Carl Radke Shares His Mental Health Journey After The Loss Of His Brother

On this week’s episode of Bravo’s “Summer House,” we learn that Carl Radke’s brother Curtis passed away after a long battle with addiction and mental illness. Our hearts break as we see Carl’s full reaction on camera: the sounds, the feelings, a complete reality moment, no hold’s bar. But, for Carl, watching this episode is actually a public reexperiencing. It just occurs in what he calls a “Bravo environment.”

In order to feel as mentally prepared as he could be for the public to see one of the harder moments of his life replayed on TV, Carl has spent a lot of time on his mental health, including with therapy. He has been doing acupuncture, exercising and staying strong, listening to podcasts, and has been sober (45 days at the time of this interview). He also has a daily meditation practice that was first introduced to him by a producer on “Summer House.” He feels meditation helps with his short fuse and anger and allows him to take a few minutes to focus on himself. The combination of all of these function as a “good foundation” of self-care, especially leading up to this season premiering.

There is no perfect preparation, though, especially when you haven’t fully processed your grief the first time. Carl admits he still experiences the range of emotions from anger to sadness to just feeling numb. Part of his heightened awareness, he says, is because he, like the rest of us, works remotely and he, also like the rest of us, is with his thoughts a lot more right now. He explains, “When you’re kind of swimming in it all of the time, it can be a lot…Some days I’m numb about it. And, then other days, I’m like, you know, I can do this. And I just want to kind of get past it because I’m basically reliving it twice.”

Yet, while he now lives out his life and even his family’s deaths publicly, that is completely opposite of the environment he grew up in where he hardly ever talked about his private life, his family’s mental health or marital struggles, or his own feelings. He describes his home life as one that was male dominated and says, “The underlying theme was, you kind of bury your emotions and feelings, you don’t talk about a lot of stuff. You know any kind of problem or challenge, you just figure it out, you dust yourself off and kind of tough it out.”

Though he actually went to therapy for the first time as a part of family therapy in 5th or 6th grade, he considered himself to be “auxiliary family” in the room at the time as he was young and didn’t really understand it. He also didn’t tell anyone else about it. He said, “If you talk[ed] about therapy in school you may get made fun of or you get called out or [they may say] your family’s weird, so I kept a lot of that obviously close to the vest.” Because he had a brother who was struggling with his mental health already starting from his teenage years, Carl also worried he would get bullied or people would make assumptions about his family like his parents did something wrong. To counter those beliefs, he worked hard and overachieved, performing well in school, getting into a good college, and even getting a scholarship for academics.