Transcript: Hi, this is David Brower with your 20 minute podcast. Our special guest today is Kristin Walker, with over 30 years volunteering and working in mental health. She’s the CEO of a podcast network, Mental Health Radio Network, and she offers commentary on personality disorders, narcissism, entrepreneurship, mental and behavioral health, animal assisted therapy and the list goes on and on. My goodness do you sleep at all? Do you rest at all? What do you do?
Kristin Walker: I do, I do. I get sleep now, yes.
David Brower: Now. In the early days, not so much, right?
Kristin Walker: No. Starting the network last year, I didn’t get much sleep.
David Brower: What a terrific network. I was spending some time with it, looking at it today, and you have just so many great things available to people. Let’s talk about that. What was the impetus to start the network and how does it work?
Kristin Walker: Well, I never imagined in a million years that I would create a network, but actually at the end of 2016, a few of my guests came to me and said, “We don’t know what we’re doing, and you seem like you do. Will you produce podcasts for us and create a network?” And I said, “No! Are you kidding? Why would anyone want to do that?”
David Brower: In their right mind. “Hello, I work on behavioral health. The answer is no.”
Kristin Walker: Exactly. But I took it on and I thought, well we officially started the network in February of 2017, and I thought, “Alright. Well, it’s mental health. We won’t have a lot of people interested in doing podcasts about some piece of mental health. If I had five shows by the end of 2017, I’d be happy with that.” And by August, we had 18.
David Brower: Oh my gosh. I’m just looking at the list here, where people can listen in and it’s like, yeah, 18, 20, in a very varied subject matter. It’s interesting. Were you doing podcasts originally? And they were guests that discovered you?
Kristin Walker: Yeah, I started with my podcast Mental Health News Radio, and that’s been going on for four years, and again, I did that as a hobby. I never expected to get paid to do it, I thought my grandma would be listening, and I have a business consulting firm in mental health, so that paid those bills, then I started having other organizations in mental health. They’re in the business side of things, come to me and say, “Hey, we’d like you to do a commercial about us on your show. How much would it cost?” I went, “Uh.” I had no idea.
David Brower: $27 million.
Kristin Walker: That’s great. And I’ve had a few companies come to me, hand me big checks and I shook my hand as I handed those checks back. Thankfully I did that, because a couple of them got sued for some pretty awful things after the fact. It’s one of those things where I funded this all myself. I don’t owe anyone any money and it’s doing a lot of good in the world.
David Brower: That’s the point of it, isn’t it? Everyone came to you for a reason, because you have the expertise, ability, and now the confidence to make this happen. Keeping your integrity at the highest level possible has got to be one of the big reasons why this is so successful.
Kristin Walker: Well, thank you. Yes. Keeping my integrity, because boy, some people can be awfully charming.
David Brower: Right, right? Absolutely.
Kristin Walker: And I have to go, “Oo, you’re very charming but something feels really off about this.”
David Brower: “Here, meet my police officer WWE Wrestler bouncer. Let’s see how you work with him?”
Kristin Walker: Hey, I had to do that with a former NFL player that was extremely charming, and man, I’m so glad I stopped being bedazzled by that, and said, “Nope. Taking your shows down. Thanks but no. You’re not going to be a part of what we’re doing.
David Brower: Good for you. That must be a tough road to cross sometimes, isn’t it? Or is it just pretty obvious?
Kristin Walker: It is. No, it’s tough. One of the reasons that I talk about personality disorders is because I grew up with so many of them in my family, so I know them very, very well. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t fool me. As soon as you create something that looks really shiny, like a network, they’ll come out of the woodwork because they want to get some of that shine rubbed off on them.
David Brower: They want the golden bullet. So, speaking about personality disorders, what is your experience. You mentioned your family. How did all that work?
Kristin Walker: Yeah, I would say both of my parents definitely are on the spectrum, would be considered character disordered and many aunts and uncles as well. A lot of family upbringing brought in really toxic behavior and that became my normal, so I spent many years inviting and being very attracted to, “Oh, someone does something inappropriate with me! Gosh, I must be in love with them.”
David Brower: Right, no, I understand, yeah.
Kristin Walker: And then you learn. You learn, “I don’t want to be a part of this.” And you learn where you’re addicted to that behavior because that’s what’s familiar, and you do the work. I spent a lot of time in therapy, and then this show, I interviewed so many experts from around the globe about this subject, and that’s been a huge part of my healing, and training myself to not find them attractive. That’s rough, that’s a rough road.
David Brower: That’s got to be a rough road. We only know what we know from growing up, right? Our normal is our normal and to find that space to where you could recognize if there is a better way, how did that happen? That had to be an epiphany, it had to be magic, it had to be a god thing, it had to be something right?
Kristin Walker: It was all of those things. It started about, and this is true for many, many, many women, I’m not sure what the age is for men who figure it out, because there are plenty of women that have personality disorders as well, but for women, they tend to have their epiphany about this in their early 40s and that’s what happened for me. I was in Florence, Italy for a month early in my 40s, and I was in so much pain. I had took a predator with me, he was all I could think about while I was there, even though he wasn’t physically there.
I started reading about anything I could find, and somehow I happened upon an article written by a wonderful therapist by the name of Andrea Schneider, she does the show The Savvy Shrink on our network, and it was about narcissistic personality disorder, and I went, “I feel like I just got in the movie The Matrix where you can put in a plug in the back of your neck, and now you know how to fly a helicopter.” That’s what it was. I went, “Oh my gosh. This is what I’ve been doing with my entire life.”
That started the journey of realizing what it does to your body, what trauma bonding is, what Stockholm Syndrome is, what this kind of abuse does, why you would be attracted to people who are this way, and how to do all of the hard work it takes to find them unappealing and not attractive.
David Brower: Well, the predator, I’m guessing here, you obviously would know better than me, but the predators, I think, easily spot you, right?
Kristin Walker: Oh, absolutely. You’re wearing a sign that says, “Welcome.”
David Brower: “Here’s my neon sign, keys to my house, and my bank account. Have a nice day.”
Kristin Walker: Yes. Absolutely. They know how to suss out your wounds just like I do as a highly empathic person. I can suss out someone’s wounds, but mine goes into volunteering with mental health and having a therapy dog. That’s how I manifest what happened to me. With a predator, they’re sussing it out to take advantage of someone, not to help heal them, but to help wound them. I always say we’re two sides of the same coin.
David Brower: Well, that’s interesting. I’ve always believed, and I absolutely don’t know what I know about this, but I’ve always believed that we all have an addictive behavior at some level. What we do with that or what it does to us just really kind of dictates where your life goes.
Kristin Walker: Very true. And it’s hard to have a health roadmap when all of your teachers growing up were so unhealthy. You have to strike it out on your own, and you really have no idea. “Where do I turn, where do I look?” You just don’t know. People that have character disorders, not all of them, but the high dangerous narcissism, psychopathy and sociopaths, they live in a fantasy land, which is their persona that they’ve created in order to fool people and snare people, and because they can’t stand to live with actually who they really are.
Narcissists care and it’s a deep wound, sociopaths don’t care and psychopaths absolutely don’t care. Many of us kind of live in a fantasy land, but the other side of the coin with that, with highly empathic, wounded people, we live in a fantasy land, too. That’s why we believe these people and we believe it’s true love.
David Brower: Well, we want to believe the good in people right? We have to have trust, and it comes to bite you in the fanny.
Kristin Walker: Yes. That’s a horrible way, until you go, “Maybe,” because you definitely go through a period where you blame all of the bad people that did this to you, and that’s fine, everyone should do that.
David Brower: Don’t you blame yourself, though?
Kristin Walker: That’s the part I’m saying. If you don’t go to therapy and go, “I was there, too. How did I play a role in this again, and again, and again?” If you don’t do that work, then you’re going to be stuck in victimland, and bitterness, and you’re not going to achieve what a lot of people call post-traumatic growth, which is take a situation like this and turn it into doing something great.
My whole podcast was created out of me being sexually harassed by a psychopath in a work situation. My hat’s off to him for doing what’s called post-traumatic growth, because I did the work and turned it into something amazing.
David Brower: The trip to Italy, was that the trigger to help you start to do the work?
Kristin Walker: Yeah. My father had passed away, who I was obviously very, very close to and a wonderful, amazing human being, and I went to Italy, really, to grieve. Just that, taking a trip and being so out of your element, there’s a lot to be said for, and I’ve interviewed so many guests about brain training and things like that. There’s a lot to be said for getting you out of your element because it kind of shocks your brain out of the groove that you’ve worked it into, that keeps you doing some of the same things you always do that aren’t really healthy.
That, being in a different environment, a foreign country and so on, along with reading those articles and meeting all the people I did, was enough of a culture change and long enough time for me to get into a different space where I could actually heal.
David Brower: Wow. And you have a service dog that helps you?
Kristin Walker: Well, actually, it’s funny. He’s a therapy dog, which is very different from a service dog. Therapy dogs are there for everybody else. I have two therapy dogs, and we spent seven years where I would go in and out of psych wards and mental health classrooms and schools, and he was there to help other people, so the dogs have been cried on, their necks have been full of tears for seven years.
David Brower: Wow. Oh my gosh. What a gift, huh?
Kristin Walker: Yeah, it’s amazing. A couple of times I have been told, there are HIPPA laws, so I’m not allowed to know patients’ names unless they tell me and things like that, and I was just the person holding the leash, I wasn’t a therapist, but sometimes when we’d leave a hospital, one of the therapists would say, “My god. That person that you were sitting and talking to for the last half an hour has been violent and hasn’t spoken to any of us on staff all week.” They were the chattiest, loveliest person I’d ever heard.
David Brower: Oh, my gosh.
Kristin Walker: And all because my dog, you can’t not love him.
David Brower: I love that.
Kristin Walker: Things like that make you just [crosstalk 00:14:05]
David Brower: I got goosebumps on that one. That was…geez Louise. That was, wow. You mentioned sexual harassment, bullying I assume in the work place. Do you deal with people to help them through those kinds of traumas?
Kristin Walker: I do in terms of doing a lot of shows about it, and then, of course, referring people to wonderful therapists where they are in their area. We have a show, actually, now, called The Empowered Whistleblower with a woman named Dawn Westmoreland, and she actually went after the VA for workplace bullying and wrote a book about it. I refer people to her, but just talking about it, that’s been the biggest thing. People want to hear someone else who’s been through it, and I, I’m not a therapist, I always come at things on my show from the patient perspective.
David Brower: Sure, because you’ve been there, done that. [crosstalk 00:15:02]
Kristin Walker: Yeah. I have shared more on that show than people really want to know, but I always find that interviewing a specialist of some kind, and they can’t necessarily share their personal history, but I can share mine, and that makes for a deeper experience on the show.
David Brower: Absolutely right. I found that, with my podcast, every once in a while I’ll somebody on that, like you, is just so articulate and so knowledgeable in their background and their expertise, and all of a sudden we’re just talking about anything and everything like it’s just you and me, and there’s nobody else listening who cares.
Kristin Walker: Exactly.
David Brower: Those are wonderful conversations.
Kristin Walker: You get a high kind of.
David Brower: Yeah.
Kristin Walker: When you hang up, you’re like, “This is why I do this!”
David Brower: Absolutely right, oh my goodness. So, you’ve been doing the network thing on your own for a while, right? Or, rather, the radio on your own and then it developed into the network?
Kristin Walker: Yep. The radio for four years, network for a year. Last year, was, “If you build it, they will come.” I wrote many checks and went, “Why am I doing this? Is this folly? Is this gonna all fold? What am I doing? I don’t even know what I’m doing?” And this year is about, “Okay, it’s time for us to work on getting sponsorships” and that kind of thing. So far, so good.
David Brower: Well, you’ve got such interesting topics on the network. One that first caught my eye, just because of what’s in the news, mental health analysis on why mass shootings have become common place in America. Talk about timely, you know?
Kristin Walker: Oh, yeah. We don’t sit on our laurels. Everybody jumps on. As soon as the Me Too movement started happening in the way that it did, I know that it was happening before it became such a public interest, but man, we had three, four, five shows immediately. On that I did, well several I did with just women and then one that I did with all men, to hear how it effected them. There’s so many of us, and we’re all like a family, so we just cheer each other on and, “Oh, good, you’re doing that show about the shootings, okay. Awesome. Awesome.”
David Brower: Because you’re just jumping on it and making everything relevant as quickly as possible to help people. You’re not waiting around for the 11 o’clock news. You’re on it.
Kristin Walker: Yeah, we’re on it. We’re all really intelligent, articulate people that care. One of the things, too, is we really try to stay away from sensationalism. It’s hard not to get sucked into that, but as an example, I did a show with one of the Bill Cosby survivors and it was during his first trial. I made the decision at the time to not use his name in the title of the show because it made my guest more comfortable, and I just felt like, “I don’t want to give him anymore publicity with all of that.”
David Brower: Exactly right. All of a sudden, that makes it about him instead of why the guest is there.
Kristin Walker: Exactly. And you know, that’s probably, if I was owned by some other entity, I probably would have had to make compromises like that, and so far, because I own it myself, I don’t have to make those kinds of compromises. I can stay with what I’m comfortable with.
David Brower: Good for you. I can’t believe we’re almost out of time. That’s so frustrating. We might have to do this again.
Kristin Walker: No problem. Any time.
David Brower: Cool. Thank you. So, people want to get ahold of you, the network where they can find all these incredible podcasts, they go to MHNR, Mental Health Network Radio? Is that right?
Kristin Walker: Mental Health News Radio Network. That one. Or MHNR network if they don’t feel like typing. Mhnrnetwork.com
David Brower: There you go. And folks, just check it out. In eight minutes, you will go, “Oh my god. I got to make this one of my favorites, because it’s so fascinating. So, hats off to you for doing the work and turning your experiences around to help other people in such a meaningful way. That’s pretty huge, pretty huge.
Kristin Walker: Thank you. Thank you. It’s a pleasure. I love your show, so I’m proud to be a guest on it.
David Brower: Thank you so much. Have a great rest of your week, and continued success in changing lives.
Allan Blacwell Your 20 Minute Podcast with David Brower has been brought to you by Audible. You can listen to any of David’s podcasts anywhere podcasts can be found, including iHeartRadio, the Spotify mobile app, and thedavidbrowervo.com/your20minutepodcast
Until next time, thanks for listening.