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Show Notes:

This episode is an excerpt from a raw and honest chat about my mental health that I had with Dr Tim Sharp. We share what has and hasn’t worked for managing our mental wellness and get real about what it means to achieve success while managing chronic mental health conditions. Content warning: discussion of suicidal thoughts.

Rebecca Ray: Welcome to Hello Rebecca Ray, our collective home for courage, growth and human to human connection. I’m your host, Dr. Rebecca Ray, human, clinical psychologist, author, and educator. I know only too well how fear comparison, and self-doubt can stifle your potential. This podcast is all about brave and meaningful living, and how you can make your authentic contribution to the world today and every day.

Rebecca Ray: Hi, lovely ones. Welcome to episode number 55, what I haven’t told you about my mental health. In this episode, I’m chatting with clinical psychologist and author and all-round great guy, Dr. Tim Sharp, a close friend of mine, about our respective mental health journeys and how this has influenced us as professionals and as people. In this episode, it’s an honest and transparent discussion about mental health from a mental health professionals perspective, and why any kind of mental health struggles don’t need to stop you from reaching success and living fully, richly and meaningfully. I hope you enjoy this discussion as much as I did.

Tim Sharp: Hi, there. I’m Dr. Tim Sharp, sometimes known as Dr. Happy and it’s my pleasure today to be talking to my good friend, Beck. Hello, Dr. Rebecca Ray, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

Rebecca Ray: Hi, Tim, I’m Dr. Rebecca Ray, more commonly known as Beck. I’m a clinical psychologist and have been for almost two decades, which makes me feel kind of old. But in a good way, I like ageing. And I’m also an author and a speaker and I found myself in this particular space where we met over Instagram as a result of getting incredibly burnt out in clinical practice. So my work these days is by essentially translating the knowledge and wisdom that I gained through clinical practice into probably what is best described as layman’s terms, to be able to allow people, the average person scrolling social media to be able to get the most benefit out of psychological concepts. In a in a quick scroll underneath your thumb, I guess might be the best way to put it. What about you, Tim, tell me about your history.

Tim Sharp: Well, it’s a similar history in some ways. My background is in clinical psychology. So I started out as a clinical academic actually, I did, I was a therapist and researcher and lecturer and did that for many, many years practising both in the public hospital system here in Sydney, and then in private practice, and then shifted somewhat into what many of the listeners will be familiar with, which is positive psychology, moved a bit more into coaching towards thriving and flourishing as opposed to the treatment of distress and dysfunction. But like yourself have shifted again, a bit further, I suppose. And now I’ve shifted out of one on one therapy work, and most of my work now is speaking, and writing and media work.

Rebecca Ray: Tell me do you miss clinical practice?

Tim Sharp: Do I miss clinical practice? I say yes and no. The simple answer would be no. And I mean that not because I didn’t find it incredibly fulfilling and satisfying. I did. But I did it for a long time. And I think for me anyway, there was a shelf life, I suppose for that type of work. And I suppose I don’t entirely miss it at the moment because I still get a similar so sense of satisfaction and fulfilment from other work I do. So although I don’t do one on one therapy or coaching anymore, I do do a lot of mentoring and provide one on one guidance through a particularly through a not for profit, youth mental health charity that I that I’m very involved in. So yeah, look, I do miss the intensity of the relationship, I suppose. And significant, the impact you can have working one on one. But um, you know, I find what I’m doing now, in a different way, just as or differentially satisfying and fulfilling. How about yourself?

Rebecca Ray: Much the same. There is some work and some clients that I actually miss you know that therapeutic relationship was a real relationship and I miss the immediate feedback of being able to sit with someone and see their progression, you know, see them since last session, see how they’re going since that that kind of relationship where you get intimately involved in someone’s personal growth. I loved that so much, but I couldn’t say a better actually, when you said that there was a shelf life for you, there was definitely a shelf life for me a shelf life I didn’t expect. So my transition out of clinical practice was almost forced upon me by burnout. I don’t feel like I necessarily made the choice, I feel like burnout made the choice for me. But now where I find myself unexpectedly, doing work that I absolutely love as well. So it’s almost like the capacity to be able to practice psychology in this way, feels like such a blessing. But it’s also just as rewarding as what it was sitting with clients. And I didn’t expect that I thought I’d be in clinical practice until I was 70. That was not to be.

Tim Sharp: Well, it seems. I mean, I think, again, we’ve both taken a similar path I suppose and the work that both of us do now in slightly different ways, didn’t really exist when we started, you know social media, for example didn’t exist. So I guess there was no way that either of us could have expected to end up where we are, but just to go, you mentioned, the burnout forced a decision in some ways. If it’s okay with you, tell us a bit about your personal experiences with mental health and how it’s both affected your life and your work.

Rebecca Ray: My experience with mental ill health is probably more complex than burnout. And to give you the biggest picture, I want to give you the flavour of not just burnout, I talk about burnout most regularly because I get asked about my career a lot. But actually, prior to that I had had a history of trauma. And I’d had a history of depression and anxiety subsequent to that trauma. And so it’s easy to very much say that I was incredibly familiar with living, a lived experience of traumatic symptoms, post traumatic symptoms, as well as episodes of anxiety, episodes of depression and co-morbid episodes of both. Burnout came along, I think, probably because of my personality type. So I was living very perfectionisticly, I never wanted to be in a place where I was letting my referring doctors or referring agencies down. I never wanted to say no to a client that was in crisis or needed me at the time. And in hindsight, I think I simply did too much work. So I saw other psychologists that I knew, and were many years further in their career than me doing that many hours. And I thought it was okay for me to but it wasn’t. And at the time, I don’t think I really respected my own personal needs for self management. And instead, I just did what I thought I should do, and worked and worked and worked. And it ended up being I was in a state of exhaustion for quite some time before I fully acknowledged that reducing my clinical hours was not going to be the answer. So I tried so many ways to stay in clinical practice I, I took more holidays, I reduced my hours, I reduced my days. And it just didn’t work. Like I ended up still having, you know, quite significant Sunday night blues that turned into Monday to Friday blues as well. So what ended up happening is, from stepping away from clinical practice that actually allowed me to do the work that I really needed to do with my own mental wellness. So I went into therapy for a year. So I stepped away from clinical practice so that I could do that I wanted to be able to focus on, I wanted to be in a client role, while not also being a therapist. And by taking what I thought was a break at that time, I did a lot of trauma work during that time, and essentially built up my resilience muscles, and my acceptance capacity to be able to understand that this is how my brain is wired. And these are the things that I need to be able to survive each day. But then get to a point where I could flourish. That didn’t end up being a break. It ended up being permanent my step away from clinical work, but that was the best thing I ever did for my mental wellness. What about you?

Tim Sharp: Well my version of that is not that distant, I wouldn’t say that burnout was the predominant feature in my personal experience. My lived experience with mental ill health has predominantly been depression, quite severe depression at times with aspects of anxiety, which commonly overlap of course, perfectionism and an imposter syndrome, although that name didn’t really exist back in when I was younger. Even prior to my first awareness of my depression. Now when I look back and when I, subsequently went talk to my parents, I was always a very highly sensitive child. But again, we’re going back a couple of decades and the language around mental health just wasn’t, it  just didn’t exist then,

Rebecca Ray: Perhaps it really didn’t exist for men either.

Tim Sharp: Well, possibly, but I don’t think, it didn’t exist at the level it did now, for anyone, being male, didn’t necessarily help in that regard. I mean, it will probably was a little bit harder, it was less likely that men would speak about it. But again, you know, I’m talking about the days before R U OKAY day, before Beyond Blue before, you know, before all these movements, which have been fantastic, just didn’t exist then. So again, I often say, you know, I was lucky enough to have very loving and supportive parents, but they just had no idea when none of us had any idea. So even though we tried, there was just a very limited amount of information there and resources out there. So, you know, being a sensitive child, I got upset very easily, it didn’t have a major impact on my early life. But it did start to hit hard just after or for me, it was just after school, things had been brewing for a while, in the early university days, and partly, all compounded by what to be perfectly honest, was a pretty unhealthy lifestyle, dabbling in substances to excess that I probably shouldn’t have and not sleeping and not exercising, and, in fact, doing all the worst possible things. So to cut a long story short, and I guess a bit of a trigger warning here, it got so bad I, I tried to end my life on two occasions. And that was really, the first one was really the big red flashing warning sign to all of us that something was, you know, it was pretty bloody serious, I suppose. And thankfully, then, again, over the course of the next few years, I, I found therapy. It took me three times the first two were not great successes, to be honest. But luckily, I persisted. And thankfully, the third was clinical psychologist who introduced me to cognitive behaviour therapy, which literally saved my life, changed my life. And then, you know, then I, well, things got better for a variety of reasons after that. So my depression has fluctuated over the years, it still raises it’s ugly head, more than I’d like to be honest. But as a general rule, I’ve certainly got a lot better at managing it and containing as and bouncing back more quickly from the really dark episodes.

Rebecca Ray: I love how you shift from this is part of your experience now, it’s not something that disappeared, once you went to therapy. It’s not something that once you realise that, or your entire support system also realised that things were really quite bad for you. That’s not necessarily just the startline to then fixing the problem. For some of us this is repeated episodes throughout the lifespan. And that’s certainly been my experience as well. It’s not something that disappears from my being, it’s something that gets managed as part of my whole experience. And well, while I could laugh at you saying that you should have did all the things that you probably shouldn’t have done. You possibly didn’t know any different back then because the education wasn’t necessarily out there. But also, I think that’s kind of an adolescent thing to do, isn’t it push the boundaries, check where the lines are that kind of thing.

Tim Sharp: Oh look 100%, and I was doing, I was only doing the same thing that all my friends and all my peers would do. You know, drinking to excess and, you know, partying late at night, so you know, not prioritising sleep. So I wasn’t necessarily doing anything unusual for many people of that age. Yeah. And, you know, I still I’m not, you know, I enjoy a drink. I’m not totally against that. But I do believe alcohol is a big problem in our society. A massive problem, to be honest, and it certainly was for me when I drank to excess. But the other point, that I think you raise is a really important one, and I talk a lot about this, I’ve increasingly talked a lot about it, this idea that, you know, mental ill health isn’t just something that you get treatment for, and it goes away. Well, so it can be for some people, there’s no doubt there are some people out there they have a, you know, a single episode of major depressive disorder or discrete anxiety disorder, and they do get treatment and selectively cured. And if you’re one of those people out there, good luck to you. That’s fantastic, but certainly for me and many others and for you Beck, that hasn’t been the case. It is a chronic condition. It fluctuates, and it is and I’ve increasingly had to accept that it’s part of who I am. When I’m well, at the good times, what I’ve increasingly tried to do and it’s a struggle at times, is to actually try and see the beauty within In the darkness, and again, I can’t do this all the time. But when I’m well, and when I’m thinking clearly, what I’ve come to acknowledge is that, that the significant, that the main contributors to my depression are almost exactly the same as the contributors to me being at my best. And by that I refer to things like so I said, I’m a very, I’m a highly sensitive person. I’m a high empath. So I’m very caring, very compassionate. And I think at the risk of sounding a modest, that’s one of the things that makes me a good person. And yeah, at times makes me likeable. But it’s also the same thing that can lead to me being very upset, extremely upset about things to the extent that I, you know, that I’m bedridden and can barely function sort of thing. So I’ve come to see them as two sides to the same coin, which means again, as much as possible, I try not to see those elements of my depression as quote-unquote, bad. They can be unhelpful, but if I can channel them on, when I can channel them effectively, then there’s a good side to them. And I think we all have that as well. So I can see you nodding your head, have you had similar thoughts about your own experiences?

Rebecca Ray: Oh, absolutely and also, I’m just struck by how on how poetic that is, you know that there’s a poet inside me. So I’m always going to respond to that kind of framing in such a beautiful way and I love that side of you, I, I want to talk to viewers before I talk about how I frame my own, I guess, inner workings, but about the fact that we checked in with one another before we started this project. So Tim and I both know that we each manage mental wellness and mental ill-health at times, and we checked in with one another before starting this project to see where we were both that and whether this was something we both had the personal resources for. And this is part of being able to manage something that is part of who you are. It’s also knowing that you do and take on projects based on if you have the flexibility to do so based on where you are at from a mental ill-health perspective. And one of the things I love so much about you too, Tim, is your honesty around that, that when I threw that question straight at you before we even dived into what this project would look like. You came back at me and said, Actually, yes, I’m in a really good place right now. And then you checked in with me. And I think it’s this kind of transparency and this kind of honesty that now underpins what you and I both do in all facets of our life. Because if you don’t listen to where you’re at, we’ve both experienced the consequences of that various times as well, which is not so pretty. In terms of how I framed my own experiences of mental ill-health. It’s particularly around the trauma. The trauma happened when I was an adolescent. It was prolonged for some time. And for a long time, I actually didn’t even understand it was trauma. I didn’t understand what had happened, was quite as bad as what it was. And so I spent my 20s thinking that I was absolutely fine. I was not absolutely fine Tim. By no stretch of the imagination. One of the best things that has ever happened to me, not that I thought it at the time, was realising the fact that I had been severely traumatised. And once I realised that and then understood that my brain is now wired to focus on safety, and to focus on whether that be physical safety, whether that be emotional safety, that means that my fear system is easily activated and quite hyperaroused most of the time. Unless I’m, you know, in a good phase. The the way that I look at that initially was, I had some anger around that, like, this is bullshit. Why do I have to now deal with this, like, I never wanted it in the first place and now it’s a part of who I am and I’ve got to deal with it. Like that’s not fair. And then once I got over myself, essentially, my way of looking at that is I kind of feel like it’s a superpower again, not wanting to blow my own trumpet. But I was drawn to psychology for a reason and had quite a talent for working with clients at the time. Now I understand that because of my lived experience of trauma, depression and anxiety. Not that I’m saying you need to have any of these things to be good therapists or a good mental health professional, but it does enable me to write books, do podcasts, whatever it is that I’m creating, from a particularly deep place that seems to resonate with people that come into contact with my work. So there’s been there’s been a level of acceptance that’s come to where I’m at with my own mental, I guess well being as such, that this is part of me, and it makes me good at my job. It makes me good at what I do. And it’s there for me to know, the parts of life that really can scar us, and what is on the other side of scars, if you’re willing to look. And by that, I mean, if you’ve got something that scarred you, then it means that there’s a depth and there’s a level of caring there. So what’s on the other side of that, and for me, that’s the beauty of life. That’s, that’s the beauty of being able to love vulnerably and to be committed to living bravely and meaningfully. So that’s how I look at it.

Tim Sharp: Thank you, again, for beautiful sharing, as you always do. And I love that little phrase, what’s on the other side of scars? That reminds me of a I’m sure you’re familiar with the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi, which is finding the finding the beauty and imperfection, or, you know, in that context, maybe looking at scars, not as a wound, but as a sign of survival in a sense. But clearly, that coming to the acceptance didn’t just happen easily and didn’t just have a minutre or two like you just described it. What for you, was, what helped you most through that journey and to arrive at the state where you are now, which is well, in one way anyway, from my perspective,

Rebecca Ray: And so really interesting question. And I think it’s important to speak to what didn’t help, which was my impatience and my general stubbornness. I absolutely did not help myself for quite a long time. And sometimes still don’t, because I remain impatient and stubborn. I think the biggest thing was first realising that what happened was trauma, and that I was traumatised by.

Tim Sharp: Sorry to interrupt, to go back to the fact that I wonder if impatience and stubbornness is also ambition and persistence,

Rebecca Ray: Quite possibly, I am very tenacious. And I would say anyone that’s done as much training as we have is tenacious, that’s something that just has to come as part of our, you know, the fibre of our being. But I don’t know that I ever applied that tenacity to my own wellness until I absolutely had to, I’ll be completely honest with you, I could have done that work a lot earlier and I didn’t. I had done kind of superficial therapy where I’d never mentioned the trauma. And I just dealt with depression and anxiety. But I’ve never actually done trauma work until I left clinical practice. And that was the jump to go oh hold on a second, I’ve got to do something here was because it was affecting my work. And it was affecting my relationship. And Nyssa is, for those who are familiar with my work, you’re probably familiar with the fact that I have a wife, Nyssa, she is a single-handedly the most beautiful human I have ever come across in the history of the world. And my love for her was what motivated me to do something about myself. So I wanted to be able to love from a place that was open and vulnerable and willing, and I was none of those things because of the trauma. So recognising the trauma number one. And then secondly, what helped me most was actually going to a therapist that I didn’t know. So one of the things that might be interesting, for those of you that are not mental health professionals out there is that sometimes you become very familiar in your local area with the other mental health professionals doing that work. And I intentionally went out of area to see a psychologist who specialised in trauma I had never heard of him before. And it allowed me to fully step into the client role. And we did eye movement, desensitisation and reprocessing, those of you that are watching might have heard of it as EMDR. Now, I think actively choose this, but the benefit of that is I’m not trained in it. So one of the things that really helped me as well was, I could really sit there because I actually didn’t really know what was happening. So I wasn’t sitting there thinking, oh, my goodness, I would do it this way or I would say this at this point, being someone who specialised in treating trauma. So that was also the other thing I’d spent a lot of my career treating Defence Force personnel and military veterans as well as police and other emergency services personnel that was a large part of my work. And so being able to see this particular psychologist using a therapeutic technique that I wasn’t familiar with was profound for me. And it actually had a profound effects in the time that we worked together. And then what that allowed me to do is to go out into the world, from a place of what’s the best word, I don’t want to say wellness, groundedness is the word that I want, I was so much more grounded in myself, in my brain circuitry just in what I knew about myself and how I responded to the world, that I was then able to step forward and go, Okay, this is where I’m at, this is what I need in my life, these are the things that I’m now going to pursue. And then after that, I checked in with him just a couple of years later, when I got triggered by something, and we had a one-off session that kind of put me back together. And ever since then, it’s been mainly lifestyle factors. But the most helpful thing was that particular therapeutic process along with acknowledging the fact that I wasn’t okay.

Tim Sharp: We’re just to reflect on a few things you said there, because so you described a few things that were helpful, but prove me if I’m wrong, it sounds like the main drive motivating force was love. Which I can relate to, predominantly motivated me a lot, particularly in the second half of my life, as well as is the love my wife and children. So, you know, I think increasingly, I have seen both personally and professionally, that it might sound ridiculously corny, or cliche or whatever, but the importance of love of loving oneself, loving others. The other thing that I like to just reflect on, as you said, one of the things that didn’t work was impatience. And I thought that was interesting. So in cognitive behavioural terms, we might refer to unrealistic expectations might be a version of that. And I think that’s given the work that both of us do now, given our presence on social media. I think that’s an important one to comment on. Because I think as much as there’s some real good on social media and some very good influences for want of a better word. Yeah, there’s also the risk, I think of those who make false or unrealistic promises, but those do who offer magic cures. And I guess that’s just it was just a good reminder to it’s a warning I suppose, out there who are looking for something, I think, again, you look away and there’s great results that you’ll find but just be wary and think of as unrealistic promises or the miracle cures or the magic silver bullet. So to go back to it, guess the follow that the response that you made us was that the motivating factors were, well, I suppose to be perfectly honest, in the very early stages, it was life or death, if it was that bad, and I was that close to in my life. And once or at a point, when I realised, I didn’t want to ir was a bloody powerful motivator, who tried to stay alive, I suppose. Their motivation then shifted I suppose to just not just to staying alive, but to actually living again. And then as I hinted that to try and to be a successful person, a good husband initially, a good father, etc. And I suppose most recently, the motivation is very much about being, hopefully being a good husband, father and friend. The things that helped, well, as I hinted that previously, to be very honest, CBT, or cognitive behaviour therapy was a life changer for me. And I’ll preface this by saying I very much believe different things will work for different people. Yeah, there’s no doubt there’s good evidence for CBT there’s good evidence for act and if you are that, but you know, we’re all different and different things work. For me at that time in my life. CBT was perfect. It’s exactly what I needed. What I what made sense to me. And the person that offered it happened via a spectacularly good therapist, I think too. And I still, incredibly well. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have found her. And I’ve told her multiple times how grateful I am for literally saving my life and changing my life. Yeah. So again, to cut a long story short, I have a, so I’ve been in in therapy with multiple people over the years, and I’m now currently in regular therapy still, with essentially a CBT approach. But I have tried. Well, like you said earlier as I did actively try to go outside both my geographical area but also my professional area of expertise. So I spent quite a few years with an act therapists looking more to acceptance and mindfulness based approaches. I’ve done a lot of meditation and mindfulness practice over the years. And like you I suppose I’ve also done for quite a while now focus a lot, I love lifestyle factors. So for me, exercise is a very important part of my wellness routine. It’s a it’s an antidepressant, a stress buster, I, you know, maybe my wife thinks probably a bit too obsessively about my diet and exercise. But for me, they’re very important. And the other one that’s been significant for me that I still don’t think gets enough attention within the psychology, space, mental health space, but for me, it’s been super important is my sleep, focusing, prioritising and focusing on good sleep routine. Insomnia was a massive part of my depression both as a cause and effect, in a sense. So once I, when I was able to focus on and improve the quality of my sleep, that help, helped a lot for me, and I still put a lot of emphasis on, on trying to keep that as good as possible. So, you know, different things that worked at different stages in my life. Again, I’m back now into a relatively traditional CBT type approach, which is, you know, it has been good for me. Positive Psychology has also also played a big role in recent years, but I guess I’ve, I’ve, I’ve arrived at a stage now where I’ve created my own combination or formula I suppose, but it’s mostly working for me.

Rebecca Ray: I, I love that because it is it becomes a conglomerate of all the things that you’ve touched, and then you take the bits that kind of resonate with you. You know, I was thinking, when you mentioned that you were doing all the things that you probably shouldn’t have, as an adolescent, one of the I was never one to drink heavily. If at all, I just didn’t like the taste. But one of the things I couldn’t do that my friends would do at the time was go clubbing and stay out all night, because of my sleep. So one of the things that I’m dramatically affected by is not getting decent sleep. And I think that over the years, I, I also felt ripped off about that I felt really caught ripped off that I couldn’t just go and go to a stay at a party late. And then you know, get six hours sleep and be fine the next day, three hours sleep and be fine the next day, I was not okay. And now, someone who essentially goes to bed with my toddler at like 8pm and then sleeps for a very long time and gets up the next morning at you know, six, one of the things that I have come to accept is that things like that, I mean, we talk about, oh get good sleep and make sure that you exercise and eat well, blah, blah, blah. And I think sometimes we come across this information so often, but it loses its meaning. But if you just focus on the basics like that it can be transformative for your entire life. I think those things are incredibly important. And the reason we hear about them so much is because of their impact, not just because it’s the thing that we should say they actually really do make a difference.

Tim Sharp: There are multiple complex causes of mental ill-health, including depression. But if you’re sleep-deprived, eating crap, and sitting at a desk staring at a screen all thr time, there’s, that’s almost certainly going to cause depression. But again, you know, they think it is different horses for courses, there are some people who can do all the wrong things, and go late and not sleep and still be okay, and good luck. But for those of us, who can’t, we need to accept that, we need to be wise enough to recognise who we are. And I think both of both you and I have, you know, politically in recent years, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you know, we’ve benefited from this movement towards authenticity and vulnerability, the idea that we can be who we are and accept our imperfections now, that didn’t really exist back when either of us started out. I mean, it did in a way, but not at the level, you know, that it’s achieved now, thanks to Brene, Brown, and others, etc. So, and I think that’s fantastic. And I very much hope that that greater acceptance of individuality and imperfection. Which I see more and more in younger people, I think will be massively helpful. You know, there’s still a lot of work to be done there’s no doubt about it. But I do think, you know, when I look at my children and their generation, there’s no doubt that things are, you know, that the conversations in this area, are just so much further advanced than they were back in my day, which is great.

Rebecca Ray: Absolutely, I agree. But I don’t know about you, but the way I was trained as well as a psychologist was essentially to be a blank canvas. So there was no part of you that entered the therapy room unless you were absolutely sure that it was going to serve the therapeutic relationship or help the person move forward with whatever technique it was that you were using. And that meant hiding a lot of, or at least myself ourselves in the therapeutic process. And I understand the benefits of that, certainly for making sure that the client gets what they’re coming for, you know that this process is about them. But it also stopped me for a very long period of time being honest with myself. It stopped me from being able to to show up and go, hey, I’m not so great right now and perhaps I need to do some things, some extra things to support myself through this. Instead, I ignored that because I thought that’s what a good psychologist should do. I thought a good psychologist should be well all the time, because we know the things, and therefore should not be affected by what’s happening and should know better, essentially. So it actually stopped me, that training stopped me from being able to authentically, behind the scenes, look after myself. I know a lot better now and certainly for supervisors that I worked with, when I was back in clinical work, and I was doing supervision, I spent a lot of time talking to them about the importance of looking after yourself in the fact that you’re not immune from anything that any human would suffer just because you’re a psychologist. But the authenticity movement for me, is, has brought me back to a place where not only do I work from what I know about psychology, and how that can help people, but also what I know from my lived experience, and combining the two, I feel like has so much more power than what I when I first kind of started out as an intern, and it was all kind of blank canvas stuff. So I’m very grateful for the movement for that, because we can have conversations like this, which I think is so much more powerful than sitting behind a textbook saying, here’s how you do CBT. And we know because we’ve trained and that’s it, that’s the end of the conversation,

Tim Sharp: Entirely agree and I had a very similar experience. In fact, I remember one of the factors early on, that stopped me from sharing my story, I suppose, though, and I remember this distinctly is that I didn’t want to be the clinical psychologist that people came to, because he experienced depression. I wanted to be the clinical psychologist people came to me because he was expert. Yeah. And that, at that time, they were seen as almost dichotomous, you know, separate constructs. And then look, I do think there’s a role for that. I do think there’s a role for expertise in in it of itself, for you know that professional one for want of a better word, blank slate, as you said, a qualified professional who imparts the evidence based techniques, I do you think there’s a role. But I also think there’s a role and increasingly we’ve seen both you and I as well as examples of professionals, and not just in psychology, but in other areas as well, obviously, where that the integration of lived experience can add another flavour or layer or whatever you want to call it. And, and I do think that’s been massively beneficial in so many ways.

Rebecca Ray: And just the acknowledgement that they see, it’s that it’s not a dichotomy. You know, you and I are both arguably successful in our field, we have gone on to become experts at treating what we used to treat, and now writing what we write and producing the content that we produce. But we also live with mental health conditions that need ongoing management, those, those two things are one in the same that is our whole selves. And I think it’s really important that we have a discussion, hence why we’re doing this publicly, so that people can understand that you don’t have to be, if you’re one doesn’t mean you can’t be the other. You know, you if you’ve had depression, that doesn’t mean you can’t be an expert at what you do. If you’re an expert, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get depressed. Those things, they don’t exist exclusively a`nd I think that’s incredibly important. It doesn’t mean that if I walked back into clinical practice, the first thing I say to the next client is hey, did you know that I’ve got a history of trauma, it doesn’t work like that, right? There’s a time and a place. But I do think it’s really important to, for us to be able to acknowledge that we have careers that continue to evolve and continue to flourish in various areas we are loved and we love and we have, you know, these incredibly meaningful relationships and interests and for want of a better word lives that we’re proud of. And we manage mental health conditions on a daily basis. It can be done.

Tim Sharp: Definitely. And as you know, as we’ve discussed before, I think one of the motivations for doing this, this little project, which I didn’t actually tell you this, but I’ve been dabbling with a name, maybe call ourselves the psycho psych’s or something, or the mad psychologist, or, but I do think in addition to everything you said, which I agree with 100%. I do think one of the things we can do well, in addition to showing that mental health professionals can experience mental ill-health. One of the messages that I’ve increasingly tried to communicate in recent years is that mental ill-health include success in life. Yeah. Whether you’re experiencing even severe depression, trauma, anxiety, etc, etc, etc, we can still people can do a thriving, flourishing successful live. And I don’t think that’s been as much as the conversation has improved and expanded over the years, fantastically so. I don’t think that’s been as much a part of it as I would like. And this is sort of one of my rants, I suppose, or things that I rant about, which is that, you know, as is ever, it the risk of sounding immodest, I think I’ve achieved a great deal of success, you have achieved a degree of success, we both achieved a lot. I mean, I’ve achieved 1000 times more than I thought would be possible. And yet I’ve done it despite ongoing chronic, very poor mental health at times. And I think, I hope that that can be a motivation, inspiring message to those out there. But for anyone out there that is experiencing any form of mental ill-health, it doesn’t mean you can’t be happy and successful.

Rebecca Ray : Thank you for listening to this excerpt of chat with Dr. Tim Sharp, also known as Doctor Happy. You can find more of his work at drhappy.com.au and he’s on the socials as @thehappinessinstitute.

Rebecca Ray: Lovely ones. Thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you’ve got something meaningful from this episode, then the most meaningful thing you can do is jump on over to wherever you listen to your podcast episodes and leave a review because it’s those reviews that help this podcast stay here. Make sure to subscribe and if you’re generous enough to share this episode, thank you so much. I love seeing your shares on social media. So please tag me, catch you next time.