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In this episode, our guest shares their experience of two extreme states: psychosis and depression. They talk about how they managed to overcome intense adversity and the teachings that followed. They speak about how reading 200 books in 2 years helped them find purpose and how they found a way to find a life worth fighting for.  

Please keep in mind that this guest would like to remain anonymous.

Check out the Star Size Comparison video mentioned in this episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEheh1BH34Q

Come and listen with:

Lucy (She/Her) – A big fan of pickleball, ice cream and storytelling

Rachel (She/Her) – Social Worker, Dialogical Practitioner, mad footy fan and wildly passionate about transforming the culture of mental health services to be person-led and human rights informed.

Incredible artwork @sharleencu_art


EPISODE TRANSCRIPT- Lost and Found

[00:00:01] Lucy: This podcast has conversations around different mental health experiences that may be distressing for some people. If that doesn’t feel like something you want to explore today, you might want to visit another podcast and come back to us another time.

[00:00:14] Rachel: discovery college acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to the elders, past and present. They have never ceded sovereignty.

[00:00:32] Lucy: In this podcast, we share stories that help us learn from each other, connect us and inspire growth. We want to acknowledge that this way of being, of coming together to share knowledge and stories, is a tradition that has already existed on this land for hundreds of thousands of years as a part of the culture of First Nations people.

[00:00:51] Rachel: discovery college acknowledges the views shared in this podcast are about mental health experiences, but are not a substitute for professional mental health advice and support. The views in this podcast are not the views of Alfred Health, but are the views of the individuals we’ve had conversations with.

[00:01:07] Lucy: The stories we share on this podcast aren’t just stories, but memories of the people who have bravely shared their experiences with us. Remember to take care of yourself as you listen, as well as to take care of the stories that you hear.

[00:01:33] Rachel: Extremely Human is a conversation about the profound experience of extreme states. When we speak about extreme states, we want to explore a more humanistic way to understand people’s experiences that aren’t always shared by others.

[00:01:47] Lucy: Each extreme state holds different meaning for each person, including those related to psychosis, depression, grief and addiction. As we chat with a variety of humans, we explore the important question how can we respond to distress with greater compassion and humanity?

[00:02:15] Lucy: In this episode, our guest shares their experience of two extreme states, psychosis and depression. They talk about how they managed to overcome intense adversity and the teachings that followed. They speak about how reading 200 books in two years helped them find purpose, and how they found a way to find a life worth fighting for.

Thanks for coming in today. For those who don’t know who you are, would you be able to just tell us a little bit about yourself? A few tidbits.

[00:02:45] Guest: Few tidbits. Yeah. So, um. I’m just a simple human being trying to do my best out here in this crazy world. Probably one of the more interesting things about myself is that my sport of choice is parkour, which my girlfriend thinks is ever so dorky. Surprisingly, I’m quite creative. That’s not a thing that I used to be good at. Like when I was in high school, I was very academic, and then I took a gap year, and I realized I was young enough and had lots of potential. And I was like, I can do whatever I want. So I changed from, I was meant to study law and criminology, and then I did a 360 and did film and tv instead. I guess I’m still working out who I am and what I want to achieve in life and where I want to go. And, you know, there’s such an intense unpredictability about life. Like, none of us know what’s going to happen tomorrow. So I guess I love watching my life unravel like a story and getting to participate in that and be around the beautiful people that I’ve got to meet.

[00:03:41] Lucy: Such a cool way of looking at life. Like, you’re the main character in your narrative.

[00:03:45] Guest: I don’t think I am the main character of my narrative. I think I’m a side character to a lot of people.

Lucy: Which is important. Yeah.

Guest: I don’t think it’s pessimistic, though, to say that I’m not the main character, or maybe that’s just me being resigned to the fact that I don’t always want to be in command.

[00:04:02] Lucy: I feel like that’s a nice way of looking at it. A lot of people just sort of think they’re the only person in the universe and everyone else is the side characters. But in your narrative, you’re the side character.

[00:04:13] Guest: Yeah. It’s good for the plot.

[00:04:14] Lucy: It’s good for the plot! We’ve got one structured question of the day, and the rest is all a bit free flow. But the question we want to ask is, have you ever had a disproportionate reaction to anything in your life?

[00:04:31] Guest: I think the most immediate example is there’s a Japanese animation called Attack on Titan that was very popular, and it kind of started airing when I graduated high school, and I followed it for ten years, and then we waited, like, a year for the last two episodes to come out. And I remember watching the last episode, and I was just crying the whole time because I was so joyful that I got to witness the end of this story and also just absolutely weeping because it’s over. The end of an era has come, and I don’t know if that is a disproportionate reaction because it felt very natural.

[00:05:08] Lucy: Yeah.

[00:05:09] Guest: I couldn’t not cry.

[00:05:11] Lucy: It takes you on a journey. A  TV show takes you on a journey. I remember I cried at the last episode of Friends when Rachel and Ross got together. I was weeping. So I very much relate to that.

[00:05:21] Rachel: I cried on the last episode of big bang theory and Game of Thrones. They’re part of your lives, these characters, they. So there is a sense of loss when it finishes.

[00:05:31] Guest: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:05:32] Rachel: Yeah.So we were wondering, can you tell us a little bit about what your experience of extreme state has been?

[00:05:41] Guest: Yeah, we could be here for years talking about this, but I guess I’ve been fortunate enough to experience two very extreme states, and I say fortunate in the sense that it was a great learning opportunity for me as a human being eager to grow.

So I’ve experienced psychosis, which was very challenging in its own right, and I guess we can unpack that a little bit today, hopefully. And the other experience is the polar opposite, which was depression and intense suicidality. I would. Yeah, I would argue that these are pretty extreme states to kind of experience emotionally, personally, and just, you know, within social circles. You know, it impacts your friends and your family, or at least it did for me. I guess I kind of want to preface that anything I say today is incredibly subjective and based on my personal experiences, because it’s very personal for each person that goes through this. Psychosis was the first kind of extreme state that I’ve ever experienced. And leading up to it was interesting because I was in a pretty unhealthy relationship, and I learned about this thing called negative empathy, and it’s when you’re in a relationship and you take on their negative emotions as your own.

[00:06:59] Lucy: I’ve never heard of that.

[00:07:00] Guest: Yeah, negative empathy.

Yeah. I only learned about that, like, last year, and I was like, oh, that’s what that was.

[00:07:07] Lucy: Yeah, right.

[00:07:08] Guest: So I was in a relationship that wasn’t great for me, and then I got out of that relationship quite. It didn’t end so well. And then I was working two jobs, and I was under a lot of pressure. So the two jobs, I was working a late night shift from about 12:00 a.m. to 03:00 a.m. and the next job started at 06:00 a.m. that day. So I got about 3 hours sleep before I was at work again.

So my mind was under a lot of pressure. It was building up, and I became anxious, but I didn’t know what anxiety was. Cause I’d never experienced it, so I was stressed. I started drinking more, doubled down on work, worked harder than I had before.

And eventually my mind just built up and up and up. And then it kind of. I would describe it as a snap. Like, I remember exactly where I was when my brain just snapped into psychosis.

And then I was in that state for a year, which I’ve heard is a really long time to be unwell. That’s a word I’m happy to use. But, yeah, I was in that experience for a year.

Pretty intense.

[00:08:20] Lucy: Was it on and off or just constantly in that state?

[00:08:24] Guest: Pretty constant, yeah. Yeah.

[00:08:26] Lucy: And did you have any awareness that you were experiencing psychosis?

[00:08:30] Guest: No. So when I was in the experience, I had no idea what was going on. And even though I was hospitalized and the doctors tried to explain to me what was happening in my mind, I wasn’t very receptive to it because I didn’t think anything was wrong. I was quite. I wouldn’t say I was happy in the experience because I was very out of control and kind of lost command over my own agency. My brain didn’t know how to respond to the stress in any other way. So my reality kind of just crumbled. And everything that I kind of believed was thrown out the window. And all of a sudden, I had these profound beliefs that made no sense to anyone else other than myself. So I remember I was, like, playing piano, and my brain just kind of snapped. And then all of a sudden, these thoughts inundated my mind about, you know, maybe the universe is simulated, maybe there’s multiple universes and, oh, I think there’s probably a god. And these ideas came out of nowhere. And my whole cognition and perception on life shifted in a second, which was a lot to kind of navigate. And there was really no way to navigate it because, again, I wasn’t aware of what was happening to describe it in a common, more common way, because obviously it’s quite an individual experience. But for people that haven’t experienced psychosis, I guess it’s akin to doing certain kinds of drugs. But the difference, I feel that, between psychosis and a drug like that is that when you take the drug, you are hopefully doing it willingly. You’re choosing to have this profound experience. You know, it’s temporary, it will pass, whereas psychosis, you don’t know how long it’s going to go for, and it’s not controlled. You didn’t choose this experience. And I think that’s the difference. I think psychosis is very convincing when you’re in it. For me, like, I was very convinced of all these things that were going on in my life, and I think it feels like you’re accessing a different part of your mind. Like, there’s a film called Lucy and a film called Limitless with Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper, respectively. And they are films that explore using 100% of the mind. And I think my psychosis felt like that to me, that I was overwhelmingly positive and that I had access to all of my memories.

I guess I felt omnipotent, for lack of a better term.

[00:10:49] Lucy: Sounds like a pretty incredible feeling.

[00:10:53] Guest: Incredible in a destructive way.

[00:10:55] Lucy: Yep.

[00:10:56] Guest: I guess at the time, it felt good, but as soon as I was out of that experience and could look back, I was like, okay, I lost 90% of my friends.

They didn’t die. They just abandoned me or couldn’t navigate my life with me anymore. But it really, really challenged me to kind of view myself differently. And I had to navigate this entire new kind of perspective. And I would call a lot of thoughts I had looking back, delusions. And I’m happy to use that term for myself.

[00:11:25] Lucy: Can you just say what delusions means to you?

[00:11:28] Guest: So, a delusion to me is an unsupported or an unfounded or sudden belief in something, because I know there’s, like, you know, religion is a thing, and there’s philosophy and there’s, you know, a whole range of thoughts that you can believe. But for me, it was the fact that they were sudden, that they had no logic to support them. There was no kind of sound reasoning that went into these ideas. They just snapped into awareness. And that’s why I would call them delusions for me. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:12:01] Rachel: I really heard you say that. I think 90% of your friends might have abandoned you through that. Were there people that were with you and tried to help?

[00:12:12] Guest: Yeah, I think it’s probably closer to 95%, to be honest.

I did have people that were there for me. One of my best friends kind of rushed to my aid when I was hospitalized and really was very angry that I was in hospital. They obviously didn’t have the complete picture, and neither did I, to be honest. Yeah. My best friend from uni, him and I were like brothers. Like, I respected him a lot as a man. And just the camaraderie that we had, we were very close, and that was a friendship I expected to probably last the duration of my life. But after the psychosis, I crashed into depression, and he was very confronted by that, and I never got to find out why. We never had a closing conversation. So I guess I never got closure about that relationship. He just kind of up and left, blocked me on social media, didn’t hear from him again. And that kind of loss is pretty devastating, especially when I guess this experience of psychosis really taught me who your friends are. And, you know, the ones that stick around are probably the ones that care the most about you.

But I had, my family supported me as well. They were incredible. At the time, I probably didn’t appreciate it too much, maybe wanted care in a different way. But looking back, I’m very thankful to have had so much support around me.

[00:13:33] Lucy: We’ve actually heard a lot of people say that they’ve lost a lot of friends when they’re going through something like that. Why do you think people drift away from people who are experiencing such a hard time?

[00:13:45] Guest: I think a lack of understanding, I guess, is my first response, but also maybe a protective factor. No, maybe some. Like, I remember in uni when I was around negative people, I kind of just distanced myself from them. I couldn’t have them in my life because it was bringing me down. And I guess a lot of my friendships were maybe more superficial than I thought they were. So, you know, it was okay for them to kind of move away and shift into their own life. But it was hard for me because that experience of psychosis, my life stopped. Everyone ran off into their careers, had a, you know, got married, had children, and I was back at square one trying to work out what does life look like for me? How do I get through this awful experience? So, yeah, life paused for me for, like, five years. And I would say only in the last year have I really started to bloom and to grow again.

[00:14:39] Lucy: I heard you speak about questioning how you got how would you get through such an awful experience, but how would you say you did get through that? Because one year is a long time to be in it.

[00:14:52] Guest: Yeah, one year is a long time. It’s interesting because obviously the western model is like, throw medication at it, subdue the symptoms. That didn’t work. A lot of the standard medications for my diagnosis didn’t help at all. So I was seeking professional help, but what was being provided wasn’t quite effective. Eventually, I just came out of the experience, and that felt like waking up as well. Like, the snap into psychosis felt like waking up. And then I remember snapping out of it and kind of being in hospital and being aware of myself for the first time in a year and being like, oh, I’m back. I can assess myself now. I can reflect. So, yeah, it naturally ended for me. I thought I was going to be in psychosis for a long time, and a year is a long time. But eventually I did come out of it and then I went into depression. It’s fascinating because the decline into depression was actually really helpful for me in the sense that the psychosis was this delusional, religiously grandiose kind of state. And then coming out of that into depression actually enabled me to pause and calm down and to really assess the experience and be more introspective than I had been previously and actually be aware of, you know, the experience of psychosis and the damage that it had caused in my life and then finally being able to examine that, investigate what had happened to me.

[00:16:22] Lucy: So depression actually gave you time for reflection?

[00:16:24] Guest: Yeah, it probably gave me too much time.

[00:16:27] Lucy: Too much time?

[00:16:28] Guest: Too much time, I think.

Yeah, I was depressed for about four to five years, and a lot of that was accompanied by, like, suicidality in the sense that, you know, if you’re  feeling depressed for so long, eventually you just want to escape. And unfortunately, the common thought is, oh, I should put myself out of my own misery, which is the thought that I ultimately had. And it wasn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be alive. It was very much, I want to be alive, but I want to be okay. If there was a switch, I could have flipped to be like, I’ll be happy again. I would have flipped it immediately. But I learn a lot. I learn a lot. And the experience was actually helpful. The first 21 years of my life was like I was on autopilot, you know, there was no emotional intelligence. There was no introspection or self awareness. And the beautiful thing about my depression was I had to navigate these awful emotions, but I had to work out a why I was experiencing them, what the causes were, and how do I mitigate these feelings or overcome them. And then that developed the self awareness. And it was the self awareness that ultimately got me out of depression.Well, there were a lot of things, but that’s one of them.

[00:17:50] Lucy: Can you speak a little bit more about how self awareness pulled you out of depression?

[00:17:54] Guest: Yeah. So I guess there are a few things that helped. Self awareness was definitely the development that I got from depression. Getting out of it was a little more challenging because sometimes you know why you’re experiencing something, but that doesn’t actually alleviate the experience itself.

So I guess when I understood where my depression had come from, my diagnosis and stuff, that made me feel a little more like, okay, well, there’s steps I can take to get out of this. So my first steps were psychology, psychiatry. And then, you know, I really doubled down because I didn’t know if I was going to get out of it. So I exercised a lot. I learned meditation, I tried reading. And in the end, I read for about two years straight. I read, I think, nearly 200 books in that time, and that pulled me out of it. And I think what it was, it was finding purpose. It seems like a really insignificant purpose, getting up and reading a book every day. But that was so different to what I’d been doing because I was stuck and trapped in this perpetual cycle of I feel awful, I want to die. And then just navigating that. But when I got to read a book, I was able to escape my own mind. So I’ve reflected on this a lot, and I think a lot of people like to escape their feelings, even people that haven’t gone through psychosis. For me, I recognized that my reading was like, positive escapism. Reading is quite a helpful and healthy thing to do. Maybe not 200 books in two years, but that pulled me out of it. And I think the thing that pulled me out was that I was making progress. Like, I set my goal, read 100 books in a year. When I achieved that, I was like, well, I can achieve things. I can give myself goals and reach them.

[00:19:49] Rachel: I mean, I’m a clinician, and so we hear a lot or talk a lot about purpose and its role in healing, but we often think about work or vocation, and that’s really just highlighted. Purpose can mean lots of things. Being able to set yourself goals, do something that health, you know, that gives you a space from the emotions that you’re finding hard, something else to focus on. It’s really lovely to hear that story. Thank you.

[00:20:19] Guest: No worries. My pleasure.

[00:20:22] Rachel: I think I heard you say back when you were telling us about that year that there was your help seeking led to certain things that weren’t very helpful. You know, there was lots of medications that didn’t really work for you and maybe some other things. Do you know what you would have wanted back then or something else in response to what you were going through?

[00:20:48] Guest: I think what I wanted was unrealistic. I really wanted someone to kind of be in the water with me whilst I was trying to stay afloat, because I feel like, you know, a lot of my family support and my friends were like, you know, kind of watching me struggle to stay afloat or, like, even drown, in a sense. What I would have wanted if I could have had it would have been, yeah, someone in the water with me, like a best friend that I could really just talk to about everything that I was going through, all of my thoughts, having, like, a sounding board for all of the things that I was going through. And I didn’t have that.

[00:21:26] Rachel: I think you said it was unrealistic. And what comes up for me when I hear you talk about someone in the river with you, is that what you said? in the water with you, is that kind of idea of witness?  Why do you think that’s unrealistic to have with ness when you’re going through something?

[00:21:48] Guest: I think it’s unrealistic in the sense that I may not have appreciated it even if I had it. So it’s almost a retrospective kind of analysis of what I would have wanted at the time. I don’t know if it would have been helpful. And it’s also unrealistic in the sense that from my experience, losing 95% of my friendship group based on that experience, I didn’t expect anyone to be with me all the time. But despite all of the supports that I did have, and there were extensive supports, the thing that really came, I realised eventually that it comes down to me. You know, my well being is my responsibility.

And unfortunately, one of the professionals in my life during my care said to me, oh, he’s unlikely to recover. That stuck with me for years. And I assumed that because my diagnosis was incurable and indefinite, I was like, well, I’m stuck with this for the rest of my life. There’s no chance of recovery. So I resigned myself to that idea. I thought, okay, well, this is me now. I’m gonna be unwell forever.

And then eventually it clicked in my head, if I may swear, fuck that, I’m going to recover. I want to take charge of my life. I want to restore myself in my own eyes and be the person that I want to be. And I always wanted to be who I was before, you know, optimistic and happy and confident and carefree.

And I did get that back, which I wasn’t expecting. But I’m also, like, 2.0, you know, like, I’ve learned more. I’m not on autopilot anymore. I’m reflective and introspective.

And if I had to do all of this again, despite, you know, almost ending my life and experiencing the weight and depth of psychosis, I would do it all again. And the reason I would do it all again is because it gave me who I am today.

[00:23:45] Lucy: You should be honestly so proud of yourself, because what that person said, that you’d never recover, that’s so damaging to try and write someone’s narrative for them, and not everyone would have the same motivation as you did and turn around and say, well, that’s not gonna be me. I’m gonna do things my way. You should be really proud of that for going with your intuition and what was right for you.

[00:24:12] Guest: I think my proudest achievement is surviving when I didn’t think that I could. I think that is my proudest achievement to date.

[00:24:24] Lucy: What would you say is your biggest learnings or takeaways from being in a state so unfamiliar?

[00:24:33] Guest: Wow.

My depression was kind of like this massive existential crisis for me. Before experiencing anything, I would have identified as an optimist and an atheist, and that was pretty much my entire philosophical identity. So coming into this crisis where I had all the human questions, you know, why are we here? You know, why am I here specifically? Is there a meaningful purpose to my life? How do I want to contribute to society? The big ones. And I think my biggest takeaway from that was I didn’t really find any answers, but what I did find was curiosity. And I started to develop the kind of core principles that make me who I am and the things that I look for in other people and the things that I try to uphold. And I think the four that I kind of settled on was kindness being the most positive way to navigate any relationship or interaction, even with strangers on the street. If you’re kind to them, they’ll probably remember that, and that could impact their day, and that may have a butterfly effect for the rest of eternity.

[00:25:39] Rachel: I love that.

[00:25:40] Guest: Yeah. And there’s like. I realised there’s, like 8 billion people on this planet, and if we all did one act of kindness a day, that’s 8 billion acts of kindness every day. Like, imagine how transformative that could be. The second would be curiosity, as I mentioned earlier, that innate human desire to question and challenge and kind of grow. And then the third and fourth would be self- awareness, which we’ve already kind of discussed a little bit. And the last one would be effective communication, which, admittedly, I’m not always great at.

[00:26:13] Lucy: So your whole experience and then going into that reflective period of your life taught you those four sort of pillars of your life, is that right?

[00:26:25] Guest: Yeah. I think it’s like BC in AD, right? I feel like my life has been divided into, like, pre psychosis and depression and post psychosis and depression.

[00:26:36] Lucy: That’s a great way of looking at it. I feel the same after psychosis, I felt like it was a second shot at life. It’s like life part two.

[00:26:45] Guest: Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:26:46] Lucy: So you spoke before about things that you did to help you. You spoke about exercising, meditation, and reading. Why was it those things that you chose?

[00:26:57] Guest: So I guess this was a lot of the professional advice that I was given that things like exercise can increase serotonin and those kinds of chemicals. And then reading was my kind of choice and purpose. And then meditation was passed down by my stepdad, who practices in Buddhism.

And really, for me, this was during my depression. This wasn’t during the psychosis. And I guess I tried everything because I really wanted to survive.

And I was like, okay, well, I have to try everything that I can to get through this. Otherwise, it’s the alternative, which would be the worst case scenario for everyone.

So I tried everything. And it wasn’t until I actually put in the effort to try different things that actually started to. I was like, oh, wow, they do help. You know, they didn’t help immediately. I found it really hard to exercise because I’d gained weight from the medications and that kind of thing. But when I did start to do things, it wasn’t immediately transformative, but over time, it amassed pride. I was like, okay, well, today I showered. I did one impossible thing I thought I couldn’t do. And then the next day, I was like, oh, go for a bike ride. Another impossible thing I didn’t think I could do. And then getting into that habit of achieving things each day made me really realize, you know, I can do more than I think I can do. Because, you know, some people may say, oh, well, you weren’t that depressed. And I’ll be like, well, you know, it was pretty awful and devastating. And, you know, I had no motivation to do these things. I was. I really didn’t want to do them. I didn’t want to listen to the professionals telling me that exercise was helpful because I was like, well, I’ve tried it before. It didn’t work, but I tried it again, and I tried everything again. I did the things I didn’t really want to do. And it took probably all of my willpower to actually do them. But they helped. Everything helped eventually, but it was my responsibility to kind of do this for myself, to take charge of my own recovery. So trying everything. I exhausted all options, you know, the meditation, the getting a routine again and even going to groups that headspace after years of not wanting to do them or maybe a year and doing all of these things for myself. Because at the end of the day, I’m like, well, this is my life. You know, I have potentially just one of these. So I kind of, like, owe it to myself to get better.

[00:29:34] Rachel: I guess I’m just sitting here wondering about where you found the willpower. At what point did you start to believe in life? Worth fighting for.

[00:29:47] Guest: This is pretty dark, but I will share it. So, after years of being depressed, I did make an attempt. And after that, I wouldn’t say I was happy that I survived, but I was like, okay, well, I did. So what does that mean for me? And then I challenged myself to. I was like, okay, well, either it’s gonna be that again or I really make the effort to get better. It’s an interesting question, because obviously that’s the answer that people will be looking for. My psychologist said to me about my anxiety. She said, okay, you feel like you can’t go out and shop. And she said to me, but you can. You can physically do that. It will cause you a lot of discomfort, and it’s awful, but you can physically go and do that. You can make yourself do it. And then I was like, I hate that you’re right, but you are right. So after psychosis and towards the tail end of my depression, it was anxiety that was the hardest thing to overcome for me because I knew why I was anxious, but I couldn’t work out how to solve it. My anxiety was like a physical nausea, like needing to vomit all the time. So that was, like, the last hurdle for me to kind of overcome was anxiety. And my psychologist was pretty transformative, you know, telling me that while you can do it, despite how uncomfortable it’s going to be, and then I started challenging myself, like, all right, I feel like I can’t do this. I’m going to do it anyway. And in the end, I realised my fear of the consequences of failing, pretty much. It felt like, you know, I was sincerely concerned with, if I try this, what if I fail? You know, what if I start to work again, but I can’t do it? That kind of mindset, that shift in, well, I can physically do it despite how awful it’s going to be, really helped.

[00:31:40] Rachel: And even though all of those small steps that you made contributed to some belief, maybe.

[00:31:47] Guest: Yeah, I think there’s this thing I do when I get stressed. There’s a video on YouTube called star size comparison. And it starts with, like, the moon, and it moves up to the different planets in our solar system, all the way up to the biggest star in the universe, and it’s huge. It’s like hundreds of millions or billions of miles across. That’s probably wrong. Don’t quote me. But it’s huge. And then they put the earth on it, and the earth is this tiny speck of sand against this massive goliath of a star. And I watch it when I get stressed because I’m like, it reminds me that I’m insignificant, but it also reminds me how significant I actually am. You know, the fact that I get to live this life and see the universe while I’m here and think about these great things that we get to think about reminds me that I shouldn’t care so much about the small things and not in a negative way, but in a, you know, it’s okay to not care so much and to try to navigate it anyway. Especially anxiety. That’s mostly when I would watch this video, is when I was really, really anxious and just remind myself that, breathe, you’re small. You’ve got this.

[00:33:01] Lucy: Very liberating way to approach life.

[00:33:04] Rachel: I just want to say I really enjoyed this conversation, and I’m so grateful that you’re with us today. We’d like to ask all our guests something about if they’ve seen or witnessed or experienced a person respond to distress. I wonder if you’ve got something to share about that.

[00:33:24] Guest: I do. I have an example that stuck with me for years now. There was a police officer, a woman, who responded to kind of a crisis that I was in. And she said to me, she was very authentic and genuine. And she just looked at me and said, kid, it’s gonna get better. She’s like, I’ve been through it. It’s worth it, you know, enduring it and sticking through it. And I didn’t believe her. You know, I was pretty hopeless and despairing. I was like, all right, whatever. You’re just saying this. But when I did recover and when I returned to wellness, I kind of remembered her conversation. I’m like, God damn it, she was right.

And I guess if I could instill any hope in other people, it would be as insurmountable, unsurmountable as it feels. It is worth enduring. And I often reflect, you know, if we look at, like, the purpose of life as a just a general thing, you know, it’s to survive, to reproduce and evolve. And I kind of thought, well, in a more human sentiment, it is to endure, to love and to change.

And I think about that a lot because, you know, I feel like we can get stuck, but change is ultimately how we get through. And enduring where we have to and spread love in a very simple way.

[00:34:44] Rachel: Endure love and change. What a beautiful way to finish our conversation today.

[00:34:54] Lucy: I just think you have so much to offer, and you do give so much hope to a lot of people, and that’s very special. So thank you for spreading that message today with us and anyone that’s listening.

[00:35:09] Guest: Thank you.

[00:35:16] Rachel: Okay. Well, Lucy, I’m keen to hear what you thought about that conversation because there’s so many things on my mind that I’ve noticed. I’ve thought a lot about throughout the talk, but also still sitting there now, what’s sort of on your mind after listening to this guest?

[00:35:35] Lucy: I loved this conversation. There’s been so many things that have stood out. I think the thing that I’ve been thinking about is how they were speaking about depression and how that period in their life was actually really helpful. They described it as being helpful because it gave them time to think about what had happened during the psychosis and gave them time to just pause. They spoke about how they arrived at the four pillars of their life and what was really important to them. They mentioned kindness, curiosity, self- awareness, and effective communication, which I think is just such a beautiful way to live. And, you know, we’re so busy in our everyday lives that sometimes we don’t get the opportunity to pause. So you can see that, you know, although the depression was really tough, it did serve a purpose in giving them a break. So I found that really fascinating. What were some of your takeaways?

[00:36:27] Rachel: Well, there was so much. I mean, the four pillars were pretty inspiring, actually. And the other thing that is really on my mind when I think about this conversation was just the importance of language or, you know, the power of words. And, you know, in my practice, in the way that I work, we talk a lot about holding a not knowing position, you know, and the importance of uncertainty. And although that can feel, you know, hard at times to sit in the unknown and to hold this position of not knowing, it actually allows an openness, whereas a knowing position or holding certainty about things just can close things down. And I was just thinking so much about the potential impact of hearing someone say, you’ll never recover from this. You know, how that could have really changed the outcome for this person. Our guest was able to really work against that and turn that around. So I was very inspired by this person’s ability to be able to take charge of their own journey and where they wanted to be and the life they wanted to live. This person’s ability to speak and talk about some really complicated topics and make them really understandable has made our conversation with them really easy. So I just want to say thanks.

[00:38:09] Lucy: Thank you for listening to our podcast. If you wanted to stay in touch or learn more about discovery college, please head to our website, discovery.college.

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