Season 1 Episode 1 – Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones is an actor, comedian and writer who’s won won 18 Gemini Awards for her work on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and CODCO. She shares how “anxiety is a part of [her] everyday” and how it has affected both her personal life and her creative process.
John Bateman (JB): My next guest is known to many! This is, actor, writer, comedian Cathy Jones.
Cathy Jones (CJ): Hi Johnny.
JB: Somebody calls me Johnny – that’s better! Haha. I’m kicking off all my my interviews with the same question: what is your anxiety story?
CJ: I don’t feel like that I have this, “there I was and my anxiety came up.” I feel like it’s always been the overall fabric of my life. Wanting to completely avoid things. Not caring whether opportunities pass by because it’s too stressful to make the internal leaps required to accomplish them; just having too much fear and anxiety around it all. Rooted in my relationship with myself. … I feel like most of us don’t get what we need to keep our nervous systems on a stable key.
CJ: So I feel like anxiety is just a big part of the fabric of my everyday. When I was a kid, I was very, very anxious about going to school. I didn’t want to go. Even in kindergarten, I started skipping school and begging my parents, let me stay home.
JB: Yeah. When I was young and going through anxiety, what they jangled me with, was nuclear war – that’s what I was mostly scared of. And there’s always something. Climate change has triggered my kids for sure.
CJ: Anybody that I know that has children, they’re just overwhelmed. Some of them are depressed and some of them have had a hell of a time like getting on and off weed because it doesn’t work when you’re a teenager.
CJ: Anxiety is everywhere and pervasive. That’s why your attitude is very important: when you think that there’s something that you’re not getting because you don’t feel safe – that’s the wrong tack because there is no solid ground and there never has been.
JB: Yeah, definitely. So did you say you have grandchildren now?
CJ: I have three grandchildren. I have a 11-year-old, a nine-year-old and a six-year-old.
JB: That’s fabulous. Were your kids okay when it came to anxiety?
CJ: When I had my older daughter I was gallivanting around as a single mother and luckily she came equipped with a very strong nervous system. Even at that, she’s done a lot of work with her own stuff. Then my other daughter, I was very stressed out when I was with her father and I said, “I’m doing terrible job and I will pay for your therapist.” And I am paying for her therapist.
JB: Interesting. I’ve never really heard of that. I’ve never really heard of a parent taking that kind of responsibility.
CJ: I think that that accountability is so healthy in a family. And anything that’s paid attention to, gets better. With my kids I was always accountable, and that was my saving grace.
JB: Avoiding avoiding anxiety certainly causes anxiety, in my experience. But not everybody is open to going inward. That’s one of the hard nuts to crack when it comes to mental health.
CJ: Absolutely. We internalize aspects of the abuse in our lives, and then we then have a representative of the people who scared us living within ourselves, scaring ourselves all day long. I blew relationship after relationship with this critical energy of mine; I’ve heard tell of anxiety showing up like someone’s being completely aggressive.
JB: And I know that a lot of my anxiety has come out like this, especially as a boy. Now you’re a performer. You were on CODCO and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. You’re a classic example of a funny person who deals with mental health issues How did your anxiety story inform your ability to perform, to write, or you know, to be funny.
CJ: I have a really hard time writing, Johnny. I have a really hard time. Like, I’ll have a burst of really interesting ideas and then I don’t know how to bring myself back to the board and push through. I need support and I’ve never really had it. I’ve never had the guts to say how much support I actually need or the confidence to say, “I have an idea.” … My mind is like a jazz mind. All of a sudden I’m putting in a whole new riff in there and you’re like, why are you going there? I always felt really insecure about the way my brain worked. I like working in a collective. Also I smoke weed. I don’t need it when I’m alone. I haven’t drunk alcohol in 25 years.
JB: Do you have any other coping strategies?
CJ: I have done EMDR, which is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It’s especially helpful for the things you’re really embarrassed about. Like I always say, yes, you should sweat the small stuff because notice you pull a little small stuff with you to every different therapist you go to and say, well there was that dumb thing. And they said, well, Oh, okay. And they don’t know how to work on it until you realize the little things that happen to you really were impactful and EMDR really works on that.
CJ: Also, I always eat really well. My diet has a lot of nutrients in it, you know – brain food. And I’ve really cleaned out like a lot of debris out of my body so that my brain is better. And you know, I can really feel it. And I think we do take children’s power away when we give them white sugar because you’re turning them into little addicts who don’t deserve to have those highs and lows going on with them.
JB: Yeah. Well, the white sugar is an addiction I work on every day. Trust me, Kathy haha.
CJ: Me too, bud. Yeah, me too.
JB: Cathy, I really appreciate you sharing on #OurAnxietyStories today. It’s very important from hearing from people like you.
CJ: Everybody out there listening – thanks so much! I really appreciate what you’re doing, John. Thanks very much. Talk to you again soon. Bye