The Process of Healing – Podcast
Dwight Thompson (00:00):
Hi. Welcome to Reset Your Mindset by LifeStance Health. Myself, Dwight Thompson, and my cohost, Nicholette Leanza, will bring you conversations with leading LifeStance Health professionals who will help guide you on your journey to positive mental health and wellbeing. At LifeStance, we believe in the three pillars of mental health, mental flexibility, mindfulness, and resilience.
Dwight Thompson (00:34):
Welcome back everyone. And thank you for joining us for another episode of Reset Your Mindset by LifeStance Health. As always, I’m joined by my cohost, Nikki Leanza, and I am Dwight Thompson. Really excited today to bring you a conversation about something that impacts so many of us, more so than we probably even realize, and so many of our neighbors here throughout this nation. And this episode is particularly special, not only due to the topic, but also due to the fact that we are joined by one of our clients here. A client that has spent some time working with my cohost Nikki Leanza, who has been her therapist for quite some time. And we’re just really excited to have her bring, shed some light on her perspective, and her incredible story. And so with that being said, Marcella, welcome.
Thank you. Thank you for having me
Dwight Thompson (01:29):
So, Marcella, if you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us just a little bit about yourself, a little bit about who you are, and just what’s good to know about you?
Okay. Well, I will tell you this, who I once was. I was actually a broken, shattered piece of glass. But I am a survivor. I’m someone who didn’t give up. I’m no longer a victim. I’m married to an amazing man. We have a 12 year old son, and two crazy dogs. And I started my journey becoming a Reiki master to help bring healing to other people.
Dwight Thompson (02:05):
Incredible. So we’ll get into who you once were, and I appreciate you being so candid with that. And just already, you can feel your, something that I just feel like we talk about so frequently on this podcast, your resilience.
Dwight Thompson (02:25):
And it sounds like you certainly have a beautiful family, and two crazy dogs. I love to hear that. I have one crazy dog, so I can’t imagine having two. Kudos to you. But Nikki, if you wouldn’t mind, can you give us some background from your perspective of what Marcella has meant to you?
Nicholette Leanza (02:44):
Oh my gosh. Thank you Dwight, for asking that. Nope. One thing about Marcella and I is that, when it comes to therapist and client, some of the best work is done when you feel like you are a very good match with your client. And that is something I felt that Marcella and I had from day one, of when I first met her, that we were a good match together. Our sense of humor, just the way we work with one another. We have similar belief systems in some of the things we do believe in. And so it made us just for a really great match for one another. And I feel so, just, very privileged to have been able to be the one to walk with Marcella on her journey. And I was just walking in one small piece. The amount of work that Marcella has done within herself on her journey, it’s been an amazing. And I’m just very grateful to be able to be part of this conversation, and just been able to be a part of her life in her journey with herself. So it’s been amazing. So…
Dwight Thompson (03:43):
And it sounds amazing. And so let’s get into our topic of the day today, which is suicide awareness. And talking about suicide is, obviously, I mean, it goes without being said how delicate it is, but it is so important, and has such an impact on so many people. We were talking about just how frequent it occurs just here. I mean, just here in the US, it’s the 10th leading cause of deaths in the US for all ages. Approximately 123 Americans die every day by suicide. And just thinking about that, the 10th leading cause, that is so high. And it’s incredible how many… We know the statistics of how many Americans, just even in just adults, are affected by depression, and how suicide tends to coexist with depression. And one thing that I think is important to us is having these conversations that are, they’re difficult, they can be uncomfortable, but they are so important. And so Marcella, you had mentioned where you came from once. So you described it as, your words, broken and shattered. And what led you to that feeling at that point?
I grew up in a home where there is a lot of drugs and alcohol. There’s a lot of mental, physical, sexual abuse. And it was a lot to deal with as a child. And my father had shot my mom five times. She survived, and he committed suicide.
Dwight Thompson (05:29):
And as I grew up in life, and not being able to talk about things, and everything’s supposed to be hush, hush, and silent, I just got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take feeling unloved. I just felt like it wouldn’t make a difference to anybody if I was even here. And there was a night that I just started taking pills, and didn’t stop until I ended in the hospital.
Dwight Thompson (06:04):
Thank you for sharing that. And so you get to that point, and what leads you then to begin the… Because it’s such a long process, right? The steps are immense. What led you to start to think, “Okay, how can I begin to cope with some of these struggles?”
Well, at first I didn’t cope at all. I just kept sweeping that underneath the rug, and just ignoring it. It made me became very angry, very disconnected from people. Non-trusting. This went on even into my 20s. And I think the first part, when I’m like, “Okay, I really need to do something,” was dating this guy. And I opened up to him, and I trusted him to tell him about my past. And all I kept hearing was, “You’re broken, you’re broken.” And it’s like, “Okay, I’m already down. And now you’re pushing me down a little farther.” So I started seeing a therapist, and I saw him for a while, and then he had left his practice. So then it was just like I just shut down again. And then once I had my son, and I’m like, “Okay, I’m a mom, I’m a single mom. I really need to get help so I can raise this child.”
So I went to a psychiatrist, and it was the weirdest experience ever. I just went in, he asked me 50,000 questions, like, “Oh, you’re bipolar, you’re manic depressant.” And like, “Okay.” “So here take these pills.” So I left that office, and I started taking the pills, and I took them for a while. And then when I moved back home, I was too afraid to open up to find another psychiatrist. So I was just getting the medication from my primary care doctor, until she left the practice. And then it’s like, “Okay, now I have to find a psychiatrist.” And I didn’t. And it wasn’t until I got in a relationship with who is now my husband, and yeah, my cheese slid off my cracker. I really lost it.
Dwight Thompson (08:30):
That’s the first I’ve heard that one.
And I was just going down this spiral, and it was miserable, and we were fighting, and it was just awful. And I knew I had to do something, and I was actually seeing a counselor. And she was not a very good therapist. She actually made me hate my husband. So I’m like, “This isn’t going to work for me.” And I said, “I need medication.” And she said, “Well, I can’t prescribe them.” And I’m like, “Well, I need you to find somebody who can.” And then she came back, and she said, “Okay, his name is Dr. Ohage. He’s the best of the best.” I said, “Well, give me his number.” And that’s when I truly started my journey.
Dwight Thompson (09:19):
Marcella, there is so, so much to unpack there. Thank you for being transparent. That, I know, is going to be impactful for a lot of listeners. One thing that I find incredible is you pointed out some things that gave you a more sense of urgency to take on a lot of the coping, and taking on, head on, some of the abuse that you have faced. You mentioned your son. We see so frequently, when people are faced with those challenges, there’s a fork in the road. You can either rise to the occasion, if you will, or that can push you even further away from the ability to cope. So that’s just, it’s just incredible.
Nicholette Leanza (10:10):
And Dwight, let me jump in here. I’m going to piggyback on it, because one of the things about Marcella’s story is that her mother, at the very least, was not kind to her, was not a great role model to her. And so with me saying that, is one of the things we would talk about within our time together, in our therapy sessions, was just how has Marcella been able to come through all this, and be such a dutiful, tentative, sensitive mother herself, when that was not role modeled to her at all? And that was one of the things that I was like, “Wow, look at you. You are an amazing mother. I can see your love you have for your son. How were you able to develop that when you were never role modeled that?” And let me, if you don’t mind Marcella, talk a little bit about that. How have you been able to be such a good mom, despite not having the best role model as a mother for you?
Well, she showed me what not to do.
Nicholette Leanza (11:14):
Excellent point. Excellent point.
So I wanted to make sure that my son had a better life than I did. And it didn’t matter what I had to do, getting healthy mentally, so I could be a better mom. Loving him, showing him how much I love him. There’s love flying around this house all day long. And we’ve had that… Well, we do have a saying. Our son came up with it, and it says, “I love you more. No take backs.” So it was always a challenge who could get the first person. We actually, for Christmas last year, we got him, it’s an eye chart sign. So it looks like an eye chart, but when you read it, it says, “I love you more. No take backs.”
Nicholette Leanza (12:02):
Oh, that’s awesome.
Dwight Thompson (12:02):
That is awesome.
Nicholette Leanza (12:03):
Yes. And I’m stern with him. I’m still a strict mom, but he knows I love him. I mean, we’re always hugging, kissing. We have a very affectionate family.
Dwight Thompson (12:19):
That’s incredible. That’s admirable.
It was important to me because I didn’t grow up with that. So my motivation was just I want the opposite for my son, because he deserves that. I deserve that love. And so does he.
Dwight Thompson (12:36):
Nicholette Leanza (12:44):
Marcella, let me jump in here and say, I remember how you were able to be matched with me, for us to start working together. And if I’m remembering correctly, you were working with Dr. Ohage, and then he had left the practice at that time. And you were transferred to Monica Halter, one of our amazing nurse practitioners. And in working with her, it sounds like she was encouraging you to get back into psychotherapy again.
She did. And she is an amazing person too. Loved working with her. But yeah, she did recommend me to start seeing you. I’m like, “Yeah, I’m okay. I’m okay.” She’s like, “You need to make that appointment just in case.” And then one day, I walked in there, I said, “You’re right. I’m not okay. I need to talk to her.” So that’s how I started coming to see you.
Nicholette Leanza (13:39):
And let me say this, one of the things when Monica reached out to me saying, “Hey, I’m referring someone to you,” is that she talks so highly about you. And she definitely saw so much in you. And I think that was the thing for Monica, was that she wanted you to continue your journey of healing, and really starting to, really, get down in there with some of the trauma you’ve experienced. So that leads me to ask how did you know you started to heal from some of your trauma?
When I could love myself.
Nicholette Leanza (14:12):
Yeah. Sometimes that’s the most difficult journey. The journey of just loving ourselves.
Nicholette Leanza (14:20):
Tell us about some of those steps. How did you start to begin to love yourself?
I was very, and I’m still very committed to my journey and my healing. It’s very important to me. And I put a lot of time and effort into it, and even just charting my moods. I had this whole spreadsheet made up, and I had all my different moods. And I would charge them, one to 10. So when Dr. Ohage would ask me, I’m like, “Here’s my spreadsheet. Take a look.” Because it was so important to me, and I think once I started to love myself. I started to open up more, I wasn’t closed off about my life. I got to the point that I wasn’t embarrassed about my past. And that’s when I realized I can take what happened in my past, and shed light to somebody else, and let them know there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is a hell of a fight. But if you want it, you want to be happy, you want to love yourself, you can do it. You just can’t give up. And sometimes when you don’t feel like picking your head up off that pillow, you just have to, and keep moving forward. And just think, “I woke up this morning. I have another chance.”
Nicholette Leanza (15:44):
Great motto to have, for sure.
Dwight Thompson (15:46):
That is a great motto to have. And sometimes it’s hard to recognizing some of those very, seemingly minute, but really important things of just, yeah, the opportunity to wake up in the morning. That’s incredible.
Nicholette Leanza (15:59):
And I think you’ve went on now, to go on, and use what you’ve learned, and the resilience you’ve had as you’ve navigated your own traumas to go on to create a business on your own of helping others. Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
I started my business called A Journey Within Me. I’m starting to write blogs, and posting them. The one that both of you have read was about Suicide Awareness Month. So each month, I’m trying to post a different blog, dealing with different topics. I have one coming up, Homeless Within A Home. Another one on anxiety. And I’m going to throw some funny stuff in there too. But over the summer, I became a Reiki master. So I’m starting my business off with that. And to bring-
Nicholette Leanza (16:49):
Can you tell us, just really briefly, a little bit more about Reiki for those who aren’t familiar with it?
It’s a Japanese alternate healing method. It’s energy moving throughout the body. It’s very healing. They use it in hospitals for patients who have cancer. It’s great for anxiety, depression, chronic pain, fatigue, sleep problems. It can go on and on. It’s very helpful for people. You can go on my website, and you can actually see testimonials of people that have been receiving Reiki from me, and their experience, and the benefits that they’ve received from it.
Nicholette Leanza (17:30):
Dwight Thompson (17:31):
That’s awesome. What is your website?
Dwight Thompson (17:39):
Nicholette Leanza (17:39):
So I think it’s just such a testimony to you, of you sharing, you enduring, and navigating your own journey within, and then sharing that to heal others. It’s just so moving.
Dwight Thompson (17:55):
So Nikki and Marcella, let me ask you this. This has just been such a candid conversation. We’ve shared personal stories, and again, circling back to the topic of suicide, and trying to raise awareness, how have you both normalized conversations about suicide in your day-to-day life? And why do you think it’s important to normalize those conversations?
Nicholette Leanza (18:20):
And Dwight, I’m going to jump in here, and say you’re saying such a key word of normalizing it. I think there’s such a stigma surrounding suicide that people don’t want to talk about. It’s uncomfortable to talk about.
Dwight Thompson (18:33):
Nicholette Leanza (18:34):
But as you quoted it in the very beginning of this episode, it’s the 10th leading cause of people dying in America. We need to be talking about this. We need to be having these difficult conversations. And so, for me, as a therapist, it’s so crucial to get the word out there, to talk about it, to normalize it, because people so much suffer in silence. I think this is where it’s so amazing that Marcella is sharing her story, because the hope is that someone listens to this episode, and says, “Wow, look at that woman. Look what she’s been through.” Maybe this will now inspire them to also speak up, and get help, and talk as well. What about for you Marcella?
I know it is, for myself, it is very hard to talk about. And even though it was in my past, it was so hard to talk about, like, “Oh my God, you tried to commit suicide before?” But I’m comfortable with sharing that now, because so many people are suffering in silence, and they don’t…
Dwight Thompson (19:34):
They feel so locked down, and just so closed, and that nobody’s going to understand them. Nobody’s going to help them. And it has a lot to do, whatever their background is, and what they have gone through, and the traumas of being beat down, where they probably feel like nobody cares. And that’s the one thing about writing this blog, was to let people know there is somebody that cares. There is somebody there to talk to, and never shut down. And it’s hard. When you’re depressed, that is such out of your grasp to even realize somebody really does care. And I think it’s important. And I think it should be talked about more than just once a month, the Suicide Awareness Month.
Dwight Thompson (20:23):
Nicholette Leanza (20:23):
I agree for sure.
Dwight Thompson (20:25):
Yeah. Well, thank you both for sharing that. I think that it’s helpful information. It’s important information. And Marcella, thank you for all… Not only for joining us, but just for all that you do. All that you’ve done with trying to reach out, and help others, and you obviously have the ability to relate to some people that have struggled, and we’ve certainly all had our struggles. So I just thank you for all that you’ve put back, all the good you’ve put back out into the world, and your strength and story. It’s truly incredible.
Dwight Thompson (21:02):
Thank you for sharing it with us.
Thank you for allowing me to share it.
Dwight Thompson (21:06):