This past season of Jersey Shore saw a lot of changes in the lives of the cast, but arguably no cast member went through as many alterations as Vinny Guadagnino. Immediately following the roommates' return from Italy, they reconvened in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, to spend the remainder of their summer partying and having fun. While that objective was eventually fulfilled, it took a while to get there. After the roommates returned to the U.S., the season's first few episodes saw Vinny struggling with anxiety problems due to the strenuous shooting schedule. Issues, he said, that he'd been dealing with most of his life. After a short absence from the Shore house for some downtime, Vinny returned midway and finished off the season with the rest of the cast.
For even the most seasoned Jersey Shore viewer, Vinny's revelation may have come as a major surprise; generally seen as the most calm, cool, and collected dude in the house, next to perhaps Pauly D, Vinny had been given any indications about problems or stresses in the past.
Now, Vinny is coming out with a new book, titled Control the Crazy, to talk more in depth about dealing with anxiety issues. Though, and he'll be the first to tell you, the advice the first-time author offers in the book are all pearls of wisdom that anyone can benefit from, no matter what they're dealing with in their lives. Drawing from various methods of relaxation, meditation, and learning to control ones own mind, Control the Crazy is, perhaps, not a book featuring the sort of subject matter one would expect to see from a Jersey Shore alum. However, after considering his impressive credentials—a bachelor's degree in Political Science, and aspirations to be involved in politics and former dreams of attending law school—it's exactly the type of book one would expect to see from Vinny.
With Control the Crazy hitting book shelves today, Complex spoke to the Jersey Shore vet about the publishing process, his experiences dealing with anxiety issues, and his thoughts on The Pauly D Project.
Interview by Tanya Ghahremani (@tanyaghahremani)
First of all, I read your book, it was really great.
You must be so excited.
I am. I’m excited for people to finally start reading it, because the process has been about a year or something like that: a year for the actual book itself, and just three years of me putting it together in my head. So I’m definitely excited to share it with people that I know have never heard this kind of stuff before.
You’ve always seemed to be the super-chill guy on the show, so it was a huge surprise last season in Jersey Shore to see that you’ve been dealing with anxiety issues for a good chunk of your life. What made you want to speak out now?
Well, the reason why I’m always so chill and usually able to help out other people is because I have been to dark places myself. I’ve had some rough times myself, so I was able to, like, learn things and I always try to stay in a giving state of mind, so that’s why I’m usually playing the peacekeeper on the show. But like I said, there’s a reason why I know all that stuff, it’s because I can be set off occasionally as well. And the show is reality. They caught me at a time when my stress level was through the roof because we were filming so much, and it was just there, I couldn’t fight it anymore. It’s not something that’s fightable, especially when you’re exposed like that; the more you try to fight it, the worse it’ll feel.
So I just kind of opened up about it, was honest about it… I’m like, you know, this is my life right now, this is my past in life. I’m gonna just own it and accept it. What got me through was saying that one day I’m gonna share this stuff with other people, and maybe there’s a reason why millions of people are watching me go through this. Maybe it’s for the benefit of other people, and I can help people one day, and that’s honestly what got me through.
Since the fifth season aired, have you received any feedback from people who might have the same issues?
Oh my god, every day. Like, amazing, just story after story and thank you's, and people being so thankful. It’s just amazing, they’re thanking me just for saying the words, because it’s such a lonely thing, a lot of people don’t even know what it is that they’re feeling. It’s not easily labeled; you don’t have to label it, and a lot of people don’t. I didn’t for the longest time myself, and I still don’t label it, really, I just occasionally feel like crap, and when someone else sees someone else going through it, they’re like, “God, thank you! Someone else has these feelings!” It makes them feel better automatically. So, I hope all those people will actually get the book and really take it one step further, and not only see that I’ve gone through it, but see that there’s actually ways to manage it, easily.
Right. I feel like a lot of people do have anxiety issues, and it’s an issue that's not really represented on television or in the media that well. It’s just not talked about much.
Yeah. Definitely not. It’s usually kind of embarrassing, saying, like, “You’re weak,” because it’s a fearful thing, you know? Anxiety is set off by fear, that’s why it exists, everybody has it, it’s how humans adapted to survive over the years. But the funniest thing is, every single interview I give, to every radio host, to like, the biggest, toughest ones in the game, to every TV show I go on, when they hear about it, they’re like, “Oh my god, I feel the same way sometimes, Vinny!”
It’s just like this unspoken secret that like everybody feels, and they can only talk about it once they hear that someone else has it. Once they can identify with someone else, then it’s OK to talk about it, but it’s never OK just to come out and say it, you know.
It’s true. People don’t want to look weak in front of others.
Yeah, and I’m trying to make people look stronger for doing it. What I had to do is… You know, I’m on a show about partying and having fun, and I’m always like the cool, calm guy, and it took a lot of strength to say that stuff in front of millions of people, and sometime I hadn’t even said it to my own parents. It is what it is; I had to do it, and now I’m trying to turn it into a positive thing.