Nikki Glaser

Nikki Glaser

The standup comedian (Last Comic Standing, The Tonight Show) and podcaster (You Had to Be There) opens up about hitting bottom with anorexia as a teen, only to discover ten years later, her food issues haven’t disappeared.  She and Paul talk about self-medicating, caring too much about what other people think, avoiding painful truths, and the difficult road to self-acceptance.

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Episode notes:

Visit Nikki's website.  Follow her Twitter feed.

Episode Transcript:

Paul:      Welcome to episode 49 with my guest Nikki Glaser. 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 you a hot ladle of awkward and icky. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional, mental health advice. It’s not doctor’s office – it’s more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck.


As I’ve mentioned before, the website for this show is MentalPod is also my Twitter name and my Skype name and my baptismal name. If you would like to a part of a Skyping experiment that I’d like to do, if you’d follow me on Twitter, what I’m going to do is start Tweeting when I’m getting ready to go on Skype and then have you guys share because I’d like to connect to the listener a little bit more. One thing that I’d really like to do is kind of pick up that thread that I started with the Shame and Secrets Survey, and that would be having anonymous conversations with people on Skype that I would then edit and I would air but we wouldn’t say your name. And if you’d like, I can also change the pitch of your voice so it doesn’t sound like your voice. It’s fascinating reading what people write in the Shame and Secrets Survey, but it kind of also makes me want to have a conversation with somebody who is dumping all these deep, dark secrets and shame. So if you haven’t taken the survey yet, go to the website and do that. You can also see how other people responded; it’s pretty fascinating.

Before we get to the interview with Nikki Glaser – and I didn’t realize by the way that the podcast of hers that I mentioned, she’s shot a pilot for MTV so let’s hope that gets picked up, the pilot for You Had To Be There – her podcast. Before we get to that great interview, I just wanted to pass along this thing that just made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I was talking to an acquaintance – I wouldn’t even call him a friend, but an acquaintance – and we were talking about Valentine’s Day. And this guy’s not in a relationship and somebody said, “So what did you do on Valentine’s Day?” And he spent his day on Valentine’s Day volunteering at a flower shop that his friend owns because he wanted to participate in the exchange of love between people. And when I heard that, I was like that is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. So often we just think of love as something that we either give or receive, but I never even thought about being a facilitator for love between people and I just thought I’d share that with you because it just made me smile.


[Podcast Intro]


Paul:      I’m here with Nikki Glaser. Do you prefer Glaser or glassmaker?


Nikki:     (Laughs) I never thought about it.


Paul:      Like old school. Nikki and I met about a year ago. We were at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, and you were nice enough – site unseen – to come do my podcast. It was I think a great experience for both of us, but I never aired it because you had…


Nikki:     I asked you not to and you didn’t, which is… thank you so much. I felt so bad!


Paul:      Well, what a dick I would have been if I had aired it.


Nikki:     Of course. That’s true, but I felt conflicted about it because we stumbled on some stuff that I didn’t know that… I wasn’t even aware was going on in my head so I left feeling like I had said too much or that I might upset a family member, someone who might hear it down the road. And I thought about it for a couple days and then I emailed you and asked you could you not air it? And I felt like what a waste – I wasted his time. But I felt like I got so much out of it.


Paul:      I did, too. I did, too. I’ve had a couple other people ask me not to air their episodes and I never feel like it’s a waste of time. I feel like it’s- am I ever disappointed that I can’t air stuff? Sure. But ultimately they’re nice, fun conversations with people where we get to talk about stuff that we normally just bury. So I totally get it, but when I emailed you and you said you were willing to try it again and kind of avoid the stuff that you would rather not talk about for the other person’s sake – not for your sake – because you certainly opened up about yourself in a way that I was really- my hat was off to you.


Nikki:     Thank you. I tend to over share and I have to be more aware of who that could impact because I’m okay with it. I don’t have any humility or when it comes to that stuff, I’m pretty shameless. But I have to worry about other people. I don’t want hurt feelings.


Paul:      I was on Mark Marin’s WTF and he hasn’t aired the episode yet and may never as far as I know, but afterwards I said something that I was like, “Oh fuck. I want to take that back.” I said that literally every male in my family tree is an alcoholic, and afterwards – the majority of them are, but literally every one is not. And I would say 95% are, but afterwards I was like, “Oh no!” And so I keep thinking, I keep kind of secretly hope that he never airs that episode or maybe I should email him. So I totally get that.


Nikki:     And people take the word “literally”- they use it so liberally now.


Paul:      So misused. It’s literally overused!


Nikki:     (Laughs) It literally is.


Paul:      For those of you who have been living in a cage and don’t know who Nikki is, she kind of came to national prominence on Last Comic Standing a couple of years ago. She’s a touring, headlining comedian – super funny – and she has a great podcast called You Had To Be There, which she co-hosts with Sarah Shafer and they do it in Sarah’s apartment in Brooklyn, and they have about a dozen people sit in and they have a musician and they have a fellow comedian generally as a guest. And it is unique and it’s entertaining and it’s just everything- I was telling Nikki when she came over before we started rolling- it’s everything I think the podcasting medium should take advantage of. There’s a vulnerability and a sense of eavesdropping that my favorite podcasts have that quality to them where I feel like a fly on the wall. And especially because you and Sarah… well, maybe because it’s the first podcast that I’ve listened to that has two female- hosted by two females. I grew up without sisters so I especially kind of like listening in on girl talk and you guys get into stuff no holds barred. It’s awesome.


Nikki:     Thank you.


Paul:      It’s just awesome.


Nikki:     It’s really fun.


Paul:      Yeah, so if you haven’t checked out You Had To Be There, I highly recommend it.


Nikki:     Thank you.


Paul:      What would be some episodes you would recommend the listener start with?


Nikki:     That’s a good question. I would recommend the Shawn Patton episode for a recent one that deals with some stuff that- a couple good stories. Kristen Schall’s episode is awesome, a really good one.


Paul:      Super fun. All the ones I’ve listened to Kristen Schall, Paula Thompkins, Shawn Patton, and if you enjoy this podcast, I think you will enjoy the flavor of their podcasts as well because I think it goes pretty deep and it’s entertaining.


Nikki:     Thank you.


Paul:      So you just came from taping Walking The Room. You’re the podcast whore for the day.


Nikki:     I’m in LA for podcast season is what I keep calling it. (Laughs) I’m taping six this week.


Paul:      Are you really?


Nikki:     In three days.


Paul:      That’s awesome.


Nikki:     Yeah. It’s fun.


Paul:      She just came from Walking The Room with Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony which is one of my favorite podcasts and you were saying before we started rolling that, well-


Nikki:     I got in there. They tape in a closet, and I got in the closet and we really got into it. They kind of dissected my pattern in relationships and Greg pretty much told me that I hate myself. He’s like, “Nikki Glaser doesn’t like Nikki Glaser,” and I was like, “I think, I do, on Facebook I definitely like-“ but I was like, “I think I like myself,” and he’s like, “I don’t think you do.” And I really trust Greg because I read his book He’s Just Not That Into You at a very impressionable age. So I like looked at him, I was like, “Oh maybe I don’t like myself,” and we were getting into all my relationships and Dave made some good points. Dave was like, “You need to go to therapy. There’s no two ways about it.” And I was like, “I know.” So I left kind of like, there were moments in that podcast where I was like, I was just discovering things about myself that were not okay. I’m kind of shell-shocked a little bit coming out of it, but I’m glad I’m here to further talk about it.


Paul:      Yeah. Well when we had recorded last year, one of the things that you talked about – and I assume because you’re coming back on you’re comfortable talking about it now – which is food issues. When did those start?


Nikki:     Oh yeah.


Paul:      You’re from St. Louis.


Nikki:     I’m from St. Louis. Went to school in Kansas. Food issues started for me later than they do most girls. I was 18 and I dealt with it in high school feeling like I was fat constantly, which I was not, but always feeling like I wasn’t skinny enough or perfect enough. Then I went on a diet in my senior- exactly 10 years ago I realize this morning when I was coming here knowing I was going to talk about this stuff- it was probably this week 10 years ago that I first stopped eating and then got positive reinforcement for it almost immediately. It showed up on me right away and I remember girls at school being like, “You look great,” and it was the first time I had ever heard that really. Or like the popular girls had pointed that out about me so then I just stopped eating.


Paul:      What’s that like?


Nikki:     Really difficult. At first – euphoric.


Paul:      Really?


Nikki:     Yeah, there’s a high from it for sure.


Paul:      A high when you’re by yourself from not eating, or a high just from the feedback from people?


Nikki:     The feedback from people is the initial high because you’re hungry and you don’t know that there’s no benefits yet, but then people start acknowledging how skinny and great you look and then that’s a huge high. Then that fades once you start looking scary – people stop telling you how great you look and they start showing concern. But then you are chasing the high of feeling hungry because you once associate it with looking great or something.


Paul:      At what point in denying yourself food do you get high from denying yourself food? Because I would imagine the first week denying yourself food before anybody says anything is just plain shitty. Or were you getting high already?


Nikki:     This is what happened. I wasn’t denying myself in the beginning. I just wasn’t hungry because for the first time in my life that week, 10 years ago this week, a boy who I really like asked me to prom. And I liked that he was one of the popular boys. I’d always felt like I should be popular but I never was acknowledged by them, and finally this boy asked me to prom and I was so nervous and excited about the whole thing that I just lost my appetite. Then suddenly people were like, “You look great. Did you lose weight?” And I was like, “I guess I have because I haven’t been hungry,” and that just kept going. So it wasn’t an initial like, “Oh I’m going to lose weight.” It just kind of fell off me at first and then was like, “Oh, this works, so I’m just going to stop eating.” And I was really ignorant about… I look back on it and I was just dumb. I didn’t know that you had to eat to live. I knew that fundamentally but I thought that I could just stop and so I did, and yeah it’s definitely really hard. There’s a lot of willpower that goes into it, but it’s the worst. I would say I would get high from… where would I feel the high? Watching other people eat?


Paul:      Really?!


Nikki:     Oh my God… it becomes- I would watch the Food Network nonstop. I had no interest in cooking or anything related to food prior to-


Paul:      That seems like torture to me!


Nikki:     It was like porn. I would watch it and just imagine what it would be like to eat that, knowing that I would never eat. Not that I won’t eat it now, but I would never eat that again. I would never eat another gram of fat or anything in my life, like that was going to be my life. And so yeah, I would watch the Food Network nonstop. And my mom was like, “You’re getting into cooking?” I would prepare meals, never eat them. Or prepare them and say, “Oh, I have to go.”


Paul:      And would your brain go back and forth between, “I should really have a bite of this because it’s got to taste so good.”


Nikki:     Never. No. When I make up my mind about something, it’s sticking to it. If I would have had one bite of a piece of cake, it would have been all over for me. That would not have happened. It didn’t happen.


Paul:      So it sounds like there’s a kind of moral, willful victory in it that gets you high. That I am strong.


Nikki:     Oh yeah. Mmm hmm.


Paul:      I’m controlling this. Do you think it’s about control?


Nikki:     Yeah. It has to be. Yeah. I’ve heard that from the beginning that it’s all about control. I don’t know what that really means still to me, why I need that control or where I’m feeling a lack of control. I don’t know where that’s coming from but I definitely got off from knowing that I can do this and my other friends can’t and I’m not weak like them. When in fact, I was very weak physically and mentally.


Paul:      What kind of dynamics were happening in your life at that point that you think made you want to experience that sense of control? Was it that you felt like you weren’t popular enough?


Nikki:     Mmm hmm. There were a lot of things going on at the time. I was graduating from high school. I was getting ready to go to college by myself, on my own. So I’m sure there was some stress involved with that. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life. I felt the pressure to need to know because I thought I wanted to be an actress but I never got any of the leads and I felt like I had missed out on the one… The Diary of Anne Frank, I thought I had the lead role and I had done theater all through high school and had never gotten the lead. I’ve always gotten the sidekick or whatever. And I thought I had it and then I didn’t get it, and I felt like I didn’t get it because I was too heavy. That was always a thing in the back of my head.


Paul:      Heavy people don’t look good hiding. It’s not believable!


Nikki:     (Laughs) You’re not going to get the role of Anne Frank.


Paul:      Oh, they’d find her right away.


Nikki:     I don’t blame Mr. Zoth for not casting me as Anne Frank. I’m blonde and I was…


Paul:      It’s so funny. I know your podcast so well, I know him. I know your theater teacher because he’s come up before.


Nikki:     He has! He’s a big player in all this. And funny enough, he was the first person to say, “I’m worried about you.” I don’t know what was going on, why I needed control. I had a friend commit suicide in November before, so six months before, and he said he killed himself because my best friend didn’t love him so I was dealing with her-


Paul:      Oh my god. How did she feel?


Nikki:     It ruined her. She was my best friend since fourth grade. She’s better now, but I lost two friends in that because he killed himself, but before he did it he left a note at her place pretty much blaming her that he can’t go on because she doesn’t love him back. They were friends and then he shot himself and left a CD with this sad song on it that’s kind of just like, “I’ll never have you,” kind of song and just stuck her with it.


Paul:      He wrote the song?


Nikki:     No, it’s a Ben Harper song. So I was with her when we found out and just the weekend before she had gone to a dance with him and I had gone with my date and we all hung out that whole night and he confessed his love to her when I was in the car with them. And he was driving us to our place and it was very awkward. She was like, “David, I love you as a friend,” and he’s like, “I just can’t. That’s not enough for me.” And we were just like, “Oh, David’s crazy,” and I remember being like, “Oh, what’s he going to do on Monday? He’s going to leave some in your locker. He’s done it in the past,” and then he didn’t show up at school on Monday. She’s like, “He left some weird note this morning,” and I was like, “Ugh that’s so weird.” She’s like, “He’s not here today,” and then that day we found out he had killed himself the night before. He had left the note, went home and shot himself. And so that totally… I didn’t know how to deal with that.


Paul:      That is one of the meanest things I’ve ever heard. I can’t imagine a meaner thing to do to somebody than to kill yourself and blame it on somebody else. That is so sick on so many levels.


Nikki:     I haven’t forgiven him for it. It was hard because I was so angry with him. My friend was just so full of life and one of the best people that anyone’s ever known and it destroyed her. She was put through so much because of it and our friendship totally went to shit because I was angry with her and everyone was mad at me for being mad at him. It was all, “Poor David,” and even her parents – everyone was upset. My whole family was on my side about it, like, “I can’t believe David did this to Kirsten.” And everyone else in my life – all of my friends and our mutual friends were like, “Nikki, how could you be mad at David?” And I’m like, “How could I not be mad?” It was really a weird time.


Paul:      So people were actually mad at her?


Nikki:     Not mad at her. No, no. No one was mad at her. But they weren’t mad at him.


Paul:      Nobody could see the sick selfishness of that decision.


Nikki:     No! And I was the only one who was furious with him, like even to the point where I wasn’t sad about it anymore. I was like, “Fuck David.” Now I can look back and he was my friend who was obviously going through a lot and didn’t know any better. But I’m still angry at him about it, but I felt alone in that anger. And then I got no acknowledgement from my parents in dealing with my friend’s death and my other friend’s kind of death – Kirsten. My parents never knew David and never knew I was friends with him. It was kind of like a friendship that I didn’t bring around, like it was just at school and on the weekend. So when he died and I was really upset about it, my parents never really like let me mourn. They were just like, “We don’t even know this guy. You don’t know. Get over it.” And so I think that might have had some play in me kind of going…


Paul:      Yeah. Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed by that?


Nikki:     Yeah. I just remember the night after it happened, my mom saying something like, “You need to get over it,” like the night after it happened. And I remember that and just going in my room and holding a picture of him and crying and kind of feeling like, “Is this wrong to feel so sad about it?”


Paul:      Is that how your mom deals with stuff, is kind of-


Nikki:     Yeah. That’s like my whole family’s way of dealing with things. We don’t ever talk about my sickness. It’s never mentioned. We kind of just-


Paul:      By the way, that’s so great you can call it that. That’s really healthy. That’s really healthy.


Nikki:     Oh really? Thanks.


Paul:      Instead of, “My weakness,” or my- because that’s what it is.


Nikki:     I feel like I caught something.


Paul:      it’s a sickness. It’s centered in the brain. It’s absolutely centered in the brain.


Nikki:     I feel that way about it. It’s definitely in my past. I mean, it flares up every now and again. It will never be what it once was ever – I’m certain of that. But it’s definitely something that I look at like, “Oh, that happened to me.” I didn’t create it. That was the struggle for me, that I was doing it to myself. Everyone thought I was doing it to myself. Why wouldn’t they? Just eat, Nikki, and you’ll be cured! So I always thought this is me doing- so that was the hardest part of it, was feeling responsible for it and feeling such shame about it. But as soon as I was able to disassociate and went to therapy and learned that this is- as soon as someone said, “This is a demon inside you and you’re possessed by this thing.” Like, you caught a sickness. You have a flu in your brain. Once I was able to be like, “Oh this isn’t your fault,” that was the hurdle for me.


Paul:      The only responsibility, in my opinion, that we have as addicts or people who have any type of addiction or whatever, is how you’re going to deal with it. You didn’t give it to yourself, but with that knowledge of it you have. Because I have no sympathy for people who are aware they are addicts and then just don’t do anything about it and play the self-pity card. “I have no control over it!” No, you have control over whether or not you try to live effectively with it. That’s a responsibility that I think a lot is lost on a lot of people. And then I think it gives addicts – as if addicts need more of a bad name – but it gives addicts a bad name because people then say, “Oh, all addicts are full of self-pity and just lack will and just blame it, say, “It’s a disease.’ It’s not a disease.” Well, if you’re never lived with something that so dominates your brain, that so obsesses you, that literally the thought of it gets you high, you don’t know. You don’t know, and you don’t know that feeling of despair that that high takes you out of, which is like the mountain is twice as high. When you’re depressed, that addiction is, oh my god, it’s like going from Death Valley to Mount Everest.


Nikki:     Yeah. Yeah but depression hit me after… I never struggled with depression prior to becoming anorexic because it zapped my brain. It was a symptom of it.


Paul:      Do you feel like the depression started when your friend killed himself?


Nikki:     No. The depression started when… I was fine. I was dealing with it and I think a lot of it was I was fine just because I had to be because my parents expected me to be... My friend was the one that was really the victim of his death, so all of the focus was put unheard. So I was really okay I though, and then depression hit when my brain pretty much started eating itself. You know I was just so hungry and my body was freaking out so much that I just fell into the worst depression. I didn’t have friends. I couldn’t hang out with my friends anymore because they were so worried. And my family was completely in denial of it. I mean, I would just lay in bed all day.


Paul:      Did the thought ever occur to you, “I will never be skinny enough”? Or were you still kind of chasing the dragon thinking-?


Nikki:     No, I was skinny enough, but I was at a point where I will never eat, I can’t eat again. I cannot!


Paul:      And is it that you’re not hungry, or-?


Nikki:     No. I was hungry.


Paul:      You’re hungry. So it’s that you don’t want to lose that high of, look at myself will?


Nikki:     Yes. I mean, it almost felt like if I have one piece of cake or one piece of food that I’ve forbidden myself then it will all go to shit and I will get fat instantly. And that everything you worked for will crumble.


Paul:      That is one of the hallmarks of addiction is a warped view of how the future is going to unfold. That is absolutely… I mean, if I’ve learned anything in how to deal with addiction, it is stay in the present moment. The past and the future occasionally can help you- the past can occasionally help you with insides. But the future- and then people are like, “Well, you know, how am I going to plan a career?” Trust me, you’re going to think about the future enough that that shit’s going to take care of itself. But we obsess so much about the future and get all fucking stressed out about stuff that will never ever happen. Somebody said one time, “I’ve had thousands of horrible tragedies in my life. None of which have ever happened.” And I so related when I heard that because it’s like-


Nikki:     Because you live them.


Paul:      Oh yes! I’ve lived them and lived them in detail.


Nikki:     Yeah.


Paul:      In absolute detail. And you being a creative person, I would imagine your fantasies of the doomy future are full of luscious details.


Nikki:     Yes.


Paul:      Talk about what… Put yourself back in that 18-year-old mindset. Let’s say you would have that piece of cake. What does your mind tell you? Give me details of what that future looks like.


Nikki:     Just kill yourself if you do that. Like, it’s over. You’re so weak if you have that. You’re like the… you’re a piece of shit.


Paul:      And is that just how you would feel about yourself, or do you think that you would be ostracized or you would stop getting dates, or-?


Nikki:     I wasn’t getting dates. I was so skeletal that I couldn’t –


Paul:      How far down were you?


Nikki:     It started in like mid-February, and by… I lost like 60 lbs. in four months. And I know that sounds ridiculous. I think I got down to like ninety-something lbs. And I’m a tall chick. They wouldn’t tell me what I really got down to because you’re not supposed to know numbers.


Paul:      You were putting up holocaust numbers.


Nikki:     Oh, I looked… I mean, I can’t go back and see pictures of myself. It’s too sad that I walked around like that.


Paul:      Were you as tall as you are now?


Nikki:     Yeah. 5’9”. I looked really, really bad. So I was not getting dates. And I knew I looked bad. I would look in the mirror. I wasn’t like, “You are looking hot.” Like, I was ashamed of how I looked, but I didn’t see getting back to a happy medium.


Paul:      So what is the thought in your brain though, that I’m hungry. I look too skinny. It’s that I’m going to be fat if I start this? It’s literally you believe that this is a dam and if you just let a drop through it’s going to be a waterfall that will envelope you.


Nikki:     Yes. I still have that. If I’m ever like dieting or watching what I’m eating, or- like, I did the dumbest thing that I could have done and I started a low-carb diet over the summer because I was like, “Oh you’re going to be on TV for this thing possibly. When you do low-carb you got to cut out carbs completely.” And having that thing of like, you can’t have any of that – to eat them again was really hard for me, and I’m just now getting back to it and this was in July when I cut them out completely and just that thought of if I have one gram of sugar, all the weight’s going to come on and I’m going to be this fat. It still plagues me to this day. I’m still susceptible to it. And I don’t know what the fear is because I know rationally that I will not get obese if I have one piece of fruit or sugar or carb or whatever.


Paul:      But addiction is not an intellectual disease. You can be the smartest person in the world but it’s a feeling inside of you that doesn’t make sense.


Nikki:     Shame. There’s just so much shame involved. Self-shame.


Paul:      Did you have a lack of control in other things in your life before the food issue that kind of might have set a pattern for you losing control?


Nikki:     I can’t pinpoint anything that I really felt out of control about. I guess I never felt appreciated socially. I mean, it’s so embarrassing to say that I wanted to be popular but I felt like I had something in me that wasn’t being acknowledged by people in school and I felt like maybe I wasn’t… I hadn’t reached my potential and maybe never would. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t skinny enough. I wasn’t funny enough. So maybe that was it. I can go back to remember and it pains me to think of this girl, but when I felt… there would be nights in high school when my friends and I would go out and I would feel so fat that I would just cry and cry and cry in bed and they would come over and be like, “Let’s go out,” and I’d be like, “I’m too fat. My jeans don’t fit.” And it breaks my heart to think about that person, but I definitely hated myself up until that point. In the last couple years I was involved in sports until sophomore year and then I stopped that and I filled out a little bit. And I definitely was not comfortable in my own skin and received flak about it from my parents and family members.


Paul:      Received flak about what?


Nikki:     About being… overeating, or just you know, “Hey, slow down there.” Or knowing that I was not the body type that I should be for certain people.


Paul:      I see. So this wasn’t completely made up in your mind. There was-


Nikki:     No. My mom, to this day… and I know that the last podcast I spoke a little bit about her and that was maybe the reason I didn’t want to air it, but I know my boundaries with it now. My mom has always been obsessed with her weight and always looked great to me, but always told herself and told me, “I’m a fat, ugly piece of- I’m disgusting.” To this day, she will never admit she’s… my mom’s gorgeous, thin, but you’d never know it. So I never learned to appreciate and tell yourself you’re pretty. I mean, she was telling me I’m pretty. My dad showered me with compliments. But I never believed him because I would look at my mom say that she’s fat and she was skinnier than me. I remember being like, “Mom, you’re a size 6 and I’m a size 11. How can you say you’re fat and tell me that I’m not?” So I never believed her. I definitely learned that kind of body image from my mother for sure. And to this day… I went back home recently and she’s like, “I’m disgusting.” And you can’t compliment her. It’s so frustrating.


Paul:      You can’t get that person to see. They’re the only ones who can walk through that door. You can’t push them through that door. But you can love them along the way. You can tell them you love them and you’re rooting for them. And sometimes I think you can say, “I can’t be around you.” I’m not saying that’s what you should do, but I’ve had to do that with friends who won’t get themselves help that know that there’s a problem but don’t want to take the responsibility for it. Sometimes I think the most loving thing you can do is say, “Hey, it’s getting painful to be around you. I love you but I just need a break.” And sometimes that feels really good to do that.


Nikki:     Mmm hmm. I have done that before. I don’t know that I could do it in this circumstance, but yes. But there are times when I’m like, “Mom, I need a break.” Certainly when I go home, I do that in little increments. But yeah, and even now I will get such positive reinforcement if I go home and I’m a little bit thinner than I was the last time. And if I don’t get it, I freak out. I’m like, “Oh great, I’m fat now because she didn’t tell me I was thin?” The love I feel for my mom is very much wrapped up in weight and that’s unfortunate to say. And because I know that she loves me unconditionally.


Paul:      It’s good that you can see that, though. That’s the beginning.


Nikki:     For me, it is. I know she loves me no matter what, but I know she loves me more when I’m thin.


Paul:      (Laughing) I want you to put that on your gravestone! That’s so fantastic.


Nikki:     I have a joke about it that I did in front of her this week. And I’ve done it before, but. Actually I was just home for the holidays. I don’t know about you, but whenever I go home my mom’s always like, “Come hungry!” Because she likes to see me thin.


Paul:      (Laughs)


Nikki:     And that joke to me is just so, you’re staking it to her because she does like to see me thin. And it just sucks because it almost killed me! And it makes me so mad that my parents still can’t talk about it, or that she can’t- just don’t talk to me about a diet, mom. I don’t want to hear it. That diet almost killed me. Literally! I don’t think they know how close I was. They knew at the time, but not now.


Paul:      It sounds like a premium is placed in your household on what other people think.


Nikki:     Oh god, that’s all she cares about. And I just… and that’s why I love stand up so much and the things I say on stage because I don’t care. As much as I probably do, I feel like I’m releasing that in some way by talking about things that make people uncomfortable. I love that my parents are horrified by the things I say on stage because I’m challenging what I’ve been taught from the get go, which is like, make sure the Jones’ think that we’re perfect. And I don’t give a shit! I love not being perfect now and showing my parents that I’m okay with other people not thinking that. Because that is so important in my house.


Paul:      It’s such a- and I totally get that, too. It’s a socially acceptable form of confrontation. It didn’t occur to me until I’d be doing stand up about five years that, wow, these things I say that push people’s buttons that piss them off – I can’t do these in real life! I’m totally afraid of confrontation, but I can be this person with the microphone that is everything I want to be.


Nikki:     Yeah. I’m such a pussy in real life, but when I get onstage, yeah I feel this…. Man, they came to my show last weekend – my parents – and I was really going to try to clean it up and not be so…


Paul:      You were back in St. Louis?


Nikki:     I was in Indianapolis and they drove over to see me. And I will never- I really don’t want them ever coming to a show again unless it’s like a TV set or something. Because I really like to give of myself onstage and talk about things that… real shit. And if anything, I did it more. The voice in my head saying, “Hold back,” was just silenced and I went for it. And I think I made them uncomfortable. I’m hoping it’s not vindictive of me, but I’m pretty sure it was. “Oh, you’re uncomfortable with that, well then get a little bit of…” I like pushing their buttons and I feel kind of remorseful about it now how I might have made them feel at the time. But whatever.


Paul:      Do you think part of why we like doing it on stage is because nobody can butt in?


Nikki:     Nobody can butt in, and if someone gets mad at you… no one can get mad at you about it because you’re doing…


Paul:      If it gets a laugh, it’s valid.


Nikki:     Yes! Exactly. Exactly. I like pissing people off when they have really no reason to be mad at me. When they’re mad about the idea of it. But like, I can defend myself, “Hey, I’m onstage. You came to my show, so don’t come if it pisses you off.” So you’re completely protected and that’s what I like about it.


Paul:      It’s like you sold tickets to the best argument in your life.


Nikki:     Yes. It really is.


Paul:      Come sit down and let me tell you what I think about you.


Nikki:     And you have no right to tell me if anything I said upset you because you stepped into my world and that’s what you risk going in is that I might upset you. Yeah. You’re completely protected. Because I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like to upset people.


Paul:      So what’s some of the stuff you were saying that stuff got brought up when you were doing the podcast with Gregg and Dave that you thought might be good to talk about here?


Nikki:     I have a string of- all my relationships, I didn’t date anyone until I was 24 because I had never had a boyfriend or really been… I kissed once when I was 17 and then I…


Paul:      Was this by your own choice, or you were just shy? Or guys just didn’t ask you out?


Nikki:     It was a mixture of both. I would say because I was so thin and so skeletal that no one was interested in dating me for probably, I mean I looked bad for three years. So from 18 to 22 I was not really that… probably 18 to 21, not that attractive.


Paul:      The irony is that you waited until The Diary of Ann Frank was over to lose the weight.


Nikki:     I know. I would have gotten that part-


Paul:      You almost said, “I would have died”!


Nikki:     I did! I almost did! No, I know. But yeah, so I was so bad looking that no one wanted to date me. I was definitely interested in boys and kind of like living with my disease. So it was just my… I thought, “I could date right now,” and no one was wanting to.


Paul:      And you had gone to therapy. Did you go to any support groups?


Nikki:     I had been to a couple support groups, but for me they became competitive with the other girls in the room.


Paul:      Oh my god.


Nikki:     Which is a problem with a lot of eating disorder group therapy is you’re constantly comparing. Well, I didn’t eat since- you know, it becomes a… it’s better to have one-on-one for me at least. I’m sure it’s helped some people, but I went to therapy from the get-go. From 18 to probably 21, and then I kind of had a breakthrough with one guy who let me know this isn’t your fault. And as soon as I was able to talk to my disease…. Like I remember he took a chair and was like, “Here’s your disease. Yell at it.” And that was a moment for me where I was like, “I don’t have to listen to you anymore! You’re a voice in my brain that is not me! That voice telling me not to eat is not me, so you just gotta ignore it and know that it’s wrong.” I just really thought of it as I had to exercise a demon. That’s how I dealt with it, and that’s really how I got over it and was able to start eating again.


Paul:      One of the biggest lies is you tell yourself, “If I just give in, do it right now, that will shut it up.” And it feeds it. It feeds it.


Nikki:     Right! Yeah! Feeds it.


Paul:      When in reality, the way to deal with it is to get to the bottom of why that voice is saying what it’s saying. What are the core messages, which usually to me boils down to, “I don’t have enough. I don’t do enough. I’m not enough. I don’t matter.” Those are the four that I deal with on a constant basis. So getting back to what you were saying about what’s going on in your life, there’s a pattern.


Nikki:     There’s a pattern. My first boyfriend at 24 I was well into recovery. It was a non-issue for me anymore really. And he was an alcoholic, verbally abusive, emotionally abusive, alcoholic. It was a long-distance relationship. I finally got out of it two years later, and then since then I’ve just only dated either men with girlfriends or men who live very far away. So I’m in a pattern of not…. I obviously have a problem with intimacy and commitment. And yeah. So I don’t know what to do with that really, because I feel like I can’t help who I’m attracted to. And I try to go for the opposite of what I’ve, like I tried to date a guy who was really nice because I was seeming to just only be dating jerks. And then he ended up being a jerk and-


Paul:      I know, you told me. Or I heard on the podcast.


Nikki:     It just feels… I quit drinking in December.


Paul:      That’s awesome.


Nikki:     Yeah. I love it. It’s my new life. I really feel committed to it. And for the first time, I am completely single. There’s no one on my radar, and I feel great about it. I really feel like I need to take this time to re-evaluate everything because I’m going through a lot right now in terms of not drinking and dealing with that.


Paul:      I would bet all those feelings we stuffed down are coming up. What are some of the thoughts and feelings that are popping up as you go through this?


Nikki:     Man, I wouldn’t know because I hit them back down with pot and binging on food.


Paul:      Okay.


Nikki:     So I’m not even dealing with them yet, whatever they are. And that’s my problem.


Paul:      So you’re just taking one of the blunt tools away, but there’s still a couple of other blunt tools you’re beating it back down with.


Nikki:     And these tools don’t give me hangovers, so they’re better for me in that way. But I mean, I had no idea. I just thought my drinking was a problem because it was giving me hangovers and making me work not as efficiently. Now I’m realizing, oh my god, all this stuff I’m doing compulsively now that I’m not drinking, it’s so obvious that I’m pushing something down and I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why I need to get fucked up and why I need to not be in my head. I don’t know what it is. And that’s what I feel like leaving, walking in a podcast like, “You need to go get therapy.” I know that I do. I know that there’s something lurking, but this is a really weird time for me right now because it’s been two and a half months sober and I have some eating things that are coming back up that I haven’t dealt with that drinking has just taken place of. Because I wasn’t drinking when I was anorexic because all the calories. As soon as I started eating again, I started drinking and that just totally took the- I’m just substituting here and there. I feel like I’m doing the lesser of two evils right now, but there’s still evil things going on in my life.


Paul:      I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Switching deck chairs on the Titanic.”


Nikki:     Oh my god. No, I have not but that’s exactly­­ what I’m feeling.


Paul:      I totally get it, man. Last night it was about one in the morning and I just kind of had this, I don’t know, just this vague empty blah restless feeling and I was like, “Ah, I forgot we got peanut brittle.” And so I just went and of course the firsts thought in my brain is, “It’s almost two in the morning. What are you doing eating peanut brittle?” Which then made me feel more guilty, which made me want to eat more peanut brittle. And then there’s that really sick moment when you’re reaching into the food and you say, “I’m going to take this big of a piece,” and then your fingers expand and there’s just like this argument with your body and your fingers. Fucking tasted so good. It tasted so good. It did the trick, you know. It did the trick for that hour. It’s like, “I get it.” I have these moments where I totally feel like I identify with what people have that go through food issues.


Nikki:     I think that more… you were hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have some kind of control issues with food. And I think we all relate to it on some level in this day in age, but yeah that whole… man, the thing for me now is I will not, I can’t, I will never go back to the way I was of just not eating. That just isn’t… I can’t do it. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. And I don’t want to obviously. But I feel very out of control with my eating. The whole hand thing you’re talking about, making your hand just a little bit bigger. Even when I’m like, “I’m only going to have this piece,” I know I’m lying to myself. I even say, “You’re lying to-“ I say that in my head. That’s a nice thought you’re having, but you’re going to finish this entire package.


Paul:      You’re going to do it in five trips so it doesn’t look as bad.


Nikki:     Exactly. This is embarrassing for me to admit, but fuck it. I can’t have food in my house. It will be eaten. So that to me…


Paul:      Let’s talk about why then you knowing all this stuff, why the hesitation to go back to get help?


Nikki:     I don’t know.


Paul:      Do you think it’s going to be inconvenient? Uncomfortable? Painful?


Nikki:     Sure. Yes.


Paul:      You’re going to have to maybe-


Nikki:     Like there’s no fixing this. There’s that kind of thought going through.


Paul:      But there’s a managing it.


Nikki:     I know. There is. I’m going to get help. That’s the next step. Because not drinking has really shed a lot of light on that. I’m definitely come to terms, like I have problems that I need help with. Like… I want to have kids some day. And I want a husband some day. And I want all that stuff, but I cannot have it with the way that I have this secret relationship with food that I don’t… I can’t see myself and no one else is fitting in that right now. Like, it’s just me and food and I have to break up with food and I don’t know how because you have to keep food in your life. That’s the hardest thing.


Paul:      How about the idea though that you don’t have to break up with food, but you have to make friends with food? So that it’s a neutral thing and it’s not shit and it’s not a cake. It’s somewhere in between. Because the addict mentality – and I’m the same way – is I don’t do five. I do zero or ten. And that makes life fucking unmanageable. It makes life exciting. Sometimes I think the excitement of it… I was just talking to a friend this morning. He said, “How’s it going?” I said, “It’s going great.” But there is this weird silence, this weird lack of drama, that activates this thing in my brain that tells me, “You obviously aren’t paying attention because you should be worrying about shit.” And that is my addict. That is my addict. And I’m beginning to see it more and more now and I think it’s that is what makes us do the zero or ten. We get a little calm. And then it’s like, “Oh my god I’m not paying attention because I’m not worried.” And there isn’t that excitement from the rest of my life. It’s a weird, eerie silence. But that silence I think is who we are naturally. That’s the place to get to and live in without guilt or fear, and I’ve had glimpses of it and it’s fucking beautiful. It’s beautiful. And it is there. It is absolutely there for us.


Nikki:     I know exactly what you’re talking about! And that is what I need to get high. I need to smoke some weed. I need to find weed right now because I’m feeling something. It’s not boredom, but it’s like-


Paul:      It’s restless. Something’s missing.


Nikki:     Vacancy. There’s a vacancy!


Paul:      Something’s missing.


Nikki:     I gotta do something!


Paul:      This isn’t right!


Nikki:     Right!


Paul:      It’s not right!


Nikki:     It’s restless.


Paul:      Something’s wrong! I know what will make it right. Yeah. Oh my god. I’ve had that conversation in my head five hundred thousand times.


Nikki:     Oh my god.


Paul:      Maybe not that articulately, more of a just, “Uh… blah… this sucks.”


Nikki:     I gotta do something.


Paul:      I gotta do something. Or blame somebody else for how I’m feeling.


Nikki:     Oh god, yes.


Paul:      If my manager only had done this, then I would have gotten that and then I’d be happy. That’s the worst.


Nikki:     Well, I’m more blame myself, which becomes another person that becomes this characterization of myself that I can put all the blame on. I hate that person. I do. Yeah, Gregg was saying, “Nikki Glaser doesn’t like Nikki Glaser,” and I’m like on paper I think I’m fucking great. I think I’m funny and my career is going where I want it to, but yeah I clearly am not comfortable being alone with myself. I clearly don’t like something about myself. I don’t know what it is yet though, but I want to figure it out. I want to get my shit together. I’m taking the steps to do so and I think therapy is the next step, because this eating shit coming back up. I’m like no. It’s been there the whole time, but drinking just took the place of it and now it’s like, oh god there you are again. Ten years later you’re still feeling just as out of control with it and having the worst relationship with food ever and feeling like it’s your boyfriend.


Paul:      (Laughs)


Nikki:     I would rather go home with food I want to eat and spend the night in bed eating and then feeling sorry about what just happened. I’d rather do that than hang out with someone I like. It’s really sad. But then sometimes, but then I’ll get a boyfriend and get really interested in someone and again I get this like, “Oh I lost my appetite,” and I go back to normal eating because I’m on a schedule eating with them. And then I’m like, but I’m totally codependent on them and as soon as they’re gone it comes back. I don’t know where the balance is.


Paul:      Yeah. It’s that zero or ten thing, man. It’s my enemy or it’s my god.


Nikki:     Yeah.


Paul:      How do I just make it my friend?


Nikki:     I’m so envious of people who can just eat when they’re hungry and don’t eat when they’re not. I mean, it just doesn’t seem like something I’ll ever be able to do. But I will not have kids if that doesn’t go. I do not want to have-


Paul:      Bring them into that drama. Good for you.


Nikki:     I just can’t… I don’t want a little… I don’t want to make a me. Like, I mean I turned out great I think but I don’t want-yeah. I just know that those habits are so easily picked up on.


Paul:      Is it fair to say that you don’t want to instill the anxiety that you think maybe your mom instilled in you? Not instilled, but you absorbed?


Nikki:     Yeah. Because my sister didn’t get any of it. She totally has a healthy relationship with food, but yeah so I don’t think it’s… yeah there’s so much I got to get together before I even think about having kids.


Paul:      Do you believe that it’s do-able? That there is…


Nikki:     I don’t know, Paul.


Paul:      Would you believe that there is nothing I believe in more deeply and if there’s anything I want people to understand from this podcast is if we keep working towards the solution that our lives absolutely get better. I’ve never met anybody who has worked, who has put effort into getting better, no matter what their issue is, that has not had their live improve by it. It doesn’t take pain or any of that other stuff away, but it allows them to deal with it in a way that’s manageable. Their life becomes easier. I heard somebody say one time… this person had been in this support group for years and this person said, “One of the most valuable things this has given me is to be comfortable with unresolved problems.” And that struck me like a bolt of lightening because I used to be so anal about problems in my life. And I thought that the goal in life was to not have problems, to have this kind of clean kitchen. And that’s a sick fantasy. It’s a sick fantasy and it’s unobtainable.


Nikki:     But you would be bored without your problems, too.


Paul:      Absolutely.


Nikki:     You would feel that restlessness.


Paul:      I would find something else.


Nikki:     You need to go make one.


Paul:      Go shopping or find an enemy to obsess on. But learning to be comfortable with- and I think what’s really closely related to that is being comfortable with our imperfections. Being comfortable knowing that I can be a little bit this way, and I can be a little bit that way, and here’s how I react when I do that. And I’m not a bad person – I’m just fucking human.


Nikki:     Yeah. Feeling like I’m a bad person is often. Yeah. Being able to say, “Yeah, I’m flawed, and that’s fine. And I’m not a bad person,” because that’s the worst is when you feel like you’re-


Paul:      And it’s not a new thought. I mean, everybody knows that intellectually, but how do you get to that place? And I have to tell you, it’s one of the hardest things to truly believe that you are okay, you have enough, you do enough, and you’re lovable, and you matter. And to feel that and believe it is a super hard thing to maintain, but it’s absolutely doable. It took me fucking eight years of intense work to get there, but it’s… and I slide back and forth. You know, I’ll dip back into it.


Nikki:     Yeah, peanut brittle.


Paul:      Peanut brittle. That’s so funny because it just came into my mind. But let’s get back to talking about what’s going on with you. Do you feel like doing a fear off?


Nikki:     Sure.


Paul:      Okay. Um I’m going to be doing fears from a listener who didn’t put their name. I’ll start off with hers. “I fear my overuse of LSD and ecstasy as a teenager in some way changed my chemistry and caused my son’s autism.”


Nikki:     I feat that I say too much. I share too much on these podcasts.


Paul:      She says, “I fear that my next skin cancer will be the serious kind.” She’s going right to the fucking… no easing into it with her. Autism and cancer right out of the gate!


Nikki:     Jesus. I fear I’m going to die in a freakish way and then someone’s going to have to clean out my apartment and realize who I really am.


Paul:      There’s no way I’m continuing without getting into that one. What are they going to find in the apartment?


Nikki:     You know… man.


Paul:      And I had the same fear, by the way.


Nikki:     Sure. I think we all do. I think anyone can relate to that. But I just… I’m messy I will say. I can’t even go into what I fear people will find because it’s just so embarrassing.


Paul:      C’mon.


Nikki:     I mean, I fear people will see… oh my god. I fear people will know the truth about my eating issues from what they find in my life. I mean, I don’t think they would actually now that I’m saying this. I think I cover it up pretty well. I fear that someone will find out what I really do when I’m alone and I’ll freak some people out. I mean, every addiction has it’s ugly sides.


Paul:      Absolutely.


Nikki:     And, without getting into it, there’s things I do that I have done that I’m not proud of and I’m scared that that… yeah. I will gladly talk about them when they’re not a part of my life down the road some day. They are going to be in my act. That’s how I’ve lived, anything that’s ever embarrassing about me, I know there’s a space in the act somewhere or in the book. Right now, I’m in it so I don’t have as much perspective and I’m not able to really articulate what I mean by that. But it’s not anything… I mean, it’s yeah. I’ll leave it at that.


Paul:      It’s not a nine ft. dildo and a rotating picture of yourself?


Nikki:     (Laughs)


Paul:      Let’s see. And that’s a great one, by the way. I totally relate to that one. I used to look at pornography that made me feel bad about myself. It’s been ten years since I looked at anything like that, but I used to be afraid that people were going to find out that I looked at that kind of stuff. So I totally get it.

“I’m afraid that I will never go back to college.”


Nikki:     I’m afraid I’ll be fat.


Paul:      “I’m afraid I will not resolve the conflicted feelings that I have for my mother, who was so clingy that I want to distance myself from her and she will die and I will feel a mountain of guilt for not fully accepting her love.” That- holy shit. Do I relate to that one.


Nikki:     Goddammit. Yeah, I fear… well, I know – I don’t fear it – I know my mom will never acknowledge her problems. And I also fear that she will never, there’s maybe some hope but I don’t think so.


Paul:      “I fear my husband or I will accidentally slip into alcoholism.”


Nikki:     I fear that my mom will hear this podcast.


Paul:      “I fear my husband will get tired of my self-loathing getting in the way believing in the sincerity of his feelings for me.” That’s a good one, too, because man it’s hard to let people love you when you’re not sure about what they’re loving.


Nikki:     Yeah.


Paul:      And let me- if I can say anything, people can see deeper into us passing us on the sidewalk in ten seconds I think than some of us can see in a lifetime. If we don’t work on ourselves, we miss getting to see ourselves objectively and see the truth for who we are. Not in a way to beat ourselves up, but in a way to accept ourselves. And when we do get that glimpse, it’s fucking beautiful and peaceful.


Nikki:     Yeah.


Paul:      Am I talking too much? I fear I’m talking too much.


Nikki:     No. You know what? I fear I’m not listening well enough because I’m so in my head about what I’m fearing.


Paul:      It’s okay.


Nikki:     So you’re talking and I’m hearing you but I’m not processing it.


Paul:      I know, because it’s hard to think of fears while someone else is talking.


Nikki:     I’m sorry.


Paul:      Are you into fear about what you’re saying on the podcast and the effect it’s going to have?


Nikki:     Yeah. But I’m sticking to this one. This one’s going live. I walked into this knowing what I was going to say and I just- I know… yeah. My mom won’t hear it. And I love my mom and she’s so… I vilify these things I feel like. But she’s great. And I feel like I’m… it was really hard for me to tell my parents that I quit drinking because they were really disappointed because


Paul:      They’re drinkers.


Nikki:     Yeah. And it made… they’re supportive now, but when I first told them they were like, “Why would you do this? You don’t have a problem.” And then I think it felt like it reflected on them and my mom said to me, “Do you still smoke pot?” And I was like, “Yeah,” and she was like, “Good.” I was just like why did that exchange just happen? It was really like, I mean I talked about it on my podcast and laughed about it but that really hurt.


Paul:      It’s almost like your mom saying, you’re not getting to the truth, are you? No I’m not. Oh good.


Nikki:     Yeah. It’s exactly that. I went into therapy with her once. In the early stages when I was right at the beginning, before we had even diagnosed as anorexia I think. We were all just calling it a diet still. The woman pretty much told my mom, your daughter’s anorexic. And I was like hearing it for the first time and I was like, no I’m not. She said, “She has all the symptoms, it’s definitely that.” My mom denied it and then I kind of talked about my mom’s drinking as maybe something that concerned me, and the women… my mom was like, “I don’t have a drinking problem.” And I was like, “Well, I think maybe you do a little bit.” And we kind of went back and forth about it. And then of course my mom was getting really defensive, and the woman said, “Well how can you expect Nikki to start eating if you won’t stop drinking?” And my mom said, “I will never stop drinking. So that’s off the table.” And I just remember, even if that was… maybe that’s not the reason that I would start. But if that was an option for me to live would be for you to stop drinking, and you just put that on the table, that, “I will never stop drinking. And that’s it.” Close conversation? That was like a punch in the face to me. And then we left that place and she was like, “We’re never coming back there.” And we never talked about it again. But that session was just like… I felt like, oh god that’s more important – getting fucked up once a week is more important to my mom than me being healthy.


Paul:      I would imagine if she cares so deeply, as most people do, what other people think about them. How could alcohol not be your friend? How could it not be your best friend?


Nikki:     What do you mean by that?


Paul:      The tension of being in a room full of people and caring deeply about what other people think of you, and afraid that they’re talking about you, who wouldn’t need the release of alcohol in that situation? Who wouldn’t need that lubrication? Otherwise, you’re stuck in that. So I get that. What I don’t get is knowing that and not wanting to do something, to thinking that’s the solution.


Nikki:     That is my problem, too.


Paul:      But it’s fear. It’s just fear. And I tell you, somebody said that one time, “Fear is a mile high and a mile wide and paper thin.” And I’ve come to find out it’s exactly true. The things that I thought- making apologies to people who I had hurt. I just thought, “Oh this is going to be the fucking worst.” And some of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever had… I was so afraid of being vulnerable for so much of my life. And this sounds corny, but through that door is the fucking greatest room you will ever find. All the feelings you wanted in life that you were trying with blunt tools to get, for me, came by walking through that door of willing to be vulnerable. Willing to really look at who I am and what I’ve done, and to love myself despite those things. And to talk to another person and to say I’m sorry, and to just… sometimes when I’m afraid just to be. Just to be afraid, and say I’m feeling afraid right now or I’m feeling angry, and not try to stuff that feeling down but just let that feeling pass through me. It’s hard but you can re-learn, you can re-learn and rewire that part of ourselves and quiet that voice down. That voice can absolutely be quieted. I think you’re in that place where you’re willingness is growing each day to get into the solution and get out of the discomfort.


Nikki:     Yeah, I want out. I’m reaching my bottom. I feel like I’m done living like I have been. It’s been ten years now with this eating shit and I’m really wanting to move on. And yeah, I think … I saw my parents this past weekend and I felt like I was on- they even said, they said, “You’re a different person. There’s something going on with you.” I really do feel like I’m on the brink of something. I feel positive about it and I’m definitely going to get to therapy because this feels great talking about it, and it feels awesome.


Paul:      Good! It feels so good to me. It really does.


Nikki:     It does! There’s no denying it. I always forget how great it is.


Paul:      It is. And that’s part of the addict in our brain is it tells us it’s not going to be good. It tells us it, and this is the feeling I’ve always wanted my whole life is this feeling of being connected to somebody and feeling trusted and respected and I don’t know if loved is too strong of a word, but I think that even though you and I don’t know each other, I think what we’re exchanging is love. That’s what love is based on is vulnerability and intimacy and all that other stuff. And to have that with somebody that you don’t know that well, that’s one of the most awesome things in life to me because it tells me there’s love everywhere out there. There’s a lot of places where there’s hate and fucking awful shit, but we underestimate how much love is there for the taking if we’re willing to get into that energy where it can flow back and forth. But it’s hard sometimes. It’s unfamiliar to get to that place.


Nikki:     It really is. And I struggle with it and my closest relationships talking about this kind of stuff, the stuff we’re talking about now, I haven’t gotten into it with any of my exes really. It feels good to talk about. It feels right and I don’t feel wrong about it. I don’t feel a sense of –


Paul:      I always feel lighter. I feel like… you know how there’s always like a clock ticking in your head, like gotta get this, that clock stops ticking. Time kind of stands still. There’s no past or there’s no future. There’s just right now. And people that meditate always talk about that.


Nikki:     Do you meditate?


Paul:      I do. And that really, really, really helped.


Nikki:     I want to get into it. I’ve been researching it a little bit. That seems to be like something I could get into.


Paul:      Oh, yeah. It introduces you to your thoughts. You begin to see what’s really going on with you, and yeah. Highly recommend that. And some of our best creativity comes from meditation. Back to the fear off.

“I will always carry the taint of what I now look back on as a white trash upbringing and that others can smell it from a mile away.”


Nikki:     Ooh.


Paul:      I like this woman, whoever she is.


Nikki:     I do, too. I’m feeling you on that one. Um. I fear I’ll never find a companion.


Paul:      “I fear my vagina will change in horrible ways as I grow old.” That’s awesome.


Nikki:     Ugh god. Ditto. I fear I won’t make it.


Paul:      Look at how much success you have. You found your voice on stage.


Nikki:     I fear that I’ll never feel like I’ve made it.


Paul:      Yes! That’s a good one. That is a good one.

“We will end up poor despite all our hard work and sacrifice.”


Nikki:     I’m not feeling this now, but I often fear I’ll never be hungry again. So I have to eat like … you eat like I could just stop and be like, “Oh you’re going to feel how great it is to take that first bite when you’re hungry. That will come back!” But for some reason I could never picture it. Fear oh I’ll never get that back, so just eat all you can now.


Paul:      It’s just amazing how each disease has its own favorite sound bytes in our head. She says, “I am afraid some tragedy will befall one of my children. Not specific at all, but there are so many.”


Nikki:     I fear I’ll be raped.


Paul:      She says, “I fear my husband secretly thinks of me as a fool or a child.”


Nikki:     I fear my parents will die.


Paul:      “I fear I will never get a firm grip on my body image, and despite the numbers on the scale or the size of my clothes that I will always see myself as grossly overweight.”


Nikki:     I fear I smell bad.


Paul:      “I fear someday my kids will feel about me the way I feel about my mother.”


Nikki:     Oh god!


Paul:      If you can come up with one more, you will have defeated her. Oh! And here’s the name. She wants to be called Cherry Soda.


Nikki:     Oh Cherry Soda. I like that. I fear I’ll never enjoy a cherry soda.


Paul:      You got to come up with a better one than that. Seriously? Oh, because you don’t drink soda?


Nikki:     I can’t enjoy- this is the thing. Getting a little bit into what I was talking about before, when I binge I binge on extremely healthy food. Like, I do not touch peanut brittle, pizza. I don’t eat bad fried food. I haven’t had fried food ever, like in 10 years. And so when I go all out, I’ll just eat a ton- like I love healthy food. It’s like my favorite food. So I’ll just eat it, like if you looked at what I ate you’d be like, “Oh, that’s not bad.” And that’s why I’m able to stay thin and eat so fucking much. Because I eat really healthy food. I can’t enjoy cake. I do eat cake when like there’s a birthday or something. Like, I’ll let myself have it. But I’m not enjoying it as it’s going down. I don’t enjoy the taste. I’m beating myself up in my head as I’m taking a bite.


Paul:      Have you ever pulled cake out of the trash can? Cake that was thrown away and eaten it?


Nikki:     Yeah, oh definitely. I’ve eaten things out of the trash and had to spray kitchen cleaner on them just so I wouldn’t eat it. Destroy it. Or, you know, take a bag of chips and Baked Lays, and just take the biggest handful you can find and throw it out the window of the car. I’m always eating on the road. When I would get snacks on the road, dispose of half of it because I’m going to eat it all. It will all get eaten. There’s no way it won’t. So just get it out of there right away. Oh yeah, totally-


Paul:      Like, when you say when you eat a lot… by the way, you have defeated our listener.


Nikki:     She had some really good ones though.


Paul:      But look at you. Miles Davis-ing it and crushing her.


Nikki:     Oh, thanks. Sorry I didn’t come with my list.


Paul:      That’s okay. When you say- you were talking about eating incredible amounts of healthy food. Give me an example of a day when you kind of go off the deep end with food. What would you eat and how much of it?


Nikki:     Let me just think about if I want to go here because it really….


Paul:      I don’t want to shame you.


Nikki:     I know you don’t, and that’s why I’m trying not to shame myself in saying this. It would be- I mean… Let’s just talk calories. I will consume… I could consume 2,000 calories in a sitting of very healthy food, which is not easy to do. 2,000 calories of not healthy food is easy. That’s like a pizza or whatever. But I can do it with healthy food.


Paul:      So large volumes of food.


Nikki:     Yes.


Paul:      Do you get off on volumes of food?


Nikki:     Yes. That’s my whole thing, like I want to eat as much as possible without taking in as many calories. I will always… I want more. I don’t like concentrated calories.


Paul:      Right. I get that.


Nikki:     I have to spread it out because then I get to do it longer!


Paul:      Yes, exactly. That’s why I was a beer drinker. I tried switching to hard alcohol once and it was a fucking nightmare because the standing around and being uncomfortable in my skin, drinking’s the act of bringing something to my mouth brought me relief and-


Nikki:     That’s why I drank when I drank. I would dilute it. Vodka sodas but it would be like a tiny little bit of vodka and tons of soda but I would get way more wasted than anyone. I would just be chugging them. I mean, I remember from an early age – very early – my dad being like, my first judgment I ever felt like oh I’m a bad person, my dad being like, “Slow down! You chug everything.” I’ve just always been… I inhale food. I eat so fast and so much. I freak people out. It’s really a thing for me that I’ve become a lot more, like, you know what? Fuck it. Yeah I’m going to eat this salad really fast and I’m going to eat a lot of food in a short amount of time. It’s going to freak everyone out. I’ve become more unapologetic about it just because I have to because I have an addiction. So get used to it, America!


Paul:      Do you ever chipmunk it?


Nikki:     What does that mean?


Paul:      Where you just can’t swallow it fast enough so it backs up in your cheeks. I do that all the time.


Nikki:     Oh no. Really?


Paul:      Almost every day when I eat. Because when I get hungry, I have no patience and I want that so I just start chewing and chewing and chewing but I can’t… the taste is so good and I get mocked sometimes. People will make this face. I got mocked by a stranger one time. I was eating at a restaurant and I was by the plate glass window just staring out and I was just chowing down on this hot dog and this woman went past and just stopped right in front of me and just made this big, fat face that mocked me, and I was like oh my god. I have no idea what I must look like.


Nikki:     That’s the worse when strangers feel like they can chime in. It happens to me all the time because I do eat ginormous salads. Salads are my thing because that’s like the biggest thing you can get with the least amount of calories or whatever. I remember in college girls at this frat party were whispering and being like, “That’s the salad girl.” Because I would go to the salad bar and just load up a pile and just devour it. And I just remember being so humiliated. But yeah, chewing a bite but already getting ready to put the next bite in your mouth – it’s my life. I struggle, I’ve never been… I’ve dabbled in bulimia – I’m not going to sit here and lie. I definitely have and I’ve denied it in the past to therapists and everything. Because that was never my go-to method. And I’ve dabbled here and there. I’m not going to lie. It does come back up. But there are times when that’s happened but it’s never been my go-to thing. But sometimes it’s not even that I’ll make myself, but it just happens because you eat too much. It’s really something I’m struggling with and I know I’m not alone. I know so many people. It’s just not talked about that much because it’s so disgusting. Food – the shame that’s involved. I mean, the shame with every addiction but I know I’m not alone on it. And I know I’m not disgusting and a bad person and all that stuff, but it’s hard sometimes to really feel that way. But it’s good to talk about, and I hope that some of your listeners relate.


Paul:      I know they will.


Nikki:     And do not feel so alone, too.


Paul:      I know they will, and I think that’s a great note to end on. Unless there’s something else that you had that you wanted to talk about.


Nikki:     I think I’m good. We’ll have to do another episode some time because I know there’s more. But this has been really great.


Paul:      Yeah, I really appreciate you coming by and talking about stuff that can’t be easy.


Nikki:     Yeah. And it’s… it’s just weird to me that I really did think that I was done with it, and it was in my past, and it was something that- and that’s why I kind of started talking about my eating disorder because I was like, “That’s my past.” And all of a sudden it’s now my present again. And I’m okay with talking about it still, even if I’m going through it. I think that should be okay to talk about things that you’re- that’s the way to get past them!


Paul:      Absolutely. You know, the way I look at it with addiction is it will never go away, but you can get it down to where it’s an ember. And so what are you going to do to deny that thing oxygen? And that’s then what life becomes. I need to fold those things into my life on a daily basis that deny that ember oxygen. And when I do, my life is awesome. My life is awesome. And when I don’t, it’s up in flames.


Nikki:     I’m on my way there. I would not be able to talk about this stuff. As I’m saying it, I’m like I was not going to admit that thing. Or you know. I’m really glad I have though, and I know that being able to say that I am currently struggling with these things is the first step in getting better so I feel like… I feel good about being on my way. I really do feel positive about all this.


Paul:      I feel privileged to be here to listen to it, so thanks, Nikki.


Nikki:     Thank you.


Paul:      Many thanks to Nikki Glaser. Before we take it with what I think is a fascinating survey from a listener, I want to also thank my wife, Steve Greeve who runs the website, Dan, John, Manny, Michael, John – did I name him already? The guys who help keep the spammers out of the website and help run the forum. Really appreciate you guys pitching in. All these people do this stuff for free and that’s a big help seeing as this show doesn’t really make any money. And speaking of that, if you would like to contribute financially to this show, there’s a couple different ways you can do that. You can go to our website,, you can donate through a PayPal link or you can shop at Amazon through our Amazon link and then they give us a couple nickels. Doesn’t cost you anything. And finally, the way you can support us non-financially is go to iTunes and give us a good rating and write something nice about us. If you don’t like it, write that, too. But hopefully if you’ve stuck around this far into the show and you don’t like it, you’re a fucking douche. Alright. A douche! What am I? Eighteen years old?

This survey response, this is from the basic Mental Illness Happy Hour survey, and it was filled out by a guy who calls himself Dark Mockery. You know it’s going to be good when out of the gate you’re calling yourself Dark Mockery. He’s straight. Oh, I’m sorry. This is not from the basic survey. This is from the Shame & Secrets survey. He’s in his thirties. He was raised in a stable and safe environment. He’s never been sexually abused. Deepest, darkest thoughts? He writes, “I have thoughts of killing, raping, and mutilating people, and being killed, raped and mutilated. I also have thoughts of self-mutilation and suicide.”

Deepest, darkest secrets? Things he’s done or things that have happened to him. He writes, “I’ve been picking up street prostitutes of any gender and age for about 15 years. The youngest was 16 and the oldest 62. I’ve paid from $5 to $300. I once paid a cross dresser to basically rape me. I’ve never been sexually abused or molested. I have no idea what drives me to do this and I really, really want to stop. I’ve started seeing a psychologist.”

Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings toward yourself? He writes, “I feel like no one could love me. I was married for 15 years and she still doesn’t know. I recently got married and my new wife doesn’t know. I’m torn between keeping this a secret and telling them. I don’t want my marriage to end and I know this will end it so I walk around every day wondering if I’ll get caught. Wondering if I should tell my wife. Wondering if I should just run away and live the rest of my life alone.”

Do you have any comments or suggestions to make this show better? He writes, “Listening to your podcast prompted me to go see a psychologist. I’m not on medication and I’m amazed at the difference in me. I no longer have the impulse to pick up a prostitute. My harmful thoughts have subsided. I also love it that your guests are so real about your lives. Thank you so much for your show.”

Wow, thank you for writing and saying that. If you haven’t gathered already, those of you out there listening, there is hope. You’re not stuck. You are not alone. Thanks for listening.