Blog Episode 24: Pursuing Mental Health with Jonny McCoy

Episode 24: Pursuing Mental Health with Jonny McCoy

04/27/2022


🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶

🎶 Episode Intro:  It is my pleasure to introduce you today to Johnny McCoy on this episode of the pursuing uncomfortable podcast. Johnny was a successful and prominent criminal attorney in South Carolina, defending some high profile clients and having high rates of success while also suffering from mental illness. Today, we will hear not only his story, but the work he does and has done to bring support to others who might suffer from mental illness or who need encouragement.  🎶

Episode

Melissa Ebken  0:06 
Hello, everyone, I am eager for you to meet my friend Johnny McCoy. Johnny, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast.

Jonny McCoy  0:17 
Wow, I'm just thrilled to be here, Melissa, it's great to connect with you. And you know, I already feel great. Just Just hearing your voice through the microphone, I can tell why your why your listeners enjoy your podcasts so much. So thanks for having me.

Melissa Ebken  0:32 
Thank you. And as you can tell, Johnny is a Southern gentleman, and he is very polite and very gracious. And just going to put this out there. At some point during our conversation, he is going to call me ma'am. And I'm going to just blow this thing up and tell him to stop it and call me Melissa. But you know, with everyone here listening, I will have some grace, and just appreciate you are who you are.

Jonny McCoy  0:57 
I appreciate it. Yes ma'am. I Well, there it is, first one, I you know, in, in my upbringing, and then my upbringing transferred into, you know, being an attorney and have, you know, made sure that I'm always on as far as manners and personality wise goes. But I'm in recovery I'm in I'm a Southerner in recovery to the point where, you know, I know that I'm not going to offend you. If I just say yes, even though that hurts.

Melissa Ebken  1:26 
Well, this is Pursuing Uncomfortable, but you're not alone. We're here with you. But no, all kidding aside, Jonny it's really such a gift to me to have you here. I cannot wait for people to, to meet you and become acquainted with all the incredible work that you're doing in the world. And to hear your story and how you can impact others and give them hope. So let's just jump into it, shall we?

Jonny McCoy  1:52 
Absolutely, of course. Thank you for having me again.

Melissa Ebken  1:55 
And let's start out, I'll let you tell us about it. Tell me about your app. And what it does for folks.

Jonny McCoy  2:03 
Absolutely. So the app is a mental health peer support app. It's peer to peer support. It's anonymous, and it's free. It's located in the Apple App Store and on Google Play. And it's been it's been long, it's been available since about October of last year. And what White Flag is, is a place for people who are struggling with mental health and addiction issues, or their family members are or their friends are or they just want to help other people who are struggling, they go and they come on the app. And you can either raise your "white flag," and then specifically ask for things to receive support for like PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation. And then you know, you can also discuss some of the stuff you're using to cope with alcohol, Xanax, whatever it may be, that you are using, to kind of deal with your pain. And then finally, your background issues whether you know, you are adopted, whether you you know, you've you've incurred some some sort of trauma, you can really raise your "white flag" and be connected with somebody who's going through the exact same things as you. And upon raising your "white flag," the group of people in the app that are already there, are notified that somebody with issues in common with them is seeking somebody to talk to, anonymously. And so what we're seeing happen is once you raise your white flag, multiple people are starting to reach out. Some of them are veterans, some of them are moms talking with other moms dealing with postpartum depression. You know, we have people who are going through a divorce, child custody dispute, stuff that you never really think, hey, this person is going any other way, there's a helicopter flying over, hey, this person is the this. My issues are, are my own. I'm not know I've never met anybody else who's dealt with them. But White Flag changes all of that White Flag shows you that you're truly not alone, and exactly what you're dealing with. And so the other aspect of it, besides raising your white flag is just going on there. And perusing through people who have raised their white flag, you can go to their profile, you've read their story, their mental health journey, you can go through and see what issues that they want to talk about whether it be depression, anxiety, you know, you know, paranoia, bipolar disorder, and you can reach out to somebody who's looking for help. So, if you're the person, if you're the type of person who's like, "Listen, I don't want to ask for help." That's me. I don't want to ask for help. You know, but I tell you what, I get a lot out of helping other people; Intrinsically it elevates my consciousness it, you know, when they talk about teachers who are teaching stuff, you the reason that the teacher knows so much is because they continuously talk about it over and over again. And they learn new avenues of what they're trying of the topic that they're trying to teach you. And so the more that an individual is open to talking about the stuff that we really don't talk about which is nightmares. You know, I'm a civil, I was a civil rights attorney before opening the app. And I used to wake up with my fingernails broken off in the paint in the walls, because my nightmares were so bad that I would try to tunnel out of my house and I would wake up with blood on my hands on the wall. And then I would wash off and I would go to court, and everybody would be like what a great. Scott is great, doing great. And, you know, we'll get to my story later. But but the truth of the matter is, is, you know, we're all strug, we're all struggling. If I would have met somebody during the that time period, who would have said for my example, about my nightmare, she would have said, yeah, man, listen, you know, I go through the same things, i i put, you know, items in my way to make sure I can't escape the room. And I finally did meet that when I was in treatment for PTSD, I met a veteran who described it and it was the most impactful moment in my life. And we, we've been together ever since. He and I are very close, I went and picked him up when he graduated from the treatment facility. We talk all the time, he actually has my dog. Shout out to my dog. But you know,

Melissa Ebken  6:03 
What's your dog's name?

Jonny McCoy  6:04 
Raya, Raya is the, she, that is a I'm big into philosophy and Greek mythology. And Raya was the mother of Zeus. And so I Raya, she was basically like, my support animal, and she lives with him now, you know, because he's alone. And, you know, he's still in recovery and whatnot, but I miss her every day. But, you know, it's, it's wonderful, you know, for them to be together. But, back to white flag. And so when you're on the app, you can either give support or get support. And it's that, it's that conversation, that connection with somebody where you just say, are you okay? And they're like, No, not today, but you want to talk about it? And, you know, then the conversation turns into well, not right now. But maybe, maybe tomorrow, check in with me. We have people on the app, checking in with each other. We have friends who have found each other, and now they talk all the time. And so you know, White Flag is just a safe and healthy space for people who are suffering, to go and give support to others, like they do in support groups, or get it themselves and they don't have to, they don't have to post on Facebook, they don't have to make it a cry for help that their friends family think, oh, it's, you know, she's just cracked out, come to us, come on our app, and you're gonna meet real people who are struggling with the exact same thing that you're going through. And when you connect with that person, you know, it's gold that we have inside of us. Experiences that that we've been through, and trauma that we've been through and overcome, it hardens into gold inside of us. And if we can break it off and give that somebody else who's in poor mental health. Who is in poor health at all, if you give them the gold and the value of your experience through that, I mean, we've really got an opportunity here to impact you know, on a grand scale. And so to your listeners, you know, if you're struggling, or if somebody else, you know, is struggling, that's all about White Flag app, you know, we're there 24 hours a day, it's anonymous, you don't talk to a White Flag team member, you just talk to somebody else who's going through the same things. And so I'm always hoping to improve the app in many ways. And if you've got any feedback, you can find me as well. But yeah, so White Flag has been a blessing. The messages that we get. The emails that we receive on, you know, through our website, and just me personally, you know, the anecdotes, anecdotes that I get from people that I actually know, it makes it all worthwhile, you know, and we get caught up in fundraising, and you get caught up in growing your startup and adding team members. And you forget to check the email. And so I, I need to remind my staff to send me the emails more often because it is literally the fuel for my fire. And my purpose is these individuals who are saying, you know, I, my wife told me, she was suicidal last week. She got downloaded the app, and she's talking with another lady that she feels comfortable with. Thank you so much. I didn't know what to do. You know, my son's away in college, his roommate committed suicide. He's on the app talking to other people who witnessed a suicide. And, you know, it is it's, it's just no words. There's no words.

Melissa Ebken  9:18 
Yeah, and the timing for this coming through the pandemic. We all had our own struggles. And I think the pandemic revealed what it was that we were struggling with. And before that, I think that we were busy enough or successful enough or life was okay enough that we didn't have to look behind the curtains of our own lives or we didn't have to investigate things too much. We could just stay busy with stuff and keep going but the pandemic was a revelation, if it revealed what our weaknesses are, what our fears are, where we are uncomfortable and where we can't hide anymore. So this app coming out now, and I mean, not this moment, it's been in the works for a bit. But the timing of that is really powerful. There's such a need. And I love how you've created community community is so powerful, right? So much redemption and hope and encouragement and compassion and kindness to be found in communities. And finding a community that sees you, that hears you, and understands you. Golly.

Jonny McCoy  10:37 
Right. First time, first time ever, you know, for me, to have ever been fully, you know, truly understood was when I matched with somebody who could understand what I wasn't able to say. I mean, that's just the, that's just the basic fundamental property that happens when you connect with somebody who's been through the same things as you. You're not able to, you're not able to put into words, you know, like, like some of these veterans that I'm close with. Now, because I have complex PTSD, it's a little different, that some of these veterans, you know, I, I just broke down, you know, I was I just broke down, and I wasn't able to talk and communicate. And then they, you know, the individuals who I'm connecting with, they understood that language. They understood that pain, they understood, oh, I recognize this sorrow. And I can't tell you what it's like to to be a wor, you know, somebody who people consider to be, you know, a master orater, and somebody who people believe, you know, think has can always find the right words. I mean, I've done closing arguments. And, you know, I've said, I've had cases where ridiculous amounts of liability on each side. And the fact is, when somebody says, What, what's it like? What do you mean, when you trying to say, I'm suffering?

Melissa Ebken  12:09 
Crickets? Yeah,

Jonny McCoy  12:10 
It's hard. It's it's hard. I mean, how do you describe? How do you describe something that you've never heard described before? That's what it is. And, you know, I've said this before. But I truly believe that we are in the beginning of the mental health revolution. And what I mean by that is, you know, we had in, you know, we've had an industrial revolution, a civil rights revolution, we had the tech revolution that took place in the early 2000s. And if you look at the trends, and you look at what's what the more that we're starting to understand the brain and consciousness and mental health, the more people are going, this is, this is this is everything. Because worker productivity is, you know, people only care about productivity workers, when you talk about change. Well, imagine if your worker was mentally healthy, for 90% of the time that they're there instead of 60, or 50, which is the case nowadays, imagine all those days that you go to work that people are listening at home, in your cubicle, or in an office and you get there and you're you're trying to get to noon, so you can go to your lunch break, and then you're trying to get to five, well imagine if you were healthy, how much better it would be, you know, your quality of time at your employer's office, or even for your employer to see, you know, customer service going up. Accounts going up. The reality situation is until people understand that when we go in and we affect change, with people's mental mental health, everything changes. We're going to bring up everything. We're gonna bring up productivity. We're gonna bring up consciousness, tolerability, empathy. Crime is going to go down, crime is going to go down significantly. And what you know, once you understand, well, that guy right there, is struggling, hurting people hurt people, Melissa, hurting people hurt people. And this guy right here is screaming, and he's causing the scene at McDonald's. You know, maybe the guy over here, who normally would punch him in the face will understand this guy over here, he may have just lost his mom. This guy over here, this is not I'm better than you behavior, this is I'm suffering, and I don't know how to describe it behavior. And if if we start you know, I mean, if we could, if we could just start chipping away at this. What a harmonious place this would be. Spirituality is one way to do it, but it's got to be full circle on the brain and mental health and everything's got we've got to work together to illuminate what could actually happen if somebody is given the opportunity of a good mental health and I am what can happen. You know, my story is what can happen, where you are at the top of your game, in another profession, respected profession, whatever as an attorney, and once I got healthy, I was like, I got, I've got too much in me, I've got too many ideas of ways that I can pull other people out, that are still down there in that place that I was in. But I wouldn't be here. We have, you know, 15 employees, we're on the way there. I'm just speaking from, you know, a society standpoint, helping people heal is good for the planet. It's good for society. It's good for humanity. It's good for your family. I know that you don't, and I'm speaking to your users at home. I know that people don't realize it, but one in four people are suffering. So if there's four, of y'all at the dinner table. One of y'all is not telling the truth.

Melissa Ebken  15:36 
And that number sounds low to me.

Jonny McCoy  15:38 
It's low, it's low, but it's still shocking, that you know, that it's one out of every four. And if you go into professions, it's even scarier, you know, police is one out of every three have PTSD. So there's right now Oh, nurses is, I mean, bless, bless your heart, you know, I, I got, I had COVID. And I actually, had to go to the hospital because I have Crohn's disease on top of everything else. And to s for me, it was a horrific experience having to go to a hospital where there's a bunch of people sick. And a pandemic is very scary. I can't imagine what you know, not just through the pandemic, but you know, through being a nurse on a daily basis dealing with mental mentally ill people who, again, like me, like I used to be lash out, they don't know how to communicate. And so it's just this mess. And they're on the front lines, nurses are there, we have a lot of nurses on our app, a lot of nurses on our app.

Melissa Ebken  16:32 
Well, there was a pivotal case, criminal case, that has changed everything for nurses. But that will take us off in a different direction.

Jonny McCoy  16:41 
Next time. We'll dig into that next time,

Melissa Ebken  16:44 
I would love to. So, Johnny, well, before we going any further, I want to be very clear White Flag app available on the App Store available on Google Play. It's online, you can go to whiteflagapp.com. And it's there on your desktop or laptop as well. But make sure you check that out. If you don't feel like you need the support there, maybe you're the perfect support person for someone else. Right. So make sure you download that app. But I would love to hear more of your story. If you would like to share it.

Jonny McCoy  17:24 
Yeah, absolutely. I'll finish my plug. So yeah, if you guys liked the app, write us a review that reviews, they reach people that you wouldn't imagine. And we could really use that we could really use the you know, the positivity because people say, are they using it? And we're like, yeah, we got the analytics. They love, you know, the feedback. And that's how we can continue to provide the app and grow as if we if we know in our you know, our people around us know that you're enjoying it. So please do. But yeah, I, you know, I built the app, White Flag app through in my own experience. And when I was struggling, this is a preface and I'll get to my story. But when I was struggling, I would go through every viable resource that I had at my disposal, and I was an attorney. I had great, excuse me great insurance, I had great connections. And I spent about, I think it was about 16 months, writing emails to insurance companies, begging them telling them I'm going to commit suicide tonight, I need to get into a treatment place for 18 months. And this still the hardest part is going back and reading those emails. But what I what I was also doing was I was researching through apps, and looking for I just wanted to hear somebody say I know how much pain you're in. And you haven't surpassed the moment where human beings take their own life. You still have more to go. That's what I wanted. Because I was in so much pain. I mean, I was sleeping in the woods across the street from my house, you know, I was overusing Medicaid, I was sleeping until 4pm in the day. And, you know, I, I still couldn't find a way where I where I thought that that I'd be comfortable talking about this stuff and couldn't find it couldn't find an app couldn't find a solution could find a peer support. So I drew on a little piece of paper and it just had a list of names and next to the names was everything that that person could be going through. So you know, I said Mark PTSD, anxiety, Theresa, you know, bulimia or anorexia nervosa, binge eating, and just have this list and and that I went back and looked at that list after I got on my treatment and that was what kind of started product design but my story starts, you know, long before I was born, and anybody who is who has struggled with mental health issues, and you don't know the cause, as in I don't know if my daughter has any trauma. I don't know if my son has trauma, I don't know, you know, textbook generational trauma being passed down, is what is what I'm about to talk about.

Melissa: Johnny's story Chronicles, decades of abuse from family members and from systems, all of whom should have been looking out for him, not causing him further trauma. To hear his story in full, go over to melissaebken.com/blog. All of the details aren't appropriate for all audiences, but it's a bonus episode for you there. If you would like to hear his story.  We pick back up with the story where Johnny reflects on all that he has been through and the work he is doing today.

He saw this from 2009 until he finally told me his story in 2021. last year. I almost died not knowing that my father and I had a similar experience. And now you know, it made us a lot closer. But the reason that I tell my story is you may not think that what you went through is that bad. But if your kids are hurting, your loved ones are hurting your family members are hurting. It was. I get all that I just told y'all I didn't even think was bad until after I got out of treatment. I never thought any of this was a story. None of it. I just thought this was the way life was. And so when I got out of my treatment facility, and I learned about that peer support, by the way, my wife came down and we had a wonderful, well not a wonderful, I was nonverbal and drooling and shaking, but she learned about my disease. She learned about PTSD and Xanax addiction. And she absorbed it and you know, we fight for each other because, you know I fight for her mental health like she does mine. And the important thing is after I got out of the trauma treatment facility, I understood the value of peer to peer support of somebody understanding you I mean I only met my therapist, it was you know 30 grand to go to this place, I only met with my therapist once a week. That means the rest of the time, I'm just talking to other people who are going through the same things as me, they put you in groups according to your background. So when I got home to Myrtle Beach, I looked for groups. And guess what, there were none. There were no trauma groups. So we're no anxiety groups, there's nobody talking about anxiety, which is, which was my big thing. And so I created them. I created the area's first. We started off with two people in a garage. And we eventually were able to get a loading dock, we had 10 people at a loading dock. And eventually, a state representative got us a big meeting room and the YMCA, we went from two members to 60 in person every month, and over 1000 people online, just watching, you know, getting memes and inspirational quotes or whatever. And then like you said, COVID hit. And I moved everybody from all of this stuff, all of this other things I got going on with the groups and then I moved them all into a group chat. And I watched as they just, they helped each other throughout the day, and throughout the night. And I would silence the chat at night, but they would just keep right on talking and all the way through the night. And you would see it'd only be like five or six of them that you would see all the little heads go down. So everybody's reading it, everybody's learning. Everybody's everybody's you know, getting something out of participating and watching, or, or learning about somebody else's mental health issue. So I immediately after COVID, happened, I immediately created a nonprofit called the Horry County Citizens Crisis Response that was to pay our people who are struggling outside the Horry County Citizens Crisis Response. We closed it after the COVID was over, which is, you know, the right and ethical thing to do, I think. And so I found a way to match people who are looking for stuff with people who needed stuff, whether it be diapers, formula, or whatever. And I learned that even if the people were like, hey, I need diaper formula, and everybody, everybody in the comments was like, this lady asked for it yesterday, she's just trying to sell it. And you know, she's just trying to get money from it. I learned that people would say it doesn't matter. It what she does with the with the support, it doesn't matter. I'm here because I want to help a problem. And if I didn't do it or whatever, that's all her that's her bad energy, her karma. I'm here. And once I saw that I, I hired an executive director for that for that nonprofit. And I immediately went into building White Flag based off of my experience, what I'd seen in my trauma treatment facility in my life. And I created an app that I would use, I created an app that everybody would use, there's no hearts, there's no lights, there's no patronizing comments, walk down the beach, just breathe deep. There's none of that stuff, White Flag is a place where you go where you want to have a real conversation. That's it.

Melissa Ebken  1:02:49 
I'm speechless. I mean, I have no words, just the sheer breadth of your experience is, is just overwhelming. It's just overwhelming that one person would experience that. But what I want to draw attention to is, you're telling the story, from the other side of this. That there's hope. That while we're telling our stories from the thick of it, or from the pit, there are other people there who found their way out who are telling their stories of survival. And they're walking with you. That's so true. Yeah, man, when I was on the website, the whiteflagapp website, I was looking through the blog. And you know, the sentence descriptions that go with each one, were just each one would grip my heart. And I kept reminding myself, they're writing this, having recovered, that doesn't mean that life is perfect, and will never be bad again. But they're reading this, to give hope that things can be better. So as you hear the depths and the breadth of all of this, as you hear the pain and the difficulties, you're hearing it from someone who is experiencing hope. Who is experiencing another day, and the opportunity, another possibility, and that is the true miracle to me.

Jonny McCoy  1:04:28 
And you hit it on the head. And that's why I tell the story. You know, I again, I'm still learning that story, right? Like I'm still like putting it all together. And my father just told me about what he went through last year. So, but there you know, there are important lessons from trauma stories that should be learned and there are heroes all along the way. And people don't understand always what that means to be a hero. But if you can impact somebody who is suffering slightly. I mean, do you need to know know that you save their life, because I'm here to tell you, it's a good possibility that if you come across one of these four individuals who are suffering, your act of kindness, whatever it is, your break that you give them, whatever it is, may be, it may end up being the story that they tell later. And what I mean by that is, my, my, my lawsuit versus the city of Columbia went in front of a lower judge. And this this individual, she was the first one to rule on whether or not the cops were wrong, the law was wrong, or I was wrong. And this individual judge, federal judge, she ruled that I was wrong, and the police were right. And I remember getting the update from my attorneys. And I just remember thinking to myself, it's a Friday, just wait till Monday, wait till Monday to end your life. And I remember going through the weekend and trying to put together what I had done to deserve what I've been through, because that's all it was at that point was, Okay, God universe, whoever had, you know, please just at least tell me I was in the right. That's the only way that I'll be able to survive this thing. So I meet with my attorneys at the beginning of the week, and they say, it gets reviewed by the upper judge, and then he'll make the decision and the upper judge, he ruled that the law was unconstitutional, that I had done nothing wrong, and everything in between, but it took him three or four months to review. And it was the worst, it was one of the worst, darkest times in my life. Flash forward to 2018. And I'm representing a client who was shot at by the police 29 times hit nine times. And the case was to see if you know, the police were in the wrong, if they operated operated inappropriately. And there was a surveillance video in that case, showing that they acted inappropriately. So we kind of knew what was coming down. But it's a big case is the biggest civil rights case in the history of the state at that time, Julian Betton and B-E-T-T-O-N. And that judge had to decide whether or not Julian was in the right, or whether or not he was in the wrong the same judge. And my heart sank, and I thought he's gonna go through the same thing, because he's paralyzed. And he's been through, he's been through, you know, multiple surgeries, you know, he's got rods in his legs, he doesn't really have much muscle. He's in a wheelchair. And I didn't want him to have to go through that question of did I deserve? Did I put myself here? And she issued her opinion. And in her opinion, she quoted Johnny McCoy versus the city of Columbia, in her ruling that my client did nothing wrong. And I can't ever make it through that part. Because it's the heroes. You know, like, she didn't have to put that in there. But it was the law at the time. And it was that nod, that gesture. that, hey, what you've been through matters to other people. What you've been through matters to Julian that it matters now. It didn't matter those police, the prosecutors who came after you, but it matters now. And

Melissa Ebken  1:08:17 
it just didn't matter. It became a yardstick. Right, it became the cannon.

Jonny McCoy  1:08:25 
Right. And she has no idea what that did for me. I don't think I mean, I don't really think I know yet. You know, if I have to look back on that time in my life, and some of the my notes and stuff, but it's the heroes. So if you're out there, listening to this story to go a lot. No, I didn't go through all of that. But you know, I certainly empathize and you can empathize with me. Because it's not just, Hey, I went through all this trauma. And you know, you know, my life is harder, I have bigger, bigger mental health issues than you do. That's not it at all. Because we're all born, we're uniquely in, you know, in trying with genetics that will operate throughout the multitude of our lives. Without my father being arrested without my mom coming into alcoholism, without me witnessing the suicide. And without me getting hooked on Xanax, I still would have been sick. And I still would have been able to look at you and hear your story and say, Oh, my God, what a struggle this human being is enduring. And I heard that there are heroes along the way, and I want to be one of those heroes. I want to be somebody who gives somebody a break when they need it the most. And, you know, that's what we hope that people can find on White Flag is just a break. Just a moment of peace.

Melissa Ebken  1:09:47 
I work a lot with psychologists and mental health professionals and they share that the latest neuroscience shows how the brain can rewire itself. How the brain might make new connections and form new memories and new pathways. And one of the ways that happens in trauma victims is someone listening compassionately. Right? That is something each of us can do. You know, Marvel has the Marvel Universe has us thinking that superheroes wear capes, and can bend time and steel, and all of these other things, but the real heroes are those everyday folks among us, who listen with compassion.

Jonny McCoy  1:10:30 
And easing suffering, change a life forever, forever, it changes their life, it changes their wive's lives, their kid's lives. So you know, I guess the message here is just, you know, if you can give somebody a break this week, somebody who wronged you, or somebody who hurts you just remember hurting people hurt people. And everybody looked at me as this arrogant, probably arrogant attorney with money, and, you know, new suits on at the courthouse, but it was all a facade. It was all just me trying to survive. If the money wasn't coming in, and, you know, paying for these other things I'm using to cope with, you know,

Melissa Ebken  1:11:16 
then those other voices may have been right.

Jonny McCoy  1:11:19 
Right. Right. Exactly. Exactly. So, you know, I hope that I hope that that individuals out there who can relate to my father, you know, being closed off and not discussing, you know, just know that I am, you know, a child of the south and a child of secrecy and a child, you know, let's, let's keep this within the family, let's not even talk about in the family. And I'm telling you, my brothers and I, it's consensus, we would much rather hear from you what's really going on. So if you're there, and you know, you are in your lashing out, and let's talk through it, let's talk about your hit your spouse, or let's talk real, you're abusing alcohol, you're showing up late for work, it can't get worse. So why not just start to try to talk about what it is that it's it's underlying all of this negative energy that you're putting out into the and violent energy that you're putting out into the universe, because it's underneath all of that, that's your way out, it's your way out is finding out why you need to numb the pain.

Melissa Ebken  1:12:29 
Well and Jonny, by healing yourself, you have healed a whole family cycle, a generational cycle of abuse is going to have a different story now. Whether you have zero kids or whether you have 20 kids, by doing the work that you did on yourself, and healing yourself, and all of that, that you faced, that story has a new chapter now that wasn't available before.

Jonny McCoy  1:12:59 
Yeah, and, and I thank you for saying that. It means a lot. And you know, I need to hear it. Because now I'm a CEO, you know, and as a CEO, your problems are supposed to be different, you're not supposed to have mental health issues, you know, you're not supposed to have all these other things. And so, either you're, there's a lot of pressure to be perfect, because I am representing the mentally ill in the workplace. And, you know, I'm doing it vocally and I want that challenge, you know, I don't mind it, to hear that, you know, this guy's practiced law at a high level, I won a bunch of cases during all this time, you know, I would go ahead and say it, when I was struggling, I never lost a felony trial. And, you know, if you're sitting out there thinking, you know, mental illness means that you are in some way shape or form, you know, deformed as a human being socially or professionally or you know, handicapped, you know, of the minds aware that you are not as useful, you're wrong. You're wrong. Because once I started healing, I started to realize that I have all this other creativity and, and passion for stuff that I acquired along the way. And so when you're ready for your healing journey to begin, just know that it's not like a lightbulb goes off, it's not rock bottom, it's just when you're ready for your life to get a little bit easier. That's when you start your journey. When you're ready to say, you know, talking about what I'm thinking about talking about what I'm going through, is slightly easier than drinking and abusing and hurting. Once that becomes easier. Once the talking becomes easier. That's when you start to heal. That's what most people think. If I could get it to you, Hey, listen, even though it's the hardest thing you'll ever do, get out there and talk. Go do it. If I could think that that would actually work. You know, it'd be more inclined to just go around say, Hey, you guys should start sharing. But the reality is, people will start sharing when they realize that the cost of not doing it is just too much.

Melissa Ebken  1:15:02 
Yeah. And I think something that's lost on us is all of these coping mechanisms that seem so life draining, they are life draining, but they're coping mechanisms. They help you to survive to the next day. They're ironically a comfort zone. Right? And the healing is uncomfortable.

Jonny McCoy  1:15:24 
That's good, man. You're right on the money with that. It's incredibly uncomfortable. It's the most uncomfortable thing you ever do. And you know, I'll tell you, I don't name names, but five tours of duty in Iraq, Volusia. Hardest thing he'd ever done is talk and talk about his feelings at that treatment place. And he would say it every day. And I was in a place where the worst of the worst were mentally mentally ill wise, you know? So you're not alone out there, guys. That's for sure. And you don't have to pretend to be to be normal, quote, unquote, you don't have to pretend to be okay. Because you're, you're, you're fooling a fooler, the person who you're like, I don't want this person to know that I'm suffering, they are suffering. And they would love to talk to you about their issues, just like they want to hear about yours. And if you ever run into somebody who one-ups you and says, Oh, you think that's bad, I've been through this, this and this, just know, that person has not started their healing journey yet. They're not trying to offend you. They're not trying to belittle you or make your make you feel less validated. That's a big word in, you know, treatment. Just know that there's that person has the issue. Okay, not you. So anytime that you are one off, or you feel like I'm never gonna talk about that again, because that's what my dad said. My dad said, I never want to talk about it again, because I was told it wasn't a big deal. It's just a death. Well, I'm here to tell you that your feelings are valid. And anything that you got to say I want to hear it and so to the other people on White Flag, I'm telling you.

Melissa Ebken  1:17:04 
Thank you, Jonny.

Jonny McCoy  1:17:06 
Thank you, Melissa.

🎶 Episode Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. If this encouraged you, please consider subscribing to our show and leaving a rating and review so we can encourage even more people just like yourself. We drop a new episode every Wednesday so I hope you continue to drop in and be encouraged to lean into and overcome all the uncomfortable stuff life brings your way. 🎶


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Hello Friends!

Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here. 

I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life. 

I started the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast to share the stories of people who have faced life's most difficult challenges, to inspire you to lean into and overcome your own. It's helpful to know that you're not alone in your struggles and to see how others have navigated similar circumstances. You can listen to it here.
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