Leonard Su is a fully trained, fully licensed, fully retired vascular surgeon. After 4 years of college at Yale University, 4 years at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3 years of laboratory research, 7 years of residency both at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington, AND 10 years of clinical practice, he hung up his scalpel and picked up a keyboard. He traded O.R. Lights for stage lights. His clinical career was cut short by mental illness, but he remains ever willing to help others. Only now instead of sutures and stents, he uses words and the power of talk. He speaks on the issues of mental illness in society, particularly in the medical profession, and strives to start conversations about mental illness. His background, while clearly steeped in medicine, also includes experience with stage such as with dancing in a local production of the Nutcracker, improv Comedy, and small episodes of trying stand-up Comedy.
It’s no secret that one of the keys to life, is balance. Lean too much towards work, and we can lose focus on our personal life and risk burn out. Lean too far towards the personal side, and we can end up losing sight of the career dreams and things we want to accomplish. When you toss Mental Health into the equation, it adds a whole new dimension to this struggle.
Not only do you have to juggle your personal and professional life, what ever that looks like for you individually, now you have any number of mental health challenges that bring about their own daily influx of struggles. Talk about the need for balance, right!
As a mental health and LGBTQ+ advocate, and current MSW student, Lee Thomas shares her thoughts on this topic and several others during this episode of the podcast.
I first met Lee when I came across her weekly Facebook Live show, Crazy Talk, after the HealtheVoice 2018 Conference. Lee regularly interviews advocates, clinicians, professional, survivors and others all around the topic of mental health and advocacy. I was honored to be on Crazy Talk earlier this year (you can find that episode by clicking here) and now I’m pleased to have Lee join me on Beyond Your Past.
Lee was born and raised in a small town in northern Alberta. From a young age they were heavily involved in athletics, student government, and other extracurriculars. However, during their teen years they began battling a mental illness. Feeling scared and alone, Lee struggled silently for many years. Their illness worsened throughout their high school years and continued into university, until Lee finally sought help and began the difficult process of recovery.
After Lee began the recovery process, they realized that there were still many people struggling with mental health issues in silence. To reduce the stigma around mental health issues on their campus, Lee founded the #MyDefinition poster campaign in 2014. Since then, Lee has been working as a motivational speaker and mental health trainer, speaking to groups of all ages and sizes about their own mental health experiences, the important of reducing stigma, and LGBTQ+ issues.
While continuing her graduate education in the field of social work, she continues to serve as a speaker, trainer, and writer in the mental health field; her work has been featured on The Mighty, TEDx, CBC News, and more.
During our chat on the podcast, we cover some of the struggles and triumphs in her life so far as well as her future work as social worker serving the LGBTQ+ community and others who know what it means to struggle with a mental illness such as depression, eating disorders, bipolar, and more:
- Her struggle with depression, eating disorders, and self-harm in her teen-age years.
- The realization that she had been suffering in silence for so long, and then learning what a mental illness means for her.
- The limited information available about mental health when she was younger, and what she re-learned later.
- Starting the #MyDefinition poster campaign and how that lead to acquiring speaking engagements and sharing her story at conferences and workshops.
- The 3 keys of validation she needed to get started in her career: Passion, Knowledge, and Something She was Good at.
- What vulnerability looks like for each of us
- Staying busy and the risk of doing so to avoid confronting and working through tough memories and emotions.
- How staying busy reinforces the mindset of “uncopewithable” situations, and how this can set back healing.
Lee shares her thoughts on these topics and more during our chat, so I hope you’ll check out the po
Announcements and what the heck goes on behind the scenes of a podcast network all about mental health? Join podcaster and sound editor Joseph Fusaro (Joda) and Kristin Sunanta Walker as they talk about what’s up and the art of disengagement.
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Three women unleashed on this incredible new series Be Awesome!
Jenn Edden is a certified health coach specializing in sugar addiction and empowerment coaching. She is also a mom, speaker, and biz coach for other entrepreneurs looking for clarity and confidence. As a recovering sugar-a-holic, Jenn supports women to take back their lives and health by making small tweaks to food and lifestyle choices while addressing how much mindset plays a role in long-term success.
Join Dr. Kristin Neff for a lively discussion about what it means to be a compassionate mess! It’s okay. Our hosts Dr. Kristina Hallett and Kristin Sunanta Walker jump in to ask questions about what self-compassion really means especially in today’s world.