From Opera Singer To Mental Health Advocate w/Mariette Clardy-Davis

#011 – She lost her voice. Remember, she was an opera singer. During that time, she developed mental unwellness.

Mariette Clardy-Davis has been on a mental health journey since college. As she says, it’s a JOURNEY. It’s not something that ever really ends – it’s something that, as people, we experience over time in varying degrees.

Because of her experiences with mental unwellness, Mariette channeled her energy towards helping others. She helps individuals in psychiatric treatment understand their legal rights. Not only that, but she helps their families & caretakers, and staff navigate the challenges associated with psychiatric treatment.

Links:

Website: https://www.mlclardylaw.com/about-the-founder

LinkedIn: Mariette Clardy-Davis

Insta: @mariettelynn_creative
Youtube: M.L. Clardy Law LLC

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Full Transcript

This transcript was done by a machine. We apologize for any errors.

Joey Randazzo: (01:13)

Yeah. Yeah. So first I would just love for you to share your story. Um, as much as, as much as you’d like to share. Uh, I think the, the people listening would just really connect with your story.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (01:27)
Well, um, it’s, it’s good that we brought up the ups connection because it, it, it really all started at the university of Puget sound. I went to school, I had a purpose to be an opera singer for such a long time. And then I believe it was my senior year, I started experiencing depression and they had a really good center medical center. So I went there, got rediagnosed after initially depression with bipolar type two or bipolar depression. And then I really, it was really interesting because the reason why I got diagnosed was because I lost my voice. So decades of preparing for one dream, one purpose, one goal within a matter of months turned into nothing. So I had to decide what my next step was and I spent the next decade or so really traveling through really trying to find another purpose. So I started by getting a master’s in nonprofit and then I moved to Atlanta and got into consulting and was in consulting for a long time business.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (02:35)
And through all of that, I still didn’t feel that same connection that I felt with being a opera singer and that. And so about a couple of years ago, I started to try and find what my real purpose was and I was on a talk show and they asked me, you know, what were my strengths, my weaknesses? And I had all of that, but I couldn’t find anything that connected. And they said, I think that your biggest strengths are your ability to connect with others and communicate and really perform, whether that’s presentations or singing or dancing. So it’s really who do you want to perform for? And once I got to that point, I took a little bit more soul searching, but I realized that I really wanted to perform. This may sound weird, but I wanted to, to perform for who I was many, many years ago. So when I was struggling with bipolar depression, they’re really in the throngs of my illness.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (03:35)
I really didn’t feel like I could find a support. I remember going to Barnes and noble and different bookstores looking for people who were professionals who looked like me, who had careers but who struggled with bipolar and I couldn’t find any. Um, and I looked for resources that were specific to the needs that I had and I couldn’t find any. So I realized that my part of my purpose was to be in the mental health community, but then it was really how could I use my strengths and be able to serve? And that was how the idea of what I do today started.

Joey Randazzo: (04:20)
Got it. Yeah. That story really resonates with me because I went to the university of Puget sound as well, and I went there for basketball and my, my life was basketball, right? It was my passion since I was a little little kid. And you know, a couple, a couple of weeks, I think it was like two weeks before the first practice of my freshman year. I broke my kneecap in half and then, and then the next year, you know, right before the season started, after I had rehabbed it, I broke my wrist and all of a sudden I had to switch. I was no longer my identity that was so attached to basketball. All of a sudden was no longer there. And that’s when my, my mental health obstacles started to ramp up a little bit in that period. Um, and so, you know, tell me sort of what you were going through when you lost your voice and, and how that maybe, you know, in the, in that, that period of her life, how that changed things for you.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (05:17)
So one thing that if you knew me from back then that you would know is that when I have a focus or I find alignment, I focus on it with a double down on everything. And so understanding that it was my alignment. And so I, one of the, I wouldn’t say a weakness, but something I’ve had to manage is I was very lucky to have find that alignment so early on. But one of the things I didn’t know was how to find it again. So one of the biggest struggles besides losing my voice was, well what now? I think it would have been different if it was my freshman year, but it was my senior year. I was preparing to apply to graduate schools for voice, really going down that career path that I set for myself since let’s say middle school. And so it was really difficult for me to pivot and I did not have the skillsets to pivot because I never had to, I never had to learn it. All I had to do was take a skillset, refine it, define it, grow, evolve within that year. And so because I didn’t have those pivots skills, it made me feel like I was falling on top of myself for so many years because I felt directional lists.

Joey Randazzo: (06:44)
Yeah. So how do you feel that, you know, someone’s situation in particular in your situation that the situation around you impacts your mental health, right? Like, you know, again, you said it sort of was influenced by this pivoting period and so how do you feel that that impacts people that maybe are more susceptible to mental illness? Um, you know, how did those situational things impact them?

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (07:13)
I think the biggest thing is the lack of strong coping skills. Um, everyone has different triggers in mental health. My trigger is feeling direct. Like I don’t have direction. I have very defined triggers that I’ve recognized now over the years. But it’s not just a trigger, but it’s the ability to rebound from the trigger. I feel like that keeps people in that susceptibility to the loop because a trigger with a coping skill may not get rid of the trigger, but it may lessen the effects. I didn’t have effective coping skills at that time. I didn’t even really know what they were to take to say, okay, I’m at this point, this is the reality, but it’s not my reality. So I confused so many times during the throngs of my condition, the event with it being my reality and not learning the coping skills to understand that it was a point in my reality and what could I do to push myself forward.

Joey Randazzo: (08:22)
Got it. So that makes total sense. And like just the way you, you’ve laid that out is I feel like a lot of people our experience that, right. And so how do people go from that point to getting those coping skills? Is that something that just naturally has to take time? It has to take experience. Are there resources that can go to earlier to, to learn those skills? What do you, what do you recommend?

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (08:45)
I would say it would be learning resources, learning what works for you. Um, I remember back my story, I stated that I was looking, I was searching for the answers and I felt like I couldn’t find it. Nowadays I do feel like that they’re more readily available or really finding specific coping skills that work for you, whether it’s through therapy. Um, I’m a big proponent of therapy talk therapy. I’m in DBT therapy. So whether it’s therapy, whether it’s looking online and looking for holistic solutions, it’s really focusing on learning the coping skills. I was searching for the solution to the problem, which was how am I not, how can I do better? You know, I wasn’t searched. It’s, I think the key is focusing on the search. Are you searching for not to, to have a condition or are you searching for strong coping skills so that you can manage the condition? And I think that the internet is a great place to start. I personally meditate and I failed at meditation initially, but I’m really lucky that I realized why I failed, got back on it and started a practice that was unique and that works for me.

Joey Randazzo: (10:02)
Got it. So, so you, you’re a big proponent of talk therapy and meditation. Uh, what else are you a big proponent of

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (10:11)
not just talk, they’re people at work. They’re paid. So I’ve spent so many years since they are paid with great therapists and not so great therapists. And one of the things that I realized was that for me talk therapy wasn’t enough, which is why I’m in DBT therapy, I need more. Um, I need a therapeutic solution that that requires me to dig deep and to work and to learn skills and to, you know, learn the coping skills and to look at how those coping skills are about [inaudible] in my life. So I would say therapy plus work, whatever that inner work looks like, whether you’re doing it with your therapist or doing it outside of your therapists, really digging to that. Why?

Joey Randazzo: (10:55)
Yeah. Okay. So, you know, I’m thinking about myself and I was on a searching path for awhile, right? Like it was, it was for multiple years and I’ve started to find my area that’s really benefit that benefited me and it’s, um, it’s getting into my body more. So I’m into the meditation, that deep breathing, the cold exposure, you know, ice baths and physical exercise. It allows me to get into my body and out of my head. And I think people are searching. And so what would you recommend to someone who’s going through that search? How can they navigate that search a bit better? How can they, um, become more aware of the, the different options out there? Cause there’s so many. And then how can they determine as they go through those options, which one’s going to be right for them and which one?

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (11:40)
I think so I would start off with figuring out what your biggest triggers are. So for me it was racing thoughts that I believe, um, ate up everything me. So I had to be very specific and aware on what my triggers were. So let’s say your trigger is racing thoughts. So then it’s really being focused on what are some coping skills and solutions, even if it’s the list that target that. And then some of it is experimenting, figuring out what works for you. For some people, meditation just doesn’t work for them. For them, they have to go out, run it, movement calms their mind. So it’s a, unfortunately it’s a trial and error. But the good part is, I feel like if you’re more focused on defining the triggers and then looking for solutions that partner with those triggers, you’ll have a better chance of streamlining that approach. And it may take a lot less time than if you’re just bouncing off the wall and trying solutions that are not really focused on the challenges that you have as a person.

Joey Randazzo: (12:53)
Yeah, yeah. No, it’s, it’s very, you know, I could tell you were a consultant because you think of things very strategically. It makes, no, that makes total sense. So like, I mean, I never thought about it that way. Like what are the triggers and then matching the solution with those triggers, not trying to shove a solution into something. Right. Yeah. So like, you know, I, I’d really need to sit down and define my triggers because I have different triggers in you. Other people have different triggers for both of us and therefore maybe the same solution to meditation can work for multiple triggers, but maybe a certain trigger that just might not work and something else needs to sort of align with that better. So that makes, that makes total sense. Never thought about it that way. But I think a lot of people, if they can almost reframe how they think about it, it’ll allow them to approach it in a, in a more strategic way that we’ll hopefully give them, um, for their specific needs, a better, a better outcome.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (13:54)
And I learned that because after kind of going through my journey of mental health, I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia. So it was a whole different, like the chronic illness world, I feel like it’s very different. But one of the things that I learned that I was really, I feel like blessed and lucky with was that I had a mental health condition and I went through that journey and that experience, and I’m still going through it, but had gotten to the point where I learned that. So when I got diagnosed and I had to start going to PT and looking at medications and all of that, I was like, what are my specific challenges when it comes to this and how, what are some of the skills that I know to go to, whether it’s yoga or I’m learning now, Gyrotonic, gyro can, he says, what do I have in my arsenal that I can pull? Even if it’s nutritional debt, whatever it is that can help me, you know, it may not, I may always have myalgia or you know, whatever. But what can I do to lessen the effects of what I’m doing?

Joey Randazzo: (14:56)
Yeah, yeah, that’s super interesting because I was recently just diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and, um, you know, for me, I was, I am, I feel blessed that I was able to sort of figure out and navigate the solutions to the mental health obstacles before that happened because that trigger, you know, it did, it did affect my mental health for a bit, but it was much less severe than maybe it would have been two or three years prior. So how did that diagnosis impact, you know, your mental health in that period of getting diagnosed in the following, you know, uh, weeks and months,

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (15:31)
you know, it was a relief. It was a relief because I knew that something was wrong. So I knew something was wrong and I remember going to a doctor and they thought that it was something else and I was like, no, it is not that. So the biggest thing that I learned, and that’s why I feel like, you know, mental health for me is a blessing and a curse. But the blessing is I knew how to advocate for myself. I had done it for so many years until I got to a point where it’s like, okay, here’s the diagnosis. I’m now in the middle of more tests now to make sure that that’s the correct one. But the biggest thing was my mental health. Yes, it took a dip, but it was more of a relief because it was like you knew something, like you knew from the depths of your soul that there was something going on and you didn’t stop banging on doors until that happened. Yes, now you’re, you have something else because I just completed the journey not too long ago with my doctor of transitioning off of my bipolar depression medication, my pro, you know the program that I built him, the team that I have and to be hit with, okay, you’re going to have to go right back on medications for this. I was like, no.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (16:46)
It was terrifying but I felt more empowered now to make different decisions in the past when someone was like, okay, here’s a pill, here’s this, here’s that. For me, pills were really helpful but I just took it if that, if that is understandable. Now I was at a different point in my journey where I asked more questions, you know, did it, how is this going to affect my day to day life? What are the side effects, you know, doing research myself, looking at other alternative solutions saying, yes I will do this, but what can I add? So it affected my mental health in good ways and bad ways, but also in good mostly positive ways. But yeah, I still have my days and I think the most important thing is, is that when you feel like you’re reaching a point, when you feel like you have stability, it’s a slippery slope. So it’s like you’re always trying to navigate. Like I feel like I, okay when it’s like the top of the mountain you’re done, you never done. It’s like ice on the mountain. You’re always on the search for the next slip and fall and how to kind of maintain that

Joey Randazzo: (18:02)
if it’s having the tools right. Just having the ice picks that’s happened, the ropes, it’s having the, the, you know, the, the people next to you, the, the support next to use that. When you’re on that slippery mountain, you have the tools so that when you start sliding a bit you can grab in your toolbox and gets to really get back to stability. So I mean your, your story, you know, you had this experience and now it just seems like you’re, you’re in such a advocating space, not only for yourself but for other people. And so that’s where I want to lead into now of you know, now your, your current purpose in what you’re doing. If you could just share how you’re advocating for other people and what that looks like.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (18:40)
Absolutely. So I work with, um, patients and caregivers who are challenged with a mental health condition and who are currently in psychiatric treatment for, so their loved ones, the individuals are in psychiatric treatment and I work with the caregivers to really give them a greater peace of mind. So I provide involuntary treatment representation and just overall psychiatric treatment representation. So I initially work with the caregivers, but I also connect with the individuals that are in treatment and help them facilitate, negotiate and advocate through their journey to stability, whether it’s in treatment and even after discharge to continue to support them.

Joey Randazzo: (19:25)
Got it. So why is this, you know, I remember when we spoke a couple months ago, I was so unaware of some of the problems that you’re helping solve. So if you can maybe share like some of those, you know, not specifics obviously, but some of those stories of some of your people that you’re helping. Why, you know, what are they going through, what you know, what problems are you solving because you’re solving a lot of big problems that I didn’t even know existed. So if you could just share some of that.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (19:51)
Absolutely. So I started at the caregiver level. So the caregivers generally when they call me, they are experiencing panic. Their loved one may have just gone into psychiatric treatment through an involuntary order. There may have been a big disturbance or some kind of crisis event where their loved ones are in a hospital. Suddenly their loved ones either they may not have a lot of contact, they may be asked to sign documents. There’s currently experiencing a crisis, both the individual and now the caregiver is in panic. They often come to me because they don’t understand what’s going on within the hospital. Like they don’t understand the process or the system. They don’t understand their, their loved one’s legal rights. So they’re in there for specific period of time. You know, they’re being asked to sign X, Y, Z, what’s going to happen? Like a lot of what if and how long questions.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (20:52)
And then more importantly when you are in a treatment facility, you were cut off. So they are probably, they’re used to having direct contact for better or worse with their loved ones and now they don’t have it. And now they know that their loved ones are there and they are panicked and they sometimes fear for their wellbeing. So a lot of what I do, some of it is legal. Yes. You know, helping them understand and navigate the legal aspect of that. But the other part is really connecting with their loved one through my lived experience and just through my overall experience in mental health, finding out how they’re doing, understanding the goal of the patient and the goal of the caregiver and then the goal of the facility and helping to facilitate and move through change because often you come in and I realized that there’s a large lack of communication. So a big part of what I do is to connect the dots, create more transparency and communication. And really navigate the family through that journey because treatment center is a journey. The discharge is a journey. And then even providing them resources so that their loved one can continue to be supported in the best way possible.

Joey Randazzo: (22:15)
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. Wow. So what’s, what’s the, what’s the future of this look like? I mean, you’ve already helped tons of people and you, you know, you’re, you’re looking to stay in this, uh, mental health community and just provide more support, provide more resources, provide more care. So what does the future look like?

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (22:32)
That’s a fantastic question. And the reason is because I’ve been taking the last, let’s say two to three weeks to really do some intensive strategic planning, figuring out what’s working, figuring out what’s not. Um, I will be doubling down on that service. I offer other services, but the vision over the next 90 days is to really double down on that surface. Like you were saying, a challenge is creating more awareness and opportunities for education in that area. Another thing that I’m also looking at is how do I expand that with out the legal part? The legal part is an important tool, but because I’m an attorney licensed in Georgia, it’s really confined to helping caregivers and family members in the state. So looking at creating opportunities where I can really help people on a national level, either through their providers, whether it’s insurance companies in the tech space. So I’m really asking myself a lot of what if questions and if I were to think bigger, what would that look like?

Joey Randazzo: (23:41)
Yeah. Because I mean, I’m sure you want to drive as much impact as possible. And so figuring out how you can do that is probably very exciting to be able to help. You know, it’s this, this doesn’t just happen in Georgia, right? It happens everywhere. And, um, you’d be able to provide that value to those people. So I hope that you can, uh, find that solution to help our people. So, um, I’m trying to think of a, of, of what else. We’ve covered a lot. Wow. A lot. Really quick. Um, you know, as we sort of wind this conversation down, what other aspects of, of your journey of mental health, of seeing other people’s journey to mental health would you share with? Um, you know, many of my listeners are entrepreneurs. You’re an entrepreneur. I’m an entrepreneur. And in doing that I process it’s a journey, right? Just like everything that you, you know, you’re helping people with. It’s a journey. Being an entrepreneur is a journey and it’s got its highs and lows. Um, so what would you, you know, what are your thoughts on, on mental health and the entrepreneur community?

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (24:50)
I would say to seek support. Um, as you were saying that I was really thinking, okay, what are based on kind of the entrepreneurial world. One of the challenges is I feel like we are fixers and doers and we are the word sometimes we’re not really good at reaching out for support when it comes to things like mental health. We’ve, I feel like as entrepreneurs, some people have really great strengths as systematizing things and outsourcing and you know, business part when it comes to the personal side, not being able to understand the impact on your business with your mental health. I have seen it over and over again that you may have a fantastic business, but if your mental health is a challenge or you are in the throngs of something, it could so negatively affect your business. And for solopreneurs, you are all you have, you are the rise and the fall of your business. So it would be really seeking the support and resources that you need to take care of yourself. And I’m going to say that’s a challenge for me. I’m saying that to me often try and push through, you know, and that could, it ends up sometimes setting me back. So understanding what resources are available and having them readily available so that you can use them.

Joey Randazzo: (26:21)
Yeah, I mean I feel like it’s especially true for any, any entrepreneur, whether solopreneur with a team that that has a social mission as well. It’s such as yourself, you know, you’re so focused on trying to help other people and add value to other people that you feel like you feel the pressure of having to be strong, of having to, you know, put in the time and energy and works that you provide more impacts so that you can move outside of Georgia and go to all the other States as you feel sort of, at least for me, you know, I feel that pressure of having to push through, right. Of having to, um, you know, if I’m not in the best space, well there are other people to impact or other people to help. And so I’ve just got to push through it. Uh, so in your, you know, as you’ve started your business, um, and you’ve started to grown it, grow it, what has, you know, what have you experienced in terms of mental health?

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (27:16)
You mean for my personal,

Joey Randazzo: (27:17)
probably a person. Yeah. For your personal mental health, you know, the, the, uh, the, the, the challenges of starting a business, the unknowns of starting a business. You’ve had the repertoire beforehand. You had the toolbox. How were you able to use that?

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (27:29)
I would say, so to piggyback off what you said before, for me my challenge is even more unique because I deal in mental health and there are some times where I’m like, I can’t do this because what if I’m suffering? How can I help others while I’m also challenged and am I letting people down so it feels there. At the very beginning I felt this weight, um, this almost burden because I had to be the advocate, I had to show everyone what stability look like even on days where I didn’t feel very stable. And the expectation, I think especially when people know that you have a mental health challenge, I in my mind, and this could be my mind, I always feel like people are watching you to see like, okay, she’s stable now, but can she effectively do it? So I had a lot of mindset challenges and challenges where I just had to say, okay, if you’re not held to having a good mental health day, it is what it is.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (28:33)
Like, I don’t care if you sell sausages or so mental health services, like if you are in the throngs of your condition, it is your reality. Now it may not be the reality but it is reality and what are you gonna do? Are you going to go help a client at the expense of your health? Are you going to see what it is that you need to do to take care of yourself first? I have found and in a good way that being in this business, people are a little bit more understanding now you have to do your work, you have to execute and provide quality service, but heaven telling a caregiver that you are struggling was a lot more relief than I thought it would be. I thought that it would be very judging.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (29:20)
It is very good for some caregivers to know that you’re not only their attorney but you really understand what their day to day challenges are with their, with their loved ones, you may be at a different stage. So I think that I have particular challenges as an entrepreneur being in the mental health space and having bipolar. But those same challenges I’m trying to double down and use as strengths. But like I said before, I think the biggest challenge is just that challenge to maintain stability, to maintain stability in a space that is unstable and in a space that doesn’t have stability. And I crave safety, confirmation, stability. I like to create that around me. And so it makes, it’s very unnerving, especially on a tight rope. Like I sometimes feel like I’m on a tight rope. Anything large shifts could push me off. So being a business owner had, I’ve had to learn some really hard lessons.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (30:29)
I think the biggest one, and it’s related to the mental health, is learning to pivot. So way back when in my twenties remember, and when I was trying to be an opera singer, I couldn’t pivot. And that was, that became my demise. Now I got to a point where I said, okay, I’m going to open a business. I can either pivot or not. So you either living or die or die. But the world is going to keep moving forward. So I had to learn the skill of pivot and what that meant when it came to mental health and coping skills. But now I’ve learned it. I’ve learned how to make it comfortable for my body and comfortable for my mental health. So now I can do it a lot better.

Joey Randazzo: (31:14)
Yup. Yeah. I took two, I took two big things out of, out of what you just said and one is being aware. So, you know, being aware of how you’re doing, how other people are doing, uh, being aware of if you need to pivot, if you don’t need to pivot, if you need to double down on something. And then, but also at the same time with that awareness of also being vulnerable, not being vulnerable with yourself, being vulnerable with your clients, being vulnerable with your team. If you have people on your team as an entrepreneur, you know, if you’re not having, if you’re having a one of those days, you know, being one aware of it. Um, and then being vulnerable enough to, to yourself to say, you know, what, maybe today’s not the day, but being vulnerable. It’s just to say to your client, you know, maybe today can we push that meeting to, to, to Friday instead of today. Um, and so I think that’s really powerful, those sort of two almost pillars in a way of awareness and then vulnerability and trying to navigate between those two, um, in, in both just business practices and then also in, in mental health.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (32:16)
Yes. Yeah.

Joey Randazzo: (32:18)
So, uh, yeah, we just love any, I mean, any final things that, um, you know, as a business owner, as someone that works with a lot of folks experiencing melts, mental health obstacles to the people listening maybe any, any lasting lessons or pillars in your life that you stand by that maybe they would benefit from knowing

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (32:42)
I would just want to repeat to do what works for you to find something that works, use it, but be willing to shift if necessary, if it stops working. So one of the things that I’ve noticed, especially in our mental health, social media world, is for those who have, who are on the other side, sometimes you see the before and you see the after, but you don’t see the bridge. So you see someone and maybe they’re not on medication and they’re doing meditation in a climbing mountains and they have bipolar and they’re doing all of this stuff. And if you are not on that, you’re, you’re on the other side of the bridge. It’s hard for someone to understand how they got there. So sometimes it fills people with impressions that are not really accurate of the journey. And so they may say, well then I don’t have to take medications or I, you know, so I’m always like, if you need to be on medication, do it.

Mariette Clardy-Davis: (33:42)
If you need to see a psychiatrist every week, do it. If you need to go to therapy every day, do you need to find what works for you and helps you in your journey? Because everyone’s journey is unique and you can use my journey as a example, but it should not be the journey in which you build your journey because it’s setting you up, number one, not to have your own journey. And then number two, for a lot of frustration. And that’s even in the business world, like it’s setting you up for failure. So you have to find a path, whether it’s in business or in mental health, or even navigating the system. If you’re a caregiver that works for you and your family and your business and your loved ones. Yeah.

Joey Randazzo: (34:29)
Uh, I, that’s, that’s a great way to, to, to finish it. I’m going to stop recording and then we can, uh.

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