One of the things that I enjoy the most is being able to connect with people who have dedicated their life to inspiring others. Listening to their life story, the tremendous odds they had to overcome just to survive, and then being able to use their story and their talents to spread a message of hope; it’s always so inspiring.
That holds true for my guest on this episode of Surviving My Podcast, Josh Rivedal. Josh and I connected originally back in early 2016 when he was putting together stories for the 2nd volume of, The I’m Possible Project – Changing Minds, Breaking Stigma, Achieving the Impossible.
I was so honored that he reached out to me to be included in his book, and ever since we’ve kept in contact about not only the book, but our advocacy work, and joining each other on our podcasts. Josh is one of those guys that when you start talking to him, you immediately feel like a friend. I have to think that quality is one that really helps him relate to his audience in his advocacy work.
Josh is a mixture of creative and logic, business and pleasure, local-centric and global minded. As a public speaker his primary focus is on suicide prevention; speeches and seminars on his experiences as a survivor of loss, an attempt survivor, and youth suicide prevention—often (but not always) paired with his one-man show Kicking My Blue Genes in the Butt (based on his book The Gospel According to Josh) He also speaks on diversity, mental health, arts marketing, small business marketing, (arts) entrepreneurship, and resiliency paired with improv theater.
We talk about his unique approach, using his one man play, to talk about the tragic death of his father to suicide in 2009 as well as his own struggles. Josh goes far beyond the traditional speaker role, to share his message of prevention and advocacy, in an effort to reach as many as possible before they get to a breaking point.
You can watch a short video of his one man play here, courtesy of his YouTube channel.
September is suicide prevention month, and I wanted to make sure that our podcast was published during this time, because Josh’s work, and the work of so many others in this area, is crucial. Remember though, having a suicide awareness month and awareness day is important, but prevention and advocacy goes far beyond 1 month. Know the warning signs for yourself, if you are struggling, and for those that you know is just so important. Reach out, ask for help. There’s no shame in needing someone to talk too about how your struggles in life are causing you to feel overwhelmed. Be a friend, a listening ear, to someone who needs you. Sometimes that’s all it takes to keep someone from the edge.
Josh started his work in suicide prevention and advocacy because there weren’t enough people talking about it. Silence is what got us to this point on our planet, where 1 in 5 adults in the United States alone, suffer from some type of mental illness, each year. * He wanted to do his part to get people talking and do it in a unique way using his talents. You don’t have to be a professional speaker or a technology wizard to make a difference.
Now more than ever the power of the internet makes reaching the world easier than it’s ever been. Share your story in a blog or podcast, write a book, join a support group, or your local mental health advocacy group or charity. You never know when your voice can make a difference in someone’s life.
We also discuss his role in mental health awareness and mental illness. His message centers around offering people the idea that they are not alone. That in itself is so key, since as trauma survivors or anyone living with a mental health challenge, understanding that we are not alone is crucial. As you listen to him talk, you can his passion come through as he shares what drives him to keep doing this work and the difference it’s made in so many.
Josh also discusses his books, including: The I’m Possible Series – 3 volumes, and The Gospel According to Josh. We talk about how he got started with writing and the reason he creates this resources; giving survivors of trauma and those living with mental illness, a voice to share. These stories are real, raw, open, and come completely from the point of view of the contributor. After all, this is their story in their own words as they see themselves and the world. That is the same principle that I use when taking guest blogger posts here on Surviving My Past; it’s your story to share as you see fit.
This guy not only works in suicide prevention and advocacy, but he’s also a professional speaker, produces podcasts, and writes curriculum around the areas of social justice, and social equality as well. His hands on approach of getting out in the streets, getting in front of people in an auditorium or stage, is what helping people is really all about. If you have an opportunity catch Josh at a college campus as a speaker, or in any other venue, you won’t want to miss it.
We talk about all of this more and more on the show, so grab those headphones or plug us into your car speakers and join Josh and I for a podcast that will hopefully leave you feeling inspired and validated.
Thank you again dude, for coming on the podcast and talking about your story and the work that you do on behalf of those who struggle in life.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out the podcast that I did with Josh when he had me on his show.
Follow The I’m Possible Project and all of Josh’s advocacy work over on IamPossibleProject.com
*Source, National Alliance for Mental Health
Images of Josh Rivedal used with his permission. Feature image courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media image created by Matt Pappas.