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Yep, Our Therapist Married Us! (A Mental Health Story)

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a licensed therapist or doctor or any kind of medical professional at all, so everything we talk about in today's episode is purely based on my own experience, my opinion, is for informational purposes only and is in no way to be received as medical advice in any form whatsoever.

October 10 marked World Mental Health Day, an international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. This episode is a contribution to that effort.

We're digging into my journey through counseling (that literally ended at the altar), my current mental wellness routine, and the thing that's negatively affecting nearly 50% of Americans' mental health... and what you can do to protect yourself.


My mental health story predominantly begins in 2014 when I went through my first experience of what I can only assume was depression. I'm from Austin but was living in Dallas at the time, however, I knew in my heart that I wanted to move back to Austin. The vibe of Dallas was so different from where I grew up, and although I learned a lot about myself by moving there, I knew if I were going to stay in Texas, Austin was where I had to be.

On top of that, I'd recently ended my relationship with my then-boyfriend, which created an awkward divide in my Dallas friend group. I was interviewing for jobs in Austin, but nothing was sticking. I was unhappy in Dallas and exhausted because I'd drive to Austin every weekend. And my lease was about to end in a couple of months so I was faced with a big decision on what to do if I couldn't find a job in Austin fast enough.

I suppose the problem was that a lot of things in my life at that time felt outside of my control, and because I was so tired all the time it made it hard for me to think straight.

A friend of mine was going to counseling and she suggested that I try a session with her therapist. Because I hadn't found a healthy way to feel better, I figured what the hell - let's give it a shot. Between the time I scheduled the appointment and the actual appointment itself, I landed a job in Austin.

That alone made me feel better, but I figured I already made the appointment, so I might as well go.


Unfortunately, my first experience in counseling was not a good one. I told the therapist that I'd just accepted a job offer in Austin so I wouldn't be a regular client, however, I felt it was an important step in the right direction for me to honor this first counseling session since it took some courage on my end to get me there. And he pretty much told me that he felt like I was running away from my problems by relocating, and then he offered to write me a prescription for pills.

I was shocked. This doctor who I'd just met 30 minutes ago and who knew I'd probably never see him again offered to write me a prescription for a serious psychological medication.

I'm not saying medication is bad or it cannot be helpful; what I'm saying is that, in our experience, I'm shocked that professional therapists would offer to prescribe pills after one session. In my opinion, it should take longer than an hour for someone to decide if their patient a good fit for ongoing psychological medication - especially with something like counseling, where I believe a lot of good work can be done by talking, mindset work, and intentional life strategies.

After declining the Dallas therapist's offer, I packed up my life in Dallas and moved back to Austin.


After returning to Austin, things weren't all sunshine and rainbows, butt luckily I was working for an employer who not only talked very openly about the importance of mental health but who also provided free counseling sessions to its employees.

Once I learned about the free therapy sessions my employer offered, I decided to give counseling another shot, and this time I struck gold. I did a bunch of research before going this time and found a man who ultimately changed our lives for the better.

At first, Cory was skeptical so when I invited him to come with me to work on our issues, he said no. And, honestly, that irritated me... but based on what I was learning in counseling, I didn't push him. I reminded myself of what I was learning which is that you can only control yourself and that's since become my favorite mantra and the greatest learning of all from my time in therapy.

So I went on my own and worked on myself. I highly recommend this if you're in a relationship... therapy together is great, but dedicated and focused individual work is so valuable. I don't know what changed, but eventually, Cory decided to come with me to meet my counselor, Todd.

We worked with Todd once a month through our engagement, and at our wedding, it was Todd who officiated our ceremony.


We've since parted ways with Todd, but we use the tools and mental strategies he gifted us often. But that's not to say things are perfect all the time. We're human so sometimes we do default back to unhealthy habits, but the good news is now it's a very rare occurrence, whereas before counseling it was the norm.

Beyond our relationship, we also make it a point to work on our mental health as individuals. And what I've come to admire and appreciate about Cory is that the moment he recognizes what we call the warning signs (he's more tired than normal or unmotivated or restless and aimless), he takes action.

And what works for him is extreme exercise. Even though in those moments he doesn't feel like it, he'll go on a super long bike ride, or do an extra long session at the gym with heavier weights than normal. Sometimes he'll go for a run, which he normally doesn't do.

But when you think about it, it makes sense... a quick online search will pull countless articles showing that exercise floods the brain with dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and other mood-boosting neurotransmitters.


And, for me, this is very timely because I've been dealing with a bout of almost-depression these last couple of weeks, which I realize may seem strange because we have a lot to look forward to in these next few months with our move to El Salvador.

But with that big life change comes a lot of feelings I wasn't expecting like Are we doing the right thing? and Will our dogs be okay traveling to and living in another country? and overwhelm from working on our businesses to all the decisions we must make around our house here in Austin and our house in El Salvador. I hate admitting that because I don't want to come off as complaining; I don't mean it that way. It's more of fear, uncertainty, and near-paralysis from decision fatigue. And that leads one to start questioning themselves and their abilities.

So, lately, I've been feeling those same things that Cory is so good at noticing in himself... I've been tired, unmotivated, and just feeling off. And I've been staying up too late, sleeping too late, not exercising, and feeling unlike myself.

Luckily I caught it, and I knew I needed to do something about it. Something I know about myself is that I love structure and routine and feeling productive. So hitting snooze 100 times and waking up with no real plan for the day sets my entire day up for failure. So I decided to do something different.


So last Tuesday night I made a list of the top 3 things I wanted to accomplish on Wednesday. I tore myself away from the TV and the comfortable couch downstairs and took myself (and our dog Beagle!) to bed on time. And I put a literal sticky note on my phone that said:

So you've been feeling depressed lately? Do something different. DO NOT HIT SNOOZE.

I also put my phone in a different location than I normally keep it at night and one that requires me to get off the bed to reach it. And when my alarm went off at 7 am Wednesday, and I fumbled around in the dark to find my phone in its new spot, the light on my phone was shining through that post-it note, and I read the words I'd written to myself. And I didn't hit snooze.

I got up, got dressed, and launched myself into another morning routine I know makes me feel good, called SAVERS: Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Exercise, Read, Scribe. I worked through each one. I silently meditated, I gave myself some affirmations, I visualized a good day ahead, I did 20 minutes of body exercises, I read a helpful mindset book called The Gap and the Gain and I journaled about my feelings for just 5 quick minutes.

I immediately felt better. And I've been sticking to that routine since and things have only continued to improve.


Now, mental health struggles can come from a wide variety of sources, but I'd like to earmark the fact that more than 40% of U.S. adults say money is negatively impacting their mental health, according to Bankrate’s April 2022 Money and Mental Health report.

Here are some other statistics pulled directly from that article:

  • Women are more likely to be negatively affected than men. (46% of women vs 38% of men)

  • Millennials suffer the most. The survey found that 48% of millennials (26- to 41-year-olds) are psychologically impacted by financial concerns, followed by 46% of Generation X and 40% of Generation Z

  • Higher earners experience less emotional distress than low earners. Only 30% of people with annual incomes of at least $100,000 cited money as a negative factor in their mental health compared to 48% of those with household incomes of less than $50,000.

And do you know what the top 3 emotional triggers are?

  1. 69% worry about coming up with enough money to pay for unexpected expenses

  2. 52% said it's when bills are coming due

  3. 49% said it's looking at their bank accounts

So if you feel like this is you, you are not the only one. Many others struggle with the same thing and I wish we would all talk about money more so we'd feel less alone.


And I can't help but wonder how many more people would seek help in counseling if it were more financially accessible... and what I would really like to see is insurance providers start covering mental health treatments because mental health is arguably one of the most important facets of health that there is.

I think if we, as a society, could get better about prioritizing mental healthcare we'd make great strides toward reducing the amount of homelessness, self-harm, drug addiction, and harm to others in the form of abuse or shootings.

Even from my own experience...I'll be honest with you - after I left employers who offered free or discounted counseling sessions, I haven't been back, even in moments when I felt like I needed to go, because the independent health insurance that we have now that we're self-employed doesn't cover mental health... and it's expensive.

But although it sucks that we're not yet at a place where health insurance providers are prioritizing mental health, I always come back to my mantra: we can only control ourselves. So, what's in my control, is that I can actively talk about mental health to reduce the stigma, I can talk to my friends about things I struggle with, I can do things in my own life that I know will help me stay in a positive mind frame, and I can look for inexpensive or free tools like the app Woebot... if you haven't tried it, I suggest checking it out.


Beyond that, I can be kind to others because I have no idea about the personal struggles they're facing. Unfortunately, we've lost people we love to drug addiction and suicide and you just never know what someone is going through, so at the very least you can be nice.

I heard something recently and it struck me due to the homeless problem here in Austin: it's interesting how the public rallies and fights to protect all the little children who grow up in troubled homes with drug addict parents and abuse and all these horrible things. But the moment these little kids grow up and become drug addicts themselves to deal with their childhood trauma (which tons of research supports), the public suddenly turns on them. The narrative quickly shifts from we have to help them to we have to get rid of them.

And I'm ashamed to admit that although I've never been outright unkind to a homeless person, I've said unkind things about them when talking amongst my friends. But that was unfair. And thinking about these people and what some may have endured as children helps me be more empathetic, and to remember that they're humans, too, just like you and me. I just needed to tweak my perspective. And while I know there's not much in my direct power that I can do to change the situation, what I can do is be kind.


Speaking of being kind, don't forget to be kind to yourself as well. We can be our biggest advocate or our biggest enemy. Take time for introspection; ask yourself the hard questions.

Are you doing what you want with your life? Do you believe in what the company you're working for is trying to do? Or are you just working for money? Those are difficult questions I had to ask myself and, after a lot of reflection, I realized I had just been chasing money and I had to pivot if I wanted to spend time doing work I loved.

Do you find yourself churning and burning through the work week, looking forward to the weekend maybe a little too eagerly, and leaning on a substance or any kind of escape just a little too much? That was a red flag for me. I was living for the weekends and, on the weekends, I would just party and binge drink.

But it can scary to look at yourself - to really look - and there are a lot of things to consider... and, again, money often comes up as a key consideration. Don't forget what we talked about before - if you worry in any way whatsoever about money, you are not alone.

What I'd encourage you to do is take some kind of action; in other words, don't just live in your stress and anxiety... do something about it.


If you don't like where you're at or how you're feeling financially, you have to make a change if you want things to get better. Starting is the hardest part, but once you do it, you'll be surprised at how much easier things get pretty quickly.

Free-floating money anxiety is something many people struggle with and it's often a symptom of simply not knowing where your money goes. So if money's something that gives you anxiety or depression, and you feel like you need some direction, here's my take: download one of my free resources and use it.

If you have anxiety about money, I'd recommend starting with the Free Monthly Budget Calculator. It'll show you where all your money goes each month and, I promise, knowing that alone can help you feel better. It can also help you quickly identify areas where you can cut expenses if you need to.

If you feel depressed about money, that may indicate you're in debt or you feel undervalued or underpaid, in which case I'd recommend using my Free Ultimate Make More Money Starter Kit which is built to help you land a pay raise that you can use as a confidence boost and/or to pay off your debt faster.

Don't forget: nothing is insurmountable and feelings aren't infinite. When you're feeling bad, remember: this is a moment, not forever. And if you can identify specific healthy actions to take in order to move past those feelings faster, you can intentionally move back into a position of power even faster.

Check in with yourself often. Recognize what healthy actions make you feel good. And do those. Just make sure you keep taking action and remember to be kind to yourself and others in the process.




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