Podcast: Expert Takes on Relationships and Mental Health

As Valentine’s Day draws near, love is in the air and on our minds.

Today, Trevor talks candidly about the difficulty his mental illnesses can cause in his dating life. Then we talk to Kirsten W. Bolton, LICSW, program director of McLean OnTrack (8:01), who discusses romantic and familial relationships and how mental illness diagnoses can affect them. She also recalls a patient struggling with the thought of sharing their mental illness diagnosis with a romantic partner.

Later we are joined by Sean Shinnock, a participant in McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma campaign, and Scott O’Brien, co-founder of the Deconstructing Stigma initiative, who have an honest conversation about dating, relationships, and being there for loved ones when they themselves are struggling.

Learn more about Sean and other participants in the Deconstructing Stigma campaign.

Episode Transcript

Trevor: Welcome, new listeners. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m here. I’m late. I know. It’s a week late. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me? Will I forgive me? I’m beating myself up over this one. There’s a story behind why the podcast is a week late.

This is a two part podcast. The first part, we do an interview with Kirsten Bolton, who is the Program Director of the McLean OnTrack program here at McLean Hospital. Second part is a conversation that I have with my boss, Scott, who you may remember was on the episode where we interviewed Dr. Philip Levendusky and a coworker of mine, and a person who was also a patient here at McLean, Sean. We have a three way conversation on relationships. This was actually meant to be our first episode, but then we held off because podcast on animal therapy was some something that we were so happy about we wanted to launch on that podcast.

Anyways, I interviewed Kirsten Bolton, and instead of making it about her and about what she does and what the topic was supposed to be, yeah, I made it about myself, and it was all over the place. I just came in here just guns blazing, and she went along with it. She was a trooper, I have to admit. But when I went back and listened to it, I realized that it is un-releasable. So I want to thank Kirsten for accepting my apology and returning for round two. We’ll be getting to that interview soon.

I’ve been a little reckless with the podcast, I think. Maybe the last two interviews, I was definitely shooting from the hip a lot and not coming in prepared, and I think I realized why. Feedback has been coming in for the podcast, and it’s been mostly great. It’s really nice to hear what a lot of you have had to say, and some of it is really moving and I appreciate that very much. But for those of you that know depression, or more specifically if you struggle like I do with good things happening in your life or good things becoming a reality, you know that sometimes we sabotage those things, because good things are tough for us to handle.

They are certainly tough for me. I definitely went through a period in my late 20s, early 30s, where I was sabotaging everything left and right. And man, I lost great opportunities, I lost great friends, I lost great jobs. I was a bit of a mess then. Thankfully I got it together and later came here to McLean, and they helped me a lot. I don’t know if that’s the case here. I think it is, because this is a good thing. This is a good thing for me. I’ve been really enjoying it. Like I said, the E-mails that have come to us and the reviews, it’s all really nice, even the critical ones.

I’m taking those to heart as well. So I want to thank all of you for doing that. It just made it so real. I think it made it so real for me that I automatically maybe kick over to this mode where, yeah, I got attest how real this is going to be. I’m going to shake things up for no reason whatsoever, see what comes of it, and 99% of the time, it’s always bad. So I caught myself this time, and I’ve been good about catching myself maybe the last seven or eight years or so. Not all the time, but most of the time I catch myself. I don’t know, is this what growing up is called? I don’t know.

Anyways, I caught myself and realize that I am not going to sabotage this podcast. I’m not going to do it. I’m just absolutely not. I like doing it too much, even when I don’t like it, which happens often. Hey, I’m working on me. I’m working on me. I’m trying... I’m trying here. Who’s sending me pats on the back? Can you send me a pat on the back, right now? I could really use a pat on the back right now. Yes. Am I admitting that I needed a little validation? Sure. I’m admitting yet.

Yeah, Kirsten Bolton was great. She came back, and she totally understood. I should admit to you guys right now that by first interview with her was an hour and a half. There was no way you guys were going to sit through an hour and a half of just pure, loony tunes zaniness. It was pretty wild. So I had her back, got it down to a lean 30 minutes. I think you’ll enjoy that much, much more. A little background on Kirsten. Since 2008, Kirsten W. Bolton has been working with patients and their families in the psychotic disorders’ division. A graduate of Simmons College, Ms. Bolton began her work at McLean as a clinical social worker in the schizophrenia and bipolar disorder inpatient program.

She is now the Program Director of McLean OnTrack, a first episode psychosis program for young adults. So it’s February and we’re talking about relationships. Kirsten and I talk about what it’s like or what she sees when she has a patient who is going through psychosis and has to break this news to their partner, their loved ones, their family, spouses, et cetera, and how hard that can be to do that. I can tell you right now, when I’m in a romantic relationship, bringing up that you have BPD, NPD and depression, that’s something that you don’t come out of the gate saying you just don’t do it.

Trevor: So, I can definitely understand how difficult it would be for somebody with psychosis. Now, funny thing about that word psychosis. One of the main reasons we had to redo that first podcast is because I didn’t know, within the context of what Kirsten does as program director, I didn’t know that the word psychosis meant specific things like schizophrenia or bipolar. I always thought the word psychosis was just a general term for everybody. So yeah, I need to research things more. That was a big, silly mistake in that interview we’ve decided not to share with you guys.

There’s at least 45 minutes where I’m talking about psychosis in the context that I think I understand, and Kirsten’s being really nice and just rolling along with it. So, yeah, I’m going to get better. I’m going to do better guys. I promise. I’ll do better. So, yes, here is my interview with Kirsten Bolton. Going to have a midway break after that, and talk up the second interview I do with Sean and Scott. So enjoy.

I had you in a few weeks ago. Instead of really talking about you, I came in, shot out of a cannon, complete whirlwind all over the place, questions left and right, but here’s the big thing, and I know you caught onto it, about a half an hour into it. The word psychosis. I thought it was a general word, and the context that I’ve heard it in my life is, what’s your psychosis? I thought it was a general thing. Now explain to me what psychosis is with regards to the OnTrack program that you are the program director of here at McLean.

Kirsten: Oh, okay, sure. Yeah. Yeah, psychosis is—

Trevor: You can’t even explain. You’re the program director, and you can’t even explain it.

Kirsten: Well, you know why? It’s because the word ... A lot of people that experience psychosis don’t necessarily call it psychosis. It’s—

Trevor: Now this is really complicated—

Kirsten: Anyway, I’m not going to get into that. But, yes. I mean just generally speaking, psychosis is someone is having experiences that are, I think, very different from the experiences of the rest of the people around them.

Trevor: Right.

Kirsten: Some really common types of psychosis are delusions, which are thoughts that don’t seem to be based in the same reality that everyone else is sharing, and hallucinations. Right? Which are perceptual experiences. Hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination. Some people see things that other people don’t see, some people feel things on their body that other people don’t see, some people smell things and other people don’t smell.

Trevor: Right. So my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and severe depression, that would not fall under the umbrella of psychosis.

Kirsten: It wouldn’t. But the interesting part is that, my understanding of borderline personality disorder, why it’s called borderline personality disorder is because—

Trevor: I’m about to tip right into your really? Seriously.

Kirsten: Yes. Yeah, yeah. There’s—

Trevor: Like I’m right there on the edge.

Kirsten: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Trevor: Fantastic. Wow. Great news to drop on me on a Friday morning.

Kirsten: I think it’s much more complicated than that, but I—

Trevor: Oh, really? It’s even more complicated. Awesome. Awesome. Great. Do you understand what I’m saying? What diagnoses would fall under the umbrella of psychosis?

Kirsten: Sure, sure. Psychosis can be caused by different diagnoses. Psychosis can happen in the context of a lot of different things. I think diagnostic categories within which people experience psychosis ... Well, actually, I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. But the individuals that I work with have psychosis in the context of having bipolar disorder. So in that context, someone will experience extreme high or an extreme low, and that will start and then psychosis will happen as a result of that.

Trevor: This isn’t a joke. This is far more complicated than I thought it would be. Genuinely, yeah—

Kirsten: Well, I may be making it a little bit too complicated—

Trevor: No, I don’t think so. It just sounds a lot more. The bipolar event happens and then psychosis comes into it?

Kirsten: That’s right. Yeah. Yeah—

Trevor: Could you give me an example? A de-identified example?

Kirsten: Yeah, yeah. Yes. Say someone starts experiencing some symptoms of hypomania. Someone will not be sleeping as much, someone might be more energized than usual and that might happen for a period of time. Then something gets tipped and that person might start experiencing psychotic symptoms. The same thing can happen with depression. Someone will start off having a depressive episode, and then it’ll progress to the point where someone starts experiencing psychosis.

Trevor: So does psychosis mean a detachment from our known reality?

Kirsten: Exactly. That’s exactly what it means. Yeah. Yeah.

Trevor: Okay. With regards to what you ... with your program and what you do, that’s what it means?

Kirsten: Yes.

Trevor: Yeah. You said, bipolar disorder. Are there any others?

Kirsten: I mean, people can experience psychosis in the context of having post-traumatic stress disorder, and people can experience psychosis and have other diagnoses, all the time. Like obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety. I mean, it really crosses all diagnostic categories. People with borderline personality disorder experience psychosis as well.

Trevor: Awesome. Awesome.

Kirsten: So just wait.

Trevor: I’m going to go home and go back to bed now. Thank you. You just wait Trevor. Just wait, it’s coming.

Kirsten: But we’re here for you, if that—

Trevor: Awesome.

Kirsten: If that happens.

Trevor: Great. Great.

Kirsten: But it’s a really ... it’s a much more common phenomenon than people imagine or usually feel about it. There’s something like 20%, some really high percentage. I think it’s somewhere around 20% to 10% to 20% of the population reports voice hearing.

Trevor: Wow.

Kirsten: But it doesn’t interfere with their ability to function. So, the—

Trevor: But it doesn’t interfere with the ability to function in this reality, but doesn’t it affect maybe their perception of this reality, or are they able to delineate ... If that’s the right word. Are they able to delineate between what’s real and what ... I know that these are voices in my head, and I can separate those. I acknowledge it’s a problem, and I need to work on this, but I know that this isn’t part of my reality.

Kirsten: Yeah. I think that there’s something about ... Not necessarily that a person might say that this is a problem, it’s just more that it’s not a problem, that someone might have the experience of hearing a voice but it doesn’t get in the way with everything else that they’re doing in their life. They might hear a voice, and they can continue to focus and concentrate on everything that they’re already doing. Or they might be able to just naturally say, ‘Oh, that was a voice,” and be able to move on.

Probably, the intensity is not as strong as it would be with someone that has schizophrenia who is hearing voices that are really interfering with their ability to focus and concentrate and communicate with the people around them, if that makes sense.

Trevor: And these voices there ... is it a part of their imagination? Or is it ... I don’t know, a neurological misfire? Or is it different for everybody?

Kirsten: Yeah, I mean that’s something that I don’t ... There are people here that do research, on voice hearing, and the phenomenon behind voice hearing, and I don’t really know so, so much about that area, but the way that I’ve come to understand voice hearing and other psychotic experiences are really like normal reactions to maybe traumatic situations that individual has experienced throughout their life.

Trevor: Sure.

Kirsten: And those might be really overtly traumatic experiences—

Trevor: Sure.

Kirsten: ... or they might be not. Just someone might not say I’ve had trauma, but there have been things that have happened in their life where psychosis becomes a very good way of coping. It’s the way that their body is coping with having had—

Trevor: Oh, wow. I never even thought of that. Wow. If a patient of yours is hearing voices, how do you work with them on that?

Kirsten: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think everyone is different in terms of how they want to approach working on voice hearing. Some people really want to look at it as this is a biological problem, this is part of my mental illness, and I need coping strategies to try to work, to try to make them go away, or to minimize how much they’re happening on a daily basis. There are some people that really value psychiatric medications to help with that. There are some people—

Trevor: Like what kind?

Kirsten: Like antipsychotic medications. Then if someone has bipolar disorder, a mood stabilizer could be used and that stabilizes someone’s mood, and so then that minimizes the potential that someone’s going to experience the psychotic symptoms. Some people, which is along the lines of the hearing voices network, which I don’t know if you’ve heard that much about that, but ... I also, I’ve not been trained in the hearing voices way of approaching this phenomenon, but—

Trevor: Yeah, but you must deal with it often.

Kirsten: Yeah, yeah. I’m really attracted to it, because my understanding of more of that approach is, people figuring out what the more of the core cause of those, where are those voices from? Who has talked to that person like that? Right? In the past, what is it about what these voices say that they’re ... what are they trying to get at?

Trevor: Right.

Kirsten: A lot of people, I think, find power in that approach where they are ... then they’re able to talk back to their voices, and they’re able to quiet them down by saying something like, “I can’t talk to you right now. I’m busy.”

Trevor: Wow.

Kirsten: I mean, there’s all sorts of really cool ways, and people that I’ve worked with that experience voices, a lot of times they find their own ways of hushing them or making them go away—

Trevor: Give me an example.

Kirsten: ... on their own.

Trevor: If you can.

Kirsten: For example, what I just said. I worked with someone who would experience voices. They were always female voices that were critical of him, and he did a lot of work—

Trevor: Hold on, let me clarify. This is different from the voice in my head that tells me to do—

Kirsten: Yes.

Trevor: They are audibly—

Kirsten: Yes.

Trevor: ... hearing a voice?

Kirsten: Yes.

Trevor: Okay.

Kirsten: Yes, yes. He identified that there were people in his life who had talked to him like that, and that I think helped tremendously. Then he also talks back to them all the time, and he tells them to stop, or he’ll say, “I’m doing something right now. I can’t talk to you now, but an hour from now, I will have time to talk to you.”

Trevor: Do you think part of the therapy is actually setting ... for some of the patients that are experiencing psychosis, particularly with hearing voices that some of the therapy is setting aside designated time so they can talk to that voice in their head? So that they can actually face it?

Kirsten: Yeah.

Trevor: Because that would terrify me. It’s like you’re telling me that I need to go and actually have these conversations with these voices that ... But I don’t have that diagnosis. What I don’t know scares me.

Kirsten: Yeah, yeah. No. I mean, I agree with you. I think that ... Again, it’s not for everyone. I mean, there are some people that just ... they find listening to music really helps, they find distracting themselves in other ways really helps, or engaging in a conversation with someone else really helps. There’s all sorts of different ways. Some people are exactly along the lines of what you’re saying. If I were like, “Can you talk back to the voices?” They’re like, “I’m not ready for that,” or that’s just not the way that they’re going to approach it.

Trevor: Right. Let’s now bring this into what the topic is supposed to be about psychosis and relationships. I imagine that you deal with patients that are ... they are in romantic relationships or have families, and they have to ... maybe they’re in the OnTrack program, and they’re addressing this issue for the first time, and they need to bring a loved one up to speed with what’s going on, and that’s a lot to put on somebody else.

I imagine you see that a lot. Do the patients, maybe before they tell their loved ones or their families, do they come to you, and be like, “What do I do with the situation? What do you recommend?”

Kirsten: Yeah. I mean—

Trevor: I mean I imagine it’s different for every patient.

Kirsten: Yeah. It definitely is different for every patient. Some people, they are just going to be things that they’re not going to talk about with their loved ones. Then there definitely are also people who keeping it a secret doesn’t seem like it’s productive either.

Trevor: But there’s a stigma involved with it, and it’s a blunt question but do you see that often with your patients? They’re like, “You know what? I’m just going to keep this to myself.”

Kirsten: Yes. All the time. I mean, that’s pretty much the most common approach.

Trevor: Has that ever worked out?

Kirsten: Well, it works a lot with ... Well, I feel like I can’t get the idea of dating out of my head because—

Trevor: Okay. Well, bring—

Kirsten: No. I mean, I think a lot of times families—

Trevor: It’s different.

Kirsten: Yeah. Yeah.

Trevor: Okay. Well, what about—

Kirsten: They’re like, “Thank you for telling me because now I understand.”

Trevor: I understand. Okay, so what about a boyfriend or a girlfriend?

Kirsten: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s much different. I think when you’re on the first date with someone, I don’t know if you would want to share, “Oh, by the way, I hear voices.” Or—

Trevor: It’s the first line in my Tinder profile. It is like, “I hear voices,” and that’s it. Actually, that’s the only one.

Kirsten: Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Trevor: No matches yet.

Kirsten: Keep me posted on that, because—

Trevor: Oh, I will. I will.

Kirsten: Because it sounds kind of interesting—

Trevor: Yeah, yeah. I will—

Kirsten: Yeah. It’s funny. I was glad when you actually reached out to me, and said that you wanted me to come back because after—

Trevor: Oh, it was a mess.

Kirsten: I wasn’t actually thinking that, but after—

Trevor: All right—

Kirsten: Well, I didn’t feel it was a mess. I just felt unsettled after we spoke, because I just felt like we were talking about so much important stuff, and I ended up having a family meeting with a young guy in our program, and he had started dating, and he had been in a relationship for two months. I was like, this is so ... Like, “What timing.” I asked him, “What did you disclose? And when did you disclose it?” He talked a lot about context. So he knew this person that he is now in a romantic relationship with from college, and so they had a history together, not a romantic history, but they knew each other.

Trevor: Yeah, that probably helps.

Kirsten: Yeah, yeah. He said it made it easier for him, and he said that it was something on the second or the third date. I mean, it was really early on, that he revealed a lot.

Trevor: Wow.

Kirsten: He talked about, yeah, I mean, just his diagnosis, that he had been psychiatrically hospitalized. I asked him what that was like, and he said that he was just going for broke. He was like, “I’m just going to do this, and if she can’t deal with it, I’m done. Then that’s a deal breaker, and that I’m just going to leave.”

Trevor: Well, she’s an angel then, because the cynic in me says that the majority of the time, that doesn’t work.

Kirsten: Sure, sure.

Trevor: Of course, I have no stats or math or the facts to back that up. That’s just my natural negativity speaking for me. But—

Kirsten: Sure.

Trevor: But I mean, that’s an amazing story ,that she was that empathetic, compassionate, and willing to work with it, and I bet you ... I mean, you’re absolutely right. The fact that they have a past.

Kirsten: Right.

Trevor: That she has seen him grounded for a period of time. That probably reassures her that this is something that not only he can manage, but they can both manage. Because that’s what it ultimately is, is as a mentally ill person to be romantically involved with somebody means that if you’re managing your mental illness, whether they like it or not, they are managing your mental illness as well, in some way or another. At least, I think. This problem slightly becomes their problem. I do my best to not make it their problem, but it happens.

Kirsten: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I asked him if that context wasn’t there, if this person hadn’t known you for so long—

Trevor: Sure.

Kirsten: ... what would your approach been? He said he would have waited a lot longer before he said anything. I asked him what timeframe, and he said, “Probably a couple of months,” But—

Trevor: Well, that—

Kirsten: I think it was hard to know—

Trevor: I would say a couple of months. Yeah.

Kirsten: Yeah.

Trevor: Does this come up often? Somebody is dating, they have psychosis, they don’t know what to do about it. I mean, in this case, this gentleman, like you said, he went for broke, and it worked out in his favor. There must be a lot of times where it doesn’t work out in their favor, and that maybe adds a layer of guilt or depression. I mean, I guess basically what I’m asking is, how do you encourage somebody with psychosis, who has the attitude of, “Well, who’s ever going to want to date me with this?” How do you convince them to get back out there?

Kirsten: I think it’s really hard. I mean, I think—

Trevor: Oh, yeah. It is very hard.

Kirsten: It’s a desire that so many people have, a very healthy desire. You know what? A lot of times I feel like it’s not so much me encouraging people to start thinking about it, it’s like they’ve been thinking about it so much and it’s more like take the action, you need to take the action.

Trevor: Do you think that maybe they’re too consumed with it?

Kirsten: Well, you mean with dating?

Trevor: Mm-hmm Well, finding somebody that loves them for who they are.

Kirsten: I don’t think so.

Trevor: To maybe validate their worth. I’m not projecting or anything.

Kirsten: No. I don’t think that it’s ... I guess I’ve never ... No, I mean I just feel like it’s such a healthy thing to want that.

Trevor: It is.

Kirsten: But I think the people that I work with are so. It feels a lot of the times, like it’s such a far off idea that it gets pushed under the rug a little bit, then it becomes a major focus of ... It’s like, if I could literally just ... People I think are like, “If I could actually just go on a date, or actually even just talk to someone, that would be huge.” Maybe that’s another thing too. Just—

Trevor: That’s sad.

Kirsten: It is sad. It is. It is really sad. But I was just thinking, I think a lot of times it’s like breaking it down, that idea that you’re saying, like finding someone that can provide love to you and love you unconditionally and support you, is way far off in the future.

Trevor: Right.

Kirsten: It’s literally like how can we get to the point where you aren’t just swiping through Tinder or ... I don’t know if that’s inappropriate dating site or whatever the good ones are these days. Stop browsing.

Trevor: None of them are good.

Kirsten: None of them?

Trevor: None of them are.

Kirsten: None of them.

Trevor: No.

Kirsten: Or that person that you keep talking about at your work, that you think is single, that you want to ask out. How do you actually talk to that person?

Trevor: Sure.

Kirsten: How do you even walk in the vicinity of that person without feeling this impulse to just run away?

Trevor: Oh, sure.

Kirsten: I think that that’s just breaking it down to smaller steps, can make sense with some people.

Trevor: Do see a lot of forward progress in your program?

Kirsten: That was the part, after our last discussion, that I ... I mean, as we were sitting here, I was really feeling pretty down about that. It does feel like a very, very hard, hard thing. I mean, I think I definitely do see forward progress. I talked about it with the other clinicians in the program as well.

Trevor: Sure.

Kirsten: I was trying to get a sense. I think why my mind was skewed about this is because the people that are making this forward progress are not necessarily the people that are coming in to continuously seek help from myself and from the other people in the program.

Trevor: Right.

Kirsten: I think there’s a very good amount of folks that we’ve worked with who just go and do it. They just feel like this guy that I was talking about. They just feel ready, they feel like, “I am ready, so I can say this, I can tell someone this, or I’m solid enough that if they deny me, because I have this problem, yes, it’s going to stink, and I’m going to be upset about it.” But—

Trevor: Oh it stinks. That’s—

Kirsten: Suck.

Trevor: It’s a nice—] I’d go much farther than that. That’s fine. Please continue.

Kirsten: But anyway, that’s all I’m saying, that they’re like, “I’m more than enough. I’m stable enough. I’ve been through enough. If this person can deal with this then screw them.” That kind of attitude.

Trevor: Before we wrap up, how did you come to be the program director of OnTrack? Or did OnTrack exist before?

Kirsten: No. No, I actually started the program with a colleague of mine.

Trevor: Oh, look at you.

Kirsten: Yeah. Yeah, so I’ve learned a lot.

Trevor: Yeah.

Kirsten: Yeah.

Trevor: That’s amazing.

Kirsten: Yeah. Yeah. I worked on an inpatient unit here for three and a half years, and then I was really attracted to working with young adults, experiencing the very first episode. Then I had this opportunity, and the program just really grew, and it’s just been wonderful.

Trevor: Well, congratulations. That’s great.

Kirsten: Thank you.

Trevor: Let me just give you a scenario. I have a psychosis, I’m coming to OnTrack, I’ve been seeing somebody for maybe about two months, and it’s actually good, and I want to continue it, but I know that I have to share this information with somebody. Do you have recommendations on how to go exactly about that? Or do you just say, “Hey, you just got to sit them down and tell them the truth?”

Kirsten: Yeah. Yeah.

Trevor: That’s really it?

Kirsten: Yeah. I mean—

Trevor: You’re like—

Kirsten: There might be a little—

Trevor: ... “Don’t go to this restaurant.”

Kirsten: Or you might want to have an easy exit strategy.

Trevor: Right, right.

Kirsten: Don’t go in the same car.

Trevor: Right, right.

Kirsten: Really though, I mean, I think those things are really important.

Trevor: Really.

Kirsten: Someone feels protected if ... But I think there’s also, everyone is different, but yeah, I mean there’s going to be a way of getting to it that might be better than another way. There may be certain experiences that that person has had that it might not be the exact appropriate time.

Trevor: Sure.

Kirsten: But I think laying some of it out seems like it would be really freeing to that person. They need to say something and get a feel, test the waters a bit and make sure that this person is okay with it.

Trevor: Yeah. How did you feel about coming back? I mean, does this one feel a little more straightforward? Does it feel like the wild West? Me can come in and just shooting questions like crazy, and having a wild time? This one feels a little more straightforward. This one’s a half an hour instead of the last one, which was an hour and a half. You poor thing.

Kirsten: No, I think it was my fault too.

Trevor: You don’t. No, it isn’t—

Kirsten: I got all caught up in these philosophical questions.

Trevor: Definitely my fault. I took you on a carpet ride. It was wild. Thank you so much for coming back. I really, really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Kirsten: Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s no problem. Thank you.

Trevor: Let me tell you, Kirsten Bolton is a blast. She is a lot of fun to talk to. In the first round of the interview that has been thankfully struck from the record, that I did with Kirsten Bolton, I actually wasted. I did this, and she’s such a good sport. She went down this branch of insane logic with me. I actually spent 10 minutes talking to her about how does it feel to have people ask you all the time if you’re related to Michael Bolton. Folks, save me from myself. Okay?

Yeah. Yeah. I’m never going to release that. I’ll talk about it, but we’re never going to release it.—Anyways, thank you, Kirsten, for coming back. It was a great interview, and hope to have you back again soon. Now, we’re going into an interview I did with my coworker, Sean. Really good guy. He is an animator on our team. He’s extremely talented. We break off from the group, maybe once or twice a month, and just do a check in with each other, because we’re both artists, we both struggle with mental illness, we both were patients here, and we really connect on that level.

He can tell just from the look in my eyes, and I can tell from his that one of us needs to do a check-in, and we talk things through quickly. He’s a really, really good guy. Here, we talk about what it’s like to be mentally ill, and try and be in romantic relationships. I’ve definitely gotten better, but I certainly ... There’s a lot of unfounded fears. I’ve worked through most of them, but there’s still a few that are kicking around. Also, keep in mind, this is supposed to be our first podcast. Things are a little rough around the edges, but I think it’s honest, and I hope you all enjoy it.

Sean: I mean, ultimately, people are looking for connection. They want the connection, no matter what they say. But it’s been tough for me, especially when I’m not ... I’m not drinking right now, I’m not going out to the bars on the weekend, I’m not picking women up at the bars. No way. Really, that’s not really my style either. My problem has always been internal problems.

Trevor: Right. Do you think, right now, the inability to connect with somebody on that level is due to ... I mean, you’re in some heavy therapy right now. You’re here, you’re a patient at McLean, you’re doing a lot of work, and you’re wrapped up in yourself, but in a good way, not in the bad way. When people like us suffering, we’re completely wrapped up in ourselves and in a really dark place. Do you think that’s it right now? You’re working on you, you’re focused on you. Do you think that’s why you’re not able to go there romantically?

Sean: No. I think I’m working on different things in therapy, hardcore therapy. I think, why I’m not able to go the romantically is a much deeper, longer, complex story that’s probably plagued me my entire life from childhood. There are things that I feel like I need to work on and get better on to put myself in a situation where I can have a deeply connected long-term relationship with someone, if that’s what I figured out that I want. A lot of my problems is ambivalence too. A lot of it is like I’m not even sure what I necessarily want or what’s good for me.

Trevor: Do you know who you are? I’m sorry, it sounds like a Barbara Walters question, but in our ... For people with mental health issues, that is a pretty fair question. Because a lot of us ... I know I struggle with it. I have no idea who I am.

Sean: It’d be fair to say that I’m struggling with that too. I’ve somewhat struggled with that my entire life, in terms of having my own feeling centered and having some sort of core that I’m ... I don’t know how to say, emanating out from. I’ve always ... My problem with identity is I do a ... I’ve always been kind of a chameleon type person growing up, meaning that I didn’t want to get thrown out of the social groups, so I adapted myself, per se, to that social group. I would be able to like—

Trevor: Did you have multiple social groups-

Sean: Oh yeah.—

Trevor: ... that didn’t interact with each other?

Sean: Like in high school, I played play basketball and sports. I played football in the fall, and I played basketball in the winter, and then I lived in the art room and then I did the theater in spring, and in all of those social situations I was able to navigate myself or navigate the situation successfully. In that context and that level in high school, those were really well-defined social groups in terms of what both people ... what groups, what they’re trying to achieve or what they feel comfortable with and what their core beliefs, what their social statuses, and they’re all pretty, they’re solid.

When you’re jumping back and forth, for me, it always created this teeter-tottering effect in my head of like, “Where exactly do I ... where am I landing?” Am I the space in between these social ... If you’re looking at a piece of paper, and you see a bunch of circles, and the circles are the groups, am I the negative space in between those groups? I looked at that for a long time as negative, because, if I’m not the social groups, who am I then? How am I defined? I’ve been trying to do better recently, of looking at it as that a virtue in a way, in terms of being a more dynamic person, someone who can enjoy and experience many different things, talk to many different people, as long as it’s not contrived.

It’s one thing if I’m doing this, and I’m people pleasing, and I’m being deceiving in my likes, if I’m doing this just to be liked, if I’m hanging out with the ... Again, if we’re going to do a high school metaphor, if I’m hanging out with the theater kids, and I’m not there because I like theater, then that’s a total misrepresentation of who I am, and that’s unhealthy. I think what was always real, when I really look at it, what has always drove me to these social groups is because my initial interest in the content of them. Yeah. That’s made me feel better.

But to continue on with the self ... the feeling of identity and how that span off, and where ambivalence has played ... When I say ambivalence, it’s like I’ve always been able to, in some way, try or at least I make the attempt to try to walk in someone else’s shoes the best that I can, and—

Trevor: I find that people with mental health issues, even though they can be self-absorbed and wrapped up in themselves because of what they suffer from.

Sean: Yeah.

Trevor: Not—

Sean: How can it not be?

Trevor: Not out of selfishness. But I do find, once they discover it, that empathy comes easy to us. It does for me. I’m not saying sympathy, I’m saying empathy, to ... Because I don’t know. I find my life to be pretty difficult, and I recognize other lives that are difficult, and I can feel that even though our financial situations might be different or skin color might be different, where we live might be different if I can empathize, do I need to be better about doing something about it? Pitching in and help, yes. But I find that empathy, especially in the last 15 years or especially since I started therapy 20 years ago, comes easier to me.

Sean: Yeah. I think that if you’ve had like a long life of experiencing a lot of different emotional pains at many different levels, and you’re not totally void of empathy, and you’re not struggling with some personality issues on the antisocial spectrum. If you have any sort of humanity, and you hate experiencing these things, then you have this wide grasp of what humans can suffer from, and because you have the empathy, you’re able to see situations in other people, and really, to the best that you can, understand what the heck they’re going through.

A lot of is theory of mind talk where you can separate yourself a little bit from yourself and understand someone else are going through different things or experiencing things differently, or they’re also experiencing things possibly the same as you. If you have a lot of experience with suffering and pain, you tend to appreciate other people who are going through that same stuff.

Trevor: Right.

Sean: At least on a level of relating to that and even when wanting to have a shared experience so you can both appreciate how painful this is. That’s going to also make you appreciate how wonderful the absence of suffering can be.

Trevor: The first time I was a patient at McLean, I made a couple of friends here who I stayed in touch with. There was a wide age gap in between us, but we would get together sometimes, maybe once a week, once every two weeks, and sometimes we would just sit in silence. It was just the comfort of being around somebody who—

Sean: Dude, that’s fantastic.

Trevor: ... went through—

Sean: Great. That’s great.

Trevor: ... who went through it with me, and it just ... Speaking for myself, it would bring comfort because I was with people that went through that program with me.

Sean: I’ll tell you what, that’s one of my favorite things to do. I get cognitively fatigued really quickly. When I exert a lot of energy thinking about things all day long, which people with mental health disorders, anxiety, they’re thinking in their head, they’re ... A lot of the exhaustion that comes with ... they experience, they may not realize this, is coming from the energy that the brain needs to do all this stuff.

One of my best friends out in Denver and some other people, honestly, our friendship sometimes is just hanging out in the same darn living room, watching football and not speaking to each other, or playing video games, minimally conversing next to each other, watching a movie. I’m reading a book, he’s playing with his kids. It’s just that presence, and we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve been through a lot of things together. He’s seen me go through a lot of stuff.

Trevor: Right.

Sean: I feel more centered and solid when that person is in the same room, and we don’t have to say one darn thing to each other, and that’s great. I’m sure that you experienced that too with people who have shared experiences, but you don’t even need to talk anymore. When we were talking and hanging out—

Trevor: We would sit there in silence.

Sean: We just sit there, and do your thing, and it’s just nice to know that someone’s within 10 feet of the opportunity to talk with them about something. That’s important, and that plays heavily in therapy with milieus, and group therapy and peer support. Yeah.

Trevor: I want to get into your entire story, but before we do that, I want to bring Scott into this real quick, because something occurred to me, Scott, and I hope you’re okay talking about this, is you personally went through something pretty trying in the last couple of weeks.

Scott: Sure

Trevor: You lost a father-in-law, and a lot of us from the hospital, we went to the wake, we went to the funeral, we saw that you were there for your wife, her family and stuff like that. Because I don’t know how to do this, how were you able to maintain, not composure, but maintain strength for yourself emotionally through that, while dedicating a lot of your resources to somebody else? Because it sounds easy to me. It sounds easy, and probably by day I could do it, but then by night when I’m alone, I’m a wreck.

Scott: Yeah. It depends how emotionally invested I think you are, and how well you I think understand yourself, and how well emotionally invested you are, or how emotionally invested you are. Because it’s become clear over the last ... probably the last year or so, is we’ve been going through this as a family that not everyone is as invested as they believe they are into their marriage, into their relationship with their in-laws, their own family, things like that. I’m not knocking anybody for it.

I think people deal with things differently. Some people are, I wouldn’t say half invested, but I think I feel things pretty deeply. I can able to empathize, or I think some people end up being a little more focused on themselves and other people. Others are able to dig into these things and really see it for what it is, and say, “Hey, people need support here. These are the times when it matters to be there for people, and it matters to make sure people know that you’re there for them. Not just being there but making it clear that you’re willing to do whatever it takes.”

It’s funny. A bunch of people have said things to me over the last year, being like, “I can’t believe you’re doing all these things, or you’re doing all this for someone that’s not even your family.” Things like that. The way I ended up seeing it is like, even if it was friends of mine, they’re still family. Anyone I consider a friend is incredibly important. There’s plenty of acquaintances, but also people that I know that would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them, and they’re not family, but they might as well be at that point. Your in-laws, I mean, to me it’s the same exact thing. You don’t just marry your spouse, the family comes with it.

Trevor: I guess the point that I’m getting at, and I want to bring you into this, is that I think this circles back to what we were talking about about 10 minutes ago. This to me illustrates why I am still not ready for a relationship or for marriage, even at 42, is that I don’t think I can do that. I don’t know if I have the ... It’s not that I don’t want to do it, I want to do it. It’s, I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Do you think you have the strength to do it, Sean? Because I don’t think I do, and because I recognize that, that’s how I know I’m not ready.

Sean: I think you would surprise yourself, Trevor, and I think I would surprise myself. I don’t want to speak for Scott, but I think people have thought in their lives that they were unable to handle a situation, and when the situation happened, they handled it because you just got to do it. I totally relate with you on the fact, and it plays in my mind all the time and it build barriers to having committed relationships. I like where you’re going with this, because I agree. I’ve struggled with it in terms of, I don’t want to get into something where I’m going to flake on them.

Trevor: That is it.

Sean: I don’t want to commit to you and give you a promise. It doesn’t even have to be a verbal promise, but by me being with you, I’m telling you that I will be there for you, and when that happens, I will not be there for you.

Trevor: Right.

Sean: That’s protecting yourself and protecting themselves. Is that any way to live?

Trevor: No.

Sean: I think that these situations—

Trevor: Well, actually, it is a way to live.

Sean: It’s a—

Trevor: I’m doing it.

Sean: It’s a way to live.

Trevor: But it’s not ... I’m not enjoying it.

Sean: Exactly., and that’s—

Trevor: But I think I would be much worse if I ... I mean, I was watching Scott and his wife a lot this weekend, and I was grieving for the loss. I was grieving for her and her loss. The funeral really affected me. But then I was watching Scott very closely, and was just like, “Goddammit.”

Sean: Right.

Trevor: I’m older than Scott, and I can’t do this. When am I going to be able to do this?

Sean: So, first of all, what I’m seeing initially is just quit comparing yourself to Scott.

Trevor: It’s really hard, Scott. I mean, perfection only comes only once in a while.

Sean: Yeah, I do it all the same time, man. I compare myself to other people, I compare myself to my best friends who have these amazing relationships. I compare myself to other artists, age wise. I’m 38, you’re 42. How many artists and people who have done so many things a lot younger than us?

Trevor: My timetable always changed. When El Mariachi came out, I was 14, 15 years old. Robert Rodriguez was 23, so I was like, “Okay, I’ve got until 23.”

Sean: I know. I did the same thing,

Trevor: When Paul Thomas—

Sean: Oh my God. I did the—

Trevor: When Paul Thomas Anderson made Magnolia, he was 29. I was like, “Okay, I’ve got until I’m—

Sean: Yeah, I did the same.

Trevor: “I got until I’m 29.”

Sean: Maybe like 3 years, I’ll be like, “I’m good. I’ve got until 30. Kurt Cobain was 27.” I told myself that when I was 24.

Trevor: Right. Now I’m 42. The only person I have left is Rodney Dangerfield. Rodney Dangerfield made it in his late ... I think it is—

Sean: That’s right.

Trevor: ... mid to late 40s—

Sean: That’s right—

... and that’s it. All of that, and Morgan Freeman was always the late guy.

Who else we got?

Trevor: Right.

Sean: But I mean, the point is in order to prevent yourself to go into this depressive hole is you got to eliminate the comparison, and I think that what comes with depression and not having a true sense of identity and core to rely on is you just don’t think you have this narrative, telling yourself that you just aren’t capable of it, to do it, and I don’t agree with that. I think you do. You just don’t know it.

Trevor: Was it just natural for you, Scott, just to stand up and assume this role of being the solid rock for everyone?

Scott: It’s funny you point that—

Trevor: Or is that even true?

Scott: I mean it’s—

Sean: It’s probably more complicated just being a rock, right?

Trevor: Yeah, and that’s the other problem with me. I’m looking at this very black and white. I’m probably—

Sean: Let Scott talk. I’m sure he’s went through a lot of different—

Trevor: Yeah, I’m probably not giving it the gray area that it reflects in reality.

Scott: I will be honest. I’ve had some, I’ll say, incredible male role models in my life. My father is a guy who’s always done the right thing from day one, no matter what it was, no matter how hard it was. There was never the easy way. It was always the right way. He got that from his father. My grandfather, I mean, ends up being one of the toughest people I know, but tough not in the macho sense, but in the ... He’s dealt with a lot of stuff. He was in some of the worst scenes in World War II and came home, and lost his wife at 40.

He had six children to take care of, refused to let the kids get split up when his wife passed away. Things like that. Worked two jobs, all making things happen, and he was a guy who never complained, never said a word about it and said like, “If I wasn’t able to handle this, I wouldn’t have been put in this situation,” and just kept on moving, which is ... The older I’ve gotten, the more I appreciate him. As a kid, I saw it and I was like, “Well, that was really nice of him,” and the older I get I’m like, “this is literally the weight of the world on your shoulders, and you just took it and went with it.”

Trevor: His father is a funny guy.

Scott: Yeah. One thing I should say, and I appreciate you saying what you said before, Trevor, but I’m honestly, and I swear, no different than the two of you, and I’ll tell you why I say that. If you asked my wife about when I proposed to her, she would probably laugh and tell you exactly this. I could barely get the words out, and I was breathing so deeply that she thought I was hyperventilating. The reason for that is because everything going through my head in the weeks, months leading up to that, but especially that moment, was I don’t think I can do this, and not the I don’t think I can get married, and be like ...

Imagine having to be selfless in situations, Imagine having to have to be there for someone. When you think about what marriage really is, it’s literally easy, just to go sign a piece of paper and get your family together and go get married. But it’s really something to have to do what needs to be done over the rest of your life to make sure that things are okay. I didn’t think I could do that, or I shouldn’t say I didn’t think I could, but I wasn’t confident in that. That’s a lot of pressure if you take it seriously.

I don’t think a lot of people necessarily we do, because they go, “Oh well, what’s the worst that can happen?” Or like, “Yeah, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” and I do it where, “Oh, but what if this happens? But what if this happens?” It took a while for me to come around to that, and be like, “I can do this. This is the right thing to do.” But what I’m saying is, yeah, I’m not different than the two of you. I didn’t sit there and be like, “Oh, I got this from day one. Everything’s going to be fine. No matter how hard it is, I can just do what needs to be done.”

I doubted myself for a while, and not in my willingness to do it, but that’s a lot of responsibility. But for the right person, it’s worth it. That’s the key to a lot of this, is, yeah, having the right people in your life. If you don’t have the right people in your life, go and find them. Figure out what makes you happy, and if there are people in your life don’t make you happy, spend as little time with them as you absolutely have to, and if you don’t need them in your life, I mean, I can’t tell you ... You get one shot at this. Find the people that matter, find the people that are worth sacrificing for, find the people that are worth doing everything you have to do to make sure they’re okay.

Sean: Yeah.

Scott: Circling back to relationships, one thing I don’t think anyone ever tells you, but I think it’s incredibly important is, you don’t have to have the same type of relationship that everyone else has.

Trevor: Yeah. I’m not even there yet.

Scott: Oh, I understand—

Trevor: That concepts is alien to me.

Scott: But what I’m saying, just—, so you and everybody else knows, you don’t have to go through the traditional motions, let’s say. If you find someone that likes you and you like them, and you want to see them once a week for the next five years, and it works for you guys, do that. But you need to know that upfront. Be yourself upfront, say what your fears are, what your concerns are, and see what you can get. Some people are going to say that’s not really for me because I’m looking to get married in a year, and you go, “That’s great. I’m not there yet.”

Trevor: Right.

Scott: I mean, just like you’re not alone in a diagnosis, you’re not alone in situations like that. There’s a lot of people that want different things, and they feel the same way that you do. Either I’m not capable of this, or I’m just not interested in it. But if you do want someone in your life, it doesn’t have to be this, “Well, I’m afraid to get into something because he or she is going to want this. The expectation is this.” If you lay the cards out there at the beginning, you can find something that works for you.

It’s going to bring hopefully some happiness or at least fulfillment to your life that you probably don’t currently have. I’m just putting that out there because I think more people need to recognize that, that you don’t have to go down the same path as the people around you. You can do your thing. Find what makes you happy, find what’s fulfilling for you and for the person that you’re with. I mean, I would stress that to anybody. Don’t do what everyone else is doing, just to do it.

Trevor: Right. Do you want kids?

Sean: Man, you’re hitting me with all the... Some big questions. I go back and forth, but I think ultimately, I would like to have that experience, to have to bring up a kid.

Trevor: I don’t mean to sound like a dick, but it’s more than experience. I mean, it’s a life.

Sean: Well, that’s why there’s been hesitation. That’s why there’s the other side of that coin. That’s why I just have decided that if I make that decision, that’s going to be a responsible decision, and it’s going to be totally understanding what encapsulates what it means to be a father or someone in a relationship bringing up a kid. It’s something that I don’t take lightly, and it’s something that I put a lot of power and meaning into.

Trevor: Right.

Sean: That’s why, when I think about having kids, I really, really think about it, and I’ve gone back and forth. Again, I feel like I’m generally about 10 years behind, stunted in a certain way from the things I’d gone through.

Trevor: Yeah. I feel like I’m 30 years behind—

Sean: Yeah. Exactly. After 38, and this may not be correct, but sometimes I feel like I’m 10 year ... 28, I felt like I was still a senior in high school. I was still doing that stupid stuff. I’m 38 now. I feel like I’m more 28 where I’m just starting to get on a career. I seem to be at that level of things, and so I’m thinking by 48, maybe I’ll have a wife and be able to have a kid.

Trevor: Right.

Sean: As guy and as a man, I’m fortunate to still have that opportunity to have at that age. I’m just hoping it’s like ... it lasts until death. I hope maybe I’ll get 10 years more, 108, that I won’t die in 10 years. Then what my brain does, I get so analytical and I look at where the world is and how many billions of people there are, and I’m like, “Is it my responsibility as a human to not produce offspring right now?” I get way, way existential about a lot of this stuff, and they inform some of my decisions.

I usually tend to go back to like, “Well, I’m a human. I want to have a human experience. As much as I tried to, I can’t transcend being a human.” I try to transcend being a human with everything I do. Art work and philosophical thought, and all this stuff, and I try to be more than human to get past it. I’m just never going to do that. It’s like we were talking about living in a fairy tale and idealism. I’m trying to step back from my head’s in the clouds and be like, “All right, I’m going to embrace this animal, this thing that I am, and part of that is to reproduce.” It might sound self-absorbed and whatever, and I struggle with the guilt with many different things. I guess if I want to have a kid, I’m going to have a damn kid.

Trevor: Right now my head is screaming.

Sean: Which is—

Trevor: Very disrespectfully, it’s screaming, “Easier said than done.”

Sean: Absolutely. This is all hard. You want it easy?

Trevor: Yeah, I do.

Sean: I think most people—

Trevor: I think for a change, I would like it easy. I think I’ve earned easy.

Sean: Okay. Here’s the retort. You can’t have it easy.

Trevor: Yeah, okay. Yeah, and that’s true. I can’t have it easily. Can I?

Scott: No.

Trevor: No.—Thanks Scott.

Sean: Scott just—

Scott: The one thing I should’ve said before that’s really important. This is, not everybody gets it at the same time in their life. There are some people that figure out them, when they’re 14, 15 years old, who they are and what they want to be, and they can just go with it. I mean, it’s also why ... I don’t know, maybe you have young Olympians, or when you see young people doing something that’s really impressive.

I’m not trying to equate one or the other, but yeah. It’s like when I see someone in their teenage years who’s come out of the closet, and I’m like, “Wow.” This is really something, to have to be 15, 16 years old and to be brave enough to do this and say, “This is who I am, and I don’t care what you think. This is important.” They’ve figured themselves out and been proud of it, and then been able to deal with it at a young age. Some people do it later in life.

On that topic, I can say for me now, obviously coming out of the closet, but in terms of figuring out who I am and who I want to be and those kinds of things, I don’t think I figured it out when I was young. It was probably closer to late 20s, but there are people that are going to do that at 55, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Things just take time to figure out sometimes.

Trevor: You know what I just realized?

Scott: What’s that?

Trevor: I just realized, just this moment, the real reason I love Olympic curling is probably because it’s the last Olympic sport at my age that I could still qualify for.

Sean: Let’s get practicing.

Trevor: Yeah, yeah. Seriously.

Sean: I mean—

Trevor: I know it—

Sean: Boston winters are cold.

Trevor: Yeah. There’s a phrase—

Sean: Let’s go find the street in January in Boston Trevor. You, me and Scott.

Trevor: There’s some ring here that—teaches curling, and I’m tempted only because I want a Russian woman to scream at me the entire time as she lets go with a rock, and I’m—

Oh, it’s the best. But I see what you’re saying.

Scott: Not everybody gets it at the same ... I mean, you brought up Rodney Dangerfield before. It’s a great one. But you look at all the people like that, that have ... musicians that hit it later. Things like that. Some people are going to have it at 15. They’re going to figure themselves out, they’re going to have their talents early on, and some people just—

Trevor: I’m not talking about being famous, I’m just talking about figuring it out.

Scott: But I’m talking about that too. People end up leaving careers at 45, and finding something they’re great at. People were in finance for 30 years, and then all of a sudden they hit 55, and they’re like, “I hate this. I don’t want to do this. I never wanted to do this. I went into this because of my insert family member name, or family role here.” Everybody’s different. I think it’s almost poison to have that idea in your head where you’re like, “Well, my friends are getting married, so it’s time for me to get married.”

Or, “My friends are having children.” I think a lot of people do this, where they go, “Well, why are they looking at me? Is there something wrong with me? Do they think that I am too messed up to get married, or do they think that I have some kind of an issue? What am I not telling them?” When you’re able to drop all that stuff, you move at your own pace, and that’s ... I think that’s part of being respectful of yourself, is to go like, “This is right for me,” and you can apply this to yourself today, Trevor.

You don’t have to do whatever one else is doing or look everybody else, or like, “Oh, everyone else has got this, but I’m the lone weirdo over here.” No, that’s right. It was already brought up before. If a relationship is right for you, be in a relationship, but find someone at your level who wants what you want. But if you don’t want to be in one, don’t be in one, but don’t feel like you have to ... less to anybody else. If anyone ever makes you feel like you’re less of something because of stuff like that, you need to spend as little time with them as possible.

Hopefully none, because you don’t want that in your life. I just think you can’t get away from family all the time, and I’ve been around some families before who are less than positive. But you don’t have to do that. I think that this comes right back to mental illness as a whole. If anyone’s looking down on you or is giving you a hard time whatever it is, just get away from that. Find people that, even if they don’t understand what you’re going through, that appreciate or empathize and go, “Trevor, it takes Trevor a while in the morning to get his stuff together, but that’s because he’s dealing with a lot, and that’s okay.” You have to find that.

Sean: I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so I’m gonna ask this.

Trevor: Yeah, go ahead.

Sean: Do you think that there’s just a moment in someone’s life where they just get it? Where they just they wake up that morning, and they’re like, “Dude, I got it. I got my light. I was lost. Now I am ...”

Trevor: Found?

Sean: “Now I’m found. Now I have direction.” Do you think that happens spontaneously, or do you think that, is this a long process that you may not even know when it happens?

Trevor: Yeah. I think it’s just a moment that somebody just a—


Yeah. I’m probably not giving people credit.

Sean: I don’t think it is. I think you’re not really going to know. I think it’s a long ass process.

Trevor: And yet, I know that—

Sean: Intellectually, that’s the thing. Because you did it—

Trevor: Intellectually, I know that—

Sean: I get it, but like—

Trevor: But I still feel that there is this moment coming where perspectives will shift, where things will just shift for me, and I’m waiting for a moment that’s never coming. Go ahead.

Scott: You say it’s never coming, but if you asked me 15 years ago, was I happy with my life? I would’ve said no. Do you think you’re going to be happy at 38? No. No. Because the first 20 something years haven’t been ... They were great for certain reasons, but it’s tough to battle the things that aren’t great or real low self-esteem, and things like that. Things have contributed to your general happiness. You don’t have that moment.

It’s generally not until someone either points it out to you that you’re doing pretty good or someone asks like, “How’s everything going? I haven’t seen you in a while,” and you’re able to go, “my relationship’s really solid. It’s really good, and I’m really enjoying work. I finally have a job that I actually don’t mind going to in the morning, and I’m getting along with my sister better than ever before.” It’s those moments where you realize things are good. You don’t just wake up one morning and be like, “Life is solved.” No. You build towards it.

Sean: Yeah.

Scott: I mean probably one of the best things you’ve done for yourself recently was to commit to something being this podcast.

Trevor: Oh that, that is that I agree with.

Scott: Because-

Trevor: I do think this is a major step forward for me.

Scott: As do I, especially knowing what I know about you, especially over the last couple weeks as we’ve talked about stuff like this, and even what you’ve shared in the last hour or so. It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal to take a step forward at all, but to invest yourself in something and say, “I’m going to do this,” it’s something positive for you. It’s only worth taking chance some things that have the potential to be really good for you or for other people.

Trevor: Right.

Scott: And I think this podcast could easily be both. I mean, yeah.

Trevor: Sean, this podcast was supposed to be about you so, and it definitely was not. It turned into—

Sean: It was about all of—. Yeah.

Trevor: Yeah, it was about all of us.

Sean: Which I like. I like having everybody involved.

Trevor: What I want is, in a couple months, to have you back, and—

Sean: You’re going to invite me back?

Trevor: Yeah. Have you back.

Sean: Excellent.

Trevor: And we can go through your history because I feel like—

Sean: Yeah. You had a lot of really good questions I’m excited to answer, and I—

Trevor: I feel like we need to talk about both of our experiences—

Sean: Sure.

Trevor: ... being here at McLean.

Sean: Let’s do it.

Trevor: Yeah, absolutely. Do you have anything you want to add before we wrap up?

Sean: No, just thank you for having me on, and allowing me to talk with you guys, and I really appreciate it.

Trevor: Yeah, thank you.

Sean: It’s been really great.

Trevor: Thank you, Scott.

Sean: This is good for me.

Trevor: Good.

Sean: Just as much as it is for you, and I know Scott, it’s good for Scott too.

Trevor: Good. Thanks, Scott. Thanks, Sean.

Scott: Thanks guys.

Trevor: Okay. We’ve come a fair distance since that first podcast. That one’s a little rough. Yeah. That one, on the technical side, is a little rough, but I don’t know. I really get a kick out of the content, and I hope you did too. Anyways, we’ll be back in a week. I know. I know. I’m going to get this podcast back on schedule. No more sabotaging things. Okay. I got an apartment. Did I mention that in the last podcast?

Yeah, it’s been that long. Yeah. I got an apartment, and the people that are taking care of my cat right now, they actually had to go on a trip for about a week, and they’re like, “Well, somebody has to take care of your cats along. You come here and you do it.” So I stayed their place for a week and took care of my cat, and it was awesome. We bonded, we chilled, we played a lot of Red Dead Redemption 2 together. We just passed the controller back and forth. No, I wish. I wish. She just falls asleep on my lap, and she just looks up at me and she’s like, “When are you going to stop playing these damn video games?” And just sleeps on me until I stop.

Well, I hope you guys come back in a week. High fives to those that enjoy Mindful Things and reached out to us, and I encourage anyone to write us and let us know what you think. Update accordingly. Yeah, I know. A lot of branding changes, but we’re getting through it. First year, smoothing out the edges. Anyways, see you in a week. Bye bye.

Thank you for listening to Mindful Things, the official podcast of McLean Hospital. Please subscribe to us and rate us on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. And don’t forget, mental health is everyone’s responsibility. If you or a loved one are in crisis, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day at 877.870.4673. Again, that’s 877.870.4673.

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The McLean Hospital podcast Mindful Things is intended to provide general information and to help listeners learn about mental health, educational opportunities, and research initiatives. This podcast is not an attempt to practice medicine or to provide specific medical advice.

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