Welcome to this installment of The Wellness Universe’s ‘A Conversation With …’ interview series! We will feature interviews from some of our amazing WU World Changers so you can learn about who they are as a person, their profession, mission, and their why!’
Welcome to A Conversation with Linda Gillan –
Owner of HEART of LINDA, Mental Health Advocate, Mentor, and Author
The Wellness Universe directory is a resource and community filled with Change-Makers; we call WU World-Changers (Wellness Universe World-Changers). Today we want to introduce you to Linda Gillan.
Her mission is to bring a better understanding to families, friends, and the wider community, to help make a dent in the STIGMA of mental illness.
Hello Linda, will you please tell us about yourself?
I am an international mental health advocate, mentor, and author, speaking from lived experience on the inside and outside perspectives of mental illness. I was born in England, UK, and emigrated to Australia in 1981. My family is now spread across the globe, and I spend a great deal of time in Canada, the UK, and Europe. My passion and purpose are supporting family and friends of people with mental illness.
Linda, what is it that inspires you?
I acknowledge the polarities in our world. I can’t change the big stuff alone, but I can help someone’s day feel better with a smile, stopping to listen, and simply being present for a while. I draw inspiration from life in the passing and in the stillness and wonder of nature. I live life in the positive lane, and when on a mission, nothing can sway me from my goals.
One of my favourite quotes is: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – Dalai Lama.
Will you please tell us what you call yourself and explain what it is that you do?
My mission is to support self-care wellbeing for family and friends of people with mental illness. I do so by providing a safe and confidential space for people to talk about how they really feel when they stop trying to hold it all together for others.
How exactly does that help someone?
Encouraging open and honest communication about their own mental health helps people to appreciate the importance of self-care. By taking the time they deserve, catching their breath, and nurturing themselves, in doing so, they have more to give to their loved ones.
Why are you so passionate about mental health?
We each owe it to ourselves to look after ourselves first, and this is especially true for family and friends of people with mental illness.
“Drink first from the well to nourish yourself; there will be plenty left for others.” – Unknown
My aim is to educate and dispel misperceptions surrounding mental illness and bring a better understanding of it to the wider community. Here is an article I wrote on the topic.
Did any specific life experience prompt you to follow this path?
I have experienced three episodes of mental illness and hospitalization, and in the aftermath, I struggled with PTSD, severe anxiety, and panic attacks. In recovery, I used tools and coping strategies, many of which still serve me well today, especially in uncertainty and change. I draw on practical insights from my personal experiences when helping others.
How long have you been doing this?
In 2013, sudden changes in my life brought about new beginnings and altered locations. I took this opportunity to follow my passion, registered my business name HEART of LINDA – Enterprises®, and made a personal oath to share my lived experience to help others. While staying with my daughter in Canada, I began writing my memoir. This led to the creation of MUD to STARS project for mental health, providing peer support to family and friends of people with mental illness. A few years later, I returned to Australia and pursued studies to increase my knowledge and serve others better. In 2019, I completed the Dip. Mental Health.
Will you share a story of how you have made a difference in someone’s life?
A client recently sent me this testimonial: “Linda seems to have the gift of being sensitively insightful & intuitive, and through her gentle and wise words, she helped me shift the emotional block that had been weighing me down and building up within me for too long! As I drove home during that 30 minutes, I went over her words in my head, and by the time I got home, the blockage had gone, and I was instantly able to move forward. Thank you so much, Linda!”
What’s next on the horizon for you?
- Continue to build community networks and to provide individual and group services for mental wellbeing
- Publish my memoir Inside Looking Out
- Distribute my book Breaking Free to psychiatric hospitals internationally
My ultimate aim is to open a MUD to STARS Drop-In Support Centre for family and friends of people with mental illness.
Thank you so much for sharing today, Linda! Do you have any final thoughts?
For me, wellness is not necessarily the lack of dis-ease or illness; rather, it is how we holistically manage our challenges and how we function in our lives with a true alignment of heart, mind, body, and soul. We owe it to ourselves to take the time for self-care and to nurture our entire wellbeing.
I invite you to visit my website and check out my books.
If you would like to connect with Linda Gillan, please visit: https://www.thewellnessuniverse.com/world-changers/lindagillan/
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