Former Patient Launches Mental Health Video Series

Christie Uipi, a former patient at Connecticut Children’s, recently launched a video series on YouTube called “Feelings & Stuff,” aimed at teens and adults facing common mental health issues such as fear, depression and anxiety. Christie was diagnosed with Crohn’s in middle school and remained a Connecticut Children’s patient through college. She now lives in Los Angeles and works as a psychotherapist. Below, Christie chats with us about her experiences.

How did the idea for the video series come about, and how did you get started?

As a psychotherapist, I get the privilege of hearing about people’s greatest fears and biggest wishes all day long. Although the faces change, and details of my patient’s stories change, the underlying emotions they are working through feel very much the same. It is such a unifying part of the human experience to go through periods of your life where you feel scared, or depressed, or anxious, or uncertain.

It left my coworker (and co-creator of the video series) Daniel Lyman and I wondering, “If these feelings are all so common, and we all go through them, why isn’t anyone talking about them?” He and I sat down one afternoon and brainstormed as many common mental health issues we could think of—that we have experienced personally, that we have helped patients through professionally, or both.

What are your goals for the video series?

Our biggest goal was to normalize conversation around mental health. We want to encourage a conversation around the normalcy of taking care of yourself on a mental/emotional level, the same way society seems to already encourage us to take care of our physical health (i.e. exercising, eating healthy, going to annual appointments with your doctor). People can go years and years without a “check-up” on their mental health.

We want people to know that no one feels good all the time, and it’s important to be in touch with when you may need a little extra help or support. Our second goal was to provide people with some basic education (including tips and techniques) as to how to deal with some of these issues.

How have your experiences shaped the creation of this series?

Over the last couple of years, I have been on a personal journey through understanding my own struggles with anxiety and learning about the connection between the mind and the body. By the time I graduated from college, I felt, in a word — horrible. I was getting sick all the time, felt constantly run down, was experiencing chronic pain issues in multiple parts of my body, wasn’t sleeping well, and had almost no energy. My body was essentially shutting down on me as a way to force me to re-evaluate how I was living.

Quite simply, I was treating myself terribly! I was putting way too much pressure on myself, holding myself to unattainably high standards, and not doing what I needed to do to take care of my mental and emotional health.

When I finally learned what it meant to truly take care of myself (on all levels) and cultivate a self-compassionate life, I was amazed to see how quickly my physical health began to improve. Our mind and our body are always going to be intimately connected, so we cannot ignore one aspect of our wellness without all of the Dominos falling, so to speak.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone struggling with a challenging condition or disease?

I would love to encourage those struggling with a challenging physical condition or disease to please remember to take care of their mental health as a part of their recovery. Our body can fight stronger and heal faster if we are able to remain calm and balanced. There are so many aspects of fighting a disease that take a huge toll on one’s mental health, i.e. feeling alone, fears around treatment and recovery, being misunderstood by those around you (especially for young people). It is so important that these feelings are attended to and given space to be voiced and validated.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to add that it is not weak or shameful to ask for help. If someone is struggling with anxiety, depression, or just not feeling quite “right,” then I believe that asking for help is the bravest thing that person can do. It takes a lot of courage to work through feelings/emotions that might be difficult to even think about. Self-transformation is hard work!

View the “Feelings & Stuff” video series on YouTube

Connecticut Children’s provides integrated mental health evaluation, diagnosis and treatment services for children and adolescents. Learn more about our psychiatry and psychology services.

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