Howie Mandel discusses mental health issues at Banff
Howie Mandel received an award at the Banff World Media Festival this week. Mandel, in this June 14, 2011 photo, talks about his mental illness and the challenges he has had in his career. (Bill Graveland / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, June 15, 2011 10:46AM EDT
BANFF, Alta. - Canadian funnyman Howie Mandel had them rolling in the aisles in Banff this week, even though the subject was really no laughing matter.
The actor, comic and game show host received the award of distinction at a ceremony at the Banff World Media Festival -- an annual gathering of TV writers, producers, broadcasters and stars.
"I have mental health issues as it is and as I sit and talk to you I am medicated so the highs and the lows aren't really bothering me. I'm just floating in the middle," acknowledged Mandel, 55, in a question and answer session before a large audience.
"I am tortured but I came to this game pretty tortured," he said, then smiled and asked: "Why are you laughing at me when I said I'm tortured?"
Mandel has both obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and has written about both in his autobiography "Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me."
But Mandel finds it therapeutic to talk about his upbringing in the Toronto area where he says he was always a loner and had no friends.
"I weighed 89 pounds and my voice didn't change and I didn't shave and I looked like a girl. I could stand in the ladies room and brush my hair. That's how I met my wife. Second date she found out I was a guy," he said with his trademark laugh. "I don't want to touch things. I was always nervous and neurotic and afraid."
"I wouldn't tie my shoelaces at school. If mine came undone, I wouldn't pick them up to retie them because the laces were on the floor," Mandel said.
"I'd be angry. I would be anxious and angry and then I'd go home and take a shower until my Mom would say it was dinner time. I would be in the shower for hours and I'd use every towel."
His mental health issues don't appear to have held him back in his career. He did gigs at Yuk Yuk's comedy club and spent six seasons on "St. Elsewhere." He also began hosting "Deal or No Deal" which was difficult for a man who doesn't want to shake hands for fear of germs.
"I always felt rejected. Even today you feel you just always want to keep working. You think tomorrow is going to be your last day," he said.
"I have dark times. It inhibits everything I do on a day-to-day basis. Every waking moment it's part of who I am," Mandel added.
"How does it affect my work? It affects every day and I think about it. Right now I'm hoping you don't have any viruses," he said with a chuckle.
Mandel credits the support of Terry, his wife of 35 years, for helping him deal with his problems.
"It's hard to go through that with anybody who has mental health issues. It's hard to live with somebody like me."
It was Terry who told him he should become the host of "Deal or No Deal," something he thought would end his career.
They met in high school and married in 1980. They have two daughters and a son.