What Unhinged Means to Me
Howdy, folks. This is Ed, co-founder and technical producer of the Unhinged Podcast. I’m what some call the “normal” half of the Unhinged team, meaning I do not suffer from any mental health issues myself. However, being friends with Doug has given me quite a bit of experience dealing with mental illness and the effect it has on everyone that comes near it.
Many people may ask why I would get involved in such a serious topic when I could have easily started a site on something like guitar, photography, usability, or any of the other geeky interests I have. The answer is both simple and complex at the same time. Let me explain…
First, and foremost, Doug and I have been best friends since around 1988 when we first met in college. If you listened to the first episode of Unhinged, you’ll know that it was a while before I realized Doug suffered from depression. After college, our lives started to diverge. We were no longer living in a cushy fantasy world of frat parties, late-night jam sessions, and meal-plan pizzas. Now we had to fend for ourselves in the real world.
Getting my feet wet, I worked a few jobs in television and computer graphics, ultimately heading west to tech nirvana, Silicon Valley. It’s there that I found my calling, first in software engineering, then ultimately in user experience design and usability. I got married, bought a house, and continue living here in San Jose, working in the tech industry, doing what I enjoy.
Doug followed us to California for a bit in 1997, but couldn’t find a focus here, and ended up returning to Florida around 2001. After a bout with cancer and a tough family intervention, he ultimately returned to his home country of Canada. In a way, moving back to Canada was a good thing for Doug since health care is essentially free, and he desperately needed help that he couldn’t afford here in the states.
We have kept in close contact over the years, though I hate to say that I haven’t seen him in person in nearly two decades. Regardless, when we talk, it’s like no time has passed, but in all that time, his mental illness has not really gotten any better. He’s had some up times, including a three-month stint of happiness after his DBS implants kicked in, but it unfortunately didn’t last and he continues to battle this disease every day.
We’ve always talked about doing something creative together, even though we live so far away from each other. The idea to do a podcast came about during one of our discussions, and I knew that if I didn’t take the reigns and get it all set up, it most likely would remain just an idea. But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.
This is where the “simple” part comes in… there’s nothing I enjoy more than building something from scratch, especially something digital and online. I’ve built countless websites in the past, so that part came naturally to me. I got very into setting up the technical side of Unhinged, including learning how to record a podcast, how to build a podcast-friendly site, how best to edit the audio files, and how to set up a proper podcast RSS feed that populates all the big podcast aggregator sites out there. I even bought myself a nice microphone, headset, and mixing board to make sure we did this right.
The “complex” part of why I got involved with Unhinged was all about Doug. I believe in communication as therapy, and having a forum for Doug to talk about his problems could actually help him psychologically. Of course, I had concerns… would he keep it up, or will his disease cause him to bail when things got tough? Would we actually sound OK, or would we be making big fools of ourselves sounding like idiots who don’t know what they’re doing? And most of all, would this actually help Doug at all?
So far, I have to say, I am enjoying being a part of Unhinged and I do feel it’s having a positive effect. Doug and I have talked more in the last month than we have in a long time, and we’re now very focused on the show. We have had some great feedback so far, even though we only just got started. Sure, we’re not pros, and our first couple of episodes probably show that. But we’re getting better with each recording, and will keep improving the show episode after episode as much as we can.
Unhinged is an experiment, one where we hope the outcome is positive, not only for Doug’s well-being, but for anyone out there who also suffers from a mental illness. If listening to our show can help anyone by showing them that they are not alone and that there is hope, that’s a huge bonus for us.
So that’s what Unhinged means to me… it means hope. It means friendship, therapy, communication, and love. I enjoy it for the technical challenges and the camaraderie we have during the show, and also for the healing power I believe it has. It’s a win-win in my book, even if it ultimately ends up being just the two of us listening to it (which, of course, it WON’T be!).
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P.S. For those interested in the technical side, I’ll be working on a post detailing how this show is put together, including how we are able to record my voice, Doug’s voice (through Skype), and computer sound effects, all on separate audio tracks for easy post editing.