpatient physical therapy, I had to be wheeled down the hallway to, uh, to my doctor’s appointments, because I-I lost the use almost—aside from, you know, a few movements, of my—you know, 90% of my left side, because of the radiation.
Paul: You—and what are you, when you’re being wheeled around in physical therapy, and you’ve lost the use of your left side, and you’re feeling nauseous, and there’s the possibility that this is terminal, wh-what are you thinking or feeling when you’re in that, in that moment or do you—were you just blocking it out and clinging to hope?
Bryan: A little bit of that, but, you know what, luckily, the one good thing about radiation, uh, you don’t remember a lot, so I don’t remember super specific emotions and thoughts and I remember things here and there, like almost like, almost like when you’re, uh, when you’re drunk and you come to the next day, you’re like—you remember bits and pieces and, “Oh, I remember saying that,” or “I remember thinking that.” But I don’t remember long stretches. That’s how it was for me and I was, people, you know, fans of the podcast who were listening back in the early days will remember that I had a horrible lisp, not a lisp, sorry, a slur. I had a horrible slur in my voice and, uh, was unintelligible. I mean Adam brought me onto the podcast on a weekly basis, me and Teresa for old time’s sake, out of the goodness of his heart, because I had no business—as my wife said to me, she said, “Honey, you had no business being on the radio.” Because I-I was unintelligible. I couldn’t be heard, uh, I-I was—it would be an interesting anthropological project for someone to go back and listen to those podcasts because it was difficult to listen to me. Um, that was, what’s that?
Paul: They’re studying that at the Dick Clark School of Broadcasting.
Bryan: Oh perfect, that’s apropos to uh, to my situation. But, it was, it was indicative of my state at the time, which was – I-I was pretty out of it. I was, I was not super with it. To the point that where, you know, I would say the time that I was in the wheelchair was the worst time physically for me, the l-l-l-lowest point for me, um, and I remember being (laughs) being wheeled into, um, my doctor’s, uh, office for m-my twice monthly appointment, and, uh, he had seen my d—my situation deteriorate over the course of five months or so, to the point where I was being wheeled in by my in-laws, by the way, because my wife had her own health issues. She had colitis brought on by the stress of the situation—
Bryan: Was at St. John’s Hospital, she was conference called into our appointment and, uh, the doctor, my doctor, uh, Dr. Rudnick says, “Bryan, how are you doing?” And I said, I’ll spare you the slur, but I said it in my slur, like, “Oh I-I’m doing all right. I’m doing pretty good.” I was like, “I think I’m getting a little better. You know, it’s not so bad.” And he goes, to the, to the phone, he’s like, “Kristy what do you, what do you think? How’s Bryan doing?” She’s like, “It’s getting bad. H-he’s doing way worse. Don’t listen to him, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s doing much worse than he was.” And that’s when, that was when they decided to put me into inpatient therapy, which is where people go to get better after they’ve had a stroke or after they’ve had brain surgery or major brain trauma or some sort of, you know—people go there for two weeks because they’re just getting out of major brain surgery. I went there because I was getting worse. You know what I mean? Like, they were trying to stave off, um, my, um, deterioration. Like I was trying to walk again. I was trying to, you know, brush my teeth again. I-I-I can’t tell you, Paul, how gratifying it was months later to be able to use my hand for basic everyday—typing, I couldn’t type. I was typing with one hand exclusively. I-I wasn’t sending emails with my left hand.
But anyway, I was admitted to inpatient therapy and it was at this exact time that, um, my doctor’s like, “Well, I-I-I’ve been saving this for basically if things got bad, and they’re getting bad. Uh, I’m gonna put you on this new drug called Avastin. It looks very promising. We’ve had a lot of success with it, uh, on, uh, all types of cancer.” And what it is is it’s a drug made by Genentech, it’s an injectable, uh, an infusion, and it prohibits—inhibits the growth of new blood cells—or new blood vessels. And, uh, it was originally made for, uh, pancreatic cancer, I think, uh, and they’ve since found that it works on, uh, preventing, uh, the growth of brain tumors and stuff.
So they were having some promising results. They put me on that the day after my birthday, in 20—2009. So it was only six or seven months after the initial diagnosis. And, um, the, uh, the turnaround was not, um, stunningly fast, but compared to how fast I had gotten bad, it was, it was, the effects were noticeable right away. I felt—I was sleeping 18 hours a day, just cuz of the chemo and the radiation and everything, and my energy came back within a week. I-I-I was like, “I don’t need to sleep that much anymore. Like, I feel like normal in terms of my sleep patterns.” So I noticed an energy increase and as I got m-my, uh, twice monthly injections of Avastin, I don’t want to advertise as a miracle drug, because I’m sure it is not and I’m sure it will not work the same for everyone, but for me, uh, it was, it was, uh, i-it saved my life.
Paul: And I would imagine when your energy came back your hope increased.
Bryan: That and my cognitive ability. Like I-I was more aware of what was going on around me. People who have radiation on their brains, especially on their brainstem, uh, the get over-stimulated very easily, uh, and, uh, Anderson, my cohost on The Film Vault, he volunteers at Ronald McDonald Cancer Camp, uh a few times a year, uh, cuz he loves doing it, he’s a real softie that way, and he knows all about it cuz the kids up there are usually going through radiation and chemotherapy and he’s like, “It’s like being in Las Vegas all the time. Every light is too bright. Every sound is too loud. Everyone is talking to you too fast.” Um, and it makes dealing with everyday tasks overwhelming, like I imagine when people talk about severe depression and how things just seem overwhelming, that’s how it was for me. Like I-I couldn’t even fathom—like the idea of getting dressed w-w-was too much to bear some days. It was like, “Oh, fuck, I’ve got—first I’ve gotta get out of this bed. God knows how I’m going to do that. Either I’m going to have to roll out of this bed myself or I’m gonna have to call my wife to help me out of bed. Then I’m gonna have to take a shower, which is a whole ‘nother issue. Then I’m gonna have to get dressed. Fuck, I don’t wanna get dressed. I don’t wanna have my wife help me get dressed. I don’t want any—“ I didn’t want to be a burden. You know what I mean? So, the idea of getting dressed was so overwhelming. And you can imagine what, like—I didn’t go to the grocery store for six months. Because setting foot in the grocery store and shopping for things and paying for things and pushing the cart was like, “Are you shitting me? I can’ t even, I can’t even comprehend how I would do that!”
Bryan: So that was my own little insight into, uh, what I assume people sometimes experience with extreme depression.
Paul: I’m really glad you shared that because a lot of people don’t understand, people that never experienced crippling depression don’t know, um, what it’s like and I think you just described it really, really accurately. Um, when my depression was at its very worst, uh, and I might have shared this on the podcast before, everything was such an effort. I remember looking at a pile of dishes in the sink and thinking, “I will put a shotgun in my mouth before I wash those dishes.” That’s how inconceivable i-i-it was to, um, to accomplish things like that. And I have to be honest, I mean, I still—I think there’s a low grade depression that I, that I kind of live with, and I look at things around the house that need to be done, and I physically cannot will myself to do them. I know they need to be done, there are other things that I can do, but I cannot bring myself to do those things and I don’t know—most of the time I tell myself that’s just because I’m selfish and I’m lazy, but I wonder sometimes if that isn’t just, uh, a-a-a kind of a low grade depression that’s in there.
Bryan: Yeah, maybe.
Paul: But I wanna get back t-to, uh, talking about your, uh, your health. So, um, you get your cognitive, uh, ability back, your health returns, um, where, where is it—what’s the next step? Is it where we are now?
Bryan: Um, more or less. It’s been a very—this is since September 2009, and we are now where we are, so, it’s been a long—th-th-the first thing was, um, the first thing was, well, physical therapy. I’m gonna go—I’m gonna do physical therapy. I was doing physical therapy, occupational therapy, occupational therapy is therapy with your hands, learning to type again, learning to do, you know, tie your shoe again, all those things. So I was doing that four days a week, um, and that’s the type of thing that again, I would advise anyone who’s doing any kind of—anything medical, find people you like. Find people you work well with. Find people you like being around. Find people you feel confident in. I went to many different physical therapy locations, physical therapists, uh, places that did physical therapy—didn’t like them, didn’t—not that I didn’t like them personally, just didn’t like what they were doing. Didn’t like the way that we were going about it. And I eventually, through recommendations and references, landed on a guy who I liked very much. He had a practice, coincidentally, was just down the street from my house, uh, which was, uh, a mitzvah as some people say. I just liked his kind of physical therapy. And I stayed with him for over a year and would go to him two, three times a week, as much as my insurance would allow, cuz insurance only allows for so many visits to a physical therapist, cuz usually in physical therapy you’re recovering from an accident, you know what I mean? There’s a finite—the physical therapist has to say, “Oh, this person’s going to need forty visits to me or twenty visits to me or whatever it is.” And mine was kind of ongoing. But he helped me improve. I actually went down to San Diego where there was a sort of world-renowned therapist, where I did it for a week, and it was like eight hours a day for a week.
Bryan: I-I—my wife and I moved into a hotel down there for a week, with a little kitchenette, and, uh, it was Valentine’s Day. It was Valentine’s Day 2010. That’s how we spent our Valentine’s Day at a, uh, Rock Bottom Brewery in San Diego, anticipating therapy the next day. And, uh, did intensive therapy eight hours a day. And it was really tough, but really rewarding. I mean, I-I essentially learned to walk again th-th-that week. I mean, I went in with a walker and came out with like an ankle brace. Which was a big step and then, uh—no pun intended—and then, um, I mean, it’s all been details every since then. It’s been, you know, therapy this—you know, much like yourself, you’re like, “I need to clean up the house or I need to do whatever,” I need to go back the gym. I need to back to the gym and commit myself to that routine of getting stronger and getting better because right now the only thing preventing me from—I feel like I’m at 85%, both with my speech and my left hand and my left leg and to get to 95 or 100, it’s like losing weight. It’s like those last ten pounds, you know what I mean? Like I-I’m the only one to blame for not getting there.
Paul: What percentage size is the tumor now from what it was when you were originally diagnosed?
Bryan: I think it’s shrunk by a little more than half.
Bryan: Which is really good news.
Paul: Yeah. Well I hear no detectable slurring or anything in your speech and I mean—
Bryan: Well thank you.
Paul: My God, you are more lucid and, uh, articulate than any healthy person I know, so, uh, you know that’s great. You know, before we get to, um, the last thing I want to do with you, I have to say you describing you and your wife o-on Valentine’s Day at that brewery …
Bryan: Rock Bottom Brewery.
Paul: That to me—at the Rock Bottom Brewery—that to me is one of the most beautiful examples of true love that I’ve ever heard. You know, a lot of people think of love as how excited am I to be around this person? And to me that, you know, yeah there can be an exciting component to love, but real, true, mature love between two people is being with that person when they’re going through that tough thing.
Paul: And caring so much about them that you get colitis. I mean that—
Bryan: That’s a really good point.
Paul: Th-that to me is the—the longer I’m around, the more I realize that th-that’s the love that doesn’t get sung about in love songs.
Bryan: Yeah. Yes, our love, I would say, is very battle-tested. You know what I mean? If we, if we didn’t, uh, i-i-if we didn’t divorce, I guess, get split up because of the cancer, I-I don’t think anything’s coming down the pike to do that.
Paul: Well, speaking of love, let’s go out with a, uh, a love-off. Do you want to start or do you want me to?
Bryan: Well, you’ve got—have you done the love-off on the show yet? Because I’ve not heard you?
Paul: I, yes, the one that is up right now—
Bryan: Oh, I’ll listen to that episode in the car.
Paul: Was th-the first one with Megan, uh, Parkansky. Yeah. I want to expand it. I want to do a cringe-off, where you instantly cringed at something that came out of your mouth. Because I do that on Twitter, sometimes I’ll tweet, “Hey, you know, I’m starting a cringe-off. Here’s something I said.” And people w-will chime in.
Bryan: I love it.
Paul: Um, do you want to start?
Bryan: Sure. We just go back and forth?
Paul: Back and forth.
Bryan: Ok. I love building a fire.
Paul: Uh, I love the song, uh, I love the unapologetic joy in the song, The Cure song, uh, It’s Friday, I’m in Love.
Bryan: Oh, that’s a great one. Uh, I love going to movies alone during the day.
Paul: Uh, I love the smell of bacon cooking in a cottage on the lake.
Bryan: Wow. I love slight imperfections. Like, uh, like when my wife, uh, smiles for a picture, one eye closes a little more than the other one. It’s just the slightest imperfection. I love it.
Paul: Uh, I love when you realize someone isn’t actually mad at you and you just imagined it.
Bryan: I love getting hot shaves.
Paul: Uh, I love the first day, uh, that your cold or flu is getting better.
Bryan: I love when my dog barks in his sleep. H-h-he “murphs”. He goes, “Murph!” Sometimes, sometimes he’ll growl.
Paul: Yeah. Ours do too, ours do too. Uh, this is a weird one, but I love the shiver and relief after throwing up.
Bryan: Ooo. I love the way Paul Gilmartin says “ladle.”
Paul: Uh, I love when a haircut makes you feel better about your appearance.
Bryan: I love—I don’t know what that’s about—I love the sound of a shower through the walls, like water running through pipes.
Paul: Mmm-hmmm. I love Peter Sellers doing anything.
Bryan: I love guacamole.
Paul: I love the feel of new slippers.
Bryan: I love YouTube videos of dogs greeting their owners who are soldiers coming home from overseas.
Paul: Oh, that’s awesome. Uh, I love a great conversation with a complete stranger.
Bryan: I love military flyovers at sporting events.
Paul: I love when I ejaculate a surprising distance. T-tell me that doesn’t kind of please you when it, when it goes kind of far.
Bryan: Um, I feel like any distance is surprising. I love interacting with people on Twitter.
Paul: Uh, I love baby animals.
Bryan: I love when justice prevails.
Paul: I love a good animal rescue story.
Bryan: I love splitting aces, especially when the dealer’s showing a six.
Paul: Uh, I love that one of the world’s greatest guitarists, uh, Django Reinhardt, had three crippled fretting fingers.
Bryan: I did not know that. I love sleeping with the windows open when I’m staying near the beach.
Paul: Uh, I love accomplishing something that used to seem baffling.
Bryan: I love prosciutto, soppressata, solumi and any cured meat.
Paul: I love the smell of Port Orford cedar.
Bryan: I love the come line.
Paul: I love—you’re talking about craps.
Bryan: That’s right. What did you think I was talking about?
Paul: I love—I-I don’t know, my brain went somewhere else. Uh, I love, uh, watching a good movie and realizing it isn’t even close to being over.
Bryan: I love creating a playlist for a specific occasion.
Paul: Uh, I love when my dogs get excited because we’re all going to take a nap.
Bryan: I love when someone asks me what I do for a living and don’t have to explain what a podcast is.
Paul: That’s awesome. I’m out. So you’re gonna, you’re gonna finish this one out.
Bryan: Sure, I’ll give you—I only have a few left. I love driving myself, which is something when I was, uh, suffering through the worst of my radiation.
Uh, I love the smell of sequoia trees and banana bread.
Uh, I love draft beer.
Um, I love Shortcut.
And I always love the other side of the story.
Paul: Sweet. Bryan Bishop, I want to thank you so much for, uh, for coming on.
Bryan: My pleasure! I love your show, Paul. I-I’ll keep listening.
Paul: Thanks, buddy, I appreciate it.
Many thanks to, uh, to Bryan Bishop for, uh, sharing that part of his, uh, his life with us. And, um, I hope you guys got a lot out of that one.
Before, uh, I take it out with, uh, another listener survey, uh, there’s some people I want to thank. Uh, my wife, Karla, for, uh, giving me great feedback. The people who help keep the spammers out of the forum, uh, John, Michael, Manny, and Dan. Thank you guys so much. Um, and I want to thank Amber B. God bless you, Amber. You did a little fundraiser to help raise some money for this, uh, for this show, and y-y-you sent me a-a-a check and it is so greatly appreciated. I can’t even tell you. Uh, I can’t often record at my house because, uh, sometimes my wife needs to be here writing and the dogs bark when people are over here, and then she can’t concentrate. So sometimes I have to go to a recording studio, and that costs money. And so those of you that are, um, donating to the show, it really, really, helps. I really comes in handy.
And speaking of supporting the show, there’s a couple of different ways you can do it. You can go to the website and you can donate through the PayPal link. You can make it a one-time donation, you can do a recurring monthly donation, which some people have done. That makes me super happy. You can also, uh, shop through our Amazon link, so, um, Amazon gives us a couple nickels, doesn’t cost you anything. You can buy a t-shirt and you can support us non-financially by going to iTunes, giving us a good rating. That boost our ranking, brings more people to the show. I love that.
And there’s another thing. Since asking for help seems to be, uh, one of the, one of the themes of this show, uh, today, I am going to—I’ve been stressing about this, trying to figure out a way to make some of this stuff happen, and I’m just gonna come right out and ask for help i-in making these things happen. I would love to get transcripts of this show done, because I’m told that then more people will find the show when the do a search for certain terms and things like that. If anybody out there can help facilitate that, please, uh, contact me, uh, let me know. Um, the other thing is anybody out there that is good at recording, uh, I should say, editing audio, I would like to start putting together, uh, montages of themes of audio clips. So if anybody feels inspired to start doing those on their own and sending them to me, that would be really, really, awesome. I just do not have the energy to sit, in addition to doing the show, to put those montages together. I started to do a bunch of them and, uh, and I just kind of hit a wall. And my fucking shoulders were getting tight and I was like, “All right, just back away from this for a little bit.”
I think I mentioned sign up for the newsletter. I’m mentioning it again. You don’t like that, go fuck yourself.
All right, let us, let us, take it out with a survey. This is from the basic survey. This is, uh, by a girl, actually, she’s a teenager, uh, her name’s Debbie. She has never touched drugs or alcohol. Raised in a stable and safe environment. Exercises an average amount. Uh, not too good of a diet. Not very healthy. Never been through therapy. Uh, she writes, “Currently seeing a therapist and have been for a couple of months but I can’t help but feel like nothing’s working. I don’t know what it is. My therapist is supportive and understanding and really quite good, so I must be doing something wrong that is getting in the way of yielding positive results.” To that I would say be patient with it. Definitely be patient with it.
Um, she doesn’t take any meds. But she’s thinking about trying them. Um, this is interesting, “Do you share your feelings with anyone on a regular basis?” She writes, “No, I tried to but stopped.” But if she’s seeing a therapist, she’d be sharing her feelings. Maybe she thinks that means somebody other than her therapist. She writes, “Given my age, I’ve never really found anyone who relates to me, at least on a level sufficient enough for me to feel understand. I had a couple people in my life who I can talk openly with and who understood, but those relationships quickly spiraled downward into codependency and now we resent each other and wish we could wash our hands of the other’s negative influence. Sharing my feelings has only ever wrecked me.” Uh, you know, my take on that is, um, sometimes we just gotta be careful to not do it too intensely with people at the beginning a-a-and kind of get a feel for that, because I think I’ve been both the drainer and the drainee before so I know that, definitely know that deal.
Um, let’s see, what other, “Most common negative thoughts you have?” She writes, “Despite my incredibly high self-esteem, I hate myself. I think I’m better than everyone and yet I can’t stand being who I am. I’m frequently blamed for my mental illness by those closest to me and it doesn’t seem like people get that I’m trapped in a cycle and need help. Yet no one helps and I’m left feeling that everything in my mind is my fault and that no one cares about me enough to help me through my toughest times.”
Um, “Describe any behaviors you wish you didn’t engage in but do anyway?” She writes, “The most prominent one in my life right now is desperately searching for someone to understand anything that I’m going through. I’ll get dramatic, freak out, anything I can do to try to make someone listen, hoping maybe they’ll understand. I’ll say destructive things and I’ll hurt people in my quest. I’m fully aware of it when I’m doing it, but I just can’t stop. I wish I didn’t watch so much porn and masturbate so frequently, but I’m a teenager, so I don’t suppose there’s much I can do. I wish I wasn’t addicted to making myself miserable and I wish I could make myself stop searching or being sad.”
Um, let’s see. “Do you believe any person, place or thing is keeping you from being happy, and if so what?” “I don’t believe it, but I will frequently slip into patterns of thoughts that makes my entire world revolve around one person or event. I often catch myself thinking this and cut off the thought.”
Her most common emotion is feeling left behind.
Uh, primary activities are self-obsessing, procrastinating, and, uh, helping people and being kind. Well, that’s good, we got some positive stuff in there. And, uh, and she also frequently, uh, accepts others as they are. That’s good, that’s a really good thing. Um, I hope I’m not being too fucking soap-boxy here.
Um, um, um, um, “Does anything cause you to feel ashamed, if so what?” “I’m ashamed of what I said to the few people I’ve intentionally hurt because they were not able or willing to fill my emotional needs.” Um, God, you know, I think that’s so fitting in today’s episode th-that I read that, because that is—when I read that—the inside jacket of that book at the beginning, about emotional incest, people who don’t get help remain exactly where you’re at right now, Debbie, and they become parents. And then they try to fill their needs through their children. But you’re getting therapy at fifteen. That’s awesome. Or however old you are, it says 15 to 20, so you might actually even be 20 years old. Um, but that—give yourself a pat on the back. It’s a process. And you’re so young. You’re so young, you have so much of your life ahead of you. So stop beating yourself up. I was fucking miserable when I was a teenager. Full of self-hatred. I still hate myself sometimes. But it’s so much less intense than it was when I was, when I was younger. So trust the process. And, um, don’t worry, nothing, nothing good and worthwhile happens overnight. So try to be patient with yourself and I understand you. I totally understand you. Y-your survey makes total sense to me and I think a lot of people listening to this show know exactly how you feel. So know that you’re not alone. You’re not alone and you’re not broken. And there is, there is hope. So keep your chin up. And, uh, you’re not alone. Thanks for listening.