Health & Well Being
Love and Relationships
Passion and Purpose
Mental Health & Well Being: Surviving to Thriving
Janet is a proactive mental health advocate and author dedicated to mental health awareness. She wrote Stop the Break, detailing her own story of unresolved trauma and the toll it took on her mental health. She is the Founder and CEO of Cerebral Health, a company focused on eliminating the stigma around mental health and helping individuals learn to thrive. She earned her Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology from William James College in 2022.
Her story is uniquely painful but brings universal help to those struggling with their mental health and well being. After suffering a mental breakdown in her 50s, she took it upon herself to get her life on track. After doing an exhaustive amount of research, she learned how to deal with her trauma and dug herself out of a dark, lonely, and scary place. She grew into the strong and resilient person she is today.
Janet has four children, and they reside outside of Boston. When she’s not spending time with her kids, you can find her outside in nature or at the yoga studio.
Identify Emotions Worksheet
Equilibrium Line Identifation Process
Gift: To the first 5 people who subscribe, rate and share and email myself at firstname.lastname@example.org ~ Janet will be sending you a hard copy of her book.
Moira's Website: https://moirasutton.com/
Long Distance Reiki: https://moirasutton.com/long-distance-reiki-healing-session/
FB Community: https://www.facebook.com/CreatetheLifeyouLove1/
Intro.: Welcome to the Heart, Soul Wisdom Podcast, a journey of self discovery and transformation. Moira Sutton and her amazing guests share real life stories, tools, and strategies to inspire and empower you to create and live your best life. Come along on the journey and finally blast through any fears, obstacles and challenges that have held you back in the past so you can live your life with the joy, passion, and happiness that you desire. Now, here's your host. Create the life you love. Empowerment life coach moira Sutton.
Moira: Welcome to season four, episode 81, mental Health and Well Being surviving to Thriving with our special author, Janet Barrett. Janet is a proactive mental health advocate and author dedicated to mental health awareness. She wrote Stop the Break, detailing her own personal story of unresolved trauma and the toll it took on her mental health and well being. She is the founder and CEO of Cerebral Health, a company focused on eliminating the stigma around mental health and helping individuals learn to thrive. She earned her Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology from William James College in 2022. Her story is uniquely painful but brings universal help to those struggling with their mental health and well being. After suffering a mental breakdown in her 50s, she took it upon herself to get her life on track. After doing an exhausted amount of research, she learned how to deal with her own trauma, and she dug herself out of a dark, lonely, and scary place. She grew into the strong and resilient person she is today. Janet has four children, and they reside outside of Boston. When she's not spending time with her kids, you can find her outside in nature or at the yoga studio. So, without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Janet Barrett. Welcome, Janet.
Janet: Thank you. I'm so excited to be here and to talk with you and your audience.
Moira: Yes, there's a lot of people struggling today, but a lot of people, like you said, we're going to talk about that stigma and that people don't want to talk about that or share things. So, it's pretty brave that you wrote this book and that's why I reached out to you, because I want people to have hope with stories, with people who have come through to the other side.
Janet: I completely agree. I always feel that stories are so much more powerful than statistics, and I feel like so many people are like this number of people or that number of people, but it doesn't really resonate with me. But when I hear somebody tell their story of what they went through, that is what really speaks to me. And so, what I've found is, as I've gone on this journey and I've started talking about what I've been through and what it's meant to me and what I've learned along the way, people really respond to that and they feel like they are seen because they know they're not alone anymore.
Moira: And as we said in the beginning, you went through those times of feeling you dug yourself out of this place of a dark, lonely, scary place. And that's scary when you're in there, when you feel like you're drowning, and you don't have a lifesaver to get you out or maybe you don't trust people, or you don't know where to go. So, we're going to dive into that and give those kinds of resources out. And again, we're going to put your link to your book at the end and you have a lot of great things in their questionnaires and that for people to go through, so that will also be great resources. So, when did you decide that you really wanted to share your story and then come out and say, this is my story? Was it a slow process? Was it like, I'm going to share this because I've come through and what the.
Janet: When I made the choice to share the story was something that was never on my radar. I had not thought of actually ever being a writer. And so, my quick story is I found out my husband was having an affair and wanted a divorce and it really kind of crushed me. And so, after that, I ended up doing a whole bunch of research to figure out why I wasn't springing back from this event. I had always been able to plow through everything before that. And this one I just wasn't really recovering. And long story short, I ended up going back and getting my master's in organizational psychology. And it was through that that I started really understanding how we can be much more proactive in our mental health. And I also understood the scope, the magnitude of the mental health crisis that we are in as an entire world, but more specifically the United States. And I worked with a variety of companies, and I came up with this thesis about how we could actually be proactive in mental health through our insurance providers. But I didn't know how to get this message out. So, I worked with an executive coach, Cameron Huban, and she did this program with me to try and figure out not only how can I get this message out, but where do I want to go with my own life? Because I was in a new position. I was a single mom, four kids, needing to go back into the working world. And after the end of our very first session, she says to me, Janet, I think you have a book in you. And my initial response was to burst out laughing and go, no I don't. Of course, I don't have a book in me. That's just silly. But it stayed with me, and it stayed in my mind. And as I talked with her and continued to work through that process, I realized that this is something that I would like to do. And then on top of that, I was going through a gratitude month on Facebook. And I know there's pros and cons to Facebook, but I do use it. And every day I was posting something that I was grateful for, but I didn't do little things. I'm grateful for water, I'm grateful for sleep. I went and I tried to dig really deep and talk about things that were a little more moving and personal to me. So, for example, one day I talked about how I was grateful for crying because it allowed me to process the emotion that I was going through. And when the tears stopped, I knew I had worked through something, and I also cry when I'm happy. So, I was thankful for that. And I wrote about those things, and I got some very personal information out there. And every single time that I did, I received a whole bunch of direct messages from people saying, thank you so much for sharing that because it really meant a lot to me. I've been through something similar and so putting all of that together, when I finally decided, yes, I would like to write this book to get my message out, then I found a publisher to work with and they were fantastic. And they both felt very strongly that getting my story as part of the book would really help it resonate with people similar to what I said at the beginning. I know a lot of statistics around this, but it's really that personal, heartfelt story that I think people really resonate with and can connect to. And eventually that's what I want people to do, is to really connect with this concept. And it's very similar to what you've written about and what you talk about, about really uncovering our true selves and letting go all of that emotional baggage that we've been carrying around for however long you've been alive.
Moira: Wow, you covered so much there. I'm thinking, where do I want to go with you right now? Thank you. Well, let's go back again to even the title of your book, if you're okay with that.
Janet: Yeah, absolutely.
Moira: Stop the break from surviving to thriving and catching fire in your life. I know when I read that Catching Fire, there's a part of me that has anchor in there that kind of freaked me out with that line. Let's share what that means catching fire. Because it doesn't mean catching fire, but it doesn't.
Janet: Oh, my gosh. So, in that same process of figuring out what I wanted to do, my executive coach said, you need to update your LinkedIn profile. Now, I'm old enough that I was actually one of the original 5000 users of LinkedIn. And it was at that time, really just an online rolodex. And I had been out of the working world for a while. So, when she said that, I'm like, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to put out there. And so, Cameron said, go out and Google good LinkedIn profiles. So, I did, and the first one that popped up was this woman. And her opening line was, I caught fire coding. And I read that line and I was just paralyzed looking at it, wondering, this poor woman caught fire. And I was just literally my brain was freaking out. And I read the entire thing waiting to hear out, how did she catch fire? What happened? How bad were the burns? What did she do about this? And nothing in the rest of the profile talked about actually being engulfed in flames. And I finally realized, and it felt like it was hours, I'm sure it was only seconds, but I finally realized that catching fire must not mean the physical act of being catching fire. So, I Googled it and what it means is it's finding your passion. And I can remember when I grew up, we always heard, if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.
Moira: That's an oldie it is.
Janet: And this is the new version of saying that when you say, I caught fire, it's when you find that thing that you love that you can't stop talking about that just brings you so much fire in your life and so much excitement. And that's what I want people to do. Because I didn't catch fire until I was in my fifty s, and I didn't really know what that meant until I went through this entire process. So that's what the catching fire comes from.
Moira: It still has that link in my brain when I hear it, though.
Janet: Oh, I know I will tell you. I have found there is a difference if you are, I'm going to say, roughly under 30. So, when I talk to my nieces and nephews, their age frame, they know what catching fire means. That's a phrase that they use. But anybody above that, I tell them I caught fire coding. And they all have that deer in the headlights looking at me going, what happened to this poor woman? Okay? So at least I'm not alone in being the only person that didn't understand what catching fire was. So, it is definitely a universal generational difference in how we use language.
Moira: It's like when the generations say, oh, sick or bad, I'm like, yes, what is that? Just a whole different language. Let's look at the foundation here of you growing up in your family and that really you could not really express. You call it big emotions. Why did you feel like you had to hide those and what were some because again, we all come from families. We all have different upbringing and what we're sort of, we're looking for guidance in watching what's happening with our family and brothers, sisters, if we have them. So, what was it like growing up in your family?
Janet: So, in my family, everything. We like to keep things very close meaning. If you have an emotion, you can express it in a very calm way. Big emotions were expected to be contained. And I kind of think of it as the old adage we want to see children but not hear them, and sometimes maybe not even see them. We wanted to basically present a very contained, controlled image. And that's something that I feel is definitely also very generational where my parents were a little bit older. And so even though I was growing up in the feel like more of their expectation was from like the how children should act and be seen and perceived and there was just an acceptable way for us to behave. And I never felt like I actually fit in that mold. I always felt that whenever something would happen, my emotions and my reaction would be so much bigger than what I had learned was acceptable to present. And so, I always kept them very contained and very much trapped inside my body. And if I did that, then people liked me, and I was accepted. But if I showed my big emotions, it was never accepted. It was always, oh, don't do that, act like a lady, rub some dirt in it, you'll be fine, all of those things. And so, I never really learned to express things the way that I needed to express them. And that's one of the things that I really learned, is we all have different ways of expressing emotions and different magnitudes. And when I grew up, there was just one acceptable way and I never understood or learned that it should be different for different people.
Moira: When you said that, I think back to good girls. What is that but good girls? Or in my case, I had two older brothers, and it was always they could do certain things, but I wasn't allowed to do it because I was a girl. Yeah. And I always thought, why can't I do that? Why are they being able to do that? And I can't? It always confused me.
Janet: I was the same way. I have two older brothers as well, and my grandparents had a farm and every summer each of us would go spend a week on the farm and my brothers were allowed to go out and use the tractors and do those things. I had to stay inside and cook and clean.
Janet: And that was it. And all I wanted to do was go out and be on the tractor and be in the fields and do those things. But that wasn't acceptable.
Moira: Yes. What happened when you were younger, you talked about your brothers sort of teasing you and hassling you and, you know which brothers do, I think? Yes. I don't know if that's a belief, but it wasn't my case. But you asked your mom for help. Tell us about the response that she gave you and how it really didn't work for you.
Janet: So, my mom's response to most any major event was just ignored it, it will go away. And, you know, you have older brothers, they don't go away. They're with you for life. And I mean, I still joke that they will still walk by me and whack me upside the head and it's just how we interact. But as a child, I didn't want it to happen. I wanted somebody to help me. And so, I would run to my mom to be like, mom, the boys are bugging me again. And her responses was always, just ignore them, it will go away. But it never did. And that was the same response to most any challenge that I had in life was just ignore it, it'll go away, you'll be fine. And I now know that's not the case. That is not what happens. But I always tried to just ignore everything bad that was happening in my life because I wanted to do what my mom told me to do, just like we all do. We all want to please our parents. And I wanted to please her. And so, I tried to ignore everything and just continue going on in life. And that is one of the main problems that I ended up having when I ended up going through my break. So, the title of the book is Stop the Break. That break is talking about when I finally was crushed by not having dealt with or released or expressed those emotions for decades.
Moira: So where was your dad with all this?
Janet: Was he working?
Moira: Because I don't think you mentioned your dad in the book.
Janet: I don't really mention him in the book. He was working. My parents had a very old traditional type of situation. My dad worked full time. My mom was sort of a stay-at-home mom. She was stay at home until when I went to school. I'm the youngest. And then she went back to work. She's a nurse. But the way that she did it and I give her all of the credit in the world because I know I would not be able to do this. She worked nights, so she worked eleven to seven. And we lived literally directly across the street from the hospital. You walked out our front door across the street and into the hospital. And so, she would walk to work at night, she would come back in the morning. She would get us up and get us ready for school, sleep while we were at school, and then be awake when we got home so that she never had to pay for childcare. And so, she worked. But it was still the traditional. She took care of the kids, she did all the house cleaning, she made the meals, she did the groceries. Like all of that stuff was still very traditional. So, my dad's role was definitely the breadwinner. He was gone a lot. His job involved a lot of networking. And so, he had lots of dinners and lots of events and he golfed every Saturday morning. So, from this particular perspective, I never felt like he was a main character in that part of my development. He is definitely a main character in my life. Unfortunately, he has since passed. But the whole how that ended up happening I didn't feel like he was engaged because he just wasn't there in the everyday life as much as my mom was.
Moira: I think same with my family. My mom was the homemaker at home, looked after everything. That was her space in the case. My dad, I think he sort of what he said it at one time that he was sorry he couldn't be there when we woke up because he was gone or he'd come home the dinner time, then we go to bed kind of thing. And it's kind of a rip off, but it's a choice. Back then, yes, it worked. Now, you went through two marriages. The first one, you were pretty young, and you said you really weren't present there when you said sure. And then you are the one that got you had the courage to ask him at one point for the divorce, which takes courage to do that because you were young.
Janet: Yes, that was my college boyfriend. And he asked when we were, I guess the end of our junior year before we were seniors, if I would marry him. And I didn't want to marry him. And so, my response when he came home, got down on one knee, put the ring out there. I looked at him and all I could think to answer was, well, first my response was, oh, my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. And I said that probably 100 times until he finally stood up, looked at me and said, Is that a, yes? And my response was sure.
Moira: Not sure.
Janet: It was the biggest question I've ever asked in my life. I didn't know how to say no because I knew that would be disappointing him. And I felt paralyzed in that moment. And so we went through that next year, getting everything ready for the wedding. I barely participated in it. He and actually, my mom ended up planning almost the entire thing. He picked the colors, he picked the flowers, he picked everything. Which you don't hear that. That's not how weddings happen. At worst, woman does it all. At best, there's a joint planning of things. So, mine was not that. And unfortunately, I started to realize that, and I was getting to the point where I was basically having panic attacks inside going, I can't do this. I cannot actually go through with this. And it's the perfect storm sometimes happens in life. And this was one of those where a couple of months before we were going to get married, I ended up getting a letter in the mail. And that letter was from the person that had sexually abused me as a child. And I had suppressed that so much that I didn't even remember it until I opened that letter. And I can still to this day vividly remember the scene, and it's written in my book, the exact scene of getting that letter and having it all happen. And the floodgates of emotions were thrown wide open. And when that happened, I couldn't figure out how to deal with that and also call off the wedding. So I ended up getting married. And he's a great person. There's nothing wrong with him as a person. He just was never the love of my life. And I went through several years of being married. Half of the time we actually didn't even live together because I moved a lot for work. So, I would move and eventually he'd come, or I'd live overseas, he'd stay here. And then finally one day I was going to turn 30 or getting close to turning 30, and I'm like, I can't keep doing this. I cannot have this be my life. And so, I finally just said, I want a divorce. And we had basically the legal version of a college breakup because we didn't have kids, we didn't really have many assets. In fact, in the divorce decree, it determined how many CDs and DVDs each of us got. But I was lucky I got out of that one. And then my second marriage, when I was in my early thirty s, I met somebody and we fell in love and got married and then ended up having four kids in three years and three months, which is possible to have four singletons. The way I did it was I had two singletons and then twins and that's when I became a stay-at-home parent. And I had worked crazy hours up until that point. And so, I kind of put all of my energy into being that stay-at-home parent and member of the community. And after about 15 years, that's when I found out that he was having the affair and my world came crashing down.
Moira: Yeah, that would be pretty hard. Janet, you talk a lot about the universe, universe either and your life. So, if the universe is doing something to me or I'm creating, do you think it might sound crazy, but do you think you got four beautiful children and came out of that marriage right. Sad that of course he was having an affair and it ended. Do you think in some way that was a gift for you to like a wake-up call because of everything that happened after that?
Janet: So, it's interesting. I get asked this question a lot and as far as it being a gift, one, I would never wish on anyone what I went through. So, I don't feel like it is a gift. What I do feel like is that I was able to work my way out of it and to become so much more stronger. And it was the catalyst for me being able to spread this message and for me to be able to hopefully make a big impact on the world. There are four wonderful children out of this, and I regret none of that. The only thing I wish had been different was the way that it ended, because it doesn't have to happen that way. If you're unhappy in a situation, the ideal is for it to end in a way that it's not hurting people, in a way that doesn't have to be happen, that doesn't have to happen that could be prevented. So, I wish that the way that it ended, it hadn't ended that way. I am proud of myself for what I was able to take from it and where I've been able to go with it.
Moira: Yeah, that's probably a better reframe as a catalyst for you, because your life changed. With that being said, you took a class you said in your book from a teacher called Annette Lynch and how her teachings, literally, you learned so much from her, you could share what that is and how this was as you put a trajectory in your life. Tell us what Annette taught you that was such a big moment for you.
Janet: So, I love Dr. Lynch. She is a true inspiration. So, my personal belief is I feel like there are those key moments in your life that really define who you are and where you go and how you respond to them is all within your own control, but you can't really predict what those things are going to be. So, Dr. Lynch, when I went to college, I had no idea what I was going to do. I just basically took the path of least resistance and ended up at the University of Northern Iowa. And when I was there, I went as a general business major because I had no idea what else to do. So, one semester, I had to take a Filler class, and I found this one called The History of Costume. And I love theater. I absolutely adore theater, especially musical theater. And so, my thought was, oh, my gosh, I get to study how costumes were created in the theater, and this is going to be really fun. So clearly, I did not read the class description because the History of Costume has absolutely nothing to do with the theater. And costume, in general terms, is only talking about the apparel that we wear. And so, it's talking about the history of apparel, looking at it from a societal point of view. So how do societal values and norms get reflected in our apparel? And I was fascinated. It was not the class I thought it would be at all, but I was absolutely fascinated with this concept. And Dr. Lynch taught the course, and she just completely opened my eyes to this entirely different world of clothing and textiles. So, I ended up switching my major mainly so I could take every class that she offered. And she encouraged me to go to grad school and to get my masters in this history of costume, where I would be a museum curator and I would help restore historical clothing. I would do displays for people to see the different outfits throughout the years and help tell stories about how our clothing is really reflective of the political and social atmosphere of any given period. And so, I did. I went to grad school really based on her guidance and her suggestion, because that was the easiest path to going there. And when I got to grad school, I looked into the whole thing a little bit more and realized that in a museum, there is at most one curator of historical costume, and most museums don't actually have one. So, if I wanted to get a job in that area that I ended up loving, I would basically have to sit and watch the obituaries and wait for someone to pass so I could apply for the job. Because once you get it, you keep it for life. And that's when I was like, well, that's probably not going to work for me. I'm going to need to have employment prior to that. And very similarly, I had another woman come into my life that also completely changed the trajectory. Her name is Ruth, and she was going to grad school at the same time I was, but she was a little bit older, and she was employed full time, and her company had a position that they were creating that was new. And she said to me, Janet, I think you would be perfect for this. And in my head, I thought, oh, this is great. I've never had a professional interview before. I'm going to take this job interview simply for the experience because there's no way I am getting this job. So, I took the interview, and I got the job. In fact, the woman that interviewed me, my first interview, was on the phone because she only gave me the interview as a courtesy to Ruth. And she said, I knew I wasn't going to hire you. There was no way I was going to hire you. You're still in grad school. You've never done anything before. And she said, I almost offered you the job on the phone, but I realized I needed to actually meet you in person to make sure that you can actually handle yourself in a professional situation. So, she invited me to come in and gave me the job on the spot in the actual physical interview. So, I've had a lot of those trajectory changes that I could have never predicted simply from some amazing people that have entered into my life at very key moments.
Moira: I think it's cool when we're not really thinking, oh, if things have to happen a certain. Way, because I teach all about the universe that if you let that go, there's so many, like the how there's so many unlimited possibilities and places to go and change up and just allow that to happen and it's a lot more fun.
Janet: It really is. I talk a lot about how I have fallen through life. I have had no plan and I could have never predicted, I would never predict now that I would have written a book that's never been something on my mind, in the back of my head type of thing. Never in a million years would I have ever said that or now I give keynote speeches. I would have never thought that I would do that because I was the most shy, like, hide behind mom skirts child, ever. I couldn't imagine that this would ever be my life.
Moira: That's interesting. When I was in school, I was very shy also, even at university. When I was 21, I was still shy. And then I had a television show for two years called Success Breakthrough and I produced that and hosted it, and interviewed people live, makeup and all. And I remember my mom was selling her house and her real estate person remembered me growing up in high school and that she said, how could you do that? You were so shy. How can you be doing what you're doing? I said, Well, I'm not 21 anymore, like I'm 31 or something in my early thirty s. And I just said that no, that's not who I am anymore. But yeah, I hear what you're saying, how different things happen. Let's go to the stigma around depression and mental health, because there is a stigma and again, people hide. They hide their depression, their anxiety, even if they might have suicidal thoughts. Again, as we said at the beginning, I think a lot of people are taking in the news and they don't know what's happening. As you said in the United States, there's a lot of upheaval there and what's the first step to stop the break that they're having? And let's talk about this equilibrium line that you share and how somebody can start to recognize and not go into the danger zone. So, there's a big question for you around stigma and the equilibrium you talk about.
Janet: Yeah, so the stigma around mental health is so significant that it really prevents people from wanting to get any help. And it started eons ago, but it was really more of the mental health challenges that present themselves in a physical manifestation. So, if you have delusions or if you are more manic depressive and you have things that people look at and they can physically see so eons ago, those people that had those challenges were completely shunned. They were literally locked away. Nobody was taking care of them. Families didn't even acknowledge that they were members of their family. And so that stigma started back then of if you have something that is in this amorphous area that we call the mind that we just need to hide it and don't tell anybody and we don't want anybody to know because if they do, you're going to get locked away. And that has since manifested itself in the fact that if you admit you have a mental health challenge and you need assistance, you will be passed over for promotions, you will not be given a raise, you will be the first on the chopping block if there's a layoff situation at your company and so many other things. So, there is no incentive for anybody to admit that they have a challenge even if it's something that is small. We lump everything that is in that mental space into this one big bucket, and we say nope, cannot deal with that. And a lot of us don't even realize that what we're going through is not the way it has to be. So, for me, I didn't realize that there was the potential to have so much more joy and happiness and excitement in your life. I had no idea that that was the case. I just thought this is what life is. You just simply plow through, keep plugging until you die and just hope that nothing too bad happens. But that's not true. There are a lot of ways to actually not simply trudge through life and it goes back to the title of my book don't just survive, actually learn to thrive, and find those things that really light a fire under you, that catch fire for you so that you can have a lot of that joy. And in going through this process and now understanding that I was living my life in more of this depressed and anxious state and then realizing it doesn't have to be that way, I uncovered this concept that's called the equilibrium line. So, if you were to take a horizontal line and everything above it are those happy emotions, the positive emotions that we have and everything below it are the negative emotions. If you have a happy emotion, it basically moves your line up. And then if you have a negative emotion, it goes underneath. Well, the problem is for a variety of reasons, evolutionary, as well as how we suppress things, the negative ones actually start to pile up and weigh us down so that we end up getting lower and lower and further away from that balance, that equilibrium as we go through life. And so those positive emotions aren't able to pull us up as far as the negative ones have pulled us down because that weight of the negative stays with us. And so, we need to figure out where is that equilibrium line? And so, I have a process that helps people go through finding their equilibrium line. And it basically is a very simple couple of steps, and I can do it very quickly for you right here, but the goal of this is to say, what is it? When you're at that equilibrium line, which is more of a neutral state for you, you're not happy, you're not sad or angry or you're not anywhere. You're just really in balance. Because if you know where that is, then you can get back to it by getting rid of some of those negative emotions. So, the way to find out what your equilibrium line is the first step is to find a comfortable, seated, or reclined position. Really any position that just lets you relax and not hold any tension. This is not yoga. This is not meditation. You don't have to lay down flat. My personal is I like to sit cross legged because for me, that is my most comfortable one. For my mom, that is about the least comfortable one. So, I sit cross legged in a chair that I can lean back in, have my neck supported, or I'll also lie down just flat on my back. Whatever it is that works for you, you just do whatever works. Just have five to ten minutes of quiet around you. So, the second step is then to close your eyes. And whenever I take people through this, they all go, just close your eyes. Yes, just close your eyes. So, you're there, you're calm, you close your eyes and then take a deep breath in and out. And do those five or six times. And what that does is it actually reduces your heart rate and relieves some of the tension so that you can really just relax your entire body. You don't have to breathe through your mouth or your nose in or however you breathe. I don't care. I have allergies there's certain times of the year that breathing through my nose is really challenging. So, I just don't do it. All you need to do is breathe and then you need to start scanning your body. And this again, five to ten minutes. Just start with your eyes closed, regular breathing at the bottom of your feet. Make sure they're relaxed. Then scan in your brain the top of your feet, your ankles, your calves, and shins. Then your knees. Go up your thighs to your hips, your stomach, your chest, your shoulders, and your arms. Then your jaws, your ears, your nose, and eyes, and finally the top of your head. And as you go through it, you'll realize this is really boring. But that's it. That's just your body. That is your equilibrium line, where you're just there, relaxed and calm. Because once you understand that, then you can do the next step, which is to understand what happens to my body when it feels an emotion. And you can start to recognize when you're up and down from that equilibrium line. And I never knew I had that line before this. And so now I understand my equilibrium line. I understand my own personal reaction to various emotions, and it's led me to this concept. And this is the thing that I wish everyone would take from this. And it's knowing your warning signs because everybody has these little tells that tells us when we are getting out of balance, when we are falling away from our equilibrium line. And they're different for everyone, but they fall into basically two main buckets. One are physical tells and one are actions. So for me, my physical tells, I keep most of my tension in my shoulders. So I will notice that my shoulders are all of a sudden like very close to my ears and everything's just tight and they hurt. And if it's that I have started to carry more of that negative emotional weight around with me. I also get headaches and stomach aches and I have a whole bunch of them. But then I also have actions. So, if I start what they have now dubbed doom scrolling, where I just continuously stay on social media, scrolling through things and not engaging with everyday life or avoiding phone calls with people, not letting myself just enjoy something simple as being in the shower for an extra minute or two. When I find myself doing those things, I know there's something that I'm avoiding dealing with. And once I've identified my warning signs and I do this myself, and I recommend this to everybody, is for you to actually write down what those warning signs are, print it out and put it in a place where you will see that list every day. For me, it's actually right here on the side of my computer. This is a podcast, so you can't see my arm moving. But I am pointing at my list that is sitting right here. And every day when I sit down, I look at it. And what it does for me is it does two things. One, it keeps it top of mind. Two, it keeps me honest where it's right there. I can't avoid it. If it's happening, I need to acknowledge it and it forces me to deal with a lot of the things that I don't want to deal with. And maybe your computer is one of the places you have it. I know people that have it on their bathroom mirror. Some people actually have it in their car because they are traveling salespeople. Whatever it is, just have that top of mind because then it forces you to go back and say, what do I need to do to get myself back up to my equilibrium line so that I'm not in a constant state of that negative emotion.
Moira: That's a great exercise. Thank you, Janet. And we're going to add, if it's okay with you, your equilibrium line, identification process, the worksheet, so people can have that and do that every day and get into the habit of not suppressing emotions but realizing when you're going above the line or below that line.
Moira: Yeah. Thank you. You also mentioned the book, and I just want to put this out here a book that you read called The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.
Janet: Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.
Moira: Yes. And how we're talking about emotion. It's so important that we express our emotions, good or bad, in a healthy way, and otherwise these emotions are trapped in our body. So, it's important for people to not suppress it or go shopping or drinking or eating or watching TV or whatever because we don't want to deal with it. But it's not going to go away. It's just going to be there. And you also say in your book, I don't know who they were because you shared that. They say, more or less **** happens in our lives and whatever, but you say, no, you have to be with it, deal with it, heal from it, and only then can you let go of that stuff. Yes. So, who are the Bay that you were referring to there? Are you talking about research or.
Janet: Basically, it's all of those phrases that have been thrown around in the world, similar to be a good girl or don't be a crybaby. It's all of those phrases that we've all heard, but nobody knows the origin of or very few people. I'm sure there's scholars out there that have found the actual origin of it, but the original intent of most of those was to help give this perspective of the magnitude of a situation. So, getting a paper cut versus cutting off your hand deserves a different reaction. So, when a child gets a paper cut, you want them to understand? Yes, I understand it's painful, but you don't need to have this super, over the top reaction. But what the kid hears is, what you just did is wrong. Your natural reaction is wrong. And that's what I heard my entire life. I always felt like my natural reaction was wrong, so there's something wrong with me. But it's that ubiquitous. They the royal we. Whatever it is that's out there, those phrases and common practices that we have as a society that we're learning, really the way that they have been applied are inappropriate and not helpful because we've lost the original intent of giving perspective, and we've changed it to you're approaching something incorrectly.
Moira: It's interesting. One of my brothers used to call me the Pollyanna because I always cared about people. My dad said, oh, you'll be a nurse. I dressed up at Halloween. But I don't like needles or medical. My degree is psychology. I can deal with the mind in it, but not needles. But it was like, you're too nice, and I know you had that when you're in school. Something's wrong with you because you're too nice versus, why can't people just see that you're nice? Right.
Janet: People don't believe that you're actually that nice of a person.
Moira: Or in my case with my brother, it was like he saw something wrong in it. I didn't, but he used to say that, or I took too many courses. I did healing courses, I did this course. And why do you need another course? I said, Because I'm fascinated and learning and what I can bring more to my clients, I would take something additional. And then I got to a point that I didn't need any more courses, but there's so many fascinating things to learn, and that being inquisitive and curious, which is a good state to come from. Janet, what changes do you feel that we need to see in mental health care and to be more proactive and transformational in the world and how each one of us can support this whole area?
Janet: So, I would love to see an approach. And this is fairly United States centric, although it can be applied in other countries. And the reason why it is United States centric is because of the way that the insurance industry works in the United States that typically you receive your insurance through your employer. And what I'd like to see is they offer proactive physical health plans, so if you have a gym membership, you get a discount on your premiums. I would love to have the same thing happen for a proactive mental health program. And the way that I would love to see this work is a way that actually bypasses that stigma issue, because if people have to self identify and have to be the one that goes out and says, I need help, it's not going to happen. So, we need a way to identify people proactively, identify them early prior to them getting to what I call the break prior to breaking. We need to be able to identify them. And we're at this amazing point in the world where technology and science have merged. And I believe there is a really great solution to this, which is involving algorithms and writing. So, people that are anxious, depressed, or stressed actually use written language in a different way than somebody that isn't, and people that are way smarter than I have figured out exactly how that is. And so what we can do now is take those rules, those things that they've found out about that, and compare it against all of the hundreds of thousands of written words that everyone does every year. Because it doesn't have to be formal, fancy, submitted writing. It can be anything that you write. Think about the number of texts you've sent or emails or comments that you've put on Facebook or any other social media, any of that. Writing can be run against these criteria and find out where are you on this spectrum? And it's a 30-point spectrum called the PHQ Nine. And it does an amazing job of being able to pinpoint where you are on that spectrum. So, we could actually have an algorithm that runs on all of our data and can see if your level has changed. And so, the way that I'd like it to work is if you sign up for this proactive mental health care plan through your insurance provider, your data can be run through this. And then if there's a change, it sends something to a third-party provider. And that third party provider, unknown to the insurance company, unknown to your employer, gives you a call and says, hey, Janet, guess what? Your lab test, which is comparing it to this formula, your lab test has come back with a shift in your depression level, in your stress level, whatever it is, what's going on? It's very similar to when you go to your doctor and you have your cholesterol checked and then they call you and say, hey, Janet, your HDL LDL numbers are this, we need to do something to address it. And so, it's the same concept. If we can identify people early in having a change in where they are on that spectrum, we can help them before they actually get to the break, which will then significantly reduce the cost that it takes to treat people that end up breaking again. Similar to physical health care, if you treat any illness early, it saves hundreds of thousands of dollars on the long-term care that is needed. And they found the same is exactly true for mental health. It's just simply being able to identify the people that need it and identify them early. And because of the stigma, there's such a barrier to getting people to self identify early that it's not going to happen easily. So, we need that workaround. And that's where using this algorithm and the technology that we have, along with the data that we've gotten around the science behind how people use language, we can combine those two things and theoretically create this amazing change in how we treat mental health. And one of the reasons why this even came to mind for me was when I was going to graduate school for my organizational psychology degree, I talked with the head of the school, and he was saying, there is no way we can actually educate enough therapists to be able to deal with the needs that are out there right now. So, we need to find some other way to solve this problem. He's like, but we just can't figure, how do you find people that need this help earlier so that it doesn't require intensive therapy? And so that's what I would love to see. That is the passion that I have. That is the thing that really, I caught fire around and that's why I wrote this book, is to be able to say we need to change how we identify and treat individuals with mental health challenges.
Moira: That's a very powerful, big vision, and I think people are going to hear that during our conversation and just how important it is for each one of us to step up to what we believed and help others. And for me, it's about collaboration and contribution and community and all those wonderful C words. Yes, Janet, this has been a joy. I would love you to share the gift you would like to give to our listeners today. Again, this is to thank you, our listeners, our audience, who each one of you. Our message is to create and live our best life on your own terms. And I'm going to put all the links to Janet and also the equilibrium exercise and her gift below in the show notes. So, if you can share that, Janet, and thank you for that.
Janet: Oh, absolutely. I am so excited and honored to be able to offer five signed copies of my book to the first five people that, like, rate and comment on this episode. I would love to share this with as many people as possible. And so, I also ask that if you do receive the book, when you finish that, you just continue to pass it on to somebody else so that it can benefit more than just the five people.
Moira: I really like that one. That's really good. Janet, thank you for today sharing from your heart and soul your wisdom on mental health and well being and your personal journey from surviving to thriving. Namaste.
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