Electricity & Lust

Mental Illness Happy Hour

Posted in Personal by Sam Unsted on October 11, 2011

I get addicted to podcasts. It’s not a problem because it’s a free addiction, it’s just a fact. Normally, it will take me a couple of times listening to different episodes to get really into a show. After that, I’ll race through the entire back catalogue available on iTunes and gorge until I’ve listened to everything interesting to me.

Recently I have been suffering from writer’s block. If you read this blog, you’ll know this. I just cannot seem to generate ideas on what to write about. Partly, this has been driven by how incredibly busy my job has been in the last few months. I just cannot seem to build up the energy required, mentally or physically, to write anything.

To bring those two paragraphs together, I have become addicted to The Mental Illness Happy Hour, a podcast presented by comedian Paul Gilmartin on which he interviews friends, mostly from the comedy world but beyond also, about their mental illnesses. Most of this encompasses depression but other issues are also explored.

As a long-time devotee of WTF with Marc Maron, on which Maron will open a vein with his comedy industry guests to explore their craft and psyches. If Maron opens a vein in his discussion, Gilmartin slices open his chest and lays his heart down in between the microphones.

The Mental Illness Happy Hour has had the impact of driving me to push harder to kick-start my writing again. The guests on the show are open and honest. As with WTF, having comedians on proves enlightening and emotional as they have an uncanny, and probably completely necessary ability, to access the darkness in their lives and to articulate their psychological problems and demons in an accessible manner.

The show is self-indulgent in places and occasionally struggles to find the balance between serious and funny, but it’s a really worthwhile, powerful project and I will push myself harder to avoid my life passing me by.

I used to run two podcasts and I fully intend to start one of those up again. But there are two hundred other things I’m constantly too tired to achieve and I need to prevent myself from falling into the trap of putting it off so far that the chance is gone.

Gilmartin’s show is brutal at times, but the way his guests are willing to open up to him, and to the audience, is inspiring. Many will argue that they don’t give a shit about the problems of these people. No doubt there is a level of hyper-introspection on the show and, as I said, there is an intense self-indulgence. But through that the show manages to find universal truths about the modern psyche and it’s inspiring me to push myself harder and not let myself drop back into lethargy and passivity.

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