WELCOME BACK to Podd Deep!
The second ever… Well how about that now… I’m so very grateful y’all returned, and I truly hope you got a few nuggets out of the last one. Dissect is so great, I’ve now reached the end of season 3 and it’s kind of pushed Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ right up to the top of my favourite albums - I didn’t really know exactly what to make of it on first listen as it was so much all at once, but when you hear someone unpacking it in such detail it just throws all kinds of light on areas that I never even contemplated before. It’s really sharpened my listening senses and I hope it’s done something with you. So fresh. ANYWAY - that was what I talked about on episode 1. Let’s move along and stop living in the past eh? Yeahhh. Let’s gowww…
• QUICK NOTE! World Mental Health Day was October 1oth. I understand that this blog post falls a week behind that, but I just wanted to say that the foundation is working all year round and the website is invaluable at all times. Same with the Samaritans. There are good people out there.
PODD DEEP • Volume 002 • Griefcast / Mental Illness Happy Hour
TO SUM THEM UP IN A SENTENCE
• GRIEFCAST: A friendly and safe place to talk about death and grief.
• MENTAL ILLNESS HAPPY HOUR (MIHH): An unofficial therapy session where the qualifications come from personal experience.
WHAT ARE THEY, AND WHY BOTH?
Two very good questions. I realise as I type too that I’m going to be cutting back and forth between the two, but let me explain why. In pairing these two, I’m by no means equating dealing with grief and mental wellbeing. While the two aren’t mutually exclusive by any means, they obviously require different means of treatment, but part of that is communication and openness, which is what these two podcastsoffer. I’ve been a listener of MIHH since episode 1, and have only recently been introduced to Griefcast, so I thought it could be cool to have them both up there so I can give you a full background on one of them, while giving you my recent experience with the other.
MIHH started out initially as a podcast where the host, Paul Gilmartin - a long term standup comedian and past host of US show ‘Dinner & A Movie’ (that has come up many times over past episodes, trust me!) - would interview comedian pals about their unique or shared neuroses, afflictions, maladies and mental problems. I feel like when it arrived, sometime around 2011, it was one of the first podcasts to brazenly go deep into this area. I know WTF was treading some of that territory and had been for a while, be it via the medium of Marc Maron’s up-top show monologue or through shared issues with any given guest, but MIHH was one of the first to devote the running time to this sole topic. This was a few years into my podcast listening, but I think was this show that made me realise just how common a lot of the issues being brought up were. It started out more comedy than mental illness, and Paul had the perfect platform to speak with peers and like minded comedy pals about their problems, but over time it’s really become more of a public service, offering tools and tricks to navigate any number of personal issues and ways out of the heaviest of situations. Also as we’ve gone through all kinds of day to day life situations with the host Paul, his experiences have shaped the show into a very articulate, well informed and tonally very well judged podcast where listeners will hear people speaking from the heart, openly and honestly, and ultimately - I’m sure - gain some kind of solace knowing that every single one of us can suffer from these things at some point. Be it medication, troublesome thoughts, paranoia, schizophrenia, addiction, any number of sexual issues, trauma, you name it, there is a ton to learn, and the overall tone and friendliness of it make it a very safe place to do so.
It’s a tough one to recommend to people though, I’ll be honest. If you suggest it to someone, are you giving them a hint or are you recommending something containing such frankness and honesty that it comes off as perverse? I sometimes wonder if that’s just a symptom of the stigma of mental problems. But the more I listen to it, the more I realise that whatever degree it is or wherever on the spectrum it falls into, we all have our something, and this show - while at times it can be shocking and probably uncomfortably open - throws us all a lifeline and lets us know that for fuck’s sake it’s OKAY. And when the punishment and self judgment dissolves and fades away, that’s when the work can begin. So for that, I give the show huge props.
This is where Griefcast comes in! Ahh, I’m such a newbie with this one it’s shameful. But there I go see? Self judgment and blame and shame, I’m doing it RIGHT NOW! I should know better. Anyway - the fact is I’ve listened to but one episode so far. But you know what, that was enough to let me know that it’s a very safe bet, and there were hell loads of context clues too to hint at the consistency, as there were a few callbacks in the episode I heard, and after checking in on episode 1 I can hear that it’s maintained a really nice quality throughout, and appears to be totally consistent! I know about the show through one of the podcasts I produce, ‘Films To Be Buried With’, with Brett Goldstein. Another one dealing with death but more through cinema - but it does get to some deep places for certain. Cariad was a guest on episode 10, and I loved her on it so I had to go and investigate her podcast. She’s a comedian and writer with a ton of credits to her name so peep HERE for more info! As usual when you go in on a new one, you might check and see what the guest list looks like - my old way in to loads of the US comedy podcasts was Paul F Tompkins, but we’ll get to him another time eh… This time I saw that Aisling Bea was a guest of recent weeks and she’s fantastic, so I made that the first. Again, one of the qualities here is the immediate friendliness of it. You are warmly welcomed by the sweet voice of Cariad who takes you through what you can expect, and that is exactly what is delivered - a safe and honest place where people can talk about death and grieving.
It’s an endlessly fascinating subject. It could obviously be talked about forever, until death I guess, as everyone has a different view on it, different feelings conjured when the subject is brought up, and unique personal experiences with it. It’s always there, around us and sort of in the air, but we often daren’t bring it up at risk of bumming people out or getting all ‘heavy’. I mean that’s understandable - you’d have to judge that situation as it can be brought up with humour too, it doesn’t have to be a grave affair. And that’s what I love about this podcast. This honesty and frankness is there when you want it - it’s a capsule you can break open if you feel like you need some fresh air and real talk about the realest of the reals. In the Aisling Bea episode they mention this old Ruby Wax interview with Dawn French where they talked about their fathers dying, and how it just wasn’t ever talked about back then so Aisling and Cariad’s attention was locked in tight. It makes total sense - in this situation they had both experienced death of a loved one at a young age, and in a time when the subject was brushed under the carpet, any glimmer of shared experience must have been so rare and treasured. Essentially then, the show offers you a seat at the table while two people talk about personal experiences, and make it less taboo and more comfortable to speak about.
WHEN DO THEY COME OUT?
• GRIEFCAST: Weekly, each Wednesday
• MIHH: Weekly, every Friday.
WHAT DO I LIKE ABOUT THEM?
In a section earlier which went on for way longer than I anticipated, I feel like I may have covered the things I like about them - I just love, with podcasts, how you can select when you hear them and go through however many episodes are in an archive and get through it in your own time. You start with the guests you know and after a while you just start to really enjoy the shows themselves. That’s what happened to me with MIHH and I feel happening with Griefcast. I was thinking of this too the other day - if you asked a roomful of strangers how many of them had problems they felt like they couldn’t talk about, or were suffering, or were scared, worried, whatever, you may not see a huge amount of hands go up. Depends where you are I guess but I doubt many people would be eager to admit as such. But one on one, if you asked the same question I’m sure you’d hear some form of outpouring or honest response. This is why podcasts are the perfect platform. YOU are in charge of the episode in terms of when you hear it, what surroundings, and how many at a time. YOU have the people in YOUR ears, and for subjects such as the ones dealt with in these podcasts, where you might not necessarily want to throw an episode on in the car with people present, or put it on the home family music system, you can get that one to one feeling and relate in your own way. There’s something infinitely comforting about knowing that people are going through the same things, and that we’re all made from the same stuff and go through the good and the bad. Maybe you don’t have the vocabulary to express what you’re going through, or maybe a friend or loved one doesn’t - listening to these podcasts, you can really get a good grasp on tone, language, and get a nice armoury of tools on how people have either dealt with, overcome or are currently dealing with their things. This stuff is really important and I’m sure in some cases, actually life saving. There are sections in the MIHH show where Paul reads letters from listeners, and in the past there have been cases where some people have been able to turn a harsh and heavy page through hearing guests talk on their problems. That’s huge
I’ve had my own run ins of varying degrees with grief and coping with varying degrees of depression. I haven’t fully defined the latter as I feel it manifests in various forms and can take on various disguises, but I really did connect with MIHH for instance as it began with creative people talking about their setbacks, personal struggles and coping mechanisms. I feel like there must have been some reason I gravitated towards it and I guess that played a big part. These days I feel like I’m able to deal with it a little better, whether it’s with different patterns of thought, meditation, diet or exercise (or a combination, which is what I’m attempting!), and I feel that these have made a huge difference. Part of reaching even that level though was realising what was going on, and listening to MIHH assisted with that. Hearing the experiences of others and realising that there are things that can be done and patterns that can be recognised was huge, and through identifying things like that, it was then a case of saying, okay this is me before I make changes, and then checking in later and seeing what life was like after those changes. It’s slow progress, and small steps, but all invaluable and I’m so grateful to the show for the hours of help and positive company it’s given me. I can only imagine how much help it’s been to those in greater need. Griefcast too is so important in this way - they actually mention something really great that fits in here too in the ep I listened to, about how we sometimes grieve ourselves, and kind of say goodbye to old versions of ourselves. That’s HUGE - when you think about it, making life changes is massive. You get so used to yourself and don’t realise how attached to patterns and habits you are, and that’s why change is so tough - you’re taking risks and you’re throwing caution to the wind by admitting that you and your current self have to part ways for a while to see how it goes. So of course you’ll have to go through a form of grief in doing that. I loved that idea - that way of moving on into different chapters of your own life but being witness to it and taking some agency in it. Just some thoughts on that anyway…!
One more thought… I’ve also found that podcasts like these can be so great if you know people who are going through some things. It doesn’t have to be you who is affected - sometimes knowing more about certain conditions or having a language in dealing with grief can be so useful in communicating how we feel, and so these podcasts can really come in handy in those cases… Mental wellbeing comes up so frequently on podcasts too, so I feel like there is a real need to get this stuff out there. I’ll get to more as we go on with this blog!
WHAT’S THE FORMAT?
Griefcast is pretty straight up - the odd sponsor note here and there, a nice acoustic theme tune over which Cariad gives you an upfront background on her own path to starting the podcast (the death of her Father), followed by the chat with the guest that week. Really easy to engage with from the start and throughout. MIHH starts with the spoken intro from Paul, laying the table of the show, followed by him reading out survey results from the website. These are surveys asking about certain experiences, situations, feelings and whatnot that listeners fill out and send back, and they are very open and very personal. This part can sometimes be a little uncomfortable if I’m honest, but that’s because it’s just quite rare to hear such details being talked about. Paul’s tone is expert though, applying humour in just the right amount at just the right time, to take some of the weight out. Then comes the theme tune played by Paul, layered with snippets of guest quotes, then the main interview itself. After that, there are some listener letters read out, and it’s nicely bookended in that way to ease you out of the show.
LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT
I’ll probably say this with most shows to be honest, but really you’ll get the most out of these if you’re tuned in and concentrating. Obvious to say I know, but there are nuggets all over the place and it’d be a shame to miss them. MIHH has elements that I did eventually start skipping though, I’ll come clean. See, I’m very loyal to shows I listen to - I was listening to every second including those read-out surveys, and I found some of them to be a bit much. So I’d say you could probably skip those - although sometimes there are some beautifully put descriptions, or explanations of how people feel. It’s worth checking, for certain - I was just getting a little weighed down by them sometimes. It depends where you’re at I think. Sometimes it’s perfect, sometimes it can be overwhelming. But do try and give some good attention to the main interview bit!
HOW MANY EPISODES AT THE TIME OF POSTING THIS?
Griefcast is at a steady 55, so that’s a nice year’s worth right there. MIHH stands strong at a might 400+. Hard to say exactly how many as the archives are on the Stitcher platform, but you’d be well advised to grab some of those archive ones… Let me know if you want any specific recommendations too - I won’t list them here as not everyone will want to do it that way, but yeah, get in touch if you wanna grab archive ones. There are a couple in there that are just amazing - there’s two two-parters I can think of that are incredible. I have them somewhere, I forget the numbers. I’ll update this if I find em!
Griefcast is usually around an hour, and MIHH is around the 90+ minute mark for the most part. They used to be a lot longer sometimes but this is looking like the average now.
BINGE OR ONE AT A TIME?
One at a time. The frequency is of course up to you - but I would say you might not want to do more than one a day, tops. While it is a therapeutic double bill, it’s a lot, so just go slow and take a nice breather in between. Pepper these episodes in to your listening schedule.
GENERAL LISTENING METHODS!
While it’s easy and effective to go for the Podcasts app on your phone or tablet, let me tell you how I do things over here!
• Phone app:
Go and download the ‘DOWNCAST’ app. I heard it recommended on a podcast years ago and have been using it since. You can create playlists, and subscribe really easily, and one thing I’ve head about the Apple Podcasts app itself is that it doesn’t always display episodes chronologically. I never use it so I don’t know but that sounds nuts to me. This app does that, and you can tinker around with the settings like crazy so it’s really easy to tailor it. It’s about £3 I think but very much worth it.
I’ve always used ‘Netnewswire’. HOWEVER! I just checked and it’s not around anymore which is mad - mine still works! So you could have a peek at the Downcast desktop app - looks decent, it does cost but these things are worth paying for. I know all kinds of apps are free but sometimes it’s nice to pay for the good ones. So have a look - judging by the screenshots it looks solid. I’ve been using the phone app for ages and it’s great.
• On Acast:
I know that when I post up the podcasts I produce on Acast, I also throw in link tags depending on what time things are mentioned. So if someone mentions a film they were in, I’ll note the time and then later punch it in so it comes up when you listen on Acast. It’s so great and you get that kind of benefit and loads more when you hear things on their site. They have an app too, which is good for subscribing and following peeps.
I produce Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces Podcast (every Wednesday), and Brett Goldstein’s Films To Be Buried With (every Thursday) podcast, both on Acast and Spotify. Naturally these are VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and loads of ground is covered between them - popular culture, art, acting, music, philosophy, life, death, existentialism, history, I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been delved into at this point… Both are weekly (or more sometimes) and you would be well advised to subscribe! ENJOY!
More on those soon…!
I hope this was of some use, and that you enjoy the podcasts listed. Maybe they’re not for you, or maybe the tone isn’t up your street - that’s all good, they’re not for everyone. But I highly recommend them if you’re even the least bit interested. You might know someone who is going through some things out there - it’s not always about us! These can help with that too.