Q&A: Harry Krinsky Discusses Mental Health
Harry Krinsky, is a 26 year old host and podcast producer living in Brooklyn, NY. Harry is the managing producer of a podcast called Spinsters. He also produces Pod Don’t Lie with Sam and Stav. Harry just wrapped up his first season of his own podcast "Print Is Dead". I met Harry around 2015 when he was in undergrad at the University of Michigan with my brother. We were both very excited to get the chance to catch up and talk mental health.
Q: When were you first introduced to mental health?
A: I think I was probably 11 or 12 years old when I first learned mental health was even a thing. I remember I went to the doctor because I was having stomach pains and the doctor said that it was likely caused by anxiety. I have a very vivid memory of getting extremely worked up and embarrassed when my parents suggested I should go see a therapist. It's wild to me that even at 11, I had absorbed a stigma against mental health. I’m grateful now that I am no longer embarrassed by the fact that I see a therapist.
Q: What is something you wish you know when you were younger about mental health?
A: Something that I am still slowly learning is how much external forces can affect my mental health. I mean that both on a micro level and a macro level. Everything from the amount of water I’ve had in a day, to the amount of structure my job affords me, effects my mental health. When I was younger, I would blame myself when I was having a bad mental health day, week, or month. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to see the external factors that contribute to my stress. I think it unlocks some self-compassion in me, which I find really valuable.
Q: Where do you find security in your mental health? (Movies, music, podcast, books?)
A: For me, there are two things that come to mind. The first is routine. When I am in a good routine, whether it be with working out, or waking up at the same time, or even watching TV at the same time every night, that really helps ground me. When I don’t have a good routine, I get overwhelmed with all the things I have to do, or all the options I have in front of me. Something my therapist taught me which helps is the practice of making extremely small and unambitious ‘to do’ lists. When I am in a rut and am having trouble getting into a routine, I’ll set a to do list of three very basic things like “take a shower, brush teeth, open computer” and then three slightly more involved things like “respond to one email, work for 5 minutes, go on a 15 minute walk.” This practice helps me build momentum and jump back into a routine when I find myself having trouble motivating.
The second place I find security is in talking to my friends and family about what’s on my mind. I honestly don’t do this enough, and whenever I do, I’m always like “wow I really gotta do this more often!” I find it very therapeutic to just talk out what what’s on my mind, even if I don’t arrive at a solution. There is something about vocalizing it to another person that activates a different part of my brain. It also helps me feel less alone with my mental health struggles.
Q: How do you balance your work life and social life with allowing time to practice mental health?
A: The big thing for me is finding the mental health practices that work for me. For example, I’ve never been able to get a lot out of meditating, but I do really get a lot out of long walks. For a while I was focused on the idea that I had to meditate to be mindful, but now I feel more like there are all kinds of practices that can lead to mindfulness. Another example is journaling. I have never liked to journal all the much, but I did like drawing diagrams of my thoughts. So, once I started to draw diagrams instead of writing my words down in like a linear way, I found it easier to journal.
Another big step for me was opening up to my friends about my mental health. It can be very exhausting to pretend to be “ok” when you really are feeling depressed or anxious. The more I can vocalize to my friends that I am not feeling well, the less I feel like I have to perform, which always makes things feel a little better or me.
Q: You have always been very honest and open about mental health on your social media, is this something that has helped you grow more as an individual?
A: Honestly, I struggle with how much to post about mental health on social media. On one hand, I do think it can be a great way to do my part in destigmatizing mental health. In the last few years I’ve seen more and more people speak openly about their mental health, and my hope is that it has the effect of making people feel less alone, and more comfortable talking about their own mental health struggles. On the other hand, I am very dubious of social media. People much smarter than me have written expensively about the way social media can lead to misrepresentations of the truth (like Jia Tolentino in this essay), and the idea of that happening with conversations around mental health discourse makes me very nervous. Social media has a way of removing the nuance from conversations (Lebron James is either good, or he sucks) and mental health conversations require lots of nuance and lots of complexity. This is all to say that surely there is some good in talking about mental health on social media, but I try to do so very thoughtfully.
Q: What is some advice you would give someone who is struggling with their mental health?
A: One of the hardest parts when you are struggling with mental health is letting people in. We have such an aversion to coming off as weak or afraid. I think perhaps this is especially true for young men. My advice for navigating this is starting very small. Even something as small as telling a friend you are having a bad day can open the door for a longer conversation, or lay the ground work for another conversation down the line.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? / do you have a mantra you live by?
A: Something that really clicked for me was when my therapist said that the phrase “easy come, easy go” applies to mental health solutions. I often get very impatient with my mental health journey and its helpful reminder that building a solid foundation for a healthy mind takes a long time, and if there were a solution for anxiety that could work overnight, it could just as easily unravel overnight. This idea helps me be more patient, and more committed to the slow, methodical and non-linear process of living a happy and fulfilling life with mental health struggles.