Episode 289 Shannon Miller Expats’ Mental Health Journey Transcript

This transcript is from episode 289 with guest Shannon Miller.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to 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.

Everybody, welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host Scott DeLuzio, and today my guest is Shannon Miller. Shannon is a mental health expert and an army wife, and she is here to discuss, uh, some of the mental health needs of Americans living overseas. Um, her, her private practice attends to this type of clientele, so she’s certainly an expert in this field.

So welcome to show Shannon. I’m glad to have you here.

Shannon Miller: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. Um, for the viewers and the listeners who maybe aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? [00:01:00]

Shannon Miller: S Sure. So I’m the owner and clinical director of Apricity Behavioral Health, soon to be rebranded Apricity Expat Therapy.

Um, I’m also a licensed clinical social worker. Um, and that’s about it. I’ve been an Army wife, I guess we’ve been married now for. 18 years. So we’ve logged many countries under our belt as well.

Were you and Army wife the entire time or did he, uh, join the military while you were No, while you were married?

We didn’t marry till he was already in 12 years, so he’s been in

Scott DeLuzio: quite a while. Okay. Excellent. Yeah, so, um, and I know with the military traveling, um, to different, Places around the country, places around the world, there’s bases all over the place. Germany, Japan, you know, all over, all over the world, really.

Um, where we have, uh, service members stationed. Um, it, it can be really, uh, really trying.

Shannon Miller: We didn’t live in those places. We [00:02:00] didn’t live in any of those places. No, not

Scott DeLuzio: those places. But there, there are people who lived in those places, but, and there’s other places as well, right? And, um, Moving around to all of these different locations, um, it’s a culture shock and it’s, it’s really, uh, kind of difficult to, um, maybe assimilate to the way of life of that culture.

Right. And so that’s, mm-hmm. That’s kind of along the lines of what you do is kind of helping people with those transitions from the American way of life, the American culture to those local regions. Right.

Shannon Miller: Yeah. I mean, it kind of is the adage of wherever you go, there you are, right? So if there were things going on prior to that, they’re gonna be going on.

You’re gonna take them forward with you into wherever you’re posted. Right? And not every post is gonna have the same supportive services, right? Everywhere. Sometimes as well. The blend with the culture’s not gonna go so

Scott DeLuzio: well. Yeah. And. [00:03:00] There’s the, the social, the, the faux PAs that you, you may run into as well, which could be super embarrassing.

Um, not intentionally. You’re not trying to. Uh, embarrass anybody or, or anything like that. But it, you know, these things happen from time to time and so it’s, I think it’s important to have somebody like you in the type of work that you do, uh, to be able to, um, uh, to really just be able to navigate some of the, the, uh, unique differences there.

And, um, you know, dealing with mental health, um, mental health is treated differently in different cultures, so, um, you know, it’s certainly a, a great thing that you have there, right.

Shannon Miller: Mm-hmm. So really the practice was born out of exactly that, of living in remote locations where there is no such thing as mental health.

Um, for background and for context, we’ve spent, all of my husband’s, we’re not all of our married time together. We’ve been in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of one tour in Italy. So we’ve been [00:04:00] in remote locations where mental health isn’t even a thing there. Um, let alone we didn’t have any support services that a traditional base would offer.

Right. Um, and I saw that play out. And then in my own mental health, you know, we returned to the states. I made an appointment with the therapist. I spent half the session explaining what it was like to be an expat. She still didn’t get it. I was angry. I spent all that money and half my time trying to explain something she clearly wasn’t capable of understanding.

And so hence Apricity was born.

Scott DeLuzio: The mental health needs of service members, veterans, their families who are overseas, um, for one reason or another. Uh, maybe the, the service took them overseas and, uh, or maybe they, they found their way overseas. Um, you know, post-military life.

And, um, you know, we we’re gonna talk about, A bunch of different mental health issues and um, you know, Shannon was just talking about how [00:05:00] she was struggling with finding mental healthcare in certain places around the world. Um, it’s gotta be hard, especially in some of these cultures where they’re just, mental health is just not a thing that they are even aware of, right?

Shannon Miller: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And that can. Create lots of problems too. Right. So you’re experiencing something that, that the culture that you’re living in doesn’t even acknowledge, I mean, yes. I mean, that’s the other thing too, is how, how fully integrated are you into your host culture as well? Um, and what support services are there for you as an expat, you know, and all those levels vary.

Scott DeLuzio: Right? And so let’s, let’s talk a little bit about, um, just some of the varying mental health conditions that people are dealing with. And some of the challenges that they may have in finding the, the services that they need, especially when you’re talking about, uh, being overseas in, in different locations.

So, um, I, I know one particular topic that [00:06:00] I have found interesting is, is just the, the difference between PTSD and moral injuries. Um, I. Only recently became aware of the term moral injury. Just, just, I mean, within the last couple years maybe, um, PTSD t has been a thing that people have known about for a little bit longer, but for me, I, I just really just became aware of it just recently.

And, um, a lot of it can kind of be confused with PTSD s right? Mm-hmm.

Shannon Miller: Yeah, there actually is a lot of overlap. Um, There’s a couple main differences though, right? So we’re all familiar with PTs D it’s become sort of a catchall term that we all like to throw around quite a bit. Um, but moral injury is sort of what I like to call sort of, it’s, it’s silent, um, sibling often, right?

Because the symptoms mimic PTSD and quite, quite a lot. But the difference is how it’s formed. So people acquire moral injuries when they are. [00:07:00] When they’ve done something or they’ve witnessed something that is so abhorrent to their morals that they have to reorganize how they see the world. Basically, it’s just having witnessed or done something that just completely goes against everything that they believe in.

Right, right.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, and I think one of the reasons why I wanted to bring up this and, and the difference, and, and we can get into more of the differences there is, is because, Living in different cultures, uh, kind of what we’re talking about here. You’re sometimes exposed to things that just may not be okay in the American culture or, you know, more of a western, uh, civilization, uh, type, type environment.

Um, and so people may be more exposed to a, a moral injury by witnessing things that they just would never consider, uh, you know, here in, in America or you know, other Western countries, right?

Shannon Miller: Well, a moral injury is, yes, that is [00:08:00] all true, but a moral injury is more of about your personal morals. It doesn’t even have to be about cultural orientation or anything like that.

It’s just you have a strong belief and you’ve witnessed, or you’ve partaken it or been ordered to participate in some activity that’s just in direct opposition with your morals, and you have no way of reconciling that right at all. Right. And, and we sort of started investigating this term, it kind of goes back the whole way, um, to the Vietnam era.

Right. And that’s when the term was sort of first came up and it was about, and they defined it then as sort of the betrayal of what’s right. And it’s done by someone in a position of rightful authority in a high stake situation. But since then, it’s sort of evolved and it’s become more about when. A situation perpetuated, we fail to prevent.

We participate in, or you’ve [00:09:00] learned about something that just goes completely against everything that you stand

Scott DeLuzio: for, right? Um, and, and it’s. There’s a lot of different examples that you, you could probably give, but I mean, um, you know, things that go against people’s, you know, moral beliefs, their, their religious values, maybe, you know, things along those lines are, are kind of along what we’re we’re talking about versus something like ptsd, which is more, uh, a traumatic event.

It could be, doesn’t necessarily have to be combat, although it could, but it, it’s more along the lines of, uh, you know, any sort of trauma. It could be a car accident even. Right.

Shannon Miller: Well, PTSD gets its impetus in, uh, a terror. You were terror terrified of something in that moment. That’s the moment that that could trigger ptsd.

Now granted, we all can experience those moments throughout our lives, and we can get into a whole thing of like who develops PTSD and who doesn’t, and when does it go beyond a traumatizing event into ps ptsd. But a moral injury can [00:10:00] be one event, or it can be ongoing type things, but the difference is how it begins.

You don’t necessarily have to be traumatized. I mean, you don’t nec, sorry. You don’t necessarily have to be terrified in order to have a moral injury. Again, it could just be, you know, I, I mean one of the examples of a moral injury that I often use is when, um, you’re ordered to go cause harm to somebody that you don’t think necessarily needs to be harmed.

Right? Right. Or you’ve harmed civilians in the line of duty or something to that effect where. There wasn’t terror involved, but you just like, how does this happen kind of moment. Right? And then, and then the

Scott DeLuzio: symptoms don’t show up right away. Yeah. And you start to think, you know, what kind of person am I?

What, what? Like why would I do something like that? And you start to have those type of thoughts. I, I would imagine when, when those types of scenarios occur. Right?

Shannon Miller: Well, there’s two different ways that it can sort of manifest and some of the hallmarks are whether [00:11:00] you witnessed it or you participated in it.

Right. If you participated in it, that’s when we see a lot of the guilt, the shame, and the unwillingness to forgive ourselves when it’s something that you’ve witnessed. That’s where we see tend to see the anger and the mistrust and the unwilling to forgive. You know, the party that did whatever the morally IOUs thing was.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. Right now, These types of things are, I, I gotta imagine probably very common in the military, uh, community as far as, um, you know, people doing things or witnessing things that. Go against their, their moral beliefs and values. Um, but there’s some other specific, um, mental health challenges that come along with military service, I would imagine as well.

Right? What, what are some of those things that, that you’ve experienced in dealing with other, uh, service members or even as, uh, you know, in your own, uh, in your own life, uh, [00:12:00] being, uh, in a military family?

Shannon Miller: Well, I think one of the things that we don’t often acknowledge or put words to exactly for those of us that do, like we move frequently and we’re in and out of cultures, is we’re always somewhere in the grief process, right?

We’re grieving the thing that we left behind, the thing that we loved, and, and. There’s this sort of uncertain trajectory of where we’re going. So there’s a, there’s a lot of uncertainty and that’s just inherently stressful because the brain just wants certainty. It wants to know, yes, no black, white, and then it knows what to do with that, but it doesn’t know what to do with uncertainty.

And so when we’re always grieving other, we’ve left, somebody else has left and, and by leaving, I mean in all of its forms, emotionally leaving, physically leaving. Unexpected leaving.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. And we’re creatures of habit, uh, too. And, and we, we like to have that routine and know where [00:13:00] that support network is and know where, where people or places and, and other things like that.

But when you’re uprooting yourself and moving every couple years, uh, it’s, it’s kind of hard to get into a routine or, or get into any sort of, uh, habits that. Allow you to, um, fall into that, that, uh, that pattern that we tend to crave and try to look for. Right?

Shannon Miller: Right. And I think also it’s, oh, you’ll make friends at the new place.

That there’s sort of this expectation that. Oh, you’ll just make friends in the new place. But what we don’t do as adults is we don’t treat making friends as a job.

It is work. And we need to treat it as that. We just can’t expect it to just sort of happen through osmosis. Oh, I’m in this new place. Friendships just happen. Right. It doesn’t, it takes intentional effort and it can be exhausting and we’re always exerting that energy.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I know [00:14:00] for. Myself, um, you know, I’m more of an introverted type of person.

Uh, my personality is not, you know, that outgoing. I want to go out to these big groups of people and meet all these people and be involved in all these, these different things because that’s, It’s actually, for me, it’s kind of draining to be in, in that kind of situation, a one-on-one conversation, like the one we’re having right now.

If you were, uh, if you weren’t on the other end of a TV screen and we were, we were, uh, you know, sitting right next to each other, that would be fine for me. That, that, that works. But, um, for me it takes a lot of work to go out and do that. And I know there’s other people who have similar tendencies to that.

And, um, you know, unfortunately when you get in a situation like that, you end up, um, You end up kind of isolating yourself because it’s a lot of work and it’s, it’s really tiring and that’s not the direction that you necessarily wanna be headed in, right? Right.

Shannon Miller: You need to do the very thing that you don’t wanna do.

Right? So [00:15:00] like those of us that have ran at some point in, in their lives, how many of us have run and every step you’re like, I hate this. Why do I keep doing this? This sucks. But you keep doing it. Right. You eventually complete whatever the goal is that you set for yourself, but the whole time you’re just like, I hate this.

We kind of have to do that when it comes to, um, integrating at times, and I, I mean, integrating with whatever community that you’re choosing to do that, you may not have the energy for it or you tell yourself you don’t. However, we know that relationships is sort of the, the foundation of good mental health.

And so it’s worth putting in the effort. And we know also that mood improves just by being around other people. Even if you don’t like ’em, even if you don’t talk to anybody, we’re um, oh, I’m losing my, my words. We are, um, not pack animals, but, but we need others. Yeah. Our

Scott DeLuzio: neuro systems social, right? [00:16:00] Yeah.


Shannon Miller: Yes. We’re social creatures, uh, just by nature. And so we need to regulate ourselves off of each other’s nervous system. So even if you’re just going out and eating lunch in a space where there’s other people, that’s good for you.

Scott DeLuzio: Exactly.

So, um, I think the, the next thing I want to touch on here is the role of therapy. Uh, as far as, um, the different options and, um, how it can help veterans and their families, uh, service members deal with the challenges that they face, um, when they’re overseas, um, and, uh, ways that people can find the right.

Therapist, the right provider for them, uh, especially when they’re, they’re overseas. Um mm-hmm. Where, what are some of the options that are available to the people who might find themselves in one of those countries where mental health is just not a thing that they focus on over [00:17:00] there? Mm-hmm.

Shannon Miller: First and foremost, I, I would say, and I have not, full disclosure, I have not, Talk to Tricare in a while, but TRICARE needs to do a better job of covering mental health care when people go and seek private treatment.

That’s just first and foremost. So that’s the first step that people have to do. And often it is such a barrier that people just give up and they say, you know, I’ll, I’ll just read another article or I’ll do this or that, or I’ll download this app. Um, but if you can, um, First, reach out to the mental health service that’s provided at the installation, if that’s where you happen to be.

If not, you know, look to see if there’s any local resources that that you trust and that you would feel comfortable speaking with. The other thing is online therapy. It works. And it works to the same degree that in-person therapy would work. We know that [00:18:00] Covid gave us the gift of plenty of time to study that.

We know it beforehand, but Covid has now taken us from sort of being this fringe thing to a very real, legit thing. And so pursue the online therapies and I’m not talking about good better help talk space, all the big conglomerates. There now is a plenty of choices in small private practices that are based in America with therapists that are just like me.

That are military affiliated or military friendly. Um, understand the overseas experience. All you have to do is Google it, right? And you’ll see tons of choices. Interview your therapist. Insist on having the, the, like. I wanna talk to you bef before I go and tell you everything about me and like, let’s, let’s talk for a few minutes to see if I like you.

It’s, you have to check to make sure it’s the right relationship for you. A lot of healing and therapy comes from the relationship you have with your therapist.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, I can screen them. Yeah, I, I can totally attest to [00:19:00] that too, because I know, uh, in my own mental health journey, I’ve talked to a number of different therapists and different locations and, um, different for different reasons.

And, um, you know, they, some of them you click with and, and some of ’em you just kind of don’t have a great. Feel for, and it’s okay to let ’em know that, hey, I don’t, I just don’t think that this is working out. Um, I don’t, I don’t think, and I I’m not on the other side of, of the, the desk or the, the screen in the case of a telehealth kind of thing, but, um, mm-hmm.

I can’t imagine that it’s gonna hurt the person’s feelings if you’re just like, you know what? I don’t, I don’t feel like this is a great fit. Right. I mean, that, that doesn’t seem like it would be, um, You know, a way that they would think about it. So, um, you know, I, I think to the, the provider, they would probably rather spend their time, uh, working with someone who is feeling like there’s, there’s a benefit there with them.

Right. I, that’s, that’s kind of [00:20:00] how I would think about it. It.

Shannon Miller: Right? So the therapist is a person too. If it’s not a good fit, they’re gonna feel it as well, right? What you don’t want to do is feel like you’re responsible for that therapist’s emotions and like, you’re not quite feeling it, but like, Hey, they’re really enthusiastic, so I’m gonna go, no, you’re not responsible for managing anyone else’s feelings.

That’s therapy number one right there. Like that’s, that’s six months worth of therapy if you can understand. It’s not your job to manage other people’s feelings. And let’s just start with the therapist or the therapist that you’re interviewing, right? It is. Well within your means to say, Hey, I don’t think this is a good fit.

Or You thank them for the call, and that’s it. It ends.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. I, I, I think it’s just too easy to, um, you know, just give it a try. See, see if it works. Uh, you know, test the waters, you know, see, see how it feels and if it doesn’t feel like a great fit, um, yeah, I guess just know that it’s all right to, to walk away and, and find somebody else who.

Is more [00:21:00] along the lines of, um, you know, someone that you feel comfortable talking with. Um, I, I don’t, I don’t see any problem with that. Right.

Shannon Miller: No. And that’s exactly what you should be doing. Okay. There is plenty of choices out there, particularly if you’re willing to pay out of pocket and then submit your invoice later for reimbursement, right.

Unfortunately, that’s, that’s kind of where we’re at at this point, that that’s. Sort of how it’s working. Tricare does have a list of people that provides, and I know that Tricare now that I’m thinking about is affiliated with a very specific online therapy provider, um, who I’m sure has, well, you know, they’ve done their work and, and they’re good providers as well.

But if you’re choosing to go out and like Google someone and find someone on your own, please, please, please screen them. They don’t fit. Move

Scott DeLuzio: on. Exactly. So. We talked a little bit about the stigma, uh, about mental health, especially in foreign countries [00:22:00] where mental health is just not even a thought to most people there.

Um, how does it, uh, affect those people in the military, um, whether their service members, their families, veterans seeking help, um, and how can we break down these barriers? To the stigma and to, to make it easier for people to go out and get that kind of help. Um, maybe we’re not gonna change the cultures of the, the local area, but, um, even just within the military itself, there’s, there’s a bit of a, a stigma there too.

And so how do, how do we break down these barriers?

Shannon Miller: Oh, I could go on and on about this. There’s many different levels. So we’ll just start with like, sort of the individual level that’s on the person seeking therapy. You, you just, you have, there’s that white knuckle moment where you just have to try it, right?

Where it’s just like, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m just gonna try it. Right? Often my military clients are those that want to get help. [00:23:00] They know that they need help, but they don’t want the government watching them get help. And so they choose to be private pairs and they choose to come see me because they’re not routing at through Tricare, and I don’t report to anyone.

I only report to them. And there are therapists that do that. Everybody in my practice, one of my prac, one of my therapists is a former Marine herself, right? So, so there are people that do that and they get it right, like, there’s nothing wrong with me. Why are you gonna mess with my security clearance if I admit that I’m doing this right?

You know? Or why, why do you wanna track it? There are therapists that inherently

Scott DeLuzio: get that. Yeah. And that, that is something I think that just institutionally needs to be looked at within the military because that’s, I don’t think the right way to just kind of blanket your security clearance is, um, you know, at, in, in risk if, um, if you’re going to seek mental health treatment because, um, you know, just like.

[00:24:00] Somebody who maybe has a physical injury, uh, they, they broke their leg. They pulled the muscle, whatever they, they need to go get help to get that fixed and healed. And nobody looks down on them for going to get that type of, of treatment so that they can now be operating physically at a hundred percent.

Um, but when they’re not operating, Mentally at a hundred percent and they go and get help, all of a sudden red flags are going off and people are losing their security clearance, maybe even their career. To me, that just doesn’t make any sense. And I think that needs to be something that changes within the military itself.

Shannon Miller: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I mean, absolutely. But until that does know that there are therapists out there that, that get it and, and will work

Scott DeLuzio: with you. Yeah. And, and those therapists, I think are, uh, are the ones that that. People need to seek out. Um, they, they’re not as easy as just going to, you know, the, an on base mental health provider per perhaps, but people like, like you and, uh, other people like yourself who offer these types [00:25:00] of services, um, you know, telehealth and, and those types of things, uh, make it so much easier for people than it was even just 10 years ago, uh, five years ago even, uh, you know, just a few years before Covid.


Shannon Miller: exactly. Covid gave us the gift. Of, of pushing everybody online, which then is a trickle down gift to the military members that now these ones that tend to have been hidden or can’t quite find them, um, now they’re out there and they’re online

Scott DeLuzio: and it’s so much easier to, than, uh, requesting time off from your job to go meet with a provider in person.

Um, you can just. Find a half hour, an hour, 45 minutes, whatever it is, uh, that your appointment is for, and uh, you know, just. You can even go sit in your car in the parking lot and, and do the appointment if you want. And, and so that way you’re, you’re away from other people. You’re able to just kind of do your, your session and [00:26:00] nobody even really needs to even know about it.

And that, I think that’s a, a beautiful thing about all this online thing is you, you have the freedom and the ability to just do this anywhere, wherever you feel comfortable. Um, and, and it’s really a, a great thing that we have now. Mm-hmm.

Shannon Miller: I’m not a big fan of hiding the fact that you do therapy, but if that’s where you’re at, great.

Yeah. In fact, I have a client right now who sits in his car over his lunch break. I actually have two men that do that right now. Um, that’s great. You know, I don’t really care. Right. You know, the bigger concern for me is do you wanna walk right back into work after we’re done talking? You know, it’s like making sure that you plan for some downtime or some integration where it’s like, I don’t wanna talk to anybody for a little bit, you know?

But wherever you need to do it. We’re fine. You know, the only thing I say is that you can’t be in a moving car. Right. Oftentimes the car is the only place moms get privacy as well. [00:27:00] Right. I have counseled many of moms that are hiding. They’ll take the car, they’ll drive around the block, they’ll hide on the far side of the block, and we’ll have therapy for an hour, and they say it’s the only place I don’t get interrupted.

Scott DeLuzio: And, and having kids at home, it makes it, uh, so much harder sometimes. And that, you’re right, that may be the only place that you can find, uh, just a little bit of peace and quiet, um, you know, outside of maybe, you know, the bathroom in your house. But even that, you’re probably gonna have somebody, some little, little kid knocking on the door trying to, trying to get mom’s attention or, or whatever.

So Shannon, um, I’d love for you to share some of your experiences living in different countries and how it’s. Impacted your mental health and maybe your families, uh, you know, if you have anything to share there as well as, um, you know, maybe any sort of resources or, or tips or advice that you might have for those who are living abroad and don’t know necessarily where to turn.


Shannon Miller: Our number one tip is you don’t have to suffer in [00:28:00] silence. Like, that’s, that’s so. Early two thousands, 1990s. You don’t, you don’t have to do that anymore. That there’s tons of options. And if you don’t, you feel like I have, I’m carrying all of this and I don’t wanna put it on any of my friendships.

I don’t wanna put it on my family. That’s what therapy’s there for. Put it on the therapist, let them be your emotional trash can. Okay? Just if you just need that place to park the emotions and just say it, that’s, use us for that. Um, in terms of my own experiences living abroad, so we’ve spent the majority of my husband’s career in Sub-Saharan Africa, so I’ve seen everything from the mentally ill being chained up to trees, um, to having one psychiatrist to serve an entire country.

Wow. And like that was, that was the best of situations all the way down to, well, in every country I’ve lived, I have seen that over and over. [00:29:00] Um, and so, Leaves a mark.

Scott DeLuzio: So, yeah, I can imagine, um, being overseas, seeing these types of things, people mentally ill, people being chained up and, uh, treated in such harsh conditions. It is, it’s gotta be a, uh, difficult thing to, uh, deal with.

Very similar to what we were talking about earlier in the episode when, uh, you’re talking about moral injuries, things that you, you’ve witnessed and that you’ve experienced, um, seeing people. Treated that way, uh, may be commonplace in some of these countries, but it certainly isn’t commonplace here. And when you start experiencing that yourself, um, I gotta imagine that does something to you, um, you know, emotionally, mentally, you know, how does that affect you?

Shannon Miller: I mean, I have, I carry my own moral injuries from seeing things like that and being powerless to do anything about it. Like I, all I can do is observe. You know, I’ve got a whole list of [00:30:00] things that have just been a complete abhorrent wreck to my own personal morals, and so, Every therapist has their own therapist that we work through this stuff with.

Scott DeLuzio: And I think that’s a good thing to understand too, because I know when I first started talking to a therapist, it was kind of like in the back of my head. I was like, I’m. I’m feeling like this stuff that I’m talking about is pretty messed up, and am I gonna mess this person up by sharing what I’m about to share?

How is this person gonna deal with it? Um, but you’re right, the, the therapists have their own therapist to deal with that stuff as well. So, um, you know, it’s, that’s what they’re there for. Uh, I think that’s the important takeaway there for the listeners and the viewers that. That the, the therapist exists for that reason for you to unload that baggage.

Um, and they’ve [00:31:00] learned how to deal with that stuff and with the, the stuff that they need help with, they have their own therapist to, to help them out with. Right. It

Shannon Miller: is mine’s job. I don’t know what language is like, I’m sorry. It’s my job to handle my own shit. It’s not your job to handle it for me. Right.

Like, and your job is to bring it to me. I’m asking you to, if you are not comfortable doing that with your ther, you’re not in the, you don’t have the right therapist. If you feel always like you’re protecting that therapist from something, I would say make that the therapeutic conversation. Mention it. I feel like I’m always having, I feel like I have to sort of protect you from what I’m about to say.

A good therapist will turn that into the topic of therapy. An e therapist will be like, oh no, it’s totally fine. And you know, again, listen to that intuition of what’s going

Scott DeLuzio: on. Right. And I think it, it’s a good thing for [00:32:00] the listeners to understand too, that the way that the therapist responds to that, that, uh, that question that, um, that thing is, Kind of indicative of, you know, how how good is this therapist for you anyways?

Um, exactly. And, and you know, so, so yeah. Uh, you know, bring it up and, um, maybe that is, um, you know, pointing to a, a deeper issue that you might be struggling with, you know, a, you know, a. Uh, you know, a, a complex where you feel like you need to be the protector of everybody. Um, and, you know, military, uh, service members for sure, um, have that in the back of their mind that they are the, the protectors, they’re the ones who are defending the country.

Right? So that’s, that’s a big thing that, that you can put on somebody. Like you’re defending a whole country now. Like that’s, that’s a big thing. Mm-hmm. And now we’re asking you to unload all of these, these burdens on this [00:33:00] one individual, um, might be a difficult thing for them to do. So, yeah. Uh, you know, bring that up and, and see where that leads you.

Uh, you know, follow that thread. Yeah. Again, it’s,

Shannon Miller: it comes back to that therapeutic relationship, right? And, and if you are not feeling that comfort level, Make that the topic of conversation. But I will often call out my clients and say, I feel like you’re like not telling me everything here. Like, come on.

You know? And this is after I have like a long standing relationship with them, and we totally get each other and the conversation’s normally flowing and then we can get down to what’s really going on. I mean, and let’s face it, it takes a lot, a lot, a lot of bravery. To share that morally injurous, for example, the morally injurous thing.

That thing that you did that that just like you feel so much shame about, like I can’t, I honestly can’t think of a braver thing somebody can do. Yeah. And to speak that [00:34:00] truth out loud, and I, I just wanna say this real quick. Sure. That is therapeutic shame cannot live in the light of day. If I can quote Brene Brown, So saying it out loud takes some of its power away.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. And just that weight, weight gets lifted off your shoulders. It’s, it’s, it’s amazing how beneficial it is to just be able to speak it and say it out loud. Um, I, I’ve been involved in several, uh, types of therapies, you know, e even just writing things down, slowing down and, and getting that out and then reading it out loud afterwards is, is like, So therapeutic to be able to do that.

And so having someone there who can listen and, and help you process through some of those, those emotions is, is definitely a, um, you know, a, a game changer as opposed to just dealing with this on your own. Um, um, now as an [00:35:00] American living overseas, uh, for all these years, um, you lived in multiple countries, um, Tell us about navigating some of these cultural differences.

So you, you talked a little bit about the, um, you know, the, the mental health, the, sorry, the mentally ill, uh, being chained up and, um, but there’s, there’s other cultural differences, um, that, you know, when you’re away from home, you feel like you’re like homesick. Right there, there’s, there’s that, that’s a real thing that, that people end up dealing with.

Um, um, you know, the. What are some of the challenges for people living overseas? Um, maybe in a country where English isn’t the primary language, um, or mm-hmm. Um, you know, there’s language barriers, there’s cultural differences. What are, what are some of the things that people can do to, to navigate some of these differences?


Shannon Miller: Well, first of all, you know, Facebook may be evil, but it has a group for everything, right? Find your group [00:36:00] on there, find. People that, that resonate with you. You know, on there there’s an affinity group for everything. Uh, just a few simple searches, and you’ll be able to find that. That’s the first thing you want to do, right, is to find those sorts of, let’s start with some online connections then.

For me, for example, um, what was it? My first time living overseas, but it was the first time overseas with my husband, and he traveled nine months out of the year we were there. Um, We were living in Senegal and it’s French and Will of speaking country. I spoke neither at the time, and so what I did was I set up I have to go get gas in the car.

If I do not do this, I don’t get to go anywhere, like particularly to work. And I was teaching at the international school at the time. I learned all of the words that I needed to go put gas in the car. I learned how to say that. I learned all of those sorts of things, right? Just that. I couldn’t go [00:37:00] to the grocery store and get what I wanted.

You know, God forbid if I had to ask somebody for something that wasn’t gonna happen, but I could put gas in the car the next time. Okay. I had gas in the car mastered, now I could start on the grocery store. How do I ask, you know, for, I think it was Nutella or something like that, that I had picked, like pick the thing that you really want, right?

So the motivation’s kind of high. Like, I’m not leaving that store until I get this thing, whatever it is. One lane, one narrow lane of okay, I’m gonna learn the language that can get me this and that. What you don’t want to do is to allow your world to get smaller and smaller and smaller cuz then you get into a feedback loop that sort of perpetuates and just makes it shrink even faster.

You’ve always got to sort of buck that just a little bit and, and there’s always gonna be that moment of like, ah, do I really wanna do this? Yes, you do. It’s like that delayed gratification. I don’t [00:38:00] really wanna go and learn how to speak French to put gas in the car, but if I don’t, I’m stuck. I can’t have that.

You do it anyway. There’s always a white knuckle moment in these things where you’re just like, ah, just do it thing.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, rip the bandaid off and just do it, right? I mean. Mm-hmm. Um, And at the end of the day, you can look at it as a, a challenge too when you’re talking about languages. Even like, um, obviously it is a challenge, not, you know, going to a country where you don’t know the language.

That that is a challenge in and of itself. But what I’m talking about is more of, uh, being able to challenge yourself to learn a new language. Uh, maybe not being a hundred percent fluent in that language, but being able to, uh, Ask for directions or get gas for your car, groceries at the grocery store, even ordering food in a restaurant.

Um, small things like that, um, are important things that you’re gonna need to know how to do day to day. But, um, but you can challenge yourself and, and like you said, pick a new thing and, and [00:39:00] if you learn a new thing every day, how to put gas in the car, how to get the milk from the grocery store, um, you know, order a salad at a restaurant, um, you know, different things like that you just challenge yourself.

And, um, I would think, and I’m not the mental health professional here, but I would think, and I’m gonna ask you this, would this be something that kind of helps keep your mind active and keep your mind going, uh, as opposed to just kind of spiraling into darker places and places that you don’t necessarily want your mind to be wandering?

Shannon Miller: This is a tricky question. What you don’t wanna do is set the goal too big. Sure. And you don’t wanna set, you don’t want it to be like, I’m gonna learn repelling. And the thought of it just makes you wanna puke. Right? It’s gotta be something that is one foot in a comfort zone. One foot is uncomfortable.

Right. So you’re gonna straddle that. I’m uncomfortable, but I’m not so uncomfortable. I’m not gonna do it. I’m uncomfortable, but I’m [00:40:00] okay. You know? Sure. And that’s where you wanna be with these types of things. Gradually, the comfort zone expands probably without you even knowing it. It’s going to expand, um, spiraling into a dark place.

It happens. The number one thing that we have to combat it is talking about it. Don’t do it alone. Talk with somebody. Keep that relationship going. Okay. Even if you don’t want to. Again, there’s that moment where we don’t want to and it’s like, do it anyway, kind of thing. Like I think that’s probably my number one message.

Do it anyway. Um, relationships, relationships, relationships.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. I think those, those relationships and just doing the hard thing that you don’t necessarily want to do are, are super important. Shannon, um, I really do appreciate people like you who are out there, [00:41:00] uh, offering this type of service because, uh, without this, people who find themselves in those environments where, where they can’t just can’t access the mental health treatments, uh, are gonna end up feeling. Even more isolated than they normally would and, uh, you know, alone, depressed, you know, all of those things.

And so it’s, it’s really important, uh, work that you’re doing. Um, can you tell the listeners and the viewers where they can go to find out more about what it is that you do and, uh, maybe give a little more background on, uh, you know, how the whole process works with, uh, with your company? Mm-hmm. So

Shannon Miller: anybody like therapy, reach out to us.

It’s ity behavioral health.com. It’s. A P R I C I T y ity, I know it’s a really unique word, but it just means like on a really cold day, feeling the warmth of the sun. I like it. Right? So, so we’ve all had like, [00:42:00] it’s freezing out, but the sun feels so good. That’s ity. Okay, so you go Toricity Behavioral health, our ity expat therapy, one of the two.

It’ll get you to us and go through the website. Check out our therapist that we have, and then you wanna go to the contact page. Just fill out the form we have. You don’t have to fill it out in its entirety. We just really need to know how to contact you and where you are, and your name, where you are is so that we know the time zone and we’re not bothering you in the middle of the night or things like that.

The next thing that’ll happen is I send you an email basically saying you’re gonna hear back from this therapist. Therapist will email you offering to set up a time for that 15 minute call where you are essentially kind of interviewing each other and getting a sense of, will this work for me? Um, and if you then agree to go forward, we send you the link to our online office where you’ll sign all the forms that you would just like if you were going to in-person therapy.

And [00:43:00] then, um, you get your Zoom link and, and you go. So it’s really like a three step process. It’s

Scott DeLuzio: quite easy. It, it’s awesome that it, it’s just that easy and it’s, you know, something you could do over, over Zoom since the pandemic hit. We’ve all gotten really familiar with Zoom meetings and, um, I used to spend a

Shannon Miller: lot of time explaining how Zoom works.

Yeah. I don’t do that anymore. No, exactly.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, because I, I think everyone’s just familiar with how that works. You know, you click the link, you’re in the, in the room, and you just. You start talking, you know, um, mm-hmm. You know, back, uh, you know, a couple years ago there was a lot of the, uh, I think you’re still on mute, or your camera’s off, or, you know, you’re, all of those types of things were, were going on.

But, you know, those things, uh, I’ve, I’ve noticed just even in my own, uh, work that that is less and less of an issue because people are just more aware of how all of this stuff works. So, um, you know, it’s really great that this technology I exists, it’s, it’s here and we can, uh, use it for. [00:44:00] For good, for the, the benefit of the, the mental health of, of everybody here.

So, um, Shannon, I I want to, uh, thank you first off for, uh, taking the time to join us here on the show. Um, and, and for all the work that you do. Um, I, I think without this, um, there’s gonna be a significant number of people out there who. Just feel isolated, feel alone, don’t know where to turn. And when you have, uh, somebody like yourself out there who is providing them with the mental health services that they need, a lot of times desperately need, um, you know, it’s just really a great thing.

So thank you, uh, for, for joining us and thank you for the work that you do.

Shannon Miller: Thank you for having me.

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely.

Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, [00:45:00] YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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