When broken down into its simplest terms, the job of a coach is to prepare or improve their client in one or more aspects of their life. (And I don’t just mean a life coach but in athletics, academics, chess, etc.) A coach will tease out your best, help soften the negative stuff, increase your accomplishments, and reduce your pain.
So, naturally, there’s a crossover between coach and therapist. And absolutely, most certified coaches can assist with low-level issues, nip them in the bud to prevent progression, and even reverse some damage.
But once things tilt into a spectrum, the best thing we can do is refer that client to a mental health professional. Like an athlete with an injury – the coach can’t replace a radiologist, physical therapist, etc. The key is to get the right help before it’s too late.
This week, it’s my heartfelt pleasure to welcome Patricia Jenkins, AKA, The Podcast Maven. She’s a podcast editor and coach who believes every woman has an important story to tell and deserves to share their unique voice with the world.
In complement to her dedication for helping female entrepreneurs create, record, and kick-start their podcasts, Patricia recently launched her own called The Enterprising Expat. Although she covers a wide range of topics, Patricia primarily interviews other expat women about operating their online businesses.
Drawing on her own experience and expat struggles, Patricia also ferociously advocates for mental health and uses her platform to bust taboos. Today, Patricia joins us to bravely share her journey so we can normalize mental health maintenance and torpedo whatever stigma still dares to stand.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- No singing at the table
- An upbringing with fixed parameters
- When spouses disagree on how to raise children
- The “you’re either sane or mad” generation
- Unromanticizing the trailing spouse
Listen to the Full Episode
Featured on the Show:
Imagine you could work through your own challenges while helping other expats and get paid for it at the same time. That’s precisely what happens in Expat Coach Coalition. Spots are filling up, and the doors are closing soon, so sign up right here and come meet your graduating class.
- Expat Coach Coalition
- Join the last Expat Coach Coalition Info Session – 21 April 2021
- Expat Coach Secrets
- Year of Transformation
- Podcast Maven
- The Enterprising Expat
- Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear . . . and Why
- Join Expats on Fire right here.
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
- Sundae’s Facebook Group – Expats on Purpose
Catch These Podcasts:
- Expat Happy Hour: EP220: Simplified Self-Care with Dr. Melissa Tiessen
- Tandem Nomads: Breaking the taboos about entrepreneurs’ mental health – With Erin Long
- The Enterprising Expat: The 5 Friends You Need as an Expat
- The Enterprising Expat: Top of my to-do list. Book a therapist
We’re delighted by our nomination to the global Top 25 Expat Podcasts!
Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 9:00 am in New York, 3:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 8:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
Sundae: I was doing some preparation for this week’s guest and she has a podcast so I went in, I’ve heard some of her episodes but I wanted to dive a little deeper and I landed on something from November 25th 2020, the title caught my eye: Top of my to-do list. Book a therapist. And as I listened she talked about how when we have a headache we take Paracetamol, but why don’t we, when we have problems emotionally, do a mental health check-up. And it hit me like bricks. We check up for teeth so we go to the dentist. We check our hearts, we go to the cardiologist. Ladies, we even check our breasts and our vaginas with the gynecologist, right? Why do we not check our heads? Why is there shame around having regular mental health check-ups, but no shame around going to the dentist? There’s something wrong.
And our guest for this week is going to help us go into a little bit more about what is with the taboo and how we can break it. And if you’ve been following me on Expat Happy Hour on social media, you know how important it is for me to break the taboos of asking for help and being straight about when things are not always okay.
So it is my heartfelt pleasure to welcome Patricia Q Jenkins. She’s also known as the Podcast Maven. She’s a podcast editor and podcast coach dedicated to helping female entrepreneurs create, record, and launch their own unique podcasts and she’s really amazing. I’ve known her for many years thanks to a business group that we were in and what I’ve learned from her is that the idea for Podcast Maven came when she was living in Lebanon with her now husband. You know how it feels unable to work, she too found herself restless and seeking an outlet for her creative energy. Patricia believes that every woman has an important story to tell and deserves to share their unique voice, culture , language, and perspective with the world.
You can see why it is my pleasure to have Patricia here because she too stands for women’s empowerment. She hosts her own podcast called The Enterprising Expat which focuses on interviewing expat women who created their own businesses online. And that inspiration for the podcast stems from over 10 years that she’s lived as an expat and her personal experience building an online business in a foreign country from the ground up. So Patricia, welcome to Expat Happy Hour.
Patricia: Thank you so much. I’ve never had such a great introduction. I’m nervous, but I’m so pleased to be here.
Sundae: Hey, I am so excited you’re here and what I love about this is you and I met through a common business school, right? We did B School back in like 2013-2014. I don’t remember what year it was. But at that time I had no idea. I was living in Burkina Faso and I don’t know where you were based at that time, Patricia. Do you remember?
Patricia: Yeah, that should have been Lebanon-ish. I think yeah, B School was definitely Lebanon. Yeah.
Sundae: Right. And then I had no idea. I was later going to move to a country that bordered your home country of Lesotho. So it’s interesting how the world has taken us to different places. So thank you for being here. This is the thing. You’re a podcast coach.
Sundae: So why in the world is it important to you to talk about mental health on your podcast?
Patricia: I think the sort of *woo woo* answer is because we are all human beings and we feel a range of emotions and none of them are good or bad but the impact they can have on us can be good or bad. And as a podcaster, I have a platform. I think it’s important to have those conversations. I think it’s important to tell people if you’re not feeling okay, then you can access some sort of help. You don’t always have to persevere, sometimes you need to get to a place where you’re thriving and that can mean looking after that aspect of your health. And I’ve already launched into a rant. So that’s my short, longish, answer to that.
Sundae: You crack me up because before we went live I was talking about what we have in common. We’re both absolute lovers of books. We believe in breaking taboos of mental health, and we love podcasting. But I think the thing you might not know about me that’s probably very different from you, is what you shared in that podcast that I mentioned at the top of the episode, was if you have something you’ll be quick to take something for it. If you have a headache you’ll take Aspirin and which is so smart. Right? Like, hello, let’s reduce pain. I am the opposite. I’m like “No, it doesn’t hurt that bad.” This is something I’ve tried to deconstruct over the last decade. My old modern pattern was just taking on, put it on, more, more and more. And only when I’m practically at the breaking point, would I ask for help and and that I’ve had to reverse in the last decade, right? I didn’t have a choice.
But an example of that is when I had a child, I got my dream job during maternity leave and started working, was breastfeeding, was doing this in German and English, my work. And I went into the doctor and I was very fatigued and I wanted to find out what’s going on with me and my blood levels were so low. The doctor could not believe that this was the first time I was going into the doctor. He was almost shaming me. He’s like, “Sundae, we do infusions for iron under 25, and yours are 12. why are you just coming in here?” So I have been the opposite and like I said since having children, I’ve been forced to to change that. So tell me a little bit more about your journey and share as much or as little as you want around your personal journey. What does that mean for you to take care of your mental health and why is it important?
Patricia: Okay, so I think in some ways it starts in the same place. I have two stepkids and I came into their life when they were early teens or just turning into teenagers. And that made me see that the way in which I’ve been brought up, disclaimer there was nothing wrong with it, but the way in which I had been brought up had very fixed parameters. And when you meet and get to interact and get to nurture somebody who’s been brought up in a slightly different way or different environment, that just sort of broadened the way I see the world. And then it also broadened the way that I look at my emotions and how I interact with people, how I show affection and all of this kind of thing. So I always wanted to be an example for my kids. I didn’t want to be that person who tells them what to do. Well I am but I also wanted them to see me. Yeah. I’m also going to tell you what to do, but I wanted them to see me living it. To see it in my actions every day.
And growing up, my home wasn’t the warmest home all of the time and there were incidences of well, let’s not sugarcoat it, there was domestic abuse. So even one incident can have an impact on you growing up as a child. So there was that. And I think in some ways I learned how to play it safe and just sort of make myself small and that is the way I learned to interact with the world. But now I could see that it was holding me back as an adult because I didn’t always have the skills to interact with different people in different ways. And I didn’t want my kids to grow up learning my fears and shrinking themselves. So that’s the back story as to why I decided, You know what? You can bleep this out if you want, “Trish, you need to get over your shit. You’re an adult. You can see where you want to go and you can’t take yourself there. So what do you need to do to make that clear?”
Sundae: So huge hats-off to you for that and you’re in a cross-cultural relationship, our listeners might not know that. Do you want to share a little bit about some of the cultural dynamics that we’re going on that added to the different family cultures that you were navigating? In addition to maybe some other cultural challenges or differences that sort of added to this level of complexity you were navigating?
Patricia: Yeah sure. I think that’s where my partner and I mostly diverged in opinion is on how to raise kids. I was kind of raised in a “Do as I say” kind of background and my husband is more of a “Okay. Let’s talk about it. What do you think?” Now growing up, children didn’t have opinions like that. That was my upbringing but then I actually had to open myself to, “Okay, you know what, nobody’s going to die if you hear what they have to say.” And it’s easier to make a teachable moment if you listen to somebody’s opinion. So we diverge there because there are some things where I will just say, “This is what we’re going to do. I don’t want any feedback from you, just go do it.” But I learned to not negotiate with my kids, I do not negotiate. We learned to like each other. We actually have a great — and I learnt to get to know them individually as people which was one thing that my husband taught me how to do. Because I was coming late to this relationship and I was scared the whole time. I’m going to put my hands up and just say, “I was scared” because I didn’t want to mess this up.
But with cultural differences, I think also because my husband has lived on the continent in a lot of different countries, he was aware of some of the attitudes and sort of things that I believe and do, that I’m just not going to have a lot of debate over, so not raising children, but I don’t know. There are just some things I will not do in my culture like singing at the table to me is a no, no. It’s just a no. But when we would get together with his friends, somebody would start singing because some of them are quite musical and I’m just sitting there with my mouth open thinking, “What on God’s good earth are these people doing? Do they have no manners?”
Sundae: That’s so interesting. It makes me think about being with individuals from Southern Africa and them not speaking at the table. Meals are actually for eating and not for talking. And for me, meals are actually the time when you talk.
Patricia: Yes, yes. And then sometimes you learn to, I think as an expat in that situation, you learn to read that situation and you become flexible in, “Okay, how do I need to behave in this particular situation? And how do I need to behave in another.” But now, I like talking at meal times. It’s a good way to get to know people. So this is what I’m going to do in my house.
Sundae: So tell us more about this idea about mental health checks, what do you think makes it hard especially for expats? And I think both of our audiences are predominantly women. What are the pressures that we face in asking for help?
Patricia: So I think with expats and I’m just going to say it, I was a trailing spouse, kind of still am, or accompanying spouse if you like, and I think there’s a lot of romanticism around that title and that lifestyle. Sort of, “You’re going off to a foreign place and you’re living the life of luxury and you don’t have to work and you’re going to be pampered,” and blah blah blah blah. So if you’re in that, doing daily drudgery, I don’t know, I felt that I should feel so grateful and lucky. But I wasn’t stimulated. I wasn’t doing anything. I was bored. So I kind of felt like I was in a gilded cage, but I didn’t have anybody to speak to about it. Nobody to understand what I was going through because I didn’t know any other expats. I just had friends at home who didn’t understand my situation.
So I guess as an expat there’s that thing of finding your feet and finding your place, and also trying to make the situation work for you. If you’re not the partner who is working outside of the home, I think as an expat woman that can be one of the factors. As women, I believe we shoulder a lot. If you just look at the statistics of who’s shouldering the bulk of the unpaid work in this pandemic, it is women, it is women. We take on a lot. I think it’s in of cultures and how we’re brought up when we take the word “nurture” and we take it to mean carrying everybody’s burden and we need to learn where to draw a line with that because we are also human beings. We need nurturing ourselves. We need support. So as women we need to find some way to give ourselves permission to do that. And I found that difficult as well.
Sundae: So how did you start to do that?
Patricia: It got to a point where we left Lebanon, which I was not happy there. We moved to the US which was a bit better, but I wasn’t making the progress that I knew I could make. I was always falling back, holding myself back and I was not progressing. So I could do all of the courses in the world, but it was really my belief in myself and my belief in my abilities that was holding me back. And that went back to always feeling that minimizing myself was the safest thing to do and it sort of manifested itself in different ways. And I just don’t want to get to 60 and think “I wish.” So I just decided, “Well, if this is in my head, there are people who specialize in this and that can help me straighten it out.” But I mean, this is a process that took me almost six months to a year because I felt so embarrassed.
Sundae: Hmm. Tell me, when you see “embarrassed,” It sounds like it’s coming from a place of shame. Where was that?
Patricia: Oh definitely. Oh definitely. My parents, they passed away a few years ago, but they were heading into their 80s. So this was the generation of mental health is nonsense. It’s either you’re sane or you’re mad. There is no in between. So that is the stuff I grew up hearing. When I was 21, I actually had clinical depression and I had to take medication for it. So that was my first brush with mental health. So from then I understood the benefits of actually getting help before it’s too late.
But it wasn’t something I shared with people. I would make sure that when I went to the hospital in my 20s that it was at a time when I knew I wouldn’t see anybody on the streets. So there’s always that, there was an embarrassment, there was a stigma that I had growing up. Nobody in my circle really talked about anything like this and I feel that it’s only becoming a more commonplace conversation perhaps in the last five to ten years, especially in my culture, especially in my culture. I’m talking to my younger cousins now, I’m like, “Why don’t you just go see a therapist,” and they can be knocked off their feet, but I’m going to say it anyway. So yeah, there’s a cultural stigma as well because you’re either sane or you’re a loony.
Sundae: Right? And then we have no space there and then you probably put it on yourself saying, “Well, if I’m not feeling okay. So then if I have those two choices, what does that mean?” Right?
Sundae: It makes you want to bury that even more and I know that you’re talking, coming from the Southern African region, but I’ve seen that in South Asian cultures. There’s many cultures where that is true of their shame. And what I’ve learned from my European friends is that they say that everybody in America has a therapist.
Patricia: Yes. Yes. As a Brit, it’s still hard for me to say like I want to go seek the services of a mental health professional. I think that there’s a lot of campaigns and a lot of talking but it’s still not commonplace just to say it out loud. So I just decided I’m going to say out loud.
Sundae: Thank you. Thank you for doing that. I mean that because this is what I mean about breaking the mental health stigma. And I just released a podcast 220 where I talk to a therapist. And the therapists that I know, they are working around the clock because people are struggling right now. And they’re talking about even with their support people are not getting better. They’re stable or they’re declining. Imagine what would happen if those people didn’t seek help.
Patricia: And then these are only the people that have gone to see them and sought their help. What about the ones who have all of the blocks about seeing them?
Sundae: Here’s the thing. I’m a coach. So there’s a crossover between therapy and coaching. There are some things that are similar and there are some things that are very different. One very basic way to talk about level of functioning. So lower level functioning for example, if you are a sports coach and you help runners, if someone breaks their leg, you can’t have a coach anymore, you need to go to a doctor or to a PT, physical therapist. So there’s a zone where you can help and then others you have to pass off to someone else.
What I see is that by the time someone reaches out for help, they are at a low-level of functioning. And that if they had sought out help earlier, it would have been less drama. No divorce, right? No, alcoholism. No whatever. There’s a point if you actually get help earlier, you keep high-level functioning, but the longer you ignore that, the lower the functioning gets and then you have to have clinical treatments, medication, some massive intervention or even when there’s damage that leaves irreparable scars.
Patricia: Yeah, right. Yeah, definitely. Absolutely.
Sundae: And no shame. I want to just say this like no shame to anybody who’s been there because we’re all human and we’re all just doing the best we can. And for some people they need that moment that sort of Rock Bottom to go up and I really mean that with my whole heart, no judgment, no shame because everybody has their own journey. I just want to reduce people suffering.
Patricia: That’s it. Yeah, that’s it. Yeah, sometimes all you can do is provide a space for people to talk openly and I hope that is part of what we’re doing.
Sundae: Yep, totally. So that I’m hearing from you, you walked a really courageous journey, also going against cultural norms of your family, your family practices, your cultural norms, right? And you did it differently and now you’re sharing it with other people. Let’s hope for a second around this kind of intersection of being an expat and an entrepreneur, and what that means about Mental Health. What do you think the connections are there?
Patricia: Ooh. Okay. Well for myself it meant deciding where my boundaries are. It meant deciding how far I could push myself and really finding the baseline of, “Am I being lazy and just sort of skiving off or have I really reached the capacity of where I could go.” And I was finding that I was always stopping short and that was beginning to impact on my business and in my business relationships.
So you talked briefly about coaching and I had a couple of coaches and I was never able to click with them directly or work with them. And with hindsight I can say it was because I had a bit of work to do before I could have a coach who needs you to function at a certain level to take you to where you want to go. But if the foundation is not secure, settled, then you’re going to find it really really hard to just use motivation to get you to where you want to go because your foundation is not solid. So that was the way it looked to me in my business.
So for me the therapy is continuous. I’ve changed. I finished with one and we dealt with all of their childhood stuff and I feel great about that. So now I feel like I’m in a place where if I feel down there are practices I can do. If work gets heavy there’s things I can do, but I know never to let it get to a certain place where I’m sabotaging myself or sabotaging my business. And like we said at the beginning, it’s continuous, you go to a gyno every year, have a mental health check-up every year. We’re women.
Sundae: Right? And if you don’t go, you might miss something and then by the time you catch it, you’ve got some massive work to do. The same thing with physical health as it is with mental health. I resonate so much with what you’re saying because I see that a lot in my clients. You and I have talked about this offline about the program that I do is called Year of Transformation and a lot of the work that I do with my clients is exactly what you said about believing in yourself, believing in your abilities. And it’s so interesting, you said, “Minimizing myself was the safest thing to do.”
Patricia: Yeah, I feel really embarrassed saying that but to me, it’s a step forward to say it out loud because sometimes if you don’t speak your fears, they are always going to keep you down. And yeah and acknowledging it is the first step in moving forward. So I’m like, “Yeah, I felt that way,” but feelings pass. It’s okay.
Sundae: But of course you did. There was a book that I read called: Train Wreck and it talks about women who are successful and how they are thrown under a bus in the public eye. So, of course your instinct to stay safe was to minimize yourself, right? Because women are often hated and mocked and thrown under buses when they are successful. And I get that, it’s a protective move.
Patricia: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, but the flip side is that we’re not reaching our goals. There’s a whole societal thing worldwide about the standards women are supposed to uphold and I call BS on it because if we didn’t write those standards, I want no part of it, right?
Sundae: Right? Exactly. I think the flip side, when we‘re talking about entrepreneurship and mental health and living an expat life, for me. I think the beautiful part about having your own purpose project or business whether it’s a book, a podcast or coaching or whatever it is. Is that it actually helps your mental health because you have a sense of purpose, and you’re making an impact on people’s lives. So how has the podcast helped your mental health?
Patricia: It’s been affirming. It’s been really great because I kept it under wraps for a year. I do it for other people but my own, I kept it under wraps for a year. And again, it was just that thing of I live such a privileged life that people would say, “Oh you’re so lucky to do that,” and I wanted to talk about all aspects of being an expat so it’s helped me to understand some of the emotions that I’m feeling. It has helped me to connect with women who have said that, “You know what? Actually yes, this confused me,” or, “I felt that,” or, “I was in a beautiful place and I hated it,” or, “I’ve grown as a person because I now know what I can accept or not accept.” So it’s helped me grow as a person. It has helped my business. It has helped me connect with people. It has just helped me thrive in a way that I didn’t feel was possible. It’s been an amazing ride.
Sundae: It’s been so cool to watch you. Like I said, I had no idea what you were about to do when we met back in B School.
Patricia: Neither did I.
Sundae: That these things were bubbling up so it’s been such a journey. And I think when I step back and I look at your journey, one, you started from a place where you were not feeling great, where you dug into that and you did the work to come out of it, right? And that’s what I really admire about that, that you asked for help before it was too late.
Patricia: Thank you.
Sundae: And you’re now using that strength and momentum to inspire other women around the world. So that’s huge. It’s huge. So thank you so much for all that you do and all the light that you shed on the complexity of these globally mobile lives. Especially as women and accompanying partners where we have to get creative in finding purpose and meaning because there’s other dynamics that are set into place. Or we don’t have control, right? So I think it’s such a wonderful contribution. Help the listeners understand where they can find you if they want to know more about you and the work that you do.
Patricia: Sure. Okay, so I’m a podcast editor and I am a podcast coach. So podcast editing, if you’ve already got a podcast, I will take what takes you the longest and what people really dislike and I will do it for you and I will do it well, so I’m a podcast editor. Podcast coaching is really for people who want more support or even their hand held through the process of creating a podcast. I am a nurturer in that way. You cannot ask me something too many times. I do not get annoyed. The company is called Podcast Maven and the website is www.podcastmaven.com. Just book an appointment and you can talk to me for 15 minutes for free. No obligation about your idea.
My own podcast is called The Enterprising Expat. It comes out every two weeks and it’s available on all of the directories so wherever you listen to podcasts have a listen to The Enterprising Expat. It’s mostly interviews but again, I do some solo shows where I pull back the covers and I get a little bit vulnerable about what I’m doing, what I’m feeling. So yeah.
Sundae: I love that. Those are my favorite episodes!
Patricia: Thank you!
Sundae: Because you really do bring people along on your journey and I have to say having started my podcast, what was it almost five years ago or think it’s been five years, I was really grateful to have a coach by my side. For anybody who’s nervous about doing something like a podcast and doesn’t feel confident in the skills, hiring a coach is a really great way to fast-track that and to feel confident that you’re doing the right thing. So I would definitely, definitely endorse that as a fellow podcaster. I did that when I started and it really helped me. My first episode was a disaster, but it was the first episode and then you do the second one–
Patricia: And it should be. I think that should be the goal. Your first episode should be a disaster. But you know what? You’ve done it. That is the goal. That is the goal.
Sundae: Keep going. Keep going. That’s right, and any last words that you’d like to share with our listeners when we talk about the complexities of expat life and the importance of nurturing our mental health?
Patricia: I would just say it is not selfish to consider yourself and consider your needs. You need to be nurtured. You need to be looked after so that you can care for other people. So don’t be shy about just exploring the idea of looking at mental health, if you are perpetually tired or you feel you just can’t cope. There are a lot of ways to access help and if you need help, you can contact me and I’m happy to help you with that.
Sundae: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much Patricia. She did a podcast recently about five friends that you need while you’re living abroad: the old friend, the hobbyist, the business friend, the local and the coffee brunch friend. I would probably add number 6: the therapist, or the coach to get you by and get you further. So it’s been so wonderful again. Thank you so much for everything that you’re doing. Thank you for helping break the taboo around mental health.
We see as Patricia is such an example if you’re able to tune into yourself and realize what you need. Whether you reach out to a therapist, a coach or whatever you need like fitness or a best friend, that once you break through that, you then have the momentum to create amazing things and serve others while you support yourself. So super inspiring.
Speaking of inspiring. A shout out to my biz partner and dear friend Amel Derregui for also highlighting entrepreneurship and mental health in her recent podcast Nr 212: Breaking the taboos about entrepreneurs’ mental health – With Erin Long. I had no idea that was in her communication pipeline when this episode was originally published. It says so much about how connected entrepreneurship and good habits for mental health are for business.
And this episode is live during the six-part series Expat Coach Secrets. You can see it is not secret that mental health is central to our success and how we show up for others.
Don’t miss this final week of the series as we continue to share success secrets for global mobility and running a successful coaching business. This week is also the last call for applications for Expat Coach Coalition, so don’t miss the info session happening on 21 April 2021. Details in the show notes.
Thank you everyone for listening. This is Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Schneider-Bean. I’ll leave you with the words from Glenn Close: “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”