In this first episode of mentallyfit, Kendra Fisher discusses how the holiday season can affect mental health and offers advice on how to prepare and cope with this often difficult time of the year
mentallyfit is introduced by Chris Stafford and presented by Kendra Fisher
Podcast length 16′ 38″
Canadian Ice Hockey Goalie Kendra Fisher presents a new bi-weekly podcast that will address mental health and LGBTQ issues in an authentic and open way. The purpose is to educate and help people so that they have better understanding and the tools to cope with a variety of situations to enable them to stay mentallyfit. Kendra was diagnosed with a Severe Anxiety Disorder, Severe Panic Attacks, Depression and Agoraphobia at a critical time in her career and was forced to leave the sport’s national program and put her health first. She has since established a website as a community and resource and spends time carrying out motivational speaking engagements and assisting organizations. On this first episode Kendra addresses the anxieties that manifest during the holiday season – how to better prepare and cope.
We welcome your questions and comments which will be treated in confidence if you prefer privacy.
Kendra’s website – http://mentallyfit.com/new/
RELATED: Kendra Fisher on Transcending Sport
[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to mentally fit a brand new podcast which is going to be covering a whole range of issues on the subject of mentally fit and mental illness and LGBTQ issues as well.
[00:00:12] And I’m delighted to welcome our host of the show who has been on a program here before at WiSP Sports but now she’s going to take over the reins. Kendra welcome. Thank you very much. You have so much experience you do a lot of public speaking of course these days in a range of topics that you can cover. Just give us a sense of all the kind of issues that you would like to cover with this podcast in the future.
[00:00:36] Oh my. I think that the possibilities are endless. I find myself in this space working in mental health and and working a lot with people closely who have mental illness or other disordered behaviors in that kind of area.
[00:00:51] And I feel like I learned something every day and every day I learn something I want to share it because I think the thing that I struggled with the most post diagnosis and even still is access to resources that are are truly beneficial and I feel like that just kind of this evolving piece that comes with education and experience and obviously that decreases stigma and in and around talking about mental illness and life with mental illness and as you mentioned I mean I’m an advocate for an organization called You Can Play that deals a lot with equality and inclusion and sport dealing specifically with LGBTQ issues and something that I think that very organically started speaking about only very recently I mean living as a lesbian has been my reality for many years. But I don’t know that I understood the importance of sharing that piece of my story because it didn’t seem too relevant to me and I have very much been able to learn the impact that that has on others. And again just that piece around silence and being able to feel comfortable being yourself and live your truth and not live with the burden of feeling as though you’re hiding. And I guess that you have kind of run parallel for me for sometime now. So I guess all of the issues in and around their accessibility to resources living with coping tools inclusion equality. I imagine the I guess information is just going to continuously change in terms of what I want to offer and what I hope to be a part of.
[00:02:39] Well this is really exciting for us of course Kendra because you know we cover all issues for women in sport and so many of these topics apply to many of our audience members and it is something that is an important conversation no matter where people are and what their situation may be at whatever stage so we’re delighted that you’re going to be hosting this podcast here at WiSP Sports and I believe you are going to get started with this episode dealing with facing the fear and the mood changes and that sort of anxiety that all happens as your approaching a holiday season so many people experience that so I’m going to hand over to you to share your experiences and of course advice on how people can deal with that. So again welcome to WiSP and good luck with the podcast.
[00:03:28] Thank you kindly.
[00:03:30] Yeah. And I guess I was kind of sitting here thinking about what it was that we should be starting with today it just feels like such a natural start. I don’t know. I mean I’m I’m in Canada so I know that we deal with a weather change, a seasonal change quite rapidly around this time of year and I always find myself in a position where that really affects my mood and it really effects kind of how much I have to really focus on taking care of myself and I feel like that just kind of compounds and and comes right into the Christmas season or the holiday season whatever it may be for you. And I think I always remember one of these moments I guess and I always kind of draw strength from the things that I’ve been able to overcome. And I think back to what the holiday season looked like for me when I was newly diagnosed and in an absolute place of crisis and I always tried to relate back to these moments because I hope with the conversations that I’m having are, are finding those people are finding those people who are really struggling with what next. And struggling with I guess not really knowing where to turn where or what could be the solution. And I remember back when I guess I was probably in my early 20s, it was Christmas time and I was living in Toronto my family lives about two and a half three hours outside of Toronto.
[00:05:02] . And I remember that year for Christmas my father had actually come up with this huge plan in this huge scheme and he had pulled the seats out of the back of his van and hopped in his van and drove down to Toronto and he put a mattress in the back and literally just made a bed in the back of his hand for me and I was in a place where it was so extreme for me to be able to leave my apartment and that anxiety and that fear around kind of stepping out of my comfort zone during a time when you’re sitting back watching everybody else seems so happy and so festive. And it was this this kind of polarizing feeling of being so much further isolated because you couldn’t be a part of that, yet you were right in the middle of it and I got my dad’s van and I took a gravel just to knock myself out. And that was the only way I managed to get home for the holidays and it was such a drastic plan but that was the only way I could get there.
[00:06:39] And I guess every time this time of year comes around for me I start to consider all of the people who maybe don’t have those supports and those safeties were or have any understanding of why it is that they’re feeling the way they do. And I think it’s just a moment when we really have to kind of take a check of what’s going on and how things are making us feel and make sure that we surround ourselves with people and people who have some understanding and if not understanding at least knowledge of what it is that we’re living with and that you know potential for for depression and that potential for anxiety and that potential for feeling isolated alone and the fact that it is harder it’s harder because you want so badly what you’re seeing. Everybody else has yet to struggle to achieve that is it. It feels like it isolating even further. And I think it’s so important that we reach out and we make sure that we kind of have that support network those people who are going to kind of go through that journey of the holidays with us make sure that they check in on this or that it’s OK that we reach out to them if we’re feeling alone or feeling scared or overwhelmed by everything that’s happening and more importantly and I know I’m guilty of this is I talk about all of the things that keep me in recovery. All of the I guess tools that I have to use and it’s extensive for me. For me I have to make sure I’m eating healthy and I have to make sure I’m getting enough sleep.
[00:08:13] I have to make sure that I stay physically active that I engage in in mindfulness whether it be through meditation or yoga, have to make sure I take my medication I have to make sure that if I am overwhelmed by these things or I’m in a position where I feel as though I’m maybe just you know a little out of sorts that I’m reaching out and engaging in talk therapy and making sure that I’m I’m allowing others to to put things into perspective for me when when maybe that irrationality kind of kicks in and all of these things are just so difficult when the holidays come. I mean it’s not conducive, it’s not normal you go home for the holidays and there’s just treats galore and junk food everywhere. And and the the notion is one of just festivity and staying up late and visiting and and catching up and for a lot of us I mean our lives are so busy during the year that a lot of us use the holidays as that one time to try to catch up and really you know just embrace family and friends and. And unfortunately for those who maybe don’t have those people in their lives too it just it’s all this kind of perfect storm of we forget to take care of ourselves, we forget to the little things, we forget that it’s important that yeah we want to be caught up in all this.
[00:09:38] Or maybe we want to avoid all this and in doing so we stop doing the little things and I guess my messaging around this is I’ve had some of my worst moments of relapse I guess around the holiday season one just kind of battling that that overwhelming feeling like I’m just not part of the festivity because I feel like I’m looking from the outside in and on the flip side just getting complacent getting lazy thinking that I can just take a holiday from taking care of myself and and with mental illness and mental health I guess it’s just not the way it is. I mean it’s not for me that that week or that two week period if I’m complacent I pay for it for the next week or two later. And fortunately for me I’m in a place where I’m far enough along in my recovery that I can recover from that. And I guess my fear in my my point of having this conversation and why I feel it’s so important is there’s a lot of people who aren’t in a place of recovery who are going into this and dreading the holiday season from a place of crisis. And I think it’s such an important time that we we build ourselves up and we build those people up around us. And if you know people who are living with the struggles that we reach out to them and really understand and make sure that we get the possibility that even though it seems like such a happy time of year it’s very stressful for a lot of people and it’s very hard on a lot of people. And I just think it’s so important that we spread that conversation around the importance of self-care and of peer support, of family support, of friends support.
[00:11:24] And if you don’t have those things naturally putting yourself in a position ahead of time where you’re reaching out to whatever network of support it is you can find whether it’s a community agency in your area a hospital if need be and making sure that we really have kind of things in place in case we find ourselves in crisis. And I guess that’s a lot of my messaging is always making sure that we plan for the possibilities and we we understand that things can change and we can’t always predict those things. So I know for me I mean coming into the holidays I always have that initial onset of OK here you’re going to have to work a little harder here which sometimes feels unfair because it’s it’s the time when I’m supposed to be able to vacate. I’m supposed to be able to to come down and relax and be with my friends and be with my family and I think that the important part is as long as I plan for it I can still have that as long as I plan for those things that could pop up as long as I plan for the fact that probably not a good idea to just live on baked goods for the next you know two weeks when that when that holiday season gets here and trying to spacing out ahead of time. You know doing your shopping or taking care of whatever engagements expectations you have of yourself or others have of you and really just making sure that they fit safely into your routine. And I think that that’s what the holidays have taught me and why I feel it’s so important for these conversations to take place because at this time of year as well the other part that scares me the most is that younger age group, the younger age group that’s got a built in social network when they’re at school. But unfortunately when they they leave school they go home for the holidays.
[00:13:14] A lot of those kids and a lot of those adolescents don’t necessarily have the same access to the same daily interactions that they’re having. That may be their support. And I think that especially in that age group teachers counselors administrative staff parents really need to make sure that they’re aware of that and make sure that we’re providing open conversation and the safety of kind of opening that dialect with our kids and our youth to make sure that they’re not feeling overwhelmed and facing a bad time at this time of year. And so I guess that’s that’s what I really want to share. I’m I’m a very firm believer that no part of mental illness is ever ever made easier doing it alone. I just I don’t I don’t feel as though isolation is ever the answer. And we need to be really strategic and looking out for one another coming into times of year or are events or any any I guess moment in life that we know could be deemed stressful or carry with it a little bit more for these individuals and really just make sure that we reach out and take care of one another. And I guess that’s a great reminder for me too. I mean, I take this time of year to reach out and make sure that that I have all of my people kind of in my life and I’m maybe not looking for my best interests. I know somebody else is and having that accountability really helps me out.
[00:14:55] I guess to wrap that up I mean I really look forward to these conversations and I look forward to being able to share my experiences and hopefully get to a place where you know we can be a little bit more interactive and if there’s ever anything that people are looking for information on or looking for my experiences on I mean you can always reach out to me. I’m available on social media. You can find me on Twitter at Kendra underscore Fischer 30 (@kendra_fisher30) or on Instagram @kfisher30. I also have a Facebook page you can find just by typing in my name.
[00:15:30] And I guess to wind things up today and before my next conversation obviously if you’re looking for more conversations from the world of women sports please reach out.
[00:15:41] Visit www.wispsports.com and follow WiSP Sport (@WiSPSports) on social media as well. This is a very new relationship for me and one I’m looking forward to for a long time to come. So thank you so much for having me here today and looking forward to talking again in the future.
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