"Reality was, I got very sick. I’d been diagnosed with generalised anxiety and social phobia, which means I am afraid of everyone and everything. "
JP: So since you started the podcast, almost four years ago now, you gone through what seems like a bit of a rollercoaster of your health where you speak very candidly about coming on and off medication. What role does medication play in managing your illness now.
OG: I think, first and foremost, there are things that every human needs. And they are eating right, sleeping right, living right and having something to do, something to live for.
Every time I've gotten ill, my doctor has asked me: 'Are you sleeping enough? Are you eating enough? Are you getting enough exercise? Are you having contact with other people?' And often, I'd say: 'No, I'm getting four hours a night. Does toast count? I've been sitting in my house all day watching reruns of Tarantino films, and no, I haven't seen another person except you for two weeks.' That doesn't give me a great shot at having a healthy life, or the ability to live calmly and well within my own skin. We're carrying this universe, our brain, that we live in all day. We've got to look after it.
JP: Ultimately, these are things well within our power and capabilities to fix, aren’t they?
OG: These things are really simple things to fix. By the end of this week, you can have put another hour of sleep on. You can have added maybe a smoothie in, or maybe another salad where you normally would have had a sandwich, into your diet. You can put something back into your life, a hobby, a person, that immediately make your life better.
JP: Then the decision of starting medication. Is it a case where the lifestyle factors get out of control, or is it that our own biology can’t be controlled by lifestyle?
OG: I refused medication for a long time because there had been people in my life that had abuse issues, and I was very afraid that I would go down the same path. Reality was, I got very sick. I’d been diagnosed with generalised anxiety and social phobia, which means I am afraid of everyone and everything.
JP: And how bad did it get?
OG: I was experiencing paranoid delusions, and it was very, very frightening. I was actually so sick that I called my doctor back in Sydney and I told him what was going on, he said: 'Look, whatever you do, don't show up to an emergency room. Because if you show up to an emergency room, they'll commit you and you won't be getting out in a hurry. So try as hard as you can to breathe and relax, and hold tight and stay close.' So they were some pretty difficult times.
When I finally went on medication, I couldn't believe that it had taken 10 years. I could have had 10 years of my life back. And that's not to say that medication is great for everyone. The biggest difficulty with it is dosage and time. They take up to six weeks to kick in. And as you tweak them, you have to wait that six weeks to see how things are going. So you've got to be patient, you can’t just expect that you will go on them and everything will be fine. But for me, life on meds has been far superior to life off meds.