S2E11: Unveiling the Dark Side of Entertainment: Confronting Workplace Abuse and Mental Health Battles with Duncan

The entertainment industry often paints a picture of glitz and glamour. But beneath this facade lurks a darker reality, riddled with workplace abuse and mental health struggles. Today, we delve deep into this hidden realm with industry veteran and writer, Duncan.

Duncan’s journey in the entertainment industry has been marked by trauma and duress. His first employment experiences were characterized by blatant abuse from his employers, Alan and Glenda. They subjected him to unreasonable tasks, demeaning comments, and toxic work culture. These harsh experiences took a toll on Duncan’s mental health, leading to self-confidence issues and a battle with depression.

Workplace toxicity wasn’t limited to his early employment. Duncan also recounts his stint in a large entertainment company where his mental health was weaponized. His vulnerability was exploited to serve the company’s agendas, leading to unjust dismissals of other employees.

Despite these adversities, Duncan’s narrative isn’t just a tale of hardship. It’s a testament to resilience and the power of transformation. After reaching a breaking point, Duncan took control of his narrative and used his experiences as fuel for change. He embarked on a mission to raise awareness about mental health and workplace abuse, sharing his journey through his writings.

His books offer insight into the mind of someone battling mental health difficulties, aiming to protect others from similar experiences. Duncan also launched a podcast, “When Everything Cracks,” providing a platform for open discussions on mental health and workplace abuse. His endeavors reflect his commitment to creating a safe space for others who may be grappling with similar issues.

Duncan’s story underscores the harsh realities of the entertainment industry. The high-pressure environments, poor work-life balance, and sleep deprivation are all too common, often exacerbating mental health struggles. Yet, his journey also highlights the importance of self-advocacy and seeking help.

Despite the setbacks, Duncan found success in the industry and even managed to turn his negative experiences into positive advocacy. His story serves as a reminder that even in the most challenging circumstances, there’s always a way forward. It encourages listeners to take a stand for themselves, to speak openly about mental health issues, and to seek the necessary help and support.

In conclusion, Duncan’s journey through the dark alleys of the entertainment industry is a stark revelation of the hidden realities many face. Yet, it’s also a beacon of hope, illuminating the path to recovery and self-advocacy. His story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of transforming adversity into advocacy.

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Nicola
Host
00:00
Oh my goodness. Hello Duncan, so lovely to meet you. Do you want to tell our amazing listeners a little bit about you and a little bit about why you’re here today and where you’re calling us from?
Duncan
Interviewee
00:14
Okay, well, I go in reverse order there. I’m calling from Los Angeles, from kind of the northeast or northwest part. It’s called Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley and there’s a lot of production around here and I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for a long time. But let’s see, you wanted to know a little about me. I’m a writer by calling, not by profession necessarily at the moment, but I am writing and writing, and writing, and publishing, and publishing, and publishing. So something will stick. A lot of what I write about is mental health, auto fiction. I had an experience after a lot of traumatic employment experiences, I finally just had a nervous collapse of sorts and it turned out to be a manic episode, but I didn’t know it at the time.
01:11
And they did something else, and so I am going to go as far back as those stories, if it’s all right to tell you about the horrible stress that I got from being mistreated as an employee, and I hope that you know, when we get to the solutions phase I’ll have some ideas, because I don’t know that I handled any of this the way you’re supposed to, but I did what I could, so shall I start at the, you know, the beginning of my working career.
Nicola
Host
01:45
I’m not sure everything but OK.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:47
So my first jobs in the summer between junior and senior year of high school, 11th and 12th grade, was at a record store in Boston and a record store for those of you who are young enough not to know what it is. True where, where you would go and all the cool people would go to buy their music and you would connect and it was like a hangout. And so I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to work at a record store.
02:15
And this new record store was opening up and I just I ran into the owners and I said, will you please hire me? And they were like I don’t know, you got no experience. And they, finally they hired me. But they were. They were really abusive. And I’ll give them names just to make it easier. There’s Alan and Glenda. That’s not the real names.
Gina
Host
02:37
Alan and.
Duncan
Interviewee
02:37
Glenda were like the most sadistic employers I think I’ve ever had and like I’ve had some bad employers. But they topped the cake. They were so mean to me and like on my very first day they gave me a job, they handed me a straight razor, you know like you would put in an exacto thing, but they didn’t have one.
02:59
So they just gave me the razor and they said, ok, this window is two way glass and we need you to scratch the backing off of it. And so like an hour later I had like maybe this much scratched off because it was you know, is like solidly on there and they came in screaming at me like you’re useless and I’m like you know, and then that was that’s at the tone.
03:20
From then on, they kept threatening to fire me, saying I was no good. I was good at my job I mean, I was a great cashier and I always help people find the right music but they just they had it in for me. I thought I was one of only two employees, and they treated the other employee poorly too, but we didn’t work at the same time, so I didn’t know, that in and when I moved to New York City to go to college, I needed it.
03:47
I was there in the summer, I needed a job. I thought I had one. It fell through. So I actually went back to Allen and Glenda and said I need a job, I’m in New York and I need to pay my rent. And they were like, OK, well, we’ll hire you five dollars an hour under the table. And I was like, oh great, you know, five dollars an hour. It sounded like it was three fifty an hour in Boston, right?
04:07
So at that time minimum wage was like four bucks or something. So it wasn’t right, as abusive as it sounds, but they just laid into me like, every chance they got they had they. They had a bootlegging operation, which again I don’t know if anyone knows what that is anymore, but they made?
Gina
Host
04:28
Probably not.
Duncan
Interviewee
04:29
They were. They had recordings of concerts and they turned them into vinyl, which, at the time was standard and yeah, yeah.
04:37
So they had like these presses and stuff and they were like you can never, talk about those and you know, because I asked them about what’s in that place and I and the guy from Boston that I worked with, he moved down and we started working together side by side, and I saw that they were giving him the same heinous tasks that I had. Like I need you to unroll every poster and roll it back up and put it in. I’m like, do you want me to label it or no? So you know, I was just this like sweet gentle kid and I didn’t know that being abused like that wasn’t OK. So I took it as long as I could and then I dyed my hair like pink and black, I think. And they, I came into work and they were like you’re fired, we don’t like your hair.
Nicola
Host
05:26
So of course they didn’t like you.
Gina
Host
05:28
Yeah, and then like this is like part of like punk rock era, what that’s like.
Duncan
Interviewee
05:33
Or that’s the thing you were, that that.
Gina
Host
05:35
Yeah, I would be like sweet rock on, Like I don’t understand that.
Duncan
Interviewee
05:40
I wish you’d been my boss, gina. That would have been nice. They did not get it. They were so square and so mean. And the truth is is that years later I ran into my friend that worked there with me on a bar platform in San Francisco and we hugged each other like holocaust survivors, like we were in tears Like you made it. You made it Like we. I mean, we hadn’t there was no threat of us dying, but we had been through this horrible trauma of working for these people and it was it really drove it home for me, because later I had jobs where I had nice bosses and I, you know, and where nothing went wrong and I thought, oh my God, I can’t believe I subjected myself to that for so long.
Gina
Host
06:22
Right.
Duncan
Interviewee
06:24
I was starting to have mental health issues in New York because it’s very stressful there and stress seems to be the trigger. So I made a decision to just leave Columbia University and I dropped out. I basically dropped out. I didn’t know I was dropping out, I was taking a leave of absence. And then I went to San Francisco and I got a job at one of the coolest bars that just closed so I think I can say its name the stud bar back when it was on Folsom Street, which is like ancient history, and that was a great place to work.
07:01
Again, I wanted to be in the cool place and it was the coolest gay bar in San Francisco and but I was underage and I was lying about my age and somebody found out and he thought he could sexually somehow insert himself into my life sexually by threatening to tell on me. And that wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, because right after he did that I’ll call him Daisy. He’s not alive anymore, but I just don’t want to smerch his name because, yeah, so Daisy, you know I was going to go to the boss about it, but then the bar closed temporarily to move and we thought it was just going to be like a week, but it turned out to be six months.
07:43
We were all. We were all asked to work at the new bar getting it ready for free, For free. So, yeah, for free. And I had a very low rent because I was living in a terrible neighborhood in San Francisco, but it was like 350 a month, which sounds like nothing now, but you know to come up at five again.
08:06
It was, I think, $7 an hour under the table at the stud and so $350 was 50 hours of work and I had zero hours of work and that was actually the last straw that losing my income just and not knowing what was going to happen next just sent me into a manic episode and I got hospitalized. So I don’t blame the stud for my mental well-being so much, as just those kinds of situations that are sort of toxic. They ran the place where they called you family and family helps each other out, and we know that, we know that well, we know that.
08:47
And I mean it was nice to be a part of such an interesting family, but I didn’t. It was a very exploitative family too at that time. I think they really cleaned up their act in the 90s, but back in the 80s it was still a little sketchy.
09:01
So and then I went on to have a series of OK jobs that some of them don’t even sound like they’d be good. I worked in at a phone sex office and my boss was wonderful. She and I were both in recovery so there was a lot of support and all the people that work there were so cool A lot of punk rockers and stuff it was. We didn’t. I didn’t talk on the phone sexually.
Gina
Host
09:26
I dispatched calls to the fantasy makers, but I love how you call them the fantasy makers.
Duncan
Interviewee
09:32
That was their name.
Gina
Host
09:33
I do too. I think that’s amazing. Indeed yeah.
Duncan
Interviewee
09:39
And I mean it could have. It could have been a very toxic workplace and I heard about another phone sex office where people were totally traumatized working there, but this one was run by someone who was trying to get their life together and be a better person, so it was a healthy workplace of all places, right, yeah, and they were. They were very supportive of me with my mental recovery and my recovery from addiction and things. So it was a good place to work. And then I will warn you before I go on that sometimes I get a little weepy. It’s just like partly just who I am and partly a symptom of my condition. But so if I get weepy, don’t mind me. I probably won’t stay that way. Oh, don’t mind me, I’ll just get weepy with you, buddy, me too, probably.
Nicola
Host
10:28
Oh my God, we’re a bunch of, we’re a bunch of soft marshmallow is really yeah, yeah, I agree.
Duncan
Interviewee
10:35
I’m definitely a marshmallow. So I had a series of good jobs after that. I I worked at the phone sex place until I graduated college and then I worked at the Italian Cultural Institute where I had the best boss of my life. He was an Italian diplomat and he was just so relaxed and I would get all worried because, you know, I was traumatized by former bosses. So I was like you know, I’m messing up, I’m messing up. And he was just like, oh, I’m just like, I’m just like, I’m just like, I’m just like I’m messing up. And he was just like Duncan Sanctity, relax, that he relax right, just sit down, relax, don’t worry.
11:11
You know, work is not worth it. You know, and it was such a wonderful experience to work for him and it really colored a lot of the way I approached workplace trauma in the future, because I had that foundation of like oh yeah, italians really know how to do it. You know, the work is not that, you’re not defined by your job, and you know he taught me a lot of things. So that was a great experience. When he left and the new boss came in, I didn’t get along with her very well, but it wasn’t toxic, it was just she was. I was so used to there. There actually was a toxic situation. It wasn’t mine, my boss, the one who was so nice. He was at odds with the, with, with his superior, and so the superior pulled all the money and we had no money.
12:03
So I mean we had just enough to keep the office open, have volunteers and then pay the three employees Right. And then that was all he would let us have.
12:12
So I had gotten in the habit of thinking we can’t do that, we can’t do that and I was coming up with free things. I started a radio show because we had a huge record collection, you know, and all that was free. And then she came along and she just had the big budget ideas and I was shutting them down, going you can’t do that, you can’t do that. But it turned out she could because we’d been. I didn’t know that we had been cut off financially and our budget expanded exponentially.
12:36
So it was cool. But they were never going to pay me what I was worth because I wasn’t an Italian citizen. So I got a lot of advice from wealthy people that hung out there that said you know, if you want to make it in this world, you can’t be working for the Italian government. You’re never going to get anywhere.
12:56
And I wanted to go to Hollywood so I did and my first job in Hollywood was great. I had a few episodes where I would I was getting I was still like learning about my mental health and I would get really angry at work and I didn’t know that that was like a symptom of bipolar. So I just thought I was a bad person when I got really angry and like yelled at somebody Not, they weren’t, I didn’t, I was just yell at peers. I didn’t have anyone working for me but then that kind of hurt my career Like I didn’t.
13:30
I wasn’t able to advance at New Line Cinema because I had been a bit of a misbehaving, you know, and I didn’t know, like I could have if I’d known now what I, if I’d known then, what I know now, I think I would have apologized, talked about it with somebody who was sympathetic and asked if there was anything we could do to like minimize the kind of stress that would lead me to that. But I didn’t know so and that was nobody’s fault. So there’s not really. But I will get to the toxic part.
14:03
Eventually I started to work and I had lost a job and I was between jobs and I found a way to work on a TV show and I was really excited to be a part of like an actual production and it was a pilot and as an aspiring writer, it was really meaningful to me that I got the position of writer’s assistant and the writing team was two people. One of them was a total sweetheart but she wasn’t very healthy. She was having health problems, so she wasn’t there very often. And the other one, who I will call Ron Masterson, was just evil. I mean he. I think what happened was he was so it was his first pilot that he’d get to produce as an executive producer writer and he was so excited and so wanting it to succeed that that he got kind of drunk with power and he just started laying into me about everything. Like you’re not laughing at me. Enough, was one of the things he said. I’m like I’m sorry, what?
Gina
Host
15:09
Yeah?
Duncan
Interviewee
15:09
he said yeah well, I mean, it was a comedy and he wanted to be funny, so it’s like I was. He was basically instructing me to manufacture laughs and I said I think it would be better if you were funny, which was the wrong thing to say? That’s actually funny.
15:32
And so one of the incidents I’ll tell you about that I just was. It was so Hollywood and so ridiculous. He wanted a sandwich from this really good deli called factors and I said, oh, I’ll get you the sandwich. And he gave me the order and he said, very specifically, I want my mustard on the side. And I said, okay, or yeah, let’s just say mustard on the side. And I said, okay, I placed the order. I was very clear about mustard on the side. When it picked up the sandwich, brought it to him and he said they put mustard inside in addition to the mustard on the side. And I said, oh, you want me to go back? And he said, no, it’s too late. And I said, and you should have known. And I said you mean I should have unwrapped the sandwich and looked put my fingers inside and looked inside it to find out whether or not they’d added mustard to it.
16:29
When there was mustard on the side and and he said absolutely. And he was just. That was like a light went off, like oh my God, I’m really like I really am working for abusive people again and you know it brought back a lot of trauma and then I think, partly because of my mental health condition or for lack of a better term, I didn’t have a lot of self confidence to fight back in a direct way like you heard me be kind of passive, aggressive, like I think you should be funny. That’s not really what it not not? You know, I didn’t, I wasn’t clear, I didn’t say no, I’m not going to laugh at you unless you are funny.
17:08
You know, something a little more direct. So I had trouble with confrontation. I was afraid of it because I felt like people would find out there was something wrong with me or you know, it’s just a lot of it’s all old gunk that I’ve kind of cleaned out now, but back then it was stigma and it was really hanging over me and affecting my my performance at work because I doubted myself so much and my ability to be, to have boundaries and allow people, you know, give people the dignity of a proper response, even if they’re horrible. So the worst thing on that, that pilot didn’t get picked up and on the last day that we were shooting or the, it was two days after the last day of shooting and they said you don’t have to come into work today. So I said, oh, it was like my first day off since they started and a friend was in town and she said I’m going to Disneyland and she was visiting from like Portland, oregon, and I was like I’m going with you. You know, I wanted to spend the day with my friend.
18:11
So I get to Disneyland and we go into the enchanted tiki room so I turn off my phone and we listen to the birds singing the words. You know, all the birds sing words and the flowers croon and the tiki tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki room and I was having a great time. And I get out and I look at my phone and there’s 17 messages right and I was like, oh, and they were all from Ron Masterson. And Ron said, duncan, where the fuck are you? You need to pick Ellen up because we have blah. I don’t know. It was some reading or some some meeting that I was. Oh, I said her name. Sorry, that’s okay.
Nicola
Host
18:48
I can add it’s adaptor and Okay all right.
Duncan
Interviewee
18:51
So he said you need to pick up my partner, who I was her official driver, basically because of her health. And I felt terrible because she’s a sweet person and I wasn’t there to pick her up. But they had told me I had the day off. So I said you gave me the day off. And he said that doesn’t mean you can’t. You know, it was another one of those impossible situations. Or he’s like well, you need to come in right now. And I said I just got out of the tiki room at Disneyland, I don’t think I. By the time I got there it would be way too late. And he he was just like well, you’re fired. And I said well, my last day of work would have been today anyway, so just don’t pay me for a.
19:28
And then I thought that would be the end of my career in TV because I figured he would tell everybody what I did. But it turns out he didn’t tell everybody, and a couple of people that I worked with on that pilot got picked up for a series and they were like we want Duncan to work with us. So I said so, I went. I felt like, oh, I felt validated, so I went to work on this series, but my position wasn’t the right one. I wasn’t a writer’s assistant. The writers were all really nice on that show. I was the producers assistant and the producer Was okay.
20:01
He was trying really hard to be a good boss, but he had four bosses coming at him from four different directions, so he was trying to delegate stuff to me that I didn’t know how to do. He had me move a table and I had a bad back and I was too afraid to tell him and I threw my back out and I had to come to work in a cane the next day. And these aren’t his fault. This is me not speaking up for myself, and I would never say that he was a bad boss. He was not the problem he. He could see that I was struggling and he was trying to help me, but he had no time he had.
20:34
You know, one studio was producing it, another studio was going to air it and we were on the lot of a third studio and then there was the agency, and everybody working on it was all from the same agency and the agency had all this control. So the abusive incident didn’t come from my boss, it came from the agency. My boss is on a set. They lock the door. Your cell phones are all off. You cannot come or go while the set is hot, right while people are live on air, as they call it.
21:06
It’s not on air, but it’s not. It’s not live even, but they’re recording and you can’t come or go. And this guy from the agency who I don’t remember his name, so I’m going to call him but head but had called up and said I need to speak to your boss, and I said, oh, I’m sorry they’re filming right now and he’s in the lock thing. I will, I will be waiting by the door to give him your message, because I knew that these people were like the most high maintenance and you had to be really careful with them. And he was like that’s not good enough and I said I can’t do any better. And he said and it turned out he used to work for my boss. And he said I used to work for your boss and I know that Terriers and throw it out like he was, and then he started cussing me out.
21:46
he’s like and I could tell he was on coke like it was like Wait, what year was this? Was this like the 80s?
Gina
Host
21:53
or 90s. No, no, no, this was, this was 2000.
Duncan
Interviewee
21:57
No, no, no, this was, this was 2002, I guess. And he started to say you, motherfucker, and and. And he just went off with like the worst foul language and I just kept saying I, I wouldn’t say that, or you know, I didn’t know what to say. I mean, he’s just, he said you need to do something about this, I need to speak to him right now, this is urgent. And I, I, finally, I just said you know, I don’t know, I can’t talk right now. I’m on the phone and I hung up, which is a line from Mary Hartman that I like to use when I’m kind of panicking. I get panicky on the phone, as it is.
Gina
Host
22:35
I do too.
Duncan
Interviewee
22:37
And that was like set off a major panic attack. And as soon as my boss got out, I ran to him and I said, but had said he has to talk to you. And he said, oh my God, ok, great, and he goes. And he’s like going, uh huh, uh huh, uh huh. And I knew that the guy was like just, you know, just smearing my name to my boss, and he came out and he was like we need to talk. And I was like, ok, and I go into talk to him. I there was nothing I could do. I said you were on the locked set, there was no way I could. Well, you got to do better than that. And that was, yeah, no, that’s Hollywood. That’s like sorry, that’s not good enough. They also asked me to, they gave me a task that I had no idea how to do, which was to get clearance for them to use a baseball cap in an episode.
Nicola
Host
23:29
So I had to call major league, like in your career view, like that’s not even in your the producers assistant yeah, it wasn’t in my wheelhouse, for sure, but it was.
Duncan
Interviewee
23:38
I called major league baseball and I said hey, I’m on this show and we want to use one of your baseball hats in an episode. And they said great, well, there’s a three week turnaround. So it was being filmed two days later and I said that’s not good enough. I’m sorry, I need, I need it in two days. I said well, tough luck, you know. And they hung up on me and I had, and I had to go back to my boss with that and he fired me. He said I can’t?
24:04
I just and I can’t put up with this. And to tell you the truth, it was like the best feeling in the world to be fired. I was like, oh, thank God, I can get unemployed you were really.
24:13
Yeah, and I got an employment and and I got to keep my medical care for like a year because they had a really generous medical thing, so and then I found gainful employment. So I have a long career and I don’t want to. You know, I don’t know where we’re at time. Wise, let’s see, I’ve got a few minutes still right, oh yeah, you’re good, you’re good.
24:35
So so there’s more abuse to talk about, and this time it it was. It was really different. I worked at a large company. It wasn’t a small production, you know. Even though a TV productions a lot of people, it’s still relatively small.
24:50
This was like a 10,000 people company that was in the entertainment industry, kind of on the side, and and they ended up like figuring out that I was mentally ill and they started using it like not against me. There was somebody they didn’t want working there and I had one of those blow up episodes with her because she was. She was like making me crazy, for lack of a better term, but she wasn’t a bad person and she was good at her job. Usually. She just wasn’t good at her job in this one case where it was so frustrating that I broke down and yelled and they heard about it.
25:30
They gave me a week off and then, when I came back, they started kind of bringing me into HR and saying, now did this episode happen? Because this lady talked to you and I wasn’t. I didn’t know what they were doing and I was like, well, yeah, I mean she’s saying you know, let’s lose a million dollars because you’re not allowed to bill it, you know, and I was saying we’re allowed to bill for work we did, and she was like, well, it needs to go through anyway. So it was just this crazy back and forth with her and, yeah, she was difficult, but she did do a pretty good job and I’ve always felt bad about this. I didn’t know that’s what they were doing and they fired her, saying that you provoked a mental health incident with our employee.
Gina
Host
26:12
Oh, my God.
Duncan
Interviewee
26:14
Yeah.
Nicola
Host
26:16
Whoa.
Duncan
Interviewee
26:16
So that felt bad in a whole different way. It wasn’t. It was toxic and it was abusive, but not directed at me directly.
Gina
Host
26:24
No, they used you as like a pawn.
Duncan
Interviewee
26:27
Yeah.
Gina
Host
26:28
Yeah.
Duncan
Interviewee
26:29
And that felt really cheap and at first I was really happy she was gone because she was really bad, and then I realized that wasn’t cool. Yeah, you know like it was like there was like a day or two where I was like yay, and then I’m like oh wait, they used me and then you started thinking about it. Yeah, oh, and I left that company and I went to another one, the competitor, and then the competitor bought that company. So my mental health record.
26:56
My mental health record was clean at the other company, but they had it at the old company and so it got into the HR and as soon as they figured out what was going on and things started to happen again and I wasn’t letting them get away with it, I was being careful not to let them use me as a pawn. But I did notice that a friend of mine who also had had a, she had to take a leave of absence for about three months while they worked on her mental condition. You know that she needed to have stabilized and she came back and she was so I barely knew her, like I actually didn’t know her. I sat next to her and then she told me she’d been away having a hard time. I said that’s happened to me too. And so we bonded and we were, you know, I felt close with her. I really liked her. And then she said I’m so afraid they’re gonna fire me because of this. And I said they’re not allowed to and she said it doesn’t matter, I’ve seen them do it before because it was a different company. Now it was the company that I left.
27:58
I left one company that was publicly traded for this private company that took the other company private, and when it’s private the rules are a little different. They’re not allowed to do it in California but they do because there’s not as much oversight. And, sure enough, two years to the day that she came back, they fired her. They said, oh, we’re having layoffs. But she was the only one laid off. So I cried and hugged her and then I had so much pressure on me I was going to business school and I had, you know, I was like working for the C-suite and there was all this pressure on me and I had a little bit of another. I wasn’t, I was like hypomanic. I was feeling really just like ah. And my doctor said look, I need to give you some time away from there, giving you three months, and we want you to go to this program at the hospital where you just kind of spend. It was like day treatment. You know you just go and work with a psychiatrist mostly therapists and then a psychiatrist to kind of calm down and get better.
29:00
So I was like I was so afraid to do it. I said they’re going to fire me. They’re going to fire me, and he said they’re not allowed to. And a couple of years later they let me go. So I don’t know if that was related or not, but it felt like they were looking for a way to get rid of me, and they did a very gentle job of it. They placed me at a movie studio and said you’re our employee, but you’re at the movie studio. And then at the end of the year they said our budget changed and you’re not our employee, but I think the movie studio will hire you. But and they did at like not even it was like less than two thirds of what I was making at the other movie, so I had a huge demotion in terms of pay and there was nothing I could do about it because I was over a barrel.
29:51
I could have left and gone somewhere else, but because of my fear around my stigma and fear and shame around my mental health, I was afraid to do that. So I stayed and I worked my way up and I actually I got hired. But the person who hired me was incredibly abusive, and I was. I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I was in a wheelchair at the time because I’d broken my ankle and so I just felt like I couldn’t go anywhere, do anything, and I was just stuck with this mean, mean boss and but one of her she was like way up, like senior, and then one of her regular VPs was very fond of me and he was being pulled onto a project and he pulled me on and then eventually I had to stop being an employee and be a contractor, and that’s when things got sort of weird again. As a contractor you don’t have the same status as an employee. You’re kind of a kind of a vendor Like you’re you have to like coddle the client.
31:02
They’re your client now. You’re not an employee, you’re a salesperson with a client. And it was okay. They paid me really well and health insurance was through the roof. I had to pay for it myself but it was still a good deal and I was making the most money I’d ever made in my life.
31:22
But it was doing work that I wasn’t really confident that I was good at. Like it was at the beginning. It was stuff I could do. But then as they moved me up, it was like oh, you know, I didn’t know coding, I was I’m too old to know like sequel, you know, it’s just it wasn’t in my wheelhouse. And that’s when I think this will be the last abusive incident I’ll talk about. But one of my peers but he was an employee he called me up this was during the pandemic and he laid into me and he just said you are the worst data analyst I’ve ever worked with. You’re an embarrassment. If anybody ever asked me if I wanted to be with you on it, if you were up for a project I’m on, I would tell them absolutely not in any way. And the problem was is that he’s my client and I’m not allowed to speak back to him, so I had to just sit there and take it and I just kept. This is at this point I’d learned some coping strategies.
Nicola
Host
32:19
And I don’t know if this was them.
Duncan
Interviewee
32:20
It was still passive, aggressive, but I just kept nodding to myself and going mm-hmm. And when he was done. He was waiting for me to yell at him so that he could get me fired or something, and I just said well, I’m sorry you feel that way. That sounds really difficult for you. I imagine I didn’t see most passive aggressive.
Gina
Host
32:40
I love it. I’m a passive typical that you’re so mad at me.
Nicola
Host
32:47
Yeah, I’m so sorry that I you know I said I’ve angered you to a point that you just wanna yell.
Gina
Host
32:52
Yeah, oh, that must be really tough for you, man. Yeah, I love this. Okay, carry on Shortly after that.
Duncan
Interviewee
33:01
Yeah, no, it was, yeah, it was brutal. And then, shortly after that, I was separated from that person and not allowed to work with him directly, but we had to work together because we were working on the same thing, and so it was very awkward and it was like he managed to get me in trouble, almost like even though he was the one that did the wrong thing, because I’m the contractor. I have to just suck it up.
33:31
And yeah, and then I became aware of this term ableism and stigma. There are a couple of words associated with various health conditions, handicaps, mental illness.
33:46
Ableism is living in a world where people who don’t have a problem think that everything should be geared to them and that they don’t have time for anything you know, related to somebody who’s got a little extra struggle at work, and I felt like that was that became my mission, because I’d already been writing novels about what happened to me in my mental health journey and so I was trying to promote them and I didn’t. I was like, well, they’re fiction, but they’re autobiographical fiction. How do I promote this? How do I? No agent would touch them and so I just published them myself.
34:31
And you know, I did like grassroots marketing, which has never been that successful with me, but it did get word out there and I had a lot of positive reaction from people, especially people who worked in the mental health field, because they said that there’s no books out there that tell them what their patients are thinking. And this book did that. You know these books I wrote five of them. These books give me a complete inside view of what’s going on in the mind of these people that I don’t understand. You know, including psychiatrists have told me this. So at the point at which my there was a point where the project just got derailed because of the person that yelled at me actually he was instrumental in the derailing of the project and, you know, even I didn’t understand that when that happened I said, oh well, I don’t think I’m going to, I don’t think I’m good enough at this, I know they’re going to let me go. And they did. And I was relieved and I said you know what? Now I get to work full time on my writing. I’d saved up money while I was making money there and so I’m living on my savings right now, working on getting my writing out there, and I didn’t really write too much about toxic workplace. I won’t spend a lot of time on it, but just seeing things through a new lens, the lens of living with mental health stigma and confronting ableism.
35:57
I was, I got a mission, like I understood. Now why my books exist is that I need to protect people and let them know I mean not, you know, mother hen protect, but, you know, stand up for people who are less protected by society and less protected at work. My story is, you know, a roller coaster of good jobs and bad jobs, and the bad jobs are really bad, and a lot of them were bad because I didn’t. I didn’t think I was worth standing up for myself, you know, and I don’t think people should feel that way ever. So my books are geared towards that, you know, helping people who are differently able to stand up for themselves. I’m gay also, I’m a gay man, and so I, you know, I include the LGBTQ plus community in my web of protectiveness with the books that.
36:55
I write and I’m publishing too, so I’m publishing some books for people, and so that was my journey, and I guess, now that I’ve told you an exhaustive history of abuse, let’s, let’s. Do you have a new question for me?
Nicola
Host
37:13
Oh, I absolutely do, and I think this was one of the things that really piqued my interest around the entertainment industry as well was that there is this expectation almost unrealistic expectation that there is this, I want to say, almost like modern slavery, associated with how businesses are being run in that entertainment industry space, where you have contractors that can be let go at any time. You know at will employees cool, cool, cool, but they’re not getting the benefits of a standard employee, but then they’re also pushed into working these unbelievably long hours. You know the big days for work are potentially you know the big days are outside of expectations.
Duncan
Interviewee
38:11
So you know, you know, you’ve got.
Nicola
Host
38:16
You know, let’s say, for example, a big day you would have. You’ve got two days to do, five days worth of work, and you know that’s what these entertainment thing like this, I want to say cogs are creating. And I wonder if this is something that you’ve observed as well, is it just kind of perpetuates the toxicity, you know it just perpetuates it further down. And I wonder I’m making a very broad statement here but I wonder if a lot of entertainment industry people do actually or have kind of been forced into struggling with mental health because they’re not getting sleep, there’s zero work-life balance, they’re being pushed constantly at a really high stress level space. You know every shot or every delivery is a 911. You know it’s.
Duncan
Interviewee
39:23
And they’re not saving lives.
Nicola
Host
39:25
It’s not saving lives, you’re making, make work with pretty pictures for some way somewhere to watch on Netflix, you know. So I’m just curious to know like do you feel it’s perpetuated? Like do you feel that the people working there themselves becoming toxic and that’s kind of spreading out as well?
Duncan
Interviewee
39:49
Yes, I think I mentioned like an example of that would be that producer that I worked for, where he had four unreasonable bosses, including the one that yelled at me who used to work for him. He said he was being pecked to death by ducks and he would. He looked like he was on the verge of tears in certain days. It was just so hard.
40:10
He was a really really mentally stable, grounded person and he was coming off the rails. So when he let me go, we were both. It was like he was doing me a favor, like he was stuck there, he couldn’t get out of it but I could, and so he let me go. And yeah, I think also it’s not always because somebody was, I think, maybe, there. I don’t know what the history of this writer is, who had been a staff writer, and whether he got abused a lot as a staff writer, but the one I call Ron Masterson, when he With the abusive mustard story, he may have been bullied a lot when he was getting into the entertainment industry and then he’s perpetuating that bullying because he’s got a taste of power and you know, power corrupts people and I think maybe he just saw it as an opportunity to lash out at somebody else and initiate somebody else and haze somebody else, kind of you know.
Nicola
Host
41:17
Oh, for sure.
Duncan
Interviewee
41:20
So there’s sympathy built into that. His co-writer. She was an angel, she was the sweetest person. So I don’t know why he was like that, but that’s how it went. Agents probably have horrible bosses, so that agent that was yelling at me probably had somebody horrible yelling at him. But I don’t, you know, I don’t know. You don’t always see the chain of evil. It just it’s just going on right.
Gina
Host
41:47
And it’s hard like, especially if you’re dealing with, like a mental illness, to not take it personally Because, like I suffer from depression and before I, you know, got on something that worked for me, like I was so like sensitive and I would take everything so personally, because I’m already like self-harming with my own internal thoughts. I’m like you’re such a piece of shit, like you know, because I’m depressed all the time, so it’s like I have such terrible self you know self-talk in my head that I’m like see, of course you know, of course it’s agreeing with you.
Duncan
Interviewee
42:21
They hate me, they say you’re a piece of shit. Then you’re like, yeah, I am, you’re right. And it’s like, see, I knew it, yeah.
Gina
Host
42:28
Yeah, and it’s like until I both matured in my work, my career, and also got on some got on medication that really worked for me, did I start to be able to kind of unpack all of that and really become like more emotionally mature, because when you’re in the depths of depression or whatever you have, you’re just barely trying to, you’re trying to survive, you’re in survival mode, which is not a great place to be in at all.
Duncan
Interviewee
43:04
I know I was diagnosed with depression initially after that, shortly after that manic episode, and then the depression was very long.
43:15
It was the cycle was like one manic episode and then 20 years of depression and it was definitely like I would say, I felt like I had shoes made of lead, like just trying to get up and get to work and I was really lucky that while that was happening, I was working at that wonderful phone sex office with the great boss and she was super supportive and helpful. And you know, she said you need to be on anti-depressants and I was like I can’t take drugs. I’m in the program.
Gina
Host
43:46
No, oh, my God, that was the biggest that was the biggest disservice that the program did to me, because in, like the early 2000s, whether you’re an NA or AA, they weren’t. I find it to be totally against the traditions that people would come and tell you if you take an anti-depressant, it’s mind-altering. No, it’s not. If your synapses are not working properly, there’s something chemically wrong with you.
Duncan
Interviewee
44:19
So why not use it’s the same as a bandage for a cut, yeah.
Gina
Host
44:23
Right or like insulin for a diabetic. It’s like-.
Duncan
Interviewee
44:25
Right.
Gina
Host
44:26
And it like it’s it people telling me like that I just had to work a program better or pray more or turn it over. That was the worst I could have ever been told, because you’re already in such a vulnerable and this was like early on in my sobriety, so I didn’t. I didn’t know what to share and what not to share. I quickly learned because that gave me like another six months of mental torture where I became so suicidal, like my mom was scared and she came to live with me in a little studio apartment on the Upper East Side. It got really scary and it wasn’t that guy’s fault who said that to me, but it was like that was sort of the overall thought of AA or NA at that time, like you can’t take anything. And then finally someone was like actually no, there’s a whole portion in our stuff that says we are not doctors. Yeah, and that’s what kind of?
45:23
got me over the hump and then I was finally like you know what I’m so fucking miserable Like. If this medication doesn’t work, then I’m going to just off myself. And thankfully there was a big improvement within like literally 72 hours. It was early, that’s, and I’m like you know what that’s how like sapped my brain was of whatever you know, whatever it was that. I needed, or transmitters that you needed yeah, so I totally get that yeah.
Nicola
Host
45:53
You know I have to say I’ve found this, you know, conversation Great. I think you know we’ve really highlighted and we’ve really made very vulnerable you know kind of the real situations that happen when kind of toxic workplaces are so bad that they actually mess up your entire brain chemistry. And I, you know, I understand, duncan, that, you know you, you obviously had some stuff happening there all like already, like there was stuff that was you know, to be covered, I guess.
46:30
But it’s unbelievable how we kind of negate away or just like flew, flew away oh, I’m feeling really shit in this job but we don’t really say actually, maybe I need to get that proper assessment or proper mental health, you know, focus for, for it.
Duncan
Interviewee
46:51
It’s just very hard because it’s an invisible. When I was in a wheelchair, people were really helpful, you know, because they could see that I was struggling, you know they’d open a door for me or they’d, you know, tell other people to stop hanging out in the handicapped stall, because Duncan needs it, you know whatever right I mean.
Gina
Host
47:14
Just I need to know who’s hanging out of the handicapped stall.
Duncan
Interviewee
47:18
Oh, that’s where people go to check their messages you know what I mean. Like and they just it’s like it’s big and it’s like their office, you know, because they have a cubicle and they can go anyway. So, the word. Finally the word got out. Oh, that’s actually not cool, because that is reserved for handicapped people, and if Duncan’s in there, you get the F out Right.
47:36
Yeah, but when it comes to mental health, you can’t say stop being abusive to Duncan because it messes with his head Like they just. I mean, you could, you could, but it doesn’t happen. Nobody would stand up for me if I and I was afraid to tell people what was going on with me because I’d seen people get fired.
Nicola
Host
47:59
I think I may have been fired you know there’s a lot of You’re nervous, You’re scared, Like of course. You would be Like, yeah, it would be ridiculous to think otherwise For years on job applications.
Duncan
Interviewee
48:12
They would say do you have a disability?
Nicola
Host
48:15
And I would just click, no, no disability.
Duncan
Interviewee
48:17
And I did, and I knew I did and I thought, well, it’s invisible and they don’t know about it, and I don’t know what would have happened at that time back in, you know, the nineties. I don’t know if checking that I did would have made things worse, you know, or I feel like it would have, especially because like now.
Gina
Host
48:35
Therapy is much more therapy and you know mental health is much more in the news. People you know celebrities are getting behind it. People are being disclosing like things that have happened to them or whatever disease they’re suffering from, whether it’s anxiety, depression. You know bipolar, which is not called bipolar anymore. I don’t think I forget what it is.
Duncan
Interviewee
48:59
Well, I think it’s not called manic depression for sure.
Gina
Host
49:02
Oh, is it called bipolar, maybe that’s.
Duncan
Interviewee
49:04
Maybe I got a bad disorder and but you don’t say he’s bipolar, because then it’s saying he’s a sickness, right, he’s a, he’s a health condition. No, I’m not, he has, he has living with or has, I mean you could say has or I think, the most polite one is he’s living with bipolar disorder. Yeah so at least I, that’s what I’m hearing in the literature, and I’m sure it’ll change, because everything that could potentially be pejorative eventually does become that so.
Gina
Host
49:33
Yeah, but yeah, I think it’s. You know, people are much more willing to talk about it now. So maybe back then no it, you know. But like in the 90s that was like Prozac Nation. You remember that book that came out. I was a Prozac Nation baby, like I. When I was 16, I was put on Prozac and that was like the first big thing, right, and then you kind of stopped hearing about it for a minute. And then now I feel like it’s coming back into the zeitgeist because people are being more open about it. So maybe now if you had disclosed it would benefit you. But I kind of think you’re right. If it back in, like the late 90s, early 2000s, it probably wasn’t the best time to be that open about it.
Nicola
Host
50:22
No, for sure. I agree, I totally agree and yes, that definitely made me afraid.
Duncan
Interviewee
50:30
And it’s only now recently I mean in the last five years that I’ve realized I need to stand up for myself, I need to be out. Like it took me, I came out to my mother at 16 about being gay and I thought that was going to be the hardest thing I ever did.
50:46
But it took me 30 plus years to come out with this mental illness. You know to say I am living with bipolar disorder and be proud of it, that I’m a survivor, and not, you know, ashamed or feeling like something’s going to happen because I spoke up and I told my truth and now they’re going to fire me. Or or people are going to think, oh, don’t listen to him, he’s crazy. Or you know those kinds of fears that are left over from a period where it was true, but I don’t think it’s this true now.
51:22
I know that the pandemic caused a lot of people to have a lot of mental conditions to rise to the forefront because people were isolated and it can definitely stimulate depression, anxiety. I don’t know, you know, I don’t know the numbers, but I know that they went up a lot.
51:43
They did For sure Once. Once there’s like 15 to 20% of the country that has a direct experience of it, let alone knowing somebody who’s going through it. I think the conversation changes because now it’s like oh, this is, this is happening to me, this is happening to my friend, instead of just as quiet, invisible people that were kind of swept under the rug in the 80s and 90s and early 2000s, and now people recognize that we’re living with a lot of stigma. It’s treated so differently. If you broke your leg, nobody be like oh, look at him, he has a broken leg, we should fire him. You know it’s, but look at him, he’s crazy. Yeah, we need to fire him. So and yeah, crazy is a bad word, but I use it- I use it too.
Gina
Host
52:35
I call my medication my crazy pills.
Duncan
Interviewee
52:37
I’m like oh crazy Cause of my don’t not going to be good. Yeah, my nerve pills, which is like an old 50s saying I was gonna say that’s like thank you for your nerves.
Gina
Host
52:50
The thing is that I would like to know at this point is, looking back on everything you just shared with us, what do you think you could have done differently? What would you tell people who might be struggling right now in situations toxic? Or unhealthy, or however you want to call it who also have, you know, mental health issues. What would you suggest for them?
Duncan
Interviewee
53:14
There’s a few things they can do. There’s a helpline at the National Alliance for the mentally ill here in the United States and I imagine there’s similar lines in much of the world. I’m sure New Zealand or is it? It’s New Zealand, right? Yes, would have it. And Australia. You call and and talk to them about what’s going on in your workplace, because they’re going to know whether or not you can get a free lawyer. You know things. If it gets to that point where you feel like you need protection.
53:47
If it’s just a situation where somebody doesn’t know that they’re being like, if somebody keeps calling you crazy or something and they don’t know that you have a mental illness. If there’s someone that you trust, you can take them aside and say look, I know you think this is funny, you know you’re so crazy, but it’s hurting my feelings and here’s why. And I don’t want you to feel bad, I just want you to stop hurting my feelings. Yeah, but you know, be mindful that not everybody is a safe person to do that with. Certainly, your boss is HR. I thought HR was like therapy. I would go in there and tell them everything and then I realized that is not the way to do it.
Gina
Host
54:30
So do not do that.
Duncan
Interviewee
54:32
Don’t talk to them about anything, except for you know, I’m taking a leave of absence. Don’t say, oh, because of bipolar disorder, don’t? They have no right to know. It’s a health issue. I have a note from my doctor, that’s it. Well, we need to know what it is. And you just say, no, you’re not allowed to know that. And that’s what I did when I had to take that leave of absence. But they still figured it out because of the records from the old. Anyway, let me think of some other situations.
Gina
Host
55:06
Well, some of the ones you have just. My question, my, my original question, was looking back on everything that you just shared. What do you think you could have done differently, knowing what you know now?
Duncan
Interviewee
55:21
Knowing what I know now? That’s a good question, because I don’t. I mean, I saw that I would probably be asked that question when I was looking at the format for the show and I do think that it’s a hard one to answer because it’s a long career and the earlier part of the career it wasn’t as safe to do something about it as it is now. But because and so that’s why I’m giving kind of modern advice but like for the situation where the guy was sexually harassing me because I was underage, that didn’t have to do with mental health necessarily, but it contributed to a lot of things. I don’t know how I got out from under that, but I did. I wish I could tell somebody, because that’s a terrible situation where someone’s-.
Gina
Host
56:16
It is terrible when you’re getting sexually harassed by anyone Anyone, yeah.
Duncan
Interviewee
56:22
Yeah.
Gina
Host
56:23
Whether they’re a boss or in leadership work, they’re your peer, right? You’re a co-worker. Yeah, it’s terrible, yeah, yeah, so do you think so I guess for me, you mentioned that you’ve yelled at people before. How would you handle I mean, I don’t look, I’m the first one to get flustered with my clients, with my regular work, my clients and just I realize I’m going to be 44 and I just realize I don’t have a poker face right. So it’s like, if you’re pissing me off, you’re going to see it. So I’m the first one to appear flustered in a meeting if it’s not going the way I want it to go. But I don’t know if I’ve ever yelled at anyone in a workplace setting. So obviously that’s not what you set out to do I would certainly not do
Nicola
Host
57:19
it.
Duncan
Interviewee
57:20
If I could avoid it, if, even when my temper is at the top, I know now not to do that. I learned by doing it maybe two or three times in my career that my career was basically over at that company because I did it.
Gina
Host
57:33
Because you yelled.
Duncan
Interviewee
57:35
Because I yelled, that is it’s just upper management just says we can’t have them in front of the client. We can’t, we can’t, we can’t, yeah you’re like a wild card. Right. So keep your temper if you can and if you feel like you’re losing your temper nowadays, I think it would be safe to talk to your boss and say I lost my temper and it’s a symptom of something you know a symptom of my illness and I’m going to work very hard not to do that again.
58:11
I didn’t do any of those things. I just like, pretended like it didn’t happen, because it was so embarrassing and I didn’t know why it happened. I didn’t know that it was a symptom because I wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar disorder until recently. So depression symptoms don’t include screaming at people I don’t know.
Gina
Host
58:31
I feel like they can, they could.
Duncan
Interviewee
58:33
Because you’re so angry. Yeah, yeah, you’re right, it can come to the surface.
Gina
Host
58:38
There is like a level of being just angry and it’s kind of like they say, it’s like anger turned inward, but like for me, when I get to that place which I haven’t ever since I got on the right medication like I become non functioning and I get become very irritable, like I just want to be left alone, like in bed, like under the covers, don’t bother me.
59:01
So like when someone starts talking something to me and I’m like already in a super vulnerable place, I might lash out and be like shut the fuck up. You know, like hopefully not a coworker Like, but definitely my family there was, you know, I would be like mom, shut the fuck up or whatever you know well, that’s just.
Duncan
Interviewee
59:21
I felt like a lot of people in New York do that.
Gina
Host
59:25
But I would never say that to her, like I was like yeah yeah.
59:31
I would say that to her, unless she was like doing something really crazy or like I needed her to shut her mouth immediately because like somebody’s in harm or something like. But but no, I mean, I think there is an element to the anger aspect. So now, of course, if that had happened, you would know how to handle it properly. Okay, so what are you doing now that you’re on the other side of this, and how was your diagnosis beneficial for you? Did it like kind of like? Did it cut? Were you kind of like, oh my God, now everything makes sense.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:00:04
My whole life, yes, yes, definitely like there was a new lens to look at my whole work history and go, oh, that’s what was happening. They have really good medication for it. I mean, they started me on, you know, the old standard lithium, which is a heavy metal, and it got toxic. I was in a lot of pain and I was telling my psychiatrist I don’t think this is the right medicine, and she said you know, there’s some really great ones out there that are just right for you. And I was. I was really nervous about it, but they gave me a new one and it is perfect. I mean, my, my mood is up and down, but it’s not like up and down.
Gina
Host
01:00:46
you know it’s not very cute, it’s not down, down, down. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:00:50
It’s definitely like at a high normal and that’s right where I want to be. It’s like I have the energy to do the things that excite me, but I don’t get all disorganized and you know, run from thing to thing to thing.
01:01:06
So yeah, the question I think I’m still answering it is, yes, being given the right diagnosis made all kinds of difference. It’s helped me, even in the program that I’m in now, to say, okay, well it, it isn’t an excuse exactly because you got, if you just keep excusing past behavior and it doesn’t change, but it is a good like solid understanding of the challenges that I’m going to face as I’m trying to recover from not making enough money which is yeah, so.
Gina
Host
01:01:47
so I mean I I could kind of see that like in the arc of your, your story, like once you had the diagnosis, like I knew it was probably like a watershed moment. You were like oh that’s why I was like a lunatic on that day or screaming crazy at someone that day, Like yeah.
01:02:03
Yeah, Um, you know, because that’s how I would feel, Like I always knew I was depressed, I didn’t need, I didn’t need a doctor to say, tell me. It was like yeah, thanks, no shit, Sherlock. But I didn’t need a doctor to prescribe me the right thing, and this is a whole different topic. But psychiatrists are like. I went to a psychiatrist who prescribed me like I don’t even think it’s on the market anymore, it’s a prexa, it’s an anti-psychotic. I was just severely depressed.
01:02:37
So, wait, I would take it out, because you’re supposed to take it at night. I would black out and I would wake up and I’d have like food all stuck to me because I guess I would get hungry in the middle of the night and I would like go eat whatever I had in my cupboards and it was like always some weird mashup. I was like in my twenties, so I probably had like walnuts and dried cranberries or something and like it’s like, and I’d be like I have no recollection of doing any of this. And then she put me on depicote and like all these heavy duty things and it’s like I, I just needed a fucking standard SSRI at a high dose, Like let’s not complicate things.
01:03:15
So it’s like once that once then I switched doctors and the new doctor was like why are you on all that stuff? You’re just like severely depressed, you don’t need all of that. I was like you know, cause, like you trust these people, so there’s also a different conversation to be had about, like you know, don’t give up if something doesn’t work for you.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:03:33
Yeah, that’s an extremely important piece of advice, and someone told me that they said be ready, you know, when they give you the first one, it might not work. And the very first one they gave me, which I don’t even know if they saw it midpermine, didn’t work. But then they gave me desert permine, which is slightly different. And boom, the lead shoes fell off and yeah, that was when I was in that really really long depression. But then eventually I, you know I started to cycle a little bit. So yeah.
Gina
Host
01:04:02
So I think I always like to say that and don’t be afraid, Don’t be afraid to try something. The worst that could happen is you stay the exact way that you are like you know you stay just as depressed as you were, just as manic or whatever it is that you’re dealing with. But there is the upside of hey, I might actually feel better and be able to live a somewhat normal life managing this. So tell us, what do you do now?
Duncan
Interviewee
01:04:37
What do I do now? Work, work In your career.
Gina
Host
01:04:40
We’re talking about toxic workplaces. What do you do?
Duncan
Interviewee
01:04:43
I promote my books. I don’t work in a workplace, I’m my boss. I write books, I publish them and I try to market them. And in addition to writing this very helpful and healing mental health fiction, I also write erotica, which is like more bread and butter, but it’s still not enough to live on and I’m still figuring things out. I also am a personal bookkeeper. I help people who it’s kind of like a finance coach, but it’s like I help people who maybe they’re earning a lot but they’re also spending what they earn, and I have some tools to help them recognize it, monitor it and turn it around. And I’ve done that for dozens of people and would love to keep doing it. So I’m actively marketing myself for that too. Okay, yeah.
Gina
Host
01:05:40
So do you write under a pen name?
Duncan
Interviewee
01:05:43
Well, the erotica is under a pen name, but my writing is under my name, duncan McLeod. Oh, it’s backwards, probably on this camera.
Gina
Host
01:05:51
No, now we got it.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:05:52
Oh it’s not, I can’t tell.
Gina
Host
01:05:54
Not for me. No, not for me. Oh, okay, it is for me.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:05:58
So yeah, duncan McLeod is and my books are on Amazon. If you search for my books, the easiest way is to type in 5150 and then you’ll get a bunch of Van Halen albums. So add Duncan or Cloud after 5150 and then you’ll get. You’ll find all my mental health work.
Gina
Host
01:06:20
Oh, cool I’m not going to.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:06:21
This isn’t the right venue for promoting erotica, but the bookkeeping is the best.
Gina
Host
01:06:25
You never know. You never know. I mean, yeah, I’m not going to give it away.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:06:31
But the bookkeeping is actually under my. I have a website for my writing which is Duncan writes bookscom, and then I have another website which is Duncan keeps bookscom. That’s pretty cute.
Gina
Host
01:06:45
I like that.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:06:45
So, depending on which of those interests, you you can go to Duncan writes books, or Duncan keeps books to see what I do and learn more about how I’m helping people and who is your ideal type of client for your Duncan keeps books.
01:07:01
It would be an influencer and I’ll tell you why in a minute. Who’s sweet and kind and does not run to anger as their first emotion these are the words of experience. Who is earning a great deal of money but not finding that they’re living from one kind of financial inflow to another without having a reserve. That’s, and they recognize it, I guess, and they’re ready to do something about it, because the mistake that a lot of high people in entertainment and other places where they suddenly start making a lot of money, they equate income with wealth and the two are actually almost not relate. I mean, if you have a high income.
01:07:43
It’s faster to get wealth if you can stem your spending. But even if you’re earning a little bit, if you put 10% of that aside, every you know, with the 401k or whatever you accumulate wealth.
01:07:55
So that’s the. It’s such a basic lesson that I almost feel like I’ve given it all away just here. But that’s, and if you see what you’re doing, you have to be able to see what you’re spending money on, and there’s tools for that, automated, so that you can just look and see reports of like oh my God, I spent, you know, $3,000 on meals last month, and a normal amount might be 600. So let’s see if we can, you know, go out to eat a little less and cook a little more.
Gina
Host
01:08:25
Okay, so is there anything else you want to tell us? I mean, this is such a great, such a great conversation and I think we hit on a lot of not necessarily hot button topics. But mental health is always a little. It’s always a little dicey, I feel like when you start talking about it, because some people, you know it can be sort of a polarizing topic, but we try not to do anything like that. So I think it was a really great, just sort of kind conversation of telling your experience and me kind of relating to that and then, yeah, seeing what we can do. You know, now I feel like it’s sort of almost like if I could get through that, I can get through anything, you know. That’s sort of the way I feel about my own mental health struggles and thankfully, you know, my medication works for me. I have no plans on ever getting off of it.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:09:26
Yeah, I know what you mean. You may have to change it at some point. I’ll warn you, that happened to me a couple of times where it just kind of stopped working, and be on the lookout for that. If you find yourself going oh, I think I have some depression symptoms and they’re lasting that’s a good time to talk to your doctor.
01:09:44
Yeah, it could be a bit that. That’s what kind of happened when I had to take time off from work, but it was because of bipolar, not depression, but I also have done with that. Does it mean stopped working and I had to switch to a couple of other ones over?
Gina
Host
01:09:55
Yeah, hopefully I’ve been on the same one for like I want to say like 12, 15 years and I’m like as long as it’s still working and you’re feeling good it’s still working and yeah, and I don’t have any intentions of taking, taking, you know, getting off of it. Yeah, so that’s that’s my feeling on that. Is there anything else you want to tell our listeners?
Duncan
Interviewee
01:10:29
Yeah For the, for the people who are listening, who are struggling with mental health condition. There’s a lot of resources for you. I gave you one, the namey NAMI hotline. But friends and family sometimes can be very helpful, but don’t go to the ones that aren’t helpful. Don’t go to the ones that say all you need is a swift kick in the pants or whatever.
Gina
Host
01:10:53
You know you reach out to the right people right and it can be really hard.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:10:58
Depression for me. When I was in the depths of it. I was down a well and people are going you need to do this, you need to do that from the top of a well, like I’m in a well, I’m stuck, I can’t do anything. You got to just you got to put one foot in front of the other and make it to that doctor’s office and say I need help. You know, just admit you need help, don’t be ashamed.
01:11:18
I think, that it’s going to reflect poorly on you. So many other people are living with this condition, and the more of us who talk about it openly, the better it will be for you. So you, too, can share about it when you’re ready and, yes, it’s like coming out, so it may take a while, but do it when you can.
Gina
Host
01:11:39
Yeah, okay, so we we know where to reach you, and well, I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us Of course. I also feel like you should. You could do voiceovers or like audible books, because you have such a soothing voice.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:11:58
Thank you, I do podcasts actually of my, of my fiction, so oh cool. Yeah, you can find them on any podcasting platform. It’s the title is when everything cracks, which is the first two books, this book and its sequel combined.
Gina
Host
01:12:16
When everything cracks is the podcast, so I think I’ve got to put that in question.
Duncan
Interviewee
01:12:24
But yeah, so I do use my voice to be soothing. So thank you.
Gina
Host
01:12:29

Yeah, I like it. Okay, Well, duncan, thank you so much, and we’re going to put all of your contacts in our show notes.

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