Mental Health Awareness Month: Special Podcast Episodes

This month, I’m taking a break from the regular podcast content to bring episodes focused on bringing awareness to all the tools that support our mental health. Contrary to what the media may tell you, you can change your brain. You can heal from mental illness. You can access resources beyond medication and more sleep, and many of those resources are free, like these episodes.

In Episode 135, I share my story of overcoming PTSD, depression, and bipolar disorder in a way I haven’t shared before.

Key Topics:

  • The growing epidemic of mental health issues in teens
  • The root causes to my own mental health issues and how I struggled to find treatment that supported my mental well-being
  • The medication weaning process and how I was able to get off medication I had been on for 18 years
  • The tools I used to support healing and how I continue to prioritize my mental health to prevent recurring issues

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Mental Health Awareness Month: What it Means to Be a Survivor

Someone recently asked me, “What do you mean when you say you are a survivor of bipolar disorder?” I paused for a second. What does it mean?

I ended up responding with this, “I no longer exhibit the symptoms of bipolar disorder.“

I’ve been thinking about this conversation ever since. 

Does not exhibiting symptoms of bipolar disorder mean that I no longer suffer from this illness?

Did my diagnosis match my symptomology in the first place?

This caused me to reflect back on the symptoms of bipolar disorder, which consists of fluctuation between a depressed state and a manic state.

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How Movement Can Help You Listen to Your Body’s Needs

Our bodies tell us things about every day, but typically we wait for someone else to tell us what’s going on before we listen. In this episode, we talk about finding a way to tune into our unique body’s needs through both stillness and movement.

Elise Carter has been a student of yoga for over two decades, and a small business owner for sixteen years. She has both taught and studied with a number of inspiring yogis across the country and has accumulated additional teaching certifications in several different lineages of yoga. Elise currently holds the E-RYT 500 teaching designation, the honor given by Yoga Alliance to their most senior teachers.  She has spent countless hours in studio (both practicing and teaching), and has developed an unquenchable thirst for all things yoga. Currently, she is the owner of beFree yoga in Tyler, Texas, where she teaches several times a week and leads yoga teacher trainings.

Download and listen here or wherever you get podcasts!

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Yes, You Are Swimsuit Ready!

A few days ago, as I was getting ready for the day, my youngest child, who’s five, squeezed my belly and asked me why my skin is different than his. He compared by attempting to squeeze skin from his belly, which obviously didn’t happen.

So I told him how my skin is more stretchy and elastic, and it has been stretched out quite a few times from getting bigger and smaller, and back again, because our bodies protect us and keep us safe by always changing. And how amazing is that???

I love warm weather and being in the sun, by the pool, or at the beach. I don’t love bathing suit season. Never have. But every year, I’m reminded of what my body went through in the last year to keep me safe. Whether that’s mood instability, weight gain or weight loss, autoimmune flares, gut issues, skin problems… our bodies do what they can to create balance in a continuously imbalanced world. 

So when that same five year old catches me in action like this (while I am trying to prepare my skin for an upcoming beach vacation) and tells me, “lift your arms up” for the picture…. I let him.

This pose represents one more year that has passed with me in a vessel that has worked so hard for me for a very long time. One more year that I’m still swimming, maybe doggy-paddling my way through life… but keeping my head above water.

My body is amazing. So is yours. Don’t let your current disappointment in your symptoms keep you from being present for the sunshine.

How Your Gut and Skin Microbiome Affect Acne

Yes, your gut microbiome is important… but what about the microbiome on your skin? Do we need certain types of bacteria for healthy skin?

In this recent episode of the podcast, we dig into the gut AND skin microbiome to discuss just how much your microbiome plays a role in your skin health. Download here or find wherever you get podcasts!

Dr. Yug Varma has 10+ years of microbiome research experience including an extensive background in bio-organic chemistry, microbiology, and synthetic biology. Dr. Varma received his scientific training at several distinguished academic institutions, including Johns Hopkins University (PhD) and University of California, San Francisco. His scientific work has been published in many prestigious journals, including Nature. Dr. Varma’s mission is to change the way we treat chronic bacterial diseases, and is working tirelessly to achieve this goal with a microbiome-based technology platform. He is passionate about promoting scientific literacy, and devotes a significant amount of time demystifying microbiome research and making the latest research accessible to the general public.

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Popular Phrases That Don’t Support Whole Body Health

If we’re going to partner with our bodies for whole body healing, we need to understand that the way we choose to talk to our bodies about our choices of nourishment impacts the way we digest and utilize nutrients. A body in stress won’t digest! Our thoughts pave the way for everything that happens on an intercellular level. If we are stressed about our food choices, it alters the way we digest.

Does what you put into your body impact your health? Of course! But what you tell yourself about your food and your body determines if you can access “rest and digest,” which is important for healing and restoration.

During a meal, we want to be relaxed, filled with gratitude, and completely present in our bodies to load our senses with the pleasure-filled experience of eating.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Food is not just fuel. Food is comfort, healing, information, and nourishment on so many levels.

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How Your Brain Responds to Processed Food

Can your brain become addicted to processed food? According to recent podcast guest Dr. Joan Ifland, who recently published the textbook on processed food addiction, our brains are extremely susceptible to processed food addiction. In this recent episode, she explains why we get addicted to processed food, how the food companies encourage it, and how the healthcare system gaslights patients who can’t get out of the addiction cycle.

Download and listen to the episode here, or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer: What’s the Connection?

Breaking news: A HUGE study, published in March 2022, showed that people who consumed high amounts of aspartame were associated with a 22% higher risk of developing breast cancer and 15% higher risk of developing obesity-related cancers. Other sweeteners that were included in the study were sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium, though 58% of the participants consumed aspartame.

The cohort study was initiated in France in 2009, and looked at the diet of 102,685 people. It’s important to note that almost all of the participants consumed less than the government-recommended allowable daily intake… so it’s not like they were consuming it all day long, all the time. Even a small amount seemed to make a difference in health outcomes.

Artificial sweeteners can be found in:

  • Gum
  • Diet drinks
  • Light yogurt
  • Pedialyte
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Whole wheat bread and English muffins
  • “Carb balance” tortillas
  • Some protein powders and health bars (including Pure Protein and Quest)
  • Sugar free candy
  • Sugar free coffee syrups
  • Energy drinks
  • Sugar free ice cream and other desserts

Aspartame has long been linked to tumors in mice, but other artificial sweeteners (including Splenda/sucralose) are also linked to depression, anxiety, ADHD, cognitive decline, insulin resistance, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and microbial imbalances (which affect everything else).

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Keys to Creating Immune Resilience

Have you heard the phrase psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology? Well, you have now!

In this recent episode, I pick Dr. Aaron Hartman’s brain on the topic of long Covid and why creating a healthy immune system impacts everything else in our bodies! We discuss the unique interconnectedness in our bodies and the latest and greatest in health research.

Dr. Aaron Hartman is the founder of Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine in Richmond, Virginia. He helps his patients identify leverage points in key areas of their lifestyle & health that harness their body’s remarkable power to heal and begin living the vibrant life they deserve. He has participated in over 60 clinical studies and has become the ‘go to’ doctor for difficult and hard cases in central Virginia – positively impacting his own daughter’s MS with his unique, integrative approach to health.

Download and listen here or find wherever you get podcasts!

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Favorite Foods for Brain Health

I love supporting my mental health through nutrients from food. When I stopped dieting and started focusing on ADDING colorful variety and nutrient density, it was a much needed mindset change.

This helped me to learn to listen to my body’s needs, instead of viewing my body as a project I needed to perfect and relying on diet and food companies’ marketing instead of my own intuition.

I spent many years choosing food items with the marketing phrases “diet,” “reduced fat,” “low fat,” “low calorie,” and “sugar free,” never knowing that those things were harming my mental health.

It has been so freeing to find what nourishes my unique body and not being enslaved to anyone else’s rules. These three categories (protein, veggies, and fiber) are things I have learned make me feel great when I include them every day!

What are your must haves? My guess is yours might look different than mine, which is a beautiful, bioindividual thing!