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.

 

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