When I think about a person who helped me navigate my mental health more than anyone in my life, I think about Julie A. Fast. Julie is a world leading mental health expert on the topics of bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and psychosis. She is also an award winning author and a highly sought after media source on the topic of mental health and treatment and mental health. Much of that description I copied from her website which is a tremendous resource for those experiencing mental health disorders and their loved ones. You can find her work here, www.juliefast.com
I’m celebrating my 50th year on this planet by paying tribute to 50 women who have had an impact on my life. Julie Fast is definitely on this list!
I met Julie after I lost my job in the mortgage industry in 2008 and I was exploring other avenues to begin a new career. I attended a speakers and authors meeting to get to know local artists in these arenas. I noticed Julie right away. She had a group of people around her and had a very magnetic personality. I told myself I wanted to get to know her better and as if my magic, I was assigned to a mastermind group with her in it.
As I mentioned before, I was out of a job and no one was hiring in the mortgage world, even with ten plus years of experience, at that time. In our first mastermind we had to come up with a goal for the next week that we shared with our little group. When it was Julie’s turn, she said she needed to put an ad on Craigslist for a Virtual Assistant. I asked what that was and she explained the duties and skills she was looking for and what she was willing to pay this person. I told her I had never been a Virtual Assistant but I was willing to give it a shot and I shared my qualifications for this position. I started on Monday…. And by the way, my goal that week was to find a job I loved and would teach me more about what I wanted to do with my life. Bam! Wish granted!
My job for the first couple of months was to meet with Julie and observe everything that went into her successful business as an author, speaker and coach so I could take some of the pressure off of her. It was fascinating and so educational to watch her process. I loved spending each day with her, I knew I was learning from a master. I didn’t realize just how amazing this woman really was until I started reading some of her books and learning more about the mental illness she had been diagnosed with earlier in her life. Julie lives with bipolar disorder and a psychotic disorder also, called schizoaffective disorder. Julie has developed her own management system as well as written best selling books about bipolar disorder. All of this she did while still managing her mental illness every-single-day. I have so much admiration and compassion for anyone who experiences mental illness…. These illnesses are as real as diabetes but it has to do with the brain so you can’t “see” what is wrong and that is difficult to understand for anyone who does not experience this type of brain confusion.
Along with teaching me the in’s and out’s of the author, speaker, and coaching world she began to coach me on the depression I was wading my way through from the total upset in my life. A loss of job, changing careers, questioning the culture I’d been raised in, navigating a rough divorce and sharing custody of my children had thrown me into depression. I had never experienced this before and it was tough to climb out of the hole. With Julie’s compassionate coaching I made my way back to the light. She wrote a book called, “Get it Done When You’re Depressed”. I still use the skills in this book when I need motivation. I highly recommend anyone and everyone getting a copy just to keep in your “must have” collection. Julie also taught me communication skills in order to successfully communicate with someone who has not been diagnosed with a mental disorder but shows many symptoms of mental illness. Communication with this type of person is not an innate thing to do and it takes new skills to learn effective communication.
Working with Julie gave me amazing confidence in myself. She often praised my skills I had learned in all my corporate jobs. She was an incredible entrepreneur and I put my heart into her business. I took all my skills I had learned from the corporate world and did my best to improve upon Julie’s already successful business model. We expanded her coaching clientele and developed new systems to bring in more profits. My years working with Julie were highly satisfying in so many ways. The day came when I had to stop working with Julie because I had moved away from Portland and even though it was a virtual position, it was better to have an assistant that could meet face to face more often than I was able to. I was truly heart broken. I loved working with Julie. I loved watching the miracle she was in so many lives of the people she worked with. I enjoyed being an advocate alongside her for mental health and continue to have an advocate heart for those struggling with a hidden illness.
Julie continues to be a force for incredible growth and awareness in the mental health industry. They are so lucky to have her…. And I was lucky enough to work alongside her for several years. Julie Fast is definitely a woman who has made a huge impact on my life. Because I knew her, I have been changed for good. I am still a huge fan and refer many people to her work regularly. If you or anyone you love is struggling with mental illness, I hope you will check out the work that Julie Fast does. Blessings.