Thorald Koren discusses how we celebrate torment and how a shooting star changed his life

8 min read

"That was the celebration, how she was in the midst of a train wreck."

Thorald Koren has toured with the likes of Coldplay, Bon Jovi, P!nk and Rod Stewart. He's lived the rockstar life, singing in front of thousands and at the same time he was dealing with the bizarre and intrusive world of OCD.

Koren joined Mitch Wallis on REAL Talk to chat about his experiences with OCD and how a shooting star of all things was something that changed the trajectory of his life forever.

Mitch shares a story about how Koren helped him eat a drawing of the devil to overcome his fear of being possessed and Koren delves into the lives of celebrities and how it's celebrated to be tormented. 

"They get put under a tremendous amount of pressure to act normal, to keep up with their appearances to perform to present how great it is to be them. 

"[There's] Such demand to keep up appearances even for someone who has their mental health, that with someone who is struggling with their mental health it becomes such a big gap and it becomes more and more isolating. 

"I already felt alienated and isolated enough. 

"We celebrate when an actor or lead singer is tormented, it makes great art. That torment can be expressed through art but when we celebrate someone as tormented it's like we're watching a fiction film of a character. I even experienced that myself that somewhere I loved to express how tormented I was and I had fans that loved how tormented I was. It wasn't that anyone had ill intentions it was just that it was cool to be tormented. I really got to witness that quite closely to the Amy Winehouse rise. 

"I remember the rumours... "you've got to go to an Amy Winehouse show and see how effed up she is" that was the celebration, how she was in the midst of a train wreck."

Listen to more of Thorald Koren's discussion with Mitch on REAL Talk via the Nova app (download via the App Store or Google Play) or wherever you get your podcasts. Or, listen through the podcast player below:

Dr. Dan Siegel joined Mitch Wallis on REAL Talk to chat about what it means to have a different perspective on mental illness and how much power we have in using our own mind.

Siegel has a medical degree from Harvard University and completed a post-graduate at UCLA where he is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry. 

The podcast starts with Siegel's concepts on how we can help awaken and have the capacity to change our minds. He breaks down incredibly complicated things into concepts that people can grasp and then apply them to their everyday life. 

"Human beings are complex systems and one of the features of a complex system is that it has something called emergent properties. Of these emergent properties (where the elements interact with each other and gives rise to something), one of the emergent properties is self organisation so the proposal is that the mind may be some emergent property of energy flow, somethings that energy is a symbol of something else..."

Relationships also come up and how they have an impact on our mind:

"I would urge people to think that when you say relationship it is with other people and it's mirrored in the relationship we have with ourselves as well."

Siegel talks so humbly and hopefully on our ability to live a happy and healthy life and it's definitely a must listen.

Listen to more of Dr. Dan Siegel's discussion with Mitch on REAL Talk via the Nova app (download via the App Store or Google Play) or wherever you get your podcasts. Or, listen through the podcast player above.

Ruby Wax is well known as a comedian, actress, script supervisor (Absolutely Fabulous) and - claps all around here - a mental health campaigner with an Officer of the Most Excellent Order (OBE) in the Special Honours for Services to Mental Health.

We spoke to Ruby as part of the REAL Talk podcast where we're committed to breaking the stereotypes and stigma surrounding mental health. Thankfully, so is Ruby.

A vet in the comedy game, Ruby is unabashed in her jokes, her interviewing and her, well... everything. 

Ruby has spoken out (and ‘joked out’) about her own depression and mental health challenges and has been hospitalised as an ongoing in-patient. A lot of her recent work has focused on these parts of her life but Ruby wasn't always this open about her mental health.

In fact, it was an unapproved poster for an upcoming comedy show that took things to a whole other level:

"1 in 4 people have mental illness, 1 in 5 have dandruff... I have both. And they didn't ask me. I was mortified," she explained.

"That's when I thought, 'I'll write a show'."

"I never would have told anybody that I had a mental illness but the posters were up so I wrote a show, I performed it in mental insitutions for the next two years... free."

She then decided to move the whole thing into other environments and expanding her work (including Black Dog Tribe) and before she knew it, mental health advocacy became her mission. All, “by accident”. 

And boy are we ever glad.

We won't spoil the whole episode for you, so listen below for more Ruby Wax realness.

Miss Universe Australia Francesca Hung joined Mitch Wallis on REAL Talk and revealed that despite seeming to have it all, she couldn't help that she had moments of feeling quite "down or sad" and felt bad about having those feelings when there are people who have 'more reason' to be feeling that way.

"I'm in a really good place at the moment... and I have learned ways to deal with my emotions and or if I'm feeling stressed. And I kind of know my triggers now after years of not understanding. And so I know if I need to take a step back or take a day off work and I ask for that now."

"I never really understood the idea of depression and I didn't really know that that was what I was feeling. I just remember straight after school, went straight into uni kind of just focused on my future... My parents are high achievers and I kind of had that pressure on me and I really wanted to impress them and I think that really got to me. I didn't even want to get up for uni, I didn't want to get out of bed and I just wanted to sleep all day and I had no motivation to do anything with my life."

"I never acted on any suicidal thoughts and I never really had really strong suicidal thoughts, it was more like self-sabotage. I just remember I would do things to kind of almost ruin my life so no one expected anything from me."

She described that time saying she was "acting out" and was actively failing her uni classes and rebelled by hanging out with the wrong people and doing anything to get a rise out of her family.

Francesca added she would sabotage her eating and hated the way she looked which lead to even more thoughts of doubt around other areas of her life. 

"I was my own worst nightmare."

Listen to more of Francesca's discussion with Mitch on REAL Talk via the Nova app (download via the App Store or Google Play) or wherever you get your podcasts. Or, listen through the podcast player below:

Mallika Chopra is one of the most prolific meditation teachers in the world. She has spoken at TedXSan Diego and TedXBerkeley, Ideacity, Business Innovation Factory, Wisdom 2.0, Women’s Conferences around the United States, and the Parliament of World Religions. 

Chopra joined Mitch on the podcast and revealed insights on the power of gratitude, what setting an intention really means, what are our true deep desires and how do we tangibly cultivate that in our lives and the messy and sometimes dark journey to figuring our who we really are and what we really want.

At one point during the podcast, Chopra discusses her experiences where she discovered she was not following the path she was meant to follow:

"It's happened to me several times in my life and in my career and for me the way that I go back and exploring the question of who am I is going back to my meditation practice and embracing silence and uncertainty and seeing what comes out of it."

She then continues to discuss how your choices lead to intentions:

"Intentions are like seeds that we plant in our soul. Often when we plant that seed we have no idea how it's will blossom into a beautiful flower or tree."

For those who haven't listened to Osher Günsberg's podcast, The Osher Günsberg Podcast, or read his book Back, After the Break, you might not realise he's experienced a lot of pain in his mental health journey. 

The Bachelor host joined Mitch and revealed more about overcoming alcoholism, obsession and his journey with medication.

During the podcast, Osher explains he got to a point where he was in such physical pain that he realised he had to get better. 

He told Mitch:

"It was just so damn painful and so horrible. I was no longer afraid of taking the drugs. I was no longer afraid doing the treatment, I was no longer afraid of admitting I had this thing. 

"I was like I do not care what people call me, what people think of me... I just don't want to feel this physical pain in my body."

"It's extraordinary physical pain... and your body just hurts." 

He added:

"I'll do whatever you tell me, just make this stop, please!"

The host went on to say how lucky he was to know he had a problem.

In case you didn't know, Mitch is the founder of the Heart On My Sleeve Movement and the host of the REAL Talk podcast.

When Mitch was a young child, he was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder but never received the help he needed to deal with the diagnosis. 

Mitch's life seemed perfect from the outside as he grew older, but his mind began spiraling and his OCD took on new forms.

Later, he became the youngest intern at Microsoft and was rapidly promoted within the business and at 25 was transferred to Seattle in a global role.

Mitch seemingly had it all: the luxury car, business class flights, was mixing with celebrities and working on some of the hottest products in the tech industry. On the side he set up a DJ business, managed a yoga certification and ran marathons but his internal world was very different to his external lifestyle.

Mitch said:

“The stress was high and constant, equally matched by my ability to hide my inner world, for some reason my old coping techniques started to lose effect. I was dramatically losing faith that I was helpable. I tried everything, from yoga to meditation, but they didn’t replace the huge chunk of fear and deep suffering caused but not knowing who I was or what I was going through.”

In a desperate plea for help, Mitch recorded a personal and raw video sharing his mental health state and it soon went viral. He also came across a video of another guy in a similar situation, it was then that he realised he wasn't alone.

Mitch said:

“My whole life changed because I now had a platform that I never had before, someone’s story and the power of being connected had the potential to change my life and hopefully someone else’s.”

It was soon after this that Mitch began the Heart On My Sleeve movement and he's now created the REAL Talk podcast to spread his message about transforming the mental health conversation, one heartfelt story at a time.

Mental health is the biggest issue facing our society. One in four people suffer from a mental health condition and it is the biggest life killer, with suicide taking more lives than anything else between the ages of 19 to 40. It is not just the problem that we need to consider, it is how we are solving the problem and how to start changing behaviour.

REAL Talk provides a platform for high profile people to share their stories, to allow others to feel understood and feel less alone and make way for a new narrative to emerge.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues know there is help out there. Please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. If it is an emergency please call 000.  

Written By Chana Matchimbanpoth
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