Our LA show produced by The TLC Foundation, is January 22, 2017. We are proud to introduce you to cast member John Tsilimparis!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety disorders, addictions, depression, and couples therapy. My specialty is severe anxiety cases like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and panic attacks. I was born and raised in NYC. Moved to LA in 1991. My parents were immigrants from Central America and Greece. I have authored two books on the subject of anxiety treatment and appeared on a few reality shows. I have also written a memoir about my family called, MORTAL BONDS and I blog for the Huffington Post. I enjoy skiing, running, hiking, crossword puzzles, travel to tropical locations and watching sports.
How has mental illness affected your life?
Since an early age dealing with panic attacks. It affected me both socially and occupationally. At times very severe almost to incapacitation. I was unable to let people get close to me. I pushed everyone away. I didn’t think any woman would ever want to put up with my limitations and worst of all, my fear. Before I became a therapist I was working in publishing in NYC and there were certain days I would call in sick. And on the days that I did show up to work, I was tense all the time, anticipating another panic attack. It was exhausting to say the least. But the most regrettable is how insensitive my old-school, Greek father was about my affliction. He was intolerant and harsh. He could not understand my pain at all. It made me feel even worse.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I think these stories of struggle need to be told. To reduce stigma, to normalize mental health conditions and to inspire others to seek help. There is always sanity in numbers, hence the more people who step up and reveal their bouts with mental health issues, the more mainstream it will become…the more accepting the general public will be in the long run. Today there are still too many of us hiding out and feeling ashamed of our mental health issues. Research shows that for some, it may take up to 10-15 years before coming out of the mental illness closet. That’s too many years of suffering alone.
What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?
I had to in order to survive. I had no choice. Get well and change, or die. My connection with people and my ability to help them inspires me. Consistency has been key. For me the treatment I received in NYC for a solid 4 years taught me that my work was to change my behaviors and establish a new lifestyle of self-care and patience. I’ve always had poor impulse control and I am a perfectionist. I never realized how important it was to let that go and take a “process oriented” lifestyle view instead of a “results oriented” lifestyle view. This was my turning point. Letting go and trusting life.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
That mental illness can be seen as commonly as diabetes, asthma, etc. That “the only normal people in the world are people you don’t know very well.” I hope people take away that mental illness affects everyone. It does not discriminate. We are therapists, doctors, lawyers, Uber drivers, CEO’s, police officers, politicians, cashiers, busboys, chefs, actors, artists, etc. I hope they take away that people CAN be productive despite mental illness with little or NO limitations and barriers. I for one, am living proof. I am no scholar by any means. My success has come from hard work and a desire to help others. You don’t need smarts to get well, you need desire and a little passion helps too.