FW Presents – Geek Fitness 3 – Mental Health


Rob and fellow podcaster Tom Panarese tackle another aspect of Geek Fitness, one just as important as physical health but rarely as discussed: good mental health.

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24 responses to “FW Presents – Geek Fitness 3 – Mental Health

  1. Thanks for a great and thought provoking episode.

    I can tell you that I have a healthy case of self-loathing. I suffer imposter syndrome. I keep my deepest feelings – both worries and joy – hidden.

    And it was only later in life did I realized that I needed to take care of myself because I was something of a pressure cooker.

    The Supergirl blog was created as a creative outlet for me, something fun that could be a release.

    Thanks for this episode.

    1. Glad you “enjoyed” it, Anj.

      As to Imposter Syndrome, as I get older I’ve come to believe almost everyone suffers from it, and if you don’t you’re probably a little too arrogant than is healthy.

      I didn’t mention it on the show, but at the end of the documentary STANLEY KUBRICK: A LIFE IN PICTURES, his widow tells a story about how someone once asked SK how he was doing, and he responded, “Well, I’m still fooling them.”

      I remember thinking, wow, if STANLEY KUBRICK feels like he’s pulling one over on people, like possibly he doesn’t quite measure up but is somehow “getting away with it”, then feeling not good enough is simply part of the human condition, and I shouldn’t sweat it so much.

      1. I don’t think I’m fooling anyone… I try to keep expectations low so that when I do anything half decent, say anything remotely intelligent, they’re impressed.

        Thanks Rob and Tom for speaking so honestly. You both should be rather more impressed with yourselves.

        My anxiety manifests in one very tense jaw, I really have to learn to relax my stupid face. Work is a real pain most of the time these days, but once I’m on the way home with Steve, it all fades away; a partner with whom you’re simpatico is worth their weight in gold. The cats also help, having Emmy and Millie around to pat and fuss over is wonderful. Therapets, wot? And then there’s the couch – put me on a settee with a cuppa and all the world’s ills fade.

        I did try mindfulness, but it just got on my nerves, an artificially calm voice telling me to be aware of my mood as plinky-plonky music played… it made me want to punch someone. A recent poll saw mindfulness come just tenth in how people de-stress, despite it being a bit of an industry.


        And as it’s almost Christmas, remember, no man is a failure who has friends.

        1. Hopefully the show didn’t come off too “woe is me”-ish because, as you say Martin, we all have a lot to be happy about. In particular, I have many great people in my life, and as I have said on other shows, this network is my most favorite creative project I have ever been a part of. So just having a forum to discuss this stuff makes me very appreciative for what I do have, so when anxiety creeps in, it’s like WTF are YOU doing here?

          Thanks for listening!

  2. Great discussion guys. Kudos to you for tackling a topic that a lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about, even to their closest friends or loved ones. Knowing others have the same problems and worries as you helps no matter what state of mind you are in.


  3. Thank you very much for an important and frank discussion that I needed to hear. It’s a topic that definitely needs to do away with any stigmas and it was great to hear you guys be as frank and open as you wanted to be about your mental health.
    I was interested on how you manage your mental health (from self-healing to seeking out medical help). I personally like running, as well, Rob. I find of all the things, it clears my head of all the chatter inside of there. Music helps, too.
    Now, I know this is going to sound butt-kissy, but, this network and it’s community really help as well. Your whole mantra of Find Your Joy has really helped me more than you could realize. Most of the time, I’m normally a lurker on any message boards but this welcoming community has helped me really try to be more active and participate and I enjoy it so much. To me, shows like this are just as important as an episode of Who’s Who with Composite Superman, or OHotMU loving Armadillo, or even the recent Transfomers commentary on Film and Water. I’m so glad to hear how these podcasts are a great creative outlet for you because, for me, they are a great way to de-stress while at work.
    When I always end my posts with, “Keep up the great work”, I truly mean it. This network has given me so much and I can’t thank you enough all who contribute here. So to everyone who has every hosted, guested, written on or anyway contributed to this network, keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Mike!

      Yes, running does help my mental health as well. And while I can’t listen to my own shows as a stress reliever, when I have a really good show to listen to of someone else’s, it really does bring me a lot of joy, and that’s good for my mental health, too. So I understand what you’re saying and on behalf of the network I say thanks for the kind words!

  4. Hey, guys, this was a great discussion, and I think one that happened to hit at the right time for me as I’ve been evaluating some things I’ve been doing with regard to my own health. I am probably doing too much evaluating and not as much doing, probably because I’m not mentally where I want to be.

    Which is probably why I generate a lot of excuses more than anything else.

    About a year ago, I got out of a long relationship with the mother of my children. And she got the freedom and I got the kids, which made me resentful for a long time. It’s constant impostor syndrome because as a single dad, there’s a whole segment of society saying “you should not be doing this” or I’m some kind of hero for doing basically what I’m supposed to do.

    That’s very draining.

    Early on, something I still come to terms with is I go out there and constantly see kids with both their parents and when it’s just me and them, I feel like a failure in many ways. Discounting the fact that my relationship with their mother was toxic at best, there’s always that guilt. “I couldn’t give you this.” Knowing I shouldn’t feel that way definitely doesn’t make me not.

    The societal view on how men should suppress feelings was very real in my home growing up. I remember when something would bother me, there was no understanding. There was “stop hiding in your room”.

    I will say this, I’m envious of Rob’s ability to take a “mental health day” at work. I probably could but my job is such that if I have to take a day off for whatever reason, the workload remains and I have one less day to do that week’s work.

    Rob, your comment about capitalism killing us. RIGHT ON THE MARK. I need health insurance so I stay at my full-time soul crushing job when I could probably do just as well in a freelance capacity where I had more control over my hours.

    I’m like both of you guys, probably a little depressive, definitely pessimistic and an introvert. Some people have tried to make me an extrovert and it didn’t take. Tom said he can fake extrovertness. I can’t – unless of course I have something to say.

    But thank you for that episode. It’s just helpful to hear others are going on and through the same things.. Hopefully I can find a way to fix thigns upstairs so I can finally do something about the physical.

    All three of these episodes have been great, and the group is great as well. I just hope I have something to contribute to it in the near future.

    1. Thanks for listening Mike, and your comments. Yeah, I was worried about being repetitive, but I really do believe A LOT of people’s general poor mental health is due to the simple fact that most people’s jobs crush their soul on a daily basis.

      I’m not saying every person should only be the exact thing they always wanted (the world would be nothing but ballerinas, firemen, and baseball players), but the amount of hours we work, the stress we endure, and the constant threat we live with that it could all go away thanks to an employer’s whim is something that I think doesn’t get enough play in the media (mostly because they are all owned by big companies too). We can fiddle on the margins, but until we stop working to death IDK how much improvement we can make without a Herculean effort.

  5. Amazing job, gentlemen! These Geek Fitness episodes never disappoint. It’s encouraging to be reminded that I’m not alone in working through these mental health issues. Two of the biggest monkey’s on my back are conflict avoidance and the ever popular imposter syndrome. For stress relief, I turn to fantasy/science fiction novels, video games, and spending time outdoors, but nothing beats the love and support of family and friends.

    On a related note, I saw on PBS or heard on NPR (sorry, I don’t recall the exact source) about a study that suggests a person’s satisfaction with their life tends to be at its lowest ebb in their 40s, and then increases to lifetime highs in the 60s and 70s. I don’t recall if this finding is universal, or specific to the US. Perhaps, our 40s just stink, because that’s when we are most absorbed with work and paying all the bills. On the other hand, it may just take us, as a species, six or seven decades to become comfortable in our own skins. Regardless, I encourage my fellow 40-somethings to hang in there, apparently there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. Like a good scientist, I had to track down my source. Here’s a 2010 study by Brendan et al. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990956/) that looks at life satisfaction over the course of a lifetime. In addition to reporting their own research, they cite findings from previous studies, including the one I remembered.

      “Finally, Blanchflower and Oswald (2008) used cross-sectional data from several waves of the General Social Surveys and the Eurobarometers to test the association between age and subjective well-being. They found a significant quadratic effect for age such that levels of happiness seemed to decrease from young adulthood to middle age, reaching a minimum at around age 47, and then increased throughout older adulthood.”

    2. ” On the other hand, it may just take us, as a species, six or seven decades to become comfortable in our own skins”

      Ugh, what a nightmare then that at 70 a lot of us are wrapping up our time on Earth. Note to self: live to be 100.

  6. So I came here to share my hot take that mental health IS physical health, but then I read the comments and now I want to listen to the episode. I mean I won’t do it right away because it’s already past my bedtime (go healthy habits), but I’ve added a bookmark with the intention of listening later.

  7. I just wrote a long comment about my history of mental illness (anxiety and depression), what caused it (childhood trauma, poverty, and bullying) and how I have coped with it (medication and therapy), then I accidentally deleted it before posting.

    The main point I came to was that the Fire and Water network has really helped me when I am anxious. If I’m listening to Rob and Shag discuss JLGL’s Roy Raymond entry from Who’s Who my mind is busy recalling it and it quietens my internal self-critical voice. I have also found the sense of community engendered by the network to be really welcoming. From my first comment you guys have discussed what I have shared as though it is equally as valid as a comment from one of your real life friends.

    London is an incredibly expensive city to live in and my wages definitely do not increase as quickly as the cost of living so I have pretty much given up on buying new comics and I had lost touch with the comics discussion. The fact that most of your shows are focused on comics that I already have in my longboxes means that I can rejoin the conversation. Being able to express my love of comics had added joy to my life. Thank you.

    Finally I would encourage people who are reading this and need help to ask for it. If you have no one in your life you can talk to I am not a professional but I can empathise and share the load. I can be reached via twitter @whitertrash and I’ve been there.

  8. I was impressed by Joan Osborne, too, Tom!

    This may have been your most important show yet. As someone diagnosed with a couple of the things you covered here, I’m glad you take time to address it. Rob, never minimize what you’re going through. Yes, you’re a rich, white billionaire, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have real problems to sort through. I’m being flip, but one’s status does not immunize someone from negative thoughts, self-doubt, or feelings.

    Therapy is great. I had to ‘audition’ a few myself before landing on my current one – and they are doing wonders for me. I can’t recommend it enough if you can afford it.

  9. Great job on an important topic, and not just for geeks! Regardless of whether you want to be, you are both role models in your communities. Tom, obviously as school teacher, and Rob as a leader of this little podcast community. No joke. Those of us who are constantly commenting on these shows really admire and respect the effort you all put into them. You have created a community. Thank you for making it so inclusive. Thank you for taking care of yourself and encouraging others to do the same!
    BTW, Tom your tale of “the job search” resonated strongly with me. I have spent a lot of time crafting resumes, and cover letters, and getting continually frustrated at filling out, and re-filling out, online applications. Looking for work is a full-time job. With no salary or benefits.

  10. Adding to the echo in here, you guys did a great job. That was a very enjoyable and informative episode.

    As with everyone else, I have my battles with mental health. Part of my move from New Jersey to Florida was because I didn’t see a future there for my daughter and that was beating down on me more than anything. Now we’re in a much better place, physically and mentally, as a family and that is really helping. Rob can attest that living in New Jersey is going to end up bad for your mental health. 😉

    And that’s not even mentioning my social anxiety (I’m prettified when meeting new people, or even just talking to them on the phone) and anger issues (I should probably change my name to Banner). I’ve been trying to work through those, since both fear and anger are of the Dark Side, and I like to think that I’ve made progress. At least I can make a good show of it to others, which is something.

    I, for one, would love to hear a follow-up episode with you guys and seeing how you’ve progressed. Best of luck to everyone in their own journey. In the immortal words of Red Green, “Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”

    1. The older I get, Gene, the more Red Green’s words of wisdom seem less like humor and more like my own inner thoughts. Keep your stick on the ice.

  11. I wanted to pop in and say thanks for all of the great comments here. I’d been slacking on reading them over the last couple of weeks (well, more like was busy and hadn’t gotten around to them) and finally got around to looking at them this weekend.

    This was something Rob and I had been talking about doing for at least a few months and I’m glad we finally got around to doing it. It was a great conversation and I have to offer the Esteemed One praise for editing my incoherent rambling into something that makes some sort of sense. I’m glad that you all seemed to get something out of it and I’m looking forward to doing a follow-up episode down the road.

    I hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving weekend (or just a weekend if you’re not in the U.S.)!



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