Jun 9, 2011

Mental Health Happy Hour

The title grabbed me when I saw it on the list of newer podcasts at the iTunes store. The description nailed it when it turned out to feature interviews with creative types dealing with mental illness, especially depression. That's me all over, my friend. A musician who's been taking Prozac for years and not shy talking about it, firm in the conviction that depression can be better understood if we don't try to hide it from each other. On the other hand, my more serious bout with mental illness from college days is something I won't write about publicly, but will still discuss with people I get to know pretty well.

Anyway, this was my latest venture into podcasts, the 21st century medium (late 20th, actually, but if you won't tell then I won't) that I find astonishingly fertile. We're talking Inquiring Minds Want to Know here, of course, and major breadcrumb city.

The Mental Health Happy Hour host is Paul Gilmartin, a professional comedian who is not shy about discussing his own adventures with depression, including frank revelations about his early life. Many of the guests are fellow comedians, people he happens to know, but the show is very young and I imagine that as it develops there could be musicians, visual artists, and other people like you and me who work with depression to varying degrees of success and are willing to talk about it.

Some guests also touch on religion and spirituality, although this is not by any means a "Put your hand on the radio and receive the blessing of..." vehicle. There are references to 12-step recovery but it is not an online AA meeting either. There is talk of childhood privation and even abuse, but neither is this a radio shrinkfest, and Paul is careful to disclaim same on his website and on the programs.

If you follow the link at the top of this post you will land on Paul's podcast page. I especially recommend the interview with Adam Carolla for his sensible and practical advice at the end of the hour, and the one with Murph, ex-con, for its frankness in dealing with criminality and violence, and where they may come from. Murph, despite being an Irish hood you might have expected to come from Boston or New York, is like Paul and most of his guests a resident of California.

Look at some other pages, too. Paul's own blog is there and gets some comments. Hundreds of people have taken an anonymous poll and the results are public without any names, of course. The comments and poll answers seem thoughtful and serious, which is really saying something when it comes to online discourse.

If the show title grabs you like it did me, check it out. If you like it, maybe click the PayPal button and send a few bucks. I haven't yet but I will. Keep on truckin', Paul.