Kevin Quinn Gets Candid About Being Diagnosed With a Personality Disorder“I'm the happiest and healthiest I've been in a while.”
You might already recognize actor and singer Kevin Quinn from Netflix’s A Week Away or Disney’s Bunk’d, and lately, he’s been churning out his new album, Real Me, out today. His latest project is out now and follows the first single, “Blessed,” in which Quinn opens up about his mental health journey and the gratitude he has for his support network.
On the heels of this new music, Quinn is also elevating his Luminosity podcast and planning to create a nonprofit with the same name. “I'm very excited because part of this healing journey for me has been finding ways to potentially give back and use my position to help others in the way that I wish I was helped at the time that I needed it most,” he tells Wondermind.
Here, Quinn shares what it was like receiving a diagnosis for a personality disorder, the most surprising thing he learned through outpatient treatment, and the mental health tools that work for him.
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WM: How are you doing lately?
Kevin Quinn: I'm doing much better than I was. My mental health is honestly better than it's been in a long time. It's a lot of ups and downs. I don't know if I'm ever at 100%, but I'm at a solid 85 or 90, and that's enough for me.
WM: Are there any specific things that helped you get to the point where you're at now?
KQ: Yeah, I went through a really healing journey. I took a personal break from work for maybe eight months, which I really needed, and it completely changed my life for the better. I learned some new things, some new skills, and one of them was dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). I have a new skill set that I use all the time, and it completely changed my way of thinking, my way of going about my daily life, and it's been really helpful for me.
WM: You’re back to work now and have an album coming out that includes several mental health themes. What else can you tell us about your new music and the message behind it?
KQ: I felt so inspired by this journey of healing that I went through. I started experiencing some pretty dire symptoms in 2022 that were affecting my functionality and my ability to think clearly in everyday life. I was on tour and I did 40 dates and I was playing arenas to 10,000 to 20,000 people a night. The pressure just got bad enough to the point where I just sort of broke down, and I had to fly back to LA. I went to UCLA Hospital and checked myself in.
I stayed there for a week for them to figure out what was going on. They finally said, “We think we know what's going on with you, but we can't treat it here.” I said, “Well, what do you mean you can't treat it here? This is a hospital.” And they said, “It requires a little bit more intense treatment and longer treatment than what we can offer here.” So the social worker sent me off to Arizona, and I was there for a month at a rehab facility.
Eventually, the diagnosis was something along the lines of a personality disorder. So I did a ton of therapy when I was in rehab. I met some incredible people who just lifted me up. I got a chance to rediscover myself in the mountains of Tucson. It was the most difficult experience of my life, and I felt so alone, and I felt so desperate. I mean, it was horrible. It was really, really difficult. I wasn't in a place where I felt like I could go on, but I did. I kept going, and I kept doing the treatment, and by the end of the program, I felt completely new. I felt like a reborn version of myself, and I felt like I had gotten the help that I needed.
So I came back to Los Angeles, and I did an intensive outpatient program for a month and a half after that, and then I did 13 months of DBT after that. … If you go to rehab, you can't really just come back and re-assimilate into life really quickly. It takes a second. So that's what I had to do. And part of that was this 15-month post-rehab experience.
Through it all, though, the DBT was meant to help my personality disorder symptoms, and it helped so much and changed my life for the better. I think more clearly, I act more confidently and more calculated. I have better relationships. It's no longer “I hate you. I love you, I hate you. Don't leave me” kind of thing. I just have better relationships, and I have a better relationship with myself and a clearer identity and skills to manage anything that comes up. It changed my life. I'm the happiest and healthiest I've been in a while.
WM: When you first got that diagnosis, how did you feel about having a name for what you were experiencing?
KQ: It explained a lot. I was very relieved, if anything, because now I at least had a guide book, so I could look it up, or I could read about it. … So it's really freeing, if anything. And with the music, after I went through all that, it was the perfect opportunity for me to talk about the real me and the authentic version of myself. Because really, who the real me is is not my personality disorder. I struggled with my identity, which is a symptom of this personality disorder. And I finally solidified [my identity] and have accepted all parts of myself and learned to love myself, and that's the real me.
WM: What qualities and values do you think shape your identity?
KQ: I think I'm compassionate. I think I'm loyal. I think I am committed, hardworking. I could go on. And it's funny, in rehab, when you lose your identity and there are other people going through this sort of loss of identity related to a personality disorder, they actually make you sit down and fill out a questionnaire of 150 traits. You have to assess, from one to five, how likely you are to identify with each trait. So it's kind of crazy because through that therapy and social work, it’s helping you to rebuild your own identity. That's helped me. It made me remember who I was and even discover new things about myself.
WM: What surprised you about your treatment?
KQ: I didn't expect how much information they would provide me in terms of the different therapy modules that are available to people in these kinds of positions. You kind of get a chance to dive into everything, whether it's CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy] or DBT or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). You get a little taste of everything. And I think their intention is like, if this works for you, then use it. We're teaching you how to use it, but there are just all these tools that will just help you thrive. And I think that's really important, and that's something I got out of IOP [intensive outpatient program] for sure.
WM: What aspects of your mental health are a work in progress today?
KQ: I would say my self-esteem. It's funny. For someone at a relatively young age who has accomplished quite a bit, I guess you would think I would have a little more self-confidence and peace with my accomplishments, but I still have those voices in my head that tell me I'm not enough or that I'm never going to be able to do something or that [something is] just not going to happen for me. Those aren't realistic, and I'm able to identify those thoughts as not realistic,
But at the same time, they're there, and I think they're a part of the mental health issues and the symptoms that I experience. … I'm very hard on myself. By the way, they're not actual voices. I should make that clear. But [if I screw up], the inner voice is saying, “Well, you screwed up because you're a bad person.” And that's not true. Just because I screw up doesn't mean I'm a bad person. My self-esteem is a constant work in progress.
WM: When you're having a tough mental health day, what tools or self-care practices help you through?
KQ: Mainly the DBT skills work for me. If I am having a tough day, removing myself from the situation [helps]. There’s a skill that is called “opposite action,” where if I feel like I want to go to bed and just sleep all day, then the opposite action would be to go out and do something.
There's also this skill where I can take a vacation. It's called the “vacation skill,” but it's actually in the DBT handbook. It's like if things get too overwhelming, take a one hour vacation to do whatever you want, whether it's arts and crafts or watching your favorite TV show. You can do whatever you want. I think that's really helpful.
Other skills that I've learned: There's this skill called “check the facts.” If my inner voice is starting to tell me things that aren't necessarily reflective of the actual truth, then I can challenge that voice and say, “Is that a fact?” And if it's not, then I know that that's just the voices in my head.
WM: If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would you say?
KQ: Don't try to be what everyone wants you to be. Don't feel like you have to be anything for anyone that isn't who you truly want to be or who you truly are. … Be your most authentic self.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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