Welcome to the Healing Pain Podcast with Zack Weinstein!
Today, I have Zack Weinstein. He is an actor who guest starred most recently on the YouTube Red hit called Sing It. He’s also been seen on Criminal Minds, NCIS, and Glee. He was majoring in theater at Skidmore College in New York when an accident changed his life. Despite his injury he’s gone on to successfully pursue his passion and dream of becoming a professional actor.
In this episode, we talk about what Zach thinks about the future of health care, He discusses how to get get help from the Christopher Reeve Foundation and he also provides a lot of his profound thoughts about inspiration and finding the reason and meaning in disability and pain.
You can learn more about Zach and his work at ZackWeinstein.com.
How A Boating Accident Changed An Actor’s Life, with Zack Weinstein
Hey, everybody out there. It’s Dr. Joe Tatta. I’m here with Zack Weinstein. You’re watching the Healing Pain Podcast Live. As many of you know, who follow me, my tribe out there, I’ve been doing the Healing Pain Podcast, obviously as a podcast which you can find on my website and on YouTube and on ITunes. I started doing it online on Facebook Live so we can get your interaction, we can talk to you, get some of your comments in the feed. I just think it’s cool that I bring on some live guests.
I have a really interesting guest today. Usually I have practitioners on, nutritionist, physicians or a physical therapist. Today, I have Zack Weinstein. He is an actor. He wanted to be an actor since he’s four years old. He was majoring in theater at Skidmore College in New York when an accident changed his life. Despite his injury he’s gone on to successfully pursue his passion and dream of becoming a professional actor.
Zack has guest starred most recently on the YouTube Red hit called Sing It, which he was the only season regular role in 2016. He’s also been seen on Criminal Minds, NCIS, and when I first ran into him, which is on Glee. He describe himself as a typical actor but in addition to acting he’s also working hard to get back. He helps with the Screen Actors Guild, SAG. Helping performers with disabilities, providing actors with more opportunity. He’s also an ambassador for the Christopher Reeve Foundation. More importantly, which I have had him on for, he’s a motivational speaker talking about things like injury, chronic disease and obviously his injury, which he is going to tell us more about in a minute. Zack, welcome to the Healing Pain Podcast. It’s great to have you here.
Hi, Joe. Thank you very much for having me on.
For those of you who don’t know Zack, you can go to his website. It’s ZackWeinstein.com. You can check him out online. Zack, thanks for joining me. It’s great to have you here. I mentioned in the brief bio that you had an injury when you were in college. Can you tell us about that?
Hello, world or the Joe legion of fans. Hi, I’m Zack Weinstein. Like he mentioned, I’m an actor and a motivational speaker and an ambassador for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. I’m 31 years old right now. When I was 19, I had a spinal cord injury. I broke my neck. I’m in a power wheelchair right now.
I grew up in Boston and I went to Skidmore College. In the summer after my freshman year, I was working at a summer camp. We had a day off, had a canoe trip. A bunch of the councilors were going on this canoe trip down the river in Maine. Bunch of us topped off to the side and a friend and I were playing around in the water. He flipped me up over his back. I came down behind him. There was a rock under the water that we couldn’t see. Hit my head on the rock, which broke my neck at the C6 level, which is 6th vertebrae down on your neck, which has left me a quadriplegic. This is the very, very short non-dramatic version of the story.
I went to rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Long story to get me there. After a couple of weeks, after the ICU and being in Boston, I was there. After a year, I came back to college, continued with my theater degree with an acting concentration, graduated. Moved to Los Angeles and I’ve lived in LA for seven years and I’ve been an actor for all that time. That’s the short version.
Incredible. So you went to Shepherd, which is a really great rehab place by the way.
It is, yes. There are three or four that are really the best for spinal cord injury and acquired brain injury is at most of these places as well because there’s a lot of overlap. Shepherd Center I believe is topnotch.
Oftentimes, spinal cord injury and TBI go together in the scene because it’s dealing with the brain and spinal cord.
A lot of times people hit their head hard and it gets their brain and their spinal cord injury. I was fortunate to only have the one. Fortunate being a loose use of the word.
Not to have a TBI, basically.
We could talk about your past experience in rehab and things like that. I think it’s really more interesting from your perspective to talk about the future, not necessarily your future, but let’s say the future of health care and where we could potentially be going in the next one to four years. You can probably give us some stats on people who have spinal cord injury. Obviously, there are people who need support and they need care and they need services. What are your thoughts about that going forward?
I can’t help myself to get a little political. I’d say apologies, but I’m not really apologetic for it. One, the Christopher Reeve Foundation did this study and they were blown away by these results. One in 50 Americans, one in 50 Americans, lives with some form of paralysis, one in 50. That’s not necessarily wheelchair bound paralysis. It’s not necessarily due to a spinal cord injury or a stroke or MS or any of the main things that you think of, but some kind of neurological thing. One in 50. That means that you or someone you know or many people that you know deal with something chronically that impairs their movement, at the very least, constantly. 20% of Americans are disabled in some form, 20%.
Just very briefly. The Republicans plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has its flaws. No doubt about it. But to take it and get rid of it with no plan, no concrete plan whatsoever to actually at least keep it as the status quo or make it better, no actual plan to do that. General theories on how it would work but nothing that says, “This is how it will work.” What they are saying is that because of a political ideology and of a desire to not let the other side win, they are going to enact laws or repeal laws that are going to shortened my life expectancy. I don’t have patience for that. I don’t have time to debate the nuances. They are going to put laws in place and repeal laws that are going to shorten my life expectancy. How do you go forward from there?
I can give you my opinion on how we go forward from there. I think the point you’re articulating is that if you have an acute injury, like you have with the spinal cord injury, you go to the Shepherd Center and it’s a wonderful place. We can get you through that acute phase and we can get you to be as healthy as possible because you have an acute injury. The challenge that we have on our health care society whether we’re talking about diabetes, obesity, chronic pain, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, is that oftentimes these are chronic diseases of varying forms. Sometimes people are completely disabled, sometimes they are just very, very mildly disabled. But they are people who need help, they need services.
Need being the operative word. This isn’t a luxury that we’re looking for. This is necessity to continue being alive.
That’s correct. What’s interesting for me, and I like talking to you about this, because when I talked about chronic pain, we know the things that work for chronic pain. A lot of them are conservative therapies, like physical therapy, nutritional interventions, cognitive behavior therapy. They’re wonderful things for patients. But the truth is most insurance companies don’t cover them or cover them only very, very, very slightly. A new administration coming here without a really solid plan is obviously quite scary and alarming to a lot of people with a disability.
For sure. Insurance companies don’t cover most of it, and that is something that should be work on. Not a reason to blow up the system entirely because it’s not working the way that it should right now. My father was a criminal defense lawyer. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I had and have about as much white privileged as a person can have, and still the costs are prohibitive for me to do as much as I would want to do.
It’s true. It’s very expensive. What kind of things do you do right now for your health and your life? What kind of treatments do you work into your everyday care so to speak, or weekly, or monthly care?
Dealing with spinal cord injury, directly there’s so many things that go into it that a lot of people don’t even really know about. The basics are lack of feeling and lack of movement. Lack of movement contributes to muscle atrophy. Sitting down all the time, a sedentary lifestyle contributes to other health problems; bone density going down, problems with blood pressure, problems with heart regulation, temperature regulation, the list goes on.
One of the things, you can actually even see it behind me, I have a standing frame which is basically something that I am transferred into that stands me up and keeps me in proportion. It is actually difficult for me to handle it for more than about 45 minutes at a time. Sometimes even more than 20 minutes at a time because of blood pressure regulation. I do that, I try to do that a couple of times a week. Like I said, even then, unless I’m getting a friend or my wife to transfer me into that, I’m paying a personal care attendant or a physical therapist to come and help me do that.
I do weightlifting. I can strap weights to myself. I have a rowing machine that I row on to keep my heart rate up. These are just some of the things. You can see me moving around a little bit on the video. That’s because my back is killing me today. Chronic pain. I guess it’s considered chronic pain because it’s uncomfortable and it’s there most of the time. I actually deal with it with hypnosis, which sounds touchy feely and super California, but it really helps. If it gets really bad, very sparingly, I’ll take an oxycotin to deal with it.
The hypnosis by the way, there’s actually a lot of good evidence based research around some of that. Some forms of hypnosis actually work for varying types of conditions and actually chronic pain being one of them. Can you explain to us a little bit about how it works for you? What do you do? How did they take you through that?
One of my friends is a hypnotherapist. That’s how I learned this and learned to apply it. I actually learned hypnosis as it applies to acting, which is a whole other thing that I could gladly go into if this wasn’t a podcast with a doctor who deals with chronic pain. The idea is that hypnosis gets a bad rap because a lot of people think of it as something that takes you out of yourself and that you lose control and that the hypnotherapist is the one who has the control over you. It’s actually the opposite.
Hypnosis brings you into a state of deep relaxation and deep connection to yourself, to your thoughts and to your body. What deep relaxation does, essentially what it can do for me when I focus on my back and I focus on releasing my back and I use imagery to release it, whether it’s a balloon popping, a balloon rising into the air, or waves crashing through and soothing mist going through my body, whatever it is. What it allows me to do is connect to and release those parts of my body in a way that I can’t do just going about my daily life and thinking, “Oh, God, I wish I could get rid of this pain.” It doesn’t take long.
Hypnosis and some of the other types of therapies that are out there, one is called motor imagery which some of the clinicians on the podcast would be aware of. Basically, in your mind you are imagining yourself actually moving and. That’s been proven to work with people who have spinal cord injury, strokes, parts where the brain or nervous system has been damaged and is not going to repair itself. I think it’s great that you work in those, we’ll call them mind-body therapy. I really just think they’re really good brain training or brain retraining. You’re talking about having pain, but yet you have a spinal cord injury at C6, which is pretty high up. You don’t have a lot of feeling below, feeling or movement below. Where is your pain?
I’d say lumbar region. See, it’s weird because with the spinal cord injury you lose the feeling but unless it’s a totally complete injury, like a complete sever, which very rarely is it actually a totally complete injury. There is still sensation. I broke my neck here which means that, for all intents and purposes, the function that I have is my neck, my shoulders, it’s where the nerves go from that vertebra. My neck, my shoulders, my biceps, and my wrist. Not my triceps, so I can’t straighten my arm like straight up like that. Not my hands, not my finger. From there. But it’s not like I’m a floating head. I still have the sense of my body down there. It’s just that if I close my eyes and you tap my leg, I don’t know that you’re doing it. But I still have the sense of it. I still have some sense of my body going down to my back and hips. The only way that I sense it is when it’s in discomfort. Joys!
It’s part of the reason why I asked, is because it’s brilliant that you’re talking about this and your own personal awareness. Because when we talk about chronic pain, we talk about it being a problem actually in the brain and in your brain there’s actually a representation of your entire body that’s in there. Sometimes that representation becomes smudged or it’s not as perfect as it used it to be. That happens with anyone who’s had a chronic pain, whether you have chronic back pain, whether you have a spinal cord injury, whether you’ve had a stroke, whether you have fibromyalgia. It’s all the same. I love the point you’re making. It’s beautiful. It really helps people. Tell us about your motivational speaking, which I think is really great that you get out there and you talk to people.
The way that I do my motivational speaking, the different speeches that I give depends on the audience. Really, I’ll speak to anyone who’ll have me. Often I’ve done schools, elementary and middle school, high school, college. I’ll do events, corporate events, area specific events like a marketing seminar. I did one that was specifically for elder care attorneys in Dallas. It could be for any specialty, a group of accountants, a group doctors.
If I speak to the kids, especially elementary school, then the speech is usually about disability specifically, because kids don’t need to hear inspirational messages about how to overcome obstacles from me. What they need to hear from me is, “Hi, this is what disability is.” This is an introduction into the world of differences. I go through it specifically about disability. Reinforce the idea that disabled people are equally human to however they view themselves and their peers.
That goes through middle school. High school, they don’t necessarily need that anymore. They don’t need that introduction into the world of differences. They’ve got it. Then it becomes about inspiration and overcoming obstacles. What I like to do is I breakdown the idea of what inspiration means and what phrases, like overcoming obstacles or everything happens for a reason, is. If you get me going, I’m going to take up your whole hour. Do you mind if I just go on a little tangent and talk about those three things?
No, please do. I have a pretty relatively big following in the pain world. I had an email a couple of weeks ago and someone said, “This pain serves no purpose in my life and I hate when people tell me that pain has a purpose.”
Good, yeah, that’s the thing. Everything happens for a reason. That’s the thing. That pain is serving a purpose, it’s doing good for you. It’s okay if it isn’t. Everything happens for a reason is the thing that people fall back on. What they’re trying to do is make themselves feel better and make you feel better, and that’s fine. There’s no problem with that. No one ever says that out of malice. No one is ever being an asshole on purpose and saying, “Everything happens for a reason.”
What they’re not confronting with that is that things happen, and whether or not you believe there’s a reason for it, sometimes the reason isn’t necessarily good. Like people saying, “Oh, you broke your neck so that you could be an inspiration to others.” Wouldn’t it just be easier if no one broke their neck or if there was just a cure for spinal cord injury, like there’s a cure for a broken arm? Then no one has to deal with it. Isn’t that better?
The idea is that “everything happens for a reason” negates the honest assessment of the negative consequences of what did happen. Things happen. They’re not always good. The thing that happened to me was bad, unbalanced bad. Things happen. What you do afterwards is what creates meaning from it. That’s the reason. It’s an existential belief in the structure of the world, but the idea is that the world is as it is. Your circumstances are as they are. What you do with what happens is what facilitates our feeling of meaning in this world and that’s what drives us towards purpose.
That’s probably the most profound thing anyone has ever said on my podcast. I can tell you, I’ve had psychologists on who deal with people in pain or in disability. Pain and disability are really very similar. At times, you hear these things, “Embrace your pain. Embrace what’s happening to you.” The truth is I’ve never had a patient come into my clinic or in my office and say, “I’m so happy I have this pain because it’s made me such a better person.” They’re, “How do you get me out of pain?” Ultimately, they want to know, how do I get rid of this pain? They’re never saying, “I have this pain. Don’t worry, Dr. Joe. I find the meaning in it.” No one says that. Initially, they’re not happy.
If you do find meaning in it, that’s great. That’s what our lives are driven towards anyways. Man’s Search For Meaning, if you ever read that book, the Viktor Frankl book, the post Holocaust book. I didn’t come up with the phrase. That’s what we’re driven towards. An able bodied person with a $100 million trust fund is still driven towards a search for meaning and purpose in their life. They just don’t have to work as hard to build a safe structure for their well-being around it.
We have some comments, Zack. I want to share with you. Will Boyd says, “Zack, your story is so inspirational. Thank you for providing such a wonderful voice for the world to hear and learn from.” Dr. Nicole Beurkens who is actually a psychologist said, “Our perception determines our reality.”
Can I talk about the idea of inspiration really quickly?
I would love if you talk about inspiration.
Inspiration is one of my other things. Inspiration takes two forms. The way that we think about inspiration often leans towards the lesser of the forms. Here’s the two. The one is inspiration as a feeling, as a well of good feelings in the empathetic response to another person’s suffering, basically. I don’t mean that in a negative way while describing these feelings. The second way is inspiration that propels us towards action. The first one is the deep well of empathetic feelings in response to the suffering of another.
The second is a call to arms and a feeling of inspiration that propels us towards action I said one is the lesser of the two. I feel as though, not insignificant and not without its merits, but the lesser of the two is the one that is purely a sense of feeling and empathy. What I try to bring forward is that if you feel inspired, great. Take the time to explore the ways in which that inspiration can propel you towards positive action for yourself or for others in your life. That takes more time but it is ultimately the only thing that makes being an inspiration worth it.
Your journey through all this is obviously you’re inspiring people who have spinal cord injuries or disability. You’re talking about time obviously. How has it changed for you? Did it look different five years ago, and how is it today?
I don’t really do a lot of self-reflection in the way in which it’s morphed for me. That’s a good question. I’ve been injured for eleven and a half years. The way that it’s changed overtime is that I’ve grown less patient with the time that I need to spend with people getting my point across. Maybe that’s just been that I’ve developed more concise ways of getting my point across about those ideas of everything happens for a reason and inspiration.
Here’s a thing, the way that it’s changed is that what I’ve noticed is that there is no direct true line in life or in the way that we deal with obstacles, the idea of overcoming obstacles. Because you can overcome an obstacle if the obstacle is actually behind you and all that you have to deal with is the emotional baggage. I’m not discounting the emotional baggage that comes from traumatic experiences or from just very bad experiences. Not at all. But there is a difference with something chronic, like a spinal cord injury or a degenerative disease or a chronic a pain, is that you don’t overcome anything. You find the ways to factor it into your life and continue to move forward, continue being the operative word because things go in waves.
Over the eleven and a half years, I’ve had good months and bad months, good years and bad years in terms of my feeling and in terms of my success in how I handle it. I’m not clocking it, but I was a happier person in year four post injury than I was in year seven post injury as it related to my injury. Because it keeps going on, it’s even worse because you just think, “This is my life now. Can’t I get one break, like one day? Can I just get one day of not being quadriplegic?”
Some days, I actually don’t even think about it. That’s not true, I think about it every day. But some days, it doesn’t really enter my mind at all. Aside from the fact that I just need to go about doing what I need to do to get out to the grocery store or get to set to go film. Some days, all I want to do is just be in the corner quietly alone with my thoughts and be depressed. A lot of times on those days, I go into a corner alone with my thoughts and I’d be depressed. Because I honor what the authentic experience that I am having is.
I think what I found out overtime is that you can’t expect there to be a clear trajectory of a moon shot of good tidings once you find out how to deal with it. The dealing with it is in confronting it every day honestly and authentically and finding tools to allow yourself to minimize the bad ones and weave a fulfilled life in, in whatever ways you need fulfillment.
You have those ways to minimize your feeling of uncomfortable, whether emotional or psychological, you work those things into your life. Tell me about the reaction the disabled communities had toward you? You were the only one on television that really had a major role for a whole year.
In 2016, I guess I wasn’t the only one because there’s that show Speechless on ABC. It was a really good show by the way. Aside from the fact that I liked it because there’s a disabled character who’s one of the leads of the show, it’s actually really funny and accurate most of the time.
What has some of the response been from other disabled actors or just disabled people in general toward you taking a major role front and center on television?
Some of them are jealous. What can you do? That’s such a stupid thing to say. The disabled community in Hollywood is, aside from my glib response there, is actually extremely supportive of each other. We are well connected to each other. The shame is that it is a small community and it is a small community because the availability of roles in Hollywood and in the media for performers and talent on screen and behind the screen with disability is very low. The opportunities themselves are very low. A lot of the roles that are written for someone in the wheelchair often go to able bodied performers. There are arguments to be made one way or the other about how fair that is. I like to make it akin to black face because I think that it’s an appropriate analogy.
What I feel is that there’s a responsibility that are in media now has to increase the visibility and the perpetuation of positive stories for people with disabilities because our political leaders at the highest levels for at least the next four years are not going to do it. They are not going to contribute to the idea that people with disabilities are contributing and valuable members of society and their communities. Look down on Hollywood all you want, but they are the ones who are going to perpetuate that idea. It is our responsibility to amplify that idea. I’m doing the best I can to do that. 2% of the characters on television last year were disabled, 20% of Americans are disabled. I’m not making those numbers up. There’s a disconnect.
Yeah, it is a major disconnect. Do you go in for “able bodied characters” for acting gigs?
Honestly, not often. I have in the past. You mentioned the Criminal Minds thing that I did. The Criminal Minds role that I did wasn’t written for somebody with a spinal cord injury or a disability or a wheelchair. Just about all the others have. It’s tough to break out of that box. The idea is to try to force open a door that brings awareness to the people making decisions, that they need to include us one day or thinking about who to put in there.
I know a lot of you work with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation revolves around that. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how active are you in that? What kind of events do you attend? What’s the work centered around?
The work that I like to promote for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, when I was injured obviously I knew about the Christopher Reeve Foundation because he’s a pretty famous guy. He passed away a few years before I was injured. The Christopher Reeve Foundation provided me, just because I have spinal cord injury and they do that for anyone who reaches out to them. With the spinal cord injury, they provided me with a wealth of resources and support to me and my family when I was first injured. I would not have been as successful in putting my life together without that foundation’s resources, resourcefulness and willingness to help.
The Christopher Reeve Foundation focuses thankfully, in my opinion, focuses on two avenues. One is a cure, which would be stem cell research or epidural electrical stimulation to the spine to get people move and focuses on therapies that try to fix the injury. They put an equal amount of focus into care for people with spinal cord injuries. I think they’re focusing on both is really important because the idea of just curing it, first of all, isn’t going to happen fast enough and doesn’t do justice to the fact that people still have to live with it.
Focusing on the care, if anyone watching this know somebody or in the future hears about somebody who has a spinal cord injury, go to the Christopher Reeve Foundation. Ask them for help. They will help. Find the Paralysis Resource Guide. Everything that you need to start putting your life together in the most productive way can be found through that Paralysis Resource Guide. You can also find me. I’m not hard to find.
If you have one role that you’d love to play, what would that be?
Like a role that’s already been written?
I think the roles that have not been written or probably the more creative and interesting ones. Is there something or a story that you’d love to tell or certain role you’d love to play?
I have this thing that I am writing. But really, you’re asking an actor what role I’ll play. Cast me in something. For the love of God, cast me in something. I’ll play it. It’s funny. I don’t live my life as an actor wanting necessarily to be, I don’t do it for the purpose of trying to be the role model for people with disabilities. I’m an actor because I wanted to be an actor. I always did, the artistic streak in me. I am fascinated in the ways in which art explores what it is to be human. Acting is the way that I have found that to be most enjoyable, that I’m passionate about, that I connect too in a deep way when I see other people doing it and that I explore what it is to be human through the work that I do. That’s why I’m an actor.
The disability is something that I feel a responsibility for only in the sense that it is the truth of my life and I am confronted with the real world that if I end up being one that makes it, I don’t feel as though I can say that I’ve made it, but if I am then I do feel a responsibility to that community. What I would love to do is to make it with a role that shows somebody with a disability in a position of power, not necessarily like power-power, but in a position of personal power, position of stability and in a role where the story, it would be great in a perfect world, but the story is not necessarily centered around the character struggle with their disability. Because truth be told, the disability is a big part of my life but it’s not all my life, it’s not all I think about.
I’ll have a week where the biggest thing that I deal with is what movie my wife and I are going to see on Thursday. I have a nine week old son. I’m not consumed with the idea that I have a spinal cord injury. I’m consumed with the idea that I’m now responsible for raising a human being in this world, how to be the best father. Some of that includes how to deal with the challenges that a spinal cord injury is going to present as it applies to me being a father. But right now that’s my focus. My focus isn’t on dealing with the disability. If I was a lawyer, my focus would be on my client. Not with how I’m a disabled lawyer.
Tell us about your kid. You mentioned you have a brand new baby, which I think is awesome.
I do. His name is Theo. Nine weeks old or nine weeks and three days. He’s still so young and I’m literally counting the days.
Which is incredible, because I think a lot of people who don’t know about spinal cord injury don’t think you can have children. But you can actually, everything is working just fine and you can have children whether you’re male or female, which is awesome. These are always these theoretical questions. What would you leave people who have a chronic pain or chronic disease? You’ve mentioned already that it doesn’t consumed your life. I think that’s a really positive thing. What would you leave them with, if someone said to you, “I am a little bit scared about what’s going to happen the next one to four years with my health care, with my body or just in general because I don’t like the way the world is going, the direction.” What would you say to help them, make them feel better or quite frankly motivate them to be involved in change?
Here’s what I would say. It’s going to get worst and then it’s going to get better, then it’s going to get worst and it’s going to get better. That is the same for everyone. Yours is just really, really clear. And I’m sorry. But the way to deal with it, if you’re thinking about emotionally, the way to deal with it is to acknowledge it and to allow it to have its place. Allow yourself to feel the feelings. Allow yourself to feel sad when you feel sad. Allow yourself to feel angry when you feel angry. Allow yourself to feel happy when you feel happy. Don’t feel as though if you feel happy for a moment or a day or a week, don’t feel as though you are not paying service to your grief. Both things can be true. I think that’s the way that we learn to deal with it. That’s the way that we learn to put things in their proper place.
In terms of dealing with the actual physical or dealing with the actual pain, you have to humble yourself to the fact that you are going to be a person who needs to ask other people for help, that needs the help of other people. If you’re fine with it, then great. If you’re not fine with it, I’m sorry you’re not fine with it. I’m really am. I get it. You’re going to have to find a way to deal with that and continue to ask for help and seek out help.
It’s a great message because so many people, I think in our society there’s this thought that throughout your life, you’re raised as a kid, you get into high school. Throughout your life, you’re supposed to make yourself constantly stronger, you’re supposed to be constantly smarter and get healthier and have more wealth in life. Where the truth is, most of us go through something in life and there’s probably a point where we should stop and say, “I’m in a crappy place right now and I really need someone to help me.” Whether that’s a friend, whether that’s a physician or a physical therapist. Whoever it is, it’s okay to give yourself a moment’s grace and say, “I just need help right now at this point in my life.”
Did you see this thing on HBO called Every Brilliant Thing?
It’s this guy who did a one man show. It was just on like a week ago, two weeks ago, something like that. I watched it last Wednesday I think. It’s this guy who does this show, this actor did a show in New York, I believe, about dealing with his mother’s suicide attempts throughout his life. One of the best things I’ve ever seen. It was half theater, half motivational speaking almost, in a way. He says this thing at the end, it’s also in the promos, but I just thought it was so perfectly put. He says, I’m paraphrasing it which is going to annoy me, “If you go through your entire life without once getting depressed, you’re probably not paying attention.”
Yeah. But also, if you don’t find joy, then you’re not doing yourself any favors. What are you living for, if you don’t strive towards joy?
You have to work for joy. Just because I don’t have let’s say pain and depression in my life, doesn’t mean that joy is just going to pop itself in there without doing a little bit of work. Awesome.
That’s what we get for being human.
That’s right. Zack, it’s been great chatting with you today. You’re the first non-practitioner, non-clinician I’ve had on the Healing Pain Podcast. It’s great to get a different perspective from someone.
I’m happy to have been the dumbest person you’ve had in your podcast.
That’s not what I’m saying at all.
I know it’s not what you’re saying. That’s what I am saying.
No. It’s funny because I’ve done, I don’t know how many podcast episodes I’ve done now. Probably about 70 of them. I said to a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago. I’m like, “You know, I’m kind of sick of talking to practitioners.” I want to talk to real people who have pain or a chronic disease and have them tell us what they want. Have them tell us how they feel, what they really desire in our health care system. What they really desire from a practitioner. What they really desire from their friends and family.
I was online last night, talking to a bunch of physical therapists. One of the therapists said, “Show me the study on how, it’s about nutrition, on how nutrition affects people’s health and chronic pain.” I was like, look, you have a license, you know you can go to the website and find the study. There comes a point where you say, “I don’t care about the study so much, I care about people. I care about the person in front of me. I care about what they’re saying. I care about what they’re desires are. Not necessarily what a studies tells me.” On some level, that’s probably the quality of a seasoned practitioner, someone who has been studying for a long time.
There’s also a human element that at times we miss from our health care system and definitely from our political system. We’re supposed to have a democratic society where people’s vote counts and their voice counts. Sometimes I question, “What if that’s really true?” When I look at our health care system and I say, “We have so much chronic disease in our country and actually in the world, but mostly in the United States. Are we really listening to what people want? Are we really, really helping them?” I really probably would say, “Probably no.” It would be my response right now. Not fully, we’ve got some great acute care out there. We can help people if they broke their leg or had a stroke right now, today. As far as chronically, we have a long way to go to give them the support they need.
This is true.
I want to thank you for being on the podcast. To learn more about Zack, you can just go to his website www.ZackWeinstein.com. You can learn all about him there. Check him out. Tweet him. Say hello to him on Facebook. Zack, it’s been great being with you on the Healing Pain Podcast. We’ll talk to you soon.
Good to be with you too, Joe. Thank you so much for having me.
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