Breaking the Silence: Mental Health and First Responders with Majet Reyes, LPC
In this episode, Majet Reyes, LPC, delves into the idea of letting go of control in our lives. She discusses the challenges that arise from holding onto control, and the ways in which this can limit our ability to connect with others, experience joy and fulfillment, and grow as individuals. Drawing on her experiences working with first responders, Majet shares how the pressure to be strong and heroic can lead to trauma and burnout, highlighting the importance of self-care and vulnerability in maintaining one’s well-being.
Majet also emphasizes the power of taking a pause and building sustainable practices over time, rather than trying to make sweeping changes all at once. She explains how cultivating self-love and resilience can help us weather the ups and downs of life, and encourages listeners to explore these concepts in their own lives.
Through her compassionate and insightful approach, Majet offers practical strategies and tools for navigating life’s challenges, and reminds us of the importance of prioritizing our own well-being. Join us for an inspiring conversation on the power of letting go, and the possibilities that arise when we embrace vulnerability and self-love.
Before we begin, we want to issue a trigger warning. Today’s episode includes a discussion of suicide and suicidal ideation. We understand that these topics can be difficult to hear for some listeners, and we want to make sure everyone is aware before continuing.We believe it’s important to have open and honest conversations about mental health, but we also want to prioritize the well-being of our audience. If you feel like this episode might be triggering for you, we encourage you to take care of yourself first and foremost. There’s no shame in stepping away and seeking support if you need it.If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, please know that you’re not alone. There are resources available to you, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Expand for Podcast Transcript
Majet Reyes 0:00
we show for other people and we’re already and so gung ho about helping other people but when it comes to us to ourselves, like it’s so hard to ask for that help. And when you are someone who is struggling with depression, or substance use disorder, or PTSD or even suicidal ideation, that’s the last thing you want to talk about or sell it out loud, especially to your co workers or even your family members, right? Because you know, you’re afraid of the repercussions afraid of like losing your job, afraid of getting a desk job like or having that diagnosis that oh, that person is depressed or that person has suffers from anxiety.
Kira Yakubov 0:43
Before we begin, we want to issue a trigger warning. Today’s episode includes a discussion of suicide and suicidal ideation. We understand these topics can be difficult to hear for some listeners, and we want to make sure everyone is aware before continuing. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, please know that you’re not alone. There are resources available to you including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-Talk.
Kira Yakubov 1:21
Hi, I’m Kira Yakubov Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of Heal Your Roots Wellness practice. Every episode, we talk with a professional from the mental health field to learn more about their approaches and specialties, and also their journey of becoming a therapist. In this podcast, we’ll uncover a deeper look at the world of therapy from new perspectives. You’ll meet the therapist of Heal Your Roots Wellness practice, and trusted colleagues from the community tackling mental wellbeing. We’re your go to Network for practical and professional insight and mental health. Subscribe for new episode releases every other Wednesday.
How Majet Became a Counselor
Kira Yakubov 2:03
I’m so thrilled to have our guests Majet Reyes on for today. She is a psychotherapist and owner of resilient mind works. Majet thank you so much for being on today. Welcome.
Majet Reyes 2:14
Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here and to connect with you again. So thank you for having me. Absolutely.
Kira Yakubov 2:20
I know you do a lot of work in the community, you have a lot of organizations, you’re a therapist, you have phenomenal experience, so I’m really excited to hear your story for today. So I always like to start with diving into how did you become a therapist? Like can you walk us through that journey of how that started for you?
Majet Reyes 2:37
Yeah, definitely. So this is actually my second career. I was a paramedic for 13 years before and before I was a paramedic, I was going to nursing school, and then it and then before that, obviously I was in high school and you know, and hoping to be in the medical field. And even before that we go way, way back like I was really, I was born and raised in the Philippines. So I came into the United States when I was 16. And I saw my parents struggle through you know, studying over and then here. And then the struggle of like being new to a country and then going to I went to four different high schools. And we’re all that transitions and all that adjustment that I experienced being an immigrant at 16 years old. And then And then, you know, navigating my way into college. And then when I was in college, I was gonna go for nursing school. And then 911 happened. So 911, September 2001. Yeah. And then I saw, you know, we all saw the burning buildings in New York, and I saw this people running into burning buildings, and they were in uniform, obviously, there were firefighters, and there were cops. And I was wondering, right, who are the other group of people going in there. And I was like, I definitely don’t want to be a firefighter. I definitely don’t want to be a cop. But what is that other group of people there? And I was like they’re paramedics, and you know, nowadays, we can just google the paramedics and know what it is. But back then, like I went into a phonebook and checked out paramedic schools, and I looked found a paramedic school, went into EMT schools first. So that’s like a two to three month program, and then two years of paramedic school. So there’s a difference between EMTs and a difference between paramedics. so..
Kira Yakubov 4:24
Ok, good to know.
Majet Reyes 4:24
Yeah, so I did that hoping that my goal is to retire as a fire service paramedic. Right, let’s just say giving back to this country that I have adopted that American dream like you know, the what a lot of immigrants are aiming for. So I became a paramedic. Thinking that I’m gonna retire as a paramedic. And then I was assaulted by my co workers when I was working as a paramedic, and then that kinda like helped me grow through the healing journey. That was the start of it. But it took like another 10 years, before I started that healing journey, right. So if we fast forward, oh gosh, more than 10 years after that event happened, I became a mom.
Majet Reyes 4:40
And when I became a mom, I said, Okay, well, I’m working as a paramedic, the hours is awful, the work is rough, and you know I have this daughter, and all I want for my daughter is to be happy. And how am I going to, you know, ask her to be or want her to be happy, if I’m miserable, right? And I said it was my job that was making me miserable. Everything else in my life, but my focus was work. I’m like, I need to change jobs. Right?
Majet Reyes 5:33
And I didn’t know what I should become, oh, maybe I should try to go back to nursing school or become a PA or become ER doctor. But that’s not really my grand goal. But the PA and nursing school are the two options for paramedics there’s really two obvious options that they usually go for. Basically I tried of becoming a paramedic so I applied to nursing school and, and PA school.
Majet Reyes 5:58
And I you know, I was rejected to this right. And I was like, Okay, I am. I know for a fact that I don’t want to be a paramedic anymore. but, I’m also not sure what I should go for it. only in my mind, nursing or PA school. So I prayed, I’m not very religious but I’m spiritual in a way, that you know, like,I believe in a higher power. And I’m like, Yo, you tell me what you want me to do? How do you want me to serve? But help me how do you want me to save your people?
Majet Reyes 6:31
A few days later, I got a postcard from Philadelphia University, which is Jefferson now. And it says community and trauma counseling program. It’s new. I was in the second cohort of that program. And I’m like, alright, I’m gonna check it out. And I went to Philly U for my bachelor’s, so I’m like, I’ll check it out. Right. I love the school that maybe it’s time for me to get my master’s. So I went to the orientation fell in love with the teachers fell in love with the other students. Yeah, I’m supposed to be here, right?
Kira Yakubov 7:02
Majet Reyes 7:03
Now, all on our own stuff. So I was learning about trauma, I was learning about counseling, and realized that I got a lot of work to do. My own inner healing. So
Kira Yakubov 7:15
Majet Reyes 7:16
So you know, as I was going through the program of becoming a counselor a trauma counselor, I was going through my own healing as well. And that’s when I started looking for therapists and processing my traumas, my trauma from myself, trauma from becoming a mom trauma, from becoming, you know, an immigrant and then the childhood traumas that, you know, that were never processed at all. They didn’t even acknowledge when I was growing up, and then I just fell in love with the field of counseling. And then and now and that’s how I became a trauma therapist, and it’s been sven years, and I love, Kira, I love love love what I do. That’s what I love talking about. It’s like, self love. It’s like taking care of yourself, so you can continue doing what you love. And for me, that’s, that’s what I do. I need rest. I’m gonna rest. I’m gonna give myself love because I love what I do so much. I want to be my best when I take care of my clients. Right, so said they love songs
Kira Yakubov 8:13
I love your story
Majet Reyes 8:16
That’s the story of how I became a counselor, yeah.
The importance of letting go of control
Kira Yakubov 8:20
Wow, that is honestly that is inspiring from the beginning to the end. I’m also an immigrant, but I emigrated when I was very young, so to know, as a teenager coming in, I mean, that’s its own journey, then you’re going through all these experiences of being a paramedic, like life and death situations. And then having that feeling of a crossroad. It sounds like you had a lot to figure out and very brave of you to, you know, allow yourself to see what comes to you like trust it and, you know, prayed and manifested and then it showed up it literally showed up on your doorstep to say, hey, try this out. Wow, that’s incredible.
Majet Reyes 8:57
Yeah, it’s really interesting, because my mindset was not there. My mindset was about I need to take control. Right back then, my mindset were about was all about, you know, like, I gotta control it. I gotta do doo doo. And, you know, I had so many maladaptive coping mechanisms, like I didn’t know that they were maladaptive back then. But it was normal, like they were normal. And they were just part of my culture as Filipino American, and part of the culture of American culture, and also culture of EMS, emergency medical services, like Yeah, I was working a lot. I was drinking and exercising a lot. Right? And those were like, just part of the culture and I was working, working, working, working, not understanding that yo, if you really want to make some changes, and start a healing journey, sometimes you just got to stay still. Right? And just be and, and let go of control. You know, but that really took me a very, very long time to understand. And I’m still learning Yeah,
Kira Yakubov 10:00
sure, I appreciate you being vulnerable and sharing that insight. I didn’t know all of those ins and outs of that and how that came up. I mean, grad school is incredible, right? I mean, to be able to heal and learn all this, like, we go in trying to help other people. And it’s like a mirror to the face of all the work that we have to do, which I think in a lot of ways, that’s kind of how we choose who we’re going to work with is it’s almost like simultaneously helping ourselves heal while we’re helping someone in a somewhat of a similar way, or some relatability in that. So it makes sense that you’ve been really focusing on first responders, because that’s a lot to carry for anybody. Yeah.
Struggles of First Responders and How That Shows Up in Therapy
Kira Yakubov 10:42
And so can you share a little bit about kind of specifically the unique struggles that a first responder might have and how that shows up in therapy, or what they bring to therapy when they do decide to go?
Majet Reyes 10:54
It’s very interesting, right, like, so when I, you know, when I started my practice, like, I really focused on helping first responders and medical professionals like having been in the field, like, there’s so much stigma when it comes to mental health. Yeah, right. We’re helpers, right? We’re saviors. And I put air quotes there. Because you know, like, we go into work knowing that we’re going to save someone, or we’re going to help, right, it’s not save but help someone, right, that’s part of the job.
Majet Reyes 11:24
And but when it comes to us asking for help, right and needing to be saved, and again, quote, unquote, it’s looked down upon, right, and it says, it’s a culture that glorifies self neglect, right, and we put a badge of honor when we’re neglecting ourselves, and we show up for other people. And we’re all ready, and so gung ho about helping other people, but when it comes to us to ourselves, like it’s so hard to ask for that help.
Majet Reyes 11:57
And when you are someone who is struggling with depression, or substance use disorder, or PTSD, or even suicidal ideation, that’s the last thing you want to talk about, or say it out loud, especially to your co workers or even your family members, right? Because you know, you’re afraid of the repercussions, afraid of like losing your job, afraid of getting a desk job right, or having that diagnosis, that oh, that person is depressed, or that person has suffers from anxiety, or even not recognizing that the numbing activities that we do, such as drinking, right?
Culture of Drinking in First Responders
Majet Reyes 12:37
That’s very accepted in the culture drinking, and you want to be part of the team part of the groups, you know, after work, you know, you go out and drink. And that’s part of the culture and not understanding that, oh, I’m actually using this to numb and not process, the emotions or the feelings or the traumas that I see, you know, or experienced when I’d go into work and not knowing that that’s actually a problem. It’s a disorder, substance use disorder.
Trauma and PTSD in First Responders
Majet Reyes 13:06
And also not realizing that a lot of first responders actually 85% of first responders have PTSD, because going into work and meeting people on the worst day of their lives, right a lot of times, it’s like the worst day of their lives, and then coming in and you were helping them in one of the days that you know, when they’re having a bad day, and either there was an accident or somebody you know, their loved one is you know, is dying or you know, or death and be and having to compartmentalize everything that you just witnessed, so you can go on to the next call, right? And they become really good, right first responders become really good at compartmentalizing because they have to right?
Kira Yakubov 13:52
sure it’s part of the job,
Majet Reyes 13:53
Exactly, it is part of the job, and I then you know so that you can go ahead and and help and calls can come and back the back back to back and not having the time to take a breather, and process and feel. Right what just went on in your body in your mind let it in your heart, like remember this trauma is not necessarily the actual event. Right. It’s the felt experience. For the general public, It’s like that experience right, that traumatic event that we have the big tears could be probably one out of five but with first responders t’s like three out of five first responders, right, experienced that witnessing a traumatic event and then having that trauma that they carry in their bodies that that you know that stuff experienced that they weren’t able to process. He just had to go to the next call.
Majet Reyes 14:45
So and then
Kira Yakubov 14:46
that’s every day
Majet Reyes 14:48
and now it’s every day that they go into work.
Kira Yakubov 14:50
Majet Reyes 14:51
So, Right! it’s something that needs to be talked about more. A lot of the first responders a lot of my clients who come to me , they, It’s usually you know, oh my, my significant other asked me to go see a therapist, right? Then, you know, my there was fighting with my significant other, or my children, I don’t have a real connection with like children or I’m just burned out and I don’t want to go to work anymore. But I need my job and not realizing that they could be struggling with depression, or anxiety or a CPTSD, like complex trauma, that complex for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Those are some of the you know, things that I see a lot in my in my practice and some of the struggles that comes to my office. So I don’t know if I answered your question.
Kira Yakubov 15:46
You answered it. Wow. I mean, it seems almost inevitable, right? At some point, that if you’re a paramedic, or you’re an EMS worker that you will experience trauma, depression, anxiety, numbing, right? Like all of the it almost seems inevitable, like, we’re human beings, right? Some people have this happen maybe once or twice in their life. And this is someone’s job that they go in every single day. So I can’t imagine having to hold so much of that in our body with nowhere to go or to be acknowledged, and then wake up and do it again the next day.
Majet Reyes 16:22
Yeah, I mean, that’s why we can’t blame them if they use substance, right.
Kira Yakubov 16:27
No, I mean, it makes sense. I would, I mean, just thinking about that now, like, you have to find a way to manage through it. And if there’s no space or time, and if it’s stigmatized. I mean, it seems like the options are pretty slim.
Stigma of Feelings with First Responders
Majet Reyes 16:44
Yeah, yeah, talking about it. It’s like, you know, it’s stigmatized, you can talk about everything else, like, you know, they talk about politics, and race and religion and all that stuff. When it comes to emotions, it’s the F word nobody wants to talk about, right? And let’s, and I tell my clients this, I’m like, I’m not gonna force you in the beginning of our work together, part of your healing journey wisely, is being comfortable with this F word. And they’re like, what F word. And I’m like, feelings. And then like, ha, ha, you know, like, it’s, it’s the emotions, there’s something about emotions or feelings that is also stigmatized in our culture. Right?
Kira Yakubov 17:24
Majet Reyes 17:24
And even that word and I don’t let this term on these, Oh, you’re so emotional, like what’s wrong with emotion? Right? It’s such a [inaudible] to be the emotional. like your emotions are not wrong, it’s like a fire alarm for you to pause and, and reflect, okay, why am I feeling this way? Right. And being comfortable with knowing that you have to pause and feel and not judge your feelings, right and actually give it space so that it can pass. Right? I’m gonna pause and I’m feeling really sad right now. I just saw a teenager died. Right? And I’m like that’s horrible. I mean, I think you had to compartmentalize that.
Majet Reyes 18:10
And so you can go on to the next call. But what if that call is another death or maybe no, let’s not even say it’s another death, It’s just a car accident, a fender bender. Now you’re going into that call pissed off. Right? Like, oh, you called us for this. Right? You could have just called triple A, and it’s like, you didn’t get to process that sadness, right. But then you’re comfortable with feeling anger? Because that’s something that’s kind of normalized to an OK, right? that aggression, the fight mode. But when it comes to feeling sad, right, or confused, or, or even anxious. Anxiety has, you know, shows up in many different ways, but not being able to understand that and judging it and shaming those feelings. It’s not helpful.
Majet Reyes 18:59
You know, and my work with first responders is really helping them understand their feelings, becoming aware of them and being comfortable with that F word. Right? So they can talk about it, express how they feel. So they’ll know what they need. Right? If they continue to suppress this emotions, these feelings, then how would they know what they need? How would we know? Right? If we’re just going glaring and suppressing suppressing the feelings because we’re so uncomfortable with feeling, then how are we going to be aware of what we need in our lives? Right? I’m gonna digress.
Normalize first responders discussing feelings
Kira Yakubov 19:38
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it sounds like there’s no there’s no time or space to reassess or feel anything. It’s just kind of continuously going through the motions. You know, it’s interesting because these are the some of the bravest people I mean, I consider this super brave. Like, I’m inspired by the fact that you did that and went through that whole process, but like, how brave that this is your job every day. And you go into danger, physical danger, and then the emotional internal part that can’t necessarily I mean, it can hurt us, obviously, but not in the same way that physical harm can get us that that’s more feared. Right. And that as it compiles on and on, I can imagine like, well, if I open the lid, who knows how much is going to come out, I can even imagine like people who want to start talking about feelings are scared, how much is going to come through, and if they’re able to manage or control them,
Majet Reyes 20:30
unfortunately, because not knowing that there is a safe space to express those feelings and emotions and that fear of how much of that like what you’re saying, how much of that is going to come out. And it’s so scary, like, they don’t know how that would look like. And what we don’t know, it’s very scary. So unfortunately, there’s a high rate of suicide in first responders and that’s the reality it’s the truth, it’s something that, you know, these departments, the organizations are not really putting a lot of effort into looking into this, right. And if we had provided a safe space, or normalize, talking about feelings, especially sadness, then we could have prevented those suicides.
Kira Yakubov 21:15
Yeah, it’s really heavy. And it’s a shame to think about the people who take care of us, right, when we need to be taken care of when the community needs that help, they show up, but they’re not being helped, right? Like there isn’t this already built into that job or to that system, and that structure to make sure that they’re taking care of consistently moving forward instead of having to be very stoic and keep it moving, and not be impacted, because the role is hero and strong. And you have to hold it together for everyone else, so they can be sad, so they can feel vulnerable.
Majet Reyes 21:49
Wow, I love that you brought that up, because that idea of being a hero, right? Like a superhero. Superheroes are
Kira Yakubov 21:56
First responders are human beings
Majet Reyes 21:56
superheroes, you know, are brave, superheroes, you know, they don’t talk about their feelings but again, like, these are human beings we’re talking about right? First responders are human beings, and they do have feelings, just like a lot of us, just like all of us. Right? And, and you brought that up like and I love that you brought that up, like, we want this first responder and this medical professionals right to take care of themselves and to love themselves, because they are the people who’s going to be protecting and saving our communities you know?
Kira Yakubov 21:56
Majet Reyes 22:02
And if we don’t take care of them, and you know, and we don’t see them with empathetic eyes, there’s gonna be a lot more hate. They’re spreading hate, we’re spreading hate, and then we’re not understanding each other. I hope. And you know, if like, there will be normalized for organizations to promote self love, right? Self love, self care for first responders so that they’re not burned out. And then so that they’re not depressed, and they’re not anxious or always in survival mode, and they can show up for our communities who need them with a lot of love, and really ready and willing and full of compassion, showing up in these communities and helping out, right?
Kira Yakubov 23:10
Sure, absolutely. And I can imagine, you know, if there’s a lot of stigma you’re getting within your group of people in your organization. And then when you go out to help, your job is literally to help people and you’re getting negative feedback or this negative association with what you’re doing. While you’re trying to help. I can see that anger coming through, right? Like, that all trickles together, right. It’s all part of a system. And it all plays a part. And so I love that you talk about this community, and I know you’re so involved in the community. And I love you have this phrase on your website. It’s like bridging the gap with empathy with the community, would you be able to speak to that a little bit how to bring that a little bit closer.
Majet Reyes 23:49
One of my dream was right in my professional life to build this empathy bridge to close the gap between first responders and communities, communities that they serve, like. So I was a brown, you know, like immigrant female right and part of me. Part of my identity is ,like, I’m a former first responder, and I understand, you know, like, what goes on, like inside that life. Right, but then also as a brown individual, and being a member of the community. I also understand the struggles and the traumas, right, and of living in my community and living in the community here as a brown female, immigrant. And I feel like, you know, there’s a need for us to understand each other. Right, this two groups, for the first responders to understand and know, the journeys, the challenges and the struggles as being a number of communities, especially the communities of brown and black individuals, right. And then also The community white and brown to see with empathetic eyes did joys and the struggles and the challenges of being a first responder and when we understand each other, we can’t help. But, you know, start building that bridge of like connecting, right? And to make sure this deepest longing, and our deepest fear, right as human beings, right? It’s like, you know, we are wired for connection. But then also we’re so afraid of connecting with people who seem to be so different from us. But in reality, we’re not that different. I’m wish that someday and I have, you know, I’ve sent proposals where those that I’ve said, when I did presentations as like, you know, this building this empathy bridge between first responders and the communities because it would be nice to live in a world where in, you know, first responders and people in the community understand each other. There we can live in a world where in our, our offsprings, right, the future, can can live a life where they can trust each other. And with that comes love.
Kira Yakubov 26:03
I love the passion you have for this. No, really, it’s so needed. And it’s so heartfelt. And it’s so important, because I think what you’re talking about is huge, right? This takes a community, it takes a lot of people to be vulnerable, and willing to hear other people side. And the tough part is when there is so much trauma right within the community and first responders who are dealing with vicarious trauma, but their own, we isolate, like the last thing we want to do is be vulnerable and reach out and feel closer. So it’s like another block another layer, kind of getting in the way of that. And that sounds like really hard work.
The importance of vulnerability and self-love for First Responders
Majet Reyes 26:40
Yeah. And I’m glad that you brought that up the vulnerability part. In our black and brown communities like we really love our resilience, right? Like, we’ve been through a lot, and then we’re strong. And then when you look at the first responders, like you know, it’s like also they’re very resilient. Like bouncing back pretty quickly to go to the next call. But then when it comes to being vulnerable, it’s super scary. But sometimes we do need to take that’s step. Right? To be vulnerable. Cause with vulnerability comes connection, right. And then when we’re deeply connected then there’s, you know, there’s intimacy, with intimacy, love can grow. So, yea, vulnerability is it’s a hard but necessary step that first responders can start practicing.
Kira Yakubov 27:27
Yeah. And I love that you say that because it is from vulnerability comes everything else, right? It’s that trust, the respect, the understanding, the empathy, and then we can start to grow and make moves from there and hearing all these different perspectives. I’m just so amazed by your work. I’m just, I’m like thinking about it, like, day to day how much that would be.
Kira Yakubov 27:47
And so when you are working with individuals who are first responders, and are in these circumstances, how do you help them look at self love and self care in a way that works for their schedules in their life, right, because that’s gonna look a little bit different from someone who just has a regular nine to five in front of a computer and wants to take care of themselves.
The Practice of Pausing as self care for first responders
Majet Reyes 28:07
There’s interesting, right? Like, that term self care and self love. It’s like hashtag self care, right? And automatic, lets their mind goes into mani pedi massage or spa day. No no no, that can be self care, right? Like people can find joy in that. But let’s, let’s figure out what self care is for you. And it’s more on like, what brings you joy? And what does that mean? And sometimes even that question of like, what activities bring you joy is something that they struggle with? Because a lot of times they don’t have the time to think and do things that bring them joy, or they forgot it. Right? They knew it when they were, you know, a child or when they were younger. And then as we start, you know, living as a grown ups, it’s supressed because you’re busy surviving, and then being in survival mode becomes normal and familiar.
Majet Reyes 29:01
And I asked them to pause, right, that’s the first thing we practice, like, let’s pause and just being able to sit for a few minutes, it’s better than better than nothing, then, you know, then expecting to have a full day of spa day. Right, it’s because rest is important. And so first responders like they have you know, four days on four days off the rotating shift of like, two-day day shift, two days night shift, and it’s like, there’s very confusing and very, they’re pretty much unpredictable time or schedule. And so therefore, I asked them to practice to pause, the practice of pausing and sitting still for a minute. We start with that and being able to just ground themselves and breathe and that’s self care. We start with that normalizing pausing and resting for one minute. And showing self compassion we start with that
Majet Reyes 29:57
Cause like once I tell them to sit down for ten minutes. That’s a lot, it’s so unnerving for them. So instead of like grounding, you know, helping them ground their nervous, it gets they get more anxious, because they trying to do something that they’re not familiar with. So I asked him to pause and practice pausing for one minute and breathing. And when that like that moment that they pause for one minute, I remind them that, that’s self love, and it’s better to love yourself, and show yourself a lot of love. So that in that one minute, you know, you can reset ground your nervous system, and then go share that love to other people, right, the public needs you.
Majet Reyes 30:37
So if you want to keep helping other people, and continue loving what you do, give yourself that one minute. We start with that. And they love a challenge. So they’re like, Well, I’m gonna sit for like two minutes. So it’s that and I tell them that mindfulness right there and mindful, being mindful, it’s not meditation. it’s a practice of being in the here and now. And with that practice of one minute pausing and breathing, you’re practicing being in the here and now. And with that, like, I also try to explain to them that being in the present moment, and doing what you need, at this moment, right, just staying present, right, just we can get stuck. And I see this with a lot of them. And a lot of my clients, even the the not first responders, we get stuck in the future, right? You understand this, like you would get stuck in the field, we get down, we get anxious, and we can’t do anything about the future. But because it’s in the future, so we can’t do anything about that. And then we get stuck and ruminate about the past, right? And didn’t do anything about that, because it had already happened. And that only just make us sad. Right? So let’s focus on the here and now. Once they find themselves, and I tell them this, like notice, once you find yourself geetting antcy or anxious because you’re thinking about the future. It hasn’t happened yet, reel yourself back into the present moment, ask yourself, what do we need right now? And right now, does that mean you need to take a nap? you need to take a bathroom break? You need to rest or go outside and take a breather for two minutes? What do you mean that now? Oh, my belly hurts. Or maybe you need to see a doctor. Let me just go make that one thing like in the like bring yourself back into the present moment. That’s self love. Right? Like being mindful of what I need in this very moment in this very present moment. Right? That’s self love. And then we’re able to practice that on a regular basis, you know, then we go into like, okay, let’s tap into making a list of activities that bring you joy, like, what are the things that bring you joy, because once you know how to pause for one minute or two minutes, and then be able to stay in the present moment, then you’ll be able to recognize, oh, I enjoy hiking, right? And then you tend to remember those activities that bring you some happiness, because you’re not caught up in survival mode anymore. You get glimmers of living and life is meant to be lived. Right? And that again. That is if you allow yourself, love. It sounds so simple. It doesn’t have to be hard. Right?
Kira Yakubov 33:20
Building sustainable practices over time
Majet Reyes 33:20
But sometimes for this professionals who are always on the go, that practice of pausing, staying in the present moment. And then, you know, going back to understanding what made them happy in the past and bringing that back into their lives, that’s a big thing for them. It seems so simple, but with stillness comes wisdom, and sitting still for one minute and breathing, you know, and increasing that time every month, up to a point where you can sit still for 20 minutes and reflect and just breathe, right? It looks like living, that’s your self love. That’s your self care. And we start with that. Not like okay, let’s travel to Puerto Rico for a week like or go to a retreat, because that’s self care or go to a spa for one whole day. Those are great. Right? But then sometimes even when you find yourself in those places on vacation in the spot, your mind is in some other places right, you’re not present. You’re anxious about work, you’re anxious about somebody else. It’s like, you know, like so let’s let’s talk this, the one minute for yourself, right and live in that one minute, not just survive. Because again, life is meant to be lived not to be not to be survival mode for the rest of our lives.
Kira Yakubov 34:41
Yeah, I mean, it sounds like you’re helping them build sustainable practices over time that they can call on themselves anywhere at any time. Right? Like all of you going on these trips, taking these breaks, like they’re wonderful. It’s beautiful to have some of these experiences. And they go by, right like we can’t hold on to them the same way that You can teach somebody to have that. I mean, I’m hearing you’re giving them back control over the time that they’re being intentional about, like, I’m gonna give myself one minute of my own focus and attention to recenter my nervous system, build this practice so that in a month, I can sustain this for 20 minutes and do something that brings me joy that I haven’t even thought about in years.
Majet Reyes 35:23
Yes, exactly. As you wrap it up. Perfect. Yes, exactly.
Kira Yakubov 35:31
And you know, like you said, it’s like the basics, right, like just giving the basics of giving ourselves time. But when you’re somebody who spends your whole career and time and energy thinking and caring about other people, doing that for one minute does sound hard, it does sound kind of uncomfortable. And building that tolerance over time is something that’s going to be a life skill, right? Like that’s a life skill to be able to tap into your own nervous system and breathe for a little bit so that you can reset.
Majet Reyes 35:58
Kira Yakubov 35:59
That’s incredible. You do phenomenal work. Thank you for what you do. I mean, and with so much passion, I imagine your clients are very happy with you. The experience that they have for this safe place,
Majet Reyes 36:10
Cause I’ve been there. I remember after I was assaulted, you know, like, the lawyers wanted me to go see therapists, and I tried those. And I didn’t understand what they were telling me. They were throwing me CBT. I didn’t know it was CBT back then. Right. And I’m just like, that doesn’t work. No that doesn’t this like, you know, and I went through two different therapists back then. it didn’t resonate with me, right? I’ve learned so much how to just go go go.
Majet Reyes 36:35
I had my own suicidal thoughts, right. And like, at one point in my life, like all I wanted was to sleep. Right. But I was so busy. And I was just like, you know, I had so many things in my mind. I couldn’t relax my nervous system. And I was just like, I wanted to sleep. At one point, I was like, I had weed. I had marijuana back then. And I took smoked all my marijuana, I drank like this bottle of disgusting, vanilla vodka, and I took all my sleeping pills. Because I was like, I just want to sleep, right? Not understanding that, God, I’m tired. I don’t want to do this anymore, right. But I just wanted to sleep. And then I woke up the next day with a really bad hangover. But , I’m just like, Oh, I’m alive. Like, I can do something. And what did I do like after that incident, I went to Barnes and Noble and started devouring self help stuff, right. And those are great, like, self help is great. And we have to understand it. But what we truly need is to be able to process those feelings that we had been holding on to. And you know, instead of numbing it, and suppressing them, and distracting ourselves from it. So that’s why I like I say I do it, I do, because like I’ve been there, I understand it. And also know the power of like the inner work the inner healing and opening ourselves up in a safe environment, right in a safe space where we can process and unpack the events and also the feelings, the felt experiences that we had.
Kira Yakubov 38:09
Absolutely, thank you for sharing that I really appreciate your vulnerability, I think it’s going to really allow people to really resonate and not feel alone and have hope. There’s a lot more you can do. And you don’t have to stay in this position. There’s a lot of help out there, we just have to be open to seeking it and giving ourselves that attention. So I really appreciate that, Majet.
Majet Reyes 38:29
Yea, no, you’re welcome. And you know, and things are changing right Kira. Like it’s,
Kira Yakubov 38:33
Majet Reyes 38:34
it’s, um, the stigma of mental health is lessening, right. I mean, we still have a lot of work to do with that to really make it normal or normalize to talking about it, but it’s changing. There’s a lot of hope.
Kira Yakubov 38:46
Yeah, it’s going in the right direction. I mean, this is the best time for us to be alive in all of history, right?
Majet Reyes 38:52
Yes, I like that. Exactly.
Kira Yakubov 38:54
And so I what’s coming up next for you and your practice? I know you have a lot of organizations if you can kind of share with the listeners more about what you do and what you’re offering.
Majet Reyes 39:03
So what’s coming up for me? So I have support groups, so for first responders and medical professionals, and that’s normally in the fall in September. So right now I’m trying to get more people to into the fall support group and I am planning on getting certified or licensed to do psychedelic assisted therapy.
Kira Yakubov 39:28
Oh, Majet, Oh, you just hit my heart because that is my life goal. That is phenomenal. Where are you doing this at?
Majet Reyes 39:38
There is a Philadelphia organization called Sound Mind
Kira Yakubov 39:42
Majet Reyes 39:44
You know it?
Kira Yakubov 39:45
Majet Reyes 39:47
Yeah, I’m a big fan
Kira Yakubov 39:48
Oh I love this.
Majet Reyes 39:49
It’s not everywhere yet but people are like talking about it. Programs are out there. So I’m super excited about that. It’s really expensive but also it’s worth it.
Kira Yakubov 40:00
Majet Reyes 40:01
But it’s such a beautiful tool, I guess you can call plant medicine or like psilocybin. It’s something that I really change mental health and really help people talk about emotions and feelings. And yeah, that’s what I want, then, you know, sometimes I’m gonna need some help from, you know, plant medicine that can help people take off all the blocks or the walls, I talked about feelings. So that’s, that’s what’s coming up.
How to get in touch with Majet
Kira Yakubov 40:32
That’s super exciting. Oh, my God, we’re gonna definitely have to have you back on for another episode just talking about psychedelics and trauma, and different things that is so near and dear to my heart. And I know that program, and I was actually going to do it. I’m going to do it actually, I think in a year or two, it was just not the right timing in my life right now. But that is definitely I truly believe the wave of mental health is just finding plant medicine and healing in that way. I am so thrilled I wish I knew this an hour ago. We could have talked about that more. That’s super exciting, though. Can you share with the listeners where they can reach out to you how they can get in touch with you if they want to work with you?
Majet Reyes 41:11
Sure, you can find me on social media @phillytraumacounselor, and if you want to hear all about mental health and first responders so you can follow me there. And if you are interested in women empowerment, women education and women events, I own diva girl tribe and you can follow us on social media at @divagirlcommunity. And we’re having a conference coming up in May. So I hope we see some of you there.
Kira Yakubov 41:37
Awesome. And I have been to one of your events called she means biz. It was like a business conference for women entrepreneurs and having that. So it was incredible. I mean, you do so much amazing things in the community in all these different ways. So thank you for being you. I think it’s just incredible all of the work that you do. And really thank you so much for being on today. It’s been a pleasure talking to you and like learning more about your story.
Majet Reyes 42:01
Thank you for giving me the space to share my story to show up as my true authentic self. And you’re appreciating it and accepting me for who I am so thank you Kira for allowing me to be me in your space. A safe space.
Kira Yakubov 42:17
Absolutely. Oh, thank you so much.
Majet Reyes 42:20
Kira Yakubov 42:20
So I think we’re good. I think it’s a warp that was awesome.