I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Panic Disorder. When I started publicly sharing my experiences, I learned that it helped people identify their own struggles and gave them courage to seek help. My goal with this series is to give people hope through the stories of others and help them realize they are not alone. You are not weird or broken, and your mental illness does not have to define you. Let’s eliminate the stigma surrounding the mental health conversation by sharing our experiences and learning ways to heal.
Our friendship began from being the youngest in our grade (our September birthdays are a week apart), a mutual love of the written word, overalls, and the performing arts. 23 years later, we remain bonded over morning sickness, acid reflux, and experiencing the firsts of pregnancy at the same time...literally. Our babies, both boys, are due two days apart this summer! In the season finale of Mental Illness and Me, guest host Daniel Sowards interviews us together about our experiences with mental health and pregnancy as first time moms in our late thirties.
Navy mechanic Chad was 17 years old when he suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that left him with increased anxiety and depression. Combined with his experiences in the military, mental illness is part of Chad’s daily life. He shares his experiences and why he believes it’s important to tell his story.
College student David started noticing serious symptoms of mental illness when he was a senior in high school. Soon after, he was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. These illnesses eroded his self-esteem and left him very lonely. Still on the path to finding the right treatment plan for him, David speaks honestly from the heart about the feelings associated with these disorders and what he has learned in the past several years while coping with mental illness.
At 18, Amanda is the youngest guest we’ve had on Mental Illness and Me. She is finishing her senior year of high school and bravely shares her struggle with harm OCD, a form of OCD that causes intrusive, irrational thoughts about hurting oneself or others.
35 year old Melody learned she had bipolar disorder with hypomania when she was in her twenties. She also deals with trichotillomania and anxiety, dating back to her childhood. In Monday’s episode, she eloquently shares her thoughts about mental illness from the lens of her own experiences as a Chicana and a mental health advocate.
Samuel remembers suffering from anxiety as early as elementary school age. His anxiety progressed to full-blown panic attacks by the time he reached high school. He was diagnosed with anxiety, and later with ADHD as a young adult. As a naturally extroverted person, Samuel met particular challenges with his anxiety during the Covid pandemic. On Monday’s episode, he talks about techniques that help him manage both his anxiety and ADHD, and he also addresses the importance of men talking more openly about mental health.
Mer was in college when she first entered a treatment center for Bulimia Nervosa, after battling depression and anxiety previously. This physical and mental illness is characterized by binge eating followed by one of a few different purging rituals (not just throwing up, as many people think). Mer explains what engaging in binge eating behaviors really looks looks like and points out the dangers of diet culture in this fantastic episode of Mental Illness and Me. Her passion is contagious.
Seasonal Depressive Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that is initiated by the change in seasons. Michael is a father, teacher, author, and composer and he struggles with SAD during the winter season. Through the years, he learned to prepare for the inevitable difficulties that come each year and now is proactive in preventing the disorder from derailing his life every winter.
As a graduate student and soon-to-be mom, Stacey was overwhelmed to the point of debilitating depression. She sought treatment to help her navigate through this difficult time; yet, the depression returned during pregnancy and postpartum. In the years since, Stacey has learned ways to manage her depression so it doesn’t control her life and happiness.
Though it started in her teenage years, it wasn’t until she was an adult that Vanessa realized she suffered from Skin Picking Disorder, also known as Dermatillomania. Since connecting with others with similar struggles, Vanessa found ways to manage it and live her life without shame. In this episode, she shares the raw emotions she experiences as she battles with the disorder.
Nisha Sathiyanathan graduated from Weber State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She then went on to graduate from the University of Utah with a Master of Social Work. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Nisha has experience working with OCD, Anxiety Disorders,Depression, Troubled Youth, Trauma, Couples, Families, and adolescents. Nisha works at her own private practice in Utah and loves bringing her Goldendoodle named Sunny with her to work. In this episode, she talks about mental illness misconceptions and she shares some of her own experiences that have helped her better understand her clients.
In March of 2020, Tatiana’s little sister died by suicide at the age of 20 after a long battle with mental illness. Consumed with grief, Tatiana scoured books and the Internet, looking for resources for loved ones dealing with suicide grief. She shares her story in hopes of helping others find healing after tragic loss. To those struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the national suicide/mental health crisis line 1-800-272-8225 or text TALK to 741741. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at AFSP.org is a great support resource for loss survivors.
Genesis Eve deals with severe depression that began in her youth. On Monday’s episode, she shares how it affects many aspects of her life, including her relationships, career, and her involvement in theater arts.
Halcyon discusses her battle with skin picking disorder, a Body Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB). This is an area of mental health that doesn’t often get discussed, and Halcyon addresses it with poise and courage.
On this episode, I share my story. I’ve struggled with OCD my entire life, though I didn’t receive and official diagnosis until I was a young adult. I’ve primarily dealt with a form of OCD called scrupulosity that often distorts religious beliefs. I am still an active Christian. I am not a therapist, nor have I formally studied mental illness. What I share comes from my personal experiences in therapy and living with the illness. Daniel Sowards guest interviews this episode.
Daniel is the other half of the two person production team for Mental Illness and Me. Daniel shares why mental health is a topic that is important to him and what motivated him to volunteer his time for this podcast. He reflects on episodes that resonated with him during the editing process, and discusses his own experiences with mental health as he moved away from the religious beliefs of his youth and took a different path.
In high school, Andrew had a hard time focusing, unless it was something that sparked his interest. In that case, he would deep dive in to the subject and voraciously read whatever he could find about the subject. When he learned about ADHD in a health class, he recognized himself in the symptoms. This is his story.
As a high school student, Julia suffered from debilitating anxiety. Any form of presentation in front of her peers led to frequent emotional breakdowns, and she struggled with codependency. She began seeing a therapist and learned ways to cope with her anxiety. Now, as a young adult, she had more confidence than ever before and is in a healthy and happy relationship. She shares what has made a difference for her.
Christina started life in the foster care system. Adopted at a young age, she struggled with mental illness as early as elementary school. Over two decades, doctors tried to identify her mental illness and sought the best treatment for her symptoms. After living through a controlling first marriage, Christina finally found answers and appropriate treatment and is now enjoying marriage and motherhood. Listen as she shares her bumpy road to a proper diagnosis.
As early as 5th grade, James suffered from panic attacks and extreme anxiety. He was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a child and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder as an adult. On Monday, James describes his gratitude for the advocates in his life, both as a child and as an adult. He also shares how he uses his own experiences to help him in his employment at a treatment center for young adult men transitioning into life on their own. It’s a touching episode that highlights the best in humanity.
Meet Kate. Anxious from a young age, Kate started experiencing panic attacks in high school. When she left home for college, her anxiety intensified and became debilitating. 20-year-old Kate reflects on what she is learning about herself as she navigates life with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and offers advice to teenagers and young adults like her who are beginning their own process of discovery with mental illness.
Seven years ago this month, Allan’s father tragically died when a driver under the influence of an illegal substance hit his car head on. This traumatic experience triggered intense depression and anxiety in Allan that he never before experienced. Allan and his wife Kattie join me on Monday’s episode to talk about his battle with situational depression and the effect trauma and grief can have on mental health. They also offer beautiful insight on how to better support those who are grieving.
Brielle works as a doula helping women through birth and post partum. She started noticing symptoms of depression years ago in college and began treatment. After an abusive relationship relationship, she was surprised when her therapist diagnosed her with PTSD. She shares her story with us on Mental Illness and Me.
Stephen considers himself, first and foremost, a father. He also struggles with Bipolar 2 Disorder and ADD. When his young daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, he faced an intense physical, emotional, and mental battle. Listen to his story where he describes how his daughter’s courage, his faith, and barbershop music helped him find hope and happiness in the midst of the greatest trial of his life.
Kristen always knew she wanted to be a mom. After struggling to get pregnant, she and her husband finally got the happy news that they were expecting twins! Anxiety and depression, however, robbed her of much of the joy she hoped to experience through pregnancy and life postpartum.
Paul Peterson, MSW, started working as a therapist in 1998. He was intrigued by OCD from the beginning of his career, and it became more personal to him when several family members were diagnosed. In 2008, he received training from the National OCD foundation that changed the path of his career. In 2015, he officially established the OCD and Anxiety Treatment Center with 100 employees. It has changed countless lives dramatically and given hope to hundreds of OCD sufferers.
Postpartum depression is a phrase commonly understood; antenatal depression, however, is much less recognized. Codee didn’t experience mental illness until it came on with a vengeance during her first pregnancy. She suffered from severe anxiety and panic and desperately sought treatment safe for pregnancy. Codee shares her story with us on this episode. You can listen to her own podcast about parenthood on partumthemess.com.
As a young adult, Lea was diagnosed with PTSD, Bipolar 1, and severe anxiety. For years, she took medication and went to therapy while simultaneously suffering from brutal headaches and other strange side-effects. After a brain scan that should have been ordered 20 years earlier, the doctors discovered she had two meningiomas growing around her spine and brain. Lea joined us on Mental Illness and Me while in recovery from her fifth brain surgery and discussed how she copes with her mental illnesses while also dealing with two continuously growing brain tumors.