August 2020 was full of birthdays (mine!), giveaways (with Embr Labs), guest speaking (at Podfest Global Summit), and collaboration (with Health Podcast Network). We were also fortunate enough to hear a variety of viewpoints on the struggles and triumphs of caring for adults with autism, how humanity and advocacy can be distilled into ink (listen to this one to learn more!), how grief and barriers to mental wellness can be attributed to loss, and how one journalist’s career has been spent serving the spoonie community (in addition to managing her own invisible illness struggles!).
Needless to say, August was a busy month at Uninvisible Pod! We had the privilege of speaking with Dana Kelsey about caring for adults with autism; Diana Chao about using writing to advocate for mental health awareness; Tori Dixon about mental wellness, grief, and loss; and Kendall Ciesemier about organ transplant, purpose, and activism for the chronic illness community.
Be sure to take some time for yourself and tune into some of August episodes. We had great conversations with even greater guests! Oh yeah, don’t forget to wear your masks!
@Autism_IRL is an Instagram account created by WEGO-award-winner Dana Kelsey, who works alongside her parents as a full-time caregiver for her autistic adult brother, Robert. Dana has a background as a behavior analyst, and has been working professionally with the autistic community for 10 years. Robert is 34 years old, loves Sesame Street videos, Little Debbie snack cakes, Disney movies, and pepperoni pizza. It just happens that he also lives at home with his parents in New York. Robert has had a difficult journey since entering adulthood, but his resilience and loving family have enabled and encouraged him to continue to live a joyful life. Listen to this episode to meet him and his family!
Diana Chao is a 21-year-old first-generation Chinese-American immigrant from southern California. During her sophomore year of high school, bipolar disorder nearly ended her life… and inspired her to create non-profit Letters To Strangers (L2S), which uses the healing power of the written word to create awareness of mental health and illness, and spread comfort as “humanity distilled into ink”. Today, L2S is the largest global youth-for-youth mental health nonprofit, impacting over 35,000 people on six continents. Diana has been named Oprah Magazine‘s 2019 Health Hero, won the Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Award, won the 2019 Global Changemakers cohort, and the 2020 Diana Award. And, as you will soon learn: she is an absolute delight. An episode not to be missed!
Tori S. Dixon (MS, LPC) is the owner and practicing clinician of Graceful Journey Counseling in Arlington, Texas. A licensed professional counselor with a background in funeral direction, her specialty has naturally become grief and loss; she practices from the belief that any barrier to mental wellness is ultimately attributed to some sense of loss. Whatever the loss, she believes that grace and space to acknowledge and properly grieve loss is the first step on the road to true healing and emotional and mental wholeness. Tori adopted a theoretically-sound, culturally-competent and faith-based approach that focuses on engaging and meeting clients where they are on their journeys. Her goal is to provide the safe space her clients need to grow fully into who they were created to be — and to thrive in life and relationships. In this episode, we discuss mental health care from a chronic illness perspective; we also address the need for culturally-competent care, and for access to mental health care as an imperative.
Kendall Ciesemier is the executive producer of multimedia for the ACLU. A multi-award-winning reporter, producer, writer, and social entrepreneur, she founded Kids Caring 4 Kids and co-created the OWN IT summit. Kendall came to prominence as a journalist through her work with digital news company Mic. Her interview with Alice Marie Johnson, a woman serving life in prison without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense, went viral and caught Kim Kardashian West’s eye. Kardashian West then successfully lobbied President Trump to grant Johnson clemency — and Kendall produced a series of reported pieces alongside the effort, catapulting the story to make international headlines and result in real-world impact. Most prominently, she has been honored as the 2014 Glamour Magazine College Woman of the Year, a Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine, Zeitgeist Young Mind by Google, and one of Youth Service America’s Top 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People. She’s given a TED Talk, rubbed shoulders with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on the TODAY Show, and even been sandwiched between President Clinton and Oprah on her eponymous show. All this…and she’s also survived two liver transplants. Here, we turn the mic toward Kendall to hear her story: how she was diagnosed with chronic liver disease as a child, the organ donation process, and how she maintains her health to this day. Her story is one of triumph against the odds — and she knows it. Tune in to learn more about this incredible woman!