Stand Tall in Your Story - Chris Mills
Speaker 1: I'm not coming down. I never left it on the ground. I'm not coming down. I want to go higher, higher, higher, higher than this.
Rebecca Fleetwood: Hey, this is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession, host of the Badass Women's Council Podcast. Super glad that you're here. We have been sharing the stories from the participants of Rise and Thrive Indianapolis, season two. This is a seven month experience where seven career women experience monthly meetings, monthly. I hate to call them meetings because when I say the word meeting, you think of this really awful corporate meeting and they're not that at all. But monthly sessions where they come together and explore their story, their unique gifts, talents, and abilities and their career story. And then we take their stories to the stage. So the stories you've been hearing over the last several weeks are from an event that we held in April of 2021 called stand tall in your story. We actually have an event coming up on March 8th, 2022 for season three of Rise and Thrive to share their stories, both live and virtual. So mark your calendars. You can get tickets at wethrive. live, click on the events tab and you'll get all the information there. So today's story is Chris Mills. And I've known Chris for a lot of years. She has worked of amazing organizations where I've had a chance to work alongside her. And so it was really fun to see how her story unfolded. Because even though I've known Chris for many, many years, there was something I didn't know about Chris, because she had never shared it with me or anyone for that matter, except her husband and her therapist. I'll just let Chris share the story. Here we go.
Speaker 1: And I'm not coming down.
Chris Mills: So I sat down in this really comfortable couch and the sun was shining through the window. It was warm on my face. We started talking about how things were going and how I was doing. And Mary Jo was her normal, straightforward self. And she looked at me and she said this three simple words with a question mark at the end of it. It was easy for her to ask and really hard for me to answer. She said," Chris, are you bipolar?" And complete silence entered the room. I sat there for, I don't know how long. I know I was ways more silent longer than just then. And another question came to mind to me. And I kept thinking to myself, how had I gotten here? This journey you with mental illness. I've come to realize that everybody has a backstory. We have a place of hiding at times. And this is my backstory. I'm here to share with you where I've been hiding. In this journey, I have felt shattered in a million pieces at different times. How could I put myself back together? Should I put myself back together? Who would I be at the end of this journey? What would I look like? Man, there were times of high energy and fun and joy and I ran marathons and I traveled internationally for my job and I had parties with friends. I spent a lot of time with a lot of people. And then there were times of absolute depression, where the thought of getting out of bed was more than I could handle. I was absolutely overwhelmed at the idea that I had to take a shower or wash my hair. I wasn't sure who I was or who I was going to be. As I think about that time, there's a lot of pain that was there, but there was a lot of joy too. And I don't want to lose all of those thoughts. But I also didn't know who I was. And I had lived with this mantra and you know it, lots of people say it, suck it up buttercup, and just keep moving. Because that's what high performing women do. We smile, we keep going, we keep walking. But I'd been brought to my knees. I was in my forties and life was not easy anymore. I was blessed in an absolute moment of clarity that I knew I needed help beyond what my husband and I could do. And God sent me two wonderful women with Mary Jo and Nikki. And I like to say I'm a high performer. And yeah, it took two, not just one counselor.
Speaker 4: Whoa!
Chris Mills: That's all right. They were two high powered women who had dedicated their lives to people with mental illness and they were there to help me. You see issues that had been in the backdrop of my life were now forefront. I was playing the whack a mole game. You know the game I'm talking about, right? The mole pops up and you hit it. Only it pops up somewhere else and you have to try to hit it over there too. Well, that's what life was like. Nikki and I spent countless hours talking about a childhood trauma that had never been addressed. I had to come to a state of forgiveness for my abuser, for the people who did not protect me and should have, and ultimately for myself. And then I played the game and the conversations with Mary Jo that I know so many women play, that I'm not enough. And you know what I'm talking about, right? I'm not tall enough, I'm not pretty enough, I'm not smart enough, I'm just not enough. How could I be enough? I had a mental illness. I was not able to have my own child. I couldn't handle the pressures of my job. All I wanted was a finish line. I wanted to know that there was an end to this. And Mary Jo kept reminding me, this was a journey of acceptance. Like I mentioned, I'm a marathon runner, right? I wanted that 26. 2 miles. Don't forget the 0. 2. I wanted that done. That's right. You got to do the 0. 2. I wanted to come across that finish line, dust myself off and say," Whew. That was tough. Give me a snack and I'm ready to move on." But that's not what mental illness does. I needed counseling and I needed medication. And I worked with a doctor. Because again, with medication that was a battle. All I could think of is I'm weak. I'm sick. What is this all about? And he said," Look, if you have diabetes, you take insulin. If you have blood pressure issues, you take blood pressure medicine. You have a medical condition. It's okay." It was a hard pill to swallow, literally. But I did. I also look back and I realize that this is, there's so much more to this story that I could share. There's so many more battles to this story. But that's not actually my story. My theme song is called overcomer. I stand here tonight to say, this is my story. I am an overcomer. Mental illness does not define me. crosstalk.
Speaker 5: Say it again, Chris. Say it again.
Chris Mills: I will say it again, I will stand strong in my story that mental illness does not define me. Only myself and my God can define who I. The truth is bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, they all have different causes. But they have one thing in common, we're still afraid to have the conversation. And we need to have the conversation. I'm tired of hiding from it. It is who I am. It's a big piece of who I am and I'm okay with that. And I need to not fear anymore. There are people here tonight and out there who know me, who have never heard this part of my story. And it's time. As I went through this journey, I clung to a verse from Psalms 1: 39, and it goes like this," I will praise the for, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are thy works." And my inaudible I am one of his marvelous works. And I leave you tonight with this thought and a prayer that you always know that you are good enough and that you are wonderfully made. Thank you.
Rebecca Fleetwood: I'm so honored that Chris chose to courageously share her story. And since that night she's been invited to speak at other organizations and in other places to share her story, to educate and inspire others. So today's reflection question is how would you respond if someone on your team shared their story, like Chris's? How would you choose to respond? How would this impact the relationship? Because these are the kinds of questions that we need to be asking ourselves because this is the real story. This is what's happening every single day in our organizations, is there someone that's struggling and they want to know if this is a safe place for them to share your story. Are we creating that safe place for them? Thanks so much for being here, make it a great day. When I work with my clients, I want them to discover their unique, personal story. So they can then and stand tall in that story and live a life full of soul and emotions and their natural curiosity about their unique gifts, talents, and abilities. So they can live a thriving life. Because our brains are hardwired for stories and our brain wants us to thrive. So I help my clients tap into that. And I also have a sponsor for this podcast called Storybook, which is a unique and innovative platform that helps you bring your company's stories to life by tapping into the emotional flow and the natural curiosity that we have about your products and services. So check them out. You can go to my website, wethrive. live, click on the stand tall on your story link and see the kind of work they're doing for us or go to their site canalo. tv and there's hundreds of stories there that they've created that you can experience. Check them out. We're so grateful to work with them and for them to sponsor the podcast. And please join the online community at badasswomenscouncil. community, where we can continue the conversation and you can meet other badass high achievers like you. Thanks so much, make it a great day. If you like the music for the podcast, go to iTunes, Spotify, wherever you listen to your music and look up, Cameron Hession, Clouds. You can download the full song there. He's got some other stuff out there as well. And yo, he's my son. Be great if you'd go and download some of his stuff.
Speaker 1: I'm not coming down. I never liked it on the ground. I'm not coming down. I want to go higher, higher, higher, higher than this.
This week in our Stand Tall in Your Story series is a speech from Chris Mills. Chris is the Chief Operating Officer at ML Talent Strategies. Today she shares her story of being an overcomer and learns that her mental illness does not define her. Listen now.