The Grief Girl

Inside a Nervous Breakdown

March 24, 2016

In this episode of The Grief Girl, we meet a very special guest, Mark Carlisle, who shares the same mission with our host Kristi Hugstad: to abolish the stigma of mental illness, depression and suicide. Sit back and listen to Mark's story: the origin of his neuroses, the losses of his father to suicide and his mother to cancer, and his successful journey from a nervous breakdown. It's a unique yet story that will interest and hopefully help anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety or depression – whether you're a man OR woman. 


1:05 – Introduction to Mark Carlisle. Along with working at Hobie Surfboard and running his own personal fitness company, Mark teaches people to play and live.

2:36 – Kristi and Mark discuss the origin of Mark’s neuroses and its manifestations. Mark refers to M.Scott Peck’s definition of neurosis and its relation to an individual who is over-responsible for him/herself.

7:48 – Mark explains how he submitted to fear, and his difficulties getting along with his friends as a teenager. 

12:35 – Mark discusses his difficult relationship with his father, who suffered from depression.

14:45 – Mark talks about the devastating phone call he received at 26, and the events that led up to that day….

16:37 – Kristi and Mark talk about their emotions and thoughts after their loved ones killed themselves, and the blame they put on themselves. 

19:30 – Kristi asks Mark whether he ever considered suicide himself. Is suicide ideation a learned behavior or are there genetic components to it?

22:57 – Mark discusses learned helplessness.

24:00 – Mark talks about the aftermath of losing his father, and then learning that his mother has breast cancer. (She died just a year and a half after her husband’s suicide.)

27:29 – After a prolonged period of anxiety, Mark's nervous breakdown occurred when a severe case of bronchitis forced him to stay in bed for three weeks. This period gave Mark the time to think and loop over negative thought patterns; he ended up going to urgent care every day – not realizing that he was mentally out of control. Mark eventually understood that “neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering” (Carl Jung).

31:12 – Mark points out that so often we do not see “crazy”behavior in mental illness. In Mark's case, he could still function so well that no one realized what he was going through.

33:15 – Sometimes the basic acts of getting past a depressive cycle such as exercise and eating well are helpful but they don’t change your thinking. Instead, you must engage in changing the words you use when you think – ultimately changing your brain chemistry too.

37:34 – What Mark did to change his thinking, and the seminar that changed his life. Mark says we have to stop asking ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?” Instead, we should shut off the automatic pilot of negative thinking and learn to tell a different story.

40:48 – Mark recommends What Happy People Know by Dan Baker, and provides highlights from the book that explains how our brain processes information, and how understanding that can help us reprogram our thinking as well as how we react to emotion.

45:05 – Mark describes how he starts his day….

46:42 – Mark answers Kristi’s question: “What has grief taught you?” He says that grief has to be a part of the equation, and we must embrace it “but not make love to it.”


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