Month: August 2018

Podcast – Ep. 85 – Depression, Bipolar, and College Life, with Anja Burcak

When I was approached by recent college graduate, Anja Burcak, about being a guest on the podcast, I was intrigued not only because she wanted to share her story, but also that it would be coming from the perspective of a young adult, fresh out of college, speaking on the struggles of Depression, Bipolar, and mania. I’ve covered these topics many times in the past, usually though from the perspective of someone who had experienced similar struggles during their younger years.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to help share get the word out about what living with a particular mental health challenge is like, from as many perspectives as possible, and being able to chat with Anja is surely going to help reach so many, especially those who are young adults and parents who’s children are growing up and heading out on their own.

anja burcak - podcast - beyond your pastAnja is a blogger and advocate for Mental Health, and a recent graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, where she studied Psychology, and is now looking to begin her career in addition to continuing her current advocacy work.

As outlined on her blog, “She often writes about mania, depression, and anxiety, from a first-person perspective. Being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (Type 1) 2 years ago has given her insight into the struggles many face with finding the right diagnosis, treatment, and providers. She hopes that sharing her story will create more open, honest conversations about mental health, fighting the stigma one conversation at a time. Lately, she has been exploring new ways to be an advocate, including getting involved in a podcast, guest posts, and vlogging.”

Her blog, The Calculating Mind, is her thoughts on living with Bipolar, Depression, and Mania, written from a unique and insightful point of view. As I read through several of her recent articles, it gives me a sense that Anja writes with the intent of telling it like it is, and not sugar coating the challenges or what she feels needs to be changed. Her blog was also recently nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Congrats, Anja!

Some of the topics we cover during her podcast include:

  1. FIRST SIGNS OF DEPRESSION: What were the first signs that what you were experiencing was more severe than a typical “low” period? How did you know that it was depression, not merely sadness?
  2. BIPOLAR DIAGNOSIS: When did you realize that your diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder was inaccurate? What were signs of bipolar disorder? How did you anja burcak - podcast - depression - bipolar - young adults - beyond your pastreact (i.e. denial, sad, angry, relieved)?
  3. IMPACT OF ILLNESS ON COLLEGE: How did being depressed or manic impact your academic life (i.e. exams, grades)? –This could also be asked about impact on family, friendships, relationships, etc
  4. HOSPITALIZATIONS: From your experience (hospitalizations), what do you believe are some misconceptions the general public has about psychiatric wards? What did you think the hospitalization would be like (i.e. Were you scared to be admitted)? How did your perception of those with “severe mental illnesses”, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, change during your hospital stay?
  5. RECOVERY: What has helped you get back to “baseline” level? Medications? Therapy? Support networks? Coping mechanisms?
  6. ONLINE MENTAL HEALTH COMMUNITY: You are an active member of the mental health community online. What got you started? Why do you continue to be active with mental health blogging and social media? What is your overall goal (i.e. fighting stigma, psychoeducation)?
  7. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: What is your outlook regarding your future and your condition? Are you concerned about relapsing? Are you keeping a more positive outlook? Given your past episodes and what you know now, do you feel better prepared for another episode, should it happen?

If you are in college, have a child in college or perhaps getting ready to head off to school soon, you’ll definitely want to check out Anja’s perspective on how these diagnoses changed her life, and affected her time at college. She shares how things were humming along in life, she finished high school, getting ready for college, and then in 2014 everything changed.

Suddenly she found herself working with a mental health professional, and not exactly having a positive experience, which lead to a search for more help, getting on medication, and then not receiving follow up support and trying to navigate life with more even more struggles and challenges that she wasn’t expecting.

Her story is one that I’m sure will be relatable to so many who have struggled in similar ways that Anja has, but her resiliency and desire to educate herself, along with finding good helping professionals has aided her during her ongoing journey of discovery about herself and her future.

Be sure and follow Anja on Twitter, LinkedIn, The Mighty, The Odessy, and her blog, The Calculating Mind.

-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.

Podcast – Ep. 84 – Rob Goldstein, No longer sick with DID, I am well with DID.

My guest on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast is Photographer, Digital Artist, Blogger, and Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist, Rob Goldstein. He is also a former guest blogger on Surviving My Past, where he shared some of his story in a post titled, “Life with DID where everything is a trigger“. That post has been incredibly helpful and validating for so many who live with dissociative identity disorder, or those who have a loved one who lives with DID.

As outlined on his blog, Rob writes:

I’m a Certified Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist who became symptomatic with a dissociative disorder in 2010. When I started this blog in late 2013, it was to advocate for myself and other people with trauma related mental health problems.

I wrote in my first profile statement that as I evolved the blog would evolve and over time, I learned about photography, digital art and I rediscovered my writing. I call the blog Art by Rob Goldstein but I can just as easily call it life by Rob Goldstein.

This is my life as I live it, evolve, process its history, and prepare for an uncertain future. My life is my work and my work is my art.

Art by Rob Goldstein is an expression of my emotional and intellectual evolution and an ongoing journal of my psychotherapy. I’m blunt, passionate in my beliefs, and willing to state my mind. If an honest exchange of ideas is what you want you’ve found the right place. 

During my recent chat with Rob, we dive into more of his life leading up to getting the true diagnosis of having DID. As you’ll hear him describe so eloquently and in detail, there were so many things going on in his life that just didn’t add up; people were saying things like, “you aren’t the Rob that I knew before”. He knew that things going on in his mind and in life were fragmented, but hearing things like that was devastating to him. After all, he’d been living his life for decades knowing that something was going on, but wasn’t able to put it all together with a true diagnosis from a professional who understood dissociative identity disorder and was able to get him a proper diagnosis much later on in life.

As Rob points out, what drove him to seek the help of a psychiatrist was the realization that his alters had a constant desire to log into virtual reality to have their own lives. This became such a pathological routine that it was consuming all of his time and finally something had to give.

Our conversation continues with his experiences in life, 6 months after his psychiatrist referred him to a therapist that specialized in DID. However, it wasn’t until about a year and half later, that he finally called and made and appointment with that therapist, because he didn’t want to accept that he could have something like dissociative identity disorder, and due to his research, finding out that DID is often caused by sexual trauma. Quite simply, the thought of it all was overwhelming and something he just didn’t want to deal with.

Rob continues to share more of his story:

  • How things finally started to make sense since he began receiving the help he so desperately needed.
  • He also discusses the challenges of his relationships, and how the evolution of healthy boundaries in all aspects of his relationships was life changing for him and his recovery.
  • You’ll learn how something like VR, that was completely taking over his life and becoming nearly toxic to his well being, is now something he is using to help others and himself along his journey.
  • We discuss his view on how DID has truly been a gift for him, as he’s lived through all of the challenges in his life to date.

There is so much more I could tell you, but I don’t want to miss out on this amazing conversation, so I definitely encourage you to check out my podcast with Rob Goldstein. Whether you live with DID or not, I’m sure you’ll be as enlightened and memorized by Rob’s story as I was. It’s a true honor to know this incredible survivor and talented artist, and I look forward to another podcast in the future with him.

Be sure and check out this recent post on his blog , inspired by our conversation on the podcast: Coping with DID, I Love All of You” and follow him on Twitter: @Robrt_M_Goldste

Thank you again to my incredible sponsors, and Daily Recovery Support. Please consider checking them out, as they’ve come together to keep the coffee brewin’ and the mics powered up on the podcast!  🙂

-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.

Podcast – Ep. 83 – Marriage, Mental Health, and Self Care, with Joe and Beka Lombardo

When you’ve been married for 17 years, you can certainly say that you’ve seen your share of struggles and triumphs, ups and downs, good times and rough times. Even more, through all of those experiences you can most definitely say that you are dedicated to each other and your relationship. It’s that kind of dedication that can help carry you through the challenges that come with mental illness, and also help you celebrate each and ever win in your relationship and advocacy work. That’s especially true with my guests on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, Beka and Joe Lombardo.

beka and joe lombardo - podcast guest on beyond your past - marriage and mental healthI first came to know Beka a few years back when I started Surviving My Past, and she offered to be a guest blogger, and share some insight in the area of body image and bullying. Since then we’ve kept in touch and supported each other’s work while building a friendship and mutual respect for the struggles of living with mental health challenges.

Beka is a blogger for The Mighty, and an author of her own book, It’s Not Your Journey, the true story of one woman who fights a battle inside her mind every single day and attempts to document what she is feeling to help others while she helps herself.  Her ongoing battle is not fought alone, her incredible husband Joe is there with her every step of the way as they navigate daily life in the wake of a troubled past. Their never-ending desire to help others is forged not only in blogging and her book, but also with their podcast, Voices for Change 2.0, which I had the pleasure of being a guest on previously.

During my recent chat with Beka and Joe, we talk primarily about their relationship and the unique challenges that come with being a suicide attempt survivor and having a mental illness:

  • Did Rebecca explain her mental health struggles before you started a relationship?
  • You’ve been married for nearly 17 years despite the difficulties mental illness brings.
  • What advice do you have for someone entering a relationship with someone with mental illness?
  • The effect that Beka’s suicide attempt had on Joe and how he’s been able to support her as well as making sure to take care of himself.
  • How and why they started the #KeepTalkingMH hashtag and what it’s meant for them and so many who use it on social media.

Thanks so much to both Beka and Joe for joining me on the show, and being so open about their struggles so that others can benefit and realize that no matter what they endure, there is hope and that they are surely not alone.  Be sure and check out for information about their advocacy work, her book, and the podcast.  Oh, and if you are looking for a guitar teacher, Joe teaches on the weekends and just might be looking for some new students!

Please consider subscribing and leaving a review on your favorite podcasting app, I would definitely appreciate it,  and thank you to my incredible sponsors, and Daily Recovery Support.

-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. 82 – Mental Health Megacast – Religion and Mental Health, a Roundtable Discussion

Welcome back to our self-proclaimed, Mental Health Megacast, a semi-regular round table discussion with 3 mental health advocates and survivors who are trying to find our way through recovery.

There is some debate as to which episode we are actually on with this particular series, and we’ve covered that fiasco in previous episodes, so whether or not it’s actually episode 82, or episode 9 in the series…well who knows!

Anyways, just in case you aren’t familiar with the Megacasts, you can check out past episodes here, and also on cohorts platforms as well….

To that end, the Megacast is creation of the collaborative brain powers (more or less) of Wes from and Mike from, and myself.  I encourage you to check out and follow them online and through your favorite podcasting platform. Each of these has a tremendous message to share and an inspiring and unique way in how they go about it.

In this episode, we do a bit of catching up before diving into some more specific topics. As you’ll see, we have a lot of fun and regardless of the between shows, we’re able to pick up where we left off. That’s the beauty of this collaboration, not only is it a mutual respect and admiration for each others work asMikes Open Journaladvocates, but also the struggle and subsequent resiliency that comes with battling our own pasts.

The topic of this episode is one that we’ve been wanting to cover for quite awhile now, and as luck would have it, and a bit of good timing, we were able to pull together a time to meet to dive into our views on faith and religion and how believing in God, or a higher power, can influence your mental health and specifically your area of struggle; be it addiction recovery, depression, self-harm, trauma survivor, etc.

We each have somewhat differing views, but the great thing is,  we chat and debate a bit in way that not only ends up being informative and a humorous, but also so that none of us ever feels like our view is less than the others.  As Wes points out, we can chat and nobody feels like they have to win!

To that end, we hope you enjoy this latest episode as we cover this difficult and controversial topic, and if you have suggestions for future shows, please contact us and let us know…but whatever you do, please don’t mention the time! 😉

Be sure and follow Wes on Twitter @WesA1966 and Mike @Mike_Douglas_ & Open_Journal_  …oh and don’t forget to follow and subscribe to all of our shows on your favorite podcasting app!

-Matt 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.

Podcast – Ep. 81 – Finding Hope and Life by Overcoming Addiction, and Living with Bipolar and Mania.

Every now and then I have the opportunity to chat with a former guest blogger on Surviving My Past, and when I get that opportunity it’s always an incredible experience. Not everyone is ready to, or enjoys sharing their story on a podcast, and that’s okay. The main thing is that when you are at a point of being able to use your experiences to help others, while continuing to aid your own recovery journey, you do so in a way that feels congruent with you and in line with your values.

This episode of the podcast is just such one of those opportunities to chat with a former guest blogger and share more about his story, hearing it in his own voice. Jason Miller, of and @CostlyLoveWins on Twitter joins me for an incredibly moving chat about his life.

His submission on the blog, “A Bipolar Life: He spent years making mud pies in a slum, but no more!” was vulnerable and honest as he shares many of the struggles he’s endured, in a way that makes you want to keep reading to find out how it all turns out and how he made it through such trauma.  As with so many survivors, you may find yourself not only saddened by their experiences, but cheering them on as they begin to pull themselves out of the depths and into a new world of healing and awareness.

On his blog, Jason describes himself as: a grizzled veteran of the roller coaster of this deadly illness, I (barely) survived it for 43 years. But today, I live with it (bipolar disorder). Perpetually on the edge of that cliff of mania or depression, but with the joy and peace of that boy feeding the gentle giraffe. I hope to help you learn how to do the same. It may take years of diligent effort, but if you want a life instead of a miserable existence, the support networks, tools, medications, recovery angels in skin, and spiritual miracles are all there.

Throughout our conversation, Jason shares more indepth about some of the struggles in his life in the areas of Living with Bipolar Disorder, Mania, Addiction to Pornography and Alcohol, a traumatic accident at work which left him with severe burns,  as well as these following topics:

  • To what do you attribute your getting into recovery and what tools do you use to stay there?
  • What has been most beneficial to your recovery?
  • Besides working on your own recovery, what do you do within the mental health and addiction community?
  • What are your thoughts on the stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction?
  • What are your thoughts on our broken mental health care system?

As you listen to Jason talk, don’t be surprised if you find yourself hanging on each word as you hear him recount struggle after struggle, starting over again and again, until finally coming to a place where he could seek out help, surround himself with safe people, and embrace acceptance along his life long journey of healing.

Thank you again Jason for coming on the podcast, your story is undoubtedly helping so many and I’m honored to help share your story.

Don’t forget to check out Jason’s post on Surviving My Past, and we hope you’ll consider sharing his podcast with those who you feel might benefit from his story.

Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcasting app, I’d surely appreciate it! Special thanks to my sponsors, and Daily Recovery Support.

If you’d like to be a guest on an upcoming episode of the podcast, just contact me anytime!

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.