Podcast: Early Life Trauma, Addiction, and Acceptance With Deconstructing Stigma’s Charles King

Today, Trevor shares how depression manifests itself physically in his body. Then we talk to Charles King (09:20), a participant in McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma campaign whose story was too compelling not to share. Charles bravely shares his struggles with alcoholism, drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.

As the son of drug addicted parents, Charles began running drugs for local dealers at just 5 years old and regularly had to provide clean urine samples for his mom to pass off as her own. Charles talks about the physical and mental abuse he suffered as a child and how he only felt loved and accepted when he was on drugs.

Now clean and sober, Charles is enrolled in college working toward a nursing degree and currently works as a surgical pathologist.

Episode Transcript

Trevor: Okay. Okay. Okay. Welcome back fans and regular listeners of Mindful Things, and welcome to new listeners. Do you guys hear that? It was kind of like my riff on Matthew McConaughey. All right. All right. But I went like, “Okay. Okay.” No, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. Quick update. I am doing terrible. Terrible! For those people who suffer from severe depression, the last week and a half or so I’ve been going through the physical side of it. So, the physical side means, at least for me in my experience, not sleeping much, even if I’m absolutely dead tired. So my head hits the pillow around 10:00pm, 11:00pm, dead tired, but I don’t fall asleep ’til about 3:00 or 4:00am. Going to work half asleep, half awake, not able to really carry myself very well. Not being very social, staying home a lot more than usual. Cold weather kind of plays a factor into that, and there’s a little bit of a hibernation factor to this but it’s still depression.

Meds aren’t working. That happens, and I need to make an appointment with my doctor to do a med check and see if we need to change things up. The recreational cannabis isn’t working. Nothing’s working. I end up just thinking more and that makes me more depressed. The only thing that you can do in those times is do your exercises and keep moving forward. You know, same thing that I said the last couple of weeks. There’s not much that’s going to pull me through this besides patience and time. The thing I need to be really careful in this period is to not fall lower. I’m kind of close to the cutoff point to the edge. If I fall any further, I need to talk to a professional about it fast because I don’t begin to contemplate suicide, but I definitely don’t, I don’t know.

It starts out just being like, “I just need a break from life. I need a break.” It sounds innocent. It does. It sounds innocent. But then that idea just festers and you start taking a few steps down that road, kind of dip your toes into the water, and you got to be really careful because any further than that, you’re going to a really, really dark place. So, that’s where I’m at right now. I think you can tell by my voice that I’m just really out of it. You also just feel it everywhere. I feel it in my shoulders. I feel it in my stomach. I’m just tired and tense at the same time and nothing works. In this time you kind of end up just eating like crap and people tell you, “You got to exercise,” and that’s true. It will help, but when I’m too tired to even sleep, I know that kind of doesn’t make sense, but it happens. When I’m too tired for sleep, I’m certainly too tired to exercise.

Yesterday was a holiday. It was President’s Day. It wasn’t a holiday for me. I ended up working the entire day editing the podcast you’re about to hear. I don’t think I crawled out of bed until 1:00 in the afternoon and then spent the rest of the day in front of a computer mixing and editing until it was like 11:00pm. Then I was tired, but I knew I wasn’t going to fall asleep. So I finished the last three episodes of Russian Doll. Man, that really, really is as good as everybody said it is. It’s some powerful stuff. Those last two episodes just had me thinking, “There you go.” Couldn’t sleep. I’ll get through it, but this is where I have to be really careful. This is where the stupid, just real stupid behavior starts. Staying in bed longer, having to go pee but just not wanting to get out of bed, being really hungry, just not wanting to get out of bed.

Sitting on my desk working and then like a zombie, this has happened a few times, I’m not even aware it’s happening, just standing up and walking into the bedroom and the next thing you know, I’m laying in bed, and just laying there. Sometimes I fall back to sleep. Sometimes I don’t. It’s just, this is not fun. So, I’m just tired. I see beds everywhere. Look, I see queen size mattress with a feather bed on. I see that over there. Oh yeah, look at that. Now that full over there, gosh, that has memory foam on it. That one looks good. Look at that. That one’s only a twin, but it has one of those massive body pillows, you know? Not the anime ones. Just the long body pillow. Look at that. I see one of those, just those big, big beanbags over there and you’re just sleeping, contours to your body. I see beds everywhere.

I think this has a lot to do with some major breakthroughs that I’ve had. I mention them in this upcoming interview with Charles King and I’m not ready to talk about those breakthroughs yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to talk about them. It’s really hard stuff and I’m in the process right now of having made these breakthroughs, these realizations, I am recontextualizing my life. I’m doing one thing that is just terrible to do in this situation that is ruminating, and I’m trying my hardest. I’m trying but my brain is on overdrive. It is just processing every embarrassing moment, everything that I blame myself for in my life. It’s being recontextualized through this breakthrough and I’m realizing things, things are starting to make more sense. “Now I understand why this happened,” or, “Gosh, now I know why I behave this way.”

It doesn’t make the situation better. In a way it actually makes it feel worse because I’m digging up all this stuff from my past that I’ve never laid to rest, but I’ve at least hope that if I’m never going to figure these things out, then can I just sweep them under my emotional rug, and just move past them? Well, when you make breakthroughs, I think it’s just human that you go back through your life and assess all those situations that you’re sorry for, you regret, that you wish you could take back. So yeah.

On today’s episode, I interviewed Charles King who suffers from mental illness like me. So, we really connected. He is actually a participant in McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma campaign and you’ll be hearing him share about his struggles with alcoholism, drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. As the son of drug addicted parents, Charles began running drugs for local dealers at just five years old and regularly had to provide clean urine samples for his mom to pass off as her own. Charles talks about the physical and mental abuse he suffered as a child and how he only felt loved and accepted when he was on drugs.

Now clean and sober, Charles is enrolled in college working towards a nursing degree and currently works as a surgical pathologist. Charles is a really cool guy and we got to connect on some pretty heavy stuff. I hope you enjoy this. I know you will, but just so you know, there’s some dark stuff in here and Charles’s story is as equally positive and compelling as it is a little dark and sad. So, keep that in mind as you listen. But now, here’s the interview between myself and Charles King. I hope you enjoy.

What kind of writing?

Charles: Pretty much from my recovery to of drinking, drugs, mental illness, whatever’s on my mind. I’m always constantly writing. It’s just like scribble on a notepad or if I have an idea ... like just driving in this morning, I had an idea. I was listening to old school Eminem and that—

Trevor: Is Eminem now old school?

Charles: Yeah.

Trevor: Oh my God, I’m getting old. It’s old school now.

Charles: It’s old school now.

Trevor: Oh no.

Charles: I mean, he’s like mid 40s.

Trevor: Yeah, right.

Charles: So I was listening to that song Stan and I had a thought like if I made something, writing to that similarity of that, and that was just the thought process driving in here.

Trevor: So if I remember that song correctly, that was the one about the letter written from the kid to him.

Charles: The obsessed fan.

Trevor: Yeah, right, and it ends with him like a suicide murder.

Charles: Suicide, yeah.

Trevor: That song was pretty intense.

Charles: Yeah. So then that’s what my thought process was driving in here. Like maybe I can write something like that.

Trevor: I’m not going to ask for it, but do you have ... have you decided on an idea or a story or are you just like, “Okay. I’ve got to write something like that. That’s a good structure to bring the story.”?

Charles: It’s more of the structure.

Trevor: Yeah. So in the meantime, you’re going to brainstorm a story?

Charles: Yeah, and I don’t know if it’s going to be fictional or non-fiction either.

Trevor: Well that’s the thing with fiction, is that sometimes with fiction, you can really hide some truth bombs in it and maybe say what you really want to say better or clear, than if you told a story that actually happened to you.

Charles: Mm-hmm. So what I do, I don’t know if you know a little bit, so I write pretty much daily on my Facebook wall. You can call it a blog, but it’s literally about everything or anything. So yesterday I wrote about cocaine and making like a metaphor. You know, the love of it. I called it dope sick love, dope sick hate. The love of it and what it did for me with the euphoria and the high, and then I wrote about the dope sick hate of the coming down off it and the shakes and the sweats and things like that nature.

Trevor: Let’s talk about the emotional components of substance abuse. So, I am a regular user of cannabis. I take my meds in the morning to help me with my BPD and my NPD and depression. Then at night I smoke cannabis, takes the edge off. I used to abuse alcohol pretty bad and there’s the physical components, but emotionally it’s a way for me to ... it’s not even to relax. It does help me relax, but what it really does is help me let go, let go of anger, let go of sadness, let go of even positive feelings like ... Oh God, how do I explain that? The positive feelings where there’s too much. You know, I’m feeling they’re too intense.

Charles: So anxiety?

Trevor: Not even that, but maybe like I have a crush on somebody and I know with me, just having a crush can send me down a rabbit hole. So I got a temper that a bit and think more logically about it. I got to pull that emotion down. You have a history of substance abuse. What did those substances do for you? Well, not physically, but emotionally—

Charles: Emotionally.

Trevor: Talk in terms of emotion.

Charles: You hit on a great point of like, for me, cannabis was not taking me away from those emotions. It was more if I had cannabis it would be, it wouldn’t take away the sadness, it could bring upon sadness.

Trevor: It can do that. Yeah.

Charles: Yeah. So, it can bring me to memories that I repressed.

Trevor: Memories that you repressed?

Charles: Yeah.

Trevor: Memories or feelings that you repressed?

Charles: Both.

Trevor: Both?

Charles: Yeah. So you said about the crush, I could harp on that crush and you know, “Why did that girl harm me or did not talk to me?” For cannabis, that’s what cannabis did to me. I started overthinking.

Trevor: Right. So what did cocaine do?

Charles: That brought me of the, I don’t care what’s going on in life.

Trevor: Did you have an emotional application for each drug?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Can you go through those?

Charles: Yes. So, with cocaine I had the attitude of, “I don’t care about living,” or, “There’s nothing in this world that’s going to touch me or affect me.”

Trevor: So, do you think it gave you confidence or did it give you apathy?

Charles: It gave me apathy. Definitely apathy. I don’t want to say confidence, but it was more that I was untouchable.

Trevor: Were you dangerous then? Not dangerous to other, but just in a dangerous mind?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Yeah?

Charles: Yeah. It was dark and gloomy. And then you add alcohol to that and then—

Trevor: On top of the cocaine?

Charles: On top of the cocaine, and that’s like now you added a depressant on a stimulant. So it’s a battle between my own brain. You know, do I want to ... with the cocaine, I’m on such a roller coaster of dark and gloomy, but it sounds depressant, but I was still high until the alcohol was mixed with that. With alcohol, my feelings and emotions were up and down. I couldn’t wait to drink. I was always craving the drink. So if I had a bad day at work, or my wife pissed me off, or anyone during the day that pissed me off, I needed a drink to calm those nerves down.

Trevor: Right. Are you pissed off a lot?

Charles: Yes. I do have a lot of anger issues.

Trevor: Where’s the anger come from?

Charles: That’s what I’m still working on with my therapist and psychiatrist—

Trevor: I think that’s what we’re all still working on, is the anger. I can’t go into it right now because it’s too heavy for me to admit, but in the last, I don’t know, three to four weeks, just out of the blue, I just had some massive breakthroughs. Here I was for most of my life ever since I got into therapy the last 20 years, begging for a breakthrough. Then when they actually do happen, it’s almost too much because you’re facing some really, really ugly truths about yourself. It does help alleviate the anger, but then it really opens up, God, it just opens up—

Charles: Another emotion.

Trevor: Yeah, and too much of it, man.

Charles: So I’m on a mood stabilizer medication for my anger.

Trevor: Yeah. What kind?

Charles: Lamictal.

Trevor: Yeah. So, I’m on Lamictal too. What I was told is that it’s a bipolar medicine. I’m not bipolar. However, the medication that they give me, the real antidepressant Effexor, I’ve been on them all, but right now I’m on Effexor. What happens is that every two, three years, I have to switch up to a new one because the other one just stopped working—

Charles: Stops working.

Trevor: So I got to switch it up. But what that one does is that they usually make me a little more aggressive, make me grit my teeth at night and stuff like that. What the Lamictal does is that it tempers that. So, the Lamictal doesn’t so much help me as it does help the main medication and me. So, you’re on Lamictal for anger.

Charles: For just the mood.

Trevor: Just a mood stabilizer.

Charles: Just mood stabilizer.

Trevor: What else are you on?

Charles: Latuda for my bipolar.

Trevor: I think I tried it.

Charles: It’s those commercials with a woman painting and it’s all happy and—

Trevor: Yes. There was a period where my psychiatrist and I were both ... God, she was amazing. I wish she still had her practice because she was incredible. But I mean, we were throwing, there was a point where we were just throwing things off the wall to see what would stick. We were both kind of exasperated and I am not accusing her of not doing her job. She went over, above, and beyond. I mean, she’s the reason I got into McLean. She got me into McLean. I didn’t even know what McLean was and I lived a five minute drive away from the most reputable mental health hospital in the country, maybe the world, I don’t know, but I had no idea that it existed. My doctor was like, “You need to go to McLean.” If it wasn’t for McLean, well, you know the answer at the end of that sentence. So if it wasn’t for McLean ...

Charles: I definitely bounced off of medication to medication. I was on Zoloft.

Trevor: Me too.

Charles: I was on Abilify.

Trevor: Me too.

Charles: So I’m still actually still in the bouncing off stage of medications. So my Lamictal has increased from 50 milligrams to 200 milligrams. Latuda I just started on and that was only based on ... I just saw a neuropsychologist to pinpoint my exact diagnosis. My psychiatrist and therapist knew, but doing the neuro testing exam, that’s when it pinpointed I have bipolar disorder.

Trevor: Where did you go and do that?

Charles: I did that in Duxbury.

Trevor: Duxbury, Massachusetts—

Charles: Massachusetts. So, I live in Foxborough, Massachusetts. My therapist is in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. My psychiatrist is in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Trevor: For crying out loud—

Charles: And I drove to Duxbury. But I loved my psychiatrist so much I’ll drive the 45 minute drive back and forth.

Trevor: Yeah. Mental health means car miles, people. You learn that after a while.

Charles: So, when I did that, I didn’t though ... first of all, the neural psych exam, it’s five hours, six hours.

Trevor: Six hours?

Charles: Yeah, it’s a—

Trevor: What are you doing?

Charles: I forget the name of the testing where you look at the pictures and what do you see?

Trevor: Rorschach.

Charles: Rorschach, yeah. I did the Rorschach. Then I answered about 500 multiple choice questions. I did the testing to see if I had ADHD, which I do. So I’m on Adderall for that. It was just talking to him like I was talking to my psychiatrist, you know, what I’m here today for, what triggered my mental illness or what came about of my whole childhood to today. Apparently, it’s an expensive testing. If you have good health insurance, which I do, then it’s fairly much paid for. Then I had to pay some out of pocket. Then there’s waiting lists just to see these neuropsychologists. I know it happens a lot with children, but the waiting lists and the resources are not there for anyone that doesn’t have good health insurance.

Trevor: What is your official diagnosis now or diagnoses?

Charles: Bipolar II.

Trevor: What’s bipolar II?

Charles: Bipolar II is the lesser of the manic depressions. I have lesser manic episodes than a bipolar I. My depression is there. That will always go up and down.

Trevor: So we have bipolar II and depression.

Charles: Depression, anxiety. I have little tendencies of OCD, obsession compulsive disorder, and substance abuse, trauma.

Trevor: Do you think substance abuse, and we’ll move on from substance abuse, eventually, eventually we’ll move on from it. But do you think substance abuse, do you think the drugs worsened your diagnosis? Or do you think if there was no drug history, you would still have the same diagnosis and they would still be at the level that they are today? Does that make sense?

Charles: Yes. So I didn’t know I had bipolar until I became sober. I could say the bipolar, I could say that without the drugs I had the mental illness.

Trevor: Right. But do you think the drugs made it worse? You had the diagnosis, do you think the drugs had an effect on your brain that possibly made them worse? I’m talking strictly from a—

... clinical medical side, and I know we don’t know anything about science, but you also know your own body.

Charles: I want to say yes, but it’s hard to gauge because was it the drugs with those emotions and feelings or attitudes towards people, or was it the mental illness? So I’ll say yes, the drugs had a part to do with it.

Trevor: Were drugs a way for you to escape things or were drugs a way for you to face things?

Charles: Both.

Trevor: Both.

Charles: Yeah.

Trevor: Give me an example of a time when drugs helped you face something.

Charles: I had to face something.

Trevor: In yourself.

Charles: Just made me happy. It gave me the attitude of a happiness. I was always trying to find happiness, so I felt the drugs with that high and that euphoria, that’s what drugs gave me. I felt like I was wanted where—

Trevor: Man, that’s rough.

Charles: It’s the—

Trevor: You felt wanted and loved when you were on drugs?

Charles: Drugs, yes.

Trevor: Holy shit.

Charles: Because I was masking all of that pain that I had growing up. So, I felt like when I had the drugs, I was a different person. So, in order to be in any social setting, I needed to be on drugs or alcohol.

Trevor: Were you abused as a child?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: How so?

Charles: Mentally and physically from my aunt on my father’s side.

Trevor: What would she do?

Charles: I would get beat with a belt, a broom, anything that was in arms reach on a physical aspect. On a mentally, yelling at me. Like if I got a B on my report card, it wasn’t good enough. So I would get screamed at. So even today, if anyone is screaming in front of me, it’s a trigger. I can’t have anyone yelling. It just happened with my wife, our daughter bit down on breastfeeding and she’s like, “No, you can’t do that,” and that was a trigger.

Trevor: I have one. I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this before on the podcast. So, a few years ago, I was in line at the grocery store and in the aisle next to me, I was in line for checkout, aisle next to me, a woman hits the woman in front of her. You know when you can get hit in the back of the heel with the grocery—

Charles: Heel.

Trevor: Man, and it kills. It Kills. It absolutely, it hurts. Woman in front of her turns around and they get into it, and then it, I mean, it really escalates. Then one calls the other one a bitch and it really goes off, and I had to get out of there. I had to go. It was like it was happening to me. I had nothing, nothing to do with this, nothing, and I just couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle seeing it, hearing it, it had nothing to do with me and yet I was making it all about me. I have a feeling that that’s probably more BPD and PD related, but do you just not like being around conflict? I can’t.

Charles: I do not like being around conflict. No. I try to be the—

Trevor: So you dip out, like if there’s something happening, you’re out?

Charles: I want to say I want to be the mediator. I try to diffuse the situation.

Trevor: Yeah, I’m the opposite. I dip. I’m gone. I’m gone. If it’s people I know, then I can mediate. If it’s people I don’t know, I’m gone.

Charles: No, I help strangers.

Trevor: Yeah?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: I help strangers in need, but if there’s a fight going on, no, I can’t do it. I don’t know why. I don’t know why. I got to go.

Charles: So, that abuse happened for about eight years.

Trevor: Did Child Protective Services get involved at all?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No. Where’d you grow up?

Charles: So I was born in Boston, Beth Israel Hospital. I grew up early childhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Trevor: Yeah. Where?

Charles: Fresh Pond, Jefferson Park projects. Then when my parents got divorced in 1988, and I was five years old, we ended up moving to Brockton, Mass, with me and my mom and my sister.

Trevor: Brockton, Massachusetts in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Charles: That is correct. It was no joke.

Trevor: Tell me about that my friend. Tell me all about that.

Charles: So my mom is, I’d say a recovered drug addict.

Trevor: She’s in recovery right now?

Charles: Of drugs. She doesn’t do any drugs anymore.

Trevor: She drinks?

Charles: She drinks. Doesn’t believe she’s an alcoholic, it’s not my judgment, but somewhat admitting it, that she—

Trevor: I know a few of those my friend, and I was one of them for a while.

Charles: She had a scare last Thanksgiving where she went to the hospital for blood—

Trevor: Alcohol poisoning.

Charles: Alcohol poisoning.

Trevor: She went to the hospital for alcohol poisoning and she doesn’t think she’s an alcoholic?

Charles: She had an awakening within this last year.

Trevor: Okay, good.

Charles: Because my daughter was born, which is her granddaughter, she felt like she has to make change for her.

Trevor: Does that piss you off?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: It pisses me off just hearing it.

Charles: Yeah, because I always have arguments with her.

Trevor: “You’ll get clean for my kid but not even for your own?”

Charles: Not even for my own, but for yourself. You think by having that alcohol poisoning scare, that would change your life of not drinking. So, now she’s at a point of controlled drinking, what we call in AA, thinking if you have just one, you’re not going to pick up another. Or now it’s like, “I’m having one Mike’s Hard Lemonade and I’m not going to be drunk or anything.” So, it’s still a work in progress, but I mean, from 1988 to today, there has been substantial change within her. She also has mental health issues. So, we—

Trevor: Has she been diagnosed?

Charles: I believe so, yes, of bipolar. So, I don’t know if that’s why I have it, it’s based on our traits.

Trevor: You don’t have to answer this, but do you trust her and your kid?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: You do?

Charles: I do. My father on the other end, I do not.

Trevor: Yup. Yeah.

Charles: He’s still an active drug addict, so I do not trust him whatsoever with my daughter.

Trevor: So growing up in Brockton with a single mother who was abusing, were you mostly left to your own devices?

Charles: I was. So, I did not attend school at an early age and she would write sick notes or why Charles wasn’t in school. So she was an enabler. She was enabling me of why I wasn’t in school.

Trevor: Let me ask you a question. How many people did you know growing up going through the exact same, not the mental illness part, but going through the exact same thing that you were doing? They had a parent who was addicted and the child’s future, whether they attended school or any of those things, was just not important? Did you know a lot of people like that?

Charles: I knew a lot of people because it was my family. Every single, I have a lot of cousins—

Trevor: And they were all like that?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: For the most part.

Charles: For the most part. Everyone had a single parent, even if it was a single father or a single mom, there was substance abuse or alcohol abuse, and we had each other as cousins, but we didn’t have our parents because they were too involved or too engulfed with their addiction.

Trevor: So let’s try and open this up a little bit. What do you know about your mother’s past, did she experience physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental emotional abuse?

Charles: Yes, from my grandparents, her parents.

Trevor: What about them? Did they have a history of being emotionally, sexually, physically abused?

Charles: I do not know that far, but I know my grandfather was a violent alcoholic. My mom is one of 11 children. She’s the oldest, so she had to take a lot of responsibility of taking care of her brothers and sisters.

Trevor: Yeah, and she probably got hit the most too.

Charles: Yes. So there was a lot of violence. Like my grandfather till the day he died carried a knife on him. He was—

Trevor: Why?

Charles: ... in his eyes probably ready to go to battle, ready to stab someone if they pissed him off the wrong way.

Trevor: As a young person, did you look up and respect that attitude or did you know right away that that is not a way to live?

Charles: I was more fearful. How are you fearing of your grandfather?

Trevor: Did he like you?

Charles: Yes, but I didn’t have that happy loving grandfather grandson relationship. My grandmother a little bit different. She was always there for her sons and daughters and her grandchildren. I’m the eldest grandson and my sister’s the eldest granddaughter.

Trevor: What’s the relationship between you and your sister?

Charles: Me and my sister today have the best relationship. We talk every single day.

Trevor: What was it—

Charles: Before?

Trevor: Yeah.

Charles: We have six years age difference, so early teens for me, she was ... if I was 18, she’s 24, she’s doing her own thing, going out with friends clubbing, things like that. She didn’t know until I got sober how bad my addiction was. We never talked about that. She knew I drank a lot, but she thought that was Charles being Charles. He’s going out with his college buddies, but we still, even still when I was active, we still kept in touch. But I hid a lot of my pain and emotion from my sister. But today though, she’s learning more about me every day about my past. Early on, like I said, that six years’ age difference, she was not there. So growing up I didn’t have my father who was out of the picture, my mom who was abusing, and my sister who was old enough and dealing with her own pain of growing up with a single mom.

Trevor: Was she there for you?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No.

Charles: As a child, no.

Trevor: No. Have you guys managed to move past that?

Charles: Yes. I don’t think it was ever even brought upon. I mean, I don’t have any ill will towards that.

Trevor: She had to do her and you had to do you and that was that.

Charles: Yeah. It was we were, it’s a survival on our own. Then that leads into my survival was the streets of Brockton. That was the family I knew. It was my external family. So I became a drug runner at an early age.

Trevor: So for those people that don’t know what a runner is, what a runner does is they take the money from the client, they walk over to somebody who has the product, they trade the money for the product, and then the product goes back to the client. That’s so that the money and the product are not in the same spot at the same time. Is that right?

Charles: Correct.

Trevor: How old were you when you started running?

Charles: Started doing that at about five years old.

Trevor: You were running at five years old?

Charles: Yeah.

Trevor: What were you running? Coke?

Charles: Coke, marijuana. At that time it was actually crack cocaine. That was big in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s.

Trevor: You were running crack at five years old?

Charles: Correct. Not normal as a five-year-old in kindergarten, right?

Trevor: No. No, it’s not, that’s not normal. How much money were you getting? Did you even care?

Charles: I didn’t know—

Trevor: Know what money was.

Charles: I didn’t know the concept of—

Trevor: Were you getting paid at all?

Charles: I was getting paid, I just didn’t know what the concept of like what $100 bill was.

Trevor: Right. $100 or $20, it was all the same.

Charles: Yeah, because it was more that I was fed because when I went home, sometimes the lights and heat wouldn’t be on because my mom was unable to pay the light bill and the heat bill.

Trevor: Was your mom working?

Charles: No.

Trevor: So at five years old, you were the breadwinner for the house? Was your sister bringing in any money?

Charles: No.

Trevor: You were the only person at five years old that was bringing money into the house?

Charles: For the most part, but my mom had a drug addict boyfriend. So, he was—

Trevor: He was helping.

Charles: He was helping. And I was also hiding it from my mom.

Trevor: So, if there was a night where there was no food, at least you had the money to go ... at five years old, did you know, “Well, hey, I have money to feed myself,” and then would you go and eat somewhere?

Charles: Yeah. I always went to this local pizza spot.

Trevor: At five?

Charles: Yeah.

Trevor: Did you tip?

Charles: It was more, I mean, if you look back at it, it was more selfish. I didn’t know I was not helping.

Trevor: Dude, how is that selfish at five years old?

Charles: Meaning I wasn’t giving money to my mom.

Trevor: You didn’t even know what money was. You just knew that it was this piece of paper and if I traded this piece of paper for this slice of pizza, maybe I’ll get a different piece of paper and some metal circle coin things back. But dude, selfish? You’re an entrepreneur at just trying to survive the streets at five years old. If you’re, dude, I just can’t get over this. I can’t. I can’t get over this. Five years old and you were running crack. Anybody that can listen to this and doesn’t think that there is a problem out there?

Charles: So, eventually child services did get involved.

Trevor: How? How did they find out—

Charles: You know how they found out? Because I wasn’t attending school.

Trevor: Oh really? Did you ever get picked up, busted, anything?

Charles: No. There was no truancy, no. It was like I fell underneath the cracks.

Trevor: Did the cops even police the area?

Charles: No.

Trevor: Do you think—

Charles: At that time, and I think it’s irrelevant today, police are looking for weapons and drugs. So it’s not like, “Is your child going to school today?”

Trevor: They don’t care if you’re in school, they just care to see, at that time—

Charles: At that time.

Trevor: ... if you had a gun or drugs on you.

Charles: Correct.

Trevor: Do you think that was odd? Do you think the police had just been like, “You know what? Let’s just let Brockton destroy itself. We don’t have the time or the resources for this.”?

Charles: Yeah.

Trevor: Or were undercovers and stuff, were they working the area?

Charles: I like how you put that. I mean, it was a drug epidemic. At that time period it was about let’s clean the streets. It was a political thing. You know, what is it? Barbara Bush?

Trevor: Mm-hmm .

Charles: You know, say no to drugs, don’t do drugs, the DARE program.

Trevor: The DARE program made its way to Brockton, or no?

Charles: I don’t think so.

Trevor: No.

Charles: I discovered DARE more later on.

Trevor: So DARE was in white schools?

Charles: Correct, which can lead to my ... when child services got involved, I’m peeing in a cup for my mom so DSS wouldn’t take ... so she could have a clean urine sample.

Trevor: Oh Jesus.

Charles: So my mom was still smart enough not to have her children taken away. So back then you could go right into the bathroom with—

Trevor: Oh my God.

Charles: So my father got wind of this, of how bad it was, because as I said, he was out of that picture. He wasn’t doing much to try to get me and my sister back. At the same time, he didn’t know how severe my mom’s drug addiction was.

Trevor: Did he care about you?

Charles: Truthfully, no. So, he ended up getting—

Trevor: Were they young when they had your sister?

Charles: Yes. When they had me, my father was 30, my mom was 27.

Trevor: Okay, so your mom was 21 when she had your sister?

Charles: Correct.

Trevor: It’s not—

Charles: So they went to the ‘70s. So, then my father got physical custody, but he didn’t have a house, so he ended up giving ... so was it ... he ended up getting sole custody but he ended up giving physical custody to my aunt, who is his sister.

Trevor: Right, the one who was abusing you?

Charles: Correct, and we ended up moving to Medford, Massachusetts. That’s where I went to predominantly white schools, and that’s where—

Trevor: You went from Cambridge to Brockton, to Medford—

Charles: To Brockton, to Medford.

Trevor: Dude, there’s a book in you. Let me tell you.

Charles: That’s where, from nine years old to even today, how my life changed of not even talking about my past. I went to predominantly white schools, no one knew about my past. You know what? Growing up, what pissed me off, especially in high school was like, “You’re the whitest black kid I’ve ever seen.”

Trevor: Oh God.

Charles: I hate that statement, because you don’t know what life I lived, and you don’t know what life I’m living in the home. That was just teenagers being teenagers.

Trevor: It still hurts.

Charles: Of course.

Trevor: It’s still so ignorant—

Charles: Ignorant.

Trevor: So ignorant. Ignorant AF, as I’m not allowed to say, but can slide by.

Charles: Yeah. And then my aunt ended up ... my aunt was fair skinned black, so I mean she could almost pass for white, so how she raised my sister and I was like you had to be proper and fit in with, I don’t want to say white folks, but white people.

Trevor: So you were taught how to socially adapt.

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Yeah. What was that like? Confusing?

Charles: It was so confusing. Just even going to school regularly, reading and writing.

Trevor: How old were you when you go to Medford and you’re I assuming learning to read and write for the first time?

Charles: I was nine years old.

Trevor: Okay, and you were learning then to read and write?

Charles: Mm-hmm .

Trevor: Did they have a special class for you—

Charles: No.

Trevor: ... or they just threw you right in with the lions and just figure it out?

Charles: Yeah. I mean, by that time, I knew what concept of money was and counting. I’m actually to this day great at math.

Trevor: From your years running?

Charles: Yeah.

Trevor: You’re good at math from running drugs at five years old, from five to nine?

Charles: Mm-hmm. So you have the street life and the book life.

Trevor: Did you have a weapon?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No. You could have—

Charles: I’ve had weapons pulled on me, my mom. I’ve been robbed as a child and as an adult. Then some of that drug running ended up, as a young teenager, ended up selling drugs, marijuana. I thought that was the cool thing to do. People accepted me. I wasn’t even selling marijuana or cannabis, what we called it. I wasn’t selling marijuana for the profit. I was doing it for the popularity.

Trevor: To get friends.

Charles: To get friends.

Trevor: Or to get people that just cared about you.

Charles: Yeah, and then, you know how that story ends.

Trevor: Mm-hmm .

Charles: It’s a game. It’s a drug game, and I ended up getting robbed and that’s where the whole somewhat of the depression kicked in, on ... What is it? I know the date, July 7th, 2005. It was the day of the London bombings. I know that date because I was doing a drug deal in Government Center in Boston.

Trevor: So you were 22?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: So you were dealing as a kid, moved to Medford, got into school.

Charles: School.

Trevor: Did you continue dealing through school?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No. Graduated high school?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Yeah. College?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No, and then went back to the streets?

Charles: Didn’t go back to the streets, but I was selling it while I was in college a little bit. I did some college.

Trevor: Got some college. What area were you working? Or were people just coming to you?

Charles: People coming to me. Then I had that college—

Trevor: Yeah, that’s right.

Charles: I had the college clientele.

Trevor: You’re in college, you had clients.

Charles: I was doing it on campus.

Trevor: I didn’t think about that.

Charles: Then even, I mean, we can take a step back. So at 17 years old, I had enough of my aunt abusing me, so I ended up running away. At this point, my parents are still in and out of my life, so I would stay with them here and there.

Trevor: Did you have a car?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No.

Charles: All public transportation.

Trevor: So, you got to know the subway system and the bus system pretty well.

Charles: Fairly well. When I wasn’t staying with them, I was homeless. I slept in the Boston Common while attending high school, and I went to Arlington Catholic. I went to a—

Trevor: You went to a prestigious Catholic school and you’re sleeping in the common at night?

Charles: Correct, and hiding that from teachers and my friends.

Trevor: Who found out? Somebody found out.

Charles: No one found ... Well, I take that back. The principal ended up calling my aunt to say like, “Charles is sometimes not coming to school,” so it was like a regression. I was old habits. So, that’s when she got in contact with me. It was an ultimatum. She was still paying for Arlington Catholic, so it was like, “If you don’t want to attend here, I’m not paying for it.”

Trevor: So she was paying for a private school and you were sleeping on the street?

Charles: Correct.

Trevor: Dude.

Charles: As a 17-year-old, I didn’t know about college. I knew about it, but I didn’t know how serious it was for my life and the future. So I didn’t buckle down until my senior year, which was a little bit too late because college is looking at you from your junior year, your PSATs. So I did a lot of scouting of colleges on my own, and then I didn’t know anything about housing, financial aid, and I got an acceptance letter into Suffolk University and I ran with that. I did a lot on my own. Growing up, I did a lot on my own.

Trevor: You got robbed in ... let’s move up to 2005? You got robbed.

Charles: I got robbed.

Trevor: By gunpoint?

Charles: No, not by gunpoint. Just a silly drug deal gone wrong, because of that London bombing, the Government Center was highly secured. So—

Trevor: You’re making a deal at Government Center.

Charles: I’m making a deal at Government Center and the two people that robbed me knew that. When they called me at 2:00pm, I was just waking up and they’re like, “Meet me at Government Center.” So it was already a plot already set up, and I was selling a pound of marijuana. I had it in a backpack, exchanged the backpack, they gave me a roll of money. There was a $100 bill covering ones. So now I’m out $2,000. It’s something out of a movie, like, “That’s going to be my last drug deal, and then I’m going to get out of the game.” This time it wasn’t my marijuana. I had to cop it from another dealer and then so now, that dealer is like, “Where’s my money?” So he’s threatening to kill my mom or my family if he doesn’t get his $2,000 by the end of the week. So, I didn’t have ... I had a part-time job. I was a custodian for the Boston public schools. That wasn’t going to pay—

Trevor: $2,000 in a week.

Charles: ... $2,000. My grandmother on my father’s side was sick. Ended up passing away shortly after, and my cousins that were in Brockton, twin cousins, they ended up getting shot. Just they were sitting on their porch and there was ... it was a ricochet shot and both of them got transported to Boston Medical. So there was a lot going on in that same week and I just didn’t know how to deal with it.

Trevor: You had a sick grandmother, you had two cousins get shot, you got rolled for $2,000, and you owe money to a dealer by the end of the week or they’re going to kill your mom or your family?

Charles: Mm-hmm .

Trevor: Yeah, that’s a tough week.

Charles: Yeah. Everything comes in threes.

Trevor: So how’d you get out of that one?

Charles: So, I ended up asking a friend of mine from high school—

Trevor: And is depression on top of all of this?

Charles: 100%.

Trevor: Can you even get out of bed?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No.

Charles: No.

Trevor: Before we continue this story, I’m just curious, how long have you just stayed in bed? Have you ever done that?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Yeah. What’s your longest stretch?

Charles: Easily seven days. Yeah.

Trevor: Yeah. It’s horrible.

Charles: It is.

Trevor: It’s horrible. I’ve mentioned on here that sometimes I just don’t even want to get up and go to the bathroom until it hurts. I just don’t even have the strength to get up and go. Even if the bathroom is attached to my bedroom, I just don’t want to go. I could be so hungry and I just don’t want to get out of that bed.

Charles: Yeah. I didn’t go with more the going, I went to the bathroom, but the hunger, I didn’t care about, or how to even cook. Or think about cooking.

Trevor: So, you’re in this depression pit on top of all this stuff?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Did you think your family was going to die?

Charles: Yes, and it was my fault. So, when you’re in that depression or when you’re in that dark space, you kind of come up with plans of, not scheming, well, yeah, scheming, of how you’re going to make the next dollar. How are you going to make your next move? So even though I was depressed, I was still actively thinking, “How am I going to get out of this situation?” I’m a religious ... I grew up praying to a God, the 911 God.

Trevor: I’ve never heard that. That’s amazing. I’m not religious at all. I’m a full atheist and even I have turned to the 911 God every once in a while. You just got to turn to something.

Charles: Just got to turn to something.

Trevor: Just like, “Can somebody just take this off my shoulder for a minute?” Yeah.

Charles: Yeah. It was definitely I grew up early on with a punishing God. You know, if you do something wrong, you’re going to go to hell. Then now today, I have a spiritual God.

Trevor: That’s good.

Charles: And there’s a difference between spirituality and religion.

Trevor: Sure, absolutely.

Charles: But we won’t get into that. So I was just praying in that dark room, “Get me out of this situation. I’ll stop dealing. I’ll do right.” So I ended up asking a friend of mine from high school, her mom, to give me money, and I said it was for my tuition for Suffolk. The sad part is she was dying of cancer and then when I tried to give her the money back, she said, “No, life’s too short.” In my eyes, as a 22-year-old, I’m like, “You don’t understand this is drug money. You need to take this back.” But she didn’t, she said, “Continue your education,” and that has been a burden to me to this day.

Trevor: Is there at any point you think you can see it as a blessing?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Or is it forever going to be a burden?

Charles: It definitely is a blessing. I say it’s a burden more because I used and manipulated somebody.

Trevor: Dude, I’m with you. If it was me, I would carry it as a burden for a long time. But I also know somebody would say, “Well, you got to find a way to see the silver lining in it.” In a world where few people gave to you, here somebody gave you something on their death bed.

Charles: So, I got through that situation and I moved forward. I’m 35 today and I didn’t think I’d be alive. It’s a miracle that I have lived—

Trevor: Let alone married with a kid and—

Charles: Yeah.

Trevor: ... clean.

Charles: I mean, it wasn’t peaches and cream from 22 to 35 either. So, I mean—

Trevor: No. It’s never peaches and cream with us.

Charles: Yeah. So I mean, all this trauma that I’ve already lived or was living, was just snowballing.

Trevor: I’m sorry. I want to apologize to the listeners. I just said a very cynical thing. It’s never peaches and cream with us. That is a very bad way to look at it, and I apologize. Those are my issues speaking. Please disregard that. I would appreciate it if you did. That was very negative on my part and I apologize. So, were you sexually abused at all?

Charles: I was. I was molested from one of my cousins at an early age.

Trevor: I’m sorry man, I don’t know where to go with that. I don’t know. It’s—

Charles: Just another trauma that happened. It can influence how I am going forward in my life of how I treated women or how I treated anybody.

Trevor: So, the abuse, there was a period where ... No, I don’t want to get into it. I’m going to cut that out. I can see that that’s really hard—

Charles: For me or for you?

Trevor: For you, and maybe even more for me, but I’m going to leave that on the floor. You got robbed. You were showing signs of depression. Were you aware it was depression?

Charles: Yes. The first inkling of my depression was 18. After living on the Boston Common and going to college for the first time was 18 years old, that depression hit quick and fast. Again, I didn’t know the concept of a college. So, when I saw all these campus parties and things like that, that’s when my attitude of all this pain and misery from my past is now fun and games. That’s where the alcoholism churned because the drinking and drugging was always there, and I was masking all that home life and that pain. And from when I entered college, it was like I was free. So, I saw people, I didn’t see people before that had mental illness or my past, but when I got to college, I saw people that liked to drink, that liked to party, and that’s what I wanted to emulate.

Trevor: So before substance abuse was to dull the pain. Now you’re in an environment where substance abuse is to party and have a good time.

Charles: Correct.

Trevor: That’s a very confusing message.

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Yeah. And so you went into it like, “Hey, we’re going to party and have a good time. This is a new thing for me,” but underneath, you’re carrying this other history.

Charles: Carrying my demons.

Trevor: Yeah, and those are going to clash.

Charles: Eventually, which long-term it did. But from 18 to 32, it was partying, and I partied my ass off. With alcoholics, we like to find alcoholics. We attract each other. So—

Charles: I wasn’t going to class again.

Charles: I wasn’t going to classes. I had the grants, the financial aid, but I didn’t grasp my future yet. I didn’t know what grants and all that meant. I didn’t know I had to pay student loans for the rest of my life. So it was fun and games. And teachers didn’t care because it’s your money. So I’m the idiot for not going to class because it wasn’t like high school or grammar school where they were looking for you to go to school. This is now, “You’re an adult. If you don’t go to class, we still get paid.” So, all I wanted to do was just party. It’s all I wanted to do.

Trevor: Because it felt good.

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: It was a good feeling.

Charles: It was a good feeling.

Trevor: You were social.

Charles: I was social, definitely a social butterfly.

Trevor: Made friends, met women, relationships, blah, blah, blah.

Charles: Mm-hmm. That’s when, you brought up a good point with meeting women, that’s when it got its kickstart of being sexually active, of going through a lot of women, during that phase and after.

Trevor: Being sexually active, but it sounds like when you say go through a lot of women, but probably being very emotionally inaccessible, probably being emotionally dismissive. Am I right?

Charles: Yes, correct.

Trevor: Yeah.

Charles: So, I would target women that had no self-worth, and I pounced on that. You go out or go to a party, and more so later on when I went to a bar when I was 21, you scope the scene out and see what woman I could go home with.

Trevor: So, it was very much a—

Charles: Strategy.

Trevor: Yeah. Are you in AA?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: Yeah. Have you done all your steps?

Charles: I have.

Trevor: Yeah. Have you kept in touch or reached out to any of these women and ... this is—

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: ... always been a hard thing for me because there’s women ... actually, there are just people that I feel I still need to apologize to. But then this was so long ago, do I want to go dig this up? Because I’ve done that. I’ve gone and apologized and people often said, “Dude, first of all, I’m way over this. You should be too, and frankly, it’s kind of annoying that you’re bringing this all back up again. I’m past it.”

Charles: Well, I mean, that’s the part with step nine. So, I have made amends, make direct amends, to the people I have harmed without causing harm to them, and that’s the second part of step nine. If I go up to a woman that I mentally abused, that might cause a trigger for her today. So, I have to go about that in a different way, of, “I have been clean and sober for 28 months. I have to show or kind of prove that I am a changed man. I’m a change person. I just want to give you an apology for what I’ve done to you.” You know, keep it short and simple. You don’t have to go into, “This is what I did,” and then sometimes some of those people you cannot make an amend to, you just have to do that within yourself, write a letter to yourself, because it will cause harm to them.

I did the step work fairly quick within seven months and made a lot of amends within that year, and I had to make amends to my wife who was the number one on the list. I had to tell her about—

Trevor: How long have you been married?

Charles: I’ve been married, I’m coming up on four years.

Trevor: Okay. You had to tell her about?

Charles: I had to tell her about everything, from my drug addiction, from my alcoholism, to my gambling addiction, and my sexual addiction. I had to tell her ... as a wife response, it was like, at first it was like, “Who?” And it just like, “I can’t give you names, but I can say I was unfaithful in this marriage,” or, “I was unfaithful before the marriage, and now I’m trying to change my ways and can we move forward?” When I brought that to my sponsor that I was going to tell her that, he said, he’s like, “There’s going to be three options. A, she’s going to divorce you. B, she’s going to forgive you but holds it over your head. Or C, she’s just going to forgive you,” and it was a combination of B and C. It took us a while for her to grasp that.

It was just more, “You just threw all this at me.” She knew I was in recovery, but she didn’t know how severe it was. She knew her husband drank, or her boyfriend drank or fiancé, but she didn’t know how severe it was. We didn’t move in with each other until we got married, so she didn’t know all that partying was happening when we were engaged or before that. So that drug addiction, again, she didn’t know about. Hiding money from gambling, she didn’t know about. So, hearing this as a wife, it’s, even just me saying it, it’s just like I could see how painful that can be.

Trevor: So, where does mental health and your diagnosis, where does that come in?

Charles: So, again, I know we’ve got away from this. So, 18 that depression hit and I ended up going to Boston Medical Center, and I just needed help. I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know what I needed, and I think when they offered a medication at that time, I was like, “I don’t want any medication because it’s mind altering. I don’t want it to interfere with my”—

Trevor: Isn’t it so funny. I went through the same thing, but I’m like, “But I’m okay with drinking and doing illegal substances.”

Charles: Yes. I was like, “It’s going to interfere with my drinking and drugging.”

Trevor: Right. But this pharmaceutical shit, this stuff, no.

Charles: No. So I had that early on. At 18 I’m getting the AA pamphlets from doctors, and it’s funny how we always lie to our doctors when they ask how much do you drink? Like they’re going to tell the police or something.

Trevor: Right, exactly.

Charles: But I didn’t know what AA was at 18. I didn’t know I had an alcohol problem.

Trevor: Then when you find out, it’s free.

Charles: Yes. It’s free.

Trevor: That is crazy.

Charles: They didn’t tell me that. So, that was my first battle with depression, of the laying in bed, what do I do with my life? It wasn’t suicidal.

Trevor: Have you made a suicide attempt?

Charles: I was going to make an attempt, which is later. I never had suicidal tendencies until much later. So then 18 was the first going into a hospital, what do I do? 22, 23-ish, with everything that was happening in my life, what do I do? Then from there on out, it was just managing it. My mental illness, which I didn’t know I had. If anything happened in my life that already did, I used that as a crutch. I’m going to overcome this, I’m going to use this as a steppingstone. I’ve already gone through so much stuff in my life that I can overcome it. I had that attitude for the longest time, and that got me by. But then it got to a point where I wasn’t strong enough, I couldn’t deal with this. I worked in the mental health field. I ended up working in group homes. I started off in group homes.

Trevor: I did a group home once.

Charles: Then I ended up working at Arbour-Fuller in Brookline, and that’s where adults with mental illness—

Trevor: Group home was hard work.

Charles: Yes. It’s very stressful.

Trevor: Yeah.

Charles: So I’m working in these stressful jobs and so then I went from the adult psychiatric ward into Rhode Island working with adolescents in a psychiatric ward. Now that’s stressful because I’m going to work and leaving work depressed, stressed.

Trevor: Yeah. I leave this place a lot like that.

Charles: So these kids are trying to kill me all day and I’m like, “I’m going to the bar.” So that’s what I did, and that’s what we did as all of us coworkers. We were putting these kids in three-point restraints and I was immature to realize that this all just enhanced my alcoholism. So it’s just like I could work the 3:00 to 11:000 shift and I’m going to bars to the closing. And the littlest things I wouldn’t know. Someone would commit suicide, like the bottom edges of your toothpaste, did not know that’s a sharp To this day, it’s still like, “What?”

Trevor: That’s sharp enough to cut?

Charles: Yeah. When you go home, look at your toothpaste.

Trevor: I know it’s sharp, but I didn’t know it’s sharp enough to cut unless you really dig.

Charles: Yeah. Or you can sharpen it yourself. But again, when you’re not in that mental state to be admitted into a psychiatric ward, you’re not thinking somewhat as a patient that has ... So, I did that for about four or five years and I wasn’t ready for it. I was not ready to work in that field. But today I am. I go to school, to work. I want to be a psychiatrist. I want to be a psych RN, psych nurse.

Trevor: What are you doing right now for work?

Charles: I work in surgical pathology, and for those that don’t know, it’s the testing of cancer and tumors. So, there’s a biopsy or an excision taken off a human that might be potentially cancerous. So the doctor will take off the biopsy and I’ll do the testing for it.

Trevor: So at five, you’re running crack in the streets of Brockton, and at 35, you work in surgery. Congratulations my friend.

Charles: Thank you.

Trevor: That’s amazing. That’s really amazing. I’m proud of you.

Charles: Thank you.

Trevor: And I mean that sincerely. That’s amazing.

Charles: And I went back to school. Currently I’m at UMass Boston.

Trevor: Oh yeah?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: What are you studying?

Charles: Nursing.

Trevor: Nursing. Yeah. Anything else?

Charles: Nope. I mean, psychology, but because I want to do psych. I didn’t think it was possible to go back to school because my brain, because of the alcohol and the drugs, was saying, “You can’t, you can’t, you can’t.” But once I became sober, it was like, “You can do anything you want.”

Trevor: So where are we around your diagnosis?

Charles: So the diagnosis ... So, I got sober on September 5th, 2016. I put down all three of my addictions, from drinking, drugging, and gambling.

Trevor: Why?

Charles: Great question. Why? First of all, I did it on my own. It wasn’t like someone told me, “Hey, you have to go to AA. You have to go to NA.” I was traveling back home from Maine with my wife. We went up to see our grandparents. On the way home I was like, “You know what? I need help.” I know those three words are the hardest thing an alcoholic and a drug addict can say.

Trevor: So, what made you realize, by taking a trip to Maine with your ... or was it something that had been building all along and something in that trip just tipped you over?

Charles: It was building on. 2016 was a bad year. This is when I told you I went ... like 18 years old, I’m partying my ass off and it was all fun and games. At 32 years old, I was tired. My body was saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” and literally the drinking and drugging became a ... every day I’m waking up scheming, I’m lying. I don’t feel good. I don’t like myself. I just had that I don’t give a F attitude, to anybody, anyone that came in my path, my bosses, my wife.

Trevor: How many jobs have you been fired from? I ask that because I’ve been fired from many.

Charles: None. It was more so I quit more than fired.

Trevor: Yeah. No, I got let go from, not many, I got let go from a few and it was either related to drinking or my attitude.

Charles: I looked at it as I needed those jobs to support my addictions. So I became a functional alcoholic, a functional drug addict. So, in order to buy all that stuff, I needed to go to work. So, that’s why I went to work. I was going to work for a paycheck. I wasn’t going to work for the patient care. So, it wasn’t the trip that got me, that said, “I need a change.” It was 2016 of what I did leading up to that day. I went to seven weddings that year. I’m in that wedding age, so—

Trevor: Wait ’til you hit the divorce age.

Charles: Yeah. Five of those seven weddings I was drunk and high, and it was like an alcoholic’s dream. Open bars, I’m there. I had to be the life of the party. That’s how I masked all of my pain, was my humor. I had to be the social butterfly in any occasion.

Trevor: Did you feel threatened by somebody else who was the life of the party? Did you resent that? Did you resent not ... if somebody else was taking the center stage?

Charles: I wasn’t threatened, but I would try to one up them, or join in. By going to that Catholic school, it was a small school. So we are still friends today, like my high school buddies, which is rare because if you go to a public school, you lose friends. So I was at my best friend, my best man’s wedding, and that was when my wife noticed a change in me of like this is not just drinking. I think drugs are involved, because I was sneaking away. I’m doing lines of cocaine in the church bathroom before I go on the altar. So that lifestyle, I was getting sick and tired of. This is when I realized I actually had a drug problem. Now, still haven’t admitted that I’m an ... I mean, I always said I was an alcoholic, but I still didn’t physically come out and tell people I’m an alcoholic. But I knew now when I needed cocaine every single day, to wake up and to live, I knew I had a drug problem.

So, August 2016 was rough. I ended up missing work and staying in bed. I would pretend to go to work while my wife was still there and then come back home and just lay in bed. I did that for a whole week. So that trip was like a, they live like six hours up in Maine, and that trip was like a ... I needed that trip because I’m going to see her grandparents in the middle of nowhere, with no technology. For the first two days up there, her grandfather’s offering me a drink, and I’m saying, “No, no, thank you,” because I knew at this point I wanted to change. I didn’t know where it would bring me, and then that final night there, he’s like, “Do you want to drink?” And my last drink was a scotch on the rocks, with an 86-year-old man, and because I couldn’t disrespect my elders.

So then on the way home I said, “You know what? I’m going to go into work the next day.” I worked at Massachusetts General Hospital at that time, and I said to my boss, “I need help,” and he sent me down to Employee Assistance Program.

Trevor: Did you do coke that morning?

Charles: No, I was almost 24 hours sober, or clean, and—

Trevor: It’s worth a chip.

Charles: Yeah. So then I went to my Employee Assistance Program, we were calling detoxes, ended up getting into AdCare in Boston. Well I ended up calling Norcap in Foxborough first, and then the simple question, “How much do you drink?” And I’m still lying at this point.

Trevor: They probably know that though.

Charles: They knew that. I didn’t know it yet. So, I ended up doing AdCare in Boston. I did that for 45 days and then I did the outpatient program, and they guided me to AA, and I dove right in. I wasn’t afraid of it. I knew it was free. I didn’t know it would change my life dramatically, but after that year of being clean and sober was when it was a week ... so my sobriety date is September 5th, 2016. On September 19th, 2017, I wasn’t happy. I’m like, “I just got my one year medallion. Life is not complete yet,” so I was going to kill myself. I had a plan of suicide and someone in AA reached out to me that day that needed help and that was like—

Trevor: They needed help.

Charles: They needed help, and how I am today, and how I’ve always been, was helping others. That was my medicine, was helping others.

Trevor: You can get addicted to that too.

Charles: Yes, correct, which I have. Yes.

Trevor: I’ve done that. You end up leaving yourself in the wind

Charles: In the wind, yes, and I’ve—

Trevor: Done that?

Charles: ... have done that. So, I ended up helping that person and then a week later on September 26th, 2017, my wife announced to me she was pregnant.

Trevor: So that wasn’t planned.

Charles: It was planned.

Trevor: It was planned?

Charles: It was planned. It was planned from the entire summer, but it took about three or four tries. Then I didn’t know, I wasn’t expecting ... a week prior to her telling me, I was going to commit suicide. A week later she’s telling me she’s having a baby, and that will always forever be in my heart. That’s why so now I believe in a God of my understanding, is because he was looking out for the father that my daughter has today, because—

Trevor: Do you think you’re a good father?

Charles: Yes. And like every other father and their father, they want to be better than their father. I don’t want to strive to do that, but that’s what I ... I want to be better than my father, my grandfather. I want to break the cycle.

Trevor: So when she’s 16, are you going to be looking out for guys just like you?

Charles: Yes, exactly. So, I mean, I joke about that all the time. All the time. You’re not going to want a me. I did it all. So, that’s when I was calling around for therapists. You know, “Why am I not happy? Why am I depressed again when I have everything? I have a good job. I have a wife, I’m having a baby.”

Trevor: Well you got some good services then for in just two years to reach this diagnosis. I mean, it took me 15 years of regular therapies to realize that, “This is bigger and he needs better resources.”

Charles: I only knew, yes, in two years, I only knew this because I’m in that field. So, that’s why I was so gung ho about what to do. Before I was nervous and saying no to medication.

Trevor: And you saw how it helped people.

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: So you were finally like, “Maybe this can help me.”

Charles: Correct, but I didn’t take medication for a while, so I did therapy. And I didn’t start medication until March 2018. So I was going from therapy, after the suicide attempt, to March 2018.

Trevor: And I forget, you’re on Latuda, Adderall?

Charles: And Lamictal.

Trevor: Lamictal.

Charles: So, I was doing the DBT—

Trevor: I’m in DBT, yeah.

Charles: ... with my therapist, and he recommended a psychiatrist because he knew, not that he wasn’t helping, but he knew I needed more help.

Trevor: DBT is a trip. I don’t know on your first day with it, but I remember going through the book and being like, “This is shit for four-year-olds,” and they’re like, “Yeah, and you didn’t learn it when you were four years old.”

Charles: Correct.

Trevor: And I was like, “Oh.”

Charles: Mm-hmm. I felt the exact same way. I’m like, “Why am I watching these cartoons?” But I needed it. And then there was a book called the, something with a dog. It’s a great book.

Trevor: If you dig it up, can you let me know?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: We’ll stay in touch.

Charles: So, the metaphor is it’s a dog and an owner, like how you never leave its side, but the metaphor is depression.

Trevor: Oh, God. Yeah, maybe I don’t want the book. I don’t know.

Charles: It’s a child’s book. Literally it’s like pictures.

Trevor: That’ll still kill me. I don’t know man. That sounds rough.

Charles: Because after I read it, I read it in his office, like I said, it’s like 15 pages, and he’s like, “What did you get out of that?” And I go, “That’s depression.” And he’s like, “Yes,” and a 10-year-old can figure that out right away. So that’s when the journey of the mental illness, he knew it from a therapist, but again, he couldn’t pinpoint it. Then I went to a psychiatrist that he recommended and then she’s like, “Yeah, you have bipolar.” She was—

Trevor: So what’s a bipolar episode look like for you?

Charles: So, now without the substance abuse, it’s definitely ... today I can definitely pinpoint when I have an episode.

Trevor: I still can’t pinpoint. People have to tell it to me.

Charles: I have those moments too. So, what I did, and I brought this concept to my therapist and my psychiatrist, is a mood chart, and I made this mood chart based on the one day at a time mentality that you live—

Trevor: And you keep it on the fridge, right?

Charles: Keep it on the fridge. And you always start your day off with a five. That’s the midpoint, because everyone thoughts are like, “I had a 10 today,” but no, you have to start every day neutral. Then throughout the course of the day—

Trevor: What if you’re not feeling neutral at the start of the day?

Charles: That’s where I’m getting at. So, because it’s a new day. So, you start at five, throughout the course of that day, that five is going to go up and down. So if you weren’t feeling great that day, it’s going to go down to like, we’ll say at two, and then you go through all your course of your day and then by bedtime, I go to my fridge and I’ll give an overall number of what I had for that day. So, if I started off with a horrendous morning, I might not end up with a two, but I got it back to that five, or maybe something positive happened and it got to a six. I based on one being suicidal and 10 being super ecstatic, super happy. I don’t see ones and tens ever today. But I have gone to a two. I’ve gone to a nine. But I could say like right now, I woke up today with my five, doing this podcast and right now I’m at a seven, and we’ll see before I go to bed tonight where my day ends. I actually ended my night yesterday with a six, my wife pissed me off.

Trevor: Do you then at the end of the week, end of the month, end of the year, do you take the averages and see where you are?

Charles: So I bring that to my therapist and my psychiatrist.

Trevor: And you guys do that.

Charles: Yes, and it helps actually with medication. It shows like, “A, is this medication helping you?” So I mean, if I had fours across the board for 30 days, “All right, these meds aren’t working,” per se, but that’s just based on that. Because I could say before New Year’s Eve, I was a constant seven, and then New Year’s Eve was kind of like a trigger of my past.

Trevor: You wanted to be out partying.

Charles: Now I have a daughter and I’m in bed at 9:30, like, “What’s going on here?” So, that brought my mood down, dramatically. So, my attitude changes towards my wife, and she sees it. It’s just like you are, two days ago, the last seven days, you were like happy-go-lucky, playing with your daughter, to now just like, “Both you guys leave me alone.” And that affects me having bipolar. Like some days I don’t want to play with my daughter, and her just crying is a trigger. She’s sitting there being so happy not understanding the world and I’m sitting there depressed. That eats me up inside.

Trevor: I’m going to ask you a series of questions and they’re all related. If you don’t want to answer them, that’s fine. They’re actually more for me. I’m kind of projecting here because these questions kind of represent my fears, but what does it mean to be mentally ill and to be a father? To you? Do you have fear of passing that down to your kid?

Charles: I have a little fear. So first I don’t like the word fear, because I don’t fear anything. Things happen for a reason. It’s how I was. I mean, you can just pretty much base it how I’m here today. Only thing I fear I think is bees because I got stung by bees.

Trevor: Are you allergic?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No. They do hurt.

Charles: They do hurt, and I got stung twice. But I take fear, the word fear, or anything I fear, as a motivator. If I fear something I can conquer it.

Trevor: Yeah, I’m not there yet.

Charles: That’s how I’ve been.

Trevor: I hear my trigger words and I just throw up my arms and assume loss.

Charles: I have the tools today to change. It was a choice to become sober, even though I was so engulfed in it and I didn’t know I can make that choice of becoming sober, but I did. For others out there, I know it’s a struggle and it’s more the brain disease. So the mental aspect and fatherhood, I do fear a little bit that it could pass down to my daughter.

Trevor: Not just chemically but also through your actions?

Charles: Through my actions. That can lead into, if your next question would be like, to my wife.

Trevor: Yeah, I didn’t want to go there dude, in case she listens to this. I don’t want to, so, let’s just skip over that.

Charles: All right.

Trevor: I want you to walk out of here with the best chances possible.

Charles: Well ... Damn.

Trevor: Don’t do it.

Charles: No, because she has a little stigma that it’s going to affect our daughter. So to answer your question, she’s involved a little bit.

Trevor: Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s talk about it.

Charles: So, we both see both sides. I definitely see her point of view. She sees my point of view. She knows that this podcast, or in general mental illness, is helping other people. So anything I say or anything I’ve overcome, or anything that I have done personally, I can help another person. That’s the positive. The negative side is this is your family.

Trevor: Yeah, man.

Charles: Now you’re exposing her and my daughter.

Trevor: Dude, my parents don’t even know about this. Do not know I’ve been hospitalized. They do not know about the ... they don’t know about my ... they don’t know anything. So, hats off to you. That’s hard man, and that’s—

Charles: But we always end the conversation, or the mini argument with, “You just don’t understand.” And both of us could say that. With me being so open, I want the communication, I ask her, “Can you please explain further?” And she says, “You just won’t understand.” So we’re still at that point in our life.

Trevor: Have you guys gone to marriage counseling?

Charles: Oh yes.

Trevor: Oh yeah? Is she in therapy?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No.

Charles: The marriage counseling was early on.

Trevor: Maybe you need to go back?

Charles: Early on when I was active.

Trevor: Maybe you need to go back for the sake of the kid to work this out?

Charles: Possibly. But I still think it’s, I don’t...no, Actually.

Trevor: No?

Charles: Because we have an open line of communication now that I did learn from marriage counseling, that I don’t need to go to a therapist or a counselor.

Trevor: So there’s an open line of communication, the issues not resolved, but communication’s open and it sounds like you’re confident that you’re going to get there?

Charles: Yes, because she’s been here since day one. She has seen me at my worst. She’s seen me go through recovery, and now this is another bump in the road of my mental illness.

Trevor: So, you’re not worried that she’s going to bounce now because why of all times would she—

Charles: Correct.

Trevor: ... dip right now? Because she’s been through everything.

Charles: Yeah. Yeah, there’s no fear of her leaving me because of mental illness. It’s more of talking about it. Like even with my posts and my blogs, it’s like, “You don’t have to say everything.” But in my eyes, I have to say everything because someone that might have had the same story as me, could identify.

Trevor: So you guys are working it out and getting through it?

Charles: Yeah. But it’s more the worry that selfish, it’s like I only look at myself and not for my family, but I believe I do, but I just go ... I know my family life versus my personal helping others’ life. Again, it’s hard to speak for her because again it’s hard—

Trevor: Well you’re not her.

Charles: I’m not her. So it’s more, and I can learn this with the stigma is, we are raised from complete opposite families, but every family has that, “Whatever happens in this house stays in this house.”

Trevor: Oh boy, yeah.

Charles: It’s the code of silence.

Trevor: Yep.

Charles: So, her parents for example, or my in-laws, do not know I have a mental illness.

Trevor: Why? Because they’d freak out.

Charles: I don’t know.

Trevor: Yeah, and it’s not worth the—

Charles: I don’t want to say it’s none of their business, but it’s like that’s between my wife and I.

Trevor: Kind of isn’t any of their business.

Charles: So, even with the recovery, the drinking and drugs, that’s not talked about. But again, how much do you talk to your in-laws about that? They know I don’t drink when I go over for parties and things like that, but it’s never been a topic of conversation.

Trevor: Right. Okay. So let me follow it up with this. So, what does it mean to be mentally ill and be a father? We went on to talk about what it means to be mentally ill and married. What does it mean to be mentally ill and to be a man?

Charles: For me, I believe it makes me stronger. I know people that have mental illness are fear based. They don’t know how to overcome it, how to speak about it. For me, being stronger, I have no problem speaking about it. I have no problem talking about it at work or letting people know that I have a mental illness. It’s not bringing me down. I have that attitude of, “we only live once, so why hide behind it?”

Trevor: So you don’t feel like your manhood or your masculinity is threatened by ...?

Charles: No.

Trevor: No? Okay. I totally feel that.

Charles: Is that an issue?

Trevor: Yeah, it is. It’s a huge issue and I feel that it’s rooted in other things beyond mental illness. I have an aversion to alpha males. I don’t know where it comes from, I’m trying to figure it out. I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure it out, but I just ... there’s an alpha male in the room, I am out, and there’s tons of them everywhere, so I’m always dipping out. The other thing, I’m just going to just put it out there, I mean, my medication and my depression gives me erectile dysfunction, and it’s not even a matter of performing. It’s just a matter of it just not working.

Charles: I went through those phases. Different medications.

Trevor: Then, I’m not even at the point where I feel my masculinity is threatened because I’ve just never felt masculine. I don’t even know what it frigging means. I don’t even know what it means.

Charles: But who would challenge your masculinity?

Trevor: Me.

Charles: So your own self?

Trevor: Right.

Charles: It’s not someone saying, “You’re not man enough.”

Trevor: I don’t know. I’ve heard that. I’ve heard that and it comes like this. It’s, “You’re too sensitive.”

Charles: See, I always flip it around to the other person, the people that aren’t living the mental illness. Everyone has a problem. No one’s perfect. For me for the longest time I tried to strive to be perfect in an imperfect world, and I might have a mental illness, but someone might be a drug addict. So it’s just like, for me, I tend not to dwell on what others had to say about me.

Trevor: Right. Oh man, that’s 24 hours a day for me.

Charles: You dwell on—

Trevor: Hell yeah. I live and die by what other people think of me. Even when I act like I don’t, even when I go have a borderline episode and I am just blowing through people and don’t even care about whether I’m hurting them or not, and it’s all about me. Once I get over the episode, then it’s like, “Oh God, what did they think?” There’s some codependency involved in that too. So I started going to codependency groups, which is a lot like AA, there’s steps and stuff like that. But, now it sounds like I just got to get the stones to turn it around on anybody who steps to me and questions me, and do it in a way that doesn’t make it escalate, but do it in a way that diffuses the situation or bring some mutual understanding.

Charles: So, has that always been a problem with you—

Trevor: Always.

Charles: So you always value someone else’s opinion?

Trevor: Over my own? I don’t even have an opinion because I’m afraid ... I mean, yeah, I can be very opinionated, but I think that’s all for show. I think it’s just to get it out there. If I really think about it, I’m afraid to actually make a call on something. I’m afraid to actually make a decision and stand by it a lot of the times, because I’m afraid of how that’s going to be perceived.

Charles: So, for you personally, do you stick up for your mental illness?

Trevor: I talk about it pretty openly, but I do it in a way that puts it out there first and I’m probably self-deprecating about it so that I can insult myself first before somebody else can do it.

Charles: So if someone said to you a rude comment about mental illness, would you defend it?

Trevor: I don’t know if I’d defend it, I would either take it and shut up and go somewhere and maybe cry, or I would flip. Neither are good.

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: I’m either going to go down or I’m going to really go off, because that comment has pushed me into a very severe emotional arena. And when I am in that arena, that’s a BPD episode and I’m off to the races at that point. And off to the races means that I am just wrapped up in myself and I’m either coming at you with every horrible thing possible to tear you down and make you feel like how I feel, or I’m out and people are like, “I haven’t heard or seen Trevor in days.” And that’s because I’m at home, crying, holding my cat, playing Red Dead Redemption 2 and trying to just shut the world out.

Charles: So I think for me personally, even though with the true diagnosis, I haven’t come across I think the stigma for me personally. I’ve been battling the drug and alcohol stigma in a sense.

Trevor: Because people expect you’re going to relapse?

Charles: I’ve had people expecting me to relapse. I had people, friends that don’t talk to me anymore. I had to get over that—

Trevor: Wait, because you’re clean?

Charles: Because I’m clean.

Trevor: You have friends that don’t talk to you anymore because you’re clean?

Charles: Yes.

Trevor: That’s awesome. That’s classic.

Charles: For many reasons, that I had to assume that they don’t ... like if I touch their shoulder they’ll become sober, or they don’t know how to talk about it. I went through that phase of, “We were friends for 20 years and now you don’t know how to talk to me because I’m clean and sober?” I’m talking about like these are my friends that were social drinkers, not like someone I just met. That was hard on me. Not today, but I had my moments of, “Because I don’t drink and drug anymore, you can’t talk or hang out with me?” Now you add on the mental illness that ... I’ve shared to a few friends, but again, how do you talk about it?

Trevor: Yeah.

Charles: A, they don’t know, or B, they could have it but still afraid to come out and say it. So that’s in the realm I was saying to you of, “Will you defend it?” I’ve had, since I’ve been open about it, I’ve had people privately message me on Facebook or text me saying like, “Hey,” like, “I also have bipolar,” but then end it with, “But don’t tell anybody.”

Trevor: You’re right. I’ve had people get in touch with me and go, “I think I have this,” or, “My husband or wife has this,” and then they go, this one just gives me so much anxiety, then they go, “What do I do?” What do you do? I’m still trying to figure out what to do—

Charles: Figure out what to do. Yup.

Trevor: Now, my final question is, and I apologize if it’s tough, what does it mean to be mentally ill and to be black?

Charles: That’s a good question. I know from the research that I’ve done, in the African American community, it’s not talked about.

Trevor: Not at all.

Charles: Not at all.

Trevor: Let’s pinpoint it. We’re talking about not black communities across the board, but black communities, lower class communities, and it’s because there’s no resources. So, there’s nothing to even talk about when there’s no resources.

Charles: Mm-hmm, not a single resource available. So that’s the starting point. So, you have no resources, poverty, definitely an issue, health insurance, no health insurance. So it’s like, someone could say like, “Go get a therapist or a psychiatrist,” but there’s only so much mass health or state aid can help you with. I mean, I’m fortunate to have a job and have good health insurance, but in the African American community, it’s not fortunate. That just on the money aspect.

On the personal aspect, again, that goes back to the family. Just how you were raised. You can say like, “Oh,” like your mother or father say like, “Oh, you don’t have a problem.” So it’s like for me, me and my mom are comfortable with it because we can identify with each other. My father, no, he has this mindset of like, “You don’t get depressed. No one gets depressed.” And it’s just like, “Whoa! What do you mean? Everyone goes through some stage of depression. If it’s low grade, high grade, it’s a human emotion.” So, in the black community that happens, and with interaction with each other, we clown on each other. It goes like, if you could say like the “yo mama jokes, but now it’s just like, “If you tell me you have a mental illness problem, I’m going to make fun of it.” So there’s a fear on that.

Trevor: I always make fun of my mental illness before anybody else can.

Charles: Yes. Same.

Trevor: And it’s not good. I need to stop destroying myself before somebody destroys me because A, I don’t even know if that’s even their intent or their plan.

Charles: Correct.

Trevor: And if that does come to pass, if they do take me to task in a real immature, shitty way, then I need to learn to step up and stand up for myself. Instead it’s just easy just to say it and ...

Charles: It’s just hard, especially with me, for the majority of my life growing up in a predominantly white area, aspect of my life. So now, it’s just like I’m hiding me as a person as a whole for everything. So it’s just like, “Am I inspiring people because of my color or am I inspiring people because of my mental illness?” And that’s a battle—

Trevor: Yeah, can’t I just be Charles?

Charles: Exactly. So it’s just like, “Oh, is that another black kid that overcame? Or is it Charles that overcame it?” So, I definitely see this stigma definitely in the African American community from other races. And why is that, I don’t have the true answer just based on myself, but it is a high percentage.

Trevor: I hate to say it, and I think a lot of people are going to disagree with me, but I think you running on the streets is what gave you the confidence and the resources to get through this.

Charles: Get through the mental illness?

Trevor: To get through everything. It’s one thing to just realize you have a problem, or that you need help. It’s another thing to go through it and to go through it alone. Dude, at five years old to know that, “I take this bag of this to this person, I get money, and therefore with this money, which I don’t really know what it is, but I do know that I can go and get myself a slice of pizza so I won’t be hungry when I go to bed that night.” Okay. That is far beyond where I was at five years old. You have no ... that’s far beyond a lot of teenagers and young adults. Okay? And to know that at such a young age had to give you the foundation to pull you or push you through everything that you’ve gone through. It has to have.

Charles: Correct, and that happens, and again, I don’t want to generalize it, but I’m not the only African American that has gone through that. So I mean, is it more prevalent in the African American community? Yes, but it doesn’t ... I mean, it can happen with any race.

Trevor: Anybody can learn to be resourceful at five?

Charles: It’s just seeing violence at a young age. It’s the trauma that me as an African American saw to overcome and continue to use that for my mental illness. Again, I’ve gone through so much in my life that this is just another bump in the road that I have to live with it and I’m going to continue to live with it. It’s going to affect people. It’s going to affect people even close to me. But I mean, if they’re supportive and want to understand, I can explain it more, or have them tell me I’m going through an episode and stop me right then and there. I don’t want to yell at my wife or want to be depressed, but I want to snap out of it at the same time. There’s not, you just take this happy pill and it’s going to make me better. That’s just to stabilize me. Like I said, something can trigger me at any given moment. What do I do in that moment to keep me moving forward?

Trevor: Two hours. I honestly thought we were going to go 30 minutes.

Charles: We can go for days.

Trevor: Yeah. Is there anything you want to add or talk about? I’m hungry.

Charles: I’m starving

Trevor: Yeah, you’re starving? Let’s go and get something to eat. I’m hungry.

Charles: No, I think we hit on every point.

Trevor: Charles, thanks a lot. I really, really appreciate you coming in here and being so open and dealing with me sometimes just ... you saw the faces I was making through this thing and I was like, “Good God, that’s a rough story.” So, thank you for walking me and the audience through it. I really appreciate it a lot. Thank you.

Charles: Thank you.

Trevor: So how was that? Huh? Pretty intense. I am inspired by Charles’s positivity and his energy just moving forward. He definitely has a goal, his eyes is on the prize, and he is moving forward and I need a little bit more of that in my life. Maybe we all do. It is very impressive. We’ll be back in two weeks, a fortnight. Is anybody else worried that the term fortnight is now associated with a video game instead of an English term for a two week period? Nobody else is concerned about this? Nobody? Yeah, I figured that. Another example of the banal minutiae that stresses me out and infects my brain. Well, hey, I’m sure I’ll move on from it eventually.

Thank you for coming back and I hope you all return. I miss you already. In two weeks, I’ll have an apartment and I’ll have a cat, and I hope that my mood will be a bit more chipper, a little sunnier. Let’s hope. See you in two weeks. See you in a fortnight.

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.

- - -

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.

© 2019 McLean Hospital. All Rights Reserved.