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60: Behind the Smiles: Our Mental Health Journey

Today, on World Mental Health Day, we’re taking a step back from our usual format to share something deeply personal – our own mental health journeys.

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Truth, Lies and Workplace Culture has always been about fostering open and honest conversations. Today, on World Mental Health Day, we’re taking a step back from our usual format to share something deeply personal – our own mental health journeys.

Al and Leanne I first crossed paths as volunteers for Samaritans, a listening service that provides invaluable support to those who need it most. It was here that we found our shared passion for helping others access mental health resources and the importance of having a safe space to talk.

In this episode, we’re peeling back the layers to reveal the stories behind the smiles. We’re going to share our own experiences with mental health challenges, including moments of anxiety, burnout, and the immense pressure society often places on men to achieve success.

But, amidst the struggles, we’ll also discuss the pivotal moments that led us to seek help, the support systems that made a difference, and the small steps we’ve taken towards improving our mental well-being.

We hope that by opening up about our own journeys, we can contribute to the broader conversation surrounding mental health and inspire our listeners to prioritise their mental well-being too.

So, join us for this candid and heartfelt conversation about mental health. We believe that sharing our stories can help break down the stigma and encourage others to seek the support they need.

Thank you for tuning in.


If you’re feeling in distress or despair, including suicidal feelings, please do consider contacting The Samaritans.

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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Leanne Elliott 0:00
she’d woken up. She felt hope she felt like it was a sign that she wasn’t meant to die because for everything that she took she should have. And yes, she was going to get help and carry on.

Leanne Elliott 0:17
Hello, and welcome to the truth lives and workplace culture podcast, brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist.

Al Elliott 0:26
My name is Al I’m a business owner.

Leanne Elliott 0:28
We are here to help you simplify the science of people and create amazing workplace culture.

Al Elliott 0:32
Welcome, welcome. You might have heard that I’ve now got the cold that we had last week. Just a little bit rough on you love.

Leanne Elliott 0:38
I am a little bit yeah, I think I’m still a bit deeper in my voice than I normally am.

Al Elliott 0:42
Yeah. And I just sound like oh, like a melody, my nose. Bummed. Audible is horrible. But I don’t think he’s COVID. And also we were saying we’re quite lucky because we’re going to we’re going to London to what we’re setting up tomorrow, aren’t we? And so with us already having a cold with hoping that we’re not going to pick anything else up in London

Leanne Elliott 1:01
for the immune system is fighting. Yeah, on form, hopefully. Oh, that’s combat.

Al Elliott 1:08
That will be disastrous. But anyway, worse things have happened. Suddenly, we’re gonna do a slightly different version today, aren’t we? We are we have no guests. Leon? Yeah, no, we do have plenty of guests, people will you know who were waiting to put on the pod. But today we’re going to talk a little bit about our personal story around mental health. Just to give it a context, Lee why we decided to do that.

Leanne Elliott 1:29
Well, today, Dave recording is World Mental Health Day. And the theme this year is how mental health as a human right, it’s about trying to break down inequity within mental health services to make sure everybody can experience positive mental health. And I think it’s one of those things that we talk about a lot in the podcast, we talk about mental health, we talk about well being you might be thinking Who are you to sit and chat about this? And I guess the answer is nobody really. But we will tell you a bit about our background and a bit about our experiences, mental health and well being and why we are so passionate about it, and hopefully share a bit more about us. We talk about authenticity and vulnerability and leadership, we have to do the same as well. And it’s been a while since we’ve opened up I think it’s almost a year ago isn’t I think it’s December last year that Al and I released our individual episodes about our career history. So yeah, go back and listen to that, if you’re interested. But this can be a bit more bit more personal.

Al Elliott 2:25
Yes. So I think let’s just start by setting the scene for it for new listeners perhaps or old listeners or not old but existing listeners who perhaps have heard about us before we had a podcast, a static podcast about four years ago around travel. 10 years ago, we left the UK and sort of traveling full time we’ve been professionally unemployed or not unemployed, professionally homeless. And I suppose I’ve employed professionally homeless for for about 10 years now. Maybe coming up 11 travelled around Europe lived in, I think almost every single country in mainland Europe. We’ve always been to the east, we’ve been to India, we’ve been lots of different places. And so on paper people, I’m sure people who would know us think oh, you lucky bastards look at that is you’ve got the perfect life. And we want to open up a little bit about that and say no aspects that aren’t perfect. And we have the same challenges as if we were sitting in the UK in the rain. So we can open up a little bit about that. And we like Yes. And then we’re going to talk a little bit about our sort of our backgrounds, how we started, we’ve sort of got to where we are today and the mental health struggles we’ve had each of us within that as well, you’ll notice that Leanne’s is skewed a little bit more towards I’m not saying corporate but towards employment, because you’re employed up until about six years ago, seven years ago. Whereas my last job was 2002. And it was it was selling advertising space, which was a bit of a dodgy touchy company actually thinking about it. So I’ve been self employed since then. So Lee, where do you want to start?

Leanne Elliott 3:49
Shall we start about how we met, maybe bit of a glimpse into I guess, in a way how we’ve both cared about mental health and well being for a long time and independently? Yeah, should we start there?

Al Elliott 4:03
Yeah. So do you want to tell the story? You tell it? Okay, so both of us. This is back in about 2007 I think when we first met people 2006 We’re both volunteering for a charity in the UK called Samaritans. Now, if you’re from the UK, you’ll probably have a good idea what it is. If you’re not from the UK, then I think the US and Australia have something very similar. The idea is if someone if a member of the public is in distress, or despair or have suicidal, sorry, suicidal thoughts, then they can lift a phone and they can dial this number and it’s anonymously talk to someone. And the whole point of Samaritans is we’re not there to talk you out of ending your life. If that’s what you want to do. We want to talk to you about what it would be like if you ended your life. Like if you run your mom, and you said I’m thinking I’m thinking about killing myself, your mom would react in a very specific way. She’d be like, Oh my god, don’t do this. Oh my god. Oh my god, I’m coming round and round. I’m calling the police whatever. If you’re the smartest think about sending then you say I think about ending my life then some hours ago. Okay, so Irwin, what brought you to this point? And what do you think death would be like, and all this kind of thing. So the whole point is that you get someone who’s going to actually just talk to you without panicking and calling ambulance and all that kind of stuff.

Leanne Elliott 5:11
Yeah, without judgment. And the core belief of Samaritans is self determination. So if you decide that is the best option for you, then you have the right to make that decision, which can sound I think a lot of people can’t really wrap their heads around that when it comes to Samaritans, and particularly the mental health practitioners I’ve worked with in the past, some of them aren’t a big fan of Samaritans for that, that reason. But I think from our nose experience, what tends to happen was that, that very extreme situation where somebody was in the process of killing themselves, while we talked to them, it’s very, very rare. Most of the time, people are calling up because they’re, they’re confused, and they’re scared, and they’re feeling hopeless, and they just need somebody to talk to, and somebody to, to talk about these dark thoughts and feelings without that judgment. And without that reaction, and often that in itself can be a huge relief and a huge weight, and then the mind can clear and start to be a bit more objective. So yeah, the the extreme case is rare. But that isn’t that how and I met.

Al Elliott 6:09
Yeah, so the, um, was there a she’s the Angela younger than me seven years younger than me. But she was kind of like my supervisor there because she was bit more experienced. And so I was I was still on probation. We were doing this overnight shift, which is 11pm till 7am. And there’s two of us in the room. And people think tomorrow’s might be this bank is not, it’s just individual rooms around the country. And there was just two of us on and in that particular room on that particular night. About four o’clock in the morning, I took a call from a lady who and obviously, I’m going to generalize this because obviously, semantics, the whole point is confidentiality. This lady was describing her life and saying that she wanted to end it and she started taking, so taking an overdose of pills. So obviously, I put my hand up till the end, because I’m like, you know, I need a little bit guidance on this, you’re the more experienced one. So the outcome over listened in, and was like, sort of giving me suggest writing down things to ask him. Anyway. So to cut a quite a long call short, because it was maybe about an hour and a half, she ended up, she said to take more and more pills. And she ended up just sort of getting quiet and more slurred, more slurred. And then for the last 10 minutes, there was just nothing. And she we didn’t know whether she’d go well, our assumption was she’d fall into unconsciousness. But we didn’t know whether that had meant that she’d actually, you know, passed away or not. The slightly thing, which I think a lot of people can’t get their head around is that we did manage to get her a dress out of her saying, Look, if you do change your mind, at the very last minute, we can call an ambulance. But she said, I don’t want you to do that. And the very last words to where I was like, I absolutely do not want you to call an ambulance. I know what I’m doing this is it. So we were sitting there a bit like wow, fuck. So we but when America put a little chat about it, and Leanne was like, Look, you know, sometimes this happens, very rare. But sometimes it happens. You just, you don’t know. I mean, and I was of the opinion that this lady’s life, she was kind of right, you know, she had a horrible life, I could totally understand why she was making that decision. That was not my place, even if I believed that she was wrong is not my place to grow out of it. So that all happened. And then that was like, and usually with these calls, you never hear anything else dealing.

Leanne Elliott 8:01
Usually you don’t know usually you Yeah, it’s it’s very rare that, that you get an ending to that story, either either happy or otherwise. But yeah, a couple of hours later, I was on another call the phone when I picked up, and it was the same woman. And what was extraordinary about that is that this was an overnight shift 11pm till 7am. The Manchester and Salford branch that we volunteered for was one of the few branches of the country that were 24 hours. So because of that you could get calls from all over the country that would route through, into into Manchester. So the chance of getting the same branch, if you call back is very, very slim. So she put she called back. She said that she had she taken over though she’d woken up she’d been sick that she’d been speaking to a Samaritan early in the evening. And if there’s any way of tracking down, the man that she spoke to you could I please tell him thank you that he had helped massively that she’d woken up. She felt hope she felt like it was a sign that she wasn’t meant to die. Because for everything that she took, she should have. And yes, she was going to get help in carry on. And that was out.

Al Elliott 9:08
Yeah. And that just I mean, that was the only time it was maybe a handful of times that happened to each one of us with a what they call suicide in progress. And it was the only time for me certainly that you got any kind of like, follow up from it. Yeah, so it was incredible. So Liana and I were like, seven o’clock in the morning in the middle of Manchester, obviously adrenaline like oh my god, this is like we shared the most sort of what’s the word intimate moment, I suppose of someone’s life? I don’t know. It sounds weird. Yeah.

Leanne Elliott 9:37
It’s a very intimate moment. Yeah.

Al Elliott 9:41
And so and I knew that I really liked the and I found subsequently that she liked me. And then I was like, oh, I should ask her for a coffee but then I thought that’d be really weird because I’m a bit older and she’s like, kind of my boss I suppose. So. So we just went our separate ways. And but anyway, long story short, we eventually after about another year. I plucked up the courage to ask her out and we went out for a drink. And then, I mean, I would say the rest is history. But I was I was a bit of a bad boyfriend for the first year, but then hopefully made up for it for the last 16 ething.

Leanne Elliott 10:11
You absolutely did. You absolutely did. But yeah, so I think that’s them. That’s how I met. And that is, as I say, kind of a an indication that both of us really thought that mental health was important and getting support for your mental health was important. And doing that for a point fairly early on in our careers. I think I was 20 would have been 27. Yeah, so yes. And we did that for five years. We were smarting for five years, and ended up being on the training team. I was on the recruitment team. We were both on the committee. I was the chair of Manchester and Salford Samaritans for a while out of the prisons. And yeah, there was lots and lots of different things that we did within the community as part of Samaritans. And it was it was a really important part of my life, not only my career, but my meeting. So of course, I met my husband there. But yeah, I think it’s I think that’s probably the start of it all, isn’t it that mental health was always something that we believed, should be taken care of.

Al Elliott 11:15
Yeah. And I think the other things we learned from there was how to listen, you probably know that most people don’t listen, they just wait for their turn to speak. And to really listen to someone to really learn how to listen is one of the most valuable skills you can get. And it’s I think it pervades everything. So everything underpins everything that we do our interviews, we listen, we don’t talk about ourselves. In terms of our consultancy, we’re paid to listen in terms of everything. We’re paid to listen, listen, listen. So it has been the Forte, the basis of almost every single thing we’ve done solely do we want to segue on to perhaps seek a scenario where your mental health wasn’t quite where you’d want it to be?

Leanne Elliott 11:56
Yeah, I think my I think my first experience of I guess, realizing that, that how we felt psychologically could really impact how kind of we were physically and we’ve had experiences similar to that before. And if you go back to Illinois episode, we talk about kind of an experience I had in high school. And that’s how I decided to, to go into psychology. But I think my first kind of personal experience with it was kind of that exam season stress, we all know I was I was an academic, I did my A levels went to university. I now have proper nerd. And I never thought I was that stressed about it. I was a bit worried. But you know, as you are taking exams seriously, but I started suffering with eczema when I was 17. I never had eczema, because usually thing you get as a kid, isn’t it? I never had it before. And it was everywhere, it was all up my arms, or my chest or my legs, or my stomach, it was everywhere. And it was so uncomfortable, and so itchy and so painful. And I went to the doctor’s and I couldn’t get rid of it as using all the creams and the washers and, and nothing would work. And then the day after my final exam, it just went away. It just went away. And then every year when exams came around, the same would happen, it would flare up, it would go away and flare up will go away. And that was the first time that I was kind of like wow, like physiologically my stress is manifested physiologically, so, so bad, so much so, so strongly. I think that was my first experience, I guess person experience or kind of the mind body connection. And how how strong that is. Yeah, it’s not,

Al Elliott 13:38
isn’t it? And I think anyone who’s listening to this, I’m hoping someone’s listening to this and thinking, oh, oh, now I get it. I had massive I used to get lots of really bad indigestion and stomach issues and all that kind of thing. And that was definitely down to down to stress. And and now I think we both of us, we’d rather people say to us, are you busy? We go? No. Because we don’t want to go back to where that situation was. And I don’t know you but I find every every few weeks. I’m like, I know I might have a sore stomach or something. And I’m like, Oh, right. Okay, that’s my sign that I’m taking things a bit too seriously take myself a bit too seriously and taking too much on

Leanne Elliott 14:16
definitely just a little, a little a little patch of dry skin and like, yeah, that’s where my first one was, which is quite mild. And then I guess my next experience after that, which was much more significant was Al and I were in an attempt to carjacking in Manchester, actually on the way to do it and overnight shift at Samaritans is from we’re living together in Oldham. And I was driving and I decided to take a back road route into into my city centre, which looking back was probably a bit daft but even then it was a route we’ve done loads and loads of times that night it wasn’t particularly dodgy or dark. And there was a car struts just sat there in the middle of the road. And me being naive to say oh and what they’re doing Last night went beep, beep. And then the next minute they were just flashing their, their lights and just driving towards us. We just didn’t then the first time yeah, they hit us. And I was like, rivers, rivers, but it was single track, it was dark, it was up a hill. It was terrifying. Then I froze and panicked. And then a guy got out of out of the car with a baseball bat. And at that point, I was like, Lea, come on, you can do this drive, I was like, oh my god, reverse reverse reverse. And then somehow, luckily, they were they kept ramming into us. And for some reason, they decided to train around the side of us, I’m not sure if they’re trying to get our wheels or I don’t know, but they ended up managing to bump themselves to the side of the road. And at that point, we could, we could floor it, and go down. So obviously after that, a little bit of anxiety was felt. But it was actually a few years later. And speaking to a mental health professional that I realized that because a few years after that, I started suffering with panic attacks, quite severe panic attacks. And it took me a long, long time to connect that my anxiety was trauma induced not post traumatic stress disorder, but trauma induced anxiety disorder. So it is quite it is quite cognitive is quite flashing lights will, will trigger me or certain scenarios will trigger any sense of incongruence not be able to make sense of the situation, I feel myself panicking. That was the the event that happened and then subsequently has a stress tip me into some pretty significant panic attacks.

Al Elliott 16:26
How’s that gone away? I mean, what was that just time that it’s just going away.

Leanne Elliott 16:30
Um, there was a few different things that I think have happened for that to go away. And I think a big one was moving abroad. And getting away from that high stress, always on mentality that I was in in the UK, I had a great job. And I had a very supportive manager and a very caring environment. If I’d gone in and said I was struggling with mental health challenges, I would have been supported, they’re incredible. But that didn’t take away from the fact that I was a manager in a high stress performance driven role with lots of people that I was responsible for, in an environment is as cool as Manchester is it is very hostile, it is very competitive you in amongst your peers or people you know, or, you know, is it is it is that kind of hamster wheel. things. I think that definitely helped like having this segregation of, of work and life and literally left the country went to work in the UK went to live in Spain. So I think that definitely helps separate things. I stopped drinking caffeine for about two years. And even now I can only have two cups of coffee maximum a day. Otherwise, I can feel myself starting to vibrate, eating better. I think maybe just being a bit more self aware. So when I can, like you know how you say you find yourself, you get a bad stomach and you catch yourself and you’ll start to a similar thing. Like there’s certain things that I experienced before it escalates a point, I’m going to have a panic attack and that and that can take weeks or months. So things like feeling like a shortness of breath, or vertigo, like feeling dizzy when I stand up. trouble sleeping. Yeah, insomnia, and then hypersomnia when I can’t wake up in the morning, so there’s little things like that, that I’ll look out for a no. And then it’s just a case of saying no to stuff when that works. So for that social stuff, making sure I’ve got that rest in recovery time I, I am quite introverted, I need time to build my energy levels back up. And if I don’t have that for too long a period of time, then that’s when I start to start to slip I think. So how about you? Because I mean, it’s it was a frightening experience. But I don’t think that that was one of your triggering events. Was it that contributed to some of your challenges? Oh, I

Al Elliott 18:47
don’t think it did. I mean, I have to be honest, I’m a lot more wary driving at night or of any other driver now these days. But I think that you’ve mentioned something there about the hustle, which is my trigger. And it was something which when we first met, I was really into Gary Vaynerchuk. I was really into sort of like the hustle culture. And I was like, they call it hustle porn these days. And it was really into that. And I think that it was the idea that you have to get up at five you have to get an ice bath and you have to drink coffee with butter in it and then and then you go and journal then you do all this and then that’s what’s gonna make you wealthy but you also then have to go to bed at night at 12 at night after doing 16 hour days and all that and I followed that I subscribe to that. I did the whole Tony Robbins walking across the coal thing I did read all the books that self help books I could read and I was like, Yeah, okay, right. I’m gonna make a better version of myself. And that just led to it led to to some success in terms of business. Yes, it built me and my partner. Chris built a property company from nothing. I was literally bankrupt when we started it. At the end of it, had a couple of million in equity in there and we built that over about sort of amazing 19 months, but the hustle just took it out of me Took me years to recover. And looking back, I would rather than I’d rather have my life back than the actual money. And I think that the hustle, a lot of people read Twitter, they read these things that go, right. Okay, this is what I need to do in order to make it. And it’s like, no, that’s what Gary Vaynerchuk is doing in order to make it because Gary Vaynerchuk is probably morbidly perfect with today’s morbidly afraid of dying. And so therefore he wants to fit as much as he possibly can in his life. That’s Gary’s way, your way may be very, very different. The other thing to consider is that we’re recording this and someone has just done I think, in the UK has just done a almost two hour marathon. So 26 miles in two hours worked out, like four minutes and three, four minutes and three seconds per mile or something like that. It’s, I think it’s the fastest it’s ever been done. And I want to say, look, the reason, the reason that’s newsworthy is because it’s uncommon. And so if you see stuff on Twitter, you’ve seen news of a 14 year old who’s made a million pounds because they built this app. It’s newsworthy, because it’s uncommon. And so don’t assume that hustle is the way you do it. There’s a great quote, and I think it’s Bob Dylan, but if it’s not, please find us on LinkedIn, tell us who it is, who said something like happiness can be defined as waking up in the morning, going to bed at night and doing in the in between doing what you love. And I think that’s it. If you find that intersection of what you’re good at, what people will pay for, and what you can do over an extended period of time, money just just disappears. You’re not even that bothered, because money will come. But more importantly, you’ll wake up excited about your day. Rather than waking up at five and going off cheeses. My book says I’ve got to go for a run now then I’ve got to go and have some coffee, then I’ve got to go meditate for 10 minutes, then I’ve got to go and journal for 20 minutes. Just so I can say on Twitter, I’ve got more done by 7am than most people have got done by midday.

Leanne Elliott 21:54
You were saying there it took you years to to recover from what like how are you feeling? Are you thinking what was that looking like? And how did you recover? I always felt

Al Elliott 22:03
if I stayed in bed past like 7am or 6:30am that I was failing, and I ruined the day. So I’d feel that I’d also like look at other people and go hang on a minute, I’m turning 33 I’m not now I’m turning 47 Next year, but I’m turning 33. And look what I’ve made of my life. I’ve made nothing of my life, oh my god, there are people out there who, who were 33 have built six businesses and now living, you know, in a cottage in the Alps. And then I just come. And this comes on to another thing I want to talk about that just compare myself to others and go I’m not as good as them. And the reason is I’m not hustling. And I think and it doesn’t help because you use social media algorithms even back then, once you watch one thing you they give you more of the same. So you felt that everyone out there was hustling. And I think that’s how it sort of ends. And the way I stopped it was just stopped reading those books stopped worrying about things said, Okay, here’s my to do list of 15 things, ones. How many of these can I cross off and no one’s gonna care? Oh, shit, I can cross off nine of them. No one’s gonna care. So I’ll just do those top three.

Leanne Elliott 23:01
And how did you get out, try to undo some of that mindset.

Al Elliott 23:07
I’m not sure I’m necessarily on done it. Because I still now wake up. And I can’t lie in bed because I feel like I’m wasting time. I was ill yesterday in bed all day. And I felt really shit about it all day, because I felt like I’d wasted the whole day. So I’d start I’m sure it’s still in there. But I just stop worrying about all the people thinking I stop, I used to go on Facebook and go, like sort of 6:30am I’d wake up set my alarm. And the first thing I go on Facebook and go ready for another day ready at them. And it’s like, don’t be a deer cow. Don’t be one of those guys. But I was one of those guys because I wanted the rest of the world to think that I was a hustler, even though I woke up and I was like, Oh my God, I don’t want to get out of bed because there’s just so much to do and so much overwhelm.

Leanne Elliott 23:49
And of course he you know, we are kind of talking from a position of privilege, there are people that need to go out and do whatever job they can to earn money. I think I think even then there are and I’ve worked I get I feel I can say this because I’ve worked with people who’ve been long term unemployed, as put them to get back into work. And I think, you know, there were ways that we could find jobs that they they didn’t enjoy or aligned with their interests in some way. So I think even then there are there are options, and there are choices that you can make. But of course we are talking is from a very a point of a point of privilege here, which is the whole point of World Mental Health Day this year is about addressing the the inequity and I think that’s, again, one thing that Alan I have always been aware of, maybe not very, very consciously, but I think our actions have kind of overtime show that we probably have been quite aware of our privilege and we have been quite aware of, of addressing that imbalance in some way through Samaritans are used to go and do mentorship, didn’t you for schools in with low socio socio economic backgrounds. I worked in welfare to work for five years, you know, helping people with multiple, multiple challenges and Um, so I think we’ve always may have been aware of our, our position of privilege, and trying to try and give back a little bit and including when we’ve moved abroad. You know, we’ve tried to, we try to do our bits there as well, including adopting a little lot of ginger popsicle. Pina

Al Elliott 25:15
is asleep down here over my shoulder. Okay, Lee, what else you got?

Leanne Elliott 25:19
It You mean, like other challenges I’ve experienced? Well, I think my other main one was, I had an episode of burnout. And that was a surprise, I did not see that coming. I think I, I went through a period where I was working, where an organization that was given plenty of opportunity financially is very well paid. But I was doing work. That wasn’t the work I loved. And it was moving me further and further away as time went on from, from psychology. And from doing that, even little things like they asked me to take off my LinkedIn profile. And I think it just that part of my identity started to kind of get chipped away. And at the time, I didn’t think it bothered me that much, because I just need to get through this bit. And then it’ll be better. I need a Go Fund that really crappy mindset. Once we once we achieve this, are we better once we do this? Are we better? Once we grow to this point? Are we better, and it wasn’t better. And I think, I think I’ve started to realize that this work just wasn’t bringing me joy. And I was finding it really hard. And very stressful. And I think but in a different way to like the stress I’ve experienced previously, it was almost like it was it was turning me down. It was turning my voice down, it’s turning my light down. It was just, I had to be a different version of myself. I had to Yeah, just just did myself, really. And then I think I didn’t really notice I knew I was tired, I knew that I was I did start to feel like think that kind of dried of going to work. So I definitely felt the exhaustion side of it. I knew I was starting to feel a detachment virus, I was starting to lose my confidence in terms of what I was able to do. But my breakthrough symptom of burnout was the cynicism. And I remember sat with owl in Gdansk in Poland, beautiful food market with a glass of wine of Sunday. And as we did many times, you know, we have a ridiculous life. You know, I would say, you know, where do you want to? Where’d you want to go next month? Where do you want to live? What do you see the rest of this year being like? And I remember just being so frickin angry. And I just saying to like, How dare you ask me to dream right now I’m just trying to get through a day at a time. Don’t need that on a Sunday, as you chip nowhere about all these other things that I’m gonna have to do when I’m just trying to get through, get through the week. And it was like an out of body experience where I looked down at myself. And just though who are you? Who I don’t even like you right now. And Al quite rightly put me in my place.

Al Elliott 28:07
It’s funny is that you didn’t see it coming? And I did. Really? Yeah, I could see it. What would you have liked me to have done, which I didn’t do. Seeing that I saw the burnout was coming. I didn’t know what it was was because we know what burnout was then but I knew there was something coming down the pike. I didn’t know what to do about it. What would you have wanted me to do about it?

Leanne Elliott 28:28
Do you know I talked to Sally Clark about this, who’s on the podcast few episodes ago, was really great webinar with her coming up. Actually, she will keep you posted on. I remember to insight about this. And she was kind of like when when I was at my at my like before breaking point. You couldn’t have said anything to me. couldn’t say anything to me. I was doing what I had to do. I was hustling. I was working. I was strong and independent. There’s not really anything that you could have said, what she said, You know, it’s not that you could have said to me, and I feel the same. I’m not sure there’s anything you could have said to me. That would have necessarily jolted me out of it. I think I think you handled it really well. you’d listen to them. You let me talk you let me vent. You never told me what to do, because that would have just annoyed me. Because I think that’s the thing, isn’t it? When you’re starting to experience sense of burnout, you feel this loss of control. I think if somebody else would have told me I was losing control, that again, that anger would have kicked in. I think that for me it was a breakthrough because it was of all the things to lose in this world. jobs come and go like say money come and go comes and goes. The thought of I know it was never I knew I guess deep down it was pretty it was not necessarily reality that you’d leave me. But even just that, that sense of I’m pushing you away. That for me jolted me out of there, I think and I think within a couple of weeks, so quit my job and then the pandemic happened. Great timing, Leah. The thing to bear in mind I think if you are somebody who is who was with somebody who or living with somebody Who is experiencing stress or depression or anxiety or possibly symptoms of burnout is it’s not you, like this person will probably start to touch and withdraw and be quiet. And it’s not you. And I think as hard as it is, my only advice would be to just try and keep talking to them, try and keep creating a non judgmental environment for them so that they can talk about how they’re feeling. Give them opportunities to vent, continue to ask them to, to go for dinner or, or go for walks, or you just need somebody even if they can’t, they can’t break down the wall, just popping their head over and go anywhere, right? Yeah. And I think that would be the hardest thing is if people walked away, but then of course, with any scenario like that, as well, you know, they can escalate, they can escalate to things of distress and despair and suicidal thoughts, it can escalate to significant substance abuse. Of course, if those things are happening, then yeah, you probably do need to take more action and try and get people to even go and see their GP or you know, something like that. Talk to your GP about it. I know that’s really hard these days. But it’s since been coined moral burnouts, where it’s kind of triggered by a sense that your identity and your values are misaligned with the organization you’re working for. And I think that’s definitely where where my source of it came from, rather than Nestle that overworked overwhelmed. So yeah, it’s an interesting thing, if anyone is struggling, which is why you know, which is why I love the Gen Gen Z, talking about values and making sure they’re aligned familiar in their career demonstrate, because if they don’t get it handled, like make How about you, ours, or anything else that you’ve experienced in your life that, that you want to share that you feel that you’ve learned from? Yeah, I

Al Elliott 31:45
think that some of the lowest moments in my life have always been well, I was thinking about this a lot yesterday, and also today, when I was out with the dog thinking, Is there a commonality? And I think there is, and I think it’s down to comparison. And I think my lowest points have always been what I’ve been comparing myself to other people. And I was thinking about this, like, you know, if someone goes to a therapist, or someone is unhappy, or so, it all seems to stem from this idea that they are lacking something. And that the lack can only come from comparing yourself to other people who don’t have that. So if I, I want to, if I wanted to compare myself to the guy who’s just run the two, two hour marathon, you know, first of all, he’s half my age. Secondly, he’s half my weight. Thirdly, he’s been running for all his life. And I’ve done it three times in PE when I was 11. So, you know, I could, in theory, go, Oh, my God, I am so unfit. There’s no, but that doesn’t seem that seems silly. You need some tension, if you want to improve. But I was thinking that rather than comparing yourself to someone else, compare yourself to maybe you yesterday, or last week, or 12 months ago. And that way, as long as you’re growing, and as long as you’re getting better and better each single, week, day, month, whatever, you’ve got somebody to compare yourself to. So you’ve got a tension. But you also feel good about that comparison. Because generally, most years you get better. I mean, this whole idea of comparison, someone call it Comparison is the thief of joy. I read this thing once and it said most people buy things that don’t want with money that don’t have to impress people that don’t even like and that sums up the whole of the UK for me, using this juxtaposition of the UK where everyone’s like, Oh, your cars three years old, okay, not affording you on banter, banter, you should be wearing a new car, compared to maybe places like Spain, like Bosnia, where we are now. The places that seem the happiest weirdly, don’t have identifying years in the number plates. So you can’t tell if your car’s five years old, or 10 years old, or 15 years old, apart from knowing what the model is like. If yes, compare yourself to who you want to be and who you have been. But stop comparing yourself to others because there’s always someone out there with the biggest cigar.

Leanne Elliott 34:09
Yeah, I think the pursuer stuff is a bit challenging, isn’t it when you are from the UK, or I’m sure it’s the same in North America as well, Australia. And I think that is something that we we seem to learn as we get older I think whether you’re having a family or you start to experience other things, or you start to experience loss, and it puts things into perspective, but I think if you’re a younger person listening who I guess gets there, maybe I think that’s where their their sense of self worth will come from or confidence will come from or I think yeah, I think that’s that’s a challenging mindset to begin and, you know, particularly you know, we think about bank financial well being the charges people having by far our most downloaded episode of the podcast history was that episode with Kara Cooper and Ryan and khushbu There was talking about financial let’s talk about financial well being. Yeah. So I think I think yeah, I think it’s, it’s tough, isn’t it? I think there’s also this point of, again, a point of privilege where, you know, finding roles that will make you experience purpose and meaning is much easier to do when you’ve got, you know, a low mortgage on a three bed house in the player part of the world that you want to live and you go on holiday twice a year. And I think, yeah, there is a sense of that. But I think if for younger people listening like this is a, I think, just be mindful that that association between stuff and happiness probably isn’t real. And I think one day there was something will happen that will teach you that lesson, and probably in a harsh way. So I think there’s work that you can do to think about the things that bring you joy. And think about more experiences, or people or hobbies. Or, you know, there is nothing more joyful to me than sitting down on a Saturday morning with a cup of tea. And watching James Martin having like a bit of brunch, whether that be a bacon butty, or something fancy like avocado on toast, like it’s just that brings me joy of a Saturday morning, walking out with peanut scenes, stupid little face like barreling towards me as he was running that brings me joy. Being in the water, like sitting in a cafe and seeing a river or next to the beach, or that gives me a sense of peace that gives me joy. Do my skincare routine brings me joy, there’s so many different things and these these things that are acts of self care and self compassion, that really do make a difference to our, our mental health. And it’s not. There might be times time. That’s a bit about stuff. But most of the time, it’s actually about which will and experience in and that type of thing. So yeah, sorry about that. Yes. All

Al Elliott 36:53
right. I’m gonna come back to that from my final point, which is only a very quick, please do so know, what have you got?

Leanne Elliott 37:04
What else do we have? I think the only thing that I have noticed when you were saying about and I’ve thought about this before, actually the last couple of weeks. It’s been a busy, it’s been a bit of a busy few weeks here and podcast HQ for various reasons, including our brand new video podcast producer, who will meet very soon. It’s been a busy time, it’s been a busy few months, we’ve been moving around quite a bit this summer, I was thinking back to when I was my most what I felt my most kind of grounded, my most centered my most healthy, I guess. And it was probably the year it was probably 2021 into 2022. And I think, yeah, like the end of lockdown and then coming out of it. But I think I got really into a routine of exercising, and particularly in terms of like strength training or Pilates type stuff. I was reflecting on this, because I would never, like do the cardio stuff and be like, oh, I need to get into it, you feel great afterwards. But it never shifted for me from like a going into it and thinking or God. Whereas with the kind of the weight training stuff, or the resistance training, I really enjoyed it. And I couldn’t wait to do it. And I’ve been reflecting on this nice thing. It’s because it gave me a sense of control. Because literally in control of the movements I was making as mindful of that control. And I think for anybody who suffers with anxiety, it’s often that lack of control and the unknown. That’s always with you. And I think for me, that really helped to exercise my sense of control. And I missed that. And yet that’s my to get mad worlds during this week, that’s going to be my new thing on the road Christmas to get back into that, that routine. Because I just Yeah, I just felt like that was my most balanced. I’ve been for a long while. And I don’t think doing what you’re saying I just try and be a better version of the person than you were last year. I think I am a better version in in many ways, and probably more work related ways. But in terms of that side of managing my mental health and that sort of self care that has slipped for me. So that’s something I want to I want to focus on because I know mentally I’ve been in a better place. And I I know how to get back there again. So I need to just put in the work.

Al Elliott 39:20
Well, there we go. We’re on target for 50 50,000 listeners this month. So you just told 50,000 I’m gonna go ahead and do it right now. Well, so my final one is around this universal idea of money. And I think that money makes people so unhappy. There’s something was changed for us about about two years ago we were in Croatia in a little village called in Watsky. And what’s cool about living in particularly the Balkans, but a lot of Europe is and if you live out in the countryside is that you don’t you kind of find people who don’t have a great deal or don’t appear to have a great deal but still like we’ll give you a lovely smile in the morning and say hello and Do you know and, and so that kind of like helps you to stop thinking about I need a new car because this person is perfectly happy and they’ve got no guy, they’ve got a donkey, and I’ve made. So that kind of like was getting us down this road. And then we went to this winery and the owner of the wine while he was the son of the owner of the winery, and he kind of was a bit grumpy were turned up because he’s like English bloody, I’m going to speak English to the mirror. But after a little while, he joined us, and he was bringing up these wines. We were drinking them all together. I think we’re all getting a little bit married. And he remember he stopped and he went, I’m not a millionaire, but I live a millionaire lifestyle. As he said, as we sat at the edges of his vines with all his grapes going off into the distance, the sun was just setting over this over the hills, we were drinking this amazing white wine that he’d made himself. And he just and that just stuck with us. And so one of the things I kind of want to say to anyone who’s like, right, that there’s going to be a level of money what you need and guess to subsist of course the will be. And if you’re not at that level, then you know Godspeed, I hope you get there as soon as you possibly can. But once you get to a point where you’re like, Okay, I’ve got a working car, if I need one, I’ve got enough food. And I can go for a walk in the evening. Money is great. Up until the point where you can subsist. And thereafter, it’s okay not to not to chase it. For those people. The Elon Musk’s of the world money is the game is making money and money is how you keep couldn’t keep score. That’s it. The unsaid couple of weeks ago that that I think was the financial wellbeing episode is that the stats show that people who earn 20,000 or less or 80,000 on the hang on you what what the stats lay? Because they were really good. Yeah, yeah,

Leanne Elliott 41:42
no, it’s basically that yeah, less than less than 20,000. Or more than I think it was actually a bit I think it’s more than 60 had higher incidences of depression, anxiety struggles with mental health. So yeah, money. And I think we’ve talked about as well, in terms of the psychology of happiness episode, there is a correlation between between happiness or good mood, and money up to about think, again, that was lower, I think that was 50,000 a year. And after that doesn’t make much difference. So I was right, you need you need a certain amount of money to to be comfortable to live to not experience stress from from lack. But yeah, money, money will not make you happy. And the science has proven that time and time again, that longitudinal study, what’s the one thing that keeps us going? healthier, happier and longer? It’s relationships. That is the one thing and that is, and this is gonna sound really harsh, but really kind of assessing the quality of your relationships? And what are they bringing you I have been friends with people in the past who aren’t in my life anymore, who are very materialistic, very driven in that way. And very, you know, if you weren’t if you’d weren’t getting to these, these this stuffs, then you weren’t being successful. So I think yeah, I think tic if you’re a young person, or I think you know, just that if other people around you saying that you can’t do things, the people around you trying to limit your potential, your capability, you know, how dare you dream that big? Who do you think you are? And of course, I’m not saying cut these people out of your life, because that might be your parents. It could be your siblings, it could be you know, people you’ve known for years and years and years, but maybe just look at diversifying those relationships, are there ways to surround yourself with people that maybe will dream big with you that will, you know, push the limit of things, and I think that’s a you know, we still have amazing friends back in, in the UK. But we’ve also made amazing friends who we felt very, very close to very, very quickly, because they lived a similar lifestyle, they’ve been traveling or they lived abroad. And and they, they just get it in a way that other people can’t, because they understand the challenges and the sacrifice and the downside of the huge upside and the huge roller coaster journey you go on from extreme joy to extreme sadness, often living this life. And I think it’s yeah, if you’re, if there’s a way to diversify those relationships, if you feeling that there’s not somebody who was in your corner who you’re right and die, and if you don’t have at least two, then I think you Yeah, maybe look at that, whether it’s joining it a hobby group or even something, you know, some groups online, like entrepreneurship groups or that type of thing. Yeah, I’m probably laboring the point at this point. And but what is it you said the who said it, the five people thing

Al Elliott 44:32
I had, it was Jim Rohn. But he’s probably someone before that saying you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. And that is your that that alludes to the exactly we’re talking about there with the relationships. And if the five people you spend time with they’re all like, Oh, look at them, they’re filthy rich, and oh, it’s not fair that Elon Musk makes all this money he should be giving all of it back to to Austin. And you know, that’s just a lack mindset. You’re comparing yourself to someone who’s got a lot of money and go and I want sum of it. Whereas if you make sure you surround yourself with people who are genuinely happy, who do things that make them happy, not that they think make them look good in other people’s eyes. I think you’re onto a winner.

Leanne Elliott 45:14
Yeah. And you know what volunteering is a really good way to find those types of people as well. People whose values align with your own and have that that same. Those Yeah, that same vision or purpose or beliefs or a way they want the world to be? So yeah, if you are feeling a bit of a lack there, or you started thinking, oh, you know what? Maybe maybe I do need some to diversify my relationships a bit. That’d be my advice. Look at look at Volunteering is a really, really great way of doing that.

Al Elliott 45:39
Absolutely. So should we quickly summarize our points, then? Yeah,

Leanne Elliott 45:43
I don’t have not really kept track of my points, I think, yeah, I think the Do I remember having conversation, I won’t say who, but I think they listen to the podcast. And they might remember, I remember, I wasn’t hugely open about my anxiety when it started. But I started to share more as I got more comfortable with it, and which is also important if you’re able to, and this person said to me, uh, you never struck me as type of person that would suffer from anxiety. He seems so controlled into gather and decisive and, you know, you like to take risks, and you’re your psychologist. Yeah, even people who you might think, have got their shit together, chances are, they would have experienced something at some point, they might well be experiencing that right now and be very good at masking it. I’ve saw something else that was like if I think it’s a summarizing my point of kind of, you know, you never really know. And mental health happens to everyone. And anyone, mental health doesn’t discriminate. or poor mental health doesn’t discriminate, you may think I never would have known you suffer with anxiety, I had no idea that was an experience for you. Because you put too you put yourself so together in the world, that being a Hi Fi person with high functioning anxiety, that makes it easier for the people around me to deal with my anxiety. It doesn’t make it easy for me. It can happen to anyone that does happen to anyone, it’s much more common than you will ever realize. And yeah, you’re not you’re really not alone with it.

Al Elliott 47:14
poor mental health and pause and low self worth is probably one of the major reasons why your work. Karen is like Karen, why your boss if you’ve got a bad boss, and they won’t let you do certain things, why that friend is always just a bit weird with you. It’s all down to probably lack of self worth comparing themselves to others and resulting in poor mental health. And so when you start to think about that, you realize that actually you’re right is a lot more common you think and actually, I think good for the gens Ed’s and the millennials for making us talk about this is Gen X and the generation above me the boomers. We didn’t we wouldn’t dare say that we were struggling mental health, because then we’d be called the Lunas and the loonies and that promotion wouldn’t get rolled. No, he’s gonna stable Oh, yeah. But unstable. Yeah, yeah. No.

Leanne Elliott 48:03
And that is why, you know, I know I say it with Jess. But I mean it sincerely. I love the conversations that are happening with Gen Zed, and the younger millennials, and I’m, I’m excited for this shift, because it’s, and you know what it might, it might feel a bit uncomfortable to resort to people that might feel a bit snowflake II or a bit over egg. But the point is, it’s, we need that radical change of conversation to have an impact on mental health services. All right, the conversation has changed. But the access to support and care hasn’t changed the inequity, and that hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s changed is people being more comfortable to talk about. And we now have a bit more of a vocabulary to talk about these things. But we need to shout that loud. Until that change actually happens at a systemic level at an organizational level at healthcare level, that people get access to the to the support that they need, in terms of crisis, but also in terms of you know, prevention, how do we build ourselves from surviving to thriving as we talked to Louise from business in the community a few a few months ago, if you’re feeling skeptical or cynical one you Okay? Might be experiencing burnout. I’ve been there, it’s not easy to spot. But if these conversations, you know, are, are kind of giving you a bit of an eye roll, I will give you permission for that I roll when when these conversations are happening, and people have equitable access to mental health care services. Until that happens, we need to keep chatting about it.

Al Elliott 49:28
We the majority of people, if you’re listening to this on a mobile phone, then you’re probably quite privileged because you’ve got access to the internet, you got access to a smartphone. So you’re already in the top maybe 1015 20 30% of the population. So that brings me on to my other one about comparing yourself to others. It’s good for growth, you need some tension, you can’t you know, don’t down compare to others by going I’m better than them. But also don’t do the other thing of saying well, they’re so much better than me and that’s why my Life Is Rubbish. You can live of America, that lifestyle without being a millionaire. Just be kind to yourself,

Leanne Elliott 50:04
be kind to yourself. Yeah. And I think my final, my final thought would be, if you are struggling at the minute, if you are feeling in distress or despair or hopeless, or things of suicide, there are people that you can talk to. And we will leave phone numbers and links in the show notes for you. You might feel very alone in this moment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are currently experiencing a crisis, we will leave some things in the show notes that that can help or you can always drop ani an email and we will do what we can to, to point you in the right direction.

Al Elliott 50:36
Absolutely. The Samaritans The UK has an email service. So you don’t even need to call them. So and you know, if that will be easy for you outside the UK, and you don’t have access to that we don’t know where the equipment is. That’s perhaps a possibility. So a little bit of a somber one. But I feel like it’s an important one that we needed to say. Because like I said, I’m not saying for any second that we are influencers, but people could look at us and go oh, look at these guys with a podcast and living abroad and all this kind of stuff. And we want to just to be really honest and go look it It ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Leanne Elliott 51:09
Yeah, on his tour, what it’s like our own experiences. And also that, you know, mental health is something that we have invested in for ourselves, and to try and support other people for a long time for how long 15 years, probably and counting. We’re not just some, some weird areas that just came up from like, Hey, we’re gonna talk about mental health and well being. Yeah, we’ve lived this for a little while. So hopefully you’ve learned a bit more about about us our experiences. Hopefully we’ve given you some positive comparisons if you are struggling and that doesn’t mean that other things can’t work out or it will all be okay. In the end or it will just be a part of your life that sits with you. My anxiety sits with me. I know she’s always there. Sometimes she’s bigger, sometimes she’s smaller. But yeah, she’s she’s a part of me. And she’s alright. Just keep in keep in check.

Al Elliott 52:07
And if anything has resonated with you, and you want to get in touch, our emails will be on the show notes. We’d love to hear from you. We love hearing from listeners. So please let us know and I hope you’re okay. And I hope you having a good day. And we’ll see you next week for perhaps a little chirpy or in nature. But equally important message.

Leanne Elliott 52:29
Yes, absolutely. Next week, we will be bringing you all the gossip from the Mad World Summit the six month last when it’s happening in London this week. So yeah, if we if we saw you there if we were going to see you there. We will see that this gets released on Thursday. If you’re listening to this and you’re at the Mad World Summit come and see us that’s always Yeah, so yeah. Yeah, we’ll bring you the inside scoop on what is that to be an incredible, incredible event. So yeah, we will see you next week.

Al Elliott 52:57
Yep, registration link is in the show notes. Bye bye.

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