I have asked myself this question so many times since selling my digital marketing business in 2017 and going full-time into mental health speaking, training, education, and consulting. I know now that this is just one of those statements that indicate frustration.

It means I need to take a break.

But why do I feel this way every other week about something I’m so passionate about?

This is a high-rejection subject which can take its toll

I did know that going in.

Fortunately, there is more demand now and I’m definitely booked and busy but there are still so many roadblocks and work to get past those roadblocks like school and university politics, lawyers who think that doing nothing is “safer,” myths, stigma, and the belief that talking about self-harm, substance misuse, or suicide “teaches” students these habits.

News Flash– It’s already part of their culture. They are already talking about it. And if they are, so should we. Many times, one administrator will be all in and then other higher-ups block the effort or put it on hold.

That means it’s hard to get the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Then there’s the telling and retelling of my story over and over

I change it up. I insert new stories that make me smile. Let’s face it, the outcome is still the same. My child is still dead and I miss him.

The consulting and training have helped alleviate that. But nothing has helped more than the audience’s willingness to share themselves.

Yeah, I’m talking about the now-famous index cards. Because after, when I experience that emotional crash that is inevitable, I pull out the cards. I recognize the signals and that’s the time to savor the words of the audience. It’s my way of taking just a little piece of everyone with me on the journey. This does fill me back up and I’m so grateful for how thoughtful and earnest people are when I’m honest about why I want, or rather need, that index card from them.

I just ask, “Share one thing you learned today.”

It’s one of the best self-care steps I’ve ever taken. And soon I’ll need a warehouse for all of them because none of them will ever be thrown away.

feedback hand written on an index card
don't take on others problems
You don’t have to take on the burden to solve someone’s problems. All you have to do is listen.
Listen and reach out with empathy. Do not avoid awkwardness. Avoid lecturing.
Listen and reach out with empathy. Do not avoid awkwardness. Avoid lecturing.

An example of rejection from a few years ago

Someone recommended me as a motivational speaker for an event in Texas. I had spoken at her event and they raised the most funds they ever had in the history of the 50-year organization so they were thrilled. I was still glowing from the success and the client introduced me by email to someone who had reached out to her about a keynote motivational speaker for their event. I replied and offered this person from Texas the topics on which I speak.

The woman wrote back she wasn’t interested. She said, and I quote…..

“I hardly think we want or need a speaker who talks about suicide and mental health at a wine-tasting and steak fundraiser!”

And yes she added the handly little exclamation point. You might think that made me mad. What it did is made me laugh. It’s so unbelievably rude I wondered under what rock she was raised. It had a “how dare you?” attitude.

Instead of writing her back right away, I decided to take a power walk around the block and give my mind a moment to cool. Because after I laughed I did get mad.

When is the right time to talk about mental health, suicide, or any of these difficult topics? On vacation? In your morning meeting? At lunch break? And bingo I had my response. Everyone thinks no time is the right time when in reality every time is the right time. There is no wrong time.

I emailed her back and said,

“Madeline, you are so right. This subject doesn’t go well at a wine tasting and steak dinner, it’s clearly a brunch topic. It goes far better with omelets and hash browns.”

That was so satisfying to send.

Speaking on Mental Health Can be Harsh. Suicide Prevention Can be Even Harsher

While it’s one of the hottest subjects in conferences, schools, and workplaces where I speak, pushback is still strong and most schools think all they have to do is hire more clinicians.

And workplaces think they just need more benefits in their EAP (employee assistance programs.)

But for any of these additional resources to work or be effective, the culture has to allow for them to work. And that’s where the pushback comes in. No one wants to do that work even though it’s little shifts to do it. No one needs to make some wholesale change or major curriculum overhaul.

The check-the-box approach isn’t going to cut it. It’s just tough knowing the shifts that need to happen and the effort to make it happen is so excruciatingly slow.

I’m not quitting even though there are times the uphill climb is so wrought with lions and tigers I’m likely to get ripped apart before reaching a destination. I’ll be honest. My subscribers do keep me engaged and my eye on the ball. If you are one of them, thank you for that.