Breaking the Stigma: Jess

Life can throw you many curveballs.

Jess has mastered the art of knowing and accepting that there is no predictability in life.

Listen in as Jess shares how she bravely overcomes her fear of seeking mental health support to ultimately change her life for the better.



Jess, Nicki Kirlin, Jenna Fortinski


Jenna Fortinski  00:02

Welcome to the Simply Jenna  podcast. This is breaking the stigma, a special miniseries. Join us as we interview different people and talk about their journey to wellness. If you’ve thought about getting support, but we’re afraid or afraid of what others might think this series is for you. Stay tuned for some really good stories. Welcome to the simply Jenna podcast. We are doing another episode of breaking the sigma. Yes, so excited. And we have the beautiful and amazing Jess with us here today. So thank you so much for joining us and agreeing to do this and volunteering. Yes. Hearing let’s do this. So we are so happy to have you. Thank you. So let’s get in it.



Yes, right.


Jenna Fortinski  00:56

Let’s get in the mud. Let’s get dirty. Okay, so Jess, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and maybe a fun fact, because we love fun facts!


Jess  01:05

Totally. So first, ladies, thank you for having me. I haven’t listened to this podcast since the inception. And I was just really excited to be a part of it. So thank you. Thank you. Um, my name is Jess, Jessica. Whatever. I’m 35 year old female living here in Calgary born and raised. I have a spouse husband, Scott. We’ve been married since 2014. But we’ve been together for 16 years now. Wow. Yeah. One time. And then we have a little girl, Charlie, and she’s almost four. She’s at the end of three here. I work in oil and gas. I have rights instead of university. So for the last 10 years, and a fun fact about me. I was actually born three months premature. So I was only two pounds and four ounces when I was born.


Jenna Fortinski

 Oh my God, God. That’s a really good fact, huh? Yeah, we like that. Thank you. Okay, so


Nicki Kirlin  02:27

let’s dive right into our questions. And so we’d like to start by kind of getting a good sense of your little bit of your life story. So do you want to give us kind of like a bird’s eye view of some of the maybe more major or noteworthy events that have happened in your life that kind of brought you to this place where we’re sitting now and having this conversation?


Jess  02:47

Yeah, totally. So I always joke with my husband that I was legitimately born anxious, like, I’m two pounds, four ounces of anxiety, right? Yeah. I remember being a kid. And just like, having kind of like OCD kind of tendencies where, you know, if I scratched one arm, I had to scratch the other, or I have to check if my doors were closed, or if you know, I could escape the house if there’s a fire or things like that. And so my brain has always been very overactive, I guess when it comes to mental health things. And then I kind of grew up like a normal kid outside of being anxious. And my parents divorced when I was six. And I think that was the biggest. Or the first big hurdle that I had to face. So I was six, my parents divorced, and my mom was having an affair. And so she left our family. And it was just me and my dad, we had just moved into like a brand new two storey like multifamily or like not multifamily, but a normal family home. And I still remember the day that she like, drove away. And he was holding in we were crying and just like it was just a very Yeah, just a sad, traumatic moment for both of us. No doubt. My dad then fought to have custody of me, which I’m very grateful for. And I lived with him full time, but I still like saw my mom on the weekends you know, during the week here and there, but for a period of probably five years. And then one day my mom, my my real mom, she just like ghosted me. So this is like, way before like the term ghosting was, yeah, but like she just fell off the face of the planet. So she ended all contact. I couldn’t find her like, I don’t remember how old I was because I’ve completely blacked out a lot of this stuff from my memory, but I remember it being between like nine and 12 So somewhere in those early years, um, yeah. So I remember trying to call her trying to check. She used to, like, live with a friend, check the house, do all these things might like, just couldn’t get ahold of her. And this went on for months and months and months and months, until finally I realized like, Okay, this relationship is over. So I was an only child, when my parents divorced. So you can imagine like, that was pretty hard on my own mother just disappears. Yeah. I know. Now, she still lives in Calgary, and she still has the same boyfriend that she had when she left, and he’s like a member of a pretty well known Calgary family. So that’s a whole other element. But Wow. And yeah, that’s about we had a little bit of talk. As the years went on, I think she called me on my 16th birthday, maybe. And I just wasn’t having it. And then later in my life, my grandma passed away. And I had to tell her because they had a really good relationship. And I tried to give her the chance to explain what she had done. And know, she just wouldn’t win take the bait and wouldn’t take accountability. So, um, yeah, so that was the biggest issue, biggest thing that I have faced. Following that, my dad remarried. And it looked from the outside, like, we had like a perfect home. But there was daily challenges there. You know, there was a lot of abuse in the home, and there was a lot of addiction in the home. And just things that just troubled times. Yeah. Then, I don’t know, I think it was like around 15. And I faced kind of a big, you know, kind of like a mental health breakdown. I was so stressed out and tired of what I was facing at home. And I’ve never really told anybody this, but I had like suicidal thoughts. And to this day, like, I still can’t even like say that without feeling this with immense amount of like, shame and pain, and just everything. I’ve never had any sense, thank Gosh, but yeah, yeah, I was just not in a happy place. So I was just starting High School, and it just wasn’t really good. Anyway, I met a friend. And I guess he was like a short term boyfriend at the time. And he kind of helped me get out of that place. And that was just so welcoming. Then it was good for a couple years. This is the long story. And I’ve done my parents house or my family house when I was 18. So the day after my 18th birthday, I was like, see? Yes, yeah, I moved out. And I just, I just needed to do that from my own sense of mind for my own peace. So I did, I lived with a girlfriend for a little while there. And I grew up in a pretty strict environment. So when I moved out, I kind of went wild and just partied promiscuous, like the whole gamut. That went on for a little while, until I actually ended up being and a lot of people don’t, either just my inner circle, but ended up being raped by somebody that I knew. So yeah, that was a big one. That one still haunts me, and sometimes, randomly just comes up many years down the road. So that’s kind of interesting for like, from an intimacy perspective. Yeah. And then I met my husband when I was 19, I think, yeah, my team, I think he just finally provided this sense of security that I just didn’t have before. Right. So we met and we were really quick to, or I was really quick to just like, be in love with him. Yeah. And my friends at the time were like, just like, stop like, he’s just another hockey player, like just, you know, whatever. But I don’t know he and his family were just something that I never had before. I know it’s just so it was such a safe place. So they kind of say the rest is history like we’ve been together ever since. He is my safe spot. And I’m very grateful for him. And we’ve experienced our own challenges as time has gone on like you know, we haven’t miscarriage. We’ve had infertility struggles, you know, it all, whatever, but I don’t know any good spot. So that’s kind of my big, long, overarching Stories. Oh, my goodness, have you been through a lot?


Jenna Fortinski  10:05

There’s a lot in there for sure. Right. So, you know, first of all, like the biggest pat on the back to you for, for getting to where you are today and, and you know and continuing to make that choice to, to move forward and to find your place in the world and find your happiness. So good on you for doing that my darling. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. Okay, so we wanted to really focus in first on your journey of being in motherhood. So, you know, you kind of briefly mentioned before, that you had some fertility struggles. Can you share with us like a little bit about what that was like for you? And what was going on for you guys at the time? Oh, yeah.


Jess  10:47

So Oh, my gosh, like starting everyone. Totally. loud. Don’t worry. There’s no judgement here. Yeah. It’s my inner 18 year old she’s coming back out. That’s right. Exactly. We all have. I was just gonna say we all have we all have. Yeah, so we husband and I went to university did all that. landed corporate jobs bought our first home. And I actually had like an accidental pregnancy. I was on birth control. But I ended up getting pregnant. And I had a miscarriage. So that was kind of the start of our fertility journey, as I like to call it. Yeah. So that was hard. I was really young at the time. And it was shocking, and all of that. And it was, thankfully, and I none of these are good. But it was an early term miscarriage so No, but I wish it on anybody. But that was a good time for that to happen if it’s gonna happen at all. Right? Um, but then the years went on. And I always kind of, like, struggled with that, like, you know, was it something I did? Was it something, you know, is it my body? Is it whatever, then we got married, and we decided to start are trying to have a family. And it just wasn’t working. So we tried for about a year. And then we got into the fertility clinic here in Calgary. And that’s kind of standard, like you have to try for a year and then the militant you or whatever. So we did that. And we started down the path of like, all the testing and all the questions and all, you know, blood work and plummets to check your body parts and all that kind of thing. And we started down the path of potentially having to do like a UI or IVF. Right. And we were just kind of starting to explore that when. Thank you, Jesus. But I got pregnant, like, naturally, so. Yeah, so that was really cool. So by the time that’ll happen, like, it was probably two years into us trying. And there’s so many things that come with that, right, like so many emotions, like I have friends that just got pregnant, looking at their spouse. So when you’re trying and you want that so bad, and you know, and you have in the back of your head that you’ve had a miscarriage before, like it’s just, it’s not a good spot to be in. It’s more common than people think. But it’s still not. Not happy place. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So then we got pregnant, and thankfully, Charlie was born. She stuck. She stuck in our little girl. Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah.


Nicki Kirlin  13:39

And, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s crazy. experiencing any kind of fertility issues or concerns or losses is, it’s heavy stuff. Right. And, and we, we have another podcast, podcast episode. Yeah. on that. But you know, it is it’s a very isolating experience, it can be very isolating. Yes. And we just always encourage people to make sure that they have a good support system if, if they are encountering those kinds of concerns, right. So it’s wonderful that you were able to, you know, it happened naturally for you guys. And you have this wonderful little girl. And that’s just that’s so awesome. And it’s funny, because people always say, like, it happens when you stop trying. Right? And that’s like, that’s what you’re told when you’re in the midst of a fertility struggle. You’re like, yeah, just stop trying. And you’re like, yeah, yeah, okay. Yeah, I’m gonna stop trying. But really, you’re still trying and


Jess  14:35

Yes, yeah. And then that’s when it happened. Yeah. So yeah, it’s true. But yeah, it’s still it’s Yeah, it’s just not a good spot to be in when it comes to having babies and you want that and, and, you know, in my case, like, I didn’t really have, I wasn’t close with my mother. So I didn’t really have anyone that I could lean on outside of, you know, my old friends or, you know, other family members, but it’s just the same. Yeah, of course.


Nicki Kirlin  15:00

Yeah. Okay, so let’s so we’re gonna fast forward a little bit and focus in on. Okay, now you’ve had this wonderful little dolly, Charlie. And everything’s going great, presumably, what’s happening for you as you’re sort of navigating that first maybe few months, first year, even first two years? And sort of working your way through those feelings of understanding and maybe feeling the effects of maybe the the issues that you had with your mom? Was that playing into your, your thoughts at all at the time? Or what what did that look like? How did that shape and influence your experience?


Jess  15:40

So I’ll start by like saying that Charlie was born by like an emergency c section. So when that all like I had a great pregnancy, but my labor or my delivery was like, not, not great. Oh, no, by emergency c section, and that part’s okay. But I had a major blood hemorrhage. Yeah, during delivery, so I ended up needing like blood transfusions. So I was really sick. Following her birth, I lost, like, over a third of my blood, is what the doctor said to me. So when you don’t have enough blood in your system to function, I literally just could not function. So it probably took four months for me to feel like myself again. So that’s kind of how the start of our journey together. That’s how it began. Wow. So for me, like I was completely under when she was born. So I didn’t have those moments of first meeting and all of that. I stayed in hospital for almost a week, then it took me four months to recover. So I, the initial initial stages for me were very difficult because I didn’t feel that instant bond. And I know not everybody does. And that’s kind of a cliche, and whatever. But yeah, that part was really difficult for me. And I had a lot of support from my in laws, like they would come and help me with her while my husband was at work. But it just, yeah, it took a long time for Charlie and I to really connect as mother and daughter. And I think part of that for me, too, was in the back of my mind. Like I didn’t know what it was like to have a relationship with my mom, right? So, you know, and my parents divorced when I was six. So I did have those early years, but I don’t remember very much of it at all, of course. And I just didn’t know if I was doing things right. I didn’t know if I don’t know, I put so much pressure on myself. Like I wanted to be what I didn’t have. And so I just it just, it wasn’t super good. The whole mom thing really did bubble up after I had Charlie. So for years and years and years, I had kind of like, stifled those feelings and stifled those emotions, and I just buried them and they’ve been hidden deep down in my little soul for so long. Um, but having Charlie just made them completely come to the surface. And I realized that like, if I’m going to nurture and take care of this human the way that I wanted to be taken care of, then I need to go figure some stuff out. Yeah, so I kind of have a quote, and I say it to all my, my new mom friends, but it’s just like, I stumbled across this one day when I was at home. On that leave, and it’s so simple, but it’s just day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath. And I truly believe that I got through that first year. And maternity leave, breath by breath. Like, I lived in a three hour window. She was awake, just making sure she was like still alive. Yeah, I would nap when she napped. I’d get up and I repeat the cycle again for the next two hours. You know, like, play, eat? Yeah, play sleep. And I was like, very robotic. And I thought it at the time, I thought I was doing okay. But looking back. I don’t know that I thought in a good spot. Yeah.


Jenna Fortinski  19:26

And it’s because like in my head, I think that you would have to create this image of what you think a mother daughter bond would be at that time, right? And my assumption would be that it’s some unrealistic precedent that you set for yourself, right? And you’re constantly in this battle of trying to meet this unrealistic precedent. And I think even though we get messages from, you know, like what we see in our friends and people around us, but my assumption would be that there’s probably an unrealistic Yeah. way of operating? And yeah, it can be so detrimental to us as moms. Right. And I think, also with social media and the media and information we get, again, it’s just setting this precedent for everybody that, you know that there has to be a certain standard that’s met. And that’s so not true. Right. And literally have to be perfect. Yeah. Right. In every facet of your life. Yeah. Right. And so unrealistic. Yeah. And what I love about what you share, Jess, is that you literally went with what your gut was telling you. And, you know, I know, even though it may not have resulted in the best outcome, but you still have, like, you still have a good bond with Charlie now. And you know, you’re, you’re able to fight your way through it. So, you know, even in my counseling practice, I’m always encouraging people to go with their gut, right? Go with your gut, trust your mommy instinct, you know, really rely on what your body is telling you when you’re creating that bond with your child and, and understanding how you can operate as a new mom. Right? And, you know, to really, yeah, use your inner instinct. It’s so helpful, right? I know, like we we’ve had a conversation before we started recording, of course, and you had shared with us that. in those early stages, you had suspected that maybe you were suffering with postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression. Can you tell us a little bit about what that was like for you what kind of symptoms you’re experiencing and what it looked like in your case? Totally. So totally.


Jess  21:36

At the time, I just remember just feeling exhausted constantly, right? So nothing I could do. Or, you know, I was starting to lose joy in the simple things. And I’m a big believer in like, living by the little things and appreciating the little things. And like, nothing was bringing me joy, you know, like a hot cup of coffee, not doing it in a cozy sweater, not doing it. And usually those are things that I just like, I’m very much love. So there was that. And then for me, I think I noticed it most when I started to feel like I was just living in like Groundhog Day. And I know for me, like I identified a lot with my corporate job before leaving work, and put on maternity leave, and before becoming a mother and my husband would come home and tell me about his day. And instead of like listening or caring, I was like, inside, I was fuming angry. Like I was jealous, like he would tell me about a meeting. And I would be resentful that he had to go to a meeting. Yeah, like, you know, nobody really loves a good meeting. meetings, like, you know, they’re not my favorite thing in the world. They’re not my favorite part about work. But here, I was angry at him for like experiencing life, I think outside of the home. So that was a big realization for me was like, you know, what happened a couple days in a row, and then he would come home, and I would just be sitting on the floor with Charlie and I would just like burst into tears. And, you know, obviously, he didn’t know how to handle it. Like he did his best, as best as he could. But I was literally just so jealous. And that opened my eyes a lot, because I’m like, Hey, this is a problem. And so I just, I think I caught myself not knowing who I was inside anymore, or who myself was, you know, myself was changing so much. And what defined me as a woman, as, you know, a wife, as whatever, that all changed. And I think I had a hard time coping. So sleeping and jealousy or my triggers. Yeah. Yeah, thank


Jenna Fortinski  23:58

you for describing that. Because I think that that’s so important is that, you know, as moms, I think we all have moments of those experiences, right? Like, I remember for myself, like my husband coming home and talking about his work, and I’m like, oh, like, yeah, it would be nice to get over this dungeon. Right. But when it’s perpetual, and when it’s like never ending and it becomes like a daily thing. That’s how we start to recognize that there’s something bigger that’s happening, right. Yeah. Yeah. So and we’ve, we sort of touched on this a little bit before that last question that we just posed to Jess. But do you think like now, looking back on your experiences and even where you are now, in your journey of being a mother, do you think that there’s a stigma for women as mothers,


Jess  24:49

some 100% 100% I do. Jenna kind of touched on it earlier, but like we are so inundated with you Media and resources and books and podcasts and social media and friends and family and different generations of women, that as mothers, we are so overwhelmed with information. And I think that like Jenna said earlier about, you know, going with your gut, no, I, I know that I would go against certain societal best ways. But it’s because it’s what felt right for me. Yeah, I have a friend right now who has a little baby, and she’s doing the same, and I’m just so proud of watching her go against what is considered normal. Yeah. Um, so I think that it that alone contributes to a lot of like moms stress and creates a bit of a stigma even amongst peers, or amongst other people. I also think that women and especially mothers and other caregivers, and whomever, but especially mothers, like we, we have these little humans, and then we just decide that we just have to take care of them. And we start to lose ourselves. And we start not putting ourselves first. And we’re so busy taking care of kids or the family or, you know, other things in the in the home that we don’t look after ourselves. Like, let’s be blunt, like, if I get to escape and go have a bath some days, I’m like, Oh, this is the best thing ever. Like really, like, you should be able to bathe every day, if you wanted to know what I’m trying to say. Some days, I can’t shower. Your hygiene just yeah. And even like when it comes to therapy, like I distinctly remember, when Taylor was born, like, realizing I needed to get help, but still pushing it back and say, well, I’ll do it when she’s older. I’ll do it when I have more time, I’ll do it, you know, but down the road when you need to do it now kind of thing. So I think women are so caught up in being perfect. And


Jenna Fortinski  27:08

yeah. And it’s one of my favorite examples. And I know like, this shouldn’t be said on the record, but too bad for everybody listening. Is that, you know, like they say that the American pediatric society recommends like no screen time. Until kids are like two years old, right? And, like, get out of here, right? 


Jess  27:36

and in our case, is a whole other thing. But Charlie was born with hip dysplasia, so she had like, she was in a little brace for like the first like five months of her life. Yeah, what else are we gonna do except watch TV, like, literally couldn’t roll around or play like we could play on her backpack? all day, every day. Like she had to be in this brace 24 hours a day. So, you know, TV has been a really big thing on our house. And it still is and yeah, like, they’re gonna be fine.


Nicki Kirlin  28:07

I was just gonna say, and Charlie’s perfectly normal, wonderful, smart, little girl,


Jess  28:11

right? I joke that she’s actually probably smarter than she would be if she wasn’t watching TV.


Jenna Fortinski  28:21

is true. And like, you know, I always say to my clients, like, you know, what did our parents do? Right, like they didn’t have this information. And I think we all turned out pretty well. Right, like, but yeah, like, I think that that’s a good example of going with your gut going with what fits for your family, specifically, right and focusing on that. And that’s how we make things work as moms is that we really have to focus in on what makes us feel good, and what works for our family, not what, you know, everybody else is doing or even like the American pediatric society, that’s a great recommendation. It’s not realistic, right? And we can try our best to limit screen time. And I think that that’s good. But at the end of the day, yeah, we still have to live a little and be human beings, right. Okay, so we’re going to shift backwards a little bit in your story and talk about the first time that you had kind of heard about therapy as an option in your lifetime. And I know you’ve gone through many struggles. If you could talk a little bit about the first time that you had heard about it and what your thoughts were about receiving support at that time.


Jess  29:34

So I think throughout my life, like I’ve always had people in my inner circle, who have always kind of suggested, oh, maybe you should go talk to somebody or you know, like therapy would be a good option for you. But I always put up a wall to it. I think because of how I grew up. I tried to be so strong for myself that I was like, I don’t need that like I got this Yeah. When the reality is that I, I didn’t have it, I don’t have it. But you know, I always, I always push it off. And I always thought that it would make me look weak. Which is funny because I am a very sensitive human, and I’m fine with showing my weaknesses to the world. But at the time when I was younger, it was a very immature way of looking at it, but I was definitely, I was scared of it. And I just, I would, I would push it aside. I just wasn’t really open or receptive to the idea of going. So in your mind at that time, seeking support was a form of weakness. 100% that’s what I believed. Yeah. Yeah. And I just by right now, I’m vulnerable. But then I wasn’t, I think that I just put up like a brick wall to it. And I was like, no, yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine. Yeah, that old saying, everything’s fine. I’m fine. Yeah. We’re like a big burning fire. Yeah. I think the thing is, if things broke, don’t fix it or something like.


Nicki Kirlin  31:12

And, you know, that’s often what we think is that it’s not broken, because I’m still I’m still, I’m still here, still living my daily life. So therefore, everything must be all good. Right? And like you said, out on the inside, there’s truly this this fire that’s burning. And we do need to pay attention to that, right? Yeah. So what? What did you kind of think therapy was going to look like then what like, what, because you were putting up this error, you had these ideas in your head of, it’s going to be this, you know, I’m going to look weak. What’s what were you thinking it was going to look like then.


Jess  31:47

I think in my mind, I was always fearful. When I was growing up, my stepmom went to a couple therapy appointments, and, or maybe more, but I remember a couple. And I remember in her case, they took her back to her childhood, and they made her kind of explore some of the issues that she faced growing up. And I’m not privy to those issues. I don’t know what they are. But that always stuck in my brain and resonated with me. So I thought going to therapy that they were going to like, sorry, Jeddah, but I thought, okay, I was gonna be like, hypnotized, and they were gonna, like, push me way back into my childhood, and all of these things that I had, buried or fought ahead, championed, we’re gonna, like, Come exploding on my head, and, and I was gonna have to relive things that I just didn’t want to relive anymore. Right. Um, so for me, I wasn’t really being realistic about what therapy is now that I’ve been, but I was, I was just scared, really. And I just thought I was gonna have to face trauma that I thought I had buried.


Jenna Fortinski  32:53

I don’t think that that’s an uncommon experience, or an uncommon expectation, right? Like, I think lots of people have that same fear, going into a first session, or even just considering going down that line of getting help. So you’re not alone in thinking that no, and I’ve heard that so many times for my clients too, right? Is that, you know, it’s kind of this idea that, like you said, My brain is going to explode, you know, I’m gonna end up like, you know, either like homeless on the street, or, you know, like, my life is just gonna be like, be bleeding from this wound and down in shambles. Yeah. And how am I ever going to recover? Right? And so, thank you for speaking to that. Because I think like, That’s such a common perception or assumption of what therapy is, right. So for you, Jess, what brought you to the point of actually finally deciding to seek support in your life?


Jess  33:50

It was kind of a series of events for me. Um, like I said, after having Charlie, I realized that I needed to deal with the mom issues. Of course. It wasn’t though, until I was long back to work. So Matt leave is over. Charlie was around to and doing normal toddler behavior, like not eating her food. Yeah. And Charlie’s never been a big eater. So for me, like that was just a really big challenge and struggle. So I woke up one Sunday morning, as always, and I prepared you know, Scott mine, we love our like breakfast sandwiches or breakfast food, so we, you know, we made ours, and I made her like her little food, her little plate, and she just like wouldn’t eat the thing. She was flipping out. You know, it didn’t matter if it’s cup if it was pureed, if it was anything, it wasn’t going in, and I for whatever reason that day just I flipped out inside and it just all came bubbling out and I had like a full blown panic attack in my kitchen. On a Sunday morning, in my pajamas, with my like, cup of coffee in my hand. And I just like I’ll never forget it because my Like I couldn’t get my heart to slow down for three hours, like I freaked out, of course at the situation. And then I walked away and I laughed and whatever. Then I came back and I buried myself in the couch under a blanket. And I laid there for three hours until my heart Finally, like, cooled down. And I just felt completely out of control. Right. And for somebody like me, control is a big thing for me, and I have to be very careful because it can go to a level where it goes a little too far, but because I was out of control, and I felt like I needed to care for this little baby or kid or toddler, whatever. Yeah, it was like lack of control. So anyways, I called my MD like my medical doctor the next day. And I went in, and I talked to her. And I always laugh because she, she has like students in her practice. She’s like a family medicine, whatever for the university, so she always has students there. Yeah. And, you know, she always brings her students to my appointments, I’m fine with that. We know that it’s, you know, nothing is off limits. So whatever. Anyway, this particular day, I was feeling a little bit more vulnerable, and sensitive and soft and raw, I guess. But I went in and, and I was telling her about this experience. And I’ll never forget, she just looked at her student that she had that day. And she’s like, Oh, so just as the kind of patient where everything’s fine. Everything’s fine. Everything’s still fine. Everything is not fine. crisis. And I’m like, yeah, from like, hello. Yeah. That is me. So anyway, we talked that day, and I agreed to start antidepressants with her. So I started that. And then she gave me a referral for two psychologists. And I sat on those referrals for like, 678 months. Wow. Yeah. So I first I went home. And it’s funny, because I went to the appointment. And I said to her, I think I need to talk to somebody. I wasn’t even thinking about medication. At that point. I just stuck somebody. Yeah. So it’s funny because my, my mind kind of shifted following our appointment records. Okay, like, the meds will help me and I’ll be fine. Um, I came home, I researched these people like, Oh, yeah, this one seems to be a better fit for me. And then I just didn’t go. I went to a follow up appointment with her. And she’s like, so how’s it going? And I’m like, Yeah, I still haven’t booked that appointment. And I just for whatever reason, at that time, I still wasn’t ready. Yeah. And my husband will say, that’s one of my biggest faults, like, I have to do things on my own terms, and not my own time. And nobody can tell me. Otherwise. Yeah, sometimes that’s good. But a lot of times, it’s not so intermarriages. But anyway, so finally, then one day, I was having a pretty vulnerable day at work. And a friend of mine, and it’s kind of funny, because this is the only person I’ve ever met in my life that has gone through the same kind of abandonment story as I have. So this was a male that I worked with. But his story, of course, a little his dad, mine was my mom, but it’s the only person I’ve ever actually felt really heard from, because nobody can really understand what your journey is, unless they’ve kind of walked a similar path. Right. And so anyways, he at that time was off work on a leaf because he was going through some other things. And I was just feeling so overwhelmed when they in the office, and I went, we have American, like an office tower, but we have a little like Devonian gardens kind of space. So just like, whatever, like a little garden. And they went in and sat in there. And in that moment, I was like, I just need to, like, text him and ask, you know, I knew he was going to therapy. I’m like, I need to know. So I text him. And I’m like, hey, like, Can you tell me when you knew you were finally ready to go to therapy. And I’ll never forget the response. I got back. I was so blunt. And so exactly what I needed to hear. And it was like, just, if you’re already thinking about therapy, you’re ready for therapy. Pick up the phone and do that right now. And I was like, like, I’m a texting up there. And this is like open environment. And so there’s all kinds of people I work with going by people that work in the office, whatever and I’m like shaking and vibrating, but I’m still trying to like, keep my composure because I’m still, you know, in my work environment. Yeah, yeah. Despite not being at my desk or like on my floor. I there’s still You know, so here I am on like, gussied up on at work. And I’m like texting. And I’m just like, I can’t, I can’t call right now, like, terrified, and I’m like vibrating and I’m scared and all of that kind of like, like, in all caps was like just do it. And it’s funny because my husband had been saying the same to me. other family members, other friends have been saying the same to me. But it wasn’t until I heard it from somebody that could resonate with my story that I was like, Okay, fine. If he can do it, I can do it. And I picked up the phone and and I made an appointment. And yeah, that’s fantastic. Yeah.


Nicki Kirlin  40:39

And sometimes you need that, right? You need that that information coming from another source in order to hear the message for whatever reason, it doesn’t get heard in other spaces. And that’s why it’s great to have that support system around you and to have those connections that can be that that person that you need in that moment in that time, right. Yeah. So how did it feel going to that first session, then? Oh, my God.


Jess  41:03

So that day, like, I worked that day as well. I was really grateful. My therapists got me on like, pretty quick. We had never met before, but she was like, Yeah, like, come on, in. Like, I kind of gave her history on the phone, whatever. And that day, like I worked all day, I was a wreck at work. Like I was trying to keep it together. But I was just so so nervous. Yeah, um, my husband and I, we commute downtown or pre COVID. We used to commute downtown together with Charlie, like her daycare was downtown as well. So we all would go down and come home. So we came home in one car, and my program is right away. So I’m literally able to like run in the house change, and then leave again to go get pregnant. And I’ll never forget just like driving alone. And just like, again, just vibrating the entire way. Like I was so scared. Like, I don’t, I’m embarrassed to say it now. Because I’m like, No, don’t not, like behave like that. But I was like, I just remember, like, vibrating. And I’m like, it was probably 20 minutes. And I’m like, Okay, yeah, I can do this, I can do that. And then I sat in my car before going in, and I’m like, I could give myself a pep talk. And yeah, I was really, I was really nervous, really apprehensive?


Jenna Fortinski  42:23

Well, we know for sure that you’re not alone, because we get a lot of those stories. You know, on the podcast, and also, you know, clients, when they come to meet me for the first time they sit down, and they say, I probably scared, right. And, and it is it, it is a nerve wracking adventure, and it takes a lot of courage, you know, to really pick up that phone make call and to follow through on that. So, you know, kudos to you, right, because you did it. And it is, it’s, it’s scary. And, you know, I’m hoping that, you know, through the work that we’re doing with this podcast, and getting the word out there and people sharing their experiences that, you know, some of those feelings will hopefully be mitigated or brought down a little bit for people that are going for the first time. But yet, you know, you are right in with the majority of people is that it is a scary thing, because it really is going into the unknown. So to help to mitigate that a little bit for other people. Can you tell us what it was actually like being in that room? What happened?


Jess  43:26

I laugh now, because I made this big dramatic. I had pretty usual that’s kind of who I am. Yeah. But I walked in, and I immediately, like, felt comfortable. So not only was the space comfortable. Yeah, like just the office setting was really nice. But the moment I didn’t know, so let me back up the clinic I went to have multiple therapists there. So everyone would kind of like pop out their door and, and a guest would leave and then someone else would go in. And so I was sat there I was a little I was early, because



control. Yeah, just


Jess  44:07

sat there for a little bit. And I was watching the people go in and out or whatever. And every time a door would open and like a therapist would pop out and like is that, you know, so and so like the name of my therapist, and then they would take somebody else in. So I’m like, okay, that’s not bad. And I’m like, okay, that’s not them. Anyway, my therapist, and they came out, and she was so warm and welcoming. Right from the second I like, walked towards her. I just like immediately calmed down and just like felt at ease. So, you know, I laughed because I went through a bundle of nerves and then as soon as I met her, and of course, after we conversed, and after we had our session, I was like, You idiot, like you should have been doing this 20 years ago. Okay, for at least 10 Yeah, five. Like it was just it was wonderful. But there’s no other way for me to explain it. Like I just finally felt heard. I felt validated. You know, she had a very unbiased opinion of what I was saying, but yet gave me that comfort that I needed or that validation that hey, like, you know, this isn’t in your head like this is real. There are reasons why you feel the way that you do. And you know, whatever. It was incredible. That’s all. Yeah, just so good. So all you did was talk, is that what you did? That is all that I did. Good. Yay. Maybe a little crying, but mostly talking. And you know, those feelings are those stories and those oppressed things that I kind of shoved down in my little soul. They came out, and it was the most freeing, feeling ever. I joke and I told you girls this, but like when I went there, and I was finally releasing all of this pent up emotion. Like the lights in her office were like, flickering like crazy. Yeah. So we finished our session. And I’m like, just out of curiosity, like, like, does this happen? And she’s like, she’s, no, she’s gonna say anything. Because it’s like, this is like unprofessional, because it’s flickering. And this is your first opinion, or your first appointment. And you’re gonna think this is crazy. But she’s like, this has never happened before. Yeah. And for me, and I had seen her since and it had never happened since to her. And for me, it was almost like validating that I was finally releasing all this energy, and it was going out into the world. And I put now focus on the person that needed healing. So for me, it’s kind of weird, but it was like a physical reassurance that, yeah, you know, this is good. And yeah, I don’t know what’s weird.


Nicki Kirlin  47:00

No, no, that’s fantastic. And that’s the kind of, you know, validation that not that you can expect to have that that you would hope to have in some way, shape or form, whether it is that physical piece, the emotional piece, you know, whatever that might look like, but it’s all part of it. Right? In that it’s a symbolism to you, it’s something that means mean something to you. And that’s what matters at the end of the day. Right? Yeah. So that’s, that’s wonderful that you had such a great experience. Yeah, her and that you were able to build that connection with her and feel safe and vulnerable enough that you could have that release, right. So that’s, that’s so wonderful. So what’s one, if you have one strategy, what is one strategy that you kind of learned from her in your sessions that maybe you still practice today? Or that really resonated with you that you find helpful?


Jess  47:51

So there’s been a lot but the number one for me was just all about setting boundaries. Like, yeah, he right from the get go? She’s like, why do you think like, for me, I kind of went in, and I’m like, you know, I still felt like, I needed to be the good daughter to this Mama to, you know, my other family members that maybe I’m not so close with, I felt like I still need it to be this perfect person and whatever. And she’s like, You don’t owe these people anything, right? You are your own adult, you are capable of making your own decisions. You don’t owe or get to allow them to have relationships with your daughter if you don’t want to, because that was a really big thing for me was feeling like even though I maybe don’t have relationships with these people. You know, maybe Charlie should because, you know, there’s lineage there, which, now that I say it out loud, I’m kind of like, you silly girl. But that was a big deal to me when she was young. Yeah. And so for her, like, it was all about setting boundaries. And since then, like, it was hard for me to practice at the beginning. But as time has gone on, I’ve been so good at just reminding people that, you know, you can’t walk all over me, you can’t be mean, you can’t, you know, you just can’t do that. And it has literally changed my life and it is changed. I don’t even know how to say it, but it’s just changed my like, inner peace. Right? Like I used to get really worked up about things. That provided no value to my life. Right. But I felt like I had to do them. So yeah, I don’t know boundaries have just been really important for me. Isn’t it amazing? That something so simple?


Jenna Fortinski  49:41

Yes. Like what Jenna preaches all the time, right? It is. It’s simple. And it’s not right. Like there’s Yeah, flexibility behind it. Yeah. But the idea of it is very simple. And it’s amazing how much of a difference I can actually make. Once it’s put into practice. And once you see the value of doing it too, right. Like that’s, that’s great that you’re able to have that result. From implementing such a simple strategy, yeah, yeah, and boundaries, you know, it’s, it means something different to everybody. And it, it plays such a big role in, in people’s stories and, you know, what they choose to carry with them, and how they choose to identify with the stories or the experiences that they’ve gone through. And, you know, again, you know, talking about media and social media and stuff, and you know, and boundaries really blurs that right and, and understanding the value of, you know, where you want to invest your time, who’s worth your time, and all of that, and to have somebody to guide you through that is so valuable, right. So for you just now being on the other side of seeking mental health support, seeing what it was about, what do you think of it now? Where are you at with it now?


Jess  50:55

But honestly, think that it is like the best thing ever. Maybe second to wine? Yeah. I am so like, I look back, and I’m just so embarrassed or not embarrassed, but shame that I didn’t go sooner. I’m, I’m sad for my little girl self who needed help. But I didn’t get it way back then. Right. Because who knows where I could be today, I’m so thankful for the people in my life, and the security that I found in my husband and, and all of that, and the little family that we’re creating. But yeah, I just wish I would have done it sooner, honestly. And for me, I’m always very open about sharing my experiences, I was pre therapy. I’ve shared it with, you know, my friends, my co workers, I’ve always been big on showing it on social media, because I want people to know that, you know, we all struggle with something whether or not people believe that or we’re thinking it or whatever. We’re all human. And therapy, like literally changed my life. So I think it’s pretty cool.


Jenna Fortinski  52:05

Yeah. And, you know, like, I think an important part of that is that, you know, we are a product of our environments, right. And, you know, some of us are fortunate enough to have the experience of therapy early on, and some of us are not. And, you know, we all have a life story that brings us to where we are today. And, you know, it’s really important that I think people focus on what they’re capable of doing with today, right, is that, you know, we can’t really hold on to, you know, what happened in the past, and, you know, why didn’t die, or I showed up, you know, like, hindsight is always 2020. And there’s a reason that there’s, that’s a right. But you know, I think for us, and the message in this podcast is that, you know, we can make a choice today or tomorrow, that can can change the direction of your life. And, you know, we do have that opportunity to really seize it. Right. And, you know, it’s thanks to people like you that are able to share their journey and what their experience has been, that hopefully will inspire people to make that choice and, and to take take that change of direction in their life. Right?



Absolutely. Yeah.


Nicki Kirlin  53:10

So then Jesse, you shared that you, you know, you’re active on social media, and you share your story. What is your like, in this podcast platform, and you know, in thinking about volunteering to come on, what is your main message to the public to those that are listening? What do you what do you hope to get across,


Jess  53:30

um, like two things one, like, it’s okay to be vulnerable and open, and allow yourself that space to find your demons, fight your demons, you know, give them space to help you grow. change the direction of your life. And the other it’s like, it’s, it’s so cliche, but like, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Yay. And I even said that to somebody today, because I truly, believe it. Like, you need to take care of yourself first. And for me, like most of this has all been my my mom journey kind of thing. So for me, like, I can’t nurture another human if I’m not nurturing myself, right? Yeah. Right. So my main message to people is just, like, Look after yourself and recognize when, when maybe you need additional support or additional tools in your toolbox and and go get them and there’s no shame in it. There’s no I don’t know. It’s just it’s okay to be vulnerable.


Jenna Fortinski  54:33

Yeah, totally. Agreed. Yes. And thank you for for taking that on because I think that that’s such an important message. So we have one last question for you. And it’s a big one. No pressure, no pressure,



no pressure.


Jenna Fortinski  54:51

Why is it important to you to share your message and to to share your story


Jess  54:58

kind of tacking on to the last One just because I think everybody needs to know that we’re all real, you know, we live in such a curated world right now with, especially with social media, and especially for maybe our age group and younger, you know, all we see is these picture perfect worlds that people create on on Instagram, for example, and, and don’t get me wrong, I like to take a good Instagram photo period. But I also think it’s really important to share, like, the real sides of us as well, you know, so many people go through this life, and they just, they show only one side to the world. And that’s what they want everybody to see. And I just think it’s truly, truly important to be vulnerable and to open up and to share that we all struggle, because I don’t know, I’ve never met anybody that hasn’t faced one, at least one struggle in their life. Right? Yeah. So, you know, in my case, like, I want to heal by doing by sharing part of it, it heals my inner child, and it heals me. But I also want to open up to the communities that I’m part of whether that’s the social media community, whether that’s my peer group, whether that’s my friends, whomever, I just want people to know that if they need a listening ear, or they need to know somebody who’s kind of been through the challenges that I have, and I’m here for that, then, you know, I just kind of want to remove the shame, mental health, or work towards that I want it just to be more accepted. You know,


Jenna Fortinski  56:37

and that’s fantastic. And I think, you know, we talk a lot about being a good mother or good parents or a good caregiver. And I think you’ve touched on quite possibly the most important role that we can play, which is being a role model. And I think that you’re doing a great job. Yeah, by being a role model for Charlie. And by saying that, yes, it’s important that I look after myself. And hopefully, she learns that as she’s growing up, as well, that she needs to look after herself, too. And we don’t want to forget that in this in this journey. Right. Yeah. Thank you so much. Yeah. And, you know, also speaking to, like, removing the shame you said is that it’s so important to, you know, breaking the stigma, really realizing that, you know, every person struggles in one way or another, right, and whether your struggle warrants, you know, seeing somebody to support you that’s outside of your inner circle, or creating a community around yourself that you can really bounce ideas off of, you know, that’s what we’re trying to advocate for in in doing this podcast, and, and really helping people to understand that, you know, again, we all struggle, and just reach out and find the support that fits you best based on what you’re going through. But thank you, thank you. Oh, my goodness, thank you for being vulnerable for sharing your story. You know, again, our hope is, is that it just reach out to somebody that is struggling right now. And they’re able again, to get the support that you need. We love We love, love, love the quote that you’ve chosen for your episode. For many reasons, so one of them is that it came from an amazing book by a person that we love, love, love, love. So Brene Brown, and in her book Daring Greatly, right. Did you love it? I loved it. I did. Yeah. So good. So please, yeah, please, please, please, if you if you have the chance, please pick that up and read it. It’s amazing. And then the other reason is, is that it came from one of psychology’s greats, Car Jung. And so we obviously learn a lot about him studying this world of psychology. So, the quote that you chose could not be more perfect. So we’ll close with your quote my darling. And thank you again. Yes, thank you, Jess. Yeah, thank you ladies for having me. It’s awesome. Carl young says, I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become. Thank you. Thank you.