My Big Secret
Anyone who knows me knows what I'm about to write isn't a secret, but it isn't exactly something I've put front and center in my coaching work but it's time: for years I battled mental illness as did my mother and do my sisters as did my Grandmother as did many generations of family before me.
To say I know crazy would be an understatement. To say one of the things I was born to do was to help anyone suffering from any form of mental illness would be the biggest fucking understatement on the planet.
And when I write "anyone suffering from any form of mental illness" I am referring to the over 80 million people suffering, right now, with some debilitating form of depression and the over 20 million suffering from some form of rabid anxiety disorder.
For most of my life I suffered from both. One day I'd be sweating on a New York City subway in the middle of February because I was having a massive panic attack, and the next week I'd be so depressed I'd be camped out on the couch for days eating pepperoni pizza and drinking glass of wine after glass of wine and smoking bong hit after bong hit.
I was suffering and was doing all I could to relieve the pressure of the pain. It took me most of my life to realize that despite the fact I was born into a family ravaged by mental illness I had a choice to tell and live a different story.
That kind of thinking, by the way, pisses off people who are suffering and it should. It's trite and too simple. Pain is complex and it's not easy to learn to think and feel better on a consistent basis. It's a motherfucker actually.
Today I choose a life that supports my feelings of balance and order. It's a big system of meditation and exercise and thought management. It's having a relationship with what I do call God. If I don't stick to my routine, I can tip over to a place that's not good for me and by 'not good for me' I mean back to the old story I refuse to tell anymore which is that since I came from a crazy fucking mother and crazy fucking family my DNA is fucked and I'm going to go crazy some day.
Now I know that isn't going to happen.
Here are before and after photos for y'all.
It's so funny looking at that first guy. He was 50 pounds overweight. It was like the first guy ate the second one (yes, I get the metaphor). But look at my eyes in the fat photo. So sweet and trying so hard to find happiness and peace shoving one slice of pizza into his face at a time.
Sometimes I get really angry at all the fat people I see in New York City and I wonder to myself, "Who the fuck are you to judge? You were there once." We judge that which we can't love in ourselves. Can I get an amen?
People who suffer from depression and/or anxiety or worse, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, will do all they can to feel better. In my case I ate and I drank and smoked weed. I had a great time and years passed and I hit my 40's and it was clear if I didn't so something soon I was gonna be doomed to a life of mediocrity.
But I always knew I would somehow crawl out of my hole and I did. Today I can say I have and there are times I'm shocked at how good I feel. But for people suffering from mental illness they have no idea that they're in control. They have no emotional reference point to let them know that everything is going to be okay.
You can't have a vision for something you've never seen (or felt).
Now yes, yes some people must have drugs to get by. Honestly, during my worst days I wish I'd have taken anti-depressants. It would have helped me so much, but see, my mentally ill mother committed suicide from taking too many pills and drinking too much booze so I never, ever liked pills.
I've long since stopped caring what anyone thinks when they read what I just wrote. That I suffered from massive depression and anxiety for much of my life. That my mother committed suicide. It's where I came from.
And I've finally stopped listening to people who say I need to stop talking about this because 'people want to hear something new.' This is my life story. This is what I'm about. Transcending who I was taught to think I was and living a happier and more successful life IS my act because it isn't an act.
That's not to say, by the way, I don't still have dark days and that I don't feel a flutter of my formerly anxious self (the one that would scream like a little girl when a car backfired). But those days - THANK GOODNESS - are far and few.
My past is what makes so good at this work. I can tell what anyone is thinking before they even open their mouth. I can feel them and that's why I can help them. I feel them before they can feel themselves because I hid from my own feelings for so many years. I showed people what they needed to see to feel better about their lives. I wanted them to like me and be comfortable. Know what?
I talk a lot about my past, about my mother, about how far I've come and it ain't gonna change. It isn't my schtick. I'm not working a room in the Catskills or Hollywood endlessly talking about the same thing. It's my past which is the basis for my amazing life now and that's who I am.
I know why people hide and it's right and makes sense they would. It's better than feeling the pain of their depression or anxiety, right?
See, the thing is underneath anxiety is depression. Anxiety is a mask for depression. And trust me when I say you'd much rather feel anxiety than depression because depression is the worst feeling on the planet. When you feel genuine depression nothing makes sense. There is no point. Life isn't worth living. And nothing any one can so or do can get anyone out of that state which is why so many people who say they can help depressed patients can't.
But I can. And I do. Because I get where we're all coming from in that emotional state. I know how lost that feels and I know that the only answer is focusing every day, as much as possible, on what's working and hanging out hat on that. Only then do our feelings change and we move towards the life we've always wanted.
So that's my origin story. I came from the mouth of madness and I've come out the other side. My destiny was sealed the moment I was born and that destiny was to help people suffering by being a living example of transformation.
Because if I can make it after all I've been through anyone can.