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Episode 028: A Conversation on Our Mental Health Journey with Nick Wilson (Part 2)

A Conversation on Our Mental Health Journey with Nick Wilson Part 1

In Part Two of their conversation, Sarah Noll Wilson and guest Nick Wilson focus on Nick’s experience with depression, and some of the lessons they both have learned as they have navigated mental health challenges.

About our guest

Nick Wilson has been a media production professional since 2003 (and Sarah’s husband since 2007). He owns and operates Frame Shop Media, a video production company based in West Des Moines, Iowa, and has served clients across the United States as well as internationally. In recent years, Nick’s professional collaborations with Sarah have included directing and editing videos such as the Manager Minute series, producing many of SNOWCO’s virtual keynote and webinar events, and serving as the producer of this very podcast!

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Episode Transcript

Sarah Noll Wilson
Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations, where each week we explore a topic to help us have more meaningful conversations with ourselves and with each other. I’m your host, Sarah Noll Wilson. And we are continuing the conversation with my husband, Nick, from last week where we are exploring how can we be more supportive to the loved ones in our lives who are experiencing mental illness? So that feels like a nice segue into talking about your world and what we’ve been going through for the last three years.

Nick Wilson
Yeah, I think that’s…

Sarah Noll Wilson
Three and a half years?

Nick Wilson
I believe it was sometime in 2019 that I was diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder. I should know my own diagnosis. And I do. Confident about it. I mean, it’s something that well, and the idea, I think, I’m gonna, I’m gonna butcher this terminology, beca use I don’t know, I’m not a professional. But I believe that the distinction between persistent depressive disorder versus major depressive disorder, which is more acute. The persistent is, it’s something that was, for me, it developed, I think, very slowly over time. Was there for a long time, in some form, without me recognizing that that’s what it was.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, or me. I mean, even as somebody, you know, like, when, when you start telling your story, I mean, that was part of, I was like, how did I not see the signs? And it was because the science I was looking for, like, the signs that I knew were different than how they’re manifesting in you.

Nick Wilson
Sure. And, and it, it, I think, comes about so slowly, it’s not like, you know, over the course of a week, or, you know, a couple of days, I, you know, flip a switch from, you know, whatever, I don’t know, happy go lucky to somber you know, I’m, I’m, you know, morose or whatever, like, it’s not, it was years of this kind of gradual again, and to go back to the the analogy of the paths, in the snow, those those paths are getting worn, you know, one, one step at a time, one trip at a time through that, you know, through that snow? To the point where yeah, both for you and for me, it was it, took that time to get to a place where I could even recognize like that it wasn’t just, you know, normal. I don’t know, you know, whatever your normal is, you assume it just is normal. Until, I guess for me until it was I, you know, thinking back, I can’t even recall what there was like a specific thing that triggered me to start thinking about it more than that, it was just I think, over time, I feel like I could recognize that I just wasn’t maybe that I wasn’t at my best somehow. But it was really just a matter of, at some point, looking up on, I don’t even know what the website was, finding somewhere on the web, a resource about depression, and looking, you know, something like, what, what do I look like? Or what do I look for, to, you know, to know, if I have depression, or what are the symptoms or whatever, and kind of looking at this checklist of symptoms and feeling like, I’m checking every box here. And, to your point, like, I would never have thought like, maybe what I would have looked for or thought that depression would look like or feel like, was not necessarily what this was, you know. Trouble with sleep. Loss of interest in things, you know, the things that I was once, you know, for me it was hobbies and things that I used to really enjoy doing that, that now kind of just felt like, neh, whatever. That and then neh, whatever, just being kind of the general. A lot of it comes down to just kind of feeling numb. It’s not always feeling sad, or what you think of as depressed but just feeling numb, blah, like nothing, you know, like it’s not too high or too low. It’s just kind of this nothing. That’s probably a terrible description, but it’s the best one I can think of, but yeah, so I, at some point I came across this list of symptoms. I felt like this all sounds like it’s kind of, you know, ringing a bell for me. And then from there, it was probably, I don’t know, it might have been a week or so of me kind of stewing on that and thinking about it. Before. At some point, I brought it up to you in conversation, and I, I’m sure you remember that? So maybe you can, you can talk to us, sir, I’m gonna turn the tables on here and ask a little question of you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I’m gonna get emotional, because it’s your first time we’ve talked about this publicly?

Nick Wilson
Yeah. Yeah, it’s the first time I’ve really talked about most of this publicly, which, you know, just waiting for the right time to be up on a podcast.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Have 1000s of people hear this story?

Nick Wilson
That’s what I was waiting for?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, I think even before we get to that, you know, that that is definitely something that is it was different, as we looked at our two experiences, mine was very, like, sudden. It was a very significant change, it was very visible and obvious. And there were patterns like, that for years, things that, you know, you would struggle with is like sense of self, or not feeling motivated by work. And then and then getting into almost like, a really, like a very clear pattern of a shame spiral of like, why am I not motivated? Why do I not have ambition? And, and so again, it was never the like, I think, you know, to your point, you made people think of depression as like sadness. And sometimes that might be it. But it’s, you know, more of a, I feel like what I’ve come to learn, at least through your experiences, like it’s a little bit more of just an emptiness, and a wandering and a lack of value. Yeah, I do remember that conversation, because I think we had had some, you know, because when when we would have conversations around some of those topics, I knew that they were really tender for you. And I never knew how to have them. And so then, like, I’m balancing in these situations, as the partner. I’m balancing I want, I want to be able to have these conversations. But I also don’t, it’s clear that they’re causing you pain or self loathing and I don’t want to be the reason we trigger that. So you know, we’re just going to avoid that. And –

Nick Wilson
Neither of us knew how to have that conversation.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Neither of us knew how to have that conversation, or to have it in a way that was productive. So we just wouldn’t, or if it got high, we just ejected from it. And I remember, like on one one hand, I remember when you said it, because we’re in the dining room, standing there. And I could tell that you were hesitant, and like, “Hey, I’ve been doing some research and I think that I think I might be depressed.” And I remember feeling relief. Because one, relief, because you weren’t thinking about this, and I didn’t feel like I had to be the only one carrying the burden of trying to figure out how do we navigate this. Relief from a standpoint of, that made sense. And then like, absolute fear, because in my, right, studies and research of becoming a mental health advocate, I know that when somebody shares that they are or think they might be experiencing depression, is to ask about suicidal ideation. And I remember, and it’s probably the hardest question ever had to ask you, was if you thought about killing yourself, and, and even in like, knowing I had to ask it, was I ready or prepared for the answer?

Nick Wilson
And from my perspective, you know, knowing that that question would be inevitable, was a big part of what, you know, took, it took, like I said, it was probably at least a week, I think before, between between me and kind of having this. I don’t want to say “aha” moment, but some some recognition from looking at, you know, these lists of symptoms to saying, yeah, this is probably this is probably something that I’m dealing with. Thinking through, you know, imagining that conversation, having that conversation with you and knowing that that, you know, it’s it’s inevitable that this this question is going to come up. It’s a hard, it’s a hard thing to — and I think it’s, we’re, you and I were talking before we started this conversation on, you know, in our real life where we sometimes speak to each other without microphones, right? We were talking about this, and you had asked me, you know, about just sort of about, you know, if we wanted to, if there were boundaries, or things that we wanted to not go into, or anything that I felt like was going to be off limits. As far as my journey, we’re talking about suicidal ideation, specifically, and I think that it’s important. To me, it feels like one of the most important things to talk about, as we’re discussing my experience with depression, because, because it is so not talked about. And from my perspective –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Or, or if it is, very poorly.

Nick Wilson
Well, yes. I should clarify what I mean, when I say not talked about from, from the standpoint of someone who is, who is, or has had those types of thoughts. There, there was part of me, and this applies both to us having this, that conversation that you’re talking about that, that kind of first conversation about, you know, I think I might be depressed, it also applies to, you know, I don’t know how many weeks down the road from that I start seeing a therapist and having those conversations in, in my sessions, having, you know, going to a mental health professional, sitting down, and having this conversation. Having her asked me, you know, and in my mind, and I know, you know, I can look back and say like, I know that this isn’t, you know, logical or real, but there’s, there’s part of my brain that was like, in my mind, like, suicide is, is such a bad word. It’s such a nasty, you know, thing. And it’s so, I don’t know, I don’t know what I want to say. It’s just, it’s such a, it’s so far on the, you know, spectrum of like, horrible, you know, things to contemplate. And, that the idea of, like, in my mind, any, if you’re having any kind of thought about that, then it is like this, you know, red flag, you know, red alert. Like, if I say, if my therapist asks me, “Have you had thoughts of suicide or self harm?” And I say, yes. That some kind of, you know, I get flagged in the system. The cops are gonna show up. They’re gonna put me in a padded cell, whatever the like things, whatever those like, mental images of like, that this is like some kind of uncrossable or like. That’s what it felt like to me, and when we had that conversation. When you asked me and when I knew that you were going to have to ask me that question. And that I was going to have to answer it, was, it felt like, I was going to have to, like, take the step that I couldn’t come back from. There was no, there’s no turning around from that and being like, just, just kidding. I was just joking. I never thought about that. That’d be weird. You know, like, that’s, you can’t, there’s no erasing that or like, undoing. Unless, you’ve kind of. And so that was like a super scary piece of this. And that, again, I probably made this way too long of a point here. But the coming back to why I feel like it’s important to have the conversation now for us to talk about it. Because, I know how it feels to be the person who has had those kinds of thoughts. And the reasons why you don’t go and you know, seek somebody out to talk about it or willingly, you know, enthusiastically like, go, you know, boy, I, you know, you know what, I just was having some thoughts, you know, last night, I should probably go seek some help. Like, it’s not, that’s not a straight line for, you know, at least not in, in those circumstances where you are feeling like — yeah, like you, just like it’s, anyone who knows that that is happening is going to see you in a certain way or is going to be forced to act in a certain way. Take some kind of action. Makes sense?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. No, I mean, it does and I appreciate you sharing it like that. Because I mean, certainly at the moment, I’m in my emotions and my reaction and my um processing and emotional regulating that I didn’t understand or couldn’t understand how big of a deal it was for you to share that and to realize what the risk is. And I think that’s a such a great point that you make of like, because again, because we don’t talk about it often enough, because we don’t talk about how to show up when it comes up either for yourself or for if someone else brings it up. That, that it does feel, you know, like, oh, everything’s going to change in this moment. And in the short term, certainly, there was a different awareness on my part, for sure. And, you know, I –

Nick Wilson
It would be like, it would be irresponsible not to –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right. right. Like, oh, ok.

Nick Wilson
I’m accutely aware that, like, the minute I bring this into our conversation as a thing, it’s, it just is a thing, if you told me that you were, you know, feeling having those thoughts, I would, again, comes back to like, you’re, we’re partners, we care about each other. On a level that, yeah, it’s going to be something that is going to bring about a lot of concern. And, and especially if you’re not already, in a place where you kind of are informed about what, you know, what that means, or you haven’t kind of, you know, obviously, we didn’t have any kind of shared understanding of what, what that meant for me, or how, how we needed to have discussions about it or anything like that. So yeah, feels very. It’s like taking a, I’m thinking of, picturing like the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, like taking the step out onto the, like, leap of faith, kind of, like. That’s kind of what it feels like is like, you know, I’m gonna answer this question and assume that my foot is going to come down on a solid surface, right, like, we’re going to be okay. We’re going to figure out the path across the chasm.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. Together.

Nick Wilson
To get around the Indiana Jones analogy.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s good. I, one of the things that was coming up for me, in that moment, was I, I had witnessed. I had observed, and perhaps even participated in myself, when I had had other loved ones in my life, who were clearly going through a depressive episode, who, while they hadn’t expressed suicidal ideation, you could tell the desire for living was low, or the desire for anything was low. And what I observed in, maybe, some of my fellow loved ones, was almost the response was to almost like, shame. Like, that wasn’t the intention, but like, Oh, you have so much, and if you do this, think of what the impact would be to family or whatever. And, and I and I, at the time, that felt sort of right and normal because like, we were having our experience, right of the situation. But, but knowing what I know now about mental health is like me meeting that moment, in any way dismissing or shaming, or how could you or, like, being caught in my emotion was probably the worst thing that I could do. Like one of the worst things that could do. And so I remember just like, being so, like, I, it was every part of my body to keep the like, don’t you love me? Right? Like, why would you be thinking of this. Don’t you think we have a great life? And those are normal reactions for anyone. But like, knowing what I knew now about supporting somebody with mental health, I knew that what you needed was safety and support, in that moment, and that I had to find my own place to process the emotions I was having. I think that, you know, which may be different than how, you know, your situation of me was one of the things that was like a layer was, at the time anyway, because it was so new and vulnerable and maybe even scary for you. You were like, I don’t want anyone to know. I don’t want to talk to anyone. And so now suddenly, I was faced with how do I honor that for you? And also my husband just shared some really hard perspectives and and the more I started to learn about right like your, you know, like, the low sense of self and all of that like and everything else that we’ve worked through over the last few years. That that was probably the hardest thing for me, was feeling like I had to work through my own emotions alone, which is where me having a therapist was really helpful. And, and honestly, like, at one point, I don’t think I’ve ever shared this with you. Maybe I did. But there was a time when I was having dinner with a good friend Kate Thompson. And she was like, so how are you guys and I just started crying. Because I was like, I don’t know how to. But I was like, I trust her, I trust you. And I was like, this is what’s going on. And, and we just had a beautiful cry over our dinner and, you know, because I knew that she had experience with it. And with, you know, her, her world and her life and, and so that, in the beginning, that was really difficult, too. So it was a huge relief for me almost when you started to open up more about it, but, but it’s, um, yeah, it’s I mean, it’s, it’s not. And I think that, what I’d like to do is find a good resource to put in the show notes of why it’s important, and how do you approach that conversation? Because what research shows is that if you can, if someone’s expressing depression or talking about it, one of the ways we can sort of interrupt some of that is to get them to start talking about. So there’s, there’s like really good science and research behind why we, why we actually engage in those conversations, even though they’re scary as hell.

Nick Wilson
Yeah. Yeah, and one of the things that just just is coming to mind is that we, I, certainly, I started from a different place in terms of my — Well, I don’t know if that’s true. I’m, maybe I’m making an assumption here, saying that I that I’m start, I started from a different place in terms of my comfort with talking about, you know, my mental health challenges with you, and or a therapist, or, you know, for the longest time, that’s, that was it, it was you, it was a therapist, you know. I’ve gradually come around to, you know, having other people that I opened up to, and now, just being on podcasts and talking. (laugh)

Sarah Noll Wilson
Hi, everyone. (laughter)

Nick Wilson
Losing my train of thought here. That I am much less of a vocal processor than you are, by nature. And so that’s that’s a component of it. But it’s also, again, just gender stuff. Here. We, we talk so much about, about gender stuff, but it’s man, it’s there in all of it. Absolutely. I mean, without getting like, super deep in the weeds of my, you know, whatever –

Sarah Noll Wilson
We can do it on another show.

Nick Wilson
Yeah, but gender expectations, gender role, you know, what have you –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Social conditioning, to not experience emotions.

Nick Wilson
All of that played very, very heavily into, into a lot of the things that I was experiencing with, with depression. And also, you know, on the level that we’re talking about here, having the conversations me being able to open up about it, to talk to you about it, to talk to my therapist about it. There, there were like brick walls that had to be kind of like chipped away and knocked down of like, don’t talk about your feelings, don’t have feelings, (laugh) you know. Those things that are, again, they’re just so ever present. They’re so kind of just reabsorb them over the course of our lives. And that wasn’t, yeah, just another layer that made it challenging for me to — and it still, still, you know, still is a challenge at times, depending on the situation, That’s gotten better and having, you know, therapists to talk to. Having so many conversations with you has has improved to the point where I feel like, you know, I’ve definitely gotten more aware of things that I’m feeling, have a little bit more of a vocabulary to be able to kind of talk about what those things are, because in the beginning, it was just non existent. You just don’t. I think I can speak for, I would, I would go out on a limb and say that I speak for a lot of men probably in saying that we just don’t have the, we don’t have the awareness. We don’t have the, we don’t have the vocabulary we don’t we’re not able to express what we’re feeling because it — we’re not supposed to. Right? Like, the only thing we’re really supposed to feel, or express as a feeling is anger, right? We can be angry. But anything else is kind of a mystery. (laughs) So it’s, that’s a big part of what I’ve had to learn is just like how to recognize all that stuff for myself, let alone be able to have a conversation about it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. That was, that was an interesting, like, “aha” for me because, I mean, one, I’m a, no surprise, verbal processor. Also have been conditioned my whole life to be very present with my emotions, to express them to be, you know, all of those things. And, and part of our journey together on this, especially with, like, with, with you, and your journey with depression, was to question a lot of those cultural norms, and to push past them and I think we’re still very much entangling them, and unlearning, and, you know, and it brought up really good conversations around, you know, not necessarily things that contributed to your depression, but more like a realization of, of the importance of having intimate relationships outside of me.

Nick Wilson
Mm-hmm

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right, like, how to build those, what does that look like? How do we, you know, you and I are having good conversations around gender roles and the limitations that those put on everyone because of the expectations and, you know, and also just, you know, showing up and I think that, you know, one of the things that I appreciated that you developed and are still developing the skill around is that when, when you notice, thought patterns that are unproductive or, and I think I mean, I do this to have just like, I think we’ve gotten really good at, you don’t need to do anything, but I just want to make you aware that I’ve been in a bit of a spiral today.

Nick Wilson
Mm-hmm

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right? Or struggling with this or, or if we have a conversation that might trigger that, right, insecurity with you in particular, right, like to be able to come back and go, okay, I know I had that reaction, right? I’ve thought about it and to just be able to, to talk through those moments so that we’re not ruminating, we’re not in a place of resentment. We’re not creating space. I mean, maybe it needs to be there in the short term, but being able to, and again, I think this is this is something that I’m really proud of that we’ve developed is like, I think we both have worked really hard and intentionally that when somebody shares something like that — we don’t, we’re not pissed about it. We don’t discredit. We don’t dismiss. We don’t deny. We don’t shame. We don’t blame, we don’t, you know, and even in that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when I might not get frustrated. Like there absolutely are times when I, and you know, and we have those conversations, but I can share with you. I’m really, I’m struggling with this now, because it’s impacting both of us, right, because we’re not focused on it, or whatever the case is, but it isn’t attacking or whatever and like we can both be present with and navigating. I know I just hit my microphone and the sound guy and he was like stop gesturing. So –

Nick Wilson
Usually I’m not here in the room to give you a judgmental eye glance at your hand like, oh jeez.

Sarah Noll Wilson
But, but I think that that is something that has been a benefit? I mean, that’s a muscle we’ve had to build. I don’t want to say it’s a benefit, because honestly, like, there’s a lot that sucks about navigating mental illness. So I’m not going to be like, oh, it’s, it’ll make you, I mean somebody somebody wrote this really great quote on Twitter today. It was a psych counselor, psychologist, and she goes, “You know, your trauma didn’t make you stronger. You made yourself stronger.” Right. And so like, and so there are things that I’m really proud of, that we’ve continued to work on, that have only increased our connection, quite frankly.

Nick Wilson
Yeah, I um, I think, to the point you’re making the the that that muscle of being able to recognize the thoughts for both of us, in our respective, you know, struggles is such a huge part. It’s maybe the biggest thing in term of like — I wouldn’t say that I’m, you know, like, cured of depression now, like, I don’t know, there are I still have moments, right? I still have times when I might find myself in these kinds of thought spirals or things like that you’ve talked about with, with your, you know, anxious thoughts. It’s not like the, we you know, cure it and go, it’s in the past. The thing that changes is our ability to see it for what it is, you know, going back to the beginning of our discussion about not being able to kind of rationally kind of see things as what they are as those thoughts. You build up the muscle to be able to, you’re not always going to be able to in that moment, you are gonna still have times when it’s, you know, raw, where you have a reaction, you know, in the moment, but the, yeah, the self awareness, the ability to recognize, okay, what what’s going on for me right now, as is a familiar kind of thought pattern, I know what this is. I might still be feeling bad about it. I might be, whatever, still having whatever feelings, but I can recognize what it is and know, you know, maybe know some things that I can do to, to work through it. I know we’re, we’re going to be a little long on time here but I do feel like just as, as we were discussing, I had a thought that I want to make sure. I don’t know if it would if it’s valuable or not but I want to make sure that that I’m clear about on some level, like what depression has meant, or what it has, how it’s shown up or presented for me, because I don’t want it to, we’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about suicidal ideation. I don’t want it to always seem like, yeah, I am depressed. And what that meant for me was, yeah, I, you know, had suicidal thoughts.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah

Nick Wilson
That is a thing that was part of depression for me, but it’s not the only thing. It’s maybe the most, you know, feels like the most severe thing.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah

Nick Wilson
Like, it’s, that’s the big scary thing. But there’s also, you kind of hinted that for me, a lot of it was kind of, yeah, what I guess is, is insecurities or feeling a lot of self doubt, sudden, really, really negative self talk, or, you know, just having a really negative or poor vision of myself.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, your self worth was real low.

Nick Wilson
Low self worth and it would, yeah, a lot of it would manifest for me is like, spiraling kind of, from what, you know, I feel, I feel like I’m not, you know, happy with whatever thing, something with the work that I’m doing, you know, my my career I’m not happy about. And that then leads to, you know, step by step by step to, I’m just, uh, you know, I’m worthless. I’m, uh, you know, just a waste of whatever. And these really, really nasty and I don’t mean to say them, you know, casually or, you know, again, I don’t want it to be hopefully triggering for anybody, if, if people are having similar types of thoughts, but it’s, that’s what it that’s how it showed up for me in a lot of cases. And it was. Yeah, the, again, has taken a long time to be able to recognize those thoughts when they come up as what they are, instead of just accepting them as like, that’s just the truth. That’s just the reality of you know, that’s who I am. That’s so yeah, I don’t know. I know.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I’m glad that you brought that back.

Nick Wilson
Go past and be, yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Nick Wilson
I’m realizing that yeah, I, I haven’t talked that much about what depression, the experience of depression was, was for me, and so I want to make sure that it’s not that doesn’t come across as like, yeah, it’s just that I felt really sad and yeah, had suicidal thoughts. There’s, there are other things to it. And it was, again, at probably a much less kind of acute, you know, episodes of that kind of depressive thinking than then maybe what other people would experience but still, that’s still what it, what it is.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah. Well, and I think that, no, I’m glad that you brought that up because I know that that’s a piece that a lot of people don’t always understand is how, you know, the brain, if you will, just essentially can tell you that you’re worthless. And you know, and I know for you, that would show up in like, society tells me I’m the man and I should be like super career driven and super ambitious. And because you weren’t, then you felt like you weren’t good enough or you weren’t whatever and, you know, and it opened up conversations between us from the standpoint of, you know, because sometimes I’ll still like, you know, when people are like, “Ah, he’s so amazing.” I was like, he’d never believe it. You know, and like, –

Nick Wilson
People say that all the time, though. (laughs)

Sarah Noll Wilson
They don’t say to you, but they say to me. People say to me, all that I do, a lot of people will say that.

Nick Wilson
See, I can’t right now –

Sarah Noll Wilson
I know. You can’t. Yeah, see, it’s

Nick Wilson
be dismissive or self deprecating.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, that, that, like, brought up. I mean, you and I would have conversations around like, so does that make me a liar? Because I, I don’t see this in you.

Nick Wilson
Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right. Like, and, –

Nick Wilson
Yeah. Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean we had a lot of conversations around that. And also, then, like, because of the doubt, you know, how do we make sure our relationship is coming from one of like, mutual support and not you acting out of a place of fear of losing me.

Nick Wilson
Right. Yeah. Yeah, I can remember there, I remember a conversation, I think of as a conversation I had with my therapist, at one point about, it was when I was really kind of in one of the deep places of, you know, those, those kind of negative spiraling thoughts and feeling like, yeah, I mean, the logical, you know, look at it from a logical standpoint,. If I, if I am worthless, if I have no worth. If I am this, you know, just nothing person, then there, there’s no way there’s no possible way that anyone can, can love me or care about me in any real way. Sarah must just be putting up with me and, you know, faking it to, you know, just because out of obligation or whatever. And not, and those thoughts happening, even if subconsciously, and not realizing it until my therapist pointed out to me, like, how rude that kind of, you know, for lack of a better word. Like it’s, I’m making this assumption about you that I would not, you know, yeah, that you’re lying to me. That I am, I am. In order to allow the truth to be this negative thing about me. In order for me to continue to believe that that is the reality, I have to accept that you’re just lying to me all the time. That you don’t care about me. That you don’t love me. That this is all just, you know, and once it’s kind of brought into that kind of focus, it’s you, it does help to, to reframe, and say, well, wow, okay. Those things can’t both be true. Like, it can’t both be true that I’m, you know, this worthless, all of the things that I think that these negative thoughts tell me I am, and that I have, you know, people in my life who actually love and care about me. So, you know, that’s, that’s one thing that helps to, you know, get the get the mind to where it can can see those thoughts for what they are.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that was a big, I remember having a lot of conversations around that. And re reframing that, and

Nick Wilson
(sigh) Yeah. (laughter) That’s our smooth transition out of this. I don’t know how to end the conversation with you. We just kind of we just kind of drift off into –

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, no. No, I think that. No, I mean, I’m just sitting with it because, you know, we haven’t again, we haven’t even talked about some, like, new.

Nick Wilson
Yep.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And so it’s like, oh, yeah, might be worth us having some further conversations to talk through what does that mean? But — I mean, I think that the, I mean, the one thing I will say, only because I’ve been told this repeatedly, is that it’s not as common as you would want it to be that your partner or spouse or family member or friend is showing up for you in the way that you need. And you know, and we know through our work that there’s a lot of good intentions walking around. And — but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making the positive impact that you want. And I think you know, for me on some level. I mean, I remember having the thought with you of maybe I was supposed to go through all of my stuff so that I could show up differently for you. You know, like, not necessarily like to go through. I mean, you know, there’s a little bit of right?

Nick Wilson
I would hope not.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, no, I know. (laughter)

Nick Wilson
I don’t want that for you. (laughter)

Sarah Noll Wilson
But let me rephrase it, – like, if the situations were flipped, there’s no way I would have known how to show up for you. And I probably would have been incredibly unproductive. I mean, if I’m being honest, I would have probably been really unproductive, very self focused, and not known how to, you know, and part of that speaks to the other work, right of like, how do we have the conversations we’ve been avoiding. And that’s something that as both of us who have largely been conflict avoidant people have worked really hard to bring in not only to our relationship, but other relationships and like we can, we can talk about things that are uncomfortable, but still do it in a way that’s compassionate and open. And, you know, and so, yeah, that’s terrible. It’s not that it’s not that I know that I say that out loud. But but –

Nick Wilson
Your trauma was all just set up to the right spot, so that you can help me with my little issues.

Sarah Noll Wilson
God, that sounds terrible.

Nick Wilson
I think that’s a gender role thing.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That is a gender, that is yeah. Let me rephrase that.

Nick Wilson
You had to be a good wife for me.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I had to, I had to be a good nurturing spouse for you. I do know that by better understanding mental health and mental illnesses, generally, and by understanding even on some level, like even even knowing kind of what, like things I should ask or things I could try or that I felt less scared, supporting you through it. And, you know, and, and now I feel it’s like, breathing to us now. I feel like when there are moments of, you know, even just this morning, I was like, I’m having some anticipatory anxiety about the next couple of weeks, like, it’s not even a big thing anymore. It’s just like, this is the check in. Here’s, here’s how I’m feeling. You know, as I look at, like, my travel schedule, the next couple of weeks, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by that, like, it’s just the norm now for us to be able to talk about it. And, and I think, you know, for people who are listening, you know, I think one of the greatest gifts we can give the people we love is to really figure out how to be emotionally supportive and not emotionally dismissive. And to to understand, and if you don’t understand, right, like, if you don’t understand to educate yourself. I mean, if you really care about someone, then do everything you can to learn about what they’re going through and don’t minimize it or dismiss it or because, again, sometimes we can do that unintentionally thinking that we’re being helpful when actually what you’re saying is, it’s not safe.

Nick Wilson
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s way easier said than done, what you’re talking about, because we, we can do things that we, in our mind, we, you know, you know, if you ask someone, or do you want to be dismissive or, you know, is your intention to be dismissive to someone, you know, virtually never going to be the case? That’s not what people want? Generally want to show up for each other. But, yeah, there are all kinds of things that we do, that we, are second nature, you know, in the way that we deal with other people that are dismissive. Whether we realize it or not. And so, yeah, there’s there’s a lot and again, we’re not, you know, we’re still learning.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s good.

Nick Wilson
I will say, I know. I know, a very good keynote speaker slash workshop, (laughter)you know, facilitator who does tremendous work on mental health awareness, and specifically about dismissive versus, you know, emotionally supportive –

Sarah Noll Wilson
What’s their website? I should check it out.

Nick Wilson
Boy, I don’t have it in front of me but you know, – (laughter)

Sarah Noll Wilson
Is it podcast?

Nick Wilson
That’s not the website for God’s sake. Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. Get on it. Check it out. Look, look it up. (laughter)

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s good. It’s a good commercial.

Nick Wilson
Thanks.

Sarah Noll Wilson
We’ll take that as, this is a good sign that we’re coming to the end of our conversation.

Nick Wilson
This is going to have to be two episodes, isn’t it?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, that’s alright.

Nick Wilson
It’s a long conversation.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s all right.

Nick Wilson
You haven’t even asked me. Are you can ask me the question? Do you ask me the question?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh, I can.

Nick Wilson
You don’t have to because it basically already, I mean, it’s already been answered.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well then tell us what? Well, –

Nick Wilson
Well, you generally,

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, I gotta ask the question.

Nick Wilson
I’m sorry.

Sarah Noll Wilson
What was the conversation with yourself or someone else that was transformative? Nick Wilson?

Nick Wilson
We already talked about it, it was the conversation that you and I had. I just want to make sure that that I’m really clear. You know, you’re talking about being a supportive partner, having a supportive partner. Also talking about this, you know, I don’t want to say good fortune, or that, you know, things happened in the order that they needed to happen in. But that, you, I, it’s not just that you showed up more effectively or powerfully for me in in that moment than you would have otherwise. That moment wouldn’t have happened for me. If, if I hadn’t been along the journey with you, you know. The, the process for me of getting to a place where I could say to you out loud, I think I might be depressed. Where I could answer the question honestly about self harm, where I could feel, if not confident, at least willing to take the step and say, okay, I’ll look into this therapy, you know, therapy, maybe, you know, that maybe that’s something I need to try, you know. All of those things were scary and I had to get to a place where I could do that. And I wouldn’t have, you know, if I hadn’t, if I didn’t know, from from, you know, being along with you and your experiences. And knowing how, you know, seeing you having you as a role model, really, which, you know, might sound weird, but like, for being open about your mental health issues, because by that time, you were, you know, you were speaking about it. You were, you know, you were not shy, I think it’s safe to say about, you know, sharing your experiences, with anxiety with panic, and seeing that. Seeing that as an example. And also just knowing that because of that, you, you have that open, you know, empathetic, curious mindset. And for all of the worry and fear that I had around those conversations, you know, leading up to them, never once was the worry that you were going to be anything other than completely supportive, you know, of me in whatever that needed to look like. So. Yeah. So that conversation that first conversation us, you know, me opening up to you about, maybe I’m depressed, and let’s figure out what that means. Was 100% transformative. I mean, it’s it’s hard to think of what you know, where I would be where we would be, yeah, right now. Yeah, if that hadn’t happened. So that was a transformative conversation. And it’s mostly, thanks to you. So thank you, Sarah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Thanks, Nick.

Nick Wilson
So awkward for us to speak to each other by our names. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t, it’s a sweet moment.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It was a sweet moment and you blew it, you blew it.

Nick Wilson
I know. That’s what I do.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, the. Thank you.

Nick Wilson
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Thank you. And I feel like the lesson that’s coming up for me is — and it’s not like a chicken or the egg. But when, when we can show up — more intentionally, compassionately — for ourselves, it makes it easier for us to show up for other people in that way. And then the flipside is true. Right? Like when you can show up compassionately, intentionally for someone else while they’re struggling. It can make it easier, you know, because, you know, certainly maybe part of it was you observing me and my journey, but it was also how you showed up in that journey of on my like, in my world, if you will, because I, you know. If you would have been dismissive. If you would have minimized. If you would have you might not have been open. I mean, you may have shown up the same way for yourself in that way, if that makes sense. So, like, there’s just, you know, I think, I think the thing that’s abundantly clear as we wrap this up for real,

Nick Wilson
Yeah, we gotta get. Come on. (laughter) Just way too long.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s fine. (laughter) We’ll do a two parter. There is a, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot more suffering that’s happening in this world than people realize because a lot of it happens in the silence and it happens in the shadows. And, you know, –

Nick Wilson
And even to people who don’t recognize their own suffering.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right, right. The name. Right. Right. That’s a great point.

Nick Wilson
Not to interrupt.

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, –

Nick Wilson
I feel like from my own experience, again, I think there were probably years.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Nick Wilson
You know, years and years of, of some amount, some pieces of me that were, you know, experiencing depression. Were having depressive thoughts.

Sarah Noll Wilson
There’s some research, that’s something like people will like. Like the ave isn’t, isn’t it like, on average, people experience depression for like, what is it like five or six years before they actually seek help? Or it’s something –

Nick Wilson
I would believe it. That doesn’t sound wrong.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. Because it’s become so normalized, but –

Nick Wilson
It’s not even just that people are suffering silently. Willingly, –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right.

Nick Wilson
Because they don’t want to –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Feel safe

Nick Wilson
Or have the ability to have those conversations, but sometimes you just don’t even you don’t even even notice what has happening to you as a struggle or as suffering.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Nick Wilson
Because it just becomes, it’s just what’s, you think it’s normal. It seems normal.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. And so like, yeah, I mean, do you want to be the person that somebody stays quiet with? Or do you want to be the person that they can be courageous with? And the way we do that is we just show up more powerfully for again, ourselves and each other. We’ve, you know, we appreciate all of you hanging out with us and sticking with us for these, these two episodes that we’ve now decided are gonna be two episodes, that’s for sure. But, but, but we do want to hear from you if there are things that resonated for you. If there’s things that come up. If there’s, if you need two ears and a heart to listen. You know, don’t don’t hesitate to reach out. My DMS are always open on social media. You can always send us an email at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. And I’ll be sure to pass that along to Nick as well. Thanks, honey.

Nick Wilson
Yeah. (laughter) That’s unprofessional.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. Let’s try that one again.

Nick Wilson
You can’t call your your podcast guest honey. Dear.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Apparently I call everyone honey. (laughter) That’s a story for another day. Nick Wilson, Nicholas Alan Wilson.

Nick Wilson
Mm. Yes, Sarah?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Thanks. Thanks for being on the show.

Nick Wilson
Oh, thank you for having me. It’s such a thrill. A huge fan. You know, a first time long time, honestly. (laughter)

Sarah Noll Wilson
Alright. Wrap this up. I love you, honey.

Nick Wilson
Oh, I love you, too.

Sarah Noll Wilson
All right,

Nick Wilson
Thanks for the convo.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Thanks, honey. Our guest this week has been Nick Wilson, my husband, who I’m still looking at as I record this. This was a conversation we’ve actually been wanting to record for a while. And I’m glad that we were able to spend the time today to do that. And you were able to join us for this. You know, there’s lots of things that I always take away from these conversations. But probably the most important is that I think that you know, in the spirit of Conversations on Conversations, we need to actually talk about the real stuff and the hard stuff and the emotional stuff. And I’m grateful to have this space with all of you to be able to explore these topics and I mean that so sincerely.

We want to hear from you. If there are things that again come up for you feel free to reach out to us at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. Or you can find me on social media. If you are interested in how you can learn more about this work of how do we create really deep, high trusting relationship. How to build that psychological safety, how to repair relationships. How to be more emotionally supportive and not emotionally dismissive. Check us out at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. This is the work that we’re so passionate about. You can also pick up a copy of my latest book Don’t Feed the Elephants! wherever books are sold. This is my love letter to my fellow avoiders of conflict. And if you’d like to support the show, please consider becoming a patron. You can visit Patreon dot com slash conversations on conversations where not only your financial support will sustain this podcast and our amazing team. But you’ll also get access to some pretty great benefits like swag and Patreon only content and events. And if you haven’t already, please rate, review and subscribe to the show. You can do so on iTunes, Spotify and other podcast platforms. When you do this, this helps us get the word out and to continue bringing on amazing guests and having great stories and conversations like we did this week. A huge thank you to our incredible team who makes this podcast possible. To our producer Nick Wilson, who you just met. Sound editor Drew Noll. Transcriptionists, Olivia Reinert. Marketing consultant Kaitlyn Summitt-Nelson, and the rest of our SNoWco crew and just huge final big, wholehearted thanks to Nick for joining out from behind the camera to in front to have this conversation. And also to all of you for joining us and again helping us create this space.

This has been Conversations on Conversations. Thank you for listening. And remember that when we can change the conversations we have with ourselves and with others, I really do believe that we can change the world. So thank you all. Please make sure you rest and rehydrate and we’ll see you again next week.

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