“I always loved the radio because I felt like I had company.” – Joseph Fusaro
In a world that seemingly is more and more about individual success finding Inspiration and being a voice in the community are key. This is especially necessary in the creative process whether you’re an artist, painter, sculptor or in Joseph’s case, a podcaster at the Mental Health News Radio network.
I asked him how he found the inspiration to create his show ‘Hysteria Radio’ and it came long ago, by his account.
Music, it seems, has been a part of his sense of connection to and place in the world pretty much as far back as he can remember.
Growing up, he’d sit in his room taping favorite songs off X107.1 and Q104.3 in New York. He would add his own commentary, dub the audio and edit the tracks in an order that he said made more sense to him.
There’s a certain ingenuity behind that kind of attention to detail.
Joseph learned to mold and shape the music in a way that ultimately became more about expression than anything else. The tracks would come and go based on the day, month and year.
But his passion for sound, rhythm, beat, and the flashy metropolitan sports teams were a constant.
“Whether I was staying up past my bedtime to listen to the Mets and Knicks games on WFAN, or laughing at the prank callers that would get through on Z100’s Love Phone, I was always listening to the radio. I think most of all it made me feel like I was a part of a bigger conversation.”
He waxed nostalgic reflecting on those simple but impactful moments that led him to want to be involved in media and also in mental health. He came to the realization that being part of a bigger conversation was something he could accomplish by coming on board at the MHNR network and leading an effort to encourage conversation rooted in music and wellness.
I asked him how developing that voice has helped to carry the messages of strength and hope which he believes are closely related to the soothing joy of sound and how they’ve benefitted him personally.
He said that more than anything, he’s been able to release his fear of opening up that he’d been carrying around since his most traumatic hospitalization back in 2010.
For him a fear of being silenced wasn’t just some far-fetched fantasy that he conjured up.
It was real.
“At around that time I was given injections of Haloperidol against my will and it shut off my mind for a couple years. I wasn’t able to think. I wasn’t able to feel. I was in pain 24/7. It was the worst experience of my life and I kind of felt that this injection was my punishment for saying the wrong things. So I stopped having opinions about anything. I stopped telling people how I felt. I was scared to speak up and I didn’t really have anyone that fought for me.”
Joseph did say that people around him today in his family, at the network and in the audience have encouraged him to use his voice again. And nearly nine years later he’s starting to feel like his voice matters and it’s okay for him to be himself without having to apologize.
I asked him about his philosophy on self discipline and how that’s aided him in his goal of connecting people via ‘Hysteria Radio’ and he said that today he’s learned that being diagnosed as Bipolar 1 with generalized anxiety has actually left him more at peace because it’s required him to be much more disciplined than when he was younger. He doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. And he sometimes questions himself before going for that third cup of coffee.
All in the name of commitment to quality and care.
But it wasn’t always that way.
A few years ago Joseph was content with never working again. He told me that any job he’d ever had was a major contributing factor in his severe anxiety. His anxiety around work and school had always been debilitating. It became the norm for him to quit jobs and withdraw from colleges.
No one around him really understood how he could thrive for months and then out of nowhere just disappear and crash. He’d become so stressed and anxious that he would stop going to work or class and just lay in bed shaking and fearing everything and everyone around him.
The reason that’s important he said is because today working with MHNR and in the mental health community he can be himself and no one really questions it. And he’s found a sense of purpose that’s extremely critical to his own self worth.
He said he’s learned that a key to an abundant life lies in taking his time and following his heart, not putting in the grind every week and driving himself closer to the edge.
“Kristin Walker and her team at MHNR are about a deeper sense of belonging and realizing that I am appreciated for my strengths, input, and experience, rather than my time and materials.”
To a person, the staff at the network are caring, focused and driven in a way that fosters not just creativity but a feeling like family.
He said ultimately that the goal of ‘Hysteria Radio’ is to facilitate the stories that inspire others. He feels strongly that If someone listens to his show and has an “ah ha” moment and perhaps they start a journal, or pick up that guitar they put down 10 years ago or finds a sense of purpose within themself that he’s made a difference.
Joseph closes our interview recalling how his guitar and notebook were his best friends and a major lifeline during a time where he had attempted to end his life. And he tries to relate the struggle of mental illness and addiction to his audience in a way that coexists with the way that other people view them, too.
Just like when he was a kid, tuned into the static-filled airwaves, finger pressed to the the stereo record button, waiting for inspiration.
For more about the Joseph and the ‘Hysteria Radio’ podcast on the web check out www.hysteriaradio.net.
The show is a proud member of the Mental Health News Radio network available here: www.mentalhealthnewsradionetwork.com.
Tags: acting, behavioral health, bipolar disorder, Creative Arts, Deconstructing Stigma, depression, Drama, Joe Fusaro, Joseph Fusaro, mental health, mood disorders, Music, PTSD, Speaking, trauma, Treatment Resistant Depression, Writing