You Are Not Alone: The importance of feeling our feelings and asking for help
Interview with Dr. Jill Stocker
Dr. Jill Stocker, also known as ‘Dr. Juicy Jill’, is not your average doctor! Today she specializes in Age Management Medicine and Hormone Optimization.
Jill’s work helps women and men to reclaim their energy, vitality, and even their sex drive.
In my new book, Life After Trauma, Jill shares her story of looking like she had it all together on the outside, while struggling with depression and hormone imbalances on the inside. Who else can relate to this?
She found herself asking, “Is this all there is to life?”
Today, she can tell you there is so much more once you open up enough to ask for help, and learn how to express what you feel and what you need.
Dr. Andrea — I think that what you are sharing with the world through your story in the book, You Are Not Alone, is so important for the world to hear. While you were working in Hollywood as a Doctor to celebrities, with life looking kind of perfect from the outside, on the inside for you things were looking darker and darker.
Dr. Jill — I really have you to thank for sharing your own story of depression. That really unlocked things for me. Back then I never thought I would be talking about any of this stuff, either with patients or on social media.
But I’ve found in doing so I can see my patient’s eye light up at hearing parts of my story, because they felt so alone up until then.
When I noticed this I realized the platform I had as a physician was a real gift. A lot of my challenges I’ve had in life needed to be shared with my patients. It was almost a duty. And just simply because saying ‘you are not alone’ to somebody can be such a huge deal for them.
We live in a society that would rather fix it than feel it. If somebody is crying, or angry, or sad… everyone just wants to throw a pill at it, or fix it in some other way.
That’s how I started off too, addressing my depression with antidepressants. I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk about feelings. It was so uncomfortable — I didn’t know what to do other than take a pill that would help me to function!
Think of when a child falls and hurts themselves, or if their dog dies. Are response is to try to cheer them up with ice cream. But this doesn’t teach them to feel their feelings.
With my boys, when they cry I actually just hug them and let it happen. I give them the space and then I will thank them for showing me their emotions. It gives them permission to express their feelings. I think it’s really important for men; but now even women are expected to be tough and not cry.
Dr. Andrea — I think it’s great this subject is what led us to connect. When I first started opening up and sharing publicly what I had been with depression, I also looked like I had it all together, being a Doctor and a businesswoman.
I opened up and shared for myself, never guessing that it would end up having any connection to my business.
With my medical background I had the programmed belief that I must have a chemical imbalance in my brain, and therefore I would be stuck this forever. It wasn’t until I had my spiritual awakening that I realized I had been suppressing so much of my true self, and that had a lot to do with what I was feeling. So this is why I needed to come out with my first TED talk and share the importance of becoming who you really are
This is why I feel that you sharing your story really frees you up to talk openly with your patients. It takes away that pedestal of being the Doctor, but allows you to connect on a more human level, but with the understanding of a medic.
Dr .Jill — You know, I just read something today, and it said — we are not here to be fixed. Human beings are here to be witnessed. And that resonated with me so much.
I used to wear a mask all the time, and I remember that “I’m fine” phase of my life really well. People knew I wasn’t, I couldn’t hide it in my eyes — but we all do it. Patients also do with me; they thing they need to look okay for the Doctor!
I realized it’s not until I start sharing my story with them, then they feel they have permission to be vulnerable and to share their struggles with me. But this shows how hard it is for us to be our authentic selves — which is something that you talk about all the time.
The other thing I really want to talk about is how a ‘trauma’ or something that leads to struggles doesn’t have to be this big event, like an attack or a car accident. It can be these small, everyday insidious things that creep up on us. The trauma of everyday life is just as valid.
I remember when I was 7 or 8, I was homesick for my parents. I was with my grandparents, who were loving, but they never said I love you. My grandfather never said I love you to my dad until he was in his 80s. So I remember as a child being homesick and crying, and I just needed a hug. My grandfather had no idea what to do with this, so he gave me a swat. This was my first experience of expressing my emotion and getting a lesson that I should be strong instead.
Since then we’ve all evolved as a family, and now that I’m able to cry in front of them, which I’ve only just been able to do these last few years, it gives them permission to express their feelings too. It’s been very healing for all of us.
I talked with one of the other authors from Life After Trauma, Stephan Conradi, about his own experience with depression. This was really healing for me to talk with him, as I had been through postpartum depression, and his own started after the birth of his child. I had felt abandoned by my child’s father at that time, so I had this ongoing resentment that had never healed fully.
It wasn’t until I heard his story that I thought about it from the father’s side. Because I had my own challenges with my hormones and my depression, I hadn’t even thought about it like that. It’s amazing how powerful sharing is! Through sharing our traumas of everyday life, we were able to help each other, and to grow from it.
Dr. Andrea — I’m so glad you’re bringing that up. In Life After Trauma we do talk about micro-trauma. Just as you said, it doesn’t have to be Trauma with a big T; going to war or being in an accident. It can be the little things, those demands of life that add up over time.
The other thing I think is really important is what you said about telling people, ‘you are not alone’. When we speak about our experiences, this opens the door for ourselves to heal. But more than that, it really allows others to do the same.
One of our other authors, Anna Frostin, shared something amazing in her interview. Before her brother died, they had a two-month window where there were able to speak. And they had just such a connection through unloading and sharing all the things from their childhood that had caused pain to build up. And as Anna said, if people would just talk…
Dr. Jill — What if we could just talk to each other like 5 year old? “Ouch, that hurt me!”
But instead we get into our heads so much, we cant just say we are hurting.
Another thing I’ve realized this process is that a lot of times I didn’t even have the words for what I was feeling. I had a lot of bodily feelings of pain too. I’ve seen many people with pain conditions that are stuck, unexpressed emotional feelings. It’s common with things like acid reflux or chronic pain.
I remember when I was in therapy; my therapist noticed that when I talked about certain things I would then stop breathing. She would ask what I was feeling and where I was feeling it. I literally had to learn how to name my feelings. Sometimes even now I don’t have a name for some feelings.
In our society, as especially in our line of work as physicians, we want to be able to name everything and put it in a neat box. So now I sometimes recognize that I’m having a feeling I can’t name straight away, and I’m not sure what it is. I think when we instantly label something as sadness or fear, the temptation is then to go that rabbit hole with it, instead of just being with it, and letting it emerge.
I think it’s important to be with the feeling sometimes. There’s a Pixar movie (Inside Out) that shows this really well — you have to experience sadness to experience happiness.
Sometimes when I’m in fear or sadness, I will talk to my inner 5 year old and say, “I hear you”. We need to witness our feelings and acknowledge them, not box them away. The more we can do with ourselves and our children the more we can hand this gift down.
Dr. Andrea — I think that’s such a gift. What you’ve given your children is empowerment to own their feelings. That’s priceless.
Dr. Jill — My youngest child is 9, and he has had a lot of anger, which I used to have too. But having that recognition, being able to voice it, helps him. And I can now ask him, what’s going on in there? He can express it with me now.
Dr. Andrea — I love how your children are woke. Something else I want to ask you about is your work in hormone optimization. For you, it was when your own hormones were optimized that really sparked your spiritual awakening.
You talk about the difference between seeing your mother go through menopause and really struggling with suicidal thought, your own journey with your managing your hormones, and the patients you work with on this. I feel like the old paradigm was to ‘just suck it up’. But that’s just not the way anymore. So tell us about that.
Dr. Jill — Exactly! I’m known as “Dr. Juicy Jill, The Hormone Doctor”, as I help women and man reclaim their juiciness. We all have that in us, that childlike, innocent quality. But through the micro-traumas of normal, daily life it all gets pushed down. Even when I first met you, I would never have introduced myself as “Dr. Juicy Jill” — but now I own it!
Men and women all go through hormonal changes as we age. And we all think it’s normal for our energy and sex drive to decline. It’s just a part of growing older and raising children — we lose our juiciness. It just doesn’t have to be so.
My mother’s generation and those before her tell stories of ‘getting through it’. But it shouldn’t be just ‘got through’. We should be thriving, not just surviving. And when you are in your 40s you still have half your life left!
I think it is super-important to let people know that if you are feeling off, something IS wrong. If your doctor tells you that you are fine, but you feel wrong, then go find another doctor for a second opinion.
Dr. Andrea — I remember you telling me that when your thyroid was off, you had a moment lying on your floor, just wondering if this was all there was to life. But once you got your hormones optimized, it changed everything.
You said it was like a symphony of everything coming together.
Dr. Jill — I do vividly remember lying on the floor, with my kids playing around me, after a long day of work I had no desire to do anything. I remember thinking that I just didn’t want to be this way. I’m so fortunate that I work in this field of medicine now, and that I met a mentor who led me towards this.
From optimizing my thyroid, it all began from there. From my spirituality to my sex drive, which by the way, is totally okay to talk about. It’s something I ask my patients about all the time as it’s an important part of life.
A few years back I never would have thought I’d be sharing my story like this. I used to have public speaking, but now I want to share my story from the rooftops. I used to be afraid of telling my story to my patients. I thought it would make me look incompetent, to not be so perfectly package and to own my story of depression. But actually, it makes you more credible and more relatable.
It’s almost as if we have to un-become who we were ‘trained’ to be, to become who we really are. We don’t have to be ‘perfect’ and have life packaged up in a 10-year plan. It takes so much courage to share your whole self, but this is where the true healing begins, or yourself and for others who hear your story.
Learn more about Jill at http://www.thebodywellusa.com
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