Joe Fusaro a creative soul

Joe with Daryl from Run DMC

Joe with Daryl from Run DMC

Joe Fusaro is a 35 year old man now -- A survivor of mental illness.

He is way more than that actually. He’s a creative writer, guitarist,  and mental health podcast host.

As a 6 year old boy Joe’s parents divorced, which led him into depression and psychiatric care. His parents hoped that would help him start to figure some things out. Joe fought it at every turn. He wasn’t ready or open to discussing how he felt, nor did he feel he needed that type of support yet.

Joe always feared his relationships or hopes were going to fall apart. So, he gave up on all of them. Joe believed “the other shoe was gonna drop in my life so I just stopped hoping good things would happen to me.”

Despite heavy and unmanageable moments in his childhood, Joe had the creativity to write from an early age, writing poems and song lyrics in middle school. He kept the writing to himself, though, protecting his words by displaying athletic skill in football and baseball.

Creative writing (the only class he actually enjoyed in school) really started to click for Joe in 11th grade, when he started writing for the  school newspaper. “The teacher loved my work -- and I was pretty much an athlete in high school -- I think even the teacher was surprised… I think I surprised everyone.”

In his senior year, Joe was officially diagnosed at 18 with ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and General Anxiety Disorder. Sleep was also impossible to come by, which added to all the trauma.

From the end of high school into his late 20’s and early 30’s, Joe was in and out of the hospital staying anywhere from 2 weeks to month-long stays, hoping something would come of them. Nothing helped. Joe was put on too many medications which left him in a state where he could not feel emotions or be himself. Over a 12 year span, Joe felt out of it and just plain lost.

During his last hospital stay he became more open with letting his family visit, saying “it was different this time.”

After his last stay in the hospital he was given a weeks’ worth of meds, and was told it  was now his responsibility to find a new doctor. He searched desperately for a doctor who would take his insurance and be available to see him on short notice.

The last doctor on Joe’s list turned out to be the right one. This doctor was a man who told him that “he could get through this”, and this time Joe believed in the doctor -- and himself.

“Nobody had ever told me I could overcome this,” Joe said. A glimmer of empathy and compassion from this one doctor helped Joe find his way.

Slowly, he started posting his writing on a Tumblr account, which was noticed by the organizer of a stage production called “This Is My Brave.”

“I just performed a poem that was about 2 and a half, 3 minutes, and I didn’t even want to tell my family and friends that I was doing it, I just wanted to go and do it and maybe meet a few people,” Joe said. “Then I showed up for that show in NYC and 12 of my friends and family had come to that show.”

Participating in that show made it easier to talk about his struggles openly -- after that show, he thought, he would “talk about it anywhere.”

He was then approached by McLean Hospital to participate in the “Deconstructing Stigma” campaign, which then led to him being interviewed on “Mental Health News Radio.”

Today, you can find Joe hosting a mental health podcast at

“I really look forward to having these conversations a few times a month,” Joe said. “The connections I have made through the show are better than any of the connections that have come before.”

To read more about Joe’s journey click here.

To hear Joe speak with me about his battle for mental health on the podcast click here I also speak to Sean Shinnock both from the Deconstructing Stigma campaign. To listen to Joe’s segment head to the 40th minute of the podcast.

alan scherer