Julie McLean had a suicide attempt and realized that she needed to change her life and her mindset. This is her story and she is resilient.
Submit your story of resilience to be published in The Global Resilience Project Book 2: http://www.bit.ly/GRP2023.
Learn more about The Global Resilience Project, read the stories of resilience, sign up for the newsletter and submit your story here: https://theglobalresilienceproject.com/
Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised.
About the Guest:
Since the age of 16, Julie has thought about suicide almost daily and has acted on those thoughts many times. She felt like she couldn’t do anything right. She was overcritical of herself and thought no one could truly love her for her. This led Julie into mental health crisis after mental health crisis. Thanks to Toastmasters, she finally found her voice. She learned how talking about her mental health, and mental illness challenges were vital for herself and others.
After a mental health crisis, Julie trained to identify when others are in crisis and what needed to be done to help get needed treatment. She learned not to be afraid to ask if someone is okay, did they want to hurt themselves, and if they had a plan.
As a speaker and mental health advocate, Julie has done things she never thought possible. This came to fruition in 2021 when she was on the TEDxOcala stage talking about her mental health and mental illness. From there, Julie was certified as a coach to help others find ways to positively impact their mental health and speak to groups on how to end the stigma of mental illness.
Ending the stigma of mental health has become her mission. Asking the right questions can save a life. It did for Julie.
Website: Home - Start the Convo
Facebook: Start the Convo - Home | Facebook
About the Host:
Blair Kaplan Venables is an expert in social media marketing and the president of Blair Kaplan Communications, a British Columbia-based PR agency. She brings fifteen years of experience to her clients, including global wellness, entertainment and lifestyle brands. She is the creator of the Social Media Empowerment Pillars, has helped her customers grow their followers into the tens of thousands in just one month, win integrative marketing awards and more.
USA Today listed Blair as one of the top 10 conscious female leaders in 2022, and Yahoo! listed Blair as a top ten social media expert to watch in 2021. She has spoken on national stages, and her expertise has been featured in media outlets, including Forbes, CBC Radio, Entrepreneur, and Thrive Global. In the summer of 2023, a new show that will be airing on Amazon Prime Video called 'My Story' will showcase Blair's life story. She is the co-host of the Dissecting Success podcast and the Radical Resilience podcast host. Blair is an international bestselling author and has recently published her second book, 'The Global Resilience Project.' In her free time, you can find Blair growing The Global Resilience Project's community, where users share their stories of overcoming life's most challenging moments.
Learn more about Blair: https://www.blairkaplan.ca/
The Global Resilience Project; https://theglobalresilienceproject.com/
Alana Kaplan is a compassionate mental health professional based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She’s a child and family therapist at a Winnipeg-based community agency, and a yoga teacher. Fueled by advocacy, Alana is known for standing up and speaking out for others. Passionate about de-stigmatizing and normalizing mental health, Alana brings her experience to The Global Resilience Project team, navigating the role one’s mental health plays into telling their story.
Engaging in self-care and growth is what keeps her going and her love for reading, travel, and personal relationships helps foster that. When she’s not working, Alana can often be found on walks, at the yoga studio, or playing with any animal that she comes across.
The Global Resilience Project: https://theglobalresilienceproject.com/
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You can read stories of resilience and share your story at: www.iamresilient.info
Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised.
trigger warning, the Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult, the listeners discretion is advised.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Hello friends, welcome to radical resilience, a weekly show where I Blair Kaplan Venables have inspirational conversations with people who have survived life's most challenging times. We all have the ability to be resilient and bounce forward from a difficult experience. And these conversations prove just that, get ready to dive into these life changing moments while strengthening your resilience muscle and getting raw and real.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Welcome back to another episode of radical resilience. It's me, Blair Kaplan Venables, and I'm here with a very special guest. I'm here with Julie McLean. They say that right? You should leave and we don't use video, but she's waving and she, she's, she's great. She, I just met her. And we're on opposite sides of the continent. She's down in Florida, and I'm up in British Columbia, Canada. So I love like technology. It's amazing. And so what I love about Julie is that she's a speaker and mental health advocate. And if you're here listening to our podcasts, you've been part of our world, you'll know that this is a very important thing for me in the community. And she's actually even given a TEDx talk before. So without telling you too much about who Julie is, I think we should just invite her on and have a conversation. Hello, Julie.Julie McLean:
Hi, Blair, how are you?Blair Kaplan Venables:
Good. Thank you so much. Like I think it's, you know, we have a lot of interest in people being guests on the show. And I love that this happened so naturally and so fast. And when I saw you book, and I was like, oh, and I read your bio, I was like, this is perfect. Yep.Julie McLean:
It's my messages well timed. And this podcast is, well, time. So I'm excited for both of us. Yeah, and, youBlair Kaplan Venables:
know, reading like, what your, what your story is about how you were resilient. And actually, it really resonates with me. And I'm just going to set the stage so and the podcast listeners are familiar, but truly, you might not be. I've gone through a lot of trauma recently, and including my husband almost dying. We had a miscarriage, my father in law died, my mom died, my dad died all in just over a year. It's been intense, and I struggle with mental health, and depression and anxiety are, are what is most prevalent and present. And in June, I hit a low a very scary low. I had some big stuff happening in my career, but mentally, I was not okay. And I was not suicidal. But I thought, okay, like, no big deal. If I die, like I didn't care, like I didn't want to die, but I didn't care if I died. And that was really scary. If my sister was worried, my friends were worried. And I made an appointment with the doctor and I got on new meds. And eventually I started to feel like myself again. But it was really scary. And I just want to share that with you. Because I haven't gotten to the point of attempting suicide or wanting to but you have, and I want to talk to you about that.Julie McLean:
Well, I can tell you that my first attempt was when I was only 16. I was in a household that wasn't healthy. And I just felt like, I didn't matter. No, I didn't care about me. It's kind of like the way you just felt that, you know, you didn't care if you've lived or died. And I took a bottle to my wrist. And fortunately, I ended up having second thoughts. Just as I was ready to do it. I ended up having second thoughts and started thinking about my family and what it would do to them. So I was lucky. And then, you know, I struggled as a teenager, I struggled as a very young mom, I was only 19 When I had my child. And he was three when I almost succeeded in taking my own life. Have a bottle of pills and a bottle of booze. Yeah, it was really close. And it was really scary because I realized that the last minute again, where am I leaving my child? I mean, he's only three. And thank goodness I didn't use 37 now. No,Blair Kaplan Venables:
I'm glad you didn't either. Yeah.Julie McLean:
And then I guess I struggled up and down. You know, for a lot of years after that. I've gone through a lot of other trauma just like you have. You've had a miscarriage. I've had some loss when it comes to children. And back in 2019 is when I hit my lowest of lows And, you know, I was in a lot of physical pain, I was in a lot of emotional pain. I, I do have to say that, over these last 3040 years, I actually have thought about suicide almost every day. It's a struggle. It's a big struggle for me. And I've been able to manage it. And I've been able to keep a level head. But a series of events that happened in the beginning of 2019, from January to the end of April, really set me off balance. And it all culminated with a really dear friend of mine passing away and I was there. It was just, it was very traumatic, because she was such a dear friend. And then to add the pain on top of that physical pain. My husband came home one day, and I was bawling my eyes out. And he's like, what's the matter? And he's like, I'm leaving. I told him, I'm leaving him. Well, we have a relationship, that that's not a response for him. Because that's, you know, I would never leave him and he knows that. And he sat down with me. And he calmly said to me, are you okay? And I shook my head. No. And then he asked me, Do you want to hurt yourself? And I shook my head. Yes. And then the most important question he asked me was, did I have a plan? And I did. I had a plan, I was going to be very intentional that night, I knew exactly what I was going to do. I wanted it to look like an accident. I didn't want anybody else involved. And so I told them, yeah. And all this time, I'm crying. I'm not physically speaking at all. I'm just crying to him. Because it's just so true. The pain is so bad, and the mentally, physically, emotionally, it's all bad. And so he wouldn't leave my side, he wouldn't let me leave the house, he wouldn't let me leave the supply side. I slept cradled in his arms all night. And we just happened. We had been seeing a life coach together, you know, you were, I was married over 20 years. And when you hit 20 years, you kind of lose contact control. You just lose it sometimes. Yeah, we went to somebody to make sure we didn't lose it. And we were going on 20 years, 25 years at that point. And so we went the next day to that life coach, and because she's a licensed clinical social worker, as well. She turned around to me, and she said, So do you want help? And all I could do was shake my head. And she said to me, I hate to do this to you. But I can't take you shaking your head as a response. I need you to physically say yes to me, before I can help you. And it's something to do with the laws that they can't intercede, unless I physically tell them yes, you know, and she even said to me, if I was having a heart attack, I wasn't calling 911. She wouldn't have been waiting. But you know, she couldn't do anything for me unless I could physically say yes. And it took 45 minutes for me to finally say yes. I mean, of course, I was crying the whole time. Why what? Sorry, I'mBlair Kaplan Venables:
interrupting you. But what like, what happened in that 45 minutes? Like what was like re physically just not able to get it out? Were you going through processes in your head, walk us through thatJulie McLean:
I was in such a state, and you talk about the lowest of your lows. I was in such a state that I physically could not speak. Wow, I couldn't get the words out. All I could do was cry i. And that's what I did. I just cried and cried. And I physically couldn't get the words out. And she's prompting me and she's prompting me and you know, my husband couldn't even tell her. She needs help. And so I finally said, Yes, after 45 minutes, it was gut wrenching, to say the least. And I was able to get into an intensive outpatient program. And I'll preface that by saying because of the trauma that I've had with children, I checked myself into a hospital years ago, and I was there for five days. It was the most horrific experience of my life. I never wanted to do it again. So I was terrified that they were going to put me in an inpatient program. And my husband assured me that he wouldn't let that happen. So I had to sit there and I had to agree. I had to actually signed an agreement in the state that I was in, that I wasn't going to drive. Because my plan included driving, I wasn't going to be alone, my husband had to make sure that there was somebody with me at all times, I had to show up for my therapy appointments. And it was just so overwhelming, he had to take every ounce of medication in the house out, he had to give it to somebody and get it out of he locked it in his trunk at one point. And I didn't have a key for the car, so I couldn't get into the truck. So it was so trying and traumatizing just to get into a program, because of the laws, saying that my licensed clinical social worker couldn't help me unless I asked her to, basically. And that was by responding. Yes. So I got into that program. And for the first three days, I would walk in there very tentatively, I would hang my head down, and I had long bangs at the time. So you couldn't see my face, I would walk in, I would sit in a corner, I would not speak to anybody, I would not look at anybody. I could tell you what every little grain on the floor looked like. But I could not tell you what the 30 other people in my group look like. And for me, that was traumatizing. Because I've been brought up with you don't talk about things like this. You know, that's something you keep inside you, you should be strong enough to be able to get through something like this. But I was patient with the people that were there. And I was patient with myself. Because I knew I had to do this, if not for me, but for my family. And I listened to everybody from all different walks of life, talking about their mental health, whether it be addiction, bipolar, an eating disorder, whatever it was, they were all freely talking about their disorders and their mental health. And that got me to thinking if they can talk about theirs, who am I to sit here quietly and just observe. And I finally opened up, and I finally started talking. And when I started talking, I was shocked to find out that I felt better. Amazing. Wow, I could not believe that. Just talking about how I felt and relaying the message of where I was, was horrifying for me. absolutely horrifying. So I sat there and I kept talking and I did this intensive therapy for about a month. So a month of no driving a month of never being alone. I've had some of my best friends now. Sit in my house why I'm catatonic on the couch. Because I couldn't I couldn't get up. I couldn't do anything. And here I am now, I finished all of that. And I'm like, wow, talking really does help. And the people around me, supported me. Because I had to tell a few people out, you know, outside of my family what was going on because I was expected to go to a conference 400 People who all knew me, and all new, but happy go lucky, Julie that did everything. And now here I am, you know, taking that mask off and really showing the true me. So I had a whole great group of people who Oh, somebody always had an eye on me. And they all knew that. If I looked like I was having a hard time, they would just walk up to me say excuse me to the person I was with take me by the hand and walk me out at me. So you went to the conference. I went to the conference. Wow. I really didn't have much of a choice because the conference. It was a district conference for an international organization. So I was a Toastmaster. Yeah, so my husband at the time was the district director. So he was the big honcho. And we just happen to have the International President Elect joining us at that conference.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Oh, it was a big deal.Julie McLean:
It was a really big deal. A really big deal. You know what I had to be on?Blair Kaplan Venables:
You had to be on but also you didn't have to be on because you had people there that knew what was going on that would help you. Yep, who you needed to be and where you neededJulie McLean:
to be. And I relate it out as I was like a bullseye. the very center of my circle where my close friends who knew Everything. I mean, I told them that, you know, I was getting this therapy, some of them were even driving me back and forth, because of conflicts with my husband's schedule. And then I have another ring of people outside of that, who I said, you know, I'm just having a hard time I have a medical issue going on. And you know, I was taking care of it. And then the outer ring of people that I have just knew that, you know, I was sick for a little bit. And that's it. So I regulated who I told and how I told them and everything like that, and, and now here I am on podcasts and up on stages, talking to people about ending the stigma of mental health and mental illness by talking about it. It's amazing how we've grown up in all the different cultures, all the different religions, all the different ethnicities, we all have some kind of a bias or stigma, about mental health and mental illness. But I thought about it really carefully. And some people have mental illness, I have a mental illness, I don't have a problem with it, I maintain it with medication, and I work through things. Believe it or not just before COVID From January to March of 2020, I isolated myself to teach myself how to meditate. I taught myself a whole bunch of I am affirmations, I worked with some crystal healing, I did aromatherapy, I did everything I could to change my thought processes. And instead of thinking that I was worthless, thinking that I was enough. But the biggest part of that was changing that negative self talk. And I had I read a book that was called negative self talk and how to change it. Another book by the same is by shad, Helmstetter, h e l n, s t e t t e r. And he talked about everybody is taught to be negative, we're not born to be negative, we're taught to be negative right from childhood. Because the first words we learn is not mommy and daddy. It's No.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Wow, wow, that's profound.Julie McLean:
No, don't put things in your mouth.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Do you think ? Sorry. I just like have a high level question. And it's our opinion. Because, you know, with I struggle with mental health you like I live with mental health? Yes, you. You have your journey. Do you think if we were raised in a different society where our first words were mama data and like positive stuff, that maybe your journey with suicide would be different?Julie McLean:
For me, you know, because because a lot of I mean, I firmly believe that when it comes to certain mental health challenges and diagnoses, that there is a progression through a family. I know my dad struggled when he was alive. There's other members of my family that struggle with their mental health. Yeah. I've had a cousin who took his own life. I'm sorry. You know, he was 19. He was brilliant. He was talented. He had all the friends in the world. And that one moment in time, he didn't think his life was worth anything. And it's scary that that's all it takes. Is that split second of thinking? That I'm not worth anything. Nobody will miss me when I'm gone.Blair Kaplan Venables:
And it's scary. Because you and I have both been there. I've been there multiple times, even though I mean, I, I hope I never. I never want to go back to that place. It was just, it was dark. And I can't even imagine going further than that to like how far you've almost been? Yeah. And you know, I think something that we should talk on is what start the Convo is because you're turning your pain into purpose, which is pretty much why the global Resilience Project exists. Yep. And I want to learn more about start the convo.Julie McLean:
So with all of this therapy that I was doing, and realizing that talking was so important, also realized that there is a huge stigma against mental health and mental illness. And that's where I finally realized that, hey, I know how to talk on stages. I don't have a problem right now. Getting my story out there. Why don't I get my story out there and help people discover how to talk to about mental health and mental illness. And if we get that conversation going and break the stigma, automatically, the suicide rates will drop. Because we're all going to be talking about it. You know, I go when I think about, you know, back in the 50s, everything was hush hush when it talked about sexuality and you know, different types of things we don't we didn't talk about sex back then. Look at us now. We're not afraid anymore. And it's just amazing. I don't want it to take 70 years, or 70 more years, for people to learn that there shouldn't be a stigma about mental health. We all bleed red, we all deal with our mental health, we might not be dealing with mental illness, only some of us are privileged enough for that being you, VIP others, and plenty others. But we all have to deal with our mental health. And I think it's, it's really come to a head with COVID. And people realizing that, you know, they were sequestered. They couldn't get with other people. And it really affected people's mental health. So it's time to talk about it now.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yeah, it definitely is. So what a start the combo do like what are your services orJulie McLean:
start the Convo right now is going out and speaking to organizational leaders, going to their conferences and stuff like that, and teaching them that how important it is to be able to talk about this. I help people communicate and find out I help them learn the steps that are necessary to be able to start talking about this. And I do have a little 10 STEP program that if somebody wants to email me at Julie at start a convo dotnet, and it's ju L I E, you'd be amazed at how many people can't spell Julie. But it's Julie at start the convo.net. If you email me and asked me for my 10 steps on how to start a conversation about your mental health, I will be more than happy to send that to you. If you're looking for some kind of a coaching to be able to work with me and bounce ideas off me and try and set up that perfect person that you can talk with. I can do that. But But yeah,Blair Kaplan Venables:
well, that's amazing. So like all of Julie's links are going to be in the show notes so you can find her you love her email address, you have a direct line to Julie and you know, I think it's this is such an important conversation. You're new to my world, Julie, but I'm very public about my miscarriage, my grief, my mental health struggles with my social media following on this podcast, because I think it shouldn't be part of the conversation. We should normalize these, you know, these these experiences, and I get a lot of messages from people who I know and don't know, thanking me thanking me for bringing grief, the grief conversation forward or putting the word like putting feelings into words about the miscarriage because we there used to be around there still is this level of shame around it all. But we need to get rid of that because how can we help each other and the global Resilience Project is that safe space to share these stories to listen to other people's stories or read other people's stories? And by you showing up and starting the Convo and sharing your experience with mental health and suicide. It's so important. And I really appreciate you for coming on to this show and sharing so openly. What advice do you have for someone who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts or going down that path?Julie McLean:
So people with suicidal thoughts there's help out there you are not alone. That's that's the biggest thing. There are many organizations out there. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline. All you have to do now is text or dial 988 in the United States. That easy Nine, eight, you remember 911 You can remember 988 And there'll be somebody there to talk to you. Different organizations like Nami, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, they have different branches in all all the states all you know, even here in Jacksonville Ryan, we have one right here in Jacksonville. So you can always go to them and they'll be able to get issues some therapy, can't you know, a point not appointments, but they can point you in the right direction. And you know a couple of things that always find your gratitude. That's a big thing for me to always find your gratitude. And if you're at because I didn't have any gratitude when I went through this, and if you're having a hard time finding your gratitude, go to my website, which is start the convo.net. And I have Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok links. And right now I have a whole series on how to find gratitude. It's, I put it out every other day, different topics that to look back and be grateful for. And I'm thinking I'm going to start a self love one right after this because I'm almost finished with a series. I would love for you to follow me on Facebook, tick tock, or YouTube, not Youtube, Instagram.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Julie, what I love about this is so I have something called the mike our system and framework is the five secrets to strengthening your resilience muscle. And the first thing I always talk about is gratitude. Because if you practice gratitude every day at the same time, and you list three things you're grateful for from the past 24 hours, and you do that for a minimum of 21 days, you start to change the neural pathways in your brain to see the world more positively. And I've been doing this for over six years, I have a gratitude alarm that goes off every day at 9pm You know, the day my mom died the day before my mom died. We all did it together me my mom and sister the day my dad died, we all stood around my aunts and uncles and sister doing gratitude. Like there's always something to be grateful for so that you provide that resource so you guys should follow Julie. Julie, thank you so much for coming on this podcast, you're such a treat, start the Convo you can check out all of her links in her full bio. She's very impressive her full bios in the show notes and I just want to let everyone know that applications are now open for the second global Resilience Project book book number two, you can check out the show notes or go to the global resilience project.com. We're accepting stories to be published at the end of the year in our second book, we would love to have you and also thank you for tuning in to another episode of radical resilience. Remember, it is okay to not be okay. You are not alone. And you are resilient. Thank you.