This conversation is with my friend Gillian, who I met on social media. Yes! You can make connections and legit friends via the interwebs. I was drawn to her account and started communicating with her because her Instagram handle was @mentalhealthwife and I wanted to know more about her story and what exactly was behind the handle. Gillian takes us through her mental health advocacy journey; why she does it, what it looks like for her and how she defines it, because as we know, advocacy takes on many different forms and is deeply personal.
We also discuss her own story and what she has gone through with her husband. Just wait until you hear how they met and how he proposed – it’s right out of a romantic comedy. I love it. But, also, early in their marriage, they navigated some pretty severe mental health challenges, crisis and hospitalization. Gillian talks about how things presented back then and what life looks like today.
One of the most interesting things about getting to know someone’s backstory are the things behind the thing. Prior to my Dad’s cancer diagnosis, I always thought that moment, the one where the Doctor sits you down and gives you the news, was the heaviest, most pivotal moment. When in reality, as bad as that is, it’s the day to day things that change and become difficult or impossible and the cumulative weight of a million tiny things that is the real suffering of any major health trauma. And Gillian brings up this idea when she talks about moving a few months ago. They had to move pretty immediately, during hurricane season – and we know how hard Louisiana was hit this year – in the middle of a global pandemic and Heath, Gillian’s husband isn’t comfortable leaving the house – pandemic or otherwise. We all know moving is terrible, but under those conditions it is almost a miraculous feat.
I couldn’t end our conversation without asking Gillian how she takes care of herself, so we dive into self care and meditation – two concepts that I think are largely misinterpreted and misunderstood. I love Gillian’s take on it though, she said it is really all about coming back to herself. What I find interesting about this is the kind of trust in yourself this fosters. Trusting myself is a real practice for me, I have to work at it. But, I love this idea of getting really calm and quiet – sometimes Gillian even does it in the car if necessary – and easing into what you think and what you need and your truth and then getting really comfortable with the decisions that come from that. In fact this idea segues right into our discussion about the idea of dismantling normal and what is or is not normal.
Oh, this was so fun. And honestly, this was a conversation I needed to hear a second time – right on time, just this week. I hope you enjoy it too. And like I mentioned, you can find Gillian on Instagram under @mentalhealthwife.