GUNS N’ ROSES Bassist DUFF MCKAGAN Talks Mental Health, Love, Sobriety And Martial Arts


For Mental Health Awareness Month, musician, author, composer (GUNS N’ ROSES, VELVET REVOLVER) and mental health advocate Duff McKagan joins Dr. Marc Brackett on a new episode of “Dealing With Feelings”. The pair discuss Duff‘s childhood, sobriety, martial arts and Duff‘s mission to inspire others.

Duff recalls how training in martial arts was a catalyst in helping him maintain his sobriety and change his outlook on mental health and personal growth. Marc and Duff use their shared experiences with martial arts to discuss emotion regulation techniques they’ve learned throughout their lives.

Duff takes Marc through his mental health journey and details how alcohol and drugs were used as self-medication for his panic attacks, and since becoming sober, how he deals with that. He talks with Marc about his childhood, and the ’emotional climate’ of his household while he was growing up.

Duff says: “My childhood, there was chaos, big family, the last of eight kids, and my parents went through an awful divorce. Infidelity, and I saw it, coming home from second grade and seeing the infidelity on the bed, and your mom’s at work and your dad’s retired? To have to keep that secret because I didn’t want to destroy my mom. These types of things really influenced me. You can say ‘Keeping stuff in? That’s probably why you got panic attacks later on.’ Maybe, who knows? But I can say all these things, gnarly stuff like I just told you, and there was plenty of it. But, didn’t we all go through it, some version of it?”

Duff also details about not having much of an opportunity to talk about his feelings with anyone while growing up, but finding the bass changed that.

He says: “If you hear [GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist] Slash play a guitar solo. Every night it’s a different thing. He’s a guy that doesn’t talk a lot, never has, I’ve known him for 40 years. But, man, when he plays there it is. He’s talking to you, he’s talking to everybody.”

As a husband, parent, and artist, Duff speaks about his emotions and the emotions of his loved ones within the context of his family. When speaking about what it’s like in a band Duff says, “Being in a band is like being in a big family… Once you realize everyone wants the best out of a song, nobody’s trying to hammer down on your part like ‘That sucks. You suck, What’re you even doing?’ Nobody means anything like that. We want the best song we could have. On stage, nobody’s trying to upstage somebody else. Once you realize these things about your bandmates, hopefully you can get your band to that place.”

Upcoming guests on “Dealing With Feelings” include star of AMC‘s “The Walking Dead” and musician Emily Kinney, EPIC leadership founder Rich Hua, former Navy SEALs Rich Diviney and Cory Zillig, Dr. Jenny Wang, and more.

This episode comes during Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Dealing With Feelings”, hosted by Dr Marc Brackett, premiered in February and has welcomed groundbreaking science experts, musicians, actors, and others sharing their expertise and mental health journeys including singer/songwriter Jewel, author Angela Duckworth, Dr. Ethan Kross and Dr. Alfie Breland-Noble, among many others.

The webcast offers viewers practical ways to improve their emotional lives with proven emotion regulation strategies to achieve greater well-being. Marc and his guests exchange personal stories of triumph, failure, and everything in between while tapping into cutting-edge research to create better tools for success.

Photo credit: Charles Peterson


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