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Balancing Vulnerability with Mental Health and LGBTQ+ Advocacy, with Lee Thomas – Ep. 103

It’s no secret that one of the keys to life, is balance. Lean too much towards work, and we can lose focus on our personal life and risk burn out. Lean too far towards the personal side, and we can end up losing sight of the career dreams and things we want to accomplish. When you toss Mental Health into the equation, it adds a whole new dimension to this struggle.

Not only do you have to juggle your personal and professional life, what ever that looks like for you individually, now you have any number of mental health challenges that bring about their own daily influx of struggles. Talk about the need for balance, right!

lee-thomas - podcast - beyond your pastAs a mental health and LGBTQ+ advocate, and current MSW student, Lee Thomas shares her thoughts on this topic and several others during this episode of the podcast.

I first met Lee when I came across her weekly Facebook Live show, Crazy Talk, after the HealtheVoices 2018 Conference. Lee regularly interviews advocates, clinicians, professional, survivors and others all around the topic of mental health and advocacy. I was honored to be on Crazy Talk earlier this year (you can find that episode by clicking here) and now I’m pleased to have Lee join me on Beyond Your Past.

Lee was born and raised in a small town in northern Alberta. From a young age they were heavily involved in athletics, student government, and other extracurriculars. However, during their teen years they began battling a mental illness. Feeling scared and alone, Lee struggled silently for many years. Their illness worsened throughout their high school years and continued into university, until Lee finally sought help and began the difficult process of recovery.

After Lee began the recovery process, they realized that there were still many people struggling with mental health issues in silence. To reduce the stigma around mental health issues on their campus, Lee founded the #MyDefinition poster campaign in 2014. Since then, Lee has been working as a motivational speaker and mental health trainer, speaking to groups of all ages and sizes about their own mental health experiences, the important of reducing stigma, and LGBTQ+ issues.

While continuing her graduate education in the field of social work, she continues to serve as a speaker, trainer, and writer in the mental health field; her work has been featured on The Mighty, TEDx, CBC News, and more.

During our chat on the podcast, we cover some of the struggles and triumphs in her life so far as well as her future work as social worker serving the LGBTQ+ community and others who know what it means to struggle with a mental illness such as depression, eating disorders, bipolar, and more:

  • Her struggle with depression, eating disorders, and self-harm in her teen-age years.
    • The realization that she had been suffering in silence for so long, and then learning what a mental illness means for her.
    • The limited information available about mental health when she was younger, and what she re-learned later.
  • Starting the #MyDefinition poster campaign and how that lead to acquiring speaking engagements and sharing her story at conferences and workshops.
  • The 3 keys of validation she needed to get started in her career:  Passion, Knowledge, and Something She was Good at.
  • What vulnerability looks like for each of us
  • Staying busy and the risk of doing so to avoid confronting and working through tough memories and emotions.
    • How staying busy reinforces the mindset of “uncopewithable” situations, and how this can set back healing.

Lee shares her thoughts on these topics and more during our chat, so I hope you’ll check out the podcast to hear more of her story, and don’t forget to subscribe and share it with someone who might benefit from Lee’s message. You never know the difference it might make.

Be sure and follow Lee on http://Facebook.com/LeeThomasSpeaks , and her website LeeThomas.ca

Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP

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All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on BeyondYourPast.com, and BeyondYourPastRadio.com is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.

 

Stigma Free Zone, A Community Initiative for Breaking Down Barriers of Mental Health – Ep. 101

Whether you are an advocate, mental health professional, a family member or friend of someone who struggles with a mental health challenge, or you yourself live with your own struggles, we can all agree that raising awareness and doing our part to help erase the stigma of mental health is needed now more than ever.

We can all do our own part, using our talents, gifts, and hard work to help make a difference in our local communities. After all, this is where we live, work, and socialize; it’s where we spend so much of our time each day. So why not do what we can to make our little corner of the world a place where people can feel empowered to ask for help when they need it, and to not feel ashamed or alone.

This is exactly what Cynthia Chazen is doing, with “The Stigma Free Zone”, in her local community of Bergen County, New Jersey.

The Stigma Free Zone, started by founder, Mary Ann Uzzi, in Paramus New Jersey, has a mission of inspiring public interest and open dialogues about stigma, raising awareness of the local mental health resources available, and breaking down barriers of mental health in local communities.

Cynthia and I first met at the HealtheVoices Conference in 2018; she is an enthusiastic advocate who believes everyone can educate about mental health. She is the editor of the Stigma Free Zone News of New Jersey, and has a huge following on Twitter where she shares both local and global news about mental illness.  You can subscribe to her newsletter by checking out her Facebook Page, SFZNewsofNJ.

During our chat on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, we talk more about The Stigma Free Zone initiative, including:

  • How the Stigma Free Zone movement started in New Jersey, and is spreading across the country.
  • How you can get involved and create your own chapter in your local community. Get the toolkit here.
  • You don’t need to be a mental health professional or have a degree, to make a difference.
  • How mental health education is the area for grassroots organizing.
  • Giving people permission to talk about their own mental health struggles.
  • Some of Cynthia’s story of the challenges she faced in her life that inspired her to take action for others.

Be sure and follow Cynthia Chazen on Twitter and check out the Facebook Pages for the Stigma Free Zone for more information on how you can get involved where you live.

If you’d like to be a guest on a future episode of the podcast, you can contact me anytime. Don’t forget to share this episode with someone who might need it; together we can all continue to make a difference.

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP

free one hour coaching sessions - beyond your past

 

 

 

 

 

 

All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on BeyondYourPast.com, and BeyondYourPastRadio.com is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.

 

Podcast – Ep. 86 – A Diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder, and Identifying Hypomanic Triggers, with John Dickson.

Living with a mental health challenge of any type, often means that you go through many stages of exploration until you reach a true diagnosis that will allow you and your helping professional to put a plan in place of the proper treatment and self-care routine. Initially these types of changes in our mental health can often lead to having more questions than answers, but in time the new insight gained can be invaluable to our recovery.

My guest on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, John Dickson, lived with Major Depressive Disorder for 40 years, before being officially diagnosed. As he shares on his blog, The3inMe.ga, …Over the majority of that period, my illness was undiagnosed and untreated. It’s only in hindsight that I can see that I’ve experienced many depressive episodes. Each episode was both darker and longer in duration than its predecessor. The most severe episode culminated in a suicide attempt in September 2014. It was after this attempt that I was diagnosed as having Major Depressive Disorder.

More recently I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. Bipolar II Disorder differs from Bipolar Disorder in having a hypomanic state rather than a manic state. Hypomanic simply means less manic. I’m still coming to terms with this new diagnosis and don’t yet fully understand it. I’ll share what I learn in this blog.

Depression is the silent killer. This is true especially, among men. Men remain silent and steadfast while they suffer. I was one of those men. I suffered in silence until I succumbed. This lesson has taught me to speak out about the dangers of silence and in this blog, I speak out. I also have a son and family who I love very much. This blog is for them. Here they can see for themselves that I’m recovering.

John and I first met at the HealtheVoices 2018 Conference, in Chicago. We struck up a friendship there and have kept in touch since that event. You can listen to some thoughts that I had about the conference on a special edition podcast that I recorded this past spring. 

During the podcast, we cover topics including:

  • Why John is so open about sharing his mental health struggles.
  • More about the events that lead to an attempt in taking his own life in September, 2014.
  • How those events lead him into not only his blog writing but advocacy work.
  • Talking specifically with your therapist or counselor about specific diagnosis treatments and options.
  • How his life has changed since the events in 2014, including the new diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder and learning to understand what it means for him, including the hypomanic states that come along with it.

Be sure and check out his blog, The3inMe.ga , as he writes weekly about his journey of understanding and healing, both past and present. John’s message is one of vulnerable insight… an expression of hope, a declaration of love and a celebration of a life reclaimed. Ultimately, it’s my letter to my son, my apology and my promise.

You can follow John on Twitter @Zelandroid009

If you haven’t done so yet, please consider subscribing to the podcast, to get notified when I release new episodes each week! I’d sure be stoked to have you on this journey of inspiring others with the power of sharing their stories.

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP

 

 

 

 

 

 

All conversation and information exchanged during participation the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on BeyondYourPast.com, and BeyondYourPastRadio.com is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.

Podcast – Ep. 69 – HeatheVoices 2018 Conference Experience

I recently had the privilege of attending the HealtheVoices 2018 Conference, in Chicago. It was an incredible event where advocates representing over 40 mental and physical health communities came together for 3-day weekend of collaborating, education, and networking.

It was my first time attending an event like this, and to be honest I really didn’t know what to expect. I did my research, watched videos, and checked out past event information, but still you never know until you get there right?

I’m so grateful to Janssen Pharmaceuticals for the honor of being one of the mental health advocates there, representing Anxiety and Trauma Recovery. So, I decided what better what to share some of my experience at the conference than to do a podcast about it. Since, hey I’m a podcaster right! 🙂

Thank you to everyone at Janssen who organized this amazing weekend, I’m so humbled and honored to have had the pleasure of attending. I learned so much, made new friends, and even met a few people that I already knew!

The staff, the event organizers, the sponsors, and of course all of the amazing and dedicated advocates that I met have left a lasting impact on my life. I left feeling inspired and encouraged, realizing that we all have so much in common, even if our platforms are different. Our common goal of raising awareness, providing resources and encouragement and information to people just like ourselves, who need it now more than ever.

We’re all living the experience for which we advocate for, pouring our heart and souls into this labor of love of doing all we can to help others while on our own journey. I’m not ashamed to say that I am a survivor, a recovering anxiety sufferer, and someone who is right there feeling all the pain and frustration in the trenches of recovery.

Going to this conference was like feeling at home with 122 people that I’d never met before in my life. That’s the beauty of this event, everyone is there to learn, share, and encourage one another and to be reminded that none of us are ever alone on this journey of healing and recovery.

I look forward to hopefully being invited back in 2019 to HealtheVoices!
https://www.healthevoices.com/

-Matt Pappas, Coach, Podcaster, Advocate.

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Janssen paid for my travel and accommodations for the event; my opinions are my own.

 

All conversation and information exchanged during participation the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on BeyondYourPast.com, and BeyondYourPastRadio.com is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.