Julie Gillis a consultant, story coach, speaker, and facilitator, shares her thoughts, in episode 40 of the Changed, on how we tell ourselves stories about the world and our role in it, along with the pivotal experience of finding herself after battling postpartum psychosis.

Julie Gillis is one of those people who is that lovely combo of funny and pensive. She’s deeply reflective, unafraid of being honest in her expression, and absolutely ready to laugh and play too!

It’s also true that my knowledge of Julie Gillis is personal.

Not only does this episode’s guest reside in this podcast hosts home town. But Julie and I used to perform together in an all-lady, broadway-style musical improv group called Girls Girls Girls and produced a festival (though Julie was MUCH more involved called L.A.F.F. otherwise known as the Ladies Are Funny Festival (enjoy the legacy website here!)

We also played together in incredible shows, like Apocalypse (directed Brandon Salinas, and costumed by Courtney Hopkins).

(If you watch this old promo video, we suggest you watch full-screen with sound ON.)

So it was a delight to sit down in January of 2021, just 3 days into the new year, to reflect not only on change broadly but on how 2020 changed some of the key elements of Julie’s life.

Now that summer has arrived in the US, you may have forgotten what the world was like in January of 2021.

Here in Oregon where Julie and I both reside, while shopping was open, most businesses were closed, unless they provided curbside pickup, and masks were required 100% of the time. Schools were closed, and our children were learning from a distance (something fun and easy for our 8-year-old, and something deeply difficult for her young adult children). There was no promise of freedom and no end in sight.

And in this climate, we were able to connect over Zoom and philosophize for a while about how the stories we as people tell ourselves about ourselves… may have shifted.

Julie also shared the story of how improv helped to lift her back up to herself, when she was at one of her lowest points as a mother experiencing postpartum psychosis, one of the least talked about maternal experiences in this country… and one of great importance because of the consequences that can stem from the condition. As Julie confessed, “the idea of hurting myself became rather entertaining,” and this kind of flawed thinking can lead not just to self-harm. When lines between reality and darkness become blurry, help is needed.

As a deep believer in the importance of building more understanding and interest in women’s health, particularly hormone changes, I’m always glad to hear stories that stem from this place; like the story guest, Maraya Brown shared at the beginning of season two, in which she had to process the unexpected loss of her first pregnancy.

Takeaways from this episode

In the stories, we consume there are multiple roles people play: villain, support character, window character…. a really important tree. But in the stories we tell, we often imagine ourselves the hero (sometimes a reluctant hero) of our own story.

There are times when being the hero of your own story can be really beneficial, like helping to boost your confidence for a job interview for example.

On social media, it’s easy to convince ourselves we’re the…

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