Speaker 1 00:00:04 Lee joy is an inspirational speaker, self care consultant queen and wonder woman, mother. She helps individuals and organizations turn uncertainty into certainty. Self-sabotage into self care and adversity. And to triumph her signature keynote, you've got a nourish to flourish, was born out of her own challenges as an alcoholic drug addict, and also lives with bipolar. Today. She's a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and very proud 13 years sober and clean. Her Phoenix rising out of the ashes story is very inspiring, empowering, and transformational because it speaks to anyone who is facing their own personal crises. This episode does get pretty emotional and heavy listening to her story, and just want to let you know, coming into this. And I want to know what you think about it. You can DM me at FreeWheel in with carton on Instagram, F R E w H E L I N, with cartons C a R D E N. And also giving a shout out to my friends mobile app. I access life. It allows users to rate and review places on disabilities from the parking lot to the interior, and it just breaks down those barriers and builds transparency in the built environment. When you're downloading the app and use a referral code carton, C a R D E N, and get to rating let's bank, this world a more accessible place. All right, let's roll.
Speaker 1 00:01:41 Thank you so much for joining Lee. I'm really excited to have you here. How you doing today?
Speaker 2 00:01:46 I'm really good Carden. Thank you for having me today. You're in Toronto. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:01:53 I'm actually in Atlanta, Georgia. Where are you at?
Speaker 2 00:01:57 I'm in South Africa, Johannesburg. Wow.
Speaker 1 00:01:59 The power of technology and how we can just meet virtually across the world, which is really amazing. I assume it's nighttime over there for you, right?
Speaker 2 00:02:09 Yeah, we, it it's just a buck to go six o'clock. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:02:13 Okay. Wonderful. That was COVID and everything treating everyone. Is it okay in South Africa or
Speaker 2 00:02:20 That's been stressful? We've had some political nightmares this last week and a lot of corruption was through regards to the PPE government stealing funds. It's been the purse, the poor have really struggled here in South Africa. A lot of businesses have closed. It's been stressful. It's been really stressful, but yeah, there's also some success stories, you know, people doing some really amazing things and yeah. So yeah, not all bad.
Speaker 1 00:02:51 Yeah. I think it's kind of nice almost that we're all here in the same world experiencing a similar issue, this public health crisis.
Speaker 2 00:03:00 So kind of is a little bit humbling in that sense since it's not everyone experiencing it or sense it is everyone experiencing it and not just one particular city or country. So, but we're excited to have you on here today because we're going to talk about a few topics. Obviously you're extremely resilient and have had a, um, a background that probably isn't like most. And so just want to talk a little bit more about your journey from having bipolar and having alcoholism addiction and the recovery process from that. And now you're incredible motivational speaker and helping companies to just break down those barriers and transform perceptions in mind. So talk to me a little bit about the background that led to you today. Show, so I've had it, you said not a normal background. No, not, not a normal life. Um, is a lot of people that have, uh, my parents got divorced and that's pretty normal average, you know, regular experience.
Speaker 2 00:04:05 But then about a year later, my mom was killed by an elephant, which was devastating. And my dad gave me a fruit option, uh, which yeah, I guess that really broke me. And, uh, I was adopted by my aunt and uncle and they physically abusive, emotionally abusive. So it really tough upbringing. And I guess I had so many uses to drink and use, you know, I had so many things to do. I was sexually molested, uh, so many excuses to, you know, get drunk and high and fucked up, you know, and it took me a very long time to get clean and sober only got clean and sober when I was 33. Funny enough at the end of this month for the 30th, I'll be celebrating 13 years, which is really amazing. Congrats. That's a huge journey from where you were and yeah. Really emotional to get to that position in your life.
Speaker 2 00:05:07 Yeah. I, I, you know, I, for the longest time I felt like such a victim. I felt like, and I, and I quite rightfully, you know, there was some really shitty things that happened, but when I started taking responsibility for my life and I realized that it wasn't my fault that these things that happened, but it was my responsibility to you. That's really where my life started changing and started becoming livable because suddenly I had agency over my own life. I wasn't giving my power away to the people who had abused me or situation that was toxic. You know, so it's been the last 13 years have been a big humbling and, um, you know, incredibly grateful for the experiences I've had because all the different experiences I've had, I'm able to hold space for other people to heal. And so I can sit with rape victims.
Speaker 2 00:06:00 I can sit with divorcees, I can sit with adoptees. I can sit with many people, a lot of people who experienced different traumas and grief. And yeah, I really believe that this crazy life that I've lived is so that I can hold space for other people to heal. I always feel like different people's experiences, whether good or bad usually is a gift to help others. And I think that's what makes everyone so beautiful is, you know, for me, I have a progressive disease, so I've a muscular condition condition. And growing up, you know, I played competitive sports. I was very active and slowly over time, I slowly stopped being able to run and walk and use a wheelchair full time now. And, but through that though, there's great triumph because having lived and looked through so many different lenses, I'm able to break down those barriers for other people and relate to others and empathize with others.
Speaker 2 00:07:02 And I would like to hear if, you know, maybe it's just sounds similar to you in that sense. Yeah. I definitely think that it's, uh, you know, being a drug addict and having all these different experiences has the lesson for me is definitely being compassion for myself and compassion for others. And I, um, you know, bipolar is a lifelong disease. Addiction is a lifelong disease and I've got to manage them. You know, I've got to, I've got to go take care of myself. I've got to have really good, strict self care. And I've always felt like an outsider. I always felt like the black sheep or like, I didn't feel like I fitted in. And then I came into recovery and I've made other people who have got, you know, I'm doing a podcast with a friend of mine and he's got cerebral palsy and we do a podcast called me 2.0, real and authentic. It's launching in October.
Speaker 2 00:08:15 Yeah. Thank you. We speak there about how disabilities have taught us to be really real and authentic. And I think that disabilities where the physical mental, or whatever, actually, uh, bringing us together with our tribe, like our people. So we might not fit in with other people and that's okay because they've got the people that they fit in with, but there is a tribe of us that are just really very special people. And for me touched by grace. So I, um, yeah, I look at, I look at life through a different photo through a different lens and I, and the way that I feel about people is different. I'm very deep. I am a very sensitive creature. Uh, and I saints people. I, I, I understand people and I think that I needed to, I don't know. I think it that's been, the gift is being able to be different and feel weird and feel either to be able to embrace people.
Speaker 2 00:09:22 Yeah. So you're talking a little bit about feeling like a black sheep, and I felt like that for a long time. Right. I came from a very physically active and healthy family and I was like, well, what happened to her kind of thing almost. Um, and for a long time and same thing with all my son and family, I have a very large extended family and, you know, it was my aunt, she has CPS, but that was the only other disability that we knew of in our entire community. And growing up in a community, there were, there were just really weren't any noticeable people with disabilities. And so I definitely know what you feel like feeling like you are the only one there. And so I kind of want to know where do you go in those times of like when you go in the box and just feel really sad and feeling like you're not being seen or heard by the world.
Speaker 2 00:10:19 It's a really good question because it's where I find myself today. Today I'm feeling especially small and insignificant and what I'm doing has no value and I'm lonely and scared and disillusioned. You know, I, I have these days of deep sadness for how some of the world is, and I feel quite powerless in trying to change that, you know, and the massive efforts that I'm putting in on, even that doesn't feel like it touches any sides. But I, you know, I was always so scared to feel joyful because if I was feeling really joyful, that was when I was manic. And one of my psychiatrists taught me. But if I cut myself off from the joy, I, cause I was scared that if I became manic, then I would, I would become depressed, which is the cycle of bipolar. And so I cut myself off from feeling joy a lot of the time.
Speaker 2 00:11:31 And now I know like there is like today, okay, they're not going to kill me. And if I'm going to experience the joy again, I need to be able to experience these, you know, it's, uh, uh, life is full of a whole lot of different emotions and I'm learning to embrace them all and not to be too scared by them or feel like I'm going to die or like just breathe, breathe through them and let them, let those emotions bubble up and up and out of me. But I think when I resist and I push them away and I pretend they're not there and I go into denial, I think that's when they're more dangerous and where I can flip psychiatrically. So yeah, just be a bit quiet today, acknowledge how I'm feeling and it's okay. It's okay. Not to be bubbly and on top of the world every single day.
Speaker 1 00:12:23 Yeah. I mean, I don't think that's natural for anyone. If you're going around being bubbly and heavily all the time, then it's almost like you're hiding from those feelings of sadness. And like that is very normal to feel those. So, um, and you're talking a little bit about manic and the episodes that, uh, that happened. Talk to us a little bit more about bipolar for those who don't know, when were you diagnosed and what, how does it manifest?
Speaker 2 00:12:54 So I was diagnosed in my twenties and I've been under psychiatric care since I was probably about 1920 and I was using drugs while I was on medication. So, uh, the street drugs were nullifying the pharmaceutical drugs. So I was just bipolar anyway. And then only when I stopped using drugs in my thirties and I was on pharmaceuticals and it's taken a long time to try and figure out the right dosage. So you get a number of different types of bipolar. I think there are four different types of bipolar bipolar, one, two, three, and four. I, um, I am bipolar two, which is a rapid cyclic. So I can cycle between mania and depression within a day, uh, bipolar one, they would be manic for a period and then depressed for at least three months. That's like, it's a very distinct, um, which I've experienced as well.
Speaker 2 00:13:59 And sometimes my mania can flip me into psychosis and then with medication and hospitalization, I can become, I can, you know, get, get better. So bipolar is by being too and polar. So two opposites, uh, the one is mania, which is, uh, an elevated state or a very high state of emotion. So very excited. You feel like on top of the world, super creative, I feel very, I feel invincible. I don't need much sleep. I don't eat much. Uh, one can become quite hypersexual, also, um, spend, uh, want to shop a lot racing, thoughts, thoughts, just running through my mind, and then it can descend into depression, which can last them. It was my postnatal lasted to be years. So yeah, the thing for me is to manage the, the mania. So because the mania is where I flip into the depression. That's normally where it starts is with a manic episode and then it'll go into depression. So yeah, I've just, I've got to make sure that I sleep really well. I sleep most more than most people. I sleep between nine and 10 hours a day.
Speaker 1 00:15:22 That's actually really healthy though. That's what all the scientists recommend generally, you know, eight to 10 hours. Right. I think most people only get what like five, five hours movie.
Speaker 2 00:15:37 Uh, so it's been really tough for me to be in the corporate world because I am not a, um, I'm not an early bird, so I've always struggled to work on time because I sleep so much. And then, so it's been great to have my own business for the last number of years and being able to regulate and, and know, okay, I only start at 11 in the morning, we're starting. So I've got the morning for myself where I can just seem to myself and meditate and breathe and journal and all of the stuff that I, that I do. That's my, like, I have a very strong self care practice, but yeah. So it's not myself. Kay practice isn't necessarily differently going to ensure that I never have a manic episode, uh, but I can, I can manage it and I can see. Yeah, I can see, I know the science of how to, if I, if I'm going into a manic state, so it's easier to, I haven't been manic or psychotic since 2015 touch words, so that's fine.
Speaker 1 00:16:47 Wow. Great. That's how healthy for you.
Speaker 2 00:16:51 Yeah, that's that's and I mean, to have gone through the, the crazy stress that I've gone through in the last five years and still be okay. Yeah. It's pretty, it's pretty, it's pretty cool. It's pretty cool.
Speaker 1 00:17:04 That's awesome. And yeah, it's really important that you're having that stability as you're saying. So that, cause what you were saying is when you have a manic episode, it means that you're going to have a depressive episode and that can range for, like you said, three years. So what are some of those triggers for when you see, or can you feel them or what kind of, what are things that you look for when a manic episode is bubbling up?
Speaker 2 00:17:37 So sometimes I get a, what I call sparkles. So it feels like somebody's thrown up in the air and it just like, I see sparkles in the air. So then I know something. So they thought that I had a temporal lobe epilepsy at a time, as well as a bipolar. And then I would have Percy more seizures as well. But so those are the, so the sparkles and then the, I get like this terrible smell of death, like it's disgusting. So those are the kinds of things. If I can't sleep, I can't eat. Like, those are the things that I, and I, I, I can't sit still. I need to be busy the whole time. Um, and the racing thoughts, that's a big side.
Speaker 1 00:18:26 Hm. Got it. So you feel, you see that and you also feel it on a psychological level. Is that normal for the sparkles or the racing thoughts? Is that a common thing with bipolar two or one? Or is that just your personal experiences?
Speaker 2 00:18:44 Yeah, I don't know about the sparkles, but definitely the, um, the racing thoughts and the hyperactivity almost. Yeah. From the research that I've, that I've done. And from what I understand,
Speaker 1 00:18:57 Yeah. Well, that's interesting to, it's so very unique to your, the sparkles because clearly when you see that coming on. So when those sparkles, when you start seeing them, is it an automatic, like there's, it's, it's a waterfall at that point. There's no controlling the manic coming on. It's going to come. Or are you able to control that and bring it back down to prevent you from going into that state?
Speaker 2 00:19:22 So when I see sparkles, then I know that I'm in a very stressed state and I stopped everything. I stopped working. I sleep probably take off about two, three days and I just stressed, but I haven't seen sparkles in years. Got a coronary. I remember when last I saw sparkles. So, um, but my self care practice has become much, much better. So I, I meditate regularly. I do yoga, I do breathing, I do gratitude. There's a lot of practices that I have that probably keep that those kinds of experiences
Speaker 1 00:19:59 That's important that you have the self care practices and those manifestations and visualizations of who you are. What am I, what am I grateful for? You know, who do I want to be? I did a mantra session yesterday, so that's fresh top of mind. I think it's, I think it was great for everyone. Do you really manifest it? And it becomes reality because you believe that it's true. And when you believe it, and there really is kind of no stopping it from actually happening and coming into reality. So as far as if you aren't in a manic state, are you subjective to other, um, like drugs, alcohol? Is that kind of when the alcohol alcoholism could come back or is it more in the depressive state or where are you
Speaker 2 00:20:48 Most concerned with? I think the impulsivity of the mania is, is very dangerous from a drinking and drugging point of view. But I mean, it's an alcoholic. We look to either celebrate or commiserate, we'll use any excuse to get fucked up, you know? So it's, um, I, yeah, I still get cravings. I still get cravings for booze or for, um, marijuana. Those are the two that I probably get the most credit for, but I, yeah, it's when I'm manic, I'm more, I'm very productive. I'm very creative, so I'll paint or write or something. So yeah, it starts like I'm going to rush out and go and buy a booze, but I can imagine I cannot, if I think back, I could see how that would, that I would crave. Yeah. So now you're in a very stable position, which is awesome. How do you manage the grain emotions of life? You know, like when you have a celebration celebration or holidays, are there any other triggers that you're always having to think about, uh, from the alcoholism point of view?
Speaker 2 00:22:08 There's not much I've been to weddings. I've been to funerals. I've been on family holidays. I've, uh, you know, I've birthdays, all sorts of different celebrations. And sure. There are times that I think, you know, it would be great to have a glass of champagne, but they, the, the cravings are, I breathe through them now they're not overwhelming. Like in the beginning where I could barely breathe. It was so overwhelming, you know, the desire to, to drink or to use was so overwhelming. So yeah, I'm not easily triggered now easily. Good, good. That's great to hear. And so through that, you've created an incredible business for educating others on self care and overcoming self sabotage. Tell me a little bit about where that creative idea came from and what led you at well, you did tell me that you didn't want to do the mainstream corporate world because it was difficult from an accommodation standpoint for starting work.
Speaker 2 00:23:17 So I guess that also was another trigger for creating your business. Yeah. The gift drive. Uh, so working with addicts and alcoholics for the last 10 years, and I seen how amazing the wisdom and the knowledge and the grace that I read and learn through the 12 step fellowship. And I thought, you know, I'd studied psychology. I studied at various institutions and read different spiritual texts and psychological medical journals, or studied a variety of different subjects. And I thought, geez, these, the stuff that I'm learning, it's helping addicts and alcoholics. How more can it help those that don't suffer from alcoholism and addiction? So that's why I decided to take it to the general population and, and to start sharing with people, how to, you know, use these tips and tools and techniques that we've been taught in AA and to alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous and share, share that wisdom with the world. You know, so that's where I have come back into corporate, but as a consultant. So I run self care workshops or stress management workshops where I teach teams on how, how do you bond and, and create trust within, within the corporate team and also how to become vulnerable and share where they're at and create a culture and a dynamic that is fluid and loving and kind, and growthful and not toxic and scary.
Speaker 1 00:25:02 I love that because I think a lot of us, there are the stigmas we show up as our work identity. And then one, when five o'clock hits our work identity is closed for the most part, maybe 80%. And then we turn on our own personal identity. So what does that look like at home? And those are oftentimes completely separated from each other. And it's, why are we doing that? You know, why are we showing up at work one way, but in our life, we're showing up in another way. And I really like hearing that you're working to create that sense of just a single identity. You show up as yourself, not this other person of yourself. And through that, it definitely allows for vulnerability, deeper conversations, you increase, trust, transparency, all the things. Is there anything in there that you're talking about? Um, you're, you're saying, you know, people showing up to work and talking about how they're feeling about their own disabilities. Do you see that at all and how people have accepted that?
Speaker 2 00:26:05 No people don't often speak openly about their, I think that, you know, the disability is still such a big stigma, you know, and I, and I think that's like without labeling it, I make it, the work that I do is that I take everybody through within the corporate, take them through a process of understanding their own limiting core beliefs, whether you're, whether you've got a disability or not, we all have limiting core beliefs. And it's so interesting to see, I did a workshop a weekend away women's retreat for some of Google's top women account holders here,
Speaker 1 00:26:49 All the testimonial on your website, which was really cool.
Speaker 2 00:26:52 Yeah. I was so blessed, so blessed to work with them. I mean, I understand why Google is the cup of that company, that it is, it has shoved hot women working for them.
Speaker 1 00:27:01 Definitely. Yeah. There's a lot of powerhouse women on their amazing bosses.
Speaker 2 00:27:06 Yeah. To be in a room with 15, very dynamic, very powerful women. And for them to look at each other, after doing a process of understanding, limiting core beliefs, it was incredible for them to go, YouTube, me to YouTube was just like all the toughness, you know, fell away. And it was just like, Hey, I see you sister. Or like, you me were the same. And it was, it was a really, it was a life affirming experience. Yeah. I live for moments like that. It's really, it was really beautiful.
Speaker 1 00:27:46 It's really when the walls break down, you know, everyone walks around with a field and armor. And as if, you know, you have to crack that shell opens and get on the underneath side of this and having those conversations when you kind of realize that you're a person too, and that you experiencing all things, we are just the same. Like we're all human beings. And we all go through our, we all have our own journey, but at the end of the day, like we're all here accomplishing and working towards the same goal of, you know, whether it'd be, you know, climbing the ladder or being better in your career or whatever your journey is. So I've got desert are the great moments to celebrate and you see that Google a huge tech company, which is even cooler.
Speaker 2 00:28:38 Ah, very cool. But also like they were so brave. They were so brave to go there with me, you know, and I love Brene Brown's work with, she talks about, you know, how we armor up and when we armor up, we're like shut off our vulnerability. And when we armor up, I learned from her as well, is that we, we, we kind of ourselves from the joy as well. So we might protect ourselves from the sadness and the, and the, you know, the not negative feelings like the down feelings, but we also cut ourselves off from the brighter breezier emotion. So yeah,
Speaker 1 00:29:19 It's important to feel those emotions because we kind of mentioned earlier, if you walk around only feeling one or, you know, a few emotions you're on expanding that you're really limiting yourself and closing doors, because the way that you also show up emotionally also is going to impact everything that you do. So I think it's also, you know, if you show up bubbly and bright and excited all the time, I think you're really missing the deep conversations and sadness or anger, confusion, or whatever's happening and not being able to really relate to that and empathize with those, you know, employees that are coming to you and expressing that because you're like, Oh, blah, blah, blah. You know, so happy and bubbly all the time. Um, what is, what do you envision, what would be your ideal world at these corporations? You know, is this, yeah, just talk to me a little bit about that.
Speaker 2 00:30:16 You know, I am one of the teams that I work with worked with was a, um, a very, um, in South Africa, we've got five stars at hotels. So that's like your, like the top, it's the best hotel that you can go to. And this was a guest house that I worked with and I worked with the team there and the chef David came to me with tears in his eyes. And he said to me, you know, my mother never taught us this, you know, and I, and I, and I looked at him and I had got a certificate. I said, you know, David noted mine. You know, our mothers never knew this stuff. They never knew the importance of self care, you know, were putting everybody else ahead of themselves. And the owner of the guest stars put her hand JNC on David's shoulder and I'll never forget. And she said, and you know what? The beauty is, you can go and teach your children this stuff. So for me, that is if I can, if I can just start, if I can just be part of people's lives, changing, where they can start taking responsibility for their healing, and they can share that knowledge with their loved ones. That for me is an incredible day.
Speaker 1 00:31:35 That's so beautiful. I think, I mean, I want to leave it at that. It's such a high note. That's so great. Is there anything else that you want to share? Where can we find you?
Speaker 2 00:31:47 So I'm online in a variety of different places on LinkedIn. You can find me a lead join spires on Facebook. You can find me on leader inspires on Instagram. You can find me on lead, join inspires my website <inaudible> and then I've got a YouTube channel called the self care diaries. And as I mentioned earlier, we've got the podcast launching in October. So there's lots of material, lots of free stuff on my website. Go listen to my radio podcasts that are interviews that I've done up me an email, and I'll send you our latest ebook on self care information, a lot of content so that people can, yeah, we really just want to shift the dial on people's understanding of self care and that self care isn't selfish and about putting,
Speaker 1 00:32:40 You know about me only, but about me too. Me too versus me only. Oh, I like that. I think that that's going to be your quote. Me too, not the only well wonderful. I'm actually really excited to hear your new podcast with your friend who has CP. So if you can drop me an email when that launches, I would love to follow it because I wanted, would love to interview you. Yeah, let's do that. It sounds great podcast or podcast, or it would be amazing. Yeah. Sounds good. Alright. Well, we'll stay in contact and I'll share all of your places where people can find you in the ebook on the show notes. So thank you so much for your timely, and I hope you have an incredible rest of the weekend and take care. Thank you, honey. And YouTube.
Speaker 3 00:33:30 Thank you friends for listening. Please rate and follow this podcast or text card at (470) 588-1215 with comments and suggestions tune in next week for another disability topic.