“I have this fear that if I feel this pain, it will kill me and I will die… I’m afraid that I’m going to pass my anger onto my son.”
Mental Illness has its own Happy Hour, only this one won’t leave you drunk and in a pool of vomit. Paul Gilmartin’s podcast will make you smile and it may just change your mind.
When Mental illness gets media coverage, it is usually bad news. Tragic stories about suicide and violence often carry the message that mental illness is to blame, “Mentally ill man kills himself, story at 11:00.” The Mental Illness Happy Hour is helping to reduce the stigma and the isolation that can be associated with mental illness.
Layers of shame, uncertainty and isolation can magnify the negative impacts of mental illness. The podcast offers support and empathy, and can help to end the crippling effects of isolation. “I started the podcast to help other people feel less alone,” says Paul Gilmartin, “the biggest myth about mental illness is that you are alone and there is no help.”
Gilmartin, a successful comedian and TV personality, lives with depression. At first, he found escape through drugs and video games but eventually he could no longer avoid his pain. Through therapy and a support group he learned to live with his illness, which he describes as a gift.
“We wouldn’t have a word or even a concept for what light is if we didn’t experience darkness.”
Gilmartin’s podcast features stories of listeners, artists and a few professionals who experience mental illness. The intro for this article is actual quotes from his guests. What is stunning about his podcast is the level of vulnerability his guests are willing to offer. Vulnerability is like a virus, stories create a doorway to new possibilities.
Sometimes we may miss the signals that mental illness sends to us, chalking it up to personality, wiring or stress. It can take years before we are ready to open up about how we overwork because of our sadness or anxiety, how we are compulsively kind because we are devastated by rejection, or how we are perpetually busy because we have no idea how to relax.
“I ran around for years thinking the right achievements would bring me love and then I would be able to relax and turn my spinning brain off… I had spent my life trying to stand out. I was constantly trying to impress [other people].”
Men are better at talking about feelings today than in previous generations, but we still need to work at it. We know how to strengthen our muscles with nothing more than a little equipment and some space in our basement; to strengthen our mental health we need other people. We can begin with family who understand and listen, but often we need a therapist and others who are vulnerable. Gilmartin’s podcast is like a gym for our mental health.
Keep it Real