Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff in regards to her unique experience being both the spouse of man diagnosed with bipolar disorder and a mental health professional. This is a podcast that discusses many sensitive topics, including the death by suicide of Gail’s husband. Please be careful to listen in ways that your self-care is prioritized.
This interview is meant to help people understand the complexities of what living with serious mental illness can look like… whether from the perspective of the diagnosed individual or being part of their support systems. Gail is careful to explain that ways she chose to cope with her situation are not necessarily ways that would be appropriate or healthy for everyone. We both encourage that personal safety always come first — regardless of the situation. At the same time, we recognize that dealing with mental health is often a messy process and that people choose to deal with their situations in a variety of ways for a number of reasons. Access to good mental health services is a universal problem. And the reality stands that most people stay in family situations where there can be difficult dynamics… even abusive ones.
I want to thank Gail for her vulnerability in sharing such a raw and personal interview. It takes a lot of guts, especially in light of her profession. Wanting to help validate people’s experiences in similar situations as well as offer any helpful education was her main goal in doing so.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith, runs Mormon Sex Info and is the current president for the Mormon Mental Health Association.