Jay Shifman 00:03
There is a lot about our society that needs to change. And and you know that’s true for literally everybody there is I sometimes get people saying, Oh, well, you know, you’re such a weird extremist or you’re such a you want all this change and it’s like, who is sitting down in front of me and saying there’s nothing about our society that needs to be changed?
Adam Baruh 00:34
Welcome to The Change, where we share stories and inspiration from servant leaders working to normalize the mental health conversation, and increase empathy and business. I’m your host, Adam Baruh. I’m pretty excited to announce that we’ve recently celebrated our one year anniversary of producing the change. Thank you so much to all of my guests that have explored some really important topics with me, and have opened themselves up so that together we can advance the dialogue around mental health. It’s been such a pleasure to speak with all of my guests, and to receive all the feedback I’ve gotten from the many listeners who have reached out. So thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who is tuned into The Change, and has helped normalize the conversation around mental health and business. Today’s guest is Jay Shifman. In preparing for this episode, I spent time on his webpage and wanted to start our conversation by reading Jays bio that he includes on the site. Jay Shifman is an open book of vulnerable storyteller and stigma destroying speaker podcaster and event host Jays story of struggles familiar to the millions of people the world over who also struggle with issues of mental health, substance misuse and addiction, the survivor of two suicide attempts and an overdose and now in long term recovery. It’s Jays mission to encourage difficult conversations, and honest education concerning these and similar struggles. So Jay, welcome to The Change. And you know, the reason I wanted to start today’s interview by reading your bio is that it really touches on the foundations of this podcast vulnerability, breaking down the barriers surrounding, you know, extremely difficult mental health issues. So, you know, I’ve been really looking forward to this conversation today. So, you know, I’m looking forward to just diving right in why don’t we start with your childhood, which, you know, for many that deal with ADHD is where their stories begin. So they could take us back there and just, you know, kind of tell us what your childhood was like, and kind of how, how that progressed through your teenage years, and ultimately, to where you’re at today?
Jay Shifman 02:31
Well, Adam, first off, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here. I know. You know, because we connected so far back and hadn’t had to move this back once. It’s been a long time coming. And I’m glad we can finally sit down and have the conversation. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So you know, that is where my story starts is when I was diagnosed with ADHD as a preteen. And I am as we’re recording this, I’m 36 years old. And so for me, that was the late 90s, mid to late 90s. Like many people in that generation, I was diagnosed as a preteen it to put that in perspective for people in the in the 80s. When I was born in the mid 80s, the ADHD was around. I mean, we were treating it roughly 300,000 young people in this country were being treated for ADHD. By the time I’m diagnosed with with that particular disorder, and began treatment in the late 90s, that had exploded to almost 2 million. So we were in the generation, the era of just an exponential growth in the treatment of ADHD. And that isn’t to say that all of us were misdiagnosed. I mean, I definitely showed the signs I as an adult, I’ve learned to live with it. And as a teen I struggled with it, and preteen and teen but what it is sort of the unintended unintended consequences of this era, were as fast as the Big Pharma was rolling out different medications, they were being given to people and some of those had side effects other those other of those had effects that were not as easy to tolerate, do it for a young growing person. And for me, and individually. What that looked like was not only was I struggling with ADHD, but I’ve also my entire life struggle with depression and anxiety, as well as OCD. And you know, we all remember how difficult the era of puberty can be for our growth as an individual and our understanding of who we are. And so you sort of take all of this together and then throw on top of it. These drugs these these these medications, and I tried five or so five or six different medications between the time that I was diagnosed And I made teens when we landed on the one that was it was worked the best that I stayed with for the next six or seven years. But it really created this perfect storm of of sort of mental health struggle. And that was the underlying condition of my teenage years.
Adam Baruh 05:20
Yeah. So you know, today you posted it for international overdose Awareness Day, you posted a picture of yourself from 12 or so years ago, look like you just kind of rolled out of a dead a Grateful Dead show, which, hey, I went to many dead shows. So no judgment there. But, you know, you you talk about how you survived this overdose, um, around that time. So, you know, kind of take us to that point in terms of, you know, where you were at, and just what life was like for you at that time? Yeah, I
Jay Shifman 05:54
I think your description of that picture was rather kind it for I am dressed, as you’d said, like I just rolled out of a dead show, however, and I did go to in many, both dead and Phish concert. At the time, many music festivals, I, for one summer, lived in my car traveling around following the band from festival to festival. But that was how I dressed every day. I mean, there was nothing different about that picture. And I think the most shocking thing about that picture, which everybody can find on my LinkedIn, on my medium page all over is that I looked very sick. And I was I mean, I was but but that was just my day to day in my my eyes are only about half open. Not because I think I was especially high when that picture was taken, that was just who I was at that time. So I was not in a good place. And to get there from where we were just talking about, you have to understand that my my therapist who had been seeing at this point for a number of years, sees all of the the effects that are happening in my life, again, you know, the perfect storm of struggling with your mental health, of going through puberty and being a teenager and then being treated with high levels of medication. He sees the sides effects, side effects with this just constant struggle that I was living through. And he gave it a name, which was first a mood disorder. And then he changed the official diagnosis to bipolar two. Now, I didn’t have Bipolar, what he was seeing, again, was just this conflation of a lot of different factors, which he had helped create. And so he gave me more and more medication. And by the time I’m 2021 years old, I’m taking five, six different medications every day, I developed an addiction to one of them, and was misusing all all of them, again, five or six different pills that I’m just knocking back every day, multiple times a day. And my life really bottomed out when I was 22 and 23, which was 2008 2009. And I had lost control of my mental health, I was in a terrible place. I was using both recreational and illicit drugs all day every day. And they all had reasons, right? I mean, I think a lot of people like to think of those of us who use drugs, especially those of us who struggle with it as completely out of control. Like we’re just doing this on autopilot, right. And there was some of that. I mean, that was the reality of my prescription pill usage at this time. But I was smoking a lot of weed because it made me feel better. And of course not. This is the same time when medical marijuana is coming into popularity all around different states. I was using a lot of hallucinogens, because my life was pretty horrible and wanted to get out of my head a lot. I was escaping a lot. I did develop an addiction or struggle with addiction to cocaine. Because when you’re on as many different drugs as I was, and you still want to party, there’s really only one drug left at his. Okay. So this was my day to day. And finally, in the summer of 2009, I hit a point of hopelessness where I looked around me and was like, This is not a life that I want to keep living in. Because of the state that I was in at that time. You know, I really felt that continuing to live was not going to be an option that my only option was to end it. So I attempted suicide twice. And as we’re talking today, an international overdose day, I did overdose and survived that overdose obviously, as we’re sitting here talking.
Adam Baruh 09:43
So I want to go back a little bit, you know, for people that don’t totally get what ADHD is, you know, can you know, can you just take us there and just give us a description. Give us your description, based on your experience of, you know, I guess Do you want to go back to your pre teen like maybe the lens through which you would define ADHD then versus maybe today, it’s changed a little bit for you, I’m not sure. But you know, that being kind of the the origin of where all these drugs started to become prescribed to you wasn’t like you just became a drug user. I mean, this all kind of emanated from just trying to deal with ADHD. So, yeah, take us back there. Give us your kind of description at the time of, you know, what you thought when, when you were told you had ADHD and kind of what you think about it today?
Jay Shifman 10:32
Yeah, you know, as a TI as a preteen, when I was first diagnosed, it wasn’t a big deal to me, because, you know, this was, like I said, in an era where so many of my friends were also diagnosed, it was like, Oh, you too, you know, welcome to the club kind of thing. There really wasn’t a lot of thinking around it, that the part that really stuck out to me the most was that I had, because I was 11, an inability to swallow these horse pills that they were giving me. And my mother finally came up with the genius idea of hiding them in a banana. And so my teenage years, I mean, for years, I had eat a banana every morning was the only way I was swallowing these giant pills. That was really the only part that was that really stuck out to me. You know, I would say how it manifested was that I was very rambunctious, I really struggled in school. I didn’t have the focus, or, you know, the desire really to pay attention much. I lacked a filter. That was, I think the thing that people most remember about me from that time was, I would say, whatever came to mind, and a lot of times, that was funny, and a lot of times it wasn’t, it was it was very dangerous, I would say things that I shouldn’t have. So that was sort of the preteen and teenage years. Now as an adult, what it means is, I still do not have it in me to put my head down and just work for hours on on it like that is not a thing that I can do. What I can do is focus intently for 15 minutes, go do something else. Come back, you know, perfect example was I produced a podcast called choose your struggle presents made it Season One stay savage. And that dropped in April of this year. And that was a 10 part documentary on an incredible woman here in Philadelphia by the name of Sarah Laurel, in her personal recovery from substance misuse and addiction, homelessness, and etc. and how she founded this amazing nonprofit here in Philly. Anyway, I did that whole thing myself from start to finish all the interviews, all the editing, all the producing, finding the partners, all of it in a little under 10 months. And, you know, I work, I’ve worked with other people who’ve done similar projects and have not done it by themselves. Yeah. And all of them are like, first off, why would you do this by yourself? That’s a good question. But But the bigger one is, how did you do this. And it’s because I cannot just work on one thing at a time. I love having nine different goals. And sort of, you know, I’m that guy, when I’m playing an open world video game, I’m doing the side quest while doing the main quest, because I cannot just focus on one goal. So as an adult, I found a way to work make it work for me, but it was a bit of a struggle when I was younger.
Adam Baruh 13:20
So I remember taking some notes when you and I first spoke, and, um, you know, I, again, I’m trying to be sensitive in how I say this, because I don’t deal with ADHD. I don’t know, what you what people go through only just, you know what I’ve been told. But, you know, I wrote down some some just thoughts I had around, you know, well, I guess let me start with the first question. Today. On August 31 2022, would you look at your ADHD diagnosis as a blessing or a curse?
Jay Shifman 13:57
There, there’s, it makes me think of there’s there’s that Kanye album, I forget the name of the album, but on the cover, it says I love bipolar. I hate it. And that’s sort of how I feel about ADHD. You know, I definitely think that in in, you know, being my own boss and working with other people who are understanding and allow me to work in ways that are successful. It is a superpower. I mean, I you know, if the listeners can’t see my office, but you can and there is just stuff everywhere, not like in a pile on the floor away but in there’s always something to look at. That’s a coping mechanism. I don’t do well with blank walls because my brain needs all this stimulus for me to then work well, right. I need. I work with podcasts in the background and I’m that guy who can do my work and also tell you about what the podcast is. It’s going on What am I listening? That is a superpower. are at the same time, it is in the wrong settings a problem, right, my wife would be the first one to tell you that when we’re out to dinner, she would wish that she could count on my full focus. And, you know, luckily, she loves me very much. And we’ve been together for long enough that she understands that for me to truly be taking in everything she’s saying, and having the conversation that she wants me to have, my eyes are going to be wandering, my brain is going to wander for a little bit, I’m going to be, you know, doing something else with my hands, so that I can focus fully on her. And that, you know, is tough. Sometimes I’m a big fan of the theater, we go not infrequently, I’m a big fan of live music, as we’ve talked about. And yet I get pretty bored when I’m there, because it’s only one thing happening, right? I’ve said before, if I could go watch an NBA basketball game that also above the court had a concert going on? I’d be in heaven, man, that would be the best thing in the world. Yeah. So it is definitely difficult at times.
Adam Baruh 16:07
So you know, what, I guess the next question is, do you think there’s a way for the medical establishment, to change their perspective on ADHD to, to perhaps be more of a guide, counseling people that that, you know, are going through those behaviors, where, you know, just prescribing all these stimulants isn’t really the first go to I mean, where the medical establishment can say, hey, you know, what, there’s so many successful people that live with this. And so, you know, here’s, here’s kind of some things that you’re going to run into. And this is kind of how your brain might operate sometimes, but there’s a place I mean, there’s, you know, another set of notes I took when we were speaking last is around people that enter into like, a lot of creative jobs that kind of have this multitasking, just brain, you know, firing all the time. So, you know, I guess that’s kind of two questions I just asked number one is, you know, where do you see the medical establishment today, and kind of how they’re treating ADHD. And the second part of it is, you know, just kind of the overall society, you know, looking at, you know, all the great positive qualities that people a people that have ADHD, are equipped to just deal with certain types of problems and solving, you know, those types of problems. And just, you know, the creativity inspired by that.
Jay Shifman 17:35
I think the medical part is tough because our medical system, I mean, we could do a whole show on what is wrong with our medical system, especially as it relates to to medications. And I’m, by the way, I do not put that completely at the feet of doctors, I think that insurance companies share a lot of the blame. I think government shares a lot. I mean, there’s a lot wrong there. The story I like to tell is, I think a great example of all of this in concert, I got a buddy who at the time, had had a seven year old son, and he asked me to launch and we sat down and and he said, Look, you know, they want to put my my son on medication for ADHD, and I know your experience and would just love to hear your thoughts. And so we talked through it for a while, obviously, you’re not a doctor. So it wasn’t making a medical recommendation, but just more about a lifestyle one. And after our conversation. And again, remember I was put on medication and 11 is son would have been seven, which is just ridiculous. Yeah. That’s, that’s not my medical take. That’s just my human take of seven is to eat. If it’s not a life or death thing. Seven is too young for any long term medication. That’s just our field. So after our conversation, he takes this information and decides to not put us on medication. And instead, he switches his son to a different school that is more accommodating of a child with more rambunctious energy and doesn’t make them just sit at a desk and stare forward eight hours a day, right and ators to the creative child, and his son is thriving. I mean, he’s doing is having a great life. Now, this is four or five years later. Yeah. So that is a giant privilege that my friend had the ability to switch schools right to work with teachers at the new school and say, What are we going to do to help my son right? They had a partner that could they could trade off and do this, this is how to do this right? I mean, these are all made him incredibly rare that he had all of this going for him. However it worked. And his son’s doing great and and I am scared to think of what would have happened if he didn’t have a partner who could help him out right or if he didn’t have a school choice opportunity, or if he didn’t have the money you switch them out of school and go somewhere else, right? That is one of the biggest factors. I mean, you take any of those away, and medication probably would have been the move, right? So it goes beyond the medical establishment into how, number one how we educate, I mean, our school system, there’s a incredible, I think you and I might have talked about this last time, but there’s an incredible article called The drugging of the American boy, I think is what it’s called. And it basically lays out how, instead of changing our education system, we have just exploded this diagnosis of ADHD. And for those who don’t think that this is still a problem, remember that number I gave you earlier of 2 million? Well, it’s now over four and a half million, so it just continues to grow. So um, you know, there are other ways, but there is a lot about our society that needs to change. And and, you know, that’s true for literally everybody there is, I sometimes get people saying, Oh, well, you know, you’re such a weird, extremist, or you’re such a you want all this change. And it’s like, who is sitting down in front of me and saying, There’s nothing about our society that needs to be changed? I’m honestly asking, you think everything is firing on all cylinders? Where are you living? And I want to move there? Because ain’t happening around me?
Adam Baruh 21:19
Yeah, I mean, I, I’m seeing that. We’re definitely, you know, the pandemic may have played a part in this. But I think, based on what I’ve seen, that there is more adoption of change, that people aren’t so averse to, you know, pointing out things in society, and not doing anything about it, you know, and probably a lot of that’s inspired by millennials and Gen Z. And, you know, so it makes me really, really excited about those generations, because I think, I think they get it. And I think, you know, you know, when they kind of come into a position of being the majority, I think there’s a lot of optimism that I have for, you know, a lot of good that that could happen and social issues and other environmental issues, obviously, but you mentioned the drugging of the American Boy, that was a great segue, because that was kind of where I wanted to go to next, I want to start by, you know, reading, you know, on Esquire, which is where this article is published, you know, the very top of the article starts with with the statement, by the time they reach high school, nearly 20% of All American Boys will be diagnosed with ADHD, millions of those boys will be prescribed a powerful stimulant to normalize them. A great many of these boys will suffer serious side effects from those drugs. The shocking truth is that many of those diagnoses are wrong. And then most of these boys are being drugged for no good reason, simply for being boys. It’s time we recognize this as a crisis. So, you know, I’ve got the article here, in front of me, um, you know, it was basically published in 2014. So, between 2014 and today, you know, how much of that statement Do you think still holds true? Are we still, in your opinion, going? I mean, it’s the first reflex to go straight to prescribing stimulants.
Jay Shifman 23:15
So I think you’re seeing less of it a little bit. I do think that I mean, that article blew up, right? I mean, it was it was a big deal when it first came out to the point where it is probably not referred to MCs at this point. Most people know that. I’ve read it. I’ve talked about it so many times, but but I’ll be in conversation with someone will be like, oh, yeah, right about that the drug, right. So that that has happened a lot. That article out a big part of it, but also the work of some really incredible people, I always give a shout out to a guy that I admired by the name of Carl Hart, who’s a researcher in the head of psychology, I believe, but don’t quote me on that at Columbia, who is a guy who’s just changing the way we view drugs and drug users and drug use really incredible human being another guy by the name of Johann Hari, who wrote one of my favorite books of all time, and definitely my favorite book when it came to drug use. And that is called Chasing the scream. And then Maya salivates, another incredible author. But the point is that we’re really changing the way people view drug drugs and drug use, right? When I was coming up, we had and I’m a millennial, for those that didn’t, I didn’t say my age earlier, or maybe I did. We, you know, we got dare, right? We got just say, No, we got all that be. And yet at the same time that I was proud of my quote, unquote sobriety, right, because when I was going through middle school in high school, I use substances in middle school, and then I quit in high school to be an athlete. I was a baseball player. And I was so proud of my sobriety, I would go to parties and I wouldn’t drink. I wouldn’t do drugs. Everybody around me was I was like, Yeah, I’m sober. And yet I was taking more drugs than anyone else there, right.
Adam Baruh 24:56
There’s perception. Yeah.
Jay Shifman 24:58
Exactly. And that perception is changing, because we’re now seeing these epidemic epidemics of these prescription pills. I think the best example I can give that I love to give, I think it’s so incredible is that on every college campus, you could set foot on a college campus right now, and within minutes have Adderall. I mean, it’s everywhere. Right? And it’s accepted, you know, people need to study, they’re gonna take Adderall, right. The thing that most people don’t realize, is that if you change one tiny molecule in Adderall, it’s math, it is the exact same drug. I mean, they’re not even cousins. They’re sisters. They’re that close. And yet, if we had, you know, three out of every four college students ubiquitously using meth, we’d have marches in the streets, we would have drug officers on every corner. And yet, because it’s a prescription drug called Adderall, nobody, nobody seems to care. And so these are the perceptions that are starting to change. And I think that as being as you eautifully, put, as the my generation, the generation after us starts to come up, we are going to see a lot of different changes. But what I love to say is that my generation is the Y generation, not not as in, you know, the why, but as in why in that we are willing to ask the question of why, you know, our boomer parents, they did things like they’re like just saying no, and we went, Wait, this doesn’t make any sense. You’re drinking at home. And I’m being told that, you know, one puff of marijuana is going to kill me, that doesn’t make any sense. Why? Why are you doing it? So I think that we’re starting to see that change is in the perception. And with the perception comes realistic change. As soon as you know, that the boomer generation steps aside, which is they’re fighting man, they’re holding on to this thing, as long as they possibly can.
Adam Baruh 26:59
You know, another thing that that kind of struck me in reading, the drugging of the American boy is just the way that ADHD has been diagnosed. So they cite how back in 1997, that about 3% of American schoolchildren had received the diagnosis. And that year, over a year, it started to increase, you know, 3%. And then in 2003 2007, I think cases were increasing at a rate of 5.5% per year, in 2013, that jumps to 11%. And then later on up to 16%. So I mean, that that begs the question, What’s going on here? Is there? Is this condition just kind of, like exacerbating across more and more people? Or are we just getting quick to diagnose like, what are your what’s your takeaway on that?
Jay Shifman 27:53
I think it sort of mirrors. You know, that argument about autism, everyone, oh, you know, things are causing autism. We didn’t have autism in the 50s. No, you did. It just wasn’t diagnosed. I mean, this is what we’re seeing now with ADHD, except the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. And, you know, just sort of echo something I said earlier, I don’t think while I do think that this is incredibly over diagnosed, I don’t think as well to go hand in hand with that, that every person who is diagnosed with ADHD needs medication, this isn’t life saving this isn’t this the consequence? Like I wouldn’t have died? And if you actually look at my trajectory, my question is what I really have been better off if nobody had given me that medication. And I tend to think the answer is yes, obviously, hindsight is 2020. And it’s hard to go back and change that thing, those kinds of things. But I do believe that not only is it over prescribed, or over, diagnosed, scuze me but you also have an overprescribing of the medication for people who really do have ADHD. And those two things go go very closely together.
Adam Baruh 29:05
Yeah. And the article also talks about the misdiagnosis. How, you know, I mean, while the percentage of it may be, you know, small, it’s still is equating to like millions of kids. So I think, you know, there was reference to 6.4 million boys that were diagnosed with ADHD that that didn’t really fit the criteria and we’re still prescribed that medication. So, you know, very interesting article and, you know, among, you know, of the people that you were referencing and citing earlier as your kind of mentors or inspiration we’re gonna get, we’re gonna get those folks listed on our website so that, you know, people don’t want to follow up and, you know, read what you’re reading and, you know, listen to who you’re listening to. We’ll get those, those links out there. I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about your experience with ADHD on your work in career because, you know, I mean, you would think that it’s, it might be hard to, you know, you know, be following deadlines or you know, kind of being able to focus on one thing at a time when your mind is just kind of wanting to be exposed to a lot of different things. So give us your experience on how having ADHD has impacted your career.
Jay Shifman 30:23
Yeah, I think I’ve been really lucky in that, in that sense, because I’ve had a lot of really understanding supervisors, bosses, leaders, there have been a couple of times where that hasn’t been the case, and those have not gone well. And, you know, the, but those mean, those are really dwarfed by the couple of times that I’ve had really understanding leaders, I’ve worked for myself for the last, you know, going on for years. So in that sense, you know, there’s always that drive to win, when you’re your own boss to, you know, hit your own deadlines, and do the things that you know, you need to do. The last job that I had, before I left to work for myself was running political campaigns. And my boss, there was super understanding, because he saw that it actually made me better. You know, political campaigns, like producing a podcast have nine different things that need to be done at every moment. You know, you’ve got three different people who are waiting on your phone call to set up events, and, you know, people who are all the volunteers, and I mean, yada, yada, yada, right. And while doing that, I wasn’t just working on one, I was working on three, or I was running three campaigns at one time. So I thrived in that I loved having all these different balls in the air that I had to keep juggling. The things that made it possible was organization I, I’m looking at you on my screen right here. And on my second screen next to it is Trello, which has all of the tasks that I’m currently working on front of me, because I’m that person, who if it’s not in front of me, it flat out does not exist. It’s just it’s just, there is nothing in my world that is not currently right here in front of me. So that is a key part was learning how to be organized. And I am again, right thankful that for the most part, I had supervisors who understood that,
Adam Baruh 32:24
Well, I mean, it shines a light on, you know, empathetic leaders who who understand that understands people or people they’re going to come into their role with, you know, all sorts of other, you know, other stuff that they bring into their work. And, you know, the leaders that kind of recognize, okay, I mean, this person’s got this, you know, set of things that they deal with this other person’s got, you know, another way of kind of dealing with things, it just takes that empathetic person to just be able to somewhat put themselves in your shoes to just, you know, know how to kind of motivate you and, you know, also help you enjoy what you’re doing, I think, definitely, you know, we want to shine the light on those types of, of leaders. So, you know, the next question, I think we’ll kind of wrap up with this one is back to the topic of drug addiction. There’s an article I read on drug addiction and shame. And so, you know, tell us about your experience there. Because, you know, I’ve spoken a lot about shame and other kind of facets, and how harmful it can be. So when it comes to drug addiction, like, where’s that mindset? And you know, what, what’s it like to kind of work through that?
Jay Shifman 33:33
That’s a huge one. And you know, that article, we were talking about art that that post that I did today for International Overdose Awareness Day is all about that. specifically asking everybody to truly examine their own role in this because I didn’t put this in that post. But I’ve said it countless times before. I was guilty of this, I realized five years into recovery over over five, that when I thought of the word addict, right, which is a noun that we’re trying not to use anymore, because it takes away the person at the center of that struggle. I’m trying to say in a person struggling with an external person with addiction, right? When I thought of that word addict, I didn’t picture myself right. And I had lived with this and yet I still saw myself as the exception not the rule because that stereotype has been so deeply round into us that both intentionally and unintentionally you know, I keep referencing dare which was a really disastrous program that is for some reason is coming back. You know, we love a good reboot, but at the same time, they’re not always good and this is a terrible one. Mostly because they knew dare didn’t work at the beginning like their own internal papers that got leaked showed that but there it Coming back, which is, which is awful. You know, these were the things that really ground that shame into us. And then unintentionally, you have movies, TV, the media, that that, too often are just repeating what they’ve been told by people who quite frankly, don’t know what they’re talking about, right? You know, there’s that old quote, if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, when you’re when you’re referencing law enforcement, you’re only going to hear a very small sliver of the story, not hearing the health, I hear in the empathy, you’re hearing the law breaking, you’re hearing the things they’re encountering. And that’s not a representation of our community. So I am all about trying to change that mindset change that stereotype. And helping people understand that, like, there’s a reason that I stayed quiet over five years into recovery, like that moment was such a big changed for me, I realized I was part of the problem. And I also realized, like, someone asked me this, not long after I stood on stage for the first time, in 2015, and told about 150 people that I was in recovery. And most of these people, about half the room knew me personally. And, and of those, let’s say 7580 people, maybe five knew my story. And so many were just blown away. And after that night, someone asked me like, Well, why did you stay silent? Right? Did someone tell you, you know, don’t talk about this. I said, no one needed to tell me. It’s the way we talk about people like me, right? It’s the way that the movies and TV and media show people like me, you know, every person who ever struggles with addiction, in movies and in TV is Robert Downey Jr. Right? Is is Charlie Sheen. These these examples of people who went off the deep end right now, obviously, Robert Downey Jr. is is an incredible story of someone who came back from that. But that is a small sliver. You know, that would be like showing every single person with cancer as the amanti it may see a person laying in bed, just skin and bones. Is that someone? Yeah, of course. And it’s horrible. I feel so horrible for those people. But it’s also a small percentage. There are people walking around fighting cancer today that look just like you and me. And yet, you know, that’s what we do with people with addictions, we just show that person on the corner. You know, the example I give right now, when we’re when I’m asked to talk about this is the longtail West if anybody knows that name, former basketball star played for my Boston Celtics, who I love near and dear was a teammate of LeBrons, and Cleveland, NBA champion, this guy is now unfortunately homeless and and struggling with addiction, he has been in and out of rehab. And every time someone drives by him on the freeway, they post a picture on Instagram and it blows up, it goes viral. And people want to use that as our example of addiction is a horrible story. I feel so bad for Dante West. But that is such a small, extreme example. And it doesn’t really capture the rest of the community. So that was my post today was examine your own biases, and understand that what you’ve been taught both intentionally and unintentionally is probably wrong.
Adam Baruh 38:18
Yeah. I mean, well, you know, thank you so much for, you know, what you’re doing standing up for issues around ADHD, you know, drug abuse and suicide, and I just can’t commend you highly enough for being vulnerable and putting your story out there. Because, you know, just breaking down the barriers to, you know, where, perhaps in the past there was, there was less of a willingness of people to open up and share the stories. That’s, that’s where the magic and the healing is. And so I want to thank you for being my guest here today, and sharing your story. And hopefully, we have some listeners who were going to be possibly affected by that. So, again, thank you, Jay.
Jay Shifman 38:59
Well, thank you so much for having me and yes, any listeners if you have questions, if you’re struggling yourself and you don’t know who to talk to please reach out I’m always here and I always offer that up. This is what I do. I love talking to people. You know, when I’m not here talking to awesome people like you I’m literally doing this hands on in my community. So always here to chat always helpful, always happy to be helpful in pointing people towards the resources.
Adam Baruh 39:23
Yeah thanks, Jay. Jay founded his company Choose Your Struggle in 2015 with two distinct goals, ending stigma and promoting honest and fact based education around the topics of mental health, substance misuse and recovery, as well as drug use and policy. A fervent believer in radical honesty and the simple fact that neither struggle nor recovery should be treated as a one size fits all experience. Jay uses his voice and his platforms to educate, entertain and empower. Jay launched the chooser struggle podcast in early 2020 and is already in the top point 2% of worldwide listenership. The show combines vulnerable storytelling and expert education around the topics of mental health, substance misuse and recovery as well as drug use and policy. The podcast was so successful, Jay launched The Shameless Podcast Network in January of 2021 with the goal of helping other podcasts destroy their own stigmas. You can read more about Jay on our website eiqmediallc.com/thechange. Our theme song and sound engineering was provided by Shane Suffriti. You can listen to more of Shane’s music at www.shanesuffriti.com. If you have a story to share about making a difference in the lives of people you lead, or if you want to tell us what you think about our podcast, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you all for listening. We’ll see you next time on The Change.
EIQ Media, LLC 40:53
The Change is produced and distributed by EIQ Media LLC. Elevate your emotional IQ with podcasts and content focused on leadership, mental health, entrepreneurship and more.