Dog pills. That should do it.
I had been depressed for the longest time. It started a a malaise in my youth making yearly visits like a season. However as I moved through puberty and young adult life the depression came more frequently, like the rain. Then one day it started raining and didn’t stop. This is probably the wrong metaphor for me because I actually adore the rain and get morose after too many days of sun. So let’s say that it finally became a constant like the sun. On the rare occasion that I could find shade my ensuing happiness was so manic and brief that I would come to fear it as much as I did the sadness. I was aware of how temporary and baseless my happiness was. For some reason though I was able to see my happiness as a symptom of my depression but it would take me days to come to terms that I was even depressed. Why was I so mistrustful of my joy and not my sorrow. Why had I agreed that one was deserved and the other fake. Where was I getting my information? Who was making up the rules for my conscious mind? Telling me right from wrong? Who was teaching me to rationalize awful decisions and tell bold face lies. Who showed me how to believe those lies and tell them as truths. Who was telling me I was inept at things I’d already mastered? Why was it ok not to have friends? Who was telling me to write long unpunctuated emails to people that had wronged me like my wife, my manager, my father, his wife, and Mark Zuckerberg? And why would they acknowledging that all of this was happening in my head and then not let me ask for help?
Does any of this make sense? Wait who’s the sun? Ask a crazy person to write about being crazy and this is what you get.*
My parents were two of the great gossips of all time. My father was the guy who told you everything using the mostly adjectives and half sentences.
“Upstairs, sales. Mr. long lunch. It’s like…(raising an eyebrow) Look pal we smell it. Potted, this guy, like a plant! So I say ’88 and out the gate, friend!’ Keep this between us.”
Translation? He had to fire Peter Stevens, from national (upstairs)sales for drinking on the job. Pete, also used to live in the apartment above my dad when they were both single. My mom was always more historic as though what she was saying was due an inevitable fate that had befallen a whole clan.
‘Well you know all the Dandermont’s are crazy. All of them. Patty was at a farm,(whispering)…and not the fat kind. Blake is always in his cups. I mean Christ, the grandmother shot the grandfather, so no wonder the men with the little white coats are always coming up their driveway.”
That last bit there. The men with the little white coats? That was a reference to being institutionalized i. Loony’s were put in straight jackets and taken to padded cells. That is how we talked about and saw mental illness in those days. Something to be feared and something from which there was no return. Even if you returned.
My Mom and Dad are good people. Gossip was just the way people communicated harsh realities. People were steeped in shame about the things they felt separated them, or others from being normal. Understand that until not that long ago realities like mental illness, alcoholism, homosexuality or any other hard to explain trait or predilection was reduced in terms of it’s most exaggerated characteristics, and it’s most violent results. When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s these very normal, real things were usually summed up in one derogatory word, like lunatic, drunkard or queer. Mental illness in all it’s vast variations was a cartoon character drawn in mania, violence and isolation. Watch an old Daffy Duck cartoon from the 60s to get my point.
One night I heard my Mom telling my dad that someone they new had “The voices”. Someone, a relative I thunk, had gone mad because they couldn’t stop the voices in their heads. Voices in their heads!? This was the first I’d heard of this. “What was the difference between the voices in your head and thinking?” I thought. That idea alone was enough to keep me staring at the the ceiling fan at night, wondering if the voices might come for me. How this phenomena manifested in ones brain and drove them mad was never fully explained, but one thing for sure, the voices were up to no good. Soon that notion became a part of the dialogue of how we the public described the mentally ill. It also became a defense for all kinds of indefensible behavior.
“Mr Greenland’s lawyer said voices told him to chop up his wife, and put her into 30 individual sandwich bags. Mr Greenland’s neighbors noted Mr. Green was a kind, quiet man, who always packed his own lunch lunch.”
Anecdotes like that of Mr. Greenland (not a real person) and men and women like him made the rounds. The scariest part for me always being that the person had no plan to do horrible things before the voices told them to. My assumption was the voices people heard were not their own, but rather full blown characters that barked orders, laughed at your mistakes, taunted you to do illicit things. I thought they’d be easy to recognize, and there for ignore or tell people about.
So imagine my surprise Christmas Eve 2011 realizing while trying to get my families Christmas together that I was coming unglued. What the day before had been routine depression had suddenly become an unexplainable cacophony of noise, self loathing and bad ideas. My thoughts were like bullet trains running simultaneously at different volumes, in all directions, for what seemed like forever. I struggled to think linearly. I couldn’t answer simple questions without concentrating. I struggled with the idea of wrong and right. Sometimes I’d get lost in my head and come to find I was babbling to someone with no idea of when I started talking or where I was going. I was drowning in my own head and didn’t know how to ask for help and that lead to a compulsion that everyone else would be better off if I were dead. the only way to truly show you what I’m talking about would be to do a very ornate and large installation piece at the modern and we don’t have time.
So what happened? I took the dog’s hip medicine. An opiate. I know because it had the sleepy faced guy on the bottle. I refuse to say which one because I’m not suggesting this as an option. Did it save my life? Temporarily. What is the lesson then? Well there are a few and I’m not going to over complicate them.
- The voices for every are different. They can be anything from a buzzing bee to Elvis singing. Mostly though it’s an inability to think straight. There is no one right way to go crazy so even if it feels just a little chaotic in your head. TELL SOMEONE
- If ANY feeling, bet it sadness, anger, fear, even unmitigated joy lasts for more than a few days? TELL SOMEONE
- There is help. It will not feel like it. Brain chemistry can be altered by everthing from meditation to medication. That’s a personal choice but crazy you may not pick the best solution so TELL SOMEONE
- Finally. You have some say in the matter. One day I realized something. The voices seemed to be running the show. I thought I couldn’t get them to stop. Then I had a realization. That all shut up when I want to eat. They may not agree about what to eat but they are all actually interested in me getting nourishment, and not wetting my pants, and putting on a shirt. There is a part of you that is struggling to be heard above the din in your head. Want to fix that? TELL SOMEONE
*Writing this was nearly impossible so I hope it’s useful in some way.
Greg Behrendt | Biography
Greg Behrendt is always busy! In 2009, “He’s Just Not That Into”, the movie based on his bestselling book, opened in theaters nationwide and was America’s number one movie. Behrendt’s second comedy special, “That Guy from That Thing,” was released by Image Entertainment after premiering on Comedy Central and Greg made his Edinburgh Festival debut at The Assembly Rooms. In 2010, Greg wrote half hour sitcom pilots for CBS and NBC, produced and starred in “There Might Be Cake”, an unscripted pilot for IFC, and performed stand-up at both the Melbourne and Montreal International Comedy Festivals. He also worked as a Consulting Producer on NBC’s Love Bites, and launched the podcast “Walking the Room” which he hosts along with Dave Anthony. In 2011, Greg headlined an episode of John Oliver’s New York Standup Show, performed stand-up at the Cape Town Comedy Festival in South Africa and began touring his “Starfish Circus” show, a live version of the “Walking The Room” podcast with Dave Anthony. In 2012, Greg has performed stand-up at the Montreal, Melbourne and New Zealand International Comedy Festivals and wrote a comedy pilot for AMC with Hank Azaria and Jerry Stahl. In 2014, Greg worked as a creative consultant for the Oxygen series “My Crazy Love”, and has continued to tour his standup all over the world, including a trip back to the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April, which kicked off an 8 week tour of Australia. In 2015 into 2016 he continued to tour clubs all over the country, as well as returning to festivals such as San Francisco’s Sketchfest, the Moontower Comedy Festival, the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival. Greg recently launched “Greg Behrendt and his Flying White Falcon”, a live talk-show style podcast, and recently appeared on Comedy Central’s @Midnight and This Is Not Happening.
Greg is the co-author of the three-million-copy bestseller, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and established himself as a voice of reason and inspiration for all of us negotiating, and sometimes drowning in, the treacherous waters of romantic relationships. Co-authored with “Sex and the City” story editor, Liz Tuccillo, the book became the publishing phenomenon of the year after its release in September 2004. The book shot to the #1 slot on the bestseller lists worldwide, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Oprah Winfrey devoted two shows to Behrendt and the book’s simple, but powerful message. Behrendt also made numerous television appearances including NBC’s “Today Show,” “20/20” and “Larry King Live” on CNN. After a fierce bidding war, New Line Cinema acquired the film rights to “He’s Just Not That Into You.” The film was released worldwide on February 6, 2009 with a stellar cast including, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson and Ben Affleck and helped propelled the paperback edition of the book back to the top of the best seller lists.
In 2005, Behrendt, with his wife and co-author Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt, released a follow-up relationship book through Broadway Books/Random House. Offering straight talk, tough love, and hilarious (yet useful) tips on how to survive and get over break-ups, the book, titled “It’s Called a Break-Up Because It’s Broken,” immediately jumped to the top of the book charts including the Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and The New York Times. They are currently writing a screenplay based on this book titled “The Breakup Buddy”. Their latest book “It’s Just A F*@#ing Date” was recently released and is already topping the iBooks charts.
Behrendt was a consultant for three consecutive seasons on HBO’s “Sex and the City” in which he brought his original male point-of-view to the writing staff. His acclaimed stand-up comedy has been seen on HBO, “The Tonight Show,” “Late Show w/David Letterman,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and Comedy Central. He was named by Variety in 2001 as one of the “10 Comics to Watch.” In April 2006, he was honored by COSMOPOLITAN magazine as one of the twelve “Fun, Fearless Males”, and in 2006 Behrendt launch the self-titled syndicated talk show, “The Greg Behrendt Show”, for Sony Pictures Television. The show featured Behrendt’s signature humor and advice when it comes to all kinds of relationships – including those with family, friends, romantic partners and relationships in the workplace.
Behrendt currently lives in LA with his wife/writing and producing partner Amiira and their two daughters.