I am so excited to introduce our guest today. She is a friend of mine and her name is Jordan Corocan. Jordan founded the organization Listen, Lucy. Listen, Lucy began as an outlet for individuals to express themselves freely but it has grown to much more than that. She now has two books under her belt, is working day in and out in schools battling the stigma on mental illness, has launched Listen Lucy Presents, which is her speaking agency. She is one inspiring and compassionate individual.
What is the problem you saw in the world that you decided to make a change? Through my own experience of battling mental illness, I know firsthand how stigma can negatively impact someone and how it stopped me from getting the help that I needed and that was being offered to me. Because of this, I struggled for years. Had I accepted the help in front me, my journey would have been so different. People are afraid to talk about mental illness. I want to change that and I am willing to live my life as an open book in order to raise awareness, end stigma and, hopefully, stop someone from repeating the same mistakes I made when I was at my worst.
How to do you deal with the mental health stigma? Confidence and information. I am completely comfortable with who I am and what struggles I live with-- I have educated myself on the topic so when stigma comes up, I am able to calmly discuss the facts and explain, without judgement, why stigmazing language and false stereotypes can deeply hurt someone struggling. Why do you feel it is important to discuss mental health? Mental health is just as important a physical health. You do not need to have a diagnosable mental illness in order to care about mental health. We all need to be taking care of our minds and in order to do that, we need to normalize the conversation. Tell us about the resources that Listen, Lucy has to offer. I host writing workshops as well as assemblies/talks for middle school, high school, college students and mental health organization to raise awareness and end stigma. I also have partnered with NAMI on my resources page on ListenLucy.org which highlight both national and local resources available.
Why do you think people have trouble getting help? Stigma. Cost. Awareness. Accessibility.
What does it mean to have mental illness? In my own experience, my brain just doesn't operate "normally". Mental illness stops you from going to work/school, completing daily activities and impacts your social relationships. It is diagnosable by a doctor or mental health professional and the "feelings" happen over a long period of time.
What causes mental illness? Mental illness cause be caused by your genes, biology, environment, psychological or traumatic experiences. If someone think they have a mental illness, what do you suggest they do? If you are struggling, tell someone. Anyone. Talk about it and start searching for resources available that can and will work for you. Understand that this feeling is managable and temporary. It can get better and you have to be your own advocate. Why is self-acceptance important? Once I accepted who I was and what I live with, I was able to endure and overcome. I was able to not only see my mental illness as a negative, but use it to my advantage. Because of my anxiety, I am a kind, empathetic, detail-oriented self-starter. I love all of those things about myself. Self-acceptance made me no longer feel shame and when I no longer felt shame, I could make a plan to get better.
How can someone support someone else that has a mental illness? Be there. Just physically be there and try to never make them feel like a burden. Be kind, patient and understanding. How important is it for someone with Mental illness to have a support system? It's everything. Support played such a huge role in my recovery. I don't know where I would be without my support system. Unfortunately, there are so many people enduring without support. It's heartbreaking.
Can you help us understand what it’s like living with a mental health condition? Honestly, as my life changes so does living with a mental illness. The way I can best describe it would be that my body reacts like I am in danger, when I am not. The panic can be all consuming and debilitating in a way that is so hard to describe and the nagging, unsettled worried can sit in my chest and gut for weeks or months at a time. Luckily, I have been working on maintain and managing my mental illness for 15 years so I have educated myself on my illness and am able to cope and bounce back quicker when it rears its ugly head. How do you feel the situation revolving around the pandemic, COVID-19, will affect our mental health? It's impacting everyone's mental health. Isolation is real and the pandemic is obviously scary-- these two things combined can cause worry, anxiety, depression and loneliness. We need to be actively taking care of our mental health every single day. It doesn't need to be traditional therapy-- journal, take walks, eat healthy, work out, meditate. There are a million options. Please do not sink into isolation.
How does writing help you heal? Battling mental illness has been so hard for so many reasons. One of the hardest things I have had to overcome is trying to explain something that is invisible to people who have never felt the way I feel. It made me feel so alone. Writing gave me the opportunity to take my time and explain how I was feeling, what panic attacks felt like, what was worrying me and any other thoughts bouncing around in my head. It slowly gave me the tools to effectively explain what was going on with me. It gave me the words to describe something that was indescribable .
Jordan Corcoran went to Mercyhurst College. During her freshman year, she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. After going through a very difficult struggle with coming to terms and learning to cope with these disorders, Jordan created an outlet where people can openly and candidly share their own challenges and personal struggles.
She speaks publicly to college, high school and middle school students about her story, Listen, Lucy and the importance of acceptance-- of others and of yourself. She is the author of Listen, Lucy Volume I and Write It Out and has been featured on Today.com as well as UpWorthy.com for her self love campaigns.
Her mission is simple- she wants to create a less judgmental, more accepting world.