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Listener Stories
Yeah No hero
Episode 12
57:41
Listener Stories
Diane plays some of the messages we’ve received from listeners.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources

For more resources on addiction or to get help, please visit: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline.

More mental health support (via text) can be found at: https://www.crisistextline.org/

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YNINOK-12 ~ Listener Stories

Wed, 5/26 11:25AM • 50:37

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, mental health, struggled, life, parents, feel, day, understand, pain, story, dad, depression, brother, mental health services, drugs, deal, diagnosed, years, journey, conversation

SPEAKERS

Karina (listener), Dr. Carl Hart, Byron Bowers, Giovanni (listener), Melissa (listener), Rene Perez Joglar, Demi Lovato, Angel (listener), Alex (listener), Diane Guerrero, Yuri (listener), Rachel (listener)

Diane Guerrero 00:00

Just a head's up, that we are not clinical experts and ,if you need professional help, there will be some links and resources listed in the podcast description, as well as in our newsletter, which you can sign up to receive at Laist.com/newsletters. Greetings and salutations. Welcome to Yeah, No, I'm Not Okay. This is our 12th episode. So exciting. Looking back on this journey, this project has taught me so much. I've learned that I'm the most important person in my life, and that wellness is the most important part in anyone's life. You know, when I started this podcast, I really had no idea how it was going to be received. And all I knew was that I wanted to be honest. And people don't always feel comfortable with honesty. And it was this fear that kept trying to seep into the work but we push through that uncomfortable part. And this project became a place for those who value intense truth and transformation. This show is about creating community and sharing our truth with each other so that we can feel stronger and less alone. So that we can reject and let go of shame. Shame has no place in our lives. We wanted to kick shame in the a** and say, "f**k you shame! You fascist, capitalist, warmonger you!" I'm going to be my whole self, and I'm going to demand and ask for what I need, and I'm going to accept and love who I am. I refuse to be fooled by an oppressive system, and I choose to support and love myself, and uplift my community. I invite you to do the same. Now, I am honored that these messages of revolutionary truth telling are reaching you and touched you enough to share your own stories with me. And so today, we're going to share a few special listener stories with you all. I am so excited to share these amazing stories with you all. Our first call is from Angel in Oregon, who says he was inspired by the conversation I had with Rene aka Residente.

Angel (listener) 02:57

I think my journey and my struggles with mental health and the whole concept of it has been very challenging and, and being able to hear him, an artist from Puerto Rico, an artist that I respect as a Puerto Rican, are really connected to my whole discovery that I've been going through this past year. Because it really resonated like... Like, yes, we... we don't talk about it. We... it's my culture, it's breaking. We didn't talk about it. Now, as a professional, I'm seeing the impact of it. And I just wrapped up listening to your first episode talking with your brother and I loved how bold, and raw, and like in... like, in your face you were, and how empowered you were to tell your story. And this is me... this is me just, just following suit. Listen to this, don't listen to it. But I love the concept, I love what you're creating, and I just wanna talk about what's been my journey. I think...

Diane Guerrero 04:22

Angel says, he and Renee share a diagnosis, ADHD. Here's Rene telling me about his ADHD during our conversation.

Rene Perez Joglar 04:33

It's not that I was feeling bad all the time. You know, my family loved me, but I know that... yet I felt less. Also, I saw my grades. Like, they were awful. And I was... like, they kicked me out of school like five times. And I went to a psychologist and I... they... At first, they didn't know that I have ADHD, so my dad... so, he would just, you know, hitting me in the head like, "stop", because I was all the time like this. You know? In the f***ing table while we were eating. And my dad is brilliant, but it's like, at that time, you didn't have that. So, let's solve the problem. So then, all of this situation I think that, that helped me out at the end and my necessity of feeling maybe useful, and maybe making my family proud. You know, like my dad proud of me. And I remember my first drawings because it was a different career, like, a different way that I was taking because everyone else was... Actually, my, my sister was into acting, but the other one was... is a lawyer, and the other one is an architect. So, it was like I was... my dad feeling proud of the drawings. You know, it was kind of like a first thing and my mom too by... "Oh, so I'm doing it good." And I don't know, that... I think my trying to make my family proud helped me out, and trying to find something to do with my life also helped me out. I think necessity is the mother of all of the inventions.

Angel (listener) 06:10

I always knew and thought I have ADHD, but f**k it, I'm, I'm getting by. Started working with corporate America, per se, and now we live here in Oregon, in Portland. And a lot of the moves have been an impulse. A lot of my promotions have been just me being... being good, being good at what I do, and just follow my instinct. But, until this past year, I hit a wall. And the journey took me to be bold of talking about what is mental health, and learning, and talking about it. It wasn't something that we talked about in my childhood. I just needed to stay quiet and, and stay still. Like, that was it, and it wasn't until I hit a wall at work that, that balance, that organization that I just couldn't get a grasp on. I didn't realize how important mental health was for myself, for my career, and for my family. Now, I'm seeing the importance of it all. And I'm seeing my kids--my eight-year-old and my five-year-old--and, and I'm just trying and finding ways to support them. My son is eight, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He's a complete mirror of me and, and f***k, you know, it's, it's... it's time to eliminate all these old behaviors and ways of being, how we were raised, our culture, and... and trying to think outside of the box, and think about how I could just be better for him and for me and, and continue progressing.

Alex (listener) 08:33

The fact that it's targeted towards people of color, being a Latin American myself, first gen, mental health has been a silent, invisible enemy on my family. And I don't think I've ever given it the time or acknowledgement that it has affected me.

Diane Guerrero 08:59

Alex says the show made him feel like he was a part of a community.

Alex (listener) 09:04

A little background on how mental health has impacted my life was that my own father, throughout my entire life that I've known him, has always battled chronic depression, and has really allowed the depression to affect his life or really identify who he is. The countless number of medications that he's had to take throughout his life, and how he had to constantly manage that, to the point where he just never was really available to me as a father. And I think, growing up, I was very ignorant to that and how it would it would affect me and, I think, to my family as a whole. We just kind of always brushed it off as like, "Oh, Dad, you know, dad is... dad's dad." {laughs} Yeah, and I don't know how to say that he wasn't there for us. He definitely was there physically, but emotionally mentally, he was definitely in another world. And I guess a traumatic event in my experience that I'm always telling my story about -- even started my own podcast and wrote a blog entry -- One day, he basically decided to... I mean, I'm like nine or 10. I don't know exactly how old I am, and he basically was upset about something. And I know him and my mom were fighting, and he basically walked out on us. Just decided to leave. He said... he says goodbye kind of in this frantic, like, apologetic tone, like I'm sorry, but I can't really handle this anymore. And then they found him in Tijuana with... just basically... barely conscious, empty bottles of medication kinda like strewn around him, scattered about, suffering from pneumonia. And I remember I didn't visit him in the hospital, because I think I was angry. And I remember the image of him coming home through the doorway of our kitchen, and just how fragile he looked. He looked like he could have been 60 years old, despite being maybe, like, mid 40s. And I think that image of him was probably, like, the new image that I will forever see him in for the rest of my, like, my adolescence because I just saw a man that was completely broken. I think, as an adult now, as a father of one two-year-old, and a husband, I find myself just incredibly exhausted. Because I don't think I gave myself the the allowance to really cope with my own mental health, thinking it was just a disease that affected... in a way that I would suspect, like a disease like cancer or leukemia, or, you know, even other mental health issues like schizophrenia or bipolar. I assumed depression was something that was very, like, you go to the doctor, they run a blood test, and they say, Oh, you have depression, and it was really open like that. But, it really isn't, and I think that's something that I feel, had there been better resources for people of color, that... sorry, for my background... that it would've allowed us to find the healing. Not just my father, but my... for my family as a whole, and would've given me a different life. You know, I can't regret what I didn't have 'cause that does no one any good. But I think I've lived in denial of saying like, "I'm okay because I didn't have a dad." Or, I've never allowed myself to have that, that space to say, this event, this... this relationship has impacted you well into adulthood, and that I deal with my own emotional states that is quite unstable. So, this is definitely my story and my mission, and I wish you the best of luck in getting the message out there and spreading awareness and, you know, breaking through. Let's, let's break the stigma everyone.

Diane Guerrero 14:14

Alex's story kind of reminded me of the conversation with actor, comedian, Byron Bowers. His father lived with paranoid schizophrenia, and I really wanted to understand his experience, and the effect this had on his family.

Byron Bowers 14:29

I was in London and I had a bad acid trip, and that's when I really, really understood what my dad was going through. And I was able to empathize with what he was going through 'cause, I mean, that was seven hours, and he going through that every day. And it allowed me to communicate with him. 'Cause before we would always get in these bust up, or he accusing me of trying to kill him and all type of stuff. But once I had that trip, I was able to get into his world and go on this ride. 'Cause I went through a bad trip and had to accept this trip and go on that ride. So, I mean, me and my dad communication became tight and we would just... I remember we would talk for, like, a half hour on who's trying to kill him. You know what I mean? [Diane: Right] And all of these, you know, conspiracies and stuff. I mean, it's tough because you realize, like, you know, it's still a sad acceptance of things that will never, like, I would never have. You know, when it comes to parent and child relationship. You know, I thought my dad would die and not un... fully understand that, you know, that I forgave him and that he was a great father when he wasn't crazy. [Diane: Right] And I had to accept that, which was tough. And he didn't... Like, in the last few seconds before he died, I was able... we was able to communicate that with no words. You know, so it's still certain things. But on a macro level, on a bigger level it's still certain things I feel that we were robbed of as a people.

Diane Guerrero 16:11

More of your stories after the break. Just a warning, we're going to be sharing some stories that discuss suicide and self-harm.

Rachel (listener) 16:32

Hi. I mean, there's not a huge chance anyone's gonna listen to this but, you know, it's worth a shot. My name is Rachel. I'm obviously from the UK, and I'm 14. I'm going to be 15 in 16 days, which is kind of crazy because I didn't think I'd make it 14. So I'm kind of proud of myself with that. I just kinda wanted to do this to share my feelings and my experience with mental health, and mental illness and suicide. A year ago, in February, I think, I tried to take my own life. I was at the lowest point that I've ever been. I fell into depressions before, but being sui... I've never been suicidal before. So, it was a whole new thing on top of the depression, which is not a nice thing whatsoever, and the thoughts of stuff that I would do to myself. Something that no one should ever think about, especially young people because that, that... it's terrifying. It's really scary knowing that you could do such things, such things to yourself, and having those thoughts in the back of your brain, or remembering things that you... you've done to yourself or things you want to do to yourself. I started cutting in May of 2019, I think. And it took me way too long to realize that I wasn't actually okay. I thought it was just something that people do to try and make themselves feel better and I, slowly but surely, got addicted. And I know that sounds crazy that someone can get addicted to that--hurting themselves-- But, it's a thing. It happens, And I think that people who haven't gone through, or experienced self-harm, or whatever, should understand that it's not just something that people can stop. Because if I could just stop, I would. That'd make my life 10 times easier. It's not something that... It's not a topic that should be taken lightly, whatsoever. And I hate that it's not talked about enough. Especially, in the media because people need to know about this stuff. People need to know that it's okay to get help, and it's okay to not feel okay. Because I didn't know that and that's why I went to that low point where I lost control of myself. And, you know, I could have died. Like what, what if I did? I wouldn't be sat here today. Uhm, and that's a scary thought. If anyone listened to this, thank you, 'cause this took way too long to conjure up the confidence to say. Thank you for your time. Bye.

Diane Guerrero 19:42

We're listening, Rachel, and your story reminded me a lot of the conversation I had with Demi Lovato. Why do you think that you turn to substance use or self-harm in times of distress?

Demi Lovato 19:55

One thing that I think people have a common misconception of is that if people are using drugs, or if they are dealing with an eating disorder or self harm, that they want to die. And I actually said, there were many times in my life that those things stopped me from dying. In the same way that it almost killed me, it saved my life at times because there were times that I dealt with suicidal ideations. And had I gone forward with that, in that moment, instead of another destructive coping mechanism, you know, I wouldn't be here to tell my story. So, I have to understand that everything in my life has served its purpose in that moment. But knowing how to continue to make better choices for myself today is what is key. So, I think I turned to those coping mechanisms because I genuinely was in so much pain, but I didn't want to die and I didn't know what else to do. And yeah, I think I did the best that I could at times. And now that I have other tools and other resources, I know how else to deal and how else to cope, so that I don't have to resort to those behaviors again.

Diane Guerrero 21:17

I also asked Demi how they cope with stressful times.

Demi Lovato 21:20

You know, just knowing that every day is up to me is something that really helps me open my eyes in the morning. After living a life for other people so many years, I now wake up in the morning, and I'm like, "What is going to make me feel the most loved, and comfortable, and supported today?" And if it's a hard day, it might be staying in bed watching movies. You know? If it's an easier day, it might be like, I would really thrive by going on a hike and, you know, meditating or doing whatever I want to do today. Like, it's just knowing that there's some flexibility to every day in my life, to match my wants and my needs, and knowing that I have that, a little bit of spontaneity, room for spontaneity during my day is... it was... what keeps my life exciting.

Diane Guerrero 22:22

Yuri is from New York and her mother was largely absent during her earlier years due to substance use.

Yuri (listener) 22:30

When I was 11, my father had a stroke. Sorry. {crying} My father had a stroke in front of me, and he was in a coma for a few days before he passed away. I don't think that I've ever really understood how damaged I am by that until now. And that was a very long time ago. My mother, after that, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And it was just her and I. While she struggled with that and, if you can imagine just, like, a teenage girl, not understanding what her mother's really going through, not understanding what breast cancer was. My mother wasn't very educated, and she had to go through a lot of these decisions on her own receiving chemo treatment. She had a double mastectomy. So, just going through all of that, and seeing all of pain and suffering from a very young age, really messed me up, so to speak. By the time that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was a recovering addict. She was amazing. She was a sponsor for so many women. She was a leader in that community. People looked up to her. She was an amazing, an amazing person; just would extend her home, her hand, her heart to anybody who asked, and she was the only person in my life. She was the last person in my life who ever really showed me deep affection. She passed away when I was 22. She had a liver transplant because she had Hepatitis C due to her addiction or her time when she was an active user and, unfortunately, her body rejected her new liver and she died shortly thereafter. And that is when I think I just vanished as a person. I don't remember any of who I was prior to that, and I have been struggling ever since, coping in different ways. I've thankfully stayed clear of drugs just because I know the impact that my mom's addiction had on my brother, on myself, on my father. That, and also there's like... Genetically, I know that you can inherit that addiction tendency. And it didn't go to drugs, but it went to food. It went to other ways. I think the reason why I'm sharing my story is because I'm sort of at a point where I don't know what else to do. I've been in therapy once when I was a kid because I tried to kill myself, and it was such a blurry moment when that happened. My best friend was in the apartment when I tried to do it. We had gotten into this argument, and I just remember feeling so overwhelmed with anger and sadness and grief, and I didn't know what to do with it. And so, I just, you know, went into the kitchen and grabbed a knife. And it was really... I talk about this with my friend now, but it was just... I ask her how did you know what I was gonna do because she was in another room. And all she heard was noises, and she just said, you know, she felt like something was wrong. And she came into the kitchen. {whispers, Ah, man.} And I had the knife to my wrist, and I remember screaming, and she came to me, and she took the knife away from me, and she threw it in the sink, and she just hugged me. That is one of the biggest regrets I had in my life. You know? Making someone see that, and putting someone through that. But I was very thankful that she was there because she told my mother even though I made her promise not to. My mother made me see a therapist. I don't remember anything about that time. Like, when I was in therapy, I don't remember. Like, clearly did not heal. I do not have peace, and I so badly wish that I did. I don't even know if you'll even hear this, but I just want you to know that this podcast resonates with people. It will resonate with people. The biggest thing that we can do for each other is to recognize each other's pain, and the things that we go through, and the grief that we have. We need to be able to understand that about people, and understand that things that we go through, and traumas that we have condition us to be people that we don't even recognize. And so, I just wanted to tell you my story 'cause I do have a story. And this is a little therapeutic for me. I'm not gonna lie. But I really appreciate what you're doing, I really do. I admire you a lot. I respect you a lot. You think that you have... I really respect that you own the good and the bad and that you acknowledge the work that needs to be done for yourself. And I think that there was a moment in this episode where I felt almost like it had gotten too real. {chuckles} You know? Like, I was just like, "Oh, this feels like I shouldn't be hearing this part", 'cause it was just so personal and so intimate between you and your brother, and my heart goes out to him. And it's clear that he is still very much on this journey, and that he needs support and love, and I wish nothing but the best for him and his recovery. I really do. Being an addict is hard. Being the family of an addict is hard. No one wins in that situation, and I just wish nothing but the best for you and your family, and so many families that are just struggling with these issues and not getting the help that we need. But, hopefully, this is a start. Anyway, thank you so much for listening. If you are, I really appreciate it, and have a great one. Bye.

Diane Guerrero 30:37

Yuri, I am so grateful you shared your story with all of us. You're not alone. Karina is 25, and pursuing a Master's Degree in Social Work.

Karina (listener) 30:57

At a very young age, I started experiencing severe anxiety, which my parents, at the time, confused for "temper tantrums." There was a lot of times growing up that I didn't understand the emotions that I was feeling, and that was all stemming from trauma that I later identified and realized as I grew older. A lot of repressed memories from my childhood began to pop up. Probably, in my later elementary school years. I started developing severe depression. At probably around the age of 12, I started to self-harm. When my parents would see that I had cuts on me, I would make excuses, the dumbest excuses. But, in a Latino home, any reason besides the fact that I was in pain, and I was finding a way to escape it, was better. Any, any excuse I could come up with like, "Oops, yeah, I fell in the backyard and scratched myself against the tree." That was better than saying, "Hey, Mom, I'm in a lot of pain and I don't know how to deal with it. So, I hurt myself so I can feel something, something other than the emotional pain." After my hospitalization, my parents were incredibly upset. I can't ever remember a time where my parents weren't disappointed or ashamed of my struggles with mental health and my mental illness diagnoses. After I was hospitalized, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, which my parents said was "bullshit." I had to fight to receive mental health services. My parents didn't want me to receive services. They didn't think I needed therapy, even after my suicide attempt. I think they were just in denial of how serious it had gotten, and they wanted to go ahead and act like it never happened. Because I think, in turn, they thought, like our culture teaches, that it is a poor reflection on them. I went ahead and decided to seek out mental health services at the age of 16 by myself. I started medication and therapy without the support of my parents. It was an incredibly long and hard journey and it still is. Navigating the mental health system as a Latina, as coming from a home where my parents were not educated, where I was told mental health and illness didn't exist, it felt so foreign and scary to me. I struggled so much after my suicide attempt, and I still do to this day. My main goal in becoming a social worker is to help other young teens like me. I had to navigate the system alone, and sometimes I still feel so alone. And it's scary to grow up in a world, in a home with people you love, who deny the very real pain and trauma that I've endured. I know that there are so many other people out there like me, who just want to make a connection, who just want their pain validated, who need to know that there is help, that there is hope, that there are people out there who will listen, who can teach you how to overcome these barriers, who can show you how strong you really are without degrading you, without judging you. I hope that one day my parents can really see how much pain I'm in, was in, and continue to be in, as they struggle to accept that I am a person living with mental illness. I can go on and on, but I just want to let people know, yeah, no, I'm not okay. And although it's scary every time I talk about it out loud, although my parents look down on me because they can't understand why I would ever want to talk about all the things I've been through out loud, that is what I need to do to heal, to feel validation, to be heard, to move forward, to know that my pain, that my trauma, that the things I went through, that the things I still go through are very much real, and they deserve the attention. They deserve... I deserve a chance to get better. We all do. And that starts with breaking the barriers. That starts with ending the stigma surrounding mental health. That means having the difficult conversations with people who don't understand. That means educating ourself, educating others, our community, finding ways that we can integrate mental health services into K - 12 public education, or our local communities. There are so many things that we can do to tackle this mental health epidemic happening in our world. There are so many people who feel so alone, but they're not. And I want to be a reminder that no matter how broken you feel like you are, you are not. You are so, so, so capable of overcoming anything that life throws at you. And through mental health services, through medication, through different types of therapy, through whatever a doctor and yourself find are best for you, you can heal, you can be whole, you don't have to be broken or feel broken. Thank you guys for taking the time to listen to stories like mine.

Diane Guerrero 37:08

After the break, more from our listeners. Our next call comes from Melissa.

Melissa (listener) 37:26

It's about to be almost a year next month since the passing of my older brother. He, for a long time, battled drug addiction, mental health. We're Latin. We're Mexican/Colombian. We were raised with a single mother where it was just, just the three of us. It's my older brother, 13 months apart. My little brother, we're three years apart, and I'm the middle child. The only girl, so I was raised taking care of my siblings, making sure that, hey, everything was fine at home while my mom went, went to work and had... made everything work and, you know, in terms of paying the bills, in terms of keep going. My brother, he, at a young age, since he was 13, fell into drugs and like... like you mentioned in your podcast, you know, it was kinda like the devil. It was like... you know, it was him smoking weed was, like, the worst of the worse and, and... you know, parents at the time, like you said, they didn't know any better. You know? So they... What did they do--is they try to tough love him. You know, and, and... and say, like, "Oh, if you don't get your act together, we're kicking you out." "If you don't do this, we'll do this." "I'm sending you to your dad." "I'm doing this." And maybe that parenting worked for me, but it didn't work for him. Yeah. It's, it's been a journey. I started my journey since 2017, working on myself, healing, and understanding. I was always the child in my family where like, like you, the golden child, the first to graduate college, the first to move away from home, did her thing. You know, went to college, traveled, backpack Europe when I was 19 years old, and now, since 27, got a job at corporate America, got my first apartment in downtown Orlando, exactly where I wanted it. I remember my brother wrote to me, a letter on the day of my graduation and said, "You made it. You know, you're going to be the one that's going to get us out of the hood." That was a lot of expectations for me. You're gonna be the one that's gonna make it out type of thing, as if he didn't have that opportunity, as if he... if... as if we didn't have the same opportunity, or... or maybe it's just me perceiving it that way. It was so, so real listening to you guys's conversation because there was a point where you... where your brother was so peaceful talking about... You know, just... just putting his heart out there, you know, and talking about his... how he feels. And as a sister, I know what it's like to feel very frustrated by, by the relapse, by the being in between. You know, seeing your parents hurt but, at the same time, you're... you're seeing your brother hurt themselves and you just want to, you just want to help. And I heard, I heard the tone of your voice just change, you know, when you started addressing him in a very direct manner.

Diane Guerrero 40:47

I really struggled with hearing this because I so disliked that part of the conversation with my brother. I wish I wasn't so hard on him and I have said this a lot. I got a lot of feedback from my friends about my approach and even Dr. Carl Hart told me that these types of conversations should take place in a judgment-free zone. With that said, I was happy to hear that this conversation, even though it wasn't perfect, was a help to someone.

Melissa (listener) 41:17

I saw and I heard myself in that because I did that so many times with my brother. I had so many heart to open-heart conversations with him and said, "We grew up in the same place. We had the same life. As you struggled, was my struggle. We did it together. Why did... Why... Why can't you cope with, with that differently." And that's a lot of what I carry in my heart because, you know, I didn't know any better. Therefore, I didn't do better. But, I felt like I judged him for escaping because I... I, personally, I had the same struggles, and I thought to myself, "I'm like, I didn't have an escape." You know, I just... For me, it was like I have to do better. I have... I have the, the weight of my family on my shoulders, and I have to, and I can't. And that was kind of like the upbringing of... my Mexican upbringing. You know? The, the part of the woman has to be strong and has to keep moving forward for everybody else. And, yeah, there's a lot. There's a lot to say and, and just a journey that it's been since I... since my brother's departure because he dealt with mental health issues and... and, unfortunately, we lost him to suicide, and it's something that we, we are dealing with, we're living through, and we're doing the best that we can.

Diane Guerrero 42:49

Our final story comes from Giovanni.

Giovanni (listener) 42:52

My story starts at the year 2000. I was 16 years old, about sophomore year in high school, and out of three psychiatric hospitals that I was interned in, I know that I was diagnosed from one of them as having a personality disorder. My symptoms, what was externally coming out of me, was anxiety, depression, and manic mood swings. I would be happy one second, and then a car alarm would go off and then I'll just start flipping out to the person next to me.

Diane Guerrero 43:29

Giovanni was put on medication and went to therapy for years, but he still struggled with self-harm and suicidal ideation. When he moved to Florida for college, he started partying and using substances that he thought would numb his pain. And then he found Buddhism and plant medicine. His experimentations made me think about something that Dr. Carl told me during our conversation.

Dr. Carl Hart 43:57

I think a lot of responsible adults engage in drug use because, s**t, drugs work. We think about drugs like MDMA, and we think about intimate partners and so forth. MDMA is really good in terms of enhancing empathy, understanding, openness, all of those things are really good qualities for a relationship. That's one reason people use them. Other reasons that people use them, you could think about the... I don't know, a band, celebrity who has all of these demands placed on their time, and then they have something like cocaine or amphetamine to help them get through the day. That's functional, completely understand that. Just like the person who uses caffeine for that purpose. Uh... Then, so we can think about also people who are subjected to, I don't know, faculty receptions like me. It's boring as s**t, most of 'em. And, so, it's like a little heroin or some other stimulant. Oh, it makes it a lot better. So it's rational. And so, when we think about drug use in the movies, we oftentimes think about drug use as being irrational and, oftentimes, it's not irrational. It's as rational as any other behavior in which we engage. So when we think about it from that perspective, then we're less likely to stigmatize people, vilify people and, the ones who need help, they're more likely to seek our help as long as we're not stigmatizing them and vilifying them and criticizing them.

Diane Guerrero 45:30

Giovanni's experiments, along with martial arts and yoga, helped him find a sense of peace that would take him around the world.

Giovanni (listener) 45:38

Sold my things, went up to drop off my dog at my sister and mom's house in Connecticut, and left for Bali. I was heading there to do breathwork teacher training. I had fallen in love with breathwork. That had changed my whole outlook on inner healing or self-healing, self-care and self-love, just by breath alone. Laying down on a yoga mat, probably with a pillow and a blanket, because your body temperatures may swing up and down, and you're just breathing, getting guided by the facilitator with music in the background, or some drums/live music. And a lot of stuff can come up. A lot of stuff. And I really thought that this would be wonderful to share with the community, and so I left for Bali for that teacher training. Was supposed to be in Bali for two months then it turned into seven. {laughs}

Diane Guerrero 46:30

Eventually, he made it back to the States.

Giovanni (listener) 46:32

Upon coming home, fast forward now to another 10 years, we're now in year 2020. And what a year 2020 was. {laughs} And for me, it was really to get grounded. I was already back in Miami at a friend's house, taking care of their home--they were stuck in Puerto Rico due to COVID-- and I decided to do some more inner work for myself. I did some more integration for myself because it wasn't only about that inner journey, but what can I do with it in every day life in this modern day living, and that's where I wanted to come back to. And so, I got into plant medicine and even animal medicine, like Kambo, which is the animal medicine from a toad, and plant medicines, such as Psilocybin. And really practicing being guided on doing micro dosing, on really just grounding all that I've learned throughout these years. I've been traveling for the last two years and finally made it to my own apartment in Denver. And really creating my own mantra, my own bed and my own pillow within my own bed within my own pillow. And just being grateful for that travel, and really taking that leap of faith into the unknown, and doing what was best for me. And that helped me to not only come out of my shell, per se, but it was also to say that I felt that I've overcame the anxiety, overcame the depression, and even the manic mood swings. I kid you not that there will be moments that there's going to be triggers that would catch my attention but from the things that I've learned over the years, new coping mechanisms, being aware, being present, taking deep breaths, and doing a daily routine each and every morning, giving myself that me time, helps me to overall see things with so much clarity and with so much love. No diggity f***ing doubt, this is Lil D aka Diane Guerrero, signing off.

Diane Guerrero 48:59

Yeah, No, I'm Not Okay is a production of LAist Studios. Remember to rate and review our show. I just found out that it helps other people find it. So, if you like it, share it with your friends. The more people we can get to have conversations about mental health the better. If you've got a story you want to share about how you deal with mental health issues, send it my way. Record it on your phone's voice memo app and email it to YeahNo@laiststudios.com. And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest episodes with a note for me, recommendations from our listeners and our team, and listener stories. Sign up at Laist.com/newsletters. Jessica Pilot is our talent manager and producer. Our executive producers our Leo G. and me, Diane Guerrero. Web design by Andy Cheatwood at the digital and marketing teams at Southern California Public Radio. Thanks to the team at LAist Studios, including Taylor Coffman, Kristin Hayford, Kristen Muller, Michael Consentino, Robert Jo, Mildred Langford and Leo G. Special thanks to Brian Crawford. This program is made possible, in part, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Additional support comes from the Angel Foundation, supporting transformational leaders and by the California Health Care Foundation, dedicated to improving the mental health care system for all Californians.