Ep 14: Getting Real About Depression with Laura Watkins

Ep 14: Getting Real About Depression with Laura Watkins

.Getting Real About Depression with Laura Watkins

Getting Real About Depression with Laura Watkins

Lorilee sits down with Laura Watkins — entrepreneur, licensed cosmetologist, mom, and owner of Pure Salon Spa in Louisville, Kentucky. Laura and Lorilee discuss their respective journeys with mental health and what it truly means to practice self care, especially when we’re struggling. Laura shares her personal experience with depression and the many treatments she tried to address her mental health. She emphasizes how essential it is to have a dialogue about mental illness with our friends, families, and loved ones so that everybody experiencing difficulty knows that they’re not alone.

Highlights: 

  • On Laura’s playlist: The Chicks
  • Giving ourselves grace and allowing our brains time and space to rest
  • How do we know if we’re depressed?
  • Rewriting the stigmas and negative narratives we’ve been taught about mental health
  • The power of sharing our stories
  • Working and parenting with depression
  • The brain/gut connection
  • One tool for our G&G toolbox

Mentioned in this episode:

Sponsored by Her-Bank.com

🎧 Listen wherever you get your podcasts 🎧 OR on Spotify or Apple.

.

Episode 14 – Laura Watkins Transcript

[00:00:00] Lorilee Rager: Hey, I am Lorilee Rager and this is Ground and Gratitude. It’s a podcast about designing the life you want, one that not only grows but also gives. 

Before today’s episode, I’d like to tell you about where I bank, Her Bank by Legends Bank. This episode of Ground and Gratitude is sponsored by them. Her Bank celebrates, honors, and supports women, especially entrepreneurs, by providing financial services and resources through a core team of experienced female bankers, which is so reassuring to me. Her Bank creates a bridge to help women overcome barriers when it comes to money conversations and decisions while providing women with a better banking experience. Check out Her-Bank.com to learn more. Her Bank is a brand of Legends Bank. Legends Bank is member FDIC equal housing lender.

My guest today is Laura Watkins. Laura is a fiercely strong woman, an entrepreneur, a licensed cosmetologist, and an Aveda salon spa owner, and a mom. Her salon Pure Salon Spa has won many awards and Laura prides herself on teamwork and professionalism. Recently, Laura went public with her battle with depression. It was her openness and honesty that was why she was one of the first people I talked to about my own struggles and sobriety. In this episode, we’re going to get really honest about mental. And I want you to hear me, if you resonate with anything in this episode, check out our show notes for resources to find help. Now let’s get started. 

Welcome Laura. Thank you so much for joining me today and for being on the Ground and Gratitude podcast. 

[00:02:12] Laura Watkins: You’re welcome. It is my pleasure. 

[00:02:15] Lorilee Rager: I don’t know, we, we have to fight over that. It’s both of us, a lot of pleasure in this conversation. So, all right. Well, I want to just dive into my first question of, what song is on repeat on your playlist today? Got any good jams? 

[00:02:34] Laura Watkins: Um, let’s see. I got ready for today with a background of the Dixie Chicks playing.

[00:02:42] Lorilee Rager: Oh, nice. I haven’t thought about the Chicks in a while. 

[00:02:46] Laura Watkins: Oh yeah, that’s right. There are the Chicks now. But yes, I am, I don’t know if everybody knows this, but I’m actually the fifth Dixie Chick.

[00:02:54] Lorilee Rager: Oh. So I was about to say, I am a Dixie Chick, actually. 

[00:02:59] Laura Watkins: That’s right. I saw you there. I saw you there.

[00:03:02] Lorilee Rager: That’s right. I do, in college, oh my gosh. It was, Wide Open Spaces was my go to karaoke song.

[00:03:10] Laura Watkins: They wrote that for me. That’s why I went to California. 

[00:03:16] Lorilee Rager: I got as far as Texas in college, but then I came back. Oh, I love it. Ooh, that’s good. That’s good. Good choice. Good choice. I love, I love their harmony. I named my dog, um, Emily after, you know, one of the band members. Yeah.

[00:03:32] Laura Watkins: I did not know that. That is really cool.

[00:03:36] Lorilee Rager: So, fun fact. All right, nice. This is a super positive like this, this makes me feel really good to think about them. So good choice, good choice. I approve. Well, okay. So, what I’d love to hear a little bit about is having you on here today, of course, for all of your phenomenal-ness of being an entrepreneur, a licensed cosmetologist, I’m an Aveda salon owner, a mom, and how professional you are. You’re known, like award-winning, for teamwork and all these amazing things that we all know and share on social media. But kind of, what’s the biggest important thing that I think you shared is your mental health journey and your mental health struggles. So yeah, I’d like to, to just dive right in to, you know, what does it even mean when we say mental health? And tell us a little about your story. Is that okay? 

[00:04:35] Laura Watkins: Sure. That’s a great question and a good place to start about mental health. Because I mean, I think I was probably in my 40’s before I ever really thought about what mental health is or even, um, came to realize that maybe my mental health was suffering. Um, so, and I think we’ve done a better job over the last couple of years. I think people are becoming more aware of mental health. They’re placing more importance on mental health. Um, for me personally, mental health has now come to mean, am I in a deep battle with depression or not? Um, But I think it’s different for everybody. I mean, I think I evaluate my mental health on what are the quality of my thoughts right now? Am I talking really negatively to myself or am I giving myself grace and trying to be positive? Um, how often am I completely turning my brain off? You know, we go to sleep every night and our bodies need that restfulness to repair and regenerate and all that kind of thing. But I think it’s really important to concentrate in the waking hours of when you’re on purpose letting your brain rest. And whether that’s by going for a run or a walk or a massage or whatever your method of taking care of your brain is. So, so those are, I don’t know if that that helps. So those are some random thoughts I have about what mental health is. 

[00:06:16] Lorilee Rager: When you said, like, you’re, that awareness of, what are you saying to yourself is something that really resonated with me. It kind of gave me chills for a minute, um, because I don’t think that’s something we pause and think about when we’re in the middle of the day, in the middle of chaos, and in the middle of either running late or, you know, in a past life with me hung over. And that’s when you talk about beating yourself up and, and talking ugly to myself as I’d call it. Yeah, that’s, that’s absolutely makes sense that that’s part of mental health. 

Um, and then you mentioned, you know, evaluating from a depression standpoint, um, this, this question came up thinking about our conversation today, and it may not be the simple to answer, but I also was like, you know, how do you know if you’re depressed? How do you, how do you know? It’s not like you just have a “check yes or no” situation. 

[00:07:15] Laura Watkins: Exactly, exactly. Well, and if, if you’re like, I used to be, you know, I thought depressed meant you were weak, or you were, um, you know, you weren’t trying hard enough, or you were just wallowing in your feelings and you need to just pull yourself up and feel better. Like, I just thought depression, I didn’t understand what depression meant until it, I mean, literally almost took me down and out.

[00:07:45] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, yeah. Okay. Tell us about that. 

[00:07:48] Laura Watkins: I did find over the pandemic, um, I follow a lot of, uh, mental health resources. Now there’s one in Louisville, it’s Mental Health Lou. Um, NAMI is another nationwide, um, organization for mental health. And they released this chart, and I can send it to you, um, and it’s like five different columns. And the first column is thriving, and it says things like, um, “I’m excited to be alive,” “I love getting together with my friends and family,” “I think positive thoughts,” “I feel successful at work.” Um, you know, just very positive things. And then it goes all the way to crisis or, um, you know, “I, I’m thinking about hurting myself for others,” “I have stopped going to work.” I, you know, and it lists all of those things that if you are experiencing them, then you probably are in crisis and you need to get help. So that kind of helps me now that, now that I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, I have to do a lot of self evaluation. When I’m having an off day or a bad day or a sad day, you know, is this normal, so to speak, is this a normal bad day? Am I just a little tired or, or am I spiraling back down into a depressive episode? And so that’s kind of been my, I’ve had to learn to do that. Because for the last six years I went through a lot of ups and then a lot of really, really low downs. And so I’ve had to kind of reteach myself what is normal for me when it comes to bad days.

[00:09:38] Lorilee Rager: Gotcha. Okay. The checks and balances. Um, again, it goes back to, yeah, what are you thinking? How are you feeling? How are you talking to yourself? That is never been something I was ever taught or any human being, predominantly the females who influenced me in my life, ever ever told me to do or, or taught or expressed or. It was exactly, just work harder, put your big girl panties on, and suck it up buttercup. Yeah. You know, it could always be worse, and you know, and all this kind of bullshit that we’re all taught, um, and from my experience. So, um, yeah, I wanted to know if you’d be willing to share a little bit about your depression story. Um, and tell us kind of where maybe it began and yeah. 

[00:10:35] Laura Watkins: Sure. Well, I used to think that, um, mental health, if you had a mental illness or you were diagnosed with some type of mental illness, that meant that you were crazy. Um, you know, I have these impressions or these visions of just crazy people. Those are the kinds of people that are mentally ill. They’re the homeless guy on the corner that rant and raves all day long to himself, like that’s mentally ill. There’s no possible way I could be mentally ill. Um, or I thought, okay, well, people who fall into depression, they are maybe trying to recover from childhood trauma or they’ve been, um, abused by their husband or they’ve been raped or, you know, like really, really tragic 

[00:11:27] Lorilee Rager: Some major, yeah.

[00:11:29] Laura Watkins: Yes. Um, but that is not the case with me. Um, it was in 2015, my husband and I were coming home. He was in the military. We were coming home. He was getting ready to retire. We were back in Louisville, where I was born and raised. We’d bought this really great house in this area of town that I was really excited to live in. My kids were going to go to great schools. Like, everything was great, and from the outside looking in my life is pretty good. I mean, and I just felt off. It just didn’t, I couldn’t get excited about anything, and to the point where after we were here and we were kind of moving in, my husband, stopped me one day and he said, “look, I don’t know what’s going on, but something’s not right with you. Like I thought you would be more happy. We’re here. Like we’ve done it. We’re done with the moving, we’re done with the deployments. We’re done. Why aren’t you happier?” And I couldn’t, I had no idea. I couldn’t answer that question. I just knew I didn’t feel right. And always before, like when he would be deployed, I would have some anxiety. Um, and I would go to my primary care doctor, they would prescribe Lexapro, I would take it for a little while. He’d come home things would, you know, even out and I wouldn’t take it anymore. So that was my first thought. Oh, okay. I’ve tried Lexapro before, went to the doctor, got a prescription. It helped for a little bit. Stopped working. And after kind of two iterations with my primary care doctor of trying something, it not working. She said that she wasn’t really comfortable with trying to treat it anymore. And she wanted me to see a psychiatrist. And before that time, I didn’t really know what the difference was between a psychologist, a psychiatry, um, a therapist. I really didn’t even know. 

[00:13:29] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. I can’t spell most of those words. Yeah. 

[00:13:34] Laura Watkins: Um, but a psychiatrist is someone who specializes in diagnosing and prescribing medications for those diagnoses. Um, so I, I saw one of them and I kind of started this pattern for several years where I would try a medication or a combination of medications. They might work a little bit, they may not, they may work for a period of three or four months and then they, then they would stop working. Um, and what happened was the good, feeling good and normal times got less and less, and the feeling not good and spiraling downward into this pit of depression got longer and worse. And, um, to the point where in the fall of 2019, I was pretty desperate. I, I stopped going to work. Um, I had to have, my mom or my dad and my husband would take turns kind of getting me through the day, just with daily tasks. They would have to tell me simple things like, “when’s the last time you took a shower?” I mean, it was, it was dangerously bad. And so I started trying some different treatments, um, because I just, the medication was not working. So I did something called trans cranial, wait a minute, it’s TMS. Transcranial magnetic stimulation. That is done in a psychiatrist office. You lay back in kind of like a dental chair and they put this machine on the side of your head and it does this kind of tapping on your head. It’s, it’s magnetic. So it’s tapping and it’s magnetizing, I guess. And it kind of, it’s supposed to stimulate the area of your brain, that controls mood. That was every, every day, five days a week, for six weeks. I did that. 

[00:15:37] Lorilee Rager: Oh my goodness gracious. Okay. 

[00:15:40] Laura Watkins: Yes, yes. Um, we’re not really sure if that worked or not. Um, about four to six weeks after that, I started feeling better. But also during that time I tried a new medication. So I don’t know if it was like a delayed response or if it was the medication. Not sure, but that didn’t last. So then I tried ketamine infusions, and 

[00:16:05] Lorilee Rager: What is that? 

[00:16:06] Laura Watkins: Well, ketamine is a very powerful drug that you can get on the street, I guess. I don’t know. I’m I’ve, I’ve never done drugs, so I didn’t know, I’ve never been high before I did this. But basically this was going into a psychiatrist’s office three days a week for two weeks. I would get hooked up to an IV and I would be on a ketamine drip for 30 minutes. And I would get higher than a kite. Just floating and, I mean, crazy.

[00:16:41] Lorilee Rager: Oh, wow. Okay. Okay. 

[00:16:43] Laura Watkins: But in some study somewhere it was helping people with depression. And so I, I thought, okay, let’s give it a try. But unfortunately that did not work. And so then, um, that psychiatrist put me in touch with a psychiatrist, his name is Timothy Burke, and I know it at the time, but he was getting ready to retire. And so he could have very well not taken me as a patient, you know? Um, but he spent two and a half hours with my husband and I talking about my medical history, um, medications I tried, treatments I had tried and he, at the end of it, said, you know, I think you would be a really good candidate for ECT, which is electro convulsive therapy.

[00:17:33] Lorilee Rager: Okay. So he’s, what doctor spends two and a half hours with you? Like that is unheard of these days, you know. That is, that is just incredible to hear that that moment happened. The synchronicities of all that you tried and tried and tried, and then you get this retired doctor who spends this time with you.

[00:17:55] Laura Watkins: Yup. 

[00:17:56] Lorilee Rager: Oh, okay. Okay. So ECT, you said. 

[00:17:59] Laura Watkins: Yes. 

[00:18:00] Lorilee Rager: What is that? 

[00:18:00] Laura Watkins: Yes. Okay. So that’s electroconvulsive therapy. It is scared me to death to think about possibly doing that. 

[00:18:10] Lorilee Rager: The electric shock, like the old school, scary TV shows, black and white. 

[00:18:16] Laura Watkins: Yes, like convulsing and electrocuting and yeah. 

[00:18:20] Lorilee Rager: The stereotype around that is very scary sounding. Yes, okay. 

[00:18:23] Laura Watkins: Yes. And I don’t know if he knows this, but it’s not like people are posting on Facebook every day, hey, who’s tried ECT? What can you tell me? 

[00:18:32] Lorilee Rager: No, ma’am no, ma’am, I’ve not seen anybody talk about their electric shock therapy treatments, no. I mean, it’s not like a plumber recommendation, no ma’am. 

[00:18:42] Laura Watkins: No. Nope. So again, in this two and a half hours, he explained, you know, that, that it is not like anything like that anymore. It’s very sophisticated now. We put you to sleep. You don’t even feel it. Um, it’s not a violent shaking type thing. It’s a very mild seizure that occurs, um, that you probably wouldn’t even know was happening if you weren’t looking for it because it’s like a slight twitch of your hand or your foot or something. Um, and then, so when, once that happens, basically the chemicals in your brain are reset. You know, everything comes up to the proper level, it gets filled up. 

[00:19:31] Lorilee Rager: Like rebooting a computer in a sense? 

[00:19:34] Laura Watkins: That’s absolutely correct. Yes. 

[00:19:36] Lorilee Rager: Oh, wow. Okay. Okay. 

[00:19:39] Laura Watkins: Yep. So the first time I did it, I had to do six treatments and after the third treatment, bam. I mean, it was like somebody switched a light switch and all of a sudden I felt like myself again. It was a miracle. 

[00:19:57] Lorilee Rager: Oh my gosh. 

[00:19:58] Laura Watkins: It was an absolute miracle. 

[00:20:00] Lorilee Rager: So how often were these treatments? You said six total. 

[00:20:04] Laura Watkins: So the first regimen was, um, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for two weeks. 

[00:20:12] Lorilee Rager: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Two weeks. Okay.

[00:20:15] Laura Watkins: Yep. And then after that everybody’s different, you know, here I, I was asking all these questions, like, how long am I going to have to do this? And, you know, what’s next? And am I going to have to do this for the rest of my life? And I hate, this is the part I hate about the brain and mental health, there are no specific answers. Everybody is different. And some people have to do it on a maintenance basis for every eight weeks for the rest of their lives. Some people can work themselves up. So I’m, I just had a treatment on Monday and we’re going to try 16 weeks this next time. Um, so it may be that eventually I can go without having ECT. Um, we just, we really don’t know until, until I live it and figure it out myself. 

[00:21:10] Lorilee Rager: Okay. I am sure there’s so many, so many more questions that I should be answering, or asking right now as I just process it all. Because it’s just, it’s phenomenal the way you tried constantly new ideas in ways to get help, because, because you just knew something was off and you fought for yourself. I think you were an advocate for yourself and of course your husband noticing it as well and your family helping, but I just, I really, really commend you, when you look at the mental health journey and what we all go through when we are struggling, we, we’re so desperate to still live. And, and, and get help and it’s not easy. And, um, it, you, you make it sound easy. I’m not going to lie, you just made it sound really simple and easy. But there are no, you know, as I say, magic elixirs or quick fixes or a list of instructions or a how to guide to life in general, much less mental health and depression. And, you know, why, why don’t we talk about it more is what I don’t understand, because 

[00:22:24] Laura Watkins: Well, that’s what, and that’s, I thought so much about this when I finally got back to living, so to speak, and feeling good and, you know, I, I reflected a lot on, look, nobody’s talking about this and if this can happen to somebody like me, who hasn’t had any trauma, who’s not been beat my whole life or, um. You know, I, I have I’m from a wonderful loving family. I have a wonderfully loving, supportive husband. I have great children. I have a business, everything I’ve wanted in my life, I’ve gotten. So if something to this magnitude can happen to me, it’s happening to other people. It’s just, there’s so much stigma around mental health and mental illness. People are afraid and ashamed to talk about it. 

[00:23:19] Lorilee Rager: Sure, sure. Fear. 

[00:23:22] Laura Watkins: Oh, the fear and the guilt and the shame. I mean, I, I’m in therapy now with the therapist trying to accept that this is my life. This is me. This is what, what I’ve been dealt. Because I have such a hard time, when I’m starting to spiral down, I have such a hard time admitting it, I wait until I’m pretty much desperate until I even admit to somebody, hey, I’m struggling. Because again, the thoughts, I don’t want to be a burden, people are going to get tired of hearing about this, they’re going to think I’m a crazy lady like I thought everybody else was who had this. Um, and then I just decided, well, I mean, if I just start talking about it, it’s not like I’m, I don’t think I can change the world yet. I’d love to be able to think I could do that, but let’s just start small, right. Let’s just talk to the people around me. I talk with my staff about it. I talk with my kids about it. Um, and it never fails, every time I have the courage to share what I’ve been through and be very honest and transparent about it, some one, some, somebody somehow gets in touch with me and says, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve struggled with this. My mom struggles with this. I’m trying to help my son who’s struggling with this. And that just has kind of fueled me keep talking about it. Because somebody out there needs to hear this.

[00:24:57] Lorilee Rager: Please keep talking about it because that is exactly, that’s exactly why I probably had the courage to get sober, is because of your Facebook posts over two years ago. And you are a dear friend. You’re a dear family friend. I mean my sister’s college roommate, and someone who knows our family incredibly well. And I thought I knew you very well. Again, being a graphic designer, I helped you design your brand for your salon. 

[00:25:26] Laura Watkins: Yes. 

[00:25:27] Lorilee Rager: There’s so many ways we connected on so many levels, with family and hardships through family divorces and parents’ stuff, that also just, like you said, didn’t seem like the big T trauma stuff. And, and I thought you were just kicking ass, your salon’s winning awards, you’ve, you know, working on this beautiful brand. And then you post what you’ve been struggling with and that you spent, you know, months or maybe more in the bed. And I was like, what? My friend Laura is, is like this? And I was immediately one of those people sliding in your DM with, you know, over here, scared to death and terrified and not understanding why I felt the same way. Why I was so incredibly unhappy with a dream business and family and home and all the things. You know, and I was like, holy shit. So you sharing is such a ripple effect, a domino effect, or however you want to want to put it is so, so important. It’s why I want to talk about it. It’s why, and I’m fascinated when I began to learn about your ECT treatments and how well they were working for you. And you know, how you just mentioned being just lucky to live, where you live, where they have that treatment and that doctor and, and, um, and everything. 

[00:26:55] Laura Watkins: And my insurance pays for it. I mean, there, there are a lot of times when I have wanted to complain about TRICARE insurance, that’s the military insurance. Sometimes they make things so hard, but I will tell you what, they, TRICARE has done me well during this journey. 

[00:27:15] Lorilee Rager: You don’t often hear that at all, so. And it is mental health help is expensive. And, um, and yes, there are things we can do that, that are free, especially like support groups and community and sharing and having, you know, talks and just being authentically real about it. And unapologetically real, whether it’s good or bad or ugly. And, you know, feeling those feelings. So I just, I find it fascinating. Um, and it makes me, it makes me look at, you know, I feel like we’re all just doing the best we can. We’re all doing what we were taught, um, and, and evaluating how we handle things. And then as parents, how we’re going to parent our children to handle it and, and, and make them better. And I think by sharing your story, it helps you be a better parent and be a better, um, you know, maybe, business owner and, and all that. So that’s where I was going to go next, is tell me a little bit about how just being a mom to your teenagers, and a business owner, military spouse, you’ve mentioned, um, an a dog mom, which I love, um, just, let’s, what’s real talk about working in parenting with depression.

[00:28:44] Laura Watkins: Well, um, you know, I haven’t really had a conversation lately with my oldest, or even my youngest, about what, what it must’ve been like to watch me go through something like that. Um, luckily I had a, I have support. You know, I mentioned my mom and my dad were around, you know, and that’s nothing new. Like we, we’re pretty tight family. So I think, I think my kids knew no matter what they were going to be taken care of. Um, my oldest, as you know, loves to sing. She, she, um, is a very talented vocalist. She actually writes some of her own music and she recently played a song for me that she wrote during that time called “Heal for Your Daughter”. And talk about, right at the core. 

[00:29:44] Lorilee Rager: Oh Lord. 

[00:29:46] Laura Watkins: Yeah. So I know it had made an impression on her for sure. Um, but what I’ve tried to do is speak very freely with them about what I was feeling, how I got myself, help, what they need to look out for as they navigate teenage years and college, and, you know, being women themselves. Um, so, you know, I think the first thing that we’ve done as a family is just talk about it. Seems very simple, but there are so many families not talking about it. 

[00:30:21] Lorilee Rager: Absolutely. Growing up, we didn’t talk about anything, but the weather and what fields to report into tomorrow. And that was it. So I get. It was not a conversation on our agenda.

[00:30:37] Laura Watkins: And we, I had a therapist tell me one time, you know, that kids, when you’re raising kids, you should have a college fund and you should have therapy fund because everybody needs therapy. So I’ve been, you know, my teenage daughter is in therapy. I mean, being a teenager is hard. There’s a lot of feelings to process and pressures about deciding what the, her rest of her life is going to be at sixteen years old. 

[00:31:02] Lorilee Rager: Oh hell yes, it’s hard. Hell yes. I don’t want to go back to that one minute. 

[00:31:07] Laura Watkins: No, no. So, you know, I make time to take her to therapy. And, um, you know, when my youngest gets older, if she is struggling with something, it won’t be any big deal for her to go to therapy too. So I think, I think as a parent, just being more aware of when your kids are struggling. And, and sometimes it’s not enough to just be their mom. You know, the I’m sure there’s things that Julia needs to talk about sometimes that she doesn’t want to talk about with me. 

[00:31:39] Lorilee Rager: Sure, sure. Oh that’s good.

[00:31:41] Laura Watkins: And I want her to be able to talk to someone who can help her process, those feelings in a positive, healthy way.

[00:31:48] Lorilee Rager: Yes. Yes. And do you think that, that is so not a conversation mom. Laura mom seven years ago would have ever have had probably with her teenager. 

[00:32:00] Laura Watkins: No, not. I would have said, suck it up. 

[00:32:07] Lorilee Rager: Suck it up buttercup. 

[00:32:08] Laura Watkins: You’re being a whiner. Get out there and do it. 

[00:32:11] Lorilee Rager: Yep. That’s exactly right. And that’s, that’s what I feel about what I think of, I mean, I still, I mean, the secret’s out, none of us know what we’re doing. 

[00:32:21] Laura Watkins: No. 

[00:32:24] Lorilee Rager: But now the secret’s out with my kids. Like I’m not even going to bullshit them. Like, I do not know what I’m doing. And I often tell my teenagers, you know, I’ve never had a 17 year old before. 

[00:32:35] Laura Watkins: I say the same thing. 

[00:32:38] Lorilee Rager: So I don’t know what I’m about to say or what I should or shouldn’t do or what you should or shouldn’t do, but we’re going to talk about it and we’re going to feel it. And it’s like, do you want answers or solutions, or you just want me to listen? Or yes, do you want to go talk to someone? Because that’s okay. I mean, somebody said to me one time, you know, Tom Brady has had a coach in his life, his entire life. Someone has coached him and helped him and been on his team his whole life. And that is okay. And we all deserve that, whether it’s a therapist or a gym trainer or nutritionist or all the above. Or, um, 

[00:33:13] Laura Watkins: Absolutely, absolutely. 

[00:33:15] Lorilee Rager: So that’s just a big gift to me, when you think of something as sad and scary as depression, at the gift it’s given you from a parenting standpoint. It’s just, it’s huge. Um, yeah, yeah. Well, so, so what do you want to talk about next? What do you want to like, topic wise or, cause I was thinking about turning it to, to also, um, you know, what is, what does your life look like now? Do you have a certain way to get yourself back on track? Or, um, you know, do you have to intentionally do certain things. One time we had a phone call, you know, or you texted me about, let’s have a phone call, and because we have the funniest longest talks ever. And you said something like, I do want to talk to you because you help me get my dopamine or something like that. And I was like, what? You were like, it’s literally helped me, it’s helpful for my depression. Like, it’s a treatment thing. And I was like, what does that mean? 

[00:34:26] Laura Watkins: Yeah. So, you know, you have these chemicals in your brain, dopamine, serotonin. Um, they’re the feel-good chemicals. And when you have depression, those chemicals get depleted. And so you, you, you’re not able to feel good or think good thoughts or have good moods because the chemicals in your brain that are required to be able to do that get depleted. And so when I have conversation with you or I spend an evening with girlfriends or whatever, I have always kind of been known for my laugh. Like I have this wheeze laugh.

[00:35:08] Lorilee Rager: Yes you do. 

[00:35:09] Laura Watkins: And I just cackle. And anytime you do that, it’s flooding your brain with feel good chemicals. So when I talk to you, it is self-care. 

[00:35:24] Lorilee Rager: That is the best definition of self care I have ever heard. It’s uh, yeah, it’s not a glass of champagne or lavender oils, sometimes. 

[00:35:35] Laura Watkins: Girl, this is what we’re going to talk about next. And that is self-care. 

[00:35:40] Lorilee Rager: Bring it. Let’s hear it. Come on, come on. Tell me. 

[00:35:44] Laura Watkins: So, as women I think we’re giving a message that anything we do for ourselves is selfish and not necessary and overindulgent. You know, we need to be better wives for our husbands, and better moms to our kids, and better sisters to our siblings. And which, okay, yes. Oh, yes. I want to be all those things. But, I mean, we’ve all heard when you’re on the airplane, you gave yourself the oxygen first, before you give it to your child. 

[00:36:15] Lorilee Rager: Absolutely. 

[00:36:17] Laura Watkins: If our cups are empty, we don’t have any of that to give to the other people. And so we have got to change the narrative, not only about mental health, but also about how we’re taking care of ourselves. Because what I have learned through therapy is that my, my depression more than likely was caused by years and years and years of suck it up, keep going, work harder, hustle faster, um, shove it down, ignore it, don’t worry about it, deal with it later. And then your body is eventually going to slow you down, one way or another. So I think for all those years of doing that for so long, my brain was like. Done, we’re going to take a break for awhile. 

[00:37:10] Lorilee Rager: Yep, peace out. You won’t listen to my signals. So I’m done. I’m shutting down.

[00:37:15] Laura Watkins: Done, done. So I have to be very intentional. Not only do I have to get these maintenance, ECT treatments, which I dread. And I even asked Mike this last time, I feel really good, do I have to do this? And he’s like, yes, you have to do this. This is part of your maintenance. This is what you’re going to do. Um, but I have to do that. I have to take time to attend my therapy sessions. I get a massage every three weeks. I am working with a functional medicine nurse right now to learn about what supplements and what foods I can be eating that that are going to help promote good brain health. Which I just know, I just found this out a couple of weeks ago, but your brain is directly related to your gut. And if you’ve got issues going to the bathroom, or if you have leaky gut or you have any of that, that is a direct line to your brain.

[00:38:18] Lorilee Rager: I mean, the IBS connection to the brain, direct connection. Your physical, visceral feelings based on what someone does mental health wise, like to make you feel, ooh, I get this. I’ve never heard it so said directly, but I get that so much. Brain gut connection and what you eat to nourish that, which is why we’re supposed to be eating anyways. To nourish yourself. 

[00:38:46] Laura Watkins: Yes, you already, you’re, I have a great friend that always says this, you’re either healing your body or you’re killing it by what you’re putting in your mouth. 

[00:38:54] Lorilee Rager: Oh, amen. Ooh, that’s good. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:38:59] Laura Watkins: Yeah. Which is really hard for me, cause I love to eat. I love to eat so much of what I do with gathering with friends, family. It’s all around food. 

[00:39:10] Lorilee Rager: Yes. And it’s supposed to be okay. There shouldn’t be shame and guilt around that, but you need to be aware of, of exactly what you just said, what you eat, does affect your emotions and your brain. And I’ve never thought about it so clearly before. Because when I think of recovery and numbing, people do it with alcohol, of course, in my experience. But before alcohol, I did it with food, all around emotions and all about boxing it up and stuffing it down and just getting past it or eating my feelings. So I love, I love that part, that being part of self care, which is also not normally on the list. 

[00:39:52] Laura Watkins: Right. Self care is not just bubble baths and wine. It’s, it’s the things that are going to help you be your best version of yourself and that’s physically and mentally. 

[00:40:07] Lorilee Rager: Yes, so good. So so good. You’re full of so much knowledge and, about just your truth and your experience, too. It’s not even like we’re trying to say we are the experts and this is what we know, it’s this is what I feel, and this is what I’ve lived through. And it’s just, I know it sounds weird to call it a beautiful journey because I know it’s been so painful. We’ve done so much laughing on this call, but there’s such dark, scary moments in your past that I know of. 

[00:40:46] Laura Watkins: Absolutely. 

[00:40:48] Lorilee Rager: I just am so proud of how resilient and, and hard you’ve fought for yourself. 

[00:40:57] Laura Watkins: Thank you. Thank you. 

[00:40:59] Lorilee Rager: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. Tell me about the moment. What about the moment in that doctor’s office, when you were back there for the second or third time early on just getting your Lexapro fix, and they looked you in the eye and say, you know what? No, you need to see someone. Like, how’d you feel? Some people get offended by that, or some people get pissed off or some people, unless you get as low and as dark as I know places I’ve been, and I know you’ve been, you may also be like fine, whatever. I need something. 

[00:41:32] Laura Watkins: Yeah. I think at that point I was, it had gone on, you know, maybe nine months of just kind of numbing through life, not feeling anything. Um, so I think I was, I think I knew I needed something else, but I don’t know that I really understood how much more of a journey I would be facing.

[00:41:57] Lorilee Rager: Sure. 

[00:41:58] Laura Watkins: Um, There’s so much that doctors, even psychiatrists, still don’t know about the brain. You know, there’s no, I used to get so frustrated because there’s no test you can take, there’s no scan they can do. There’s nothing that spits out a report that says, okay, she’s low in this chemical and this chemical and this chemical, and this is the drug that you use to, 

[00:42:24] Lorilee Rager: To fix that. 

[00:42:24] Laura Watkins: To fix that. So there’s so much trial and error and, um, you know, it’s not, it’s not a straight path. It was not a straight path. And when you’re depressed, just brushing your teeth seems like a monumental chore. So, you know, I would encourage anyone who finds themselves in a place where they think they’re struggling with some type of mental illness, mine was depression, some peoples it’s anxiety or bipolar, or, you know, mania, or, you know, there’s, it takes all kinds of forms. But, um, I think you have, if you don’t have the energy to be the advocate for yourself, ask someone who loves you to help you with that. Because there is a lot of, um, you know, finding a provider and checking the insurance to see if they’re covered or in the network. And, you know, just, I was seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist, you know, so there there’s like, um, in my, I would consider my medical team now, I have my ECT doctor, I see a mental health nurse practitioner that, uh, regulates and follows all my medications and that sort of thing, and then I have a, I think she’s a licensed clinical social worker, that’s who I go to for my talk therapy. So I have three professionals that I depend on to keep me mentally healthy. And that has nothing to do with a yearly mammogram and, uh, you know, bloodwork every year. And so it’s, I mean, it takes a team of people. It really does. 

[00:44:13] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, it takes, it takes a village, like I like to say. And that’s, and that’s okay. We’re not meant to do this, this life thing alone. 

[00:44:23] Laura Watkins: No, we’re not. 

[00:44:25] Lorilee Rager: We, we crave community. I think that’s why cities migrate, and communities, even in the rural rural areas. Um, I think it’s so important to understand that we do not have to do this alone and we’re not meant to do it alone. 

[00:44:42] Laura Watkins: No. And then you take the shame and stigma, that’s wrapped around all this stuff, and that’s why people don’t reach out and ask for the help that they need. And so, you know, I tried to do things as simple as, like, um, yesterday at noon, I had a meeting with my therapist and I just, I do it at work, I just go out in the parking lot in my car. But, you know, before if somebody said, “hey, do you want to go have lunch at noon?” I would have been like, “oh no, I’m sorry, I have a meeting at noon. I’m not available.” And now I’m just like, “no, sorry. I’m talking with my therapist at noon.”

[00:45:17] Lorilee Rager: Ooh yes girl, radical honesty. 

[00:45:21] Laura Watkins: Sometimes there’s silence, like, Ooh, she must be crazy. 

[00:45:25] Lorilee Rager: Crickets, yes.

[00:45:27] Laura Watkins: Or sometimes people are like, “oh, that’s important, okay. No, we’ll do it another day.” 

[00:45:31] Lorilee Rager: Oh yes. Oh yes. You’re so right. And, and six years ago, I know you couldn’t have easily said that, but now you can and you do, and that’s what matters, is once you know, better, you do better. I mean, my first, um, therapy encounter, my first therapy experience was a hypnotherapist who I was like, “I just want to stop biting my nails.” I wasn’t going to tell her I was having rip-roaring panic attacks and sweat down my back, you know. But I was like, “oh just help me with nailbiting.” So it is funny once you get that radical honesty and start a little bit of truth-telling, that it comes back tenfold in goodness, when you do. And your body’s not holding that in. So it’s so good. So good. Okay. Well, we can wrap up with, um, one last question. I would like to know what tool would you leave in our Ground and Gratitude toolbox for others? And it can be anything, something that helps you get grounded, or gives gratitude, helps you through through dry seasons or moments, can be a song, oil.

[00:46:42] Laura Watkins: I think it’s just leaving people, the permit, leaving with giving people the permission to put together your self care plan. Like really think about what, what does your self care plan look like and what are the things that you’re going to do? Is it daily? Is it weekly? Is it monthly? What are those things that you can do and commit to that are going to fill your cup. So that you can be who you want to be for all the other people in your life, 

[00:47:14] Lorilee Rager: That are counting on you. Yeah, yeah. Permission. And yeah, it’s like a self care check in. Um, it comes back to the very beginning when you said, like checking in with yourself mentally. And what are you doing to take care of yourself? I love it. I love all of it. I love all the things you said. Every single word. 

[00:47:36] Laura Watkins: Thank you. 

[00:47:37] Lorilee Rager: Laura, thank you so much for being here today. I really, really appreciate it. And I think you shared such amazing truths of your own story. I just really hope it helps others out there. I know it’s definitely helped me. Thanks for being here. 

[00:47:52] Laura Watkins: Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me. 

[00:47:55] Lorilee Rager: Absolutely. Talk soon.

Thanks again so much to Laura for having the courage to share her story. And thank you for tuning into Ground and Gratitude. You can find more info about the show and resources to help anyone struggling with mental health at GroundAndGratitude.com. Join me next time for more honest conversations exploring what it means to truly live a life grounded in gratitude. 

Ground and Gratitude is produced by Kelly Drake and AOMcClain LLC.

Alright. Don’t say anything bad.

[00:48:58] Laura Watkins: Yes ma’am. I’ll be on my best behavior. 

[00:49:01] Lorilee Rager: Hell no. This is where we’re going to talk some real shit.