How To Be Sad with Helen Russell
Season 2 #9 Rebecca Schiller

Season 2 #9 Rebecca Schiller

June 16, 2021

Writer and campaigner Rebecca Schiller moved her family to a rural smallholding in the hope of a simpler life. But she soon found that life wasn’t any simpler and was a damn sight harder in many ways. She has written movingly about how we can never escape ourselves – no matter how much we try – as well as her experiences with depression, anxiety, and living with undiagnosed ADHD until recently.

Rebecca says now: ‘everyone – including me – wants neat and happy endings to stories of chasing a dream. Society encourages us to believe that we are one thing or the other: happy or sad, good or bad, right or wrong; that we must pick an angle’. But we’re all beginning to understand that life is a little more complicated than that - and as Rebecca has also written: ‘nature is not a simple fix’.

 

Here, we talk about:

  • Neurodiversity and how it’s misunderstood
  • The positive aspects of having a ‘different’ brain
  • How at our lowest ebb, something profound shifts
  • Rejection and learning to understand it
  • Parenting and the importance of risk
  • Being kinder to ourselves. Starting now…

Follow Rebecca @schillerrrrr on Twitter and @rebecca.schiller on Instagram and check out Earthed via Bookshop.org (where you can also find How To Be Sad, the book, plus a host of other podcast guest book recommendations!)

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

 

Season 2 #8 Baz Ashmawy

Season 2 #8 Baz Ashmawy

June 9, 2021

Baz Ashmawy is an Irish radio and television star whose series, 50 ways to kill your mammy, won him an Emmy. He’s also a podcaster, dad of six and an outspoken advocate for feeling all the feels. Born in Libya to an Egyptian dad an Irish mum, he moved to Ireland age 6. One of the few dual heritage families in his part of Dublin suburbia at that time. His father left when Baz was just seven, an experience that had a profound effect on him and his sense of identity. He’s experienced the highs and lows of fame and family life; come back from the brink more than once; and learned a few lessons about how to be sad, well along the way. Now, he says, these experiences have helped him become who he is today

 

Here we talk about:

  • Growing up dual heritage in Ireland in the 1980s
  • His dad leaving ‘in search of happiness’
  • Ageing, fear and pushing past comfort zones
  • Taking ownership of sadness
  • Toxic masculinity
  • What happens when one of your lungs collapses on a transatlantic flight
  • Days when all you want to do is stay in bed
  • Being ‘on’ and the pressure to perform
  • How the joy of winning an Emmy only lasts for a week. After that? Is the little things, like steak for dinner or walking the dog

Follow Baz @bazashmawy on Twitter and @bashmawy on Instagram

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

Season 2  #7 Matthew Ashton

Season 2 #7 Matthew Ashton

June 2, 2021

My guest today is the toy designer Matthew Ashton - Vice President of design at Lego; Executive Producer on the Lego Movies; head judge on Lego Masters UK; creator of Unikitty and the man behind Lego’s first ever LGBTQ+ set – the rainbow inspired Everyone is Awesome. The set represents a huge milestone both for Lego and for Matthew personally, who has spoken out about the struggles he faced growing up as an LGBTQ+ kid in the 1980s and 90s.

He says: ‘being told what I should play with, how I should walk, how I should talk, what I should wear – the message I always got was that somehow I was ‘wrong’. I wish, as a kid, I had looked at the world and thought: ‘This is going to be OK, there’s a place for me’. I wish I’d seen an inclusive statement that said ‘everyone is awesome’” - and so, he made it himself.

He’s putting it out there into the world to mark the start of Pride Month.

 

Here, we talk about:

 

- Growing up under section 28

- ‘Throwing like a girl’

- Learning to ‘breathe’ for the first time

- Lego (& other life changing moments)

- Breaking down (even when you have the best job in the world)

- …and building back up again

- Why therapy takes patience

- Finding purpose, now

Follow Matthew on Instagram @matthew__ashton or on Twitter @matthew__ashton

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

Season 2 #6 Sophie Walker

Season 2 #6 Sophie Walker

May 26, 2021

Sophie Walker is a journalist, activist and former politician. She spent 20 years at Reuters and after a long and trying journey supporting her daughter through a diagnosis of autism, started campaigning for disability rights. She went on to help create the Women’s Equality Party and ran for London Mayor in 2016. Sophie now works for the feminist law firm, McAllister Olivarius and is the author of Five Rules for Rebellion, Let’s Change the World Ourselves. Sophie says now: ‘We can only do this together.  Our plan to save the world has to ensure that you can keep going when I’m flagging, - and that I can keep going when you’re flagging.’

Here, Sophie and Helen talk about:

  • Burnout, bravery and being ‘good enough’
  • The power of anger (in a society that doesn’t like angry women)
  • How bad we are at accepting difference and SEN (special educational needs)
  • ‘The realisation that no one is coming to your rescue’
  • …and how to roll your sleeves up and get on with it
  • Finding a community
  • Activism and how to be a part of it
  • The importance of hope

Follow Sophie @SophieRunning on Twitter and @sophiewalker_official on Instagram

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

Season 2 #5 Jody Day

Season 2 #5 Jody Day

May 19, 2021

Jody Day is the founder of Gateway Women, the global support network for childless women - now celebrating its 10th Anniversary. Jody is also a psychotherapist and author of Living the Life Unexpected: How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children - the book The British Medical Journal now recommend to patients coming to terms with unavoidable childlessness.  Jody says of childlessness: ‘in no way do I wish to diminish the heartbreak you might be feeling right now - I’ve been there; it’s the darkest place I’ve ever been. You never ‘get over’ childlessness, it’s not the flu, but it is possible to heal around it.’

Here, Jody and Helen talk about:

-        Jody’s journey

-        How IVF isn’t a magic bullet

-        PTSD and fertility treatment

-        Childless or child free - how the terms aren’t interchangeable

-        Unhelpful cultural ideas around not having children

-        Painful things people say

-        …and what to say back (‘I’m not ‘childless Google’!’)

-        ‘Pronatalism’ and how it does all women a disservice

-        Disenfranchised grief and how to heal it

-        Finding a new purpose – a ‘good’ plan B

Triggers include childlessness not by choice, infertility, IVF, abortion.

It’s a very powerful episode where we talk about a lot of extremely painful things (there are tears). It’s difficult but important and that’s what learning how to be sad is all about – so I hope you’ll join us on this one and do get in touch at howtobesad@gmail.com if you would like to discuss further or visit https://gateway-women.com/.

Follow Jody @gatewaywomen on Twitter and Instagram.


Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

Season 2 #4 Xand van Tulleken

Season 2 #4 Xand van Tulleken

May 12, 2021

Dr Xand van Tulleken is a much-loved medic, broadcaster and someone with first hand experience of the impact of covid 19. In spring 2020 Xand contracted Covid while preparing to film a documentary about the virus with his twin, Dr Chris van Tulleken. Xand isolated at home for two weeks but continued to experience strange symptoms, including heart palpitations. When these worsened he rushed to University College Hospital, where his twin was working on a Covid ward, and had to have his heart ‘shocked’ back into a normal rhythm with an electric current. Xand talks about his experience of going so publicly from presenter to patient.

 

He’s also someone who has witnessed more than his fair share of sadness on a global scale, having worked during the genocide in Darfur and in various humanitarian crises all over the world.

So here, we talk about all he’s learned to date and how he copes now. Xand and Helen discus:

  • Sadness and the medical profession
  • Watching your heart stop on national TV
  • The isolation and loneliness of covid
  • Working in disaster zones
  • Getting teary and talking about feelings when it’s not your MO
  • How understanding our body helps (and how, some days, it doesn’t)
  • The vagus nerve and why ‘what happens in vagus doesn’t stay in vagus’
  • How to sneeze paint out of your nose (you’re welcome)
  • Missing someone so hard it hurts
  • Why we all need ‘an emotional support dog’
  • Love, loss and why heartache isn’t the worst thing in the world

Follow Xand @xandvt on Twitter or @avantulleken on Instagram

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

Season 2 #3 Rosie Green

Season 2 #3 Rosie Green

May 5, 2021

Rosie Green is an award winning journalist and columnist who’s spent 20 writing about beauty, fashion, spas and health - as well as interviewing and styling countless celebrities.  But she was blindsided when her marriage of 26 years broke down. Nothing prepared her for hitting what Rosie calls ‘rock bottom’  - nor for the response she got when she wrote about her breakup, and the devastation and heartache it left in it’s wake. She talks honestly and openly about how she managed to move forward - about the experts, books and advice that can help anyone who’s experienced a split to feel better and less alone. Her mission now, she says, is to share: “everything you need to create a truly arse-kicking plan b.”

Here, Rosie and Helen talk about:

  • ‘Missing a pride chip’
  • Losing our gut instinct and how to get it back
  • Gaslighting, abandonment, and history repeating itself
  • Antidepressants and rebuilding a life
  • How as journalists we get to ask the burning questions
  • Tackling the ‘jobs laced with hurt’ post heartbreak
  • Being brave (and how we’re all braver with a good ‘team’)
  • How calm seas do not a good sailor make
  • In praise of having a wild time in our 20s

You can find Rosie on Instagram @lifesrosie or on Twitter @RosieGreenBQ and her book, How To Heal a Broken Heart is out now.

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

 

Season 2 #2 Mungi Ngomane and Reverend Nontombi Naomi Tutu

Season 2 #2 Mungi Ngomane and Reverend Nontombi Naomi Tutu

April 28, 2021

This week, we have our first mother daughter guests on the show. I’m honoured to be joined by Mungi Ngomane, human rights activist, the granddaughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and author of Everyday Ubuntu - the book inspired by the African philosophy and way of life that counts Meghan Markle and Prince Harry among its fans.

And with Mungi today is….her mum! Reverend Nontombi Naomi Tutu is a priest and social justice activist.  Growing up ‘the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’ offered her opportunities as well as challenges. Not least, the call to ministry – something she resisted until she was finally ordained in her 50s.  Now works tirelessly both in her own community and for the advancement of women and girls globally.

Both women are shining examples of what can happen when we live by the principles of Ubuntu – the South African philosophy of ‘I am because you are’.

Here, Naomi, Mungi and Helen talk about:

-       Naomi’s experience of growing up in South Africa during apartheid

-       Growing up an activist and having a sense of duty

-       Getting all of us to have difficult conversations

-       Telling the story as part of the healing process

-       Why ‘boundaries’ are the ultimate in self-care

-       How community is everything

-       Faith (spoiler alert: mother and daughter have very different views)

-       Why Midsomer Murders and red wine can both help us to be sad, well

Find out more about Mungi on Instagram @mungi.ngomane or on Twitter @EverydayUbuntu and you can read more about Everyday Ubuntu here.

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

Season 2 #1 Holly Tucker

Season 2 #1 Holly Tucker

April 21, 2021

Holly Tucker MBE is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and UK Ambassador for Creative Small Businesses. She’s the founder of notonthehighstreet.com and Holly & Co, a small business advice and inspiration platform and she’s also a podcaster and co-author of two best-selling business books as well as the brand new Do What You Love. Holly is a famously positive, colourful, fabulous force of nature, but life wasn’t always so sunny - and a future in business was far from a shoo-in. She got an E in business studies at school, was divorced aged 23, battled a brain tumour, endured a near break down, and has found herself on the brink financially more than once. But now, Holly says: ‘these moments have taught me everything - and I’m sure that my future is built on the scaffolding of these failures.’

In this episode, Holly and Helen talk about:

  • ‘Hurricaine Holly’ and the highs and lows of living at full pelt
  • Divorce and a brain tumour diagnosis in her 20s
  • Building a different relationship the next time around
  • How a vegetable wreath saved her life
  • Parenting and guilt
  • Burnout versus the philosophy of Francis Bacon
  • Pulling on the handbrake
  • Trying to smell the roses (and go to Ibiza)
  • Scars, vulnerability and the upside of imposter syndrome
  • Why financial education is a feminist issue

 

Follow Holly on Instagram @hollytucker, on Twitter @notonthehighst or Facebook @hollytuckerandco and find out more about Do What You Love

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

BONUS! Steph Douglas of Don’t Buy Her Flowers

BONUS! Steph Douglas of Don’t Buy Her Flowers

April 7, 2021

Steph Douglas is a businesswoman, mother of three, wife of Doug, and founder of the thoughtful gift company she started after realising that sometimes - when we’re in need of a pick me up - we might not want another thing we have to look after.

 

Steph has a dedicated Instagram following thanks to hilarious and occasionally heart-breaking posts about family life, her husband’s cancer treatment and the strains of running a business.  She’s a fellow firm believer that being more honest and vulnerable makes things better for everyone and says: ‘As hard and lonely as it has been at times, I’ve slowly realised there’s nothing unique about my experience. It only takes a few random conversations … and you quickly find that most of us feel the same.’

 

In this episode, Steph and Helen talk about:

  • Cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • So called body positivity movement and eating disorders
  • The three day cycle
  • Cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • Parenthood
  • Work stress and burnout
  • The struggle to look after our mental health
  • Redirecting our wasted capacity

 

Trigger: eating disorders, cancer

Find out more about Steph on her blog Sisterhood (And All That) at Don’t Buy Her Flowers or follow Steph on Instagram @steph_dontbuyherflowers

Follow Helen on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook @MsHelenRussell

Read more about Helen’s new book, How To Be Sad at Waterstones, Amazon or Apple.

Get in touch with the show at howtobesadpodcast@gmail.com

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

 

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