Month: June 2018

Podcast – Ep. 75 – Rachel Grant, Survivor Struggles and Mentally Ill Labels

Living in today’s volatile and controversial world can take its toll on anyone. With so much violence happening around the world, discord among not only world leaders across the globe but certainly in the US, and the phrase “mentally ill” being tossed around in context to some of the most heinous crimes in recent history, and it’s no wonder we can feel unsettled.

For survivors, it’s tough enough navigating daily life in the wake of a traumatic past, but add in all of the pressures of being bombarded with news and current events 24/7, and the struggle gets exponentially more difficult.

I too struggle with my own thoughts and even my most trusted coping strategies are taxed to their limits at times trying to stay grounded while “fighting the good fight” as it were, to raise awareness and get involved in areas that I’m passionate about. It feels like an uphill battle that gets steeper and steeper, even with the best plan and self-care strategies in place.

Rachel Grant - Sexual Abuse Survivor Coach, Podcast GuestThat’s why I wanted to spend some time chatting with friend, colleague, and returning guest to the podcast, Rachel Grant. From the very first time that we collaborated back in the earlier episodes of the show, we’ve developed a friendship and mutual respect for each other not only as advocates and survivors, but as everyday people just trying to find our way in this world and make a difference while we continue to heal.

Rachel Grant is a Sexual Abuse Survivor Coach, with an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. Her website, features not only her individual and group work with survivors, but also her book “Beyond Surviving”, Facebook Group, Master Class, and free and low-cost Audible Downloads covering topics such as Shame, Boundaries, Abandonment, and much more.


Some of the topics that Rachel and I discuss on this episode include:


  • Feelings of Shame and Triggers that can arise in regards to the mass violence and political climate across the world.
  • “Mentally Ill” labels being tossed around in negative and stigmatizing ways in regards to school and church shootings, gun control, world leaders, and those who suffer with depression.
  • Getting involved in causes that we believe in, and trying to do too much.
  • Looking at labels in a different context, as a way to help feel inspired and educated, and provide direction towards treatment and resources.
  • Learning to pause, think before we speak and react, when it comes to highly charged situations, reducing anxiety, and in everyday life.
  • Using “service” to help get out of our heads, reduce burnout, and re-energize for not only our own journey but our involvement in causes we are passionate in.

Thank you again Rachel from coming back on the podcast and sharing your insight and heartfelt message for survivors. I’ve learned so much from you and I look forward to our collaborative work in the future.

Be sure and check out and follow her on Twitter: @CoachRachelG.

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP








All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and 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. 74 – Chip Fisher, the alternative to traditional treatments for Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia

If you’re anything like me; someone who’s suffered with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and perhaps you also live with PTSD, then you’ve likely tried many, many different types of treatments. Everything from supplements and medications, to oils, meditation, holistic approaches, and much more. The list is seemingly endless, as is the frustration of exploring so many options to try and find what works for you, even if it’s only some of the time.

If you do live with any of those mental health challenges, or know someone who does, this alternative to traditional treatments might be something you consider exploring. My guest on this episode of the podcast is Chip Fisher, President of Fisher Wallace Laboratories, based in New York, a medical device company that specializes in a wearable device to help with Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia.

Designed collaboratively by world-class engineers and doctors, the Fisher Wallace Stimulator® uses proprietary waveforms to gently stimulate the brain to produce serotonin and other neurochemicals responsible for healthy mood and sleep. Proven safe and effective in multiple published studies, the device is cleared by the FDA to treat depression, anxiety and insomnia.*

As Chip explains, In 2001, renowned addictionologist Martin Wallace, PhD, CCN, CAd, was unable to find any means of coping with the depression that brought him to a standstill in the aftermath of eight hours spent trapped in a building at Ground Zero on 9/11. In 2002 he discovered the Stimulator, originally created by brilliant engineers Saul and Bernard Liss, and used it to successfully treat his depression.

Wallace and Fisher met not long after at a business conference, and Chip was so impressed with the lack of side effects and the incredible results that using this product produced, that he began using it himself and still does today.

You can read more about the story of how this device came to be, and the science behind it, over at

One of the things that I was most interested in, was how survivors of trauma might benefit from using the Fisher Wallace Stimulator.  As is often the case with trauma survivors and those living with PTSD, the brain’s normal functions of stimulating the production of and regulating neurochemicals such as serotonin, cortisol, and dopamine, is hampered. As a result, living with hypervigilance, anxiety disorders, insomnia, as well as other mood disorders is all too common.

This device using patented technology to gently help the brain begin to resume its normal duties in this manner, and as a result countless patients have experienced life changing results.  You can also check out his Ted Talk, in which he reveals some of the science and history behind the development the Stimulator.

As he explains, this device is painless, and most patients experience nothing more than a slight tingling sensation if anything at all. It can be used at home, while traveling, virtually anywhere, and see results without any serious side effects.

In addition, Chip himself lives with Depression and Seasonal Effective Disorder, so he knows first hand some of the struggles that the users of this device live with each day. He too tried countless traditional methods to help with his symptoms, including talk therapy and traditional drugs, but mostly found that they did little to help and some of the medications had severe side effects.

By taking proven technology that originated in 46 A.D., with a physician using a Torpedo Fish to help treat Migraines and Gout, has developed into state of the art technology that can be combined with many digital health applications to help treat some of the most detrimental mental and physical health conditions in modern history.

If you’d like to learn more, check out for device information, pricing, clinical trials, and more. Thank you again Chip for coming on the Beyond Your Past Podcast and for the research that your company is doing to help those who struggle in the areas of Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia.

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP










All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and 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. 73 – Lisa Tobe, The diagnosis & challenges of DID and Complex Trauma

If you live with any type of mental health challenge, or know someone who does, you know what a struggle each day can be. No matter what you deal with each day, you have learned, and continue to learn to adapt to what faces you. You make your way through life, one step at a time, building up your resilience along the way. Gaining confidence, perspective, and self-compassion in the face of tremendous adversity that not everyone can understand.

However, before we can begin to live, learn, and adapt, we first have to figure out what it is that’s going on inside our minds and bodies; the diagnosis.

That’s a challenge all to itself, and one that can unfortunately take years or even decades to assess correctly. Unfortunately for so many that is all too often the case; misdiagnosis or no diagnosis at all leads us with endless amounts of unanswered questions about who we are and why we are the way that we are.

My guest on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, Lisa Tobe, talks about her struggles with being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and Complex Trauma.

Lisa is a Executive Director of Wildflower Consulting, LLC. – partnering with clients to design, facilitate, and evaluate policy, system, and environmental strategies that improve public health.

During our chat, we discuss topics including:

  • The challenges she faced in getting the diagnosed at 27 years old, and the years leading up to the diagnosis that included a hospital stay.
  • The depression, and suicidal thoughts that plagued her for years before she was able to get a proper diagnosis.
  • Triggers and Flashbacks associated with PTSD and Complex PTSD.
  • How writing helped facilitate healing and understanding of her alters.
  • The power of sharing stories with yourself on a clinical level.
  • Her memoir and starting a non-profit to help women who have survived all types of violence.

I always find it so amazing that during a simple conversation on a podcast, you realize you have so much in common with someone. This show with Lisa was no different, especially when she talks about learning about her particular type of DID and how similar that is to Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DDNOS), which is what I am recovering from.

There is safety and validation among survivors and those who get what it means to live daily life with these types of challenges. It’s a testament not only to the resilience of the human spirit, but the willingness to reach out and share and help others who struggle.

Thank you again Lisa for coming onto the show, I look forward to talking with you again once your book is published.

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa, her story, or about her non profit for women survivors of violence, you can email her at at or at

I hope you’ll consider leaving a review and rating Beyond Your Past on iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRadio, or your favorite podcasting app!

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP


Podcast – Ep. 72 – Author and Survivor, Larry Ruhl

There’s a certain type of kinship that exists between survivors of childhood trauma. It’s certainly not something that anyone would wish for, and definitely not the most desirable of circumstances in which to strike up a friendship, but none the less when you meet a fellow survivor, there is often this connection that allows the conversation to flow as if you’ve been friends for years.

It’s not only a mutual respect for one another, but a feeling of just “getting it”, by knowing where the other is coming from. Even though your stories are different, the feelings are often very similar if not the same.

I’ve found out first hand through my own healing journey, that survivors are some of the most compassionate, kind, and understanding people that you will ever meet. They know what it’s like to live through hell and find a way to keep fighting. To use their story to help inspire others, and to help give a voice to those who are still silenced.

That is certainly the case with my guest on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, as I talk with author and survivor, Larry Ruhl.

Larry’s book, Breaking the Ruhl’s, is his story as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Throughout the book he faces the challenging questions. “Is it truly possible to move through the shame I carry every day? Can I have a full life without depending on mind-numbing drugs and alcohol? And the most difficult question of all: Do I tell? But how do I tell? Who do I tell? What happens if I do tell?”

Larry Ruhl serves as a board member for Taking Back Ourselves, which facilitates weekends of recovery for female survivors of sexual abuse, and is a registered speaker with the RAINN network (Rape Abuse Incest National Network). He previously served as a board member at Male Survivor. He also spoke at colleges and retreats to increase awareness of sexual abuse against men and boys. Today he shares his story publicly to spread awareness and to help others shed the shame and stigma associated with sexual abuse. He graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), with a degree in Display & Exhibit Design, and worked as a creative director at a textile firm for ten years until opening his own home furnishings/interior design business in 2004. He works as an artist and designer in the Hudson Valley.

During my chat with Larry we cover topics including:

  • This memoir is so personal and the story is so painful. How did you find the strength to share your story? Did writing it help you heal?
  • When did you first realize that what was happening in your household was not only not normal, but was physical, emotional, and sexual abuse?
  • You talk about how you’ve found a way to forgive your parents, but that you’ll never forget what happened. Can you speak to that?
  • You’re no longer in contact with your parents, but you are close with your sister, who still lives with them. Can you talk about how you decided to move forward with this book?
  • Now that the book has been released, how has it impacted your healing journey, your relationships, and your life as a whole?

Larry shares openly and vulnerably about his life and struggles, and offers such hope and encouragement during our conversation that you can help but be inspired by his bravery and the bravery of all who speak out and refuse to be silent.

I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to talk to this incredible survivor and I look forward to bringing him back on the podcast in the future to talk more about his story.  Thank you again Larry for your book, your message of hope, and your continued desire to reach those all who have survived the trauma of abuse.

You can purchase, Breaking the Ruhl’s on Barnes & Noble and on Amazon. Be sure and follow Larry on Twitter & Instagram, @LarryRuhl

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP







All conversation and information exchanged during participation the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and 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.