Four separate cancer diagnoses since the age of 17. A career in Mental Health Counseling. Four fantasy books written to help tweens with different Mental Health issues (Depression, Grief, etc.). A Life Coach, helping Moms who also happen to be entrepreneurs channel their anxiety into action. My guest this week is almost TOO qualified to speak about mental health, anxiety and surviving the global pandemic. But here we are. I hope you enjoy this episode and get some coping tools to help yourself if you need it. Such a great episode and fantastic guest, Sarah Falk.
Hello and welcome. You are listening to the pork pond Gazette. I am my grasp and your host. I believe that as Americans, we have forgotten how to have discussions, at least how to have a discussion without anger or name-calling. And I want to change that. Let's have a discussion on this podcast. We want to have discussions difference of opinions and still walk away friends.
So let's get in. Here is the pork pond Gazette.
Mike Hello, and welcome to episode 43 of the pork pond Gazette. I am your host, Mike Rathbun, and I don't have to tell anybody what kind of year, year and a half it's been, uh, So much stress and pressure and anxiety and depression out there, and everybody handles it differently.
Um, I was perfectly happy to curl up in the fetal position in a corner and ride it out. Whereas my wife was like laying flooring in her craft room. Discovering a Cricutandre-caulking the bathtub. It was crazy, but you know, who else knows about this kind of thing is my guest today. Sara Falk, hi, Sarah.
Welcome. Tell us a little bit about.
Sarah Hi. Yes, I, I am familiar with anxiety, uh, personally and professionally actually. Um, I have a long history with anxiety personally and professionally. I have been working with clients in a private counseling practice for, um, well, I've been in the field almost 20 years now.
And I specialize in panic and anxiety probably for the last.
Mike Oh, wow. Wow. And you've had a lot of reason to have anxiety and your life was four times you've dealt with four separate cancer diagnosis.
Sarah Yes. So I was diagnosed with bone cancer when I was 17. Breast cancer at 41. And since then two different types of skin cancer.
Mike Oh my gosh. Did you have any markers? Any, any, um, uh, I hate it when my brain goes, um, any reasons. For those types of cancers? Like family history?
Sarah yes actually when they diagnosed me with breast cancer, they did some genetic testing because they thought that that was. Peculiar that I would have, yeah. Two major cancers in a short life. And, um, found that there is something called leaf for meany and it's actually, uh, uh, TP 53 genes. So we all have, the gene is a tumor suppressor. Gene. Mine is mutated. So that predisposes me to certain types of cancer. Yeah. Four of which I've already had, so.
Mike Okay. Wow. That's crazy. Yeah. And did your, did your counseling career, did that help with that or you, were you doing counseling before? Well, obviously not. When you had your first, your bone cancer diagnosis, you weren't a counselor. Is, is that kinda why you went into the field or.
Sarah Yes, absolutely. It was. And honestly, that's where my anxiety was triggered, uh, to quite a proportion.
So when I was 17, I decided I wanted to be a social worker and to provide support to cancer patients and their families. And I just felt I was well-qualified for that. And so I did, I became a social worker, a clinical social worker, and I was providing therapy and, and certain, uh, services, clinical services to cancer patients and their families.
And I started having panic attacks. Yeah. So I was having panic attacks every day and finally realized my nervous system was telling me, um, you can't be involved in cancer all the time. That's a, yeah, it's a stress trigger. So I. I wanted to continue to help. And I still do see patients in my private practice, but not exclude.
Mike Okay. All right.
Wow. So I was doing some research for the show and one of the things that I stumbled about upon that was, seemed to be flipped from what one would assume is. Although stress and depression and that sort of thing, kind of rose in general, um, suicides decreased during the pandemic. Why do you suppose that is?
Sarah Yeah, it, that is interesting to, to hear you talk about that. I have a couple of thoughts on that and I actually saw it in my own private practice that. A couple of my more depressed clients had an epiphany during COVID and one, particularly during like lockdown, when she was isolated, she was always looking outside of herself for answers.
If it'd be in friends or relationship or medication or this kind of thing, always looking outside of herself. And then when she was literally forced to spend time by herself, she found how peaceful it could be. Oh wow. She began making art. She began spending time in nature. And just found that actually quieting herself and meditating in these certain ways, you know, through art or in nature really served her well, but they were things that she never thought of doing prior.
Mike Holy cow.
Sarah So I wonder, you know, there, and I could tell you other stories of clients who discovered things just kind of out of necessity.
Mike Sure. Well, we're not running around as much, and we're kind of having to look inside a bit more so that business, you and I were talking about with like the kids, for example, you didn't have all those activities going on. And so you were just kind of forced to stay home and be a family. And maybe that was. A good thing about the pod and pandemic and lockdown.
But now, okay. So while suicides decreased, um, youth depression kind of, I think I read that it doubled. Um, do you know, what can you talk to me about what can you tell me about that?
Sarah Yeah. And I really saw an increase in anxiety while, because I see everyone I see has anxiety, but definitely an increase in the amount of calls I received for people to come in. Um, and, or. To pro to provide tele-health because not all clients were seen in the office, but, uh, just the need for services did increase, um, for anxiety and depression. And I think part of that certainly does have to do with the stress response. This was a very stressful time. For all of us, you know? And so the adults are, they, adults are stressing and then the children, you know, number one, they're isolated from their friends. And we all know at that age, the social life is life. Right. Um, and then secondly, they're feeding off of their parents' anxiety. So I really feel strongly about teaching. Parents to manage their anxiety and manage their emotions and then alongside parenting. Because as you're, you are learning to manage your own emotions, you can teach your children how to manage theirs, whether it be anxiety, depression, anger, et cetera. And so I think with this influx of anxiety and stress in our world, And the isolation, you know, anxiety and depression typically go hand in hand. So these numbers sure. Don't surprise me.
Mike I was going to ask about that too. Cause I think people these days, um, use. Depression and anxiety almost interchangeably, but they're two different things. Are they not?
Sarah They're in the clinical diagnostic world. Yes. There are two different things, but some of the symptoms can very much look the same. So it really has to do with the origin. It really has to do with the length of time. The triggers so that those are the kinds of things I look at to sort, kind of sort that out.
Mike Okay. All right. Okay. Um, the train of thought has left the station. Uh, you, did you chose a path, um, in your life? Um, that's involved a lot of, a lot of different things. First of all, towards the kids, you, you wrote a series of books, did you not?
Sarah Yes. So during my breast cancer experience, I actually wrote a memoir that documented my whole breast cancer experience. And I was talking about things that I felt weren't being readily talked about. And I brought in a lot of the journal entries that I had had kept when I was 17. So I brought in my first cancer experience and brought that into my second cancer experience, but also wanted to. Again, just talk about those things I wasn't seeing other people talk about. So after completing that and publishing it, I, I was like, okay, well, now that that's done I want to keep writing, and I wanted to leave something for my children. I wanted my children to have something and my, I have four boys and they're all,
Mike There's a special place in heaven for moms of four boys.
Sarah Yes. That's a lot of energy.
Mike Yeah. I'm sorry, I interrupted you, there.
Sarah Oh, that's okay. Yeah. These, these books were really for my boys. And then I had at the time two nieces and now I have another nephew. So I wrote for my children and my nieces and nephews. And so they're each a character in the book. Oh, nice. Yes. So the Sage Cheval series, which is horse in French, Is akin to Narnia where it's more fantastical.
Um, but it really is. I wanted to address issues that that are hard to address like anxiety. Grief conflict resolution, those kinds of things, but to do it in a way that was more approachable for kids. So that's, that's where that came from.
Mike You and three different books at this point, correct?
Sarah I do plan on writing more. I have four books out now. Yeah. Four, four in the series. I'm editing book five and I'm writing books today.
Mike So we have the Servant Prince, which deals with depression. Is that correct?
Sarah And anxiety, anxiety.
Mike (laughing) See, I just did it. I just lumped them both together.
You have the Melancholy Princess, I believe. And that deals with grief.
Sarah Yes. And the Guardian's gift.
Mike Yes. Is that the other one? That's on Amazon right now.
Sarah Oh, okay. So the path of endurance is the fourth book and that deals with, uh, learning.
Mike Oh, that's I may read that one because I have that. Yeah, things that I should have learned a long time ago that I never did.
Um, but your, your caring nature didn't stop with anxiety or helping people with their depression or their anxiety or their panic attacks or writing books, uh, to, to help children cope with some of these things. You also decided to become a coach because you just don't have enough to do apparently.
Mike So tell me about that.
Sarah Yeah. I think the pandemic really showed me that this one-on-one model of therapy, which is really necessary, but it also, I only have so many hours in a day. Days in a week. And I wanted to reach more people with the type of education that I was providing and that I do provide to all my clients, because once they understand where anxiety comes from, it's so powerful for them.
And if they're willing to make the changes, those moderate lifestyle, They'll see a big difference in their anxiety. And so I just wanted to reach more people with that message and decided I wanted to become a, a consultant, a course creator, a coach. So that's where I branched out. And I am now a life coach for moms specifically and working moms specifically.
Mike What's that you call your clients? mompreneurs?
Sarah Yes. As a business owner myself, I just, I can truly speak to the stress of trying to run a business and the stress of trying to parent and manage your own anxiety.
Mike That's a lot of balls in the air right there.
Sarah It really, it really is.
Mike Yeah. Go ahead.
Sarah No, I was just going to say self care is always the last thing we think about.
Mike Um, so I know after my mom passed in 2015, I didn't see it right away. Apparently the grief and I went into depression and it was like, Six eight months later. And I said, I'm just sitting here. I'm barely, I'm just kind of going through the motions of being alive. And I finally went and got help. Can you share some ideas for, for helping others identify the fact that they may be depressed or, and I realized that it takes on many, many different forms. But is there, are there certain things that we can be aware of that might yes, go ahead.
Sarah Yes. I actually, probably the number one thing to really pay attention to, and I actually just went live on Facebook, um, on Friday to talk about this it's that when, when things you used to enjoy feel more like a chore or when you, when everything that used to be so important to you, you're always putting on the back burner now, like, oh, I'll do that later. I'll do that later. Really? That speaks to. Low energy that speaks to lack of joy or fulfillment in life. And so those are some signs that either, if we're dealing with grief, that you're, you're dealing with some complicated grief, um, you could be entering into some degree of depression, you could be experienced summit, experiencing some anxiety because anxiety sure does that to us too. So it would be worth seeking counseling or, you know, trying to figure out what's what's going on with you. If you're experiencing some of those things.
Mike If you could give somebody one piece of advice for these times that we live in, what would it be? Go with the flow?
No, actually, no. Don't I think for right, because the flow was so fast. Well, that's true. So for me, I think it really would be to create space, to find quiet. Right. So, which is interesting because I talk about shifting anxious energy into. Powerful action. So my, my program is called anxious to energized, but being energized doesn't necessarily mean being busy.
And I think we're very, very busy people. So my advice, honestly, for managing, especially anxiety is to slow down when we are so fast. Our stress response is constantly triggered our. Our fight flight freeze reaction is, is constantly thinking we are in trouble and that's why we're in a hurry. And so we've got these elevated reactions and, and chemicals going off in our bodies. And then we wonder why we can't sleep at night. So, um, I, that would be my, my one suggestion is please take time to be quiet, to slow down.
Mike I should take that advice too, because I spend most of my days looking at news or looking at Facebook and getting angry.
Sarah Yes. And not enough time, just kind of reflecting.
Mike I'm sure that plays into how much do you suppose that watching the news or getting about getting riled up about. The different political sides. Cause I do, I, I mean, this podcast has a lot of political stuff and I get riled up. And, and how much do you suppose that plays is really harmful to one's mental health absorbing that all the time?
Sarah Yes, it really is. It really is. I'm so sorry. Yeah, it really is because, well, even the language you used, you said I get riled up. So that riled up is a stress response. It's you're being triggered. And so there, there you have those reactions again, and that's not good for your body. And actually it tanks your immune system. When you're constantly triggered, you will have a poor immune system. So when we take the time to be quiet and to, to stay away from some of those things that we know trigger us, we're actually doing our immune system a big favor.
Mike Okay. Yeah, here's the guy that's getting upset about people not wearing masks. Cause I'm probably worrying myself down. I'm wearing my immune system down more by railing against that. Awesome.
Mike Yeah. Yeah. I know that kind of stuff makes me the kind of guy that yells at the kids to get off his lawn thing too. So I don't know. Well, Sarah, it was so awesome to have you on. Um, I really appreciate all your insights and, um, I wish you the best of luck going forward. Uh, no more cancer. I kind of find something.
Sarah Yeah, thank you. I appreciate that. I received that,
Mike but your service, uh, that, that you provide, um, is, is very much needed these days. And so thank you.
Sarah Thank you.
Mike And I think at this point, we'll, we'll say goodbye. I so much appreciate your time, Sarah. Right?
Sarah Well, I appreciate you having me. Thanks so much.
Mike You're so, so welcome. Have a good week. You know, I have to tell you, I wear my mask or the kids got, are they doing it in the school?
Sarah They are.
Mike Yeah. Yeah, I know. I think our, the school district where we live meets today and I, I saw people getting ready to go protest.
Sarah yeah, there, there, there was protests at our board meeting too, but they went ahead and said that they did, they did. That was, yeah.
Yeah, my kids have never once complained. I've never heard any of their friends complain about masks it's the parents were complaining.
Mike What about sloughing off that anxiety and depression and stuff to your kids? What are your kids learning? Watching?
Sarah Exactly exactly
Mike I won't get on my soap box.
Sarah I know it's hard. No, it is. It is very difficult not to get riled up, like you said, by these things, but you know, what, what is that going to change? That's how, how I think, you know, I'm not going to change their opinion. Nope. And I just have to put my hands up and let that go.
Mike Mom always used to say, is this going to matter in five years? Because if it's not forget it.
Sarah That's what my husband says to our kids. Hey, is this going to matter? He says five days. That's going to matter in five days for kids. Yeah. It's not going to matter in five hours. Probably not. So can we just let it go?
Mike Yeah. Yeah. So, well, thank you so much for being here. I really, oh, I so appreciate your insight and your knowledge experience.
Sarah Take care. Really. Appreciate it, Mike. Thank you. You take care.
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Mike You know, one nice thing about having a podcast is you get to meet some really amazing people. Um, I have been blessed to speak to so many smart, knowledgeable, is that the same thing? Qualified individuals, just like Sarah and, and any of the other people I've spoken with, they know their stuff. So. That will be a wrap on this episode of the pork pond Gazette.
Thank you for stopping by. And, uh, if you feel like you want to support this podcast, please by all means, uh, go back to my website, um, and click on the, buy me a coffee button and, uh, and donate to the show. Either way. We're happy to have you. Uh we'll we'll see you again soon. And until we meet again, be healthy, be happy.
God bless. .