Eating Disorders

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.

 

Podcast – Ep. 98 – The Connection Between Trauma and Eating Disorders.

As you begin to learn how your past affects your present life, you start putting the puzzle pieces together of why you feel the way you do, what your specific triggers are and where they stem from, why you struggle in certain aspects of life, and a myriad of other things start to come into focus and you have these “ah ha” or “lightbulb” moments when suddenly everything makes sense.

I’ve had many such enlightening moments during some very intense and difficult times in a therapists office, or working with a trauma informed coach. I can remember saying things like, “I never know that my self-esteem problems were because of being bullied. I didn’t realize that my learning disability may very well have developed due to childhood trauma. The problems with my weight and issues with food are not simply some genetic family problem, but have been intensified and increased due to childhood sexual abuse and other trauma. The list goes on and on, and needless to say this revelation was both empowering and disheartening at the same time.

Realizing that all of these struggles were not my fault, and were either caused by or greatly influenced by past trauma, took me down a dark road for a time. Sitting with that realization was difficult, but one of the ways that I began to work through it and reframe the shame, was to use this information as a learning experience. Something I could take to change the tide of what was ahead for me, rather than just accept that I was destined to suffer and struggle for the rest of my life.

One of the biggest hurdles that I continue to work through, is in the area of food, and because of this struggle I am always on the lookout for ways to discover and understand how the mind and body work in the wake of past trauma, and specifically in this case, with eating disorders, food struggles, and gaining weight.

My guest today, Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, joins me on the podcast to discuss the connection between trauma and eating disorders.

Born in Houston, Texas, Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross spent her childhood in San Antonio where as the oldest of five children, she comes from a long line of physicians and healers. Her mother’s father was a well-known physician in Bryan, Texas, who opened his own hospital and nursing school. His mother, Betty Love, was a Cherokee medicine woman.

Dr. Ross’s own personal health crisis and the diagnosis of her mother with Alzheimer’s led her on a journey to healing in which her perspective about medicine changed and her desire to focus on integrative medicine led her to the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Ross completed a two-year fellowship in Integrative Medicine, studying with Dr. Andrew Weil. Her path then led her to work as the head of the Eating Disorders Program and the Integrative Medicine Department at world-renowned inpatient hospital, Sierra Tucson where she pioneered the Integrative Medicine approach to eating disorder treatment. She currently works in private practice in Denver, Colorado, as an addiction medicine specialist and suboxone doctor who specializes in opioid addiction treatment. She also is a consultant for treatment centers across the country on eating disorders and integrative medicine.  You can learn more about her practice, and how she got started in medicine, by checking out her bio on her website, CarolynRossMD.com 

I’m so honored to talk with Carolyn on the podcast, and dive a bit deeper into some of the struggles with food and weight that are not only close to my heart but affect so many who listen to the podcasts and read the blog posts both here and on Surviving My Past.  During our chat, Dr. Ross and I discuss:

  • How do events from the past impact eating habits?
  • How much does trauma have to do with eating disorders?
  • Is food addiction a true eating disorder, and can you actually be addicted to food?
  • The impact of dieting on eating disorders, and the effects on our mind and body.
  • What is the relationship between weight and health, is it really about “calories in calories out?”
  • How do we develop a healthy relationship with food as trauma survivors.

Carolyn and I discuss these topics and more on the podcast, so you’ll definitely want to check it out and give it a listen. The information she shares could very well be life changing for you or someone you know, so please consider sharing this with someone who might need it.

If you’d like more information about Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, her Books, The Anchor Program, or working with her individually in the areas of eating disorders or addiction, head over to CarolynRossMD.com.

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.