Finding Your Path to Mental Health

This Business Round Table by Exit Your Way® topic was "Finding Your Path to Mental Health".  The event featured Katherine Redlus, a musician, writer and speaker devoted to promoting mental health and wellness.  Katherine shared her history of growing up being raised by her grandparents and how while she was very successful in her pursuits, she never really found happiness. 

This Business Round Table by Exit Your Way® topic was “Finding Your Path to Mental Health”.  The event featured Katherine Redlus, a musician, writer and speaker devoted to promoting mental health and wellness.  Katherine shared her history of growing up being raised by her grandparents and how while she was very successful in her pursuits, she never really found happiness.  It was a moving and honest explanation of her life challenges.

She explained how her struggles with mental health continued even though she was using mental health improvement techniques.  Her mother’s mental health challenges and losing her mother in 2018 ultimately led Katherine to seek help and work thorough the foundational things that were holding her back from making the progress she needed. She told us that working through these things were key to her moving forward because here foundation was not ready to support her growth.   She shared how getting her foundation right helped her to find her path to being in a much better place.  Ira Bowman shared his experience dealing with depression and that getting the foundational things worked out was the path for him to deal with it as well.

Dr Elia Gougouris came on stage to share his perspective as a clinical psychologist and Kelly Robinson came on stage to share her thoughts and perspectives.   Pete Alexander, Brad Smith and many others in the group provided awesome comments, thought provoking questions, and insights that  brought the topic alive.  These all contributed a great deal and made the event special.

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This was an incredible event.  The participation by everyone was inspiring.  I hope that people were able to leave this with the same positive feelings we did.  It actually took us about 15 minutes of talking after the event just to take it all in.

Thanks to the people who attended and who continue to support this group.  We all rise together!

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people, talking, katherine, friends, Katherine, life, tools, suicide, therapist, depression, struggle, family, hr, person, andrew, deal, deep, shared, create, good


Damon Pistulka, Ira Bowman, Dr. Elia Gourgouris, Andrew Cross, Katherine Redlus, Kelly Robinson


Andrew Cross  00:06

Look at this.


Damon Pistulka  00:11

We got to get Katherine up here. All right. Yep. You may have to turn on your camera and like, there we go. Katherine’s here. Everyone’s here. Awesome. Hey, thanks, everyone for coming today to the Exit Your Way business roundtable pologize for the URL snafu. Honestly, it’s the first time that that was ever hosed up. Katherine and I were getting on this morning do a little prep for the event and wouldn’t allow me to add her as a speaker and then next thing you know, I had to redo it. So appreciate you making that making the switch and getting over here.


Andrew Cross  00:52

want our money?


Damon Pistulka  00:55

back? Yeah, I get your money back. Just ask Andrew.


Ira Bowman  01:01



Damon Pistulka  01:03

double your money back


Andrew Cross  01:05

to get in line.


Ira Bowman  01:08

You got funded. So you got you got some coins? Yeah, yeah.


Damon Pistulka  01:14

Good movie had a good week this week. It’s awesome to have Katherine here. Thanks for joining us today. Very cool.


Ira Bowman  01:24

I get myself into these.


Damon Pistulka  01:25

Yeah, exactly. Pick a bunch of crazy old white dudes.


Ira Bowman  01:30

But we need your help, Katherine.


Damon Pistulka  01:31

Yeah. No doubt, myself.


Katherine Redlus  01:36

My father is a crazy old white dude. So I’m good. I practice.


Ira Bowman  01:41

crazies person in this whole building is Mike O’Connor. So there’s you just make sure you go see. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  01:47

yeah, my handle for that one. Enjoy the crazy you got to have. All right. Well, you know, this is this is cool. Because we’ve got we’ve got something I think that a, it’s been, you know, mental health is something that well, when you go back to, and I’m going to say is because Andrew has his name, age and I as I am in our generation. Yeah, you are. In our generation mental health was something that was stunk, you know, stuff under the rug, or, you know, whispered about behind and really didn’t, didn’t talk about it, you know, I could, and especially even the generation before, you know, I click on my parents, and that, that those words were never uttered by my parents, even after my mother got a PhD, and she still has never uttered those words. And I think one of the things that I really like in the last years, last decade, his his mental health has really come forward as, as something where people are, are stepping up and getting some help, acknowledging problems, and not just living with them forever. And when you go back, and you look, in the last few years, look at how many people we’ve lost to suicide, that you’re good. And the one that sticks out to me is like Robin Williams, and, and you know, because someone has been very successful, and you know, money’s not an issue, and just some other things like that. And when you start to read the backstories, behind people, it’s often years and years and years of struggling with with whatever. And there’s many different things that affect people. But when, when I was introduced to Katherine, I thought, Man, this is this is pretty cool for us to be able to talk about it with you, Katherine, and your personal journey and what you you know, some of the things that that really helped you go, it’s time for me to do this. And then kind of a little bit about path. And then it’s gonna be really cool to to talk about, you know, how you’re speaking to others about this and helping them do it. And we’ve also got some people on here like Dr. aelia, and Professor Peter may come to the stage and add in a little bit as we go along. But as usual, if you’re in the chat now, oh, I see the chat rolling. I wasn’t over there. That’s awesome. Katherine is an amazing smart woman, boom. Oh, wow. You know, and I’ve got to say, I have never met a professional musician. Well, and I, maybe 80. That’s a semi professional, but never known that certainly played the harp, but I was listening to your music on your website, and it is pretty phenomenal. It really is. related. So yeah, it’s cool. This is this is gonna be a free for event. We’re gonna let Katherine start off here in just a moment. And yeah, I’m really, really enjoying it, but get going in the chat as usual. Ask Katherine some questions. I Andrew and I will bring them up and we’ll we’ll address them. We’ll bring other people up as we need to or as as it makes sense, and do as we do. So, Andrew, what do you got for us today?


Andrew Cross  05:19

Hi. pretty lively on table two there. So people getting after it. Hey, let’s good to see everyone and j nuff about me. Let’s get on with it, Katherine. Yeah.


Katherine Redlus  05:38

Thanks. Thanks. Good to see her. Thanks, Andrew. So yeah, so I will go back. I know people joke. They say, well, first I was born. But in my case, it’s really relevant to go back. So I was born to two teenagers. My parents were near each other in high school, obviously, they’re teenagers. And my mom had me when she was 16. I have a great relationship with my dad, he’s actually here and he runs a behavioral health tech company. So things really have come full circle, and that we have this strange overlap in our interests, and really our purpose, our larger purpose. But suffice it to say, a southern family that’s in the military and a Jewish, partially Jewish family in South Jersey, did not really see eye to eye on how that was going to go down. So I have the weirdest, weird, strange background in terms of that crossover. But that didn’t get along. And it was kind of discussed what to do with me. And instead of adopting me out, my Southern grandparents decided to raise me. And growing up, you know, they did the best they could I always speak really highly of them in public. But that’s a very challenging situation. And it was made more challenging by the fact that very clearly, and very obviously, my mother had a mental illness. In retrospect, my grandmother, still to this day is having a really hard time because she passed away, we’ll get more into this a little bit, but she passed away from essentially an overdose in 2018. Um, so they really didn’t know this is very topical for what we’re going to be speaking about today. They didn’t know how to deal with that illness. They didn’t know what to do with her, they didn’t know where to go. This was in, you know, the 80s and early 90s. So it was still I mean, it’s horrifying to think that short time ago is still stigmatized, it’s still stigmatized. So that was going on, and then growing up. So my mother was kind of out of the picture, not really involved, she came in and out. And I had to sort of deal with the trauma of I’m here I’m supposed to be doing, you know, impressive stuff. Essentially, I thought that the more impressive I became, the more I sort of interpreted that I need to make up for being here and being an inconvenience to everyone. And that translated at a very, very young age, I realized that about five or six, which I think a lot of us here can probably relate to you trying to overcompensate and deliver for your parents or grandparents, whoever raised you. And having her come in and out seeing my grandparents grief over her I started to interpret like I need to make up for her losses. So I went and did everything that they told me she did and didn’t do well. So I I joined a swim team, I became an athlete, I was good at it. And that got encouraged. It was like Great. All right, let’s keep doing that. And then I started playing my grandmother specifically at one of my mother to play harp and, and she didn’t because she was essentially juvenile delinquent. And so she was like, great, Katherine will play harp. So she sort of hoodwinked me into playing harp, paddles



that went well. And I got that that early validation. So I realized I’m good at academics, I’m good at music, I’m just gonna go hard on that. Because one, those people don’t judge me based off my family background, I felt very displaced to my family, not loved, not respected, not appreciated in my family, because of the weirdness of my being born to teenagers and all of that. And so I just decided I’m going to go where I’m appreciated and validated, which I think, again, is what a lot of us do, whether that’s good or bad. That’s what you see people go kind of the other way with this and go into drugs and alcohol, but I sort of went the achievement path. Yeah. Which can be equally as deadly. So by the time I was everything, 12 or 13, I started identifying I didn’t know what was going on, but I I started to get very, very depressed. To the point that those were my first suicidal ideations were about age 13. Um, and that was very difficult. And not only was it difficult, but I didn’t know how to communicate it, because this was a southern evangelical family that I was being raised in. Um, they were very respectful And kind, I think in retrospect, they encouraged me to embrace the Jewish part of my heritage in that way. They were very progressive. We did Hanukkah, we did pass over all of this, but I still felt that displacement that I couldn’t speak with them openly. And so I just dealt with it privately for a long time. By the time I was 18, I had an eating disorder, I was doing some other bad stuff, but still outwardly achieving, it looked good, it was okay. I was making sure that it, you know, all the outward things were okay. So, but by the time I was about 16, I went to a camp preparing for college. And they’re introduced me to essentially the world of, for lack of a better word, for lack of a better word, spirituality and self development. I went there to work on my undergraduate college application, you know, work in pieces. And during our first one on one lesson, she sat next to me and leaned over and was like, are you okay? Like, it seems like, you know, you might have some some tension or stress and, and, you know, I wasn’t walking around moping. I wasn’t, it was purely, I think, intuitive on her part. And I just broke down sobbing for really the first time in a long time. And I think having someone reach out in such a way where they don’t have to do that, right. Her job was really just to teach me music and get me prepared for what I needed. And she took time out of our lesson in her day to day. And I think that’s a good takeaway for today, as well. Like, even if someone doesn’t look like maybe a typical, what you would think of as a depressive, or an anxious person doesn’t mean they’re okay. Um, so she introduced me to the world of Wayne Dyer, and Marianne Williamson, a lot of stuff became really, really helpful, from the age of about 15 or 16. onwards. But unfortunately, I still don’t have a therapist, I still wasn’t being treated properly for anxiety and depression. And so I struggled with it for a long time, I tried to self manage it, I eventually did get a therapist. Um, but I was doing okay. and managing it. And I a lot of those tools I still use, they think they’re fabulous. But I guess the turning point, and this is kind of where the story ends, at least for me was that several years ago, I, when my mother died from an overdose, that was the breaking point. And I might get choked up here, I’m okay, I promise. I think all of this stuff I’ve been running from in terms of achievement, it’s sort of morphed into different things. Over time, I had the degrees that I wanted, I had just created an album. And it hadn’t been put out yet it was, you know, getting mastered, literally two weeks before I tried to commit suicide. So when she died, something snapped in me that I couldn’t recognize that. I kind of realized, like, what was this all for? I tried to kind of overcome what she couldn’t, I tried to do everything she could. And I tried to make up for this, and it still was for nothing. And so sort of running from that storyline of I have to make up for someone else’s life. And all of that pain, which runs really deep, and probably still there. Running from it, pushed me into that mentality of, there’s no point. Like, why are we doing this.



So thankfully, I kind of set it up, and then reached out to both my husband and my dad who was nearby. And I was hospitalized for that. So I was on suicide watch for about 24 hours. I think this is my first time speaking publicly about this part of this. Who’s on suicide watch. And then because of my intake time, I had to be there over the weekend, which was one of the most wild experiences I’ve ever had as an adult, and probably good because I got to see a very different side of the population. Um, so yeah, that that was it. But I ultimately, I’m glad I was put in there because it had me for the first time really confront the deeper pain and actually be able to use the tools that I’ve learned over the last decade, like I had those tools, I was using them. But if you’re not treating the core issue, if you’re not looking at what’s deeply bothering you what’s really driving your behavior, it’s never going to get better. It doesn’t matter if you have the most fantastic therapist in the world, which I absolutely do. And we’ve actually been able to do deeper work since because I’ve actually started addressing what was really wrong and also So I was able to be put on anti anxiety medication on a low dose and figure out what was driving the anxiety, depression swing. So there’s so many factors that go into being deeply well and deeply functional in life, that will prepare you to navigate these crisises. Like, I had actually looked at that pain before my mother died, it wouldn’t have had that impact. Of course, it’s sad. It’s, you know, an awful thing of what happened with her life. But I wouldn’t have been caught off guard in the moment and led to that situation for sure. And, and I’ve never had that. I mean, even as the pandemic started, I feel very strong, I had to deal with a lot of horribly challenging things, as a lot of us have both financially personally, emotionally. And because I’ve been through the wringer and I’ve created practices and daily behaviors that really strengthened me, I don’t feel that same sense of this could throw me off my game. Whereas now I’m looking around, I’ve actually had this conversation with my dad. Now I’m looking around and seeing my friends who haven’t been through the trauma that I and my husband also had a very bizarre and awful upbringing. And, you know, he was joking, like, I’ve seen my brothers carted off to prison, like, this is not that bad. Um, you know, little financial laws, it’s okay, we’re gonna survive. So it’s interesting to see our friends that are same age, or even a little older, be really thrown off saying, you know, 2020 is the worst year ever, and I’m not capable of dealing with this and, and all this and getting really depressed. And I know Dr. Ilia was talking about that a little bit about the, the unbelievable rates of depression, anxiety, and eventually suicidality that are happening, because people are not built, you have not created the practices to survive something like this. So that’s my story. I’ll let someone else talk girl that,


Damon Pistulka  16:58

well, it’s, it’s powerful. It’s powerful. And in and I think you’re, I think you’re speaking in from a place of familiarity for a lot of people. And, you know, even if it wasn’t familiar until now, until 2020 2023, with a lot of people through a lot of things that they had never anticipated. And, and, you know, even if it’s if it’s the isolation alone, that’s that’s causing people challenges. It’s still can be very, very, very troubling. I see the chats going here. And people are, you know, just mentioning how inspiring This is. Katherine, it truly is. The listen to you. Talk about this. Andrew IRA. Yeah, I’m trying to collect myself.


Ira Bowman  17:54

Let’s unpack let’s unpack it a little bit. Good. Your story is incredible. Yeah.


Katherine Redlus  18:02

Well done.


Ira Bowman  18:04

Openness is awesome. And I struggle. I openly struggle with depression, I have been depressed, or struggle with depression, my whole life. So I get what you’re talking about. And I call it the attention elixir. Because if you know anything about me, you know, I’m 100% competitive. So I get wanting to excel. I graduated college with a 3.91. And I’m still pissed that in graduate with a 4.0.


Katherine Redlus  18:32

So I have a whole thing about why you wasn’t what I wanted, even though it’s all that I got. Yeah, as long


Ira Bowman  18:42

My son as one grade under 100%. And he’s mad about that. It’s 96%. And his mom, because he’s a mama’s boy. Put it on Facebook. And so he was mad at her because she published it. He didn’t have perfect in one one class. But anyways, yeah, I want to talk about out of all that. Did I relate to the most you talked about having these tools that you had built for 10 years? And not? Yes. Self right. And I think a lot of us can relate to that. Whether you’re suicidal or not. I’m not gonna, personally, I i’ve never, maybe I’m too big of a coward. Maybe that’s the thing. But suicide has never crossed my mind. Like is not like a thing that I sub aggression. And I self deprecate, which is a whole nother thing. Yeah. Talk about is what you said. So you got to a point. And everybody’s going to come to a different place here. But when you get to that point where you realize you need to help, and you’re honest with yourself, I think that’s what it comes down to, like, just being honest. And then having those tools that is incredible. I mean, like for my clients, I help my clients with things all day every day. My dad was a landscaper. Okay, so we would be out there all day every day doing people’s yards, and they would be immaculate. And then we come home and our yard was messy. It was like, do we have the tools to clean it, we have the ability to clean it. We don’t have the desire to address it. And sometimes maybe it’s just walking in with a blind diago. And I don’t even want to acknowledge that it is messy. And then one day, you know, we both look to each other. What are we doing, dad? I mean, our yard? Our yard is embarrassing. So, but so I’m proud of you. And I don’t want to be I don’t want to patronize you. I mean, I don’t want to



know, I know what you’re saying. I think I think what, what happened in my case and why I’m, I’m pretty aggressive about how self development is used. And spirituality is used practically by people. Um, it can really make things worse. Yeah. And I’ll tell you why. If, if you have I this is I make a lot of analogies, because I think it’s the easiest thing to remember and make it real. So if I tripped over a nail, and went through my foot, and I have this open wound, it’s now maybe I have tetanus, maybe I don’t maybe have the shot. Maybe I don’t, but it’s an open wound. And it hurts. Like, you know what, instead of going to the doctor and having this cleaned out, which is going to be painful, expensive, and a really horrible experience, I’m going to wrap it up. And so nobody can tell that the wound is there. I’m going to put lotion over it. Which to me is the spiritual world. The prayer, the positivity, like the affirmations, they’re great, but they’re kind of a lotion, activities. Yeah, perfume, if you will. So I’m gonna put lotion and perfume on this wound and just see what happens. Well, what’s going to happen is it’s going to fester. And you’ll probably have a septic wound. And I think that’s what happened with me. So it was like, I don’t regret that I learned those tools, they were really important. I now use them very, a lot better. But there comes a responsibility with that. If you have a deep trauma, and you’re trying to read Tony Robbins, you’re only gonna go so far. He’s a great person, he has great insights. But you need a professional to go in there with you. And I see a lot of that happening. And I think it’s created a really I lived in LA for a couple of years. It’s create a really toxic culture there where everyone’s trying to be like, positive law of attraction. I’m like, you have deep childhood origin wounds that needs to be worked with a therapist over you can’t just yeah, go wander last, which is a big center in LA and do yoga and expect you’re going to be okay. There.


Katherine Redlus  22:51

It’s matching the tool with the problem.


Ira Bowman  22:54

Yeah, I’m going to validate that because I have had some things in my background I’ve never shared publicly, and one of them was sexual abuse. I was abused sexually as a child. Okay. And then I was homeless as a child compounding issues. So I didn’t acknowledge that most people didn’t know that. In fact, most of you probably just heard that for the first time. So you don’t know that about me, either. But um, anyways, I didn’t admit that. Even to my wife for 10 years. Right. So I did go finally and get some professional help. Yeah. And it made the world of difference. Because now, personally, individually professionally, I’m coming at a place that’s at least built on solid solid foundation. I love your I love your analogy with the Festering Wound, or just Yeah, because that really is what it is. You can cover it up with all the smelly good feeling good. Happy sauce, whatever you want to talk about turning to to drugs or alcohol, which a lot of people do, or I’m going to tell you people turn to sex, which is something that I personally did. Or, you know, you can you can you can go to gambling, there’s all kinds of vices I live Yes, I live in sin city. Okay, so I can tell you about vices all day every day. But the fact is, none of that stuff, everything I tried. None of it got to the core. And so there was never any healing.


Katherine Redlus  24:31

It’s exactly



as you’re playing whack a mole with all those different things like Well, let me stop drinking. Okay, let me stop sleeping around. Okay, let me stop it and it’s just like,


Ira Bowman  24:41

you’re I’m gonna hide it. I’m gonna hide it. I’m gonna hide it. I’m gonna hide it right that’s all you’re doing. You’re just you’re just finding ways to to hide it from your brain. But it’s it’s always there and you know, you you probably know as well as I do. And maybe the other people in the room don’t if they haven’t struggled like this, but you can tell when episodes are coming. You can’t stop, it’s afraid to train, I don’t care how strong you are, the only way to stop them is to confront them and to deal with it. And you need and you need professional help.



That’s a really good point that I want to just highlight and set aside, which is one of the things this is probably a completely different conversation. But one of the things that really drives me nuts about suicide and suicide prevention initiatives is that they’re so focused on, you know, if you see strange behavior, reach out to that person, if you’re in a dark place, make sure you call this number, people aren’t doing that it doesn’t work like that. Most of the time, people that actually commit suicide are high performance, high achievers, they do not look like something’s wrong, I promise you, I did not look like something was wrong with me. So I think that’s a real problem that we need to address. I think, I’m not being paid to say this. But my my father’s company is doing amazing work in that sector of getting a clear picture of where the patient actually is at. And detecting suicide ideation much quicker, statistically faster, which I think is amazing. So that’s something but this whole idea of like, only reach out, if you feel like someone’s kind of crumbling, you probably will never see that happen. It’s rare.


Ira Bowman  26:25

It happens. It’s rare. If you if you struggle with this type of depression, the very first thing a person really needs to do is to understand their own risk factor. Because I think there are people that are have a high tendency, or a higher chance of going through that. Like for me, I can tell you 100% I’ve never considered seriously considered it ever, even when I heard now I am a believer, okay, I don’t believe what a lot of people believe. But I believe in angels, and I believe in demons. And I know that demons come and whisper in my, in my shoulder. I can hear them, sometimes not audibly, but you know, in my mind, and suicide is one of those things that they’ve whispered at me trying to get me to do that. But it’s not. Again, I don’t know what it is. I honestly don’t know if it’s because I’m a coward. And I don’t want to die. But I have things that I want to. But I will tell you that self deprecating for me is something that I’ve done a lot in my life, I’ve tried to destroy pretty much every relationship I ever had until I got some help. So



I’m seeing a comment from Marques Garamendi. Is that it? Um, Mark, I can tell you for sure this idea of working through core ones through talk therapy. Um, it’s challenging for sure. I mean, my therapist knew me very well, she actually did some family counseling, which was a good thing for my therapist to have done with my other parts of my family. Um, she I think she kind of knew it was sitting there. I don’t think she know bad it was. What I would say is that there’s some helpful modalities. I’m sure Dr. Elliott could talk more about this. I had a lot of success using EFT, which is Emotional Freedom Technique, EFT, tapping, I still use it for anxiety, it is the most effective thing I have in my tool bag. Find a good person, there’s tapping with Brad, I forget his last name. But if you google tap with Brad, he’s a great person to look into the tapping solution is another resource, which is really solid training. And then you can kind of tap on your own and do it by yourself. But I think training with somebody who knows what they’re doing is really helpful. And then yes, EMDR was the next thing I was going to say. So there are therapists that are practicing EMDR that you do need a facilitator for. And there’s some really interesting ways that that actually works in your brain, but it is based in science. It’s not Voodoo.


Damon Pistulka  28:54

Dr. aliah, you’ve been listening here this is this is quite a conversation. And I appreciate you being here as well. Can you share your thoughts on this?


Dr. Elia  29:05

Well, they have so many thoughts actually. And, first of all, your honesty and your vulnerability. I shared this in a private message with your dad, Katherine is astounding because you’re by the way you present yourself, you’re giving others permission to emulate you and to open up their own hearts and be vulnerable and open and honest about some very deep and sometimes disturbing and scary issues. So kudos to you for that. I think you have a message, especially now. Yes, we have a billion people across the globe suffering from depression, anxiety and stress related symptomatology. The suicide hotlines are an all time high in terms of calls. And just in the United States alone, we have 1,000% increase in in those areas. And these are, by the way, people that didn’t have pre existing conditions. This is very important. These are not people that struggle with stress, anxiety and depression prior to the pandemic. It’s a result of the pandemic you had in the financial crisis in the socialist strife and so on. So people are stressed and overwhelmed. The highest one thing that that I totally agree with you, Katherine is that high achievers and high performers are masters at hiding it. They’re so good at it. If so, what you see from the outside are people like, and then, you know, you hear other and attempted suicide or you know, as to say that they successful, quote unquote, and people are stunned, I have no idea. You seem to be doing fine. How did this happen? Well, you know, I, you know, so those people actually are more vulnerable than the ones that physically and, you know, you can actually see that they’re struggling with something, right. So the question is, how do you reach out to those people that seemingly are doing well, but nobody really knows about it, because that’s not an easy thing to decipher, believe me, and I’ve had to hospitalized people when I was a clinical psychologist, unfortunately, which was one of the toughest thing ever had to do is to, you know, lock somebody up. In voluntarily the idea law was was voluntarily of 72 hour hold that we went in together, because they realized that they’re close to the edge, two or three days of my life had to involuntary hospitalizations, which was very hard, because you never want to take away somebody’s free agency. But in order to protect them from themselves, sometimes you have to make that tough decisions. And I’m glad that I did because those people stayed alive. My biggest fear for 18 years, and I had a full practice was that somebody would die on my watch. And I would pray to God, I like please like, I don’t think I can handle that. And luckily knock on wood, I was able to go through my whole career, although he got close. I mean, people made several attempts and but like, even then we got him over the hump in their living and actually thriving now, which is a delightful thing to see. So how do you identify people that are that easy to identify from the outside that stuff?



It’s tough. It’s it’s almost a hard question. Because I think it’s a kind of systemic problem, particularly in the United States, before COVID, before the pandemic. I was making a note before before today about, we’ve really seen like a disintegration of social structures. Which a great example is that, by and large, Caucasian, young professionals to age 50, are not going to church, they don’t go to their synagogue, they don’t have a connection. Now, I couldn’t care less what the religion is, if you have a religion, if you go, that’s not the point. The point is that all of these various structures that we use to check in on each other and be closer in community, emphasis capital C community, have by and large disintegrated, and been replaced with technology, where we now see everyone’s highlight reel. And that’s been talked about a lot. So I’m not going to really add anything because we all know it’s, it’s disastrous, right? So the way I can tell you that I after my experience, and working with people is, I have two friends in particular right now who are both high achieving one of them, one of them, one out of the two, had a very pleasant upbringing. So this really is his first difficulty in life, and the other one, and a little bit more concerned about has had a rough life and is dealing with some stuff right now. And the way the second one in question, had we went out for a drink. And because I’ve been very open about mental health, he felt comfortable. So there’s a basis of open and honest communication that happened before this moment, which I think is an important part. And because of that, he felt comfortable saying, I was in a dark place a month ago, I think I’m okay. And then that led to me saying, Do you have other people that know about this? Who were your you know, and going into that conversation? So I think you it’s a difficult question to answer because you need to actually have a have a baseline of open and honest communication, where you don’t feel there’s going to be social repercussions. So, you know, six months after I was hospitalized, I didn’t yet feel comfortable to talk about, you know, what I’ve learned from it, because I was still processing still working on it. Now I feel good to share. So I think it’s deciding where you are, you might not be ready to have full, open honest, like open door policy like I do. But find out what that is for you. And if you create that baseline people will talk to you I mean, people people bring their stuff to me, and I’m able to kind of help them sort through it, which is is a privilege, but it’s, it’s I feel like it’s kind of my responsibility after what I went through. So I’m working


Dr. Elia  34:39

a lot with HR organizations in one of the because the biggest challenge right now amongst in the corporate world and who actually profit and nonprofit because it’s the same as ensuring the mental and physical well being of their employees, that that’s the number one thing and then we go Of course to maintaining employee engagement, productivity and effectiveness, right, but you can’t have number two until you hit number one. So we have the social distancing, which is a term that I despise, because it’s exactly very detrimental. Somebody came up with it early on, and then it got adapted. Really, that’s about physical distancing. We don’t need social decision, we need social connection, even more so than ever before. So people say, Well, how do you do that? When people are working from home and they’re isolated, lonely men, loneliness is at an all time high. Also, yeah. loneliness, of course, leads into depression and perhaps self destructive behaviors, right? So when I, when I train HR, you know, professional said, Listen, with your employees. Don’t just ask, how are you doing? expecting fine, and then go on to to work, you got to stop, close the door, lean into the camera, if you have to like this, like, how are you really doing? How’s your family? How are your kids? If you have elderly parents that you take care of? What’s your stress level? Is there anything we can do as a company to support you in any way shape or form, because I know you’re not going to come into work until 2021. Like you have to go, you have to raise your bar of compassion and kindness towards them. Now, it’s easy to say How you doing? everybody in america says fine, that’s the answer, right? Well, yeah, people are not fine. That’s not true. So you got to take the extra step. And I think when you do that, and people truly understand that you care about them, I think you’re going to begin to depending on the personality, obviously, some people are going to open up more than others, but you will gauge to what’s really going on somebody’s home in somebody’s life. And then of course, you can give them the tools or make referrals EAP or a good therapist or a coach or what have you. But as leaders, and to me, anybody’s a leader that has one person reporting to them, we’re following them as leaders, we have to take that extra step now. Not next year, not December right now.


Damon Pistulka  36:50

You know, professor is gonna say is Professor p just put a great man in there. The definition of fine is fucked up insecure, nervous and exhausted. It’s great. It’s great. I just gotta say it, it’s it’s great. Yeah, you’re exactly right. aelia it’s it is it is this this remote, whatever you want to talk about the work experience that I have the the the physical distancing has created a great stress on a lot of people, a not being able to go see people, first of all is foremost. And then even when you are seeing people, we aren’t hugging. We don’t have that we aren’t shaking hands anymore. I mean, Hell, I went to buy something this last weekend, and I and I went to shake the person’s hand after I bought it, because that’s what I do. And I couldn’t do it. And, you know, I realized that at the last moment, that little thing, I still think about it today, yesterday, I was thinking about it, think about how weird is that, that we can’t do that. And that’s just a little thing. But like you’re saying in the corporate world, and talking with with business owners, anyone, managers supervisor, it’s got to be at a deeper level. And I see this in in my daughter who’s been remote working now for six months. And and her company is not doing that that level that they need to like you just spoke of is what is your situation because when you see this, and you don’t know the situation, I can see you now in the picture and everything looks fine. But you may have the doors locked, boarded up so nobody else can get in there. And it’s total chaos on the outside of which where that room is. And that that, as we talked about a little bit that underlying stress as, as Professor Pete so eloquently said, when we say fine, it can be a disaster on the other. And yeah,


Dr. Elia  38:49

Andrew? Oh, go ahead, Andrew.


Andrew Cross  38:52

Yeah, no, I think it’s great. What’s your doctor really what you’re talking about, too. I mean, you know, we have these restrictions now too, but it’s helping when you, when you’re the employer, and you’re reaching out to your play, even if it’s on the camera, and you get it, you got to do what you got to do. But it helps it’s helping you to write because I mean, it’s loneliness, right? This is this is really good know, when you pull all this away, you know, that’s what it’s getting down to. And it’s about, you know, making friends, right? Really, really good friends. So, I just think this is fantastic. You know, Katherine, because if you don’t talk about it, and I think you’re helping a lot of people, you don’t really even recognize it. Right? So it’s like, okay, you know, I’m okay, because I’m not the only one who’s like this, you know, and the, in our past discussions, we’ve had, you know, talking about emotional relevance with Alon and talking about being personal in your business relationship in getting rid of that stupid rule that were not supposed to be personal yet, or you have friends enough to be professional. Right. That’s what we talked about in the past. Just this is great. Wow.


Dr. Elia  40:03

You know, Andrew, I think what’s great is what


Andrew Cross  40:05

do make friends you know, get into get in there and do it and listen and



clear calls have layers. So I think what’s so interesting is when like, Can you see older people who came from that background? So social structures 23 years ago look like, you probably went to a church, synagogue, mosque, whatever, you probably didn’t, that you have those friends, those, you know, maybe you know, some of them, Well, some of them not so well, but it’s a mixed bag, if you if you go to the hospital, they’re probably going to bring you food, like, that’s nice. Um, you have maybe a club, maybe your kit, your friends with your kids, you know, your kids, friends, parents, or whatever. You have your work friend. So there’s these webs, these interconnected webs of social stability. And those are just vanishing unless you actively make the effort to create them, which I absolutely have done since 2018.


Ira Bowman  40:55

Yeah, we need to talk about if we’re going to be on intellectually honest, yeah, not, as an employee going to have this conversation with your boss, I don’t care what any of you say, That’s not going to happen. Because two things, you’re going to be worried about losing your job. And you’re going to worry about, you know, the repercussions that that could come that the manager has to be careful. HR laws. For both reasons, from both sides, this conversation isn’t happening in this utopia that we’re trying to picture, you have to have friends, you have to have. Now this is where what Katherine was just talking about that religious fear, whatever your religion is, I don’t care. Right? If you’re Christian, you’re Jewish, you’re whatever you want, you are. So those people could have this conversation with you if they’re close enough. And again, we’ve all been to churches where we have surface level, and deeper friendships. So the relationship that you’re looking for, to help with the, I’m talking about the festering sore now, I’m not talking about the surface level, the perfume is going to fix it, your boss could help you with that. But if you have, if you have suicidal tendencies, if you have core issues that are so deeply, you’re not going to mention that. And right, no culture in the world that would mention that, frankly. So what Dr. Ellis was talking about, you know, leaning in as a manager and asking those questions is, look, if you’re a manager, you should be doing that, if you’re a business owner, you should be doing that. You know, it’s important, especially now, because of the loneliness, just because a boss should give a crap about care staff. So you should have been doing it all along, whether it’s remote or in person. But I think


Katherine Redlus  42:56

there’s this differentiation of like,



you know, it’s not a lot and like therapy circles, you shouldn’t expect your spouse to be everything for you. Yeah, as relationship advice, which is probably the most important relationship advice right now. And but they don’t have other people to fill those gaps for them. So they want their spouse to do everything, and then it sort of falls apart. And I’m gonna have my husband, I have this catchphrase with each other like, Hey, I appreciate you sharing that. But that’s something you should probably say to therapists. And, and I’m so appreciative of that. So it’s important that Yeah, your boss isn’t going to solve your your life problems, and nor should they. So you don’t


Ira Bowman  43:35

even think I don’t think they can. It’s just


Dr. Elia  43:37

not they’re not equipped for that. They’re not equipped for that. However, they know where you’re at mentally. If they know where you’re at, then they can make the appropriate referrals.


Ira Bowman  43:51

Yeah, I think that’s right. I just don’t i don’t envision we’re talking about systemic issues earlier. Right. Katherine brought it up. This is one of the systemic issues is that we cannot be that transparent. At least we don’t feel we can. Maybe we can. Maybe some bosses, wouldn’t. You know what I mean, but you’ve heard about mandatory reports. And you know what I mean, you talked about it even yourself, Karelia, where you’ve had to refer people to to sidetrack. You just you have things that you’re obligated to do once you know.


Damon Pistulka  44:21

Yeah, no,


Ira Bowman  44:22

the employee to be completely open with you. And look, I’m coming out of place different than most people because I actually struggle with this stuff. I’m telling you that I do. Right. So for me, I could never envision any of my bosses, any of my owners that I ever worked for. I never told them these things. None of them even know that I was homeless. And that one I’m more open about. Yeah, you know. So, I can’t envision a situation where somebody who struggles with one of these deep seated issue to the point where they’re suicidal would open up about that they’re going to have a veneer that’s 10,000 layers thick. Somebody said peeling an onion, which is A great analogy for this. You’re never getting to that the core. You’re never getting to that avocado pit, if you will.


Dr. Elia  45:06

Yeah, no, but we get, depending on your map, you can get a little deeper than maybe IRA, you wouldn’t do that. But I know people who are compassionate and loving as managers and leaders who truly care about their employees, that they will get down two or three layers, probably not at the pit. I agree with that as we refer like, yeah,


Andrew Cross  45:26

yeah. Yeah, it’s there. It’s just really caring, either do or don’t know, and, you know, solve the problems. We don’t have to get you to open up and show the outcome. Yeah. You just show that you care about eggs. I think a lot of people also, and it’s caring culture. Right. And, you know, they, they do exist. I mean, the profession? Yeah. I think it’s great. When I see it, I see that I see successful collapse.


Ira Bowman  45:53

No, I don’t, I’m not saying that. I’m not trying to say that the interviewing and the questions and being compassionate, and interested by the manager is wrong, I think I have done it my whole career. I don’t know any other way to do it. If you know me, I’m all in your business. But what I’m saying is, if you’re talking about the worst of the worst, or the most, maybe the most trouble to say, in a nicer way, right? That is that is different. But what I, I do agree with what Kelly said, you can get below the surface, you can get through some of them in yours. And you can start to notice the tendencies like, Hey, I noticed you’re not quite as bright, as active or you’re not talking as much or you’re not smiling today or whatever. Yeah. And then you So you notice their tendencies, and then you can ask probing questions is appropriate. And you can even


Andrew Cross  46:45

get when you’re in the, in the chat, though, you know, the safe space, you know, kind of thing. But if you care, then you’ll You don’t even have to answer those questions you’ll, you’ll feel the person will feel comfortable sharing, and you create a culture around the kind of work


Ira Bowman  47:01

this is where having a good hr chro or whoever, right, because now they can have some resources in place, depending so when we somebody talked about, you know, a bigger, a bigger company, versus Small, Medium Business, which I think most of us are small, medium business owners, so maybe you don’t have an HR team. In that case, I’m going to recommend panda knows to help you out. But if you have any, one of the things that they do for you, is find resources for you. You as the owner, you’re the manager having these conversations, you have the resource available to us. And that’s benefits that you don’t have now that you could look into adding for your company to Yeah, type


Andrew Cross  47:46

of counseling into for small business to that’s what you’re you’re the owner of the company. That’s, that’s what you fill that role. Yeah, you know,


Ira Bowman  47:56

right, again, we’re talking to small business owners here. So again, if you don’t have HR team, and you need help, this is one of the things companies like panda nose do for folks. It’s not the hiring paperwork, and the you know, termination stuff and getting your health benefits setup. You know, this.



Even if you’re on like, the mid level, like my company is quite large, we use just works. And a lot of those sorts of companies. Like a PPO, they have, you know, special discounts for therapy. I mean, there’s so many Yeah, so, yeah,


Damon Pistulka  48:28

yeah, I think I Yeah, 100%. Kathryn, and Dr. aliah got to an IRA you did, too. It’s, it’s an Android as well, it’s, it’s, it is it is about and this is the, this is a good, this is a good event, when we hit this, the little old timer thing before we get there. But the and now the all the announcements go with it. The it is if you’re if you’re working with somebody or your supervisor, you know, HR should be a first of all, communicating this to the supervisors, we do have to have help. Here are some ways to get to, you know, maybe a layer deeper than you normally would. So you can at least be suggested suggesting, not that the end, remove the stigma. First, I think that’s an HR thing that they can help a lot with, and then show them what’s available. And then give people the managers, supervisors, anyone they need to tools, maybe even all the workers tools to go, here’s a few things to like IRA was saying, Look at ask questions. And when you see these responses, then you can direct people to get help. And if everybody knows where it’s at, we can all help each other because this is if there’s anything that COVID has done, it has put us all in the same damn situation. You know, there’s the the upper point 1% of the world that don’t have to deal with this, but everybody else is the same is in the same shitter right now, with this as far as and distancing yourself. Everything and so the more we can understand this, and the better we can we can help each other, I think is only gonna benefit us. I will.


Dr. Elia  50:11

Just gonna say Katherine, just want to say thank you to Damon and to Andrew for even creating the space and the safe place for us to even have this discussion and bring somebody like Katherine. Thank you guys for doing that. You know, this group started out what how did you start out? It was like getting together on LinkedIn. And it has morphed into group therapy and then some, so


Damon Pistulka  50:35

sorry, sorry. I was not even looking.


Andrew Cross  50:41

No, we didn’t start out with a plan to go anywhere. But we just started talking to people and asking, Hey, you know, what’s going what’s working? what’s not working? What you know, you know, everything’s sort of messed up. And it was a water cooler changes. No, it’s God. It’s amazing. Where it’s gone. You know?


Damon Pistulka  51:03

Kelly sorry.


Kelly Robinson  51:05

Yes. Sorry. Noice outside. Oh, my gosh. To where right now? But, um, oh my gosh, sorry. Literally,


Damon Pistulka  51:15

it’s not bad.


Kelly Robinson  51:17

So, here’s what I wanted to say. Like, so Katherine was talking about how sometimes people’s lives look perfect. Right, and he wouldn’t know. But I will say that some it’s usually the drivers who feel the need to perform for others, like Katherine was talking about not usually, often it can be those football. So they’re doing things to keep up with, here’s who I am, here’s how to the world. But those people a lot of times are type A. So there’s a lot of this, right? It’s like dry, dry drive. So if you see them for any minute, drop off social media, drop off, not responding, canceling meetings, pushing things off, not just those are, those are, those can be signs. The other thing is if someone says, one, if someone that you think is very strong, and, um, you know, looks amazing, if they say something to you about anything, you know, I, yeah, I just feel like, you know, I’m sleeping a bit more took a nap today, it was really weird. Or even things like more direct, like, I’m feeling a little alone, like, so that might take a lot for someone at that level to say that. So to dismiss it or move forward or put it back on the person like, well, you might feel alone. So sure, just just, you know, call me Come over here, something like that. That’s not okay. Like, that’s the sign that that person took, and now they feel rejected. So they actually it took them a lot to say that. So it’s not the other person’s job. But that’s a sign that you should check in with them.


Damon Pistulka  53:05



Kelly Robinson  53:08

And they’re not going to say it again, if you haven’t done anything.



Really good point where, and the two friends that I mentioned, they’re very much the same way and my cue from them, which thank you for like, because that that made me think of it is have they texted me recently? are they responding? Because I’m reflecting on my own experience. And I know iron Kelly, you know, you’re this way as well, where it’s like, you have to go it alone and on you and you have to grind grind, grind to get it done. And after I got out of the hospital, it was like I literally had to take a step back and a deep breath and go, I wouldn’t have support. What that’s gonna look like, Who’s, who are who are those people going to be and kind of assign them and ask for help and shout. So I think the other part of this conversation is, they’re sort of looking at it from a bird’s eye view, have you run a company, you want to care for your people, or your kids and your family. So there’s that bird’s eye view of like taking care of those people and reaching out. But then there’s other view of as the individual learning how to read, we don’t plan for your own survival. And he’s probably not going to give that to you, no matter how great their HR is, your government’s not going to give it to you for sure. Your religion might not even be giving a tissue you need to create a plan of like, how am I going to respond to challenges How am I going to respond to difficulty? Not if but when it arises. And that’s going to mean that you probably need several people in your life that you have that open and honest dialogue with even if you’re not what I described you if you’re not suicidal or you’ve never had that, that thought if you’re depressed or anxious, like that’s enough, it’s time to really cultivate those those plans in our lives.


Kelly Robinson  54:53

Can I say just one more thing and I know we’re getting on time but I think something that is really important is that when someone reaches out to someone that knows of their history, that is really, really important to follow through. So if I say to a friend, hey, I’m really struggling here, and the friend doesn’t know that maybe I have bigger issues. That’s not really that friends. Like, they have to try to follow up. But if you say a little bit more, it will help. If you say, there’s some things that I’m dealing with that I haven’t shared, I’m feeling lonely. That makes a friend feel like oh, okay, because it’s, you can say it, and the person can follow up that if they’re not knowledgeable or educated on like, wow, that’s probably a sign. And it’s, it’s better for you to say, right out. Yeah, I have some things I’m dealing with. I haven’t shared with you. But I could really use your support.


Dr. Elia  55:53

Yeah, there’s some things that Kelly shared initially about symptomatology, like some people not showing up for work, or missing meetings, or missing deadlines, and so on. That can be potentially anxiety or depression. But that shows are signs of addiction, though, when it was addiction, or whether alcohol or drug escalates, you’re starting to see some of those symptoms. So it could be something else. Well, but you know, yeah, that’s why


Ira Bowman  56:17

I’d say for myself, one of the things I’ve identified when I’m even, I’m starting to struggle, and I have even, like, recognized it or acknowledged it. One of the things that I’ve learned as an early warning sign is when my friends will message me could be email, could be text could be dm could be phone call, whatever. And I’m non responsive. Right? That’s a sign for me. That, that I’m having problems I’m having, I’m having problems. So that helps. If you’re struggling yourself, look for your own early warning signs, because it can help you to stave off. Yeah. Hey, we’re gonna get a cut off here.


Kelly Robinson  57:00

This is I think one thing.


Damon Pistulka  57:03

Yes. What?


Kelly Robinson  57:05

One thing because I think it’s important. So Katherine has talked about it. Eli is very knowledgeable. I was talking about it. I also am going I have very similar things. So these are people right here. These are your safe people reach out to us. Yeah, just saying.


Damon Pistulka  57:21

Well, thank you. Oh, good. Thank you. Thank you, Kelly. And thanks everyone so much. It’s been awesome discussion. And you know, Katherine, Kelly, Joseph. Steph key as the people at God got us in touch. I’m so so happy and so blessed to have been able to connect with you, Andrew, take us out. We got 30 seconds or so.


Andrew Cross  57:45

What it says Yeah, what a session. This is. This is tremendous. Thank you. Katherine Kelly, everybody. Dr. aliah This is good stuff really good stuff but and I think it is because I think everybody here and why we’re here is we all cared so I appreciate you all for doing this. It got Yep. So we’re, you know, we’re going


Damon Pistulka  58:07

to actually actually our subscription allows us for one and a half hours I think now or something like that. I think that’s why I was doing it. So we’ll stay on stage here. Can we probably only have a few seconds and it’s gonna go boom. But thank you so much, everyone. It’s been awesome. I get


Andrew Cross  58:25

a Brad Brad Smith gave us an exercise in the chat. The chat was great. So and you have to jump up and down.


Damon Pistulka  58:37

Some music out everyone. We’re gonna drop off the stage now.

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