Light Hustle: Grit Out of the Dark

Some people suffer from depression and other mental issues that doesn't respond to medication. What are they—and their doctors—supposed to do?

Double board certified psychiatrist Dr. Josh Lichtman lays out some options.

Direct download: treatment_resistent_josh_Done.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

We all have stories. Some of us have funny ones. Others have tragic ones. If you're Natasha Vargas-Cooper, you have both.

If you listen to the podcast regularly, you know about Natasha but for anyone new around here...she is a wondrous sprite who graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a double major in history and public policy and has been published in such places as The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine and GQ, among many others. Her book, Mad Men Unbuttoned, was praised as “a well-versed primer” by The New Yorker and “likely to become a trivia-lover’s bible” by The New York Times. Oh and in her spare time, she created the popular LA storytelling show Public School.

In this story, she discusses taking Ambien and then driving to 7-11 for cigarettes, the emails she shouldn't have sent and why being addicted to people is so much worse than being addicted to substances, among other (funny) (and tragic) things.

This episode is from my live storytelling show, which happens on the last Friday of every month at Open Space Cafe (457 N. Fairfax Ave) in LA.

Direct download: Natasha_Bipolar_Love_Interest.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Addicts are increasingly more comfortable coming forward and sharing about their problems. But the same doesn't seem to be true for those suffering from mental illness. What can we do about that?

Dr. Josh Lichtman, a Los Angeles-based board-certified psychiatrist, breaks down his thoughts.

Direct download: josh_stigma_Done.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Stephanie Wittels Wachs has endured something a sister should never have to experience.

In February of 2015, she lost her brother Harris to a heroin overdose.

Her brother wasn’t some low-bottom, down-and-out guy. Quite the opposite. He was actually nothing short of a legend in the comedy business, having been hired as a writer on The Sarah Silverman Show a year after graduating from college. From there, his career was on fire—he wrote on numerous MTV Movie Awards and was a writer and actor on Parks and Rec. When he died, he was on the verge of moving to New York to write on and star in Master of None with his friend Aziz Ansari. (In his spare time, he invented the word #humblebrag and wrote a book about it.)

In order to process her grief, Stephanie turned to the page…specifically to, where she wrote a piece called “The End of Empathy,” about a stranger’s reaction to their family’s grief. The post struck a cord and next thing Stephanie knew, she was writing a book. Well, that book, Everything is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love and Loss, is out now. And it is brilliant and juicy and wonderful and horrible and basically tells such a gripping tale of what it’s like to be the sister of a genius who just happens to be a drug addict that you will feel confident you actually knew Harris Wittels when you’ve put the book down.

In this episode, we talked about the surreality of talking about a book that only exists because your brother is gone, if there’s anything she would have done differently and the strange and even hopeful places her mourning has taken her, among many other topics.

Direct download: stephanie_wittels_Done.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

We live in a world where everyone is diagnosing our president as narcissistic. So what, exactly, are we saying and are we allowed to diagnose someone we don't know based solely on their symptoms?

Dr. Josh Lichtman provides some answers.

Direct download: narcissism_josh_Done.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

You surely know about Ryan Hampton by now. Not only has he become one of the world's leading recovery advocates, fighting to take down nefarious treatment centers and shady players but he's also the author of the upcoming book American Fix: Inside the American Opioid Addiction Crisis—And How to End It.

He's also one of my closer friends.

We work on a lot of things together but the one we're most excited about right now is our upcoming Light Switch: Turning on Your Inner Hustle retreat. It's happening the last weekend in April and will be a medley of workshops, treatments, bonding, laughter, panels and plenty of LA woo woo stuff. In this episode, we talk about the retreat (and our EARLY BIRD SPECIAL pricing which ends, alas, on March 8th) but also about the gifts that can come from bonding with our fellows in recovery (among many other topics).


Direct download: ryan_retreat_episode.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

In this episode, I talk to addiction psychiatrist Dr. Josh Lichtman about how depression and anxiety manifest—and overlap.

Direct download: anxiety_vs_depression_josh_Done.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

I've long admired Laura McKowen.

The sober mama is a prolific writer (you can see her many posts over at, podcaster (for years she co-hosted HOME, now she's co-hosting Spiritualish) and all-around honest person living in recovery.

What do I mean by honest? Well, follow her on Instagram and you'll see more than just Ghandi quotes and hot photos. The woman spills it out there—and people love her for it.

While we met at the Unite to Face Addiction rally in the fall of 2015, this is the first time we were able to chat one-on-one. And what a chat it was! Tune in to hear us get into losing our virginity, the stories we tell ourselves and developing healthy relationships with other women, among many other topics.

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

It's better with the lights on. So go out there and hustle your light, Light Hustler...

Direct download: laura_mckowen_Done_1.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

AA is a controversial topic within recovery circles. Some are all for it, some violently opposed.

So where does a prominent addiction psychiatrist stand? Does he tell all his patients who are addicts to go there?

The answer may surprise you.

Direct download: josh_aa_final_Done.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Bucky Sinister is a poet, self-help author and comedian, he has published four books of poetry and two self-help books, including Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfists, Freaks, and Weirdos. His journalism, film reviews, and short stories have appeared on The Rumpus, The Bold Italic, and a number of other online and print publications. His novel, Black Hole, is flat out the funniest novel I've ever read about addiction.

He's been something of a regular in my world—a repeated podcast guest and performer at my live show. This episode is from one of those live shows and in this story, he talks about being terrified of small talk but not remotely scared to score drugs from strangers or get in fights.

This episode is from my live storytelling show, which happens on the last Friday of every month at Open Space Cafe (457 N. Fairfax Ave) in LA. Sign up for the newsletter to make sure you’re notified when shows are coming up and/or stay up to date on the schedule here. For more about the workshops I lead where I teach people to take their most disturbing or interesting experiences and make them into stories, click here. For more information about my online writing classes and coaching programs, click here.

Direct download: Bucky_Scared_of_Wrong_Things.mp3
Category:Career -- posted at: 12:00am PDT