Notes and Mentions
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Serena: Hey Everyone, I?m Serena.
Tina: And I?m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.
Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you?re here.
Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.
Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as parents with lived experience who are on a mission to normalize the conversation around mental health.
Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You?ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.
Serena: Tina and I often talk about the concept of finding your champions. And these are the people who are going to support you and who ?get? you.
Tina: Right. Our champions are those people who help us through challenging times and ?have our backs? always.
Serena: So today we have invited a guest to our podcast who is all about finding your village which in many ways is the same idea as finding your champions and we are excited to have this conversation with her today!
Tina: Amanda Gorman is passionate about writing, podcasting, recovery from addiction and trauma, music, racial reconciliation, and birth work. She is a childbirth education mentor and the host of the Finding Your Village podcast. Amanda, welcome to our podcast!
Amanda: Thank you so much for having me. I?m so excited to be here.
Serena: OK. So let?s start by having you share a bit of your story. You know, perhaps how you?ve come to be both a childbirth education mentor and a podcaster?
Amanda: Yeah, absolutely, I?d love to share. Thank you. This is a well timed question for me today too because part of my back story is a little over two years ago I was pregnant with my second child. So I have a little girl and a little boy. I was seven months pregnant with my son. I was taking a bath, listening to a podcast and I had this idea that just like entered my head of, why don?t you start a podcast? And I just thought that was so strange and out of character and I was like, no, that?s a ridiculous idea. I?m very quiet, reserved, keep to myself, don?t like to garner a whole lot of attention and this thought just wouldn?t go away. So I started taking little steps toward, you know, what would it look like if I did start a podcast. What would I need to learn? What would I need to do? How much time would it take? And in February of 2020, I launched the first episode of the Finding Your Village podcast. And yesterday I published episode 100 of the podcast.
Tina: Oh, yay!
Amanda: Thank you.
Tina: Yes, we?re clapping for you. Yeah.
Amanda: Thank you. I appreciate that. So it?s very humbling to think this is where I am and that?s where I started. And this podcast has absolutely been part of my recovery journey. Recovery from trauma, from addiction and from mental health issues that I?ve experienced during parenting and postpartum. And this podcast is also the reason why I changed careers. I used to work in corporate America. I did for ten years in healthcare supply chain and after I had my second child I quit and stayed home with my kids and I was then inspired by the podcast episodes that I did to become a childbirth educator. I got certified in an organization called Birthing From Within and in that organization they actually call them Childbirth Education Mentors because we?re not really instructing people on how to give birth. Everybody knows how to give birth intuitively. We instead take the posture of a mentor and walking beside parents that have either never done this before or would like a little bit of support. So that is kind of a quick summary of my back story.
Tina: I love that. I?m feeling like I wish I had that long, long ago when I had my people. Yeah, that?s awesome! So you alluded to this just a second ago and we said it in the introduction. You are passionate about recovery from addiction and trauma. I?m curious if you can talk a little bit more about this? Tell us more and how it?s really shaped your life.
Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. So I grew up with some adverse childhood events so that?s what I?m referring to when I talk about the trauma. And then addiction; I am a recovering marijuana addict. So I have been sober for a little over nineteen months. And the pandemic which coincided with the launch of my podcast really brought all of that to a head. And so when I was in college, I started smoking weed like a lot of people do. It?s a lot of people?s story and today it?s even more normalized because it?s been legalized in so many states. But for me it started out like kind of that stereotypical college experimentation but what?s different about me than other people that, you know, every once in a while smoke a little pot is that I?m one of the nine percent of people who have become addicted to it. So when I smoke weed I don?t just hit a joint every once in a while. When I start I eventually end up smoking from morning until night.
Tina: Mmm. And that?s unusual, right?
Amanda: It is.
Tina: I mean you said nine percent. That?s a pretty small percentage and I think that?s a big conversation. Serena and I have been involved with substance abuse coalitions in various places we?ve been and that, you know, I think a lot of people think, oh, it?s super addictive. And because that percentage is so low, it?s very little of what?s considered when we legalize, you know, as we legalize marijuana, right?
Amanda: Yeah absolutely. In the addiction community I call marijauna addicts, like, the red-headed step children of recovery rooms because a lot of people think you can?t get addicted to weed. Or they kind of dismiss it like, oh, you?re just addicted to weed, that?s not that big a deal, you can?t like overdose and die from it. And it is a big deal to those of us who have been affected by it and it?s?in recovery rooms we kind of call it, like, when you get addicted to weed, it?s like dying by the death of a thousand million kicks of a bunny. It is a slow, insidious downslide into a place where you just don?t care about anything or anyone else. And it increases depression if you already are experiencing depression or are more likely to have depressive episodes. So it increases that. And so from that standpoint it is very, very serious.
It really affected me and impacted me especially as a mom. And so all throughout my twenties I smoked a bunch and then stopped before I had my kids and stopped whenever I was pregnant and breastfeeding. Then as soon as I was done breastfeeding I would go right back to it. And I started doing that at the end of 2019 after I had?after I was done breastfeeding my son and then I had planned on kind of stopping again and just letting that passtime kind of run it?s course and then the pandemic happened and that was the only excuse I needed to keep on doing my thing. And at the time I had used it like, instead of Mommy?s glass of wine at the end of the day, I would indulge in a vape pen (which that was a game changer and made it a lot worse for me because a vape pen is very discreet and when my kids were playing I could just pop outside, hit that really fast, and then come back in and get right back into play time). And some people would hear that and would gasp and think that?s horrible. And some people would hear that and say like, I?m a 420 mom, that?s just what I do, like there?s no big deal. And so when I say that, there?s no judgment here on my end. I?ve forgiven myself for all of my indiscretions and character defects and I'm not judging anyone else. But what I will say is that it did not work for me. And it impacted me as a mom and I am sad about those times when I wasn?t just able to be fully present with my kids and needed a substance to make it throughout the day. And of course the pandemic was full throttle and it was a scary time and that was my crutch. That was my go-to that I had been relying on for over a decade so it makes sense that that?s what I relied on and I think that a lot of people did as well during the pandemic and maybe not with weed but with alcohol or some other substance and so I think that?s a lot of people?s story.
But for me, it then got to a place that was then my lowest low, that was my bottom. And so in the fall of 2020 I was at a point where I was smoking morning to night and I just didn?t care about anyone or anything except for that. And I just needed to stop. I needed to stop forever, not just take a break, I needed to completely stop. And so I actually found Marijuana anonymous which a lot of people don?t know exists. And it does. It was founded off of AA, Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Step Program. But it?s a place; and I go on Zoom, so we have Zoom meetings and it?s a place where I feel seen, where everybody in the meeting is telling their story that is so similar to mine and they get it and they get me. And there?s no judgment. It?s just a place where we can just talk about how hard it is. We can kind of support each other and lean on each other and that is how I got sober in addition to a lot of therapy. A lot of therapy?EMDR, couples therapy. I went to residential treatment for three weeks as well while I was getting sober. Which is another misconception about marijuana. People think, like, well if you?re getting sober from marijuana, it?s not like you have to go through withdrawals. There?s actually major, major withdrawal symptoms of smoking weed, especially if you do it as much as I did and especially if you use very concentrated forms like what?s in a vape pen. Sleeplessness, irritability, mood swings, some people even experience psychosis either while using or afterwards. I mean it is very, very serious and it?s clinically established, diagnosable. I mean, every single therapist I?ve ever talked to about it is like, oh yeah, people have no idea how serious the withdrawal symptoms can be and how serious an addiction this can be for people that are addicted.
Tina: So I just want to normalize the fact that it seems to me that what I?m hearing you say and what I hear from others is we had a lot of unhealthy coping strategies that were really masking other need that we had, right? SoI don?t think it?s unusual. I talk about self-medication in a very normal way, right? People are not?I mean, you?re doing all the things, right? Going to therapy, getting help with recovery. I think a lot of times it?s just admitting that we are kind of self-medicating for other reasons. And OK, pandemic. That?s a reason for everyone, right? I mean seriously. So I just want to normalize that and kind of take away that shame. There is no, you know?it is?we self-medicate whatever, food. I was really stressed the other day and I literally just needed something crunchy to hear myself eat and I know that?s an unhealthy coping strategy, right? And it happens so?
Serena: Yeah. Thanks for your vulnerability in sharing all of that. I think it?s important for people to hear that it?s?that there are many different experiences, right? And it sounds like you found your people. And so let?s dig into the idea of Finding Your Village. What do you mean when you use that phrase and why is it important?
Amanda: Yeah. When I say that phrase I mean that we aren?t parenting in the proverbial village that we used to and that is?it?s awkward and it?s scary and it?s hard and it makes things very lonely. And so there are people that don?t even have family nearby when they?re having little kids. I do have family nearby but there?s also other needs that family and friends can?t provide like therapy. And especially if you are dealing with something you need to recover from. And so I look at the idea of finding your village as finding people to surround yourself with that will support you in whatever you?re going through whether it?s welcoming your baby and being someone to help you with the birthing process or the postpartum process or when you?re going back to work. You know, there are providers that can be part of your village in addition to family and friends.
And I also include with that the concept of finding your own internal resources to include in your village. And that has been something that I didn?t know when I set out to create this podcast and I found along the way during my own recovery. And I realized that having external resources of family and friends and providers and books and podcasts, that was very important but I also needed to resource myself in the form of doing the work of healing and recovery, going to therapy and then having tools in place, right? So we just talked about negative coping mechanisms and you have to replace that with something. I couldn?t just get rid of smoking weed or you know, eating desserts. I have to actively find things to replace that with and then make it a practice to use those things when I am emotionally dysregulated. And so when I teach childbirth classes and talk to parents, I always talk about all of those aspects of finding external resources in family and friends and providers and resources that you can kind of consume like podcast, video, books, and your internal resources. So like, write cheat sheets for yourself. What are those go-to things? What do I like to do that will fill me up, bring me joy, bring me bliss in my life and what can I do when I?m feeling dysregulated? What are the tools I have in my toolbelt?
Tina: That?s awesome. You are speaking our language. We often talk about filling up a toolbox. What I love that you added to that is practice, practice, practice, right? When you are not too unwell to be able to access those things. I love that. So tell parents?let?s circle back a little bit more to the village?if someone doesn?t or hasn?t taken advantage of this, what suggestions do you have? And Serena and I worked with parents for a long time and honestly many times when we?re there to support them they?re already in not such a great place so it?s hard to access those people. It really takes a lot of unloading and delving in to help them think about that. But I?m curious, where do you start? What suggestions do you have for parents who need to find their champions? Or your village. Sorry, we use that word, so sorry.
Amanda: Absolutely. Champions, village, your people, I love all of it. All of it is the same to me. I would say that really my suggestion for the first step is just to take on the role of the curious observer and just notice where you are before even trying to take any action or figure out what the first step is. I really think that the pre-step is just, you can kind of visualize one of those old maps at the mall that says, ?You Are Here.? You can kind of orient yourself of where you want to go next. That?s step one, it?s just recognizing where you are and then feel those feelings. And those feelings might include grief or I feel really lonely and I?m sad and I?m grieved that I don?t have anybody right now. And so that might just be part of that process. Feeling anticipation or even excitement or dread or fear or frustration and just kind of observe. What do you feel? And not with judgment. With just, like, OK, I?m feeling all of these things. I am lonely. I don?t have a lot of resources. I?m tired. I?m burned out. Whatever it is. And just notice where you are. And so then once you?ve given yourself a chance to orient yourself where you are and feel all those feelings and process them then I would suggest starting with one small area. And so I like to think of finding your village really in three different kind of ways of external resources that are people, external resources that are not people but things you can consume like media, books, things like that, and then internal resources. And so kind of start in one small area, perhaps in two out of three of those areas or all three. And so maybe find a podcast or a book that speaks to you or a blog that you can regularly kind of go to and reference and maybe get some ideas. Maybe get a little bit brave and courageous and vulnerable and reach out to somebody that you know, that you trust, that is maybe a family member or a friend. If that?s not an option, you can also look into therapy, counseling. And so reach out to someone outside of yourself. And then the internal resource could be, really, that?s kind of the starting point of just being observant about where you are. So you?re kind of doing that already and accessing your own internal resources and then growing on that as well. And so for anybody listening this is one of those resources which is great. And so utilizing the tools that you all recommend could be a great starting point as well.
Serena: That?s great. Thank you for sharing all of that. Yeah. Yeah so, Tina and I love to envision a positive and hopeful future so we wonder if you would join us in imagining a world in which all parents have found their village? What does that look like?
Amanda: Yeah, that?s a really joyful thing for me to think about. It would to me look like a very happy, joyful, free place where it?s a journey that?s not necessarily one destination, where parents are used to reaching out to one another. They?re used to pulling on their own internal resources. They are used to processing their feelings. It?s not something that parents learn along the way in the middle of parenting when they?re thirty years old, that they?re used to processing their feelings, giving space for the good, the bad and everything in between. And where it?s not taboo to talk about the hard times at the park while watching the kids, not taboo to reach out at 10:30 at night with a text to say, hey I really need to vent, I really need to let something out and talk it through. Let me know when you?re available. And it?s also a place in my imagination where there is an abundance of help, support and resources for parents outside of parents themselves and their immediate friends and family where we have institutions and systems in place that are much, much more supportive of parents and their mental health and their work/life balance.
Tina: Mmm. Love that. So clearly Serena and I and you share the value for supporting parents which, quite honestly in this world is harder to mainstream and normalize because what we want to do is fix kids, right? And what we know to be true is when parents feel supported and connected, they have children who are more successful, right? So tell our audience where they can find you and what you offer.
Amanda: Yeah, thank you. You can find me at my website which is www.findingyourvillage.com and you can also find me on social media on Instagram at findingyourvillage, on TikTok at findingyourvillage. And what I offer is online course for parents preparing for childbirth and preparing for the postpartum period. The postpartum class I created with my business partner, who is also named Amanda, who is a postpartum doula, and a sleep consultant, we created a course that is something that can help parents to learn how to take care of their newborn and to learn how to take care of themselves. So we have lots of exercises to help them find their village and those resources I talked about as well and just walk them through that process.
Serena: Mmm. That?s great. So before we wrap up today, is there anything that we haven?t asked you that you would like to put out there to the world?
Amanda: I?ll just, I mean I?ve mentioned it in the show, but I?ll just also give one last reminder to always give yourself grace. And at any time if you?re having a, just a hard moment, if you can just kind of step out of the moment and be curious about what you?re feeling, what you?re experiencing, without judgment. That?s just something that I would love to invite all listeners, all parents, all people to do in those moments.
Serena: Mmm. So Amanda, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your story with openness and vulnerability. We appreciate your work around encouraging parents to seek out their village! That?s awesome.
Amanda: Well thank you so much for having me today. I really appreciate it.
Tina: So I?ve loved this conversation, especially in a pandemic when traditional therapy isn?t quite as accessible. You have really shared some very concrete tools and suggestions and we love that. So thank you.
Tina: And so podcast friends, we are, as always, grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leave us a review, subscribe and please share with others. You will find lots more content on our website NoNeedtoExplainPodcast.com. You can also connect with us on all of our socials which are on our website! And we have a new voicemail, right Serena?
Serena: We do! We would love to hear from you, hear your stories, or just call and say hi. And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.
Tina: Thanks so much for listening!