May 9, 2019 8:32 pm

Friday, Neil deGrasse Tyson and AJ Mendez Wrestle with Mental Health

On this week’s episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with AJ Mendez, author and former WWE star (known as AJ Lee), to explore how AJ has taken her mental health issues and turned them into her superpower. In-studio, Neil is joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice and neuroscientist and StarTalk All-Stars host Dr. Heather Berlin, PhD.

AJ Mendez in the ring. Credit: © Cathy and David Photography, via theajmendez.com.

AJ Mendez in the ring. Credit: © Cathy and David Photography, via theajmendez.com.

We dive into the origin story of AJ’s book, Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules. You’ll hear which superheroes she admired growing up. Ponder whether professional wrestlers are, in fact, superheroes, and find out how AJ got into professional wrestling. We investigate the nuances of professional wrestling – AJ tells us why it’s part art form, part dance, and a little bit of everything else. You’ll find out how pro wrestlers keep themselves from getting injured and why improvisation plays a role in performance.

You’ll also hear about AJ’s experiences with bipolar disorder. Heather gives us details on what’s going on in the brain with someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder. We discuss why treatment for bipolar disorder has to be case-by-case, given everyone’s unique neurological make-up. You’ll learn if an emotional issue can transform into a neurochemical issue.

AJ shares why she wanted to reclaim the word “crazy”. You’ll also hear why AJ thinks she wouldn’t be who she is today without her bipolar disorder. And you’ll discover where you can go to help fight against mental health stigma by checking out places like the National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Jed Foundation.

Lastly, Heather tells us what the future of mental health treatment looks like. Is it gene editing? CRISPR? Psychedelic Drugs? All that, plus, Neil wonders whether the mysteries of the brain are waiting to be unlocked by an “Isaac Newton” of neuroscience – someone who is not stupefied by its complexities, but enlightened by its simplicities.

Please join us tomorrow night for Wrestling with Mental Health, with AJ Mendez at 7pm ET right here on our website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
-Ian Mullen