Friday, January 27, 2023

‘My Biggest Fear Was Shining A Light Onto This Part Of Myself That I Didn’t Like’: Kim Crossman On The Importance of Compassion & Curiosity For Our Mental Health

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Actor and broadcaster Kim Crossman is back with the third season of her mental-health focused podcast, Pretty Depressed. She talks to Capsule about her biggest mental health lessons and how she learned to lean into her vulnerability.

Without meaning to, Kim Crossman has come up with the perfect metaphor for what she’s trying to do with Season Three of her mental-health focused podcast, Pretty Depressed.

“I’m trying to use this podcast as a vehicle… well, maybe more like a bus, that people will come on and we’re going to make many a stop. And maybe not every week is for you, but best get off and have a look around.”

For the first two seasons of the show, Kim did a lot of one-on-one chats with well-known public figures who, like her, had lived experience with mental health diagnoses or distress. She chatted to the likes of Chlöe Swarbrick, Kevin Connolly and Kevin Kwan, and her wide-ranging conversations have covered Bipolar disorder, eating disorders, depression and addiction. This season, she’s bringing on experts as well to cover “the specificities of different facets of mental health,” including an expert in ADHD, a celebrity mindset mentor, a trans woman who deals in severe PTSD, plus a woman who helps people wanting to come out and a self-pleasure expert.

“I really want to lean into my curiosity about the things that don’t directly affect me but that I feel a social obligation to be better educated on, so that I have more compassion and education around people’s journeys as well.”

Compassion and curiosity are two of the key aspects of what makes Pretty Depressed not only such compelling listening but also such a great example of how to have mental-health focused conversations. Here, Kim shares with Capsule her biggest lessons from three seasons of Pretty Depressed, from how to have vulnerable conversations through to how she’s learned to be more compassionate with her own mental health as well.

Lesson #1: ‘Ask more questions, don’t offer unsolicited advice.’

That’s the top tip Kim has learned about having these chats on her Pretty Depressed podcast but it’s also advice for how to have a conversation with anyone about a potentially tricky subject. “It’s hard, because it’s in our nature to try and help people and fix things for them, because we want everyone to feel awesome all the time. It’s well-intended, but having a bit more grace with people – asking what they need, how you can be of service… that would be my big life takeaway from these conversations.”

It also comes from personal experience when Kim started talking to people about her own mental health. “Heaven forbid, the biggest thing I learned about my depression was the number of people who told me to ‘go work out’, which, yes, is helpful but not at all what I wanted to hear, and it made me feel burdensome,” she says. “Whilst they were well-intentioned, it is a sentence that feels like you’re being pushed away when you receive it.”

“I think that’s what I’m trying to undo – some of these bad habits and bad behaviours and bad responses that actually push people further into their yuck, rather than pulling them out.”   

Lesson #2: Lean into the vulnerability

You might think that having purely mental-health focused conversations might be a bit draining but Kim says it’s been the opposite – the chats she’s had as part of Season Three have left her feeling more encouraged than ever. “Speaking to people who really see their situation as gifts, and the fruit that they’ve bore from it,” Kim says.

“It’s kind of hard to sit there and have the ‘poor me’s’ when you’ve seen the proof in the pudding that, although it’s difficult, there’s so many gifts from leaning into it a little bit more. Which, for me, was my biggest fear – to shine a light on this part of myself that I don’t like personally, and thinking how could anyone possibly hire me, want to work with me, want to be my friend, if they knew how horrible I was to myself mentally. But actually, when people are sharing their most vulnerable moments, it makes people – for the most part – lean in, not lean away.”

Lesson #3: Be curious (and compassionate!) with your own mental health, as you would be with others.

“There is a certain personal responsibility to know what baggage you’re walking around with and what you’re projecting – and take ownership of it; do what you need to do and include the people that love you,” Kim says.

“There is a certain responsibility on the self to know what baggage you’re walking around with and what you’re projecting – and take ownership of it”

If she’s in a difficult period, Kim says she’s learned to call it out: “Say it, don’t shame it.” For instance, she says, the morning of our chat she saw an old golden retriever that couldn’t walk properly and started bawling her eyes out. “Normally, I’d be like ‘Well, yeah, that’s sad.’ But it’s also a sign of ‘Okay, I’m overwhelmed, I’m at capacity.’ I think rather than dismissing a feeling, asking some more questions – as I would ask a friend if they randomly burst into tears!”

“I don’t think I give myself enough time to enquire – I just move on. And then all of a sudden I might be like, ‘Oh, I’ve cried every day this week – could it be that I’m tired? Allergies?’ That’s really a big takeaway that I’m still working through, that I should ask a couple of follow-up questions if there’s a big reaction or big feeling about something.”  

Lesson #4: When in doubt, get back to basics every single day.

During our chat, Kim shows me wellbeing spreadsheet that is, as she describes, “super f—king intense, I know.” But it’s got a list of basic daily tasks down the side that she’s attempting to tick off every day. “I’m ticking off ‘eight glasses of water a day,’ I’m ticking off ‘no alcohol’… well, I’m not always putting a tick in that column but it’s on there for me to acknowledge that… maybe I’ve drunk wine every day. ’10,000 steps’ is on there, as is ‘meditate’.”

“It’s a list of 30 things to manage my health and wellbeing, and it is currently proving to be successful. Otherwise I’m not accountable enough to myself because I don’t care or love myself enough that I would just work, eat McDonalds, have wine and scroll the internet and not sleep and do all the things that, shockingly, end up with me burning out and feeling depressed. But that daily accountability helps me a lot.”

Pretty Depressed Season 3 is available on Apple, Spotify, and other podcast platforms now. For more information on Kim, visit here

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