Episode 196 Dr. Sherry Walling Rediscovering Yourself After Loss Transcript

This transcript is from episode 196 with guest Dr. Sherry Walling.

[00:00:00] Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you’re a veteran active duty guard reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host Scott DeLuzio and now let’s get on with the show.

[00:00:21] Scott DeLuzio: Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Dr. Sherry Walling. Dr. Walling is a repeat guest on the podcast. If you remember back to episode 32 you might remember her. If not, if you’re a new listener, you may not have gotten a chance to listen to that episode, but I’ll link to it in the show notes.

[00:00:42] Scott DeLuzio: Now 164 episodes later, and she’s back definitely long overdue. Dr. Walling is a psychologist and she’s here to discuss her new book, Touching Two Worlds, which is a guide for finding hope during times of loss. The book launch is actually the same day that this [00:01:00] episode is being released. So you can go ahead and grab a copy today and we’ll have more information about where you can find.

[00:01:05] Scott DeLuzio: The book a little bit later. But first welcome back to the show. Sherry. I’m glad to have you on

[00:01:10] Dr. Sherry Walling: thanks for having me back and congratulations on all of these episodes that you’ve accumulated over these

[00:01:16] Scott DeLuzio: years. I know it’s one of those things where, when I first started this podcast, I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

[00:01:23] Scott DeLuzio: And I didn’t think it was gonna last more than maybe a dozen. Couple dozen episodes or so, and

[00:01:29] Dr. Sherry Walling: most people don’t make it to 20.

[00:01:30] Scott DeLuzio: So yeah, exactly. So, here we are over 200 episodes now and it’s still going strong, so I’m pretty happy with the progress that we’ve made. Well,

[00:01:39] Dr. Sherry Walling: sounds like you really found your, you found your niche, right?

[00:01:42] Dr. Sherry Walling: Something that you enjoy and your listeners really benefit.

[00:01:45] Scott DeLuzio: I think that’s the key. Because if I found myself just kind of dreading doing this and it’s like, oh man, I gotta do another episode. I probably wouldn’t do it for very long, but it’s something that clearly I do enjoy doing otherwise.

[00:01:57] Scott DeLuzio: I, like I said, I wouldn’t still be here doing it. I’d be [00:02:00] finding something else to occupy my time and and have a little more enjoy. Enjoyable time spent on, on that type of stuff. But but yeah, it’s not only is it enjoyable for me, like you said it is helping other people and that’s what I hope to get out of this episode as well is some of your Your experience and your guidance as far as coping with loss and grief and the things that you’ve experienced in your life that you have written about in this book.

[00:02:23] Scott DeLuzio: And I guess before we dive into all of that for the listeners who maybe didn’t catch the first episode that we did together why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your back.

[00:02:33] Dr. Sherry Walling: Yeah, I’m a clinical psychologist by training. So I have a PhD in clinical psychology and I spent most of the sort of first phase of my career working in VA hospitals.

[00:02:42] Dr. Sherry Walling: And, with people who had recently returned from OEF OIF at that time. So I trained at the national center for PTSD, which is a, at the site that’s in Boston. And I kind of took my experience with folks who had. High intensity experiences and high [00:03:00] intensity jobs and parlay that into a focus on working with entrepreneurial mental health.

[00:03:05] Dr. Sherry Walling: So I work mostly with business owners and founders around their own experiences of stress, transition grief. Deciding whether to sell or exit, just the big decisions that go into their lives. So it’s just, I have like a super interesting work life. So in addition to meeting one on one with entrepreneurs, I have a podcast called Zen founder.

[00:03:27] Dr. Sherry Walling: I like to write books and give talks and I’m raising two sons. And I’m a circus artist. So , there’s a little

[00:03:36] Scott DeLuzio: introduction that is an introduction. And somewhere in the whole mix of all of that, you found time to sit down and talk with me here. And that’s to me, I think that it’s pretty great.

[00:03:44] Scott DeLuzio: And I think that the circus circus artist has, is relatively new in your life. Isn’t it? Uh, Probably within the last few years or it hasn’t been longer than that.

[00:03:54] Dr. Sherry Walling: I started about five years ago. Okay. And became really intense about [00:04:00] three years ago. Okay. And it actually correlates with my experience of grief.

[00:04:03] Dr. Sherry Walling: So I write about in the book, the way that movement has been a really powerful part of working through. Big losses for me. And so it could have been long distance running or, competitive kayaking or something. But for me it was aerial arts. And so it’s been a place of healing and expression.

[00:04:20] Dr. Sherry Walling: That’s been a really important part of my life recently.

[00:04:23] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Because that’s also not just a physical movement. It is sort of an art form as well in, in the choreography of the movements. Yeah. And everything like that. It’s. It’s very important that you get timing, right? I would imagine yeah. That you’re time timing

[00:04:40] Dr. Sherry Walling: is everything

[00:04:41] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. So, so it’s more than just getting on the road and going for a long distance run or something like that. There’s a whole lot of things that, that go into it. And first off I’m glad that you found this thing that is that resonates with you that makes it so that you can heal and express yourself in this kind of more creative.

[00:04:58] Scott DeLuzio: Form, right? [00:05:00]

[00:05:01] Dr. Sherry Walling: So yeah, we call it artist athlete, right? The circus artists are, they have both the athletic ability and then the emotional expression sort of piece that you’re identifying. Yeah.

[00:05:11] Scott DeLuzio: And that makes sense. I’ve seen been to various shows that have had that type of thing, and it’s always just amazing to me seeing the, these people flying through the air, doing all these D.

[00:05:24] Scott DeLuzio: Things that my gosh, I don’t know how you even get started with that because I’m looking at it like, Nope, that’s not for me. , I’m glad it’s for someone, but it’s not for me. so let’s get into your book. The book again, Touching Two Worlds was born out of your own personal history of grief after the loss of your father and your brother.

[00:05:47] Scott DeLuzio: And. I think we briefly touched on this in the last episode, in terms of the grief aspect of it. But yeah. Can you tell us more about that and what drove you to write this book? [00:06:00]

[00:06:00] Dr. Sherry Walling: Yeah. So I lost my father to esophageal cancer in November of 2018. And then I lost my brother to suicide in may of 2019.

[00:06:12] Dr. Sherry Walling: So they were six months apart to the day. And that’s a lot of grief to be immersed in all at one time. And. Really when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, which was about 18 months before he died, I started writing. It was just the thing that I did in the middle of the night. I mean, honestly, most of this book was written at like 3:00 AM

[00:06:35] Dr. Sherry Walling: So it was a, we edited a lot, but it was just the thing that I did and needed to do as I was processing what was happening to me and to my family. And I wrote so much that. I found myself sending little paragraphs or little essays to friends or to clients or people who were experiencing other kinds of loss or the same kinds of losses.

[00:06:59] Dr. Sherry Walling: And [00:07:00] it started to feel like, huh, I think this maybe could be helpful to people. And so put it together into a book, added a lot of my clinical background. So there’s a lot of Suggestions in the book for journaling practices or breath work or yoga movements or things that I’ve found to be helpful. So I package that in with my own experiences into something that’s hopefully really of service to the reader.

[00:07:26] Scott DeLuzio: And I think that is a key aspect of it is your own your clinical approach to things as well, because it’s not just, and I don’t want to. Like reduce what this actually is. It’s not just your personal experience, but you also have the professional side of it where you’re able to approach this from from more the clinical approach where you can say, okay, there, these are the things that are maybe helping in and why and that type of thing.

[00:07:52] Scott DeLuzio: And I, I think that’s especially helpful, especially when people are going through. Their own times of grief, where [00:08:00] they are struggling with one thing or another, they’re not thinking as clearly as they could be, but then you have someone like yourself who is able to sympathize with them. You’ve been there, you’ve done that.

[00:08:13] Scott DeLuzio: You’ve experienced this type of grief. And then you can also say, Hey, this is the stuff that. We’ll help you in one way or another for various things, right? Yeah, as far as. That goes when you were writing this book know when I wrote my book, there are certain aspects of it that were hard to revisit, especially with regards to grief and loss and things like that.

[00:08:36] Scott DeLuzio: What was that writing process like for you? Were you able to detach yourself from that and make it easier to write? Or how is that all done for it for you?

[00:08:47] Dr. Sherry Walling: So the first. Round of writing really was more like a journal, to be honest. And I would. I would write an weep. Like I was just [00:09:00] emoting and I, so I said a lot of this book was written at like 3:00 AM and then a lot of it was written on airplanes.

[00:09:07] Dr. Sherry Walling: So I would get in the airplane and I always would get the window seat and I would get out my laptop and I would just start writing cuz it was a place where I had to be still, but inevitably I would like start crying. So I’m crying and writing on the airplane. Like it was just sort of a hot mess kind of experience.

[00:09:23] Dr. Sherry Walling: So the first round of writing was really. Getting these stories out and in a way, my own curiosity at like, wow, look, what’s happened to my life. What a surprise. And then there was another wave of writing that was much more about, so what does this mean for other people? What does this mean in terms of how you move forward?

[00:09:45] Dr. Sherry Walling: So the book was really written in waves. And I think that comes through in the book, there are pieces that are really raw. And then there are pieces that do have the tempering of reflection, right. That, that have a little more groundedness to them. And I’m [00:10:00] hopeful again, that’s also really helpful to the reader.

[00:10:03] Scott DeLuzio: You know, it’s funny that you mentioned the writing on the airplane because I was, when I was doing some research for this episode I went to your website and I was looking through the website and there’s a photo of, one of the pages in your book. And the title of the chapter is the special art of crying on airplanes.

[00:10:20] Scott DeLuzio: And I, that actually just made me laugh because. I could just picture the scene of somebody sitting in an airplane and just bawling their eyes out. And there’s the flight attendant who doesn’t know really what to do with this. And there’s the passenger sitting next to them who also doesn’t know what to do with this.

[00:10:39] Scott DeLuzio: And while for the person who’s sitting there crying, it’s obviously a sad, a very emotional occasion, whatever it is that they’re going through. But. It almost could be taken out of a comedy. It’s

[00:10:52] Dr. Sherry Walling: also funny. It’s funny. I mean, I have a chapter in the book about my experience. My dad died at home in the living [00:11:00] room of the house that I grew up in.

[00:11:01] Dr. Sherry Walling: And and after he died, it was very sacred and beautiful, this experience of laying next to him in bed when he passed on. But after he died, his jaw kept. Falling open in this really ridiculous way. And so I just elegantly tried to like reach my hand up and just like close his mouth right. To make it.

[00:11:25] Dr. Sherry Walling: And then it just fell right open again. And it just, it was bothering me so much that eventually I just started puppeting his mouth to say things to my FA my mom was right there. I was just like, thanks for the death party guys. I mean, it just death. It there’s some really funny parts. About the very human experience of bodies as they are passing on to the other side.

[00:11:50] Dr. Sherry Walling: And I wanted to capture some of that too, because grief is so many things. It’s not just, the sadness of a glistening tier, [00:12:00] like. It’s rage and it’s fear. And it’s funny sometimes, and it can be really joyful. Grief can help you really connect to your own aliveness. And what’s important to you. So, there’s a lot of complexity to grief that I didn’t really understand before I went through it.

[00:12:18] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And especially that humor aspect. And I love that you shared that story and thank you for that. But I, I remember when I was younger in the first funeral I went to and. People who are making jokes about the deceased person not making fun of that person, but just talking about their life and funny things that happened and funny things that they would do and things like that.

[00:12:40] Scott DeLuzio: And I remember sitting there being. Being all confused as a young, is this

[00:12:45] Dr. Sherry Walling: okay? We’re not supposed to do this.

[00:12:47] Scott DeLuzio: I can’t laugh now. Can I like this is funny, but I shouldn’t be laughing. I know this, like I’ve seen the movies I’ve seen, TV shows. I shouldn’t be laughing. This is, I should be crying. I shouldn’t be laughing.

[00:12:59] Scott DeLuzio: [00:13:00] And, but I’m glad that you shared that because you’re right. Grief does look differently for a lot of people and the way people cope and deal with grief is. Yeah, there, there’s certainly not a one size fits all solution to that. And yeah, and I think even for any one individual. Grief could look differently from one day to an next to the next and just throughout their, the whole process, things will change.

[00:13:27] Scott DeLuzio: Right.

[00:13:29] Dr. Sherry Walling: And I think that’s another thing that I was hoping to accomplish in the work is also like I describe it as like a hand drawn map through the grief lands. Right. It’s like, it can’t, there’s no GPS, it’s not exact, but it’s like, there’s a big tree over there. And then you’re gonna reach a canyon.

[00:13:43] Dr. Sherry Walling: And, just to give a picture because not only is. , it’s just not a state that we go through a lot in life. Thank goodness. But we’ll have maybe five, 10 big griefs in our life. And most of them are skewed towards the latter half of life. I’m in my [00:14:00] early forties. And I’m starting to have other friends who’ve lost parents and, folks like you, who’ve lost a sibling, but it’s less common than normally, right.

[00:14:10] Dr. Sherry Walling: It’s still sort of extraordinary. My husband has never been around a grieving person before, and many of my friends have never really been around a grieving person before. So I felt like I’m just gonna jot some notes for you. So you know, a little bit about what this might look like. Knowing that it’s different for everyone one day to the next, and it has its own, unfolding story over years, but it’s also sort of mysterious and it’s helpful to have some tips.

[00:14:43] Scott DeLuzio: It is helpful. And having those tips. When you eventually get to that point, because unfortunately there’s two things that are certain in life, death and taxes, and, we’re all going to experience death in one way or another. Maybe [00:15:00] a loved ones. We’re certainly going to experience our own and we’re, gonna have death in our lives at some point or another.

[00:15:07] Scott DeLuzio: But it’s good to kind of have a little. General roadmap, like you said, mm-hmm to help you navigate through that. And it may not be a person who you necessarily were particularly close to, but like, like you said before your husband didn’t necessarily have a lot of. Grief in, in going on and that, he didn’t know how to necessarily handle that, perhaps, I don’t wanna necessarily put words in, in in your mouth

[00:15:34] Dr. Sherry Walling: there, but no, he would say that that’s fine.

[00:15:36] Dr. Sherry Walling: oh, okay. He’s like, what’s

[00:15:37] Scott DeLuzio: this? Yeah. Well, and that’s the point I guess, is that we, whether we’ve experienced it or. We’re going to at some point. Yeah. And so why not be prepared? Yeah. Why not be prepared to be able to be the best friend or spouse or parent or whatever, to the people who we are around and [00:16:00] kind of learn a little bit more about what this whole process looks like and realize that it’s more of a marathon and not a sprint, you’re not going to just wake up one day.

[00:16:10] Scott DeLuzio: Poof you’re over it. And life is rainbows and unicorns all over again. Right. It’s a process. And. Could take a very long time. If you ever

[00:16:18] Dr. Sherry Walling: quote unquote over it, right. Or it’s just forever, it’s just part of you now. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:16:22] Scott DeLuzio: It, because think with anything that happens to us in life, we are a sum of all of our experiences and yeah.

[00:16:30] Scott DeLuzio: Grief is certainly an experience that we’ve gone through and losing somebody is inexperience. When we, when that happens to us. Are changed for better, for worse doesn’t matter. We are changed. And now we have to learn what to do with that and how to pick up the pieces and and continue on with the life that we’ve been given.

[00:16:50] Dr. Sherry Walling: One of the things that’s become important to me in this process is helping to prepare my children for experiences of grief mm-hmm and. [00:17:00] You know, as I began my life as a parent I knew like I, I need to be able to talk with my kids about sex. I need to be able to talk with them about alcohol use and you just there’s these check boxes of like big conversations that must be had with your children as they’re growing, but grief wasn’t on my radar as.

[00:17:20] Dr. Sherry Walling: Big conversation that must be had, and it really should have been. And I think it should be sort of on the, big conversation checklist for parents, because I, watched my brother experience my dad’s death and we had taken different paths in our lives in a lot of ways. And he was struggling with alcohol and depression before my dad became sick with cancer.

[00:17:45] Dr. Sherry Walling: It really undid him. It really, the grief process was so distracting for him and it. Made me feel like I want my children to be as [00:18:00] equipped as possible for the disruption of a major loss. And I don’t know that, we always parent our kids with that in mind. So that shifted a lot for me.

[00:18:12] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

[00:18:12] Scott DeLuzio: And. It definitely is a shift when you have this type of loss. I, I remember back to the day that I found out that my brother was killed. I remember thinking to myself, I’ve never really thought of life without him. Mm-hmm . And now all of a sudden I have to face that reality. I’m getting smacked in the face, like really hard with this reality and.

[00:18:41] Scott DeLuzio: this is what I’m living. I’m living in a world where he isn’t here. He’s not someone I can pick up the phone and call or go over and, have a beer with him or whatever. I can’t do those things anymore. And that just wasn’t something I was prepared for. And I think that lack of preparation just made it that much harder for me in the whole [00:19:00] grieving process.

[00:19:01] Scott DeLuzio: And I think, hats off to you for having this. This thought of preparing your children for what ultimately will be in inevitability for all of us, right?

[00:19:14] Dr. Sherry Walling: Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s also something about us losing a sibling. Right. You and I have this shared experience, but we have a little bit more of a blueprint for what it may be like to lose a parent.

[00:19:27] Dr. Sherry Walling: Like all of us kind of know at some point our parents will age and. Without the disruption of some traumatic event will be around to support our parents as they begin the ending of their lives. But I don’t know. We don’t think about that with siblings like your siblings, they’re like shoulder to shoulder with you, they’re in the mess with you.

[00:19:46] Dr. Sherry Walling: So there’s sort of a, hidden default expectation for most of us that if we lose our siblings, it will be when we’re all very old. And so to lose your siblings, in the middle of your life, Has that sense of kind of the [00:20:00] disrupting the what quote, unquote, normal timeline. But it is weird that the other person who knew all your stories of childhood and who was your companion and mischief, isn’t here to hold those memories with you.

[00:20:14] Dr. Sherry Walling: And isn’t here to help think about aging in parents and things like that.

[00:20:19] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And there’s a sense of. Camaraderie with that type of relationship too, where like you said, there’s that mischief that you got into as kids, there’s all that type of stuff that you grew up with. And, even just sitting back and reminiscing about those old times you miss out on that.

[00:20:36] Scott DeLuzio: You don’t have that anymore. And that’s, it’s unfortunate that these types of things happen, but they do. And so. One of the things that I really wanted you to be on the show to talk about is coping with these things. I know you said your brother sort of came unraveled when with the loss of your father and when he took his life was he actively seeking any help for his [00:21:00] mental health at that time?

[00:21:01] Scott DeLuzio: And how did what was going on in his life at that point?

[00:21:06] Dr. Sherry Walling: Yeah. So my brother followed what is, unfortunately in retrospect, Fairly predictable trajectory in that the disruption of my dad’s illness really created more vulnerability for him to really, really begin to abuse alcohol. And so at each step that my dad took toward the ending of his life was almost.

[00:21:33] Dr. Sherry Walling: A parallel disruption for my brother. So he would have an event of binge drinking that would lead him to the hospital. He was in the ICU for almost two weeks on one occasion and then he would get better and then he would go to treatment. So he had his first. Attempt at rehab while my dad was sick.

[00:21:54] Dr. Sherry Walling: So it, he was 33 when he died. He was, maybe 32 when, so he was [00:22:00] in that cycle of like, get better, get worse, get better, get worse, get better, get worse. Which many people who struggle with addiction experience. But after my dad died, He once again, had this big, deep dive into an abusive story, landed in jail, landed in the hospital and then went back to rehab and then he seemed really good.

[00:22:26] Dr. Sherry Walling: He seemed really healthy. It was the best. I’d seen him in a long time and that I think that’s a really sort of tragic part of. These stories for a lot of people is it’s often once they have enough energy and organization and clarity that they do ultimately kind of find I’m choosing my words carefully, but like find an effective, they have the energy to actually take action.

[00:22:58] Dr. Sherry Walling: And so I don’t know how long [00:23:00] my brother was planning to end his life. I don’t know if he planned it really at all. It came right after what seemed like the healthiest, happiest period that he’d had for some time. So I think that adds to the shock of this kind of loss, but it also is a pretty common experience for people.

[00:23:18] Dr. Sherry Walling: We, I studied it academically in my training as a psychologist. But it certainly feels very different when it’s your family. It always

[00:23:25] Scott DeLuzio: does because especially in a. Sense when you’re reading about it in a book or, other papers and studies and things like that.

[00:23:33] Scott DeLuzio: That’s you’re reading about sometimes in aggregate of things that happen to people. But even if you’re reading about a specific instance, it’s, you’re talking about somebody else’s family, that this is not your family. This is not the thing that’s gonna happen to you. And you don’t, at least for me anyways I never internalize that as this is a possibility that can happen to me.

[00:23:54] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. It’s just that person that I heard about on the news or the, whatever, like that’s what I envisioned [00:24:00] it as, and it just never really sunk in that this could be also a reality for me. But then through some of my own research and education on this topic and obviously correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like when that clarity, that energy, like you said to take action it’s sometimes.

[00:24:19] Scott DeLuzio: That switch and mood where they now seem like they’re in the best place that they’ve been in a long time. It’s often because they now see that there’s a quote unquote solution to whatever it is that they’ve been dealing with. And that is in a way a positive thing they’ve been searching for so long, for some sort of some sort of escape from the pain, from the suffering.

[00:24:42] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. From the, whatever from the addiction. And now. They’re like, oh, I can do this. And this is a solution, obviously it’s not a solution that anyone would condone or endorse or anything like that. But it’s yeah, it’s what they view as a solution [00:25:00] to their problem. And I know I’ve had. Various problems throughout my life and when I’ve solved them and I’ve come to a conclusion it always feels good that mm-hmm that you have that mm-hmm

[00:25:10] Scott DeLuzio: And so I can see how someone would almost feel really good about coming up with this solution to the problem that they’re having. Yeah.

[00:25:20] Dr. Sherry Walling: I mean, it’s hard to know, right? My brother ended treatment and then went back to Montana where he really had been living for a lot of his adult life and was really happy there.

[00:25:33] Dr. Sherry Walling: So it could have been that the boost in his mood was the return to this wild place, but that, that joy was pretty fragile. And so any discouragement. that happened, made him feel like, oh, I can’t make it here either. I mean, right. There’s a lot of unknowns around it, but I think it is a different kind of grief.

[00:25:52] Dr. Sherry Walling: And in, in ways I think it was important for me to write about both griefs. There was such [00:26:00] tenderness, as I shared about this experience of being with my dad as he died. They’re so such tender and profound aspects to that. And then. There’s this extra hurt with my brother having died really far away.

[00:26:16] Dr. Sherry Walling: And me not being there in a way, not being there to comfort him or to hold his hand or to send him off. And, I know that’s part of your experience too, where your brother just, they die somewhere else and you can’t, it feels so hard to not be there for this big event. Right, right.

[00:26:34] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:26:35] Scott DeLuzio: I. Totally can relate with that. Like you said in, in your professional opinion as a psychologist, do you feel that there were some overall shortcomings in the mental health care that was available for your brother or even that’s just in, available in general? For people who are struggling with whatever it may be, grief loss.[00:27:00]

[00:27:00] Scott DeLuzio: PTSD depression, other things that they may be dealing with.

[00:27:04] Dr. Sherry Walling: I mean, how long do you have how long is I I speak with great criticism around the mental healthcare system. In the us. And I speak about it as an insider. So I sort of like I’m in the family. I can criticize the family, but there are very, very simple, basic things that are extraordinarily important to someone’s healing that are really not in place in basic mental healthcare.

[00:27:29] Dr. Sherry Walling: Like for example, my brother was an inpatient treatment in settings that. Were horrible, like no gardens, no green space. They felt unsafe. They were places that you know, maybe the stove worked, maybe it didn’t, they were kind of throw away places for throwaway people and you can’t claw your way out of depression, addiction, PTSD.

[00:27:58] Dr. Sherry Walling: If there’s not a baseline of [00:28:00] safety. Also in our mental health care system, we’ve completely ignored the integration of the body. So, when you think about the things that have been healing to you or to me often it’s movement it’s having a garden. It’s. It’s something that gets us out of our heads and into a different part of our existence.

[00:28:21] Dr. Sherry Walling: And we can do that so well with mental healthcare. I mean, things that integrate different forms of psychotherapy plus movement or psychotherapy plus yoga, we have great research on the efficacy of these interventions, but they’re very rarely used because they’re very difficult to get. To have third party payers pay for them.

[00:28:41] Dr. Sherry Walling: So our mental healthcare system really kind of lacks common sense around what helps people thrive. A lot of those thriving ingredients are very low cost. They’re very accessible. But they’re very rarely used, which is super frustrating. [00:29:00]

[00:29:00] Scott DeLuzio: That is frustrating because it seems like there is a, I don’t wanna say an easy solution, but there is a easy to implement solution as far as various movement techniques, what yoga that, I mean, mm-hmm,

[00:29:14] Scott DeLuzio: Doesn’t really cost much to start doing yoga. Right. It’s pretty low barrier to entry with that type of thing. Gardening also doesn’t cost a whole lot to get into that. Yeah. It could just be a small garden that you have in your backyard or on a porch or something like that. And it, it doesn’t seem like it’s really that hard to do, but.

[00:29:32] Scott DeLuzio: Why not start implementing some of those things as well? I know I’ve done some artwork where I’ve done that type of thing. And like you said, you kind of just get lost in that activity that you’re doing. And I’ve found myself Working on a piece of artwork and a whole afternoon had gone by.

[00:29:51] Scott DeLuzio: And I was like, oh my gosh, I didn’t even realize how much time had gone by, but I was so involved in what I was doing and it just was, it was enjoyable and all of the problems [00:30:00] that I had been worried about and things like that, they just seemed to not bother me as much. I don’t wanna say that they went away.

[00:30:05] Scott DeLuzio: They’re obviously. Things are still there, but they didn’t bother me quite as much cuz I was focused on something else.

[00:30:12] Dr. Sherry Walling: And what do you think about. This is you have to listen with nuance, but when you think about what is happening when we’re in depression or we’re in PTSD, we’re in anxiety we’re stuck in a state.

[00:30:25] Dr. Sherry Walling: We’re stuck in a feeling of joylessness. We’re stuck in a feeling of anxiety. We’re stuck in a feeling of like a traumatic memory and we can’t move our way through. And so if there is an activity like art, like movement, like. Cooking, that can get us, not that we’re totally ignoring or not dealing with it, but can help us get unstuck.

[00:30:51] Dr. Sherry Walling: That’s a tremendous gift. To anyone who’s suffering. And so the fact that we don’t do more of that while [00:31:00] also doing the hard work of like, Hey, we need to talk about how this is impacting you, or we need to go in and through the pain, but we don’t have to do only that. So these flow state activities or playfulness, sounds kind of crazy, but what if we had treatment facilities where everyone who was in the program had a foster dog to take care of.

[00:31:20] Dr. Sherry Walling: Like that could be profoundly helpful in healing, something to care about.

[00:31:27] Scott DeLuzio: right. Yeah. And there’s this cycle that I’ve learned about over the years where. Your thoughts influence your emotions, which influence your behaviors, which influence your thoughts. And it’s just, this could be a vicious cycle of yeah, all of this going on over and over.

[00:31:44] Scott DeLuzio: And if you have negative thoughts are gonna create negative emotions, which will create negative behaviors and it’ll, but if you can introduce some more positive thoughts or positive behaviors taking care of a foster dog or taking care of the garden in your backyard or whatever. [00:32:00] These more positive things can help break that cycle?

[00:32:04] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, not maybe not completely, but it’ll help get you in the right direction. Even if it temporarily helps to break the cycle it helps you free up some of that mental space to be able to introduce some more positive in interactions in your life, right?

[00:32:19] Dr. Sherry Walling: It creates more neurological flexibility, right?

[00:32:22] Dr. Sherry Walling: Your brain has more paths to wonder down instead of cycling on the same paths, the same memories, the same emotions.

[00:32:31] Scott DeLuzio: That actually makes a lot of sense because it’s when you said that it, to me, it the image popped in my mind of someone who goes to the gym and just exercises their arms or their, their upper body.

[00:32:44] Scott DeLuzio: And it’s just like, they’re a one trick.

[00:32:46] Dr. Sherry Walling: They got one trick. They might look good in the tank top, but they’re not actually functionally strong.

[00:32:52] Scott DeLuzio: Right. And they wouldn’t look very good in shorts with the little that they might have either. Right. Right. So it’s, they’re not [00:33:00] addressing the whole overall picture of things.

[00:33:02] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And so when negative thoughts and emotions are part of life, you’re going to get angry and sad at things. At some point and that’s okay. It’s actually healthy to yeah. Have those types of emotions, but when that’s all you have, that’s not okay. And you should be able to enjoy the happiness and the joy of life and the things that bring pleasure to most people.

[00:33:26] Scott DeLuzio: Right.

[00:33:27] Dr. Sherry Walling: That’s actually the title behind Touching Two Worlds is this sense that you can have the ability to be in grief and in loss and in all of the heaviness of that emotional reality. And then also shift into playfulness, joy into the circus, into like, laughing about like weird bodies and crying on airplane.

[00:33:49] Dr. Sherry Walling: It’s, we can be the fullness of those experiences. We don’t have to get stuck in just one end of the spectrum.

[00:33:55] Scott DeLuzio: No, and I think that’s just part of being human is we [00:34:00] can fluctuate from one day to the next we can have, or even one hour to the next, we can have different experiences and different emotions.

[00:34:07] Scott DeLuzio: Right. And it’s okay. That’s part of being human, I think. And it really does make a difference when you. Experiencing both ends of that spectrum.

[00:34:19] Dr. Sherry Walling: Right. And not fearing one or the other,

[00:34:22] Scott DeLuzio: right? Yeah. Yeah. We had talked briefly before we started recording here and I know you had done some research and some work with psychedelics and mm-hmm and things.

[00:34:34] Scott DeLuzio: And I know a lot of people who. Either listen to this show or people who are in the military, the veteran community, there’s been some talk about psychedelics and one thing that I typically don’t talk about are things that are illegal illegal substances or, things like that, where where it might come off as an endorsement of sure.

[00:34:55] Scott DeLuzio: This type of thing. Right. So, with that said I do want to clarify that there. Some of the [00:35:00] stuff that, that we might talk about here is not necessarily legal at this point in time, but there is work being done to get approvals for that, that type of usage. But you’ve done some work.

[00:35:12] Scott DeLuzio: Researching into the benefits of psychedelics. And I’d just be curious to hear your thoughts of what are some of the benefits and how could that play a factor in the overall, whether it’s the. Grief and loss journey or healing, PTSD, or other things that people may be dealing with.

[00:35:32] Scott DeLuzio: Where do they fit in and how do they play a role in all of that?

[00:35:36] Dr. Sherry Walling: Yeah. So I come to the conversation about psychedelics really as a scientist and. The thing that I think is most interesting, just big picture about psychedelics, really relates to what we’re just speaking about, about the way that mental health involves multiple systems.

[00:35:55] Dr. Sherry Walling: And so when we talk about psychedelics, we’re talking about a neurochemical. [00:36:00] That’s active in the brain, but we’re also talking about that being on board during an experience of therapy. So when we see psychedelics used for treatment purposes, we’re talking about psychedelic supported psychotherapy or psychedelic assisted psychotherapy.

[00:36:16] Dr. Sherry Walling: So there’s, there is a neurochemical happening, but it’s not the only mechanism at play. So it is very brain, body relationship, emotion thought. all being integrated. And so we see. There are 88 last I counted or last I read about this 88 new centers of excellence related to psychedelics at major medical schools and research institutions, places like Harvard, Yale, UC San Francisco, Johns Hopkins.

[00:36:48] Dr. Sherry Walling: So this is not. It’s not like back alley science anymore. This is kind of the, the next wave of innovation in mental healthcare, I think will involve psychedelic supported [00:37:00] therapies because they are so powerful at this integrative piece. Most notably, probably the first to receive full FDA approval will be MDMA, a for treatment at PTSD and right beside that, I don’t know if it’ll happen at the same time or close together.

[00:37:16] Dr. Sherry Walling: We’ll be psilocybin for treatment of depression. Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. MDMA a is the street drug ecstasy just for, people who may not know that vernacular.

[00:37:28] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I think it’s important that these conversations take place, that people research and discover new.

[00:37:35] Scott DeLuzio: Methods for treating various things that people are going through because without this type of discussion the stigma will, will just be, oh, well, that’s again, like you said that back alley medicine. Yeah. And, is that really something that you can trust is that, but when you have the research going into.

[00:37:54] Scott DeLuzio: In a medical profession where people are actually doing the research, analyzing the data, trying to see what the [00:38:00] results are. It’s not just like some guy in the back alley. He saying here, try this and,

[00:38:04] Dr. Sherry Walling: Right. Go take this ecstasy and you’ll your PTSD will be better. Yeah.

[00:38:08] Dr. Sherry Walling: So it is important to distinguish people have been using psychedelic. Recreationally and for sort of spiritual purposes for a very long time. What I’m talking about, the thing I know most about is that the application of psychedelics in a therapeutic context for treatment purposes and that’s, that’s different than like let’s go to the basement and take mushrooms.

[00:38:33] Dr. Sherry Walling: Right? These are. These are very thoughtful, supported experiences with, a physician or psychologist, a therapist who’s there. Walking through it with you. And these experiences can be incredibly intense, but incredibly healing. So the research data looks very, very strong for as I mentioned, specifically for PTC and for depression, I think largely because these [00:39:00] treatments are so integrated with different systems of the body at play at one time.

[00:39:06] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And like you said, being able to have both of those experiences that both ends of the spectrum. I should say, the positive and the negative experiences you can have that full picture and you may need help opening up some of those pathways and it, yeah. May be through things like this that allows you to experience.

[00:39:28] Scott DeLuzio: Both the good and the bad on both sides of the spectrum. Right

[00:39:31] Dr. Sherry Walling: there. Hasn’t been major innovation in mental healthcare in a really long time. And they, there was an interesting study that Robin Carhart Harris and his team published in the new England journal of medicine. Maybe like four months back, I can send you the link if it’s of interest to you, but they compared psilocybin as treatment for depression, to people who were using an SSRI like Prozac, which is the sort of standard treatment for depression currently.

[00:39:58] Dr. Sherry Walling: And one of the [00:40:00] problems with an SSRI. Is that it diminishes the depressive side of the emotion spectrum, but it also diminishes the other side too. So it sort of keeps people in the middle, right? Yeah. Nice and narrow, but that can feel like numbing and it can kind of diminish someone’s capacity for joy, which frankly is pretty important to lots of folks.

[00:40:23] Dr. Sherry Walling: And we’d like to have it on board. So one of the really interesting promises of psilocybin is it looks. It doesn’t do that. It diminishes the depression end of the emotion spectrum, but not the joyful end of the spectrum, which I think in and of itself is a pretty powerful just innovation in terms of how we can really more strategically treat people’s symptoms.

[00:40:48] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, because when you narrow both ends of the spectrum down to just the middle chunk of things and it can feel like you’re just floating through life and not yeah. Experiencing the happy. [00:41:00] Positive moments you’re but you’re also not experiencing the sad depressive moments, but which obviously that’s

[00:41:06] Dr. Sherry Walling: probably the desirable.

[00:41:07] Dr. Sherry Walling: If it’s the best you can get like great. Right. But it’s sort of like eating chicken and potatoes for the rest of your life. Like, it’s good. It’ll do ya, but right. But man, I love a good sushi every now, you know, like it just, it narrows the range considerably.

[00:41:23] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, it does. And having that variety in life of emotions that you might feel on a day to day basis, you might feel really happy, really sad, really whatever.

[00:41:33] Scott DeLuzio: Or some days you might just feel in that middle ground and that’s okay too. Mm-hmm but. But you wanna at least afford yourself that opportunity to have the highs. Yeah. And so, it is encouraging to see that there is this research and like you said, there’s not been a whole lot of innovation over the last however many years now.

[00:41:53] Scott DeLuzio: And Having something new, like this could be a very positive step in the right direction. I’d be [00:42:00] curious to see over the next few years, how things go. Yeah. As far as approvals go and where this leads in terms of the treatment options that are available and. The benefits will be for the people yeah.

[00:42:15] Scott DeLuzio: Who are using them. But I wanted to at least address this topic to some degree with you from. A science based perspective because I want people to know that there are things being worked on mm-hmm , I believe that there are some trials even available where some people can start using some of these things in the therapeutic Approach and not just like that back alley approach.

[00:42:42] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. Like we were saying. Right. So it’s done in a safer environment than like you said, down in your basement with you. With your buddies stuff you got on

[00:42:53] Dr. Sherry Walling: the street, it’s just a as just a different thing. Yeah. Yeah. It’s totally different. So if people are interested in sort of the clinical trial [00:43:00] world probably the best source of information is the maps website, which is the multidisciplinary association for psychedelic studies.

[00:43:07] Dr. Sherry Walling: They are the major Kind of hub of research for the clinical trials. So both MDMA a and psilocybin are in the third phase of FDA approval or the FDA approval process, which means that if all goes well, they will probably be approved in the next year or so. Okay. But that’s kind of maps. The maps website has information about where those trials are happening and how to get involved and how to get on wait lists and all that stuff.

[00:43:33] Dr. Sherry Walling: So I, I didn’t, I wasn’t really into this. Subject more than general intellectual curiosity. Until I lost my brother and watching him slog through treatment program after treatment program, and just feel like th like these options just aren’t good enough. So it does help me to feel hopeful that there are some different options on the horizon.[00:44:00]

[00:44:01] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And it’s encouraging that these steps are being made, but also that you’ll be able to look in the future and say that, maybe some other family who has a similar situation to what you were going through, you and your family were going through. Won’t have to suffer through the same. End result that you ended up having to suffer through.

[00:44:24] Scott DeLuzio: I know that’s not really a consolation in terms of the loss of your family members, but sometimes it’s helpful to know that. Okay. At least somebody else isn’t gonna have to suffer this way as well, right? Yeah. Yeah. So before we wrap up can you let the listeners know where they can go to get in touch with you?

[00:44:42] Scott DeLuzio: If they want to reach out and chat with you or find a copy of your book again Touching Two Worlds and I know you have other stuff out there as well, but feel free to talk about those. That’s fine. Those things. And, but specifically to make sure that people know where to get a copy of this book.

[00:44:56] Dr. Sherry Walling: Yeah. So TouchingTwoWorlds.com is kind of the [00:45:00] hub of all things related to the book. It’s on Amazon Barnes and Noble, all your independent bookstores, kind of in all the places, but TouchingTwoWorlds.com is. We’ve put together some different stories and photos and things that I think are really helpful.

[00:45:13] Dr. Sherry Walling: And then I’m on Twitter and Instagram as at Sherry walling. And my podcast is called Zen founder, which, you know, maybe of interest if people are In the business world, thinking about business and mental health.

[00:45:25] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, for sure. And I’ll have links to all of this in the show notes. The book again is available currently in wherever you’re going to buy books, Amazon Barnes and Noble.

[00:45:34] Scott DeLuzio: So definitely check it out. I will have links in the show notes that you can easily access it. But thank you again, Sherry for coming on the show and sharing your. And your family’s journey? I think a lot of us have gone through different experiences like this with grief, and oftentimes it’s a smack in the face, a punch in the gut, whatever you want to call it and we just don’t know how [00:46:00] to deal with it.

[00:46:00] Scott DeLuzio: So, yeah. Appreciate you taking the time to share it. Not only with us. On the show with the audience, but also in the form of your book, in terms of that roadmap that you lay out for people who are going through this. So, so thank you again.

[00:46:14] Dr. Sherry Walling: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks Scott. For the conversation.

[00:46:17] Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you wanna check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website driveonpodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at drive on podcast.

Leave a Comment