“As a child I went to an elementary school where the students were predominantly white, like I could count all of the people of color with 2 hands. I remember thinking, “why does my school get to have a gymnastics class apart from regular gym class, and a drama class when all of the other schools I attended before with predominantly African American students didn’t have that at all.” I didn’t really understand why things were the way they were just because the people lived in different neighborhoods, but I began to understand as I grew older.”
What is one key message you want people to take away from the mental health conversation?
Dustin: I think the general misconception is that PTSD means you are permanently broken. It is just not the case. We know that we can save someone’s life. The only thing they need to do is show up.
“Therapy has given me consistent time and space to be honestly and authentically myself. As an empath, one of my strengths is being able to read a room and adjust my demeanor and offerings to best serve the people around me. From a professional perspective, I am proud of this skill and it brings me a lot of joy and growth opportunities. From a personal perspective, this tendency can blur the lines of what I am doing because I want to or because it nurtures me, and what I am doing because I am caring for someone else, or because I think I should be. Therapy has helped me identify this tendency in itself and has given me the perspective and tools to recognize my own wants and needs and communicate those to others, setting boundaries when necessary to ensure those needs are met. This is incredibly powerful both at work and at home.”
I believe mental health comes first and foremost. Ensuring that I am maintaining my sanity while running all of my different ventures is essential. Mindful breathing is the most important tool employ on a constant basis. Breathing in and out and just slowing my brain does wonders. Given the number of different organizations and individuals I’m responsible for, the best skill I have developed is delegation: discerning the critical tasks I must accomplish and then identifying the right person to fulfill every other responsibility. Lastly, despite all my sleepless nights, I’d say I average about eight hours of sleep a night. When I miss a night or two (which happens more than I’d like), I’ll try to catch up when I get a chance. This is totally unscientific but it works for me…
I have a professional coach (which is Silicon Valley’s rebranding of “therapist”) who helps me manage my expectations for myself and responsibilities. Whether it’s a coach or shrink, it’s vital to have someone that keeps you accountable, without an emotional connection.