Sinéad shares a bit about how she’s coping with staying at home, and what working from home means for disabled people. Then, writer, comedian, and Just Between Us podcast host Allison Raskin joins Sinéad for a long conversation about anxiety and mental health.
[00:08] Sinéad Burke: Hello and welcome to As Me with Sinéad. This has been a really strange week. And as you might have imagined, I’m recording this from home, from my bedroom, actually. So welcome to the workspace. This week has been challenging, I think, for many of us. We’ve had to get used to working from new spaces. Or perhaps many of us lost our jobs and there is no work. But we’re the privileged few, right? Because we have the privilege of worrying about work or worrying about if it will exist after this moment calms. I’ve been so intrigued by so much of the commentary at the minute asking people to be selfless, not selfish in this moment. That even though you and I may be relatively young and healthy, this isn’t about us, because we could be carriers. We could infect the most vulnerable around us. So I’m staying in one place, entertaining my siblings and my family that they would question if it’s entertaining.
[01:08] Sinéad Burke: But this show will be here and constant because the ability to be able to record this in the comfort and safety of my own home is such a gift, genuinely. So we will continue to bring you interesting, provocative conversations to be a guide and a comfort and a support, particularly if you’re on your own at the minute. What have you been up to? What have you found time to do? I’ll let you into a secret. Two days ago, after the influence of my friend, I ordered tomato seeds, compostable pots and compost because I’ve decided that I am now going to develop an interest and an ability to garden and grow plants. I say this with you needing to understand that I have let cactuses die in my time. Do you know how much work cactuses take to keep alive? Very little. Almost none. And yet, I have decided that in this period I’m going to grow tomatoes, so I will keep you updated. But what have you been doing? What have you been up to to keep safe? What are your parents and siblings doing? Are they doing jigsaws like mine and quizzes and all sorts to really keep intimacy and connection in this time that in many ways rids us of both. I know it’s difficult to really get a sense of what day and month it is, but it’s still March, which means it’s still Women’s History Month, and it’s also time of a lot of anxiety. Me, myself throughout these strange days, I’ve had low moments where I’ve just wanted to wrap myself in a blanket and not talk to anybody. Which is why today I think it’s really important that you and we get to hear a lovely conversation with the podcaster, writer and comedian Allison Raskin. And we talk about anxiety.
[02:54] Allison Raskin: You get so caught up in this idea of who you are as a person that you think that you can’t change that. And I think that you really actively can. And so, you know, I was like, well, I’m uptight and like, turns out I’m not uptight. I just like have OCD and anxiety. And when I was unmedicated, that came off as uptight. In reality, I’m actually like a pretty easygoing person. And so all of these ideas that I had of myself and that I maybe didn’t love, I started to kind of like deconstruct and and fiddle with and see if I could move away from them and kind of get down to like the parts of me that I do like and letting that shine.
[03:34] The joy of this show was that even with just four questions being the pillars of every conversation, you never know how one individual guest is going to respond. I had no idea what the conversation between me and Allison would evolve into. And I’m so grateful to her for her sincerity and honesty. What I’m thinking about this week is the ways in which this moment, as challenging as it is, has created opportunities for accessibility that until now were said to be impossible. For such a long time disabled people have asked about the ability to work from home, or to Skype or Zoom into lectures. And we were told it was impossible, that the material just couldn’t be aggregated in that way. We’ve learned now that it isn’t impossible. We’ve learned that all we need is a majority to get on-board sometimes in order for these decisions to happen. So what I would love people to think about, and what I’m thinking about, is that when a sense of normality returns, even though we don’t know when that will be, how can we continue to include the learnings that we’ve undertaken during this period, particularly working from home, to ensure that access is something that includes everybody. Are you ready for this week’s episode? Let’s go!
[04:50] Sinéad Burke: On this week’s As Me with Sinéad, we have a writer and podcaster who I have admired for such a long time. She has this extraordinary way of making people laugh. I don’t just mean laugh because — not that it’s easy to do, but when you watch her content and when you read her work and listen to her podcast, you have no control over the way in which your body shakes with laughter. Sitting across from me is the extraordinary Allison Raskin. Allison, thank you so much for being part of the show.
[05:19] Allison Raskin: Thank you so much. Now I feel so much pressure to be funny.
[05:25] Sinéad Burke: Please don’t. This is the kind of show where you just get to be you. How do you describe yourself personally and professionally?
[05:31] Allison Raskin: That’s interesting. So I’ve done a lot of different stuff, but I always say that I’m a writer first. I went to school for screenwriting, and through that, I started doing improv and stand-up, and that’s kind of how I got more on camera. And so I’ve acted and I’ve YouTube-d, I’ve done all of the talent side, but in my soul, I’m a writer. And that’s all sort of just been a vehicle to get my writing out in the world.
[05:56] Sinéad Burke: Who are you as a person?
[06:01] Allison Raskin: Wow. I guess it’s weird to define myself in my relationships to other people, but I feel like I’m like a daughter and an aunt and a dog mom and a friend and a girlfriend. And so I try to prioritize those relationships as part of my identity.
[06:19] Sinéad Burke: And what are the qualities that make you good or successful at each of those relationships?
[06:26] Allison Raskin: I think I’m always a work in progress. I think it’s just really important to come from a place of kindness, where you have empathy in where you care and that the priority is not always you. I live 3,000 miles away from my parents and my sister and my nieces, and so that’s really hard, but I think I try to be in touch with my parents every day and let them know how much they mean to me.
[06:53] Allison Raskin: And so I think a really important part of all of those relationships is gratitude and letting them know what they mean to me and how appreciative I am that they’re in my life. Including my dog, I tell her all the time. She’s never said it back. But I’m holding out for it. I mean, it’s hard, I think, for a really, really long time, I identified as someone who was unhappy. Like as someone who was mentally ill and couldn’t get what she wanted and was anxious and always wanting to change and be different. And now, I mean, I’m not super settled in my career, but I feel like in my personality I have become someone I like. That has been a huge, welcome change to be like someone that I’m proud to be. I think it’s what I was always striving for and it’s exciting to kind of be on the cusp of that.
[07:48] Sinéad Burke: And would you be comfortable talking about the catalyst and that kind of change of perspective?
[07:53] Allison Raskin: I mean, I’m someone who I think you have to do a lot of self-work. I started therapy at age four. So it was never like, “oh, I’m the best!” It was always like, “I have got to work on me.” And so I kind of always sort of identify things about myself that I don’t like or that I think I can work on and I also get professional help. You know, I’m in therapy. I’m on medication. I read this book when I was probably 23, and it was about not letting things affect you, letting things pass through you. And like just acknowledging feelings but not letting them weigh you down. And also a really, really big thing in that was that you have a concept of who you are, but that’s just not true. You get so caught up in this idea of who you are as a person that you think that you can’t change that. And I think that you really actively can. And so, you know, I was like, well, I’m uptight and like, turns out I’m not uptight. I just like I have OCD and anxiety, and when I was unmedicated, that came off as uptight. In reality, I’m actually like a pretty easygoing person. And so all of these ideas that I had of myself and that I maybe didn’t love, I started to kind of deconstruct and and fiddle with and see if I could move away from them. And kind of get down to like the parts of me that I do like and letting that shine.
[09:20] Sinéad Burke: It’s interesting to me that already we’ve talked about the relationships that you have with other people. And how it’s important to you that you prioritize those people and put them first, which is almost a contrast to the work that we need to do on ourselves and focusing on ourselves and prioritizing ourselves. How do you manage that juxtaposition?
[09:40] Allison Raskin: I definitely prioritize myself a lot more than I used to. So I went back on meds and I was like — after a breakup in 2017. And since then, I feel like a different human. And I definitely put myself first in a lot of ways. Part of it is also prioritizing all the people in my life. So, you know, I don’t have tons of friends. I have like some friends. And it’s been interesting since being in like a serious relationship now where I’m like, OK, so he’s my priority. He comes above my friends and maybe that’s wrong, but also, I don’t think that it is. In my body it feels right. Like I feel like, oh, this person is here long-term, and, obviously, I hope that my friends are, too. But there’s evidence to suggest that not all friendships last forever. And so I have a certain amount of energy, and then I give it out kind of in priority. So my parents get a lot of that, he gets a lot of that, my dog gets a lot of that. And then I give out the rest to friends when I can. And I don’t overextend. And I think that’s a big part of, like, self-care.
[10:50] Sinéad Burke: From my perspective, sitting across from you, it sounds like you have the art of setting boundaries and adhering to them, well constructed and executed, which is something that I am terrible at. So teach me. Yes. Teach me your ways.
[11:03] Allison Raskin: Oh. Well, one of the best things I’ve ever done is I’ve set up that I’m someone who goes to bed early. And so I don’t go out that much. And so it’s become this thing where like if I go out, like I go to a friend’s party that starts it at nine, it’s already just amazing that I showed up. So I can leave after an hour without anyone getting offended because I’ve set up this thing where it’s like, well, that’s what I do. It has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with the specific party. This is my lifestyle. And so I think letting people know what my lifestyle is pretty early on has helped a lot with boundaries. I also, you know, I’ve made some tough decisions with certain friends where I’m like, you know, is this person a positive influence on my life or they’re negative influence or are they neutral? I kind of only really want positive people in my life. And so I am willing to lose people that I don’t see adding value to my life, which is a tough thing to do. I don’t always necessarily do it gracefully.
[12:02] Sinéad Burke: What’s that conversation?
[12:08] Allison Raskin: It’s not always a conversation. Therein lies the flaw. You know, I think that I’m ready to have the conversation if I have to, but I think that like a piece of shit —
[12:16] Sinéad Burke: You just do an ‘Irish goodbye’ on friendships. You just leave. “Like, has anybody heard from Alison?” “No, I think she’s in bed.” I have a friend who is like that. Every night, like clockwork, is in bed by 10:30. And as somebody who works across different time zones, I respect it so deeply. So she gets a text me about 10:25, usually most nights or every second night, if I have something to tell her and I’ve just looked at time. I’m like “Ah! She’s gonna be in bed in four minutes. I must get to her immediately.” And I need to be better at that.
[12:45] Allison Raskin: Yeah. I mean, it’s figuring out what works for you. You know, like for some people, like a very strict schedule helps their mental health. And for some people, they need more freedom. It’s like really kind of figuring out, you know, what’s working. And I think also, like, you know, you say like you need to work on boundaries, but also like, you know, your life seems to be flourishing. And you seem to be like moving forward and doing all of these amazing, interesting things. And so maybe the way that you have things set up isn’t so bad. [
[13:12] Sinéad Burke: But I think as people, and as women perhaps, in the era of the Internet, there is always an expectation that you perform the flourishment. And I think as individuals, distancing yourself from the Internet and making sure that you are minding you, away from the personal branding exercise, is really important and something that I definitely need reminding of.
[13:32] Allison Raskin: Yes, I’m going through a very tough time right now because I don’t necessarily see a future for myself in this industry. It’s not like I — and for the last few years I’ve had like a project lined up. So even if I was waiting to hear back about things, I was like at least I have this to work on. And I’m coming to a point where pretty soon if something else doesn’t get sold or approved, I don’t have anything else. And so that’s like where my anxiety is, like, out of control, where I’m like, I’m the most anxious when I’m idle, when I don’t have anything to do. And also I start to freak out. I’m freaking out about money. I’m freaking about my career, my future. Like, what does that look like? I’m trying to figure out, OK, do I go and get a totally new career? Or how do I not have to go back to school, but somehow I still have an income.
[14:21] Allison Raskin: And so a big thing for me is separating my self-worth from my career. Because I think that like for years, that was how I take so much pride in the things that I’ve done and that, you know, I did have like a good run of being relatively successful. And so to now face this time of uncertainty, where it’s like my brand is in a way failing, you know, like my Instagram numbers are down. We stopped doing YouTube because people stopped watching it. It’s how do I separate Allison, the person from Alison, the brand. Which is, you know, what you’re talking about. And I think those relationships to those other people in my life and the rest of my life is sort of how I do that.
[15:06] Sinéad Burke: And when you’re trying to exit the spiral of anxiety and uncertainty, what’s the monologue in your head?
[15:15] Allison Raskin: You never know what will happen. That life — a big thing I’ve been telling myself recently is that life is long. You know, like my dad was an accountant before he was a lawyer. I have never known him to be an accountant. He was always a lawyer, you know. But he had this entire other career. And sometimes I’m like, will I be like 50 and my kids will be like, Mom, it’s so weird that you used to be a writer.
[15:40] Sinéad Burke: And now you’re an astronaut.
[15:40] Allison Raskin: Exactly. Actually, I really don’t care about space. I’m like, OK, my life now is so different than my life five years from now. A big thing I do in my anxiety is the fortune-telling, right? And so my fortune-telling wants to say, “you’re a piece of shit. You’re never gonna get another job. You’re never going to have an income. You’re gonna have to end up doing some day job that you hate. Like if you could even get a day job, you probably won’t.” You know, like that’s the spiral. Then the way out of it is like you have no idea what’s going to happen. You have no idea what opportunities are going to come your way. You have to be open to things. This idea you had for your life is great and good, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be your idea forever. And just kind of being open to things, but also checking in with myself and being like at this stage right now, I’m not ready to give it all up, but maybe in six months I am. And you know what? That’s OK.
[16:36] Allison Raskin: And continually questioning what fulfills you. And if you don’t feel fulfilled in the moment and at this moment, and if that’s with a portion of work that’s much more small and marginal than what you’ve been used to, but if it’s still driving you. I mean, you said at the beginning of this that you’ve always wanted to be a writer. And if that’s writing a caption on Instagram, which has value and is important and is communicating, then I think it’s important to just as you said, check in with yourself and feel fulfilled.
[17:05] Allison Raskin: Especially in this age of social media, it’s like all about numbers. And like, how many people is someone getting their eyes on? And so, you know, I did this scripted comedic soap opera podcast called Gossip last year, and it didn’t get renewed. And so in my head, I was like, oh, OK, that was a failure because it didn’t get enough listeners. And they said, we don’t like this, so we’re canceling it. But then I meet fans and I get tweets and like that show brought people joy. Not enough people for it to get a Season 2, but like there are people tweeting me saying they’ve listened to it like three or four times and that they love it. And I have to remember that it’s not all about quantity. And that if my content is giving some people like quality, then that’s important, too.
[17:52] Sinéad Burke: And if you had to ask yourself at the very beginning of setting up that series, what would success look like for you, I imagine it’s similar to this show that you want people to feel moved by it or connected to it in some way.
[18:04] Allison Raskin: Yes. I think that the biggest thing that always moves me is when people say that I helped them come to terms with their mental health. And that helped them get help. And that they either went to therapy or or started medication because they realized that that’s something they really need to prioritize. And also the work I kind of do to destigmatize all of that and that they’ve become more comfortable with that part of themselves. Then I’m like, OK, so if tomorrow I stop creating and I go work in an office, I have at least impacted this person’s life in a powerful way. And so I feel like regardless of what my future is like, my life has had meaning, which is like really a wonderful thing.
[18:43] Sinéad Burke: Can you imagine being you at four years old, going into therapy and somebody coming to you and saying, “you’ve saved somebody. You’re going to help somebody get professional help for something that they need. That’s going to be your job.” That’s extraordinary, Allison.
[18:58] Sinéad Burke: My God, I’m gonna cry. Yeah, I mean, that’s a thing, right? It’s all about your mindset. That’s something my mom always says. It’s all about how you pitch it, how you sell yourself. So then when I go home and I sit in my apartment this afternoon and I’m like, “I have nothing to do. Oh, God, what’s my life?” You know, I can also pitch to someone how I have two books. I’m a New York Times best seller. I’ve sold TV shows, I’ve sold a movie. I’ve, you know, like it’s rationalizing what you said, like that brand that we all have to portray yourself versus like the day-to-day. And I really struggle with the day-to-day because it’s not as filled as I would like it to be.
[19:36] Sinéad Burke: But that’s why having such good friends and this support network of positivity is so important because it just stops the overthinking. And I’m a Virgo, so I overthink every detail of my day, which is sometimes difficult. But surrounding yourself with love, as trite as that sense is so very, very important. Thankfully, we’re beginning to live in a world where there is less shame surrounded by the discussion of mental health. But you’ve been talking about this subject and your experience in a public way for so long. When did you first realize that you wanted to or had the courage to talk about these things and be so publicly vulnerable about it?
[20:19] Allison Raskin: I think that it never occurred to me not to talk about it. Like it was always a part of me. I remember like my dad being like, you know, you shouldn’t tell people that you have OCD. It could affect your career. And I was like, instead, I’ll make it my career. And so, you know, I started my YouTube channel with Gaby Dunn in 2014 and that same year worked for BuzzFeed for a little bit and that’s when I got my platform. And kind of from day one, I was like, here we go. This is me. This is what I’ve experienced. And I think that seeing the feedback only made me want to do it more and more and more. Because it was a lot of like, I never see this. People don’t talk about this, it helped me. And I think part of it also was going to film school and having them say, “write what you know.” You know, like I write personal things. I pull from my own life. I wish I had the mental capacity to write sci-fi, but I haven’t gone there yet.
[21:15] Sinéad Burke: Life is long, right?
[21:19] Allison Raskin: Exactly. That’s where I’ll reinvent myself. It came easily to me. And I think that it’s an interesting thing for people to be like, oh, you’re so brave to do that, because it wasn’t something that was hard for me. And I think that other things that I’ve done have involved more bravery, because for whatever reason, that’s harder for me. But I’ve been lucky in that talking about that always just seemed like, yeah, of course.
[21:41] Allison Raskin: And has there always been openness in responding to the work that you’re doing that is so personal, particularly in topics like mental health?
[21:50] Sinéad Burke: I think it encourages other people to be more open, which is what I want. You know, I think that there’s, like you said, so much shame around it. And I also think that there’s this belief that it defines you, and that it means that you’re set up for a certain type of life. And so I think that it’s been nice for that not to be the case for me personally, that I’ve been able to have a life that I thought I couldn’t have. Like I never thought that I would have a normal life. And I think that that’s honestly part of why I’m now open to a different future than I was before, because I thought that I could never have the family life. I thought I could never have like the personal life. And so I would have to have the career. You know, I was like, I can’t maintain. I’m not going to find a husband. I can’t maintain that. I’m destined to sort of be alone and be a pain. You know, and now that I’m like, oh, I see a future where I do have that family, the need to like be super successful has sort of abated. It’d be wonderful, but it’s like not my only outlet anymore, which is exciting.
[22:54] Sinéad Burke: It’s kind of an extraordinary revelation. How long ago did you come to it?
[22:59] Allison Raskin: Within the last few months. Again, like I saw myself as a writer in the entertainment industry and that’s who I was. And now I’m much more open to like who knows who I am? If anyone has any ideas or suggestions.
[27:08] Sinéad Burke: What’s it like to live in your body now?
[27:13] Allison Raskin: So much better. It was horrible before. I mean, I was just afraid of everything. My OCD is very cleanliness based. And so like an example I give all the time is like I love animals, I’ve loved dogs, I have my dog on my lap right now. And before I got her, I could not pet dogs on the street because they were dirty. You would think that I didn’t like animals because I wasn’t interacting with them because I couldn’t handle it. And that brought me such sadness because that’s not who I wanted to be. And that didn’t feel like who I truly was. But this thing was what’s holding me back. And so like three and a half years ago, I got my dog as like a companion, but also in a big way as exposure therapy and behavioral therapy. And now I have her on my lap. I haven’t cleaned her paws off. And I talk to every dog there is. I pet all dogs. I let dogs jump all over me, you know, and like, that seems like, oh, such an easy thing. But like in the past, like you said, in my body, it would tighten up. Like I would freak out. And then it was like, when can I wash my hands? When can I wash my hands? When can I change? When can I shower? And so to move through the world with more freedom has been such a gift. And to let my mind kind of not obsess about those things as much, you know, like I’m still always tracking stuff. And I’m much more aware of cleanliness, I’m sure, than a lot of other people. But it is no longer preventing me that much from doing what I want to do.
[28:49] Sinéad Burke: And what’s been the best dog-on-the-street moment?
[28:54] Allison Raskin: So there’s a dog in my building named Gilmore. It’s like a golden retriever puppy. And so we bumped into him on a walk and he, like, lay down on the floor because some beta dogs do that. And he started like making this sound as I was petting him. And his owner was like, “oh, he must really like you.” And I was like, “oh, he doesn’t make this sound for everyone?” And he was like, no. And that was thrilling. I like immediately told anyone who would listen. I’m glad it’s now going in public record.
[29:46] Sinéad Burke: What gives you hope?
[29:48] Allison Raskin: I think what gives me hope is how far I’ve come. I think that I’m, like I said, not restrained as much anymore. And that things can change so much. And that I can continue to become someone who I like and respect and want to be and feel comfortable with. The work is never done. So hopefully with more work can come, you know, more happiness and more opportunities.
[30:10] Sinéad Burke: And work in different ways and a different feel. And I’m conscious that, you know — my parents founded Little People of Ireland. And it’s the organization for people with restricted growth funnily enough, in Ireland. And one of our focuses is not just on little people, but it’s on the parents and the siblings and the friends of little people. Because often they are affected or transformed or changed by whatever challenges their child may face as their child. But I think often there is a tension with not knowing, not necessarily how to help, but how to be there in the best possible way. If you were to give people advice as to what to do in that situation — so not necessarily the people who perhaps have OCD or mental health challenges and are currently going through a difficult period, but those who are their loved ones around them. What would you say?
[31:10] Allison Raskin: I think it’s important to feel like you’re not going anywhere. That some aspect of it is unconditional and that you’re there and like that you’re a place of safety. And that you’re someone who that person can always come to and that, you know, you might not always say the right thing, and you might not, you know, always respond in the right way, or offer the right type of care, but that your intentions are good. And that your intention is that you’re there for the long run. That together you can get through things.
[31:42] Sinéad Burke: And to the kid who’s in high school, dreams of being a writer, wants to change the world and humanity all at the same time. And they are an admirer of this extraordinary writer, Allison Raskin. What do you tell them?
[31:59] Allison Raskin: You just have to write, even though writing is horrible. I hate writing. I don’t find it fun. I find it torturous. But I think you’ve got to just keep doing it. And nothing is ever perfect. And a big part of it is just being confident enough to say, I’m done. And not keep going. You know, like it’s much better to to be done than to have it be marginally better three years later.
[32:29] Sinéad Burke: How do you know when you’re done?
[32:30] Allison Raskin: I think that’s having confidence in yourself and in the story. And also, I honestly think that a big part of why I’ve been able to do as many projects as I’ve done is because I don’t think that I’m the best. Like, I don’t think that my work is, like, extraordinary. I think that my work is good enough, you know, and like, I can get to a place where I’m like, oh, this is good enough. And then you turn it in. But I think if you put this pressure on yourself to be the best, to change the world with this specific script, to know that this project will catapult you into a level of fame you could never imagine, that’s where you get in trouble, because then it’s never good enough, and it’s never done. But when you’re like, will someone read this and think, oh, pretty good? Then you can more easily get to that place and turn the project in.
[33:21] Sinéad Burke: You’re giving me a whole new perspective on my podcast. Here was me thinking I was gonna change the world. I just need it to be good enough. What do you want to happen next?
[33:32] Allison Raskin: I want to keep working. I want to sell something. I’m pitching a book on dating with mental illness and I want someone to buy it. So far, no one has. But I would love to work on that project. I’m probably going to have to redo the book proposal and go out with it again. And, you know, it’s redefining that is like, OK, not a huge failure, but an ongoing project that in 10 years, if it ever comes out, I can say, well, you wouldn’t believe the story of how much work it took. And not give up on it. I just want good news. I want that call for my manager that’s actually good news. Not the hope of good news or the possibility of good news.
[34:16] Sinéad Burke: Just solid good news. That’s just enough. Doesn’t have to be changing-the-world good news, but just good enough. Why do you think a topic like dating and mental health is not something that people are running towards?
[34:33] Allison Raskin: I think that people are responding to the concept of the book, but they’re not responding to the fact that it’s mostly memoir. Like they want it to be more of a self-help book. But I have always given my advice through the lens of my own experience. And so it would feel false to me to be like, “and follow these steps as I sit on my high castle and judge you.” It’s more like, here’s what I went through and here’s what I learned from this. And I think that people are not responding to that way of writing about it.
[35:02] Sinéad Burke: Well, because there’s an authenticity without sensationalism. When people meet me, particularly journalists, one of the first questions I often get asked is “what do you say to a guy at a bar?” I’m like why? And they’re just intrigued because they don’t know anybody who’s disabled who dates or has any sort of personal or intimate life. And because we don’t know about it, there’s almost this assumption that it doesn’t exist. Or if it does, they need to know every detail.
[35:36] Allison Raskin: What do you say when they ask you that?
[35:38] Sinéad Burke: I say, “what do you say to a guy at a bar? We both speak English, it’s probably similar. The same lines we’ve been using for decades. Hint: they don’t work.” But there’s this kind of sensationalism to it that people expected to either be beyond their wildest dreams or that it doesn’t exist. That disabled people, be it physical disability, be it mental health, be it a learning disability, that they kind of just exist within one state. Because, again, going back to our discussion earlier, only one type of story gets told. And I think the work that you’re doing is changing that beyond measure.
[36:16] Allison Raskin: I’m just going to call you up every day for a pep talk.
[36:20] Sinéad Burke: Allison, it has been such a treat talking to you today. I have genuinely learned so much. And as somebody who talks about parts of my life very publicly, but not all of it, you have definitely given me the confidence and the courage to share particularly the hardest parts.
[36:38] Allison Raskin: Thank you so much. And I’m so excited for you and this podcast. And I think that the world is very ready for it and will be better for it.
[36:51] Sinéad Burke: I’ve had a privileged and gifted position that with every conversation I have on this show, I learned something. And from Allison, I learned about the importance of being truthful that how we are. I don’t know about you, but whether it’s through text or in person or phone conversations, I ask people, how are you all the time. And often probably don’t even wait for a response. Or if people ask me how I am, I just respond with grand. Fine. Good. Yep. Great. How often do we take moments to actually answer that question truthfully? I’m really not sure. Allison’s vulnerability in this episode has changed me, and has made me want to be more vulnerable, and to not protect myself as much. So that’s what I’m going to try to do this week. Send your thoughts and nondenominational prayers to my family. Next week we have the hilarious Iranian-American comedian Negin Farsad on the show. She talks about parenting and being funny in a time of immense xenophobia. I know it’s not where I thought we’d go either, but it is a great conversation.
[37:55] Negin Farsad: In terms of comedy, I mean, I’ve just been — it continues to make me really concerned about the state of politics and really concerned about the policies we’re enacting. I think it helps me. I did a video once for a moveon.org where we were trying to test the logical limits of the Muslim ban. And we said, OK, so if you want to ban Muslims, you’re going to have to know who the Muslims are. So I went out onto the streets of New York and I did a faith-based test where I asked people like, are you Muslim? And if they said no, I would say, prove it. And they would have to eat from a cold pile of bacon in order to prove that they weren’t not Muslim. And if they didn’t eat the bacon, then I made them sign a Muslim registry, of course, which by the way, I have it at home, If anybody needs a list of Muslims.
[38:40] Sinéad Burke: This week’s person you should know — it feels trite in this moment to call out one individual. But I think as we progress through this moment in this pandemic, the people we should all know are those who are ensuring that we are safe. Not just those who are on the frontline working in hospitals, or the a GPs diagnosing us over the phone, but perhaps even more so, the person who is on the till at the supermarket, who is ensuring that you get the produce and the goods that you need to make sure that you are healthy and safe. In Europe, we’re becoming increasingly closer to models like Italy and Spain, where the only places that are open are supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals. And I think it’s those individual people perhaps even getting out of bed for minimum wage, putting their health at risk to ensure that they are playing a part in helping us all keep safe and well and recover in this really difficult time. So those are the people that we should all know, maybe ask them their name. Leave a couple of extra cents when you’re finishing your shopping. Or make sure that the next time that they’re fighting for a pay rise, that you stand with them because the world is going to be different after this moment finishes. And it is possibly those people who’ll be out of a job first. Please let us know what you thought of this week’s episode of As Me with Sinéad. Please keep safe, and stay home from the pub, and keep your heart and head sane and healthy.
[40:09] Sinéad Burke: As Me with Sinéad is a Lemonada Media original and is executive produced by Jessica Cordova Kramer. Assistant produced by Claire Jones and edited by Ivan Kuraev. Music is by Jerome Rankin. Our sales and distribution partner is Westwood One. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard, don’t be shy. Tell your friends or listen and subscribe on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you like to listen, and rate and review as well. To continue the conversation, find me on Instagram and Twitter @thesineadburke and find Lemonada Media on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @LemonadaMedia.