Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Matt Gutman is a long-time reporter and currently serves as the Chief National Correspondent for ABC News.

Over the course of his career, he has covered stories all over the world, in some incredibly dangerous situations.

An on-air gaffe, in the middle of a full-blown panic attack while reporting the Kobe Bryant tragedy, led to Matt tackling his panic attacks, anxiety, and depression head-on.

His new book is called No Time To Panic – How I Curbed My Anxiety and Conquered A Lifetime of Panic Attacks.

JIM MONAGHAN – He is a longtime reporter and currently the chief national correspondent for ABC News. It’s a pleasure to welcome Matt Gutman here to WDHA on the Jersey magazine. Good morning.
MATT GUTMAN – Hey. Good morning, Jim. Good to be with you.

JM – The new book, No Time to Panic – How I Curbed My Anxiety and Conquered a Lifetime of Panic Attacks. There’s a quote in the book, Matt, with regard to the brain- “We still don’t know how much we don’t know.” So let me ask you, from your experience, what do we know about panic attacks and anxiety?
MG – First of all, ladies and gentlemen listening, I want you to know that Jim actually read the book, so that doesn’t actually happen, so to speak, with someone who does his homework like this is amazing. So, yeah, there’s a lot we don’t know about the brain. It is so little understood, which is why we don’t know why things like antidepressants work for some people, but not all of the people, why they work for depression and not for panic and people like me, or why they work for panic for other people. So this is a world which is still opening up. Here’s what we do know about the human brain. And it was sort of the starting point for my investigation into why I felt like I was broken, and that is that humans evolved to be anxious. It was actually an evolutionary advantage. Like, you got scared sooner, you could avoid the lion and didn’t have to run away when it was chasing you. And humans developed anxiety into an art. Like, we learned how to be anxious and afraid of something that was abstract, which is why I basically have panic attacks. Right? And so there were two major buckets of fear that humans experience for tens of thousands of generations. One, you’re going to be on the savannah, and the lion is going to come eat you. Two, we evolved to cooperate with other fellow humans, and we gave up size and speed for it. So the second is the social fear. If we got kicked out of our group by doing something dumb, we would be wandering the savannah, whereupon a lion would come and eat us. So we learned to associate the social fear of doing something dumb that would get us kicked out of our group as being as threatening as being eaten by a lion, which is why people like me have panic attacks when we go on air. I am afraid that I’m going to get kicked out of my group of the people I so deeply respect at ABC. David Muir, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, all those people, if I run afoul of them, it’s game over for me. In my head. That’s what I used to think.

JM – How did you hide it for so long?
MG – Aren’t we all good at hiding stuff? We’re all ducks. Above the water, we’re kind of coasting very calmly and gracefully. Underwater, we’re paddling furiously. So, I mean, that’s what I did. And I don’t know, your brain carries you through, and a panic attack is debilitating, but also not fully debilitating, otherwise it wouldn’t still be in the human genome because we’d be dead, right? So we still function through the panic attack, except one time in January 2020 when I made the, it was the only time I ever made an on-air mistake while having a panic attack. We were covering Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash. It was right near my home. He was in Calabasas, where it crashed. And I made a terrible mistake, a catastrophic reporting error on air. I separated two pieces of information. One was reportable, the other was not, and I was suspended. Now, there’s a lot of stuff that goes through our brains, right? Like, how many lanes of traffic can a brain navigate at once? My dad was killed in a plane crash when I was twelve, basically the same age as Gianna, Kobe’s daughter. And my dad was the same age pretty much as Kobe. And so maybe that, I assume that that was one of the things that was swirling in my head, but that was the launch of this exploration that I went on for three and a half years, figuring out A, why I was broken, what was happening in my brain, and B, how to fix it. And it just turned out that I learned eventually that sharing is really good medicine and that statistically I knew that about a third to half of people suffer panic. But I didn’t realize it until I started talking to people how much it’s affected them. And then I realized I had a constituency of more than one here, and maybe I could help people.

JM – We talk about mental health a lot here on this program at WDHA, Matt. And we’re speaking with Matt Gutman this morning at 105.5 WDHA. There’s definitely a stigma. There’s no question about it. I think it’s been reduced a little bit over the past few years. How much of a dent do you think you can make with this book and that stigma?
MG – I don’t know. I hope it’s a dent. I should have known what a panic attack was. I watched The Sopranos, I’ve seen Tony Soprano have that panic attack when the ducks flew away. I grew up in New Jersey. But I didn’t. And so the fact that for 15 years I carried around panic and I didn’t even know that I had panic tells you something about how well people hide it and how much shame and stigma surrounds it. I even hid it from myself for years, keeping cryptic notes about my panic attacks. So when the book came out and we announced that we’re publishing it, and now, since publication, I have been deluged in a way that I had not expected, Jim, with people sharing their stories, on-air personalities like you, celebrities who you would never, ever think ever suffered anxiety, hundreds and thousands of people on social media, and I tried to get back to everyone. I’m struggling right now, but I hope it does make a difference, at least normalizing it and chipping away at that concrete thousand block of shame that surrounds panic and severe anxiety. And I hope it makes a difference. I’m certainly trying.

JM – One of the other points that you make in the book, Matt, is the weirdness of outliving your father. You had that at 42.I had it a little older, 53. My dad died young. But it is a weird feeling.
MG – It’s a weird feeling, Jim. You really read the book. It’s something that there are two things that are unnatural, more unnatural to lose your child while you’re still alive, that is the grief and the trauma that I think we can never get over. But outliving your father by a lot, especially when you still feel like a kid inside, is pretty weird. And I was going through that. I was exactly 42. I just outlived my father when the Kobe Bryant thing happened. So I assume that was also swirling around in my brain. All of us carry around these traumas. And one of the things I learned in reporting the book is that I was more of a man if I learned how to cry about it, if I learned how to release some of that stuff that was keeping me down because I thought I had to stay in control the whole time, because that’s what we guys do. And I learned through the psychedelics and a lot of the other stuff that enabled me to cry, to touch base with that grief, that I needed to let it go. And it taught me how to let it go without actually having to use psychedelic medicine to do so. A long answer to your very good question.

JMNo Time To Panic – How I Curbed My Anxiety and Conquered A Lifetime of Panic Attacks, the new book from Matt Gutman. Matt, thanks for your time this morning here on WDHA. It’s a fascinating conversation with you.
MG – Thanks so much, Jim. Really appreciate it.

  • Samantha Giustiniani - 2024 Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship

    Samantha Giustiniani is the Vice President of Education and Outreach at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank.

    Following the untimely death of Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens in 2017, a scholarship was set up to provide an opportunity for promising music students with full or partial scholarships to the Count Basie Center Academy of the Arts, including programs in its School Of Music or Performing Arts, the Monmouth Conservatory of Music, the Jazz Arts Project, or any other future program that creates a formal partnership with the Basie Center.

    Samantha joined Jim Monaghan to discuss the details of this year’s program.

    For more information you can go to thebasie.org/dinizio

  • Jeff Friedman - Livingston Philanthropies

    Jeff Friedman is the CEO of Livingston Philanthropies, an organization that provides for families living below the poverty level in our area for more than a dozen years.

    On October 14, they are hosting a fundraising show with bluegrass star Dave Rimelis and his band at the the Livingston Presbyterian Church.

  • Rock N Ruff

    Howdy Animal Lovers,

    Terrie Carr here and this week’s Rock N’ Ruff pup looking for a new home is just that – a pup! Best news – not too young, housebroken,  really smart, knows basic commands. Missy is awesome! Missy is a Dutch Shepherd/Husky mix (just look at those eyes) between 7 and 9 months old, and is both active and loyal.  Missy was found roaming the streets with her siblings and after being picked up and brought to another shelter found herself in the company of the awesome Sunny Nowell from Randolph Regional Animal Shelter and eventually made her way to WDHA for Rock N’ Ruff!

    One of Missy’s siblings has been adopted but she does have a brother that looks just like her and has a similar personality named Dante who is also at the shelter.  Missy was great with our staff and so attentive with Sunny who has taught her basic commands. It’s obvious this young dog is super smart and really eager to please.  Missy is a lovely girl with so much personality, she would make a great companion for just about anyone. She would make a great walking or running partner and could be an awesome family dog. If you are looking for a young dog (but not a puppy) that is a medium size, has a lovely disposition, is smart and obedient, Missy could be the dog for you. And of course she is absolutely stunning.

    For info on adopting Missy you can reach the Randolph Regional Animal Shelter at Randolph Regional Animal Shelter or stop by for a visit at 97 Ironia Road in Mendham or you can call them at 973-543-9333- the shelter is open to the public- Monday-Friday from 11a-1p and Saturday from 11a-2p.

    Adoption fees
    Dogs and cats – $50 – all spayed, neutered, vaccinated
    Looking for 2?  Adopt one get one free!
    Kittens are $150 each and $250 for two (includes spay/neuter).
    * Approved application required for all adoptions.

    Opt To Adopt!

  • Coach Sheets' Ride In

    Jeremy Sheetinger is the head baseball coach at Georgia Gwinnett College where he led the Grizz Gang to the 2021 NAIA National Championship.

    He took some time off over the summer, but his weekly “fire me up” video every Thursday is back for the fall!.

    These quick hits may, on the surface, be geared toward his fellow baseball coaches, but his motivational message can easily be applied to the classroom, workplace, and your personal relationships.

    This week, Coach Sheets reminds us that not everything always has to go perfect. It’s good to remember that authenticity always wins.

  • Local Look

    Looking for something fun to do in the area? Chris Swendeman has you covered with this week’s Local Look.

    There are always so many fun events happening in our local communities.  Check out what’s in store for this week in New Jersey.

    • South Orange is the place to be today for their fall festival from 11 AM to 1 PM. There will be pumpkin decorating, fall crafts, games and music. That’s over at Spiotta Park in the Village Plaza.
    • And then you can get the motors revving up for the Car, Truck and Bike Show today over in Union. Over 500 of vehicles are expected to be on display. That’s today from 11 AM to 6 PM on Morris and Stuyvesant Avenues. There will be live music, food trucks and a beer garden. The rain date is October 8th.
    • And you can visit the local town in Hoboken today for the annual Fall and Arts Music Festival on Washington Street from 11 AM to 6 PM. Besides the amazing art, there will be music, food vendors and local businesses.  Visit HobokenNJ.gov for further info.

     

    And that’s your Local Look for this week on The Jersey Magazine.  If you’d like your event to be featured on The Local Look, you can email us at JerseyMagazine@wdhafm.com.  See you next week on 105.5 WDHA.

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