Julia Merchant is here today. And you might look at the calendar and say, well, wait a minute. Well, so, as you know, we have the McCall Center for Behavioral Health here once a month, and today is our next day. So Julia is here. She is a family recovery coach. Welcome. Thank you so much. I’m glad to be here. We’re happy to have you.
We’re happy to have you. And I have to say, so again, we didn’t have a ton of time to do show prep, but I looked at the theme and thought, well, now that’s an interesting thing to say. So we’re talking about putting the oxygen mask on first. Yes. You can see it. I can tell, can’t you, right? It’s a great visual because when we are told when we get on that plane to put that mask on first as the parent or the adult, and then get on that plane, to put that mask on first as the parent or the adult, and then to give the mask to your child who you’re traveling with. So interested to see how we’re going to tie that into the kind of coaching that you do. So intuitively, it’s hard to put our oxygen mask on first.
It doesn’t make sense to us as caregivers to other people that we love in our lives. we love in our lives. So I just wanted to share a personal story about sort of my last year. It’s something I think a lot of people can relate to, especially coming out of the pandemic as a parent of school-aged children. You know, there was a lot of stress of going back and forth between school being open and being sent home because of exposure. And, you know, the stress sort of increased, I and the stress sort of increased, I think, for parents of school-aged children after we went back to normal, quote unquote. So with that all in the background, I was in a really tight spot.
I had school going on and internship work, my small children who are four and seven, and I really wasn’t giving myself a whole lot of time to breathe. I really wasn’t giving myself a whole lot of time to breathe. When you go back to school as a parent, sometimes it can feel selfish to go back to school. That sort of felt to me like my me time is my school work and class time. But that’s just as draining as anything else. I was going to say, that doesn’t sound like really relaxing me, let me take care of myself time.
me take care of myself time. I mean for sure good to you know educate yourself and I’m sure that that pride is always you know wonderful. Yeah, so like in your nails done. No, no it’s not. It’s definitely draining just like a lot of the other things that we do but we you know we do them because we love to do them or because they’re fulfilling to us but they’re not they’re not building our our resilience, they’re not helping us to feel filled. It’s hard to pour out of an empty cup. It’s hard to run on an empty gas tank, you know what I mean? So I was running on fumes for quite a while, because my school program was two years long. I was interning at the same time for that same program and working with my kids.
So I think a lot of people can relate to this feeling of running on fumes. I think a lot of people can relate to this feeling of sort of running on fumes. And it’s difficult. We don’t give ourselves permission a lot of the time to take time for ourselves to breathe and to sort of refill the tank. For me, you know, I stopped doing a lot of the things that I normally would do to help myself sort of re-center. I stopped reaching out to a lot of my support system because I wanted everyone to think out to a lot of my support system because I wanted everyone to think that I had it all together. As parents, that’s sort of a pressure, not even that others put on us, but mostly we put on ourselves, is that we’re supposed to have it all together all the time. As professionals, we do the same thing. So it was difficult, and I sort of backed myself into a corner mentally and physically, I needed a break, and my body was telling me that. So I had to turn to my job and ask for help and tell them I’m not okay, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do. And I was sort of, it was not something I wanted to do, but I had to do out of necessity to take care of myself.
So you identified the fact that you knew, like, I mean, first of all, when you have a four and seven year old period in a sentence, you’re already, I mean, then they’ve done that. You’re already there. But add everything on. So your colleagues at work were able to recognize that you, what you needed. Yes. So, and one of the wonderful things about working for McCall Behavioral Health Network Behavioral Health Network is that when you ask for help, the reaction was not necessarily to turn away from me and to say, you know, like, well, you put yourself in this situation, so get out of it yourself. It was more to turn toward me and to offer me more support.
So in my work as a family recovery coach, we are trying to convey to family members trying to convey to family members of people who suffer from addiction. So the family members are going through just as much as the person, the individual who’s using substances. So what we want people to know is that it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s necessary to ask for help, especially if you’re trying to support someone who’s going through something really stressful. really stressful. Thus, you keep the mask first. You take the mask first because if there’s someone in your family, someone you’re connected to that is sucking you because they need to, of course, and because you, of course, want to offer yourself to them, but again, if you’ve got nothing in the tank, you’re not much help.
Absolutely. And, you know, it’s not just one thing that’s demanded of us all the time. And, you know, it’s not just one thing that’s demanded of us all the time. We are always all trying to play so many roles and put on so many hats. And it can be really difficult to navigate setting boundaries with a loved one who maybe needs more than what you have to give them. And so, in addition to MIPAL supporting the individual who’s struggling with addiction, with addiction, we want family members to reach out for help too because we know they need it. It’s just not normal for them to ask for help.
So that’s such a great, such a wonderful suggestion and offer by McCall because we do think of the McCall Center for Behavioral Health as a place where if we are having struggles, if we are having substance abuse, mental health issues, that that’s where we will go for help. substance abuse, mental health issues, that that’s where we will go for help. But today, you remind us that those of us that are caregivers can also reach out for help. Absolutely. Mothers, brothers, sons, whoever you may be, if you have a loved one who’s struggling with addiction, we want you to know that there are resources for you, too. You don’t have to be left out in the cold and feel like, okay, well, my family member is for you too. You don’t have to be left out in the cold and feel like, okay, well, my family member is getting help, now I just have to sort of deal with whatever I’ve got going on. No, you don’t have to do it alone.
That is really great information. And, um, really great information. So if I do need to reach out to you because someone in my world is struggling with addiction issues, but I as the caregiver need help, what do I do? Reach out to you? but I as the caregiver need help, what do I do? Reach out to you? So you can reach out to them the call name line and they will refer you to me. My program is called Family Recovery Coaching. It’s under the CLEAR program. And you know, we work, you know, five to seven days a week. I’m available for phone calls all the time. And yeah, we just really want people to normalize reaching out for help. And yeah, we just really want people to normalize reaching out for help, even if it feels like you’re not the one who’s got, you know, the major sort of struggle.
We know that everyone around is also struggling. But we’re normalizing asking for help as that person as well. So interesting. So, of course, 10 minutes is up. I told you it goes like this. So Julia is a family recovery coach. this. So Julia is a family recovery coach. She is with McCall Center for Behavioral Health. Do you know the phone number off the top of your head? So the McCall main phone number is 860-496-2100. Perfect. And the people at the main line will absolutely refer you to me if you ask for family recovery coaching. Perfect. You can also go to the website McCallcenterct.org. Julia Merchant, Julia Merchant, family recovery coach. We got Josh back here snapping pictures too.
Thank you for this and this really important information. So important for us to recognize that it’s helpful for us as well. Yeah, great stuff. Thank you for coming and again our ten minutes goes so quickly. It’s time to go back to the newsroom.