Emily Gelblum 0:04
I just need to save some of this money for a rainy day and her saying, Emily, it’s raining, like it’s pouring right now.

Kristin Taylor 0:22
Hello and welcome to how I made it through. My name is Kristen Taylor and I’m an executive coach. As a coach, I have the privilege of supporting my clients in navigating many aspects of life that make it challenging to focus on business. My life’s work requires holding sacred space for stories of struggle, and facilitating a loving process of finding one’s way back to wholeness, because, much like the immortal words of Robert Frost, the best way out, is always through as the host of how I made it through, I get the opportunity to honor amazing stories that when working as a coach, only I get to hear. I love that. With this platform, more stories, and more unique voices are shared far beyond just my own ears.

In today’s episode, you will hear Emily’s story. Her story unfolds as she eagerly awaited the arrival of her first baby, only to be suddenly and unexpectedly laid off shortly before giving birth. With a loss of employment, all her best laid plans to provide financially for her family, allowing her spouse to stay at home with their child were unceremoniously dismantled.

Once her son arrived, and with the pressure she felt to be the sole breadwinner, she found herself anxiously job searching in earnest. Indeed, and luckily she did find a job and one that she was so grateful for one that paid her more than she had ever earned before, even though it felt outside of her comfort zone. As it turned out, however, the demands and circumstances of this new job also ushered in unwelcome levels of fear, shame and overwhelm that negatively impacted every relationship in her life. Particularly in the role she cared most about a spouse and parent. Emily’s the first to acknowledge that her story is one marked my profound privilege. And yet, despite the resources that she had available to her, her story and her ability to share it was such insight and openness, powerfully speaks to the challenges so many face when the life they worked so hard to achieve, leaves them grappling with obstacles they never saw coming. I personally am so grateful for the penetrating honesty with which Emily opens up about her experience of anxiety, depression, and yes, panic as the final catalyst for seeking help. Although my story is different from hers, the parallels are all too familiar, anguishing and real, especially when I think back to the stress and isolation many of us experience when becoming a new parent. Emily’s willingness to ask for help to trust and accept the loving support around her. And her willingness to transition from caregiver to the one being cared for serves as the greatest source of eventual recovery, healing and movement towards wholeness. I invite you to listen with a keen attention to the power of vulnerability that is evident throughout her story. You see, it is precisely her courage to practice vulnerability that transforms every relationship in her life. But most importantly, her relationship to herself. Hi, Emily, it is such a joy to have you here with us today.

Thank you for being here.

You’re welcome. It’s so good to see you.

Yes, you too. So I just wanted to start by just speaking the truth that this is not easy. You know, this probably is a little bit out of your comfort zone. And yet you said yes. Can you share with us why you made the decision and said yes, and a little bit of context there?

Emily Gelblum 4:25
Yeah, so I said yes, because I have got I’ve been very transparent on social media throughout the last few years without a ton of in depth detail, but enough so about what was going on in my life that I’ve had several people reach out to me and tell me how important seeing posts like that were to them. And so when you came with this opportunity, I had actually just received one of those emails. And I thought, Okay, this is a good opportunity to actually make a bigger impact by telling this really difficult story. And also, I have known you a long time and trust you a lot and know that you will, will hold my story well, and help me tell it in a really authentic, genuine way. So I’m here.

Kristin Taylor 5:23
Yeah, you’re here. And that means so much to me. Thank you. And thank you for your trust. So before we get started, I also want to give you the space if there’s anything else you’d like to say, before we get started with your story.

Emily Gelblum 5:34
Yeah, I think the biggest thing that I want to make sure that I say is that the story that I am about to tell is rooted in immense amounts of privilege, all different kinds of privilege, white privilege, economic privilege, educational privilege, just a whole lot of privilege. And I feel like it’s really important for me to say that, that I know that I had options to choose in my story, because of the immense amounts of privilege that I am rooted in.

Kristin Taylor 6:11
Yeah, I appreciate you saying that. So as we get started your story, as I understand, it really starts with the decision to become a parent with your spouse. And that perhaps is the best place to start as you lay the stage for what is to unfold.

Emily Gelblum 6:30
So, um, my spouse, Megan, and I always knew that we wanted to have kids ever since we first started talking and met on Myspace 15 years ago. And once we actually started trying to have kids, it took three years to get pregnant and ended up having a miscarriage along the way, and finally got pregnant with our son. And we felt like we could sort of set up our dream, our dream life in parenthood, right. I wanted to be a working parent, Megan wanted to be a stay at home parent. I had a wonderful job in San Francisco that I was commuting out to every few weeks doing something I was passionate about. And one night, we set up our budget that would allow Megan to stay home with our son. This was about three weeks before I had him. And the next day I was laid off literally overnight, our plans abruptly changed from this perfect little budget spreadsheet we had made, where she was going to get to be the stay at home parent starting right away, I was going to be able to take my maternity leave and go back to work and support our family. And three weeks before I had him and the night after I made that budget, we made that budget together. Everything changed. And I like to say that the the company did everything right after they laid me off in terms of giving me the all the benefits of maternity leave that they had promised. So I was able to keep my insurance, I was able to keep all the benefits that they had promised in those three months. And so I had this beautiful baby, great birth welcomed into this loving, exciting, you know, excited family to have him and I started job hunting as a brand new postpartum mom.

Kristin Taylor 8:44
Yeah, that’s intense. Having been a postpartum mom. That’s intense.

Emily Gelblum 8:49
Yes, it was intense. I was just gonna say say more about that for you. So I come from a family where achievement, especially on my dad’s side, where achievement is really prized and academic achievement, professional achievement. You know, my dad and his two brothers are lawyers. My aunt has been an incredibly successful educator for a really long time. And it was really important to me to to achieve professionally and also be a great mom. My mom got really bad depression when I was eight, and retreated into her room. And so a lot changed for me when I was young, and I was really determined to be the perfect mom for my kid and the perfect provider for my family. And trying to do that when your hormones are going crazy and you’ve got money dwindling every month in your bank account and it was very, very stressful. It was very, very stressful. That word perfect stands out to me. Yes, I, I wanted to do things dramatically differently than she had done them. And I wanted to be the provider that my dad was. And I wanted to be the mom that my mom didn’t know how to be.

Kristin Taylor 10:21
So you put a lot of pressure on yourself.

Emily Gelblum 10:24
I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I wanted to be the spouse that Megan deserved, you know, she really wanted to be a stay at home parent. And I wanted to give her that gift that I had promised her that I would give her. And so I started feeling more and more like I was failing. Because I couldn’t find a job. I couldn’t give my spouse what she had wanted that I had promised her. All the stress was making me really anxious with my kid. And my, my fuse was a lot shorter when I was with this beautiful little newborn kid who I’d worked really hard to get, you know. And so it it all came to a head one night, when I looked at our bank account that I had been avoiding, and realized that we literally had one month of expenses left in the bank.And it was so scary. And Megan was working at a local shop, and she was making money, but it wasn’t enough to pay all of our bills. And I didn’t really know what to do. So I got in the car. And I left our kid with Megan. And I got in the car and I drove in a rainstorm. And I just kept driving. That sounds so dramatic. But it really was. It sounded, you know, it wasn’t such an intense evening. And I drove and drove and drove and ended up in this little church parking lot in Saks Baja, North Carolina. And I ended up calling our doula who had been with us at our lowest birth, who has now become a really good friend. And just totally breaking down in tears and saying, I don’t know what to do. And she said, Well, you have to ask for help.And that’s not something I ever did. So that was brand new for me. And she stayed on the phone with me and walked me through crafting an email to my dad, who financially is able to help us was able to help us. And we went back and forth on these edits until I felt like it was a good enough email. And she stayed on the phone with me while I sent it. And I sent it. And I probably cried some more into more deep breaths. And I got, you know, a reply within five minutes. That said, Of course, I’ll help you. Of course, I’ll help you.

Kristin Taylor 13:05
Yeah, yeah. So Emily, I’d like to slow down because I feel like there’s a lot going on for you, in this scene and in your life in this scene. I think it’s no mistake, that you reached out to your doula of all people, obviously, there was a lot of trust there, but she was with you during the most vulnerable of transitions giving birth. And then I want to talk about your relationship to asking for help, particularly with your family. And particularly because you explain that the family backdrop is having a depressed mother who had eight retreated. And then on your father’s side, all this achievement and this pressure you put on yourself or felt as someone in this family, there’s where my curiosity goes, but let’s start with the choice in the doula Why was she the right person for you to call in that moment?

Emily Gelblum 14:00
I think you call that out perfectly. But she was witness to the most vulnerable moment of my whole life. You know, not only was I completely you know, I was completely naked, literally, I was also completely naked, you know, in a lot of different ways. It was the first time in my life that I really let my body take over and lead. And I, you know, I was I was making noises from pain before I was feeling pain and and letting myself be seen in that pain and it was so deeply vulnerable and physical and emotional, of a transition that not only had she been there for that, but she

Unknown Speaker 15:00
It had also held space beautifully before I gave birth and during and after for all the emotions that came up with this giant transition. So I knew that, you know, and through this whole time, she was becoming a very dear friends. So I knew that she would be able to hold the kind of space that I needed. And also not judge me for needing help.

Kristin Taylor 15:27
Yeah, not just you so that you could be seen all parts of yourself, even the parts that you want to deny or diminish or hide. And she would hold that for you.

Yeah. Totally. Yeah.

Say more about reaching out to your father and what that meant to you. Because what’s coming up for me is this idea around identity, who you are as an adult, and a parent and a caregiver. And a spouse.

Emily Gelblum 15:53
Yeah. So making him proud has always been something that really mattered to me. He is very smart, and has always been very smart. Achievement really matters to him. And being smart and being quick, and being able to debate really well. And just intellect and achievement were things that I always got praised for. And, you know, I became completely financially independent when I was 23. And hadn’t asked for a cent from him since then. And there was a lot of praise that went along with that. And being proud of me for not needing his help. Being proud of me for making my own career, and making a family. And you know, here I am 35 saying help. I need your financial help. And that was a huge hill to climb for me, because I was so worried that he would think less of me for it. And then that was not the case at all. Once I once I climbed that hill and jumped over it. He was happy to help. Yeah, he was happy to help. Yeah. And that’s one of the things I remember. Alan, my Doula saying that night is I bet you anything that as a parent, he’s going to want to help his kid. And now that I’m a parent, I see exactly what she meant.

Kristin Taylor 17:37
Yes, yes. So I realize that I failed to mention the one important role use daughter in relationship with your father. And so he was happy to help. What did that shift for both of you, or at least for you internally?

For me internally, it was a moment where I felt like I could be more authentic with him. And I felt like I could show him more of my underbelly when things are not as good. And not have to always be the kid who makes him proud. But be able to say this is hard. I need help. And I don’t know exactly what it did for him. We haven’t really ever gone there. But what I do know is that he has said several times how much he appreciates knowing what’s going on in my world. And he just doesn’t want to know the good stuff. And we’ll talk more about that later.

Yeah. Well, then, yeah. So continue. So you had that night? Is there anything else about that night that you want to share? Or does it make sense to move forward?

Yeah, the only thing that the only other thing that I will say about that night is you know, Megan’s family and mother in particular, would have been happy to help. And I felt so much pressure to fix this by myself, that I didn’t even think about asking her to reach out to her parent, because I felt so much deeper responsibility to fix this, because it was my fault. That our family structure where wasn’t where we had agreed it would be. And I wouldn’t change anything. But I do think back on that sometimes. And thank you know, Emily, it wasn’t all on you to fix and make better you could have leaned into your house and you could have leaned into your, your mother in law. And I think about that sometimes because doing things on my own has been a has been a theme of my life until recently.

Mm hmm. Yeah. I want to underscore that because I know from my own story, and listening to other people’s stories, when we are in that stress space, when our nervous system is really activated and particularly when we’ve recently given birth, and it’s just so much going on hormonally. We can believe our thoughts and our feelings as truth without examination. You know, yeah. And I think that’s just important to call out.

Yes. 100% Yeah, then it was just magnified that night.

So continue. What happened next.

Emily Gelblum 20:25
So fast forward 10 months, and my dad has been paying the gap from anything that I couldn’t clobber together with contract work, and Megan couldn’t pay with her salary. And I job hunted for the first 10 months of my kid’s life, while being a stay at home parent. And I didn’t want to be a stay at home parent, I was desperate to get out and get a job. And I loved my kid. And I didn’t, I wasn’t enjoying being with him 24 hours a day. And that was really hard to admit. But it was true.And so I did my job hunted like crazy. And I threw a whole lot of connections and networking and some luck, I believe I ended up getting offered a job with an ad tech company. In a role that was a huge reach. For me, it was something that the person who hired me believed I could do. And I took it because it paid more than I’d ever made my whole life. And it meant that I could fulfill my promise to my spouse so that she could quit her job and stay home. And she was so happy, I was so happy. And it also meant that I was on the road away from my family and my 10 month old every other week for about three days, three or four days, flying all over the United States, to different clients, to different clients and different teams, I justified that a lot in my head, as this is what this is good. This is what I want. This allows Megan to stay home. I’m making more money than I’ve ever made. It’s okay. But it’s hard because all the other things are in place. And I initially was able to work with the person who hired me, and really liked that, and then got transferred to a different bus. And we did not do well together. We were very different. Let’s just say that we were very, very different. She was very corporate, and veryfocused on appearance. And not I’m not talking about physical appearance, I’m talking about image. And don’t say this thing to this person because it could have this effect on your brand. And don’t show up as your whole self to work because it’s not professional. And slowly trying to coach out of me, what was the most authentic part of me as a leader? And I started to second guess everything I did.

Kristin Taylor 23:29
That’s awful.

Emily Gelblum 23:30
Yeah. And the role in itself was a stretch. And having someone above me, who was trying to make me into a different kind of leader, and give me feedback about how all of my best parts of leadership were inappropriate or wrong. Really started away on my confidence.And I did a thing that I will never do again, and always talk about. But I started to shove things aside and not talk about challenges I was having. Because I was terrified that this thing I had worked so hard to achieve and get to that made my family structure work as we wanted it to was going to go away. And so I started to not be great at my job and get worse and worse and worse. And I was desperately trying to keep that from her. And that was a pretty hard time because I knew I was letting my team down. And I knew I was letting everybody down. And it became a slow slide into a really bad situation.

Kristin Taylor 24:48
Okay, okay. So, what I will share at this point is having worked with you, I know who you are as a leader, and that is where your magic is. And I can see how that eroded your confidence, and how painful that must have been at all parts of the truth of what you’re experiencing felt like parts you couldn’t share, whether at work or at home, and what that must have done to you.

Emily Gelblum 25:17
Yeah, it was, it did a lot. Um, I, I felt like I was constantly, constantly letting everyone down. In every area of my life, my team, my boss, terrible failing my spouse, my kid. I was carrying the insurance, I was paying all the bills. And I felt like I let everybody down everyday all the time. And yeah, it was, it was a real bad time. And so, the one day that really shifted things I had been avoiding doing a certain report that we were supposed to report in a meeting or share the numbers with the higher ups in the company at a meeting. And I actually didn’t know how to pull the data. But I had been trying to move along under the radar without getting locked out for such a long time that I hadn’t told anyone, but I didn’t know how to pull that data. And I had a panic attack. In a meeting, where on video, I was called on to present that data to the higher ups. And I hadn’t tracked it. And there’s this room full of people looking at me, with my empty spreadsheet pulled up on a shared screen. And I don’t know what I said, I actually don’t remember what I said. But what I do know is after that meeting, I closed my laptop. And I drove immediately to my nurse practitioners office, I had texted her and I said I need to see you now. And she did a depression screen. And I was at like the high end of the Depression Scale. She immediately, I had never taken medication. Because my mom took so much medication as a child, I never wanted to be like her. So I didn’t want to. But my FNP said, you need a tool, you need some tools in your toolbox right now that can help on a on a biological level. And so she encouraged me to try a couple different things. And I did, I started to, but I just felt like I still have to have to perform at this job, I have to make it work somehow. And during this, my marriage was just falling apart. It was just falling apart. I didn’t have any time for Megan, I all of my brain space was put into trying to keep this job for our family. And so our marriage became falling apart, because I wasn’t present. And it was super easy for me to blame it on her. We’re really different people. And we went to counseling to try to work on things. And I was doing a lot of blaming, and not a whole lot of responsibility taking. And I ended up asking for a separation in the middle of this mental health crisis. And we got separated. In the middle of all of this.

Kristin Taylor 28:48
Oh dear Wow. So did you move out? Or did she move out? Or how did you do that with your child? And yeah, parenting?

Emily Gelblum 28:58
So for a while, for about a month, we did a week on week off where he would we wanted to keep him in the house. So one of us would go stay somewhere else and then come back, switch, but we would always see him every, you know, every few days. And then one of my really dear friends said it’s killing both of you to not see him every day. Why don’t you try? Yeah, moving into the guestroom and giving her your room. And the two of you split a house and CO parent through this so that you both get to see Arlo every day. And that’s what we decided to do. And I remember Megan saying very clearly, you know, if we’re really going to make this work, we need to stay in the same house and I said you’re right. So I moved my room downstairs and we started doing the co parenting thing. And all this time on still desperately trying to keep this job to keep our family afloat. And I, for the first time in my whole life became suicidal. I didn’t see another way out of this situation. I was never actively suicidal, but I was passively suicidal and that I thought about it being away out of the shame of losing the job or if getting fired, of disappointing the people in my family. And one day, I texted three of my best friends and I said, something really bad is happening. I just need you all basically to stay close. And two of them, one of whom was my Doula just showed up, showed up at my house texted when they were on their way, just showed up at my house. And one of them sat with me on the couch with her arms around me and the other made me food. And they just stayed. And I knew that I was gonna need to lean into a lot of help if I was gonna get through this. Amazing when you talk about having resources.

Kristin Taylor 31:20
That’s phenomenal. I’m so happy and glad a happy sounds not like the right word. I’m so relieved. and grateful that that was your experience in the midst of such despair and shame.

Yeah, me too. I had a moment of, well, you’ve got these three women who say they’re there for you anytime. It was the first time I actively remember asking for help outside of that night from the church parking lot. And it started a pretty amazing progression of asking for support and getting it.

So, so continue, you’re having, I’m just imagining you at work. I’m imagining the relationship with your boss. It’s like, how might she responded when there you are? On camera not having that spreadsheet with the numbers? Yeah, where did that go? In the midst of all this?

I was convinced by very dear friends, and my family nurse practitioner, and the two folks who showed up and Megan and our mutual friend, Liz to take FMLA because I was at such a dark point that I was scared that I couldn’t come back from it. And the ad tech company I was working for offered incredible the incredible benefit of 100% paid FMLA for six weeks.

And yeah, wow.

Emily Gelblum 32:51
Yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff I can say about that company. That’s one of them. And and when I talk about privilege, that’s exactly what I mean. You know, that’s, that’s such a huge example of the kind of privilege that afforded me to be able to survive something like that. And and to deal with that. I remember hemming and hawing about taking it. And my friend Holly sang and me saying, you know, I just need to save some of this money for a rainy day and her saying, Emily, it’s raining. Like it’s pouring right now. Perfect. Yeah, yeah. effect. And, yeah. And so I took FMLA. And one of the hardest parts of that is HR. And my boss wouldn’t let my wouldn’t let me tell my team saw what was happening. So these people I care deeply about, and knew I was letting down. I was leaving one in particular at a big crisis point in the contract. And I couldn’t take a bite of them. And I couldn’t tell them why I had to leave. And so literally, one day, I showed up for all my meetings with all my teams. And the next day I was gone. And my boss who I didn’t trust, control the message. And my teams were friends with me on social media, were messaging me asking what was wrong? And was i Okay, and I couldn’t write them back. I didn’t want to violate the terms of my FMLA because I was terrified. I couldn’t go back. And I was still the provider. And I was still, you know. And I remember the day after, well, I guess it was actually still during this process of leaving. My FNP recommended that I go to a behavioral health hospital and be assessed for either inpatient or outpatient treatment. And I thought, Whoa, you know, it’s not that bad. And then I remember thinking, No, it’s that bad. Kids that bad. That bad. Yeah, and Yeah, she ended up calling for me and with me on the line and doing like the intake and hugely supportive person. And one of my friends, another doula, you know, doulas and social workers and coaches are pretty much my entire social circle. So it really helped.It really helped at that point.

Kristin Taylor 35:21
You’re lucky human being.

Yeah. So one of my, one of my friends, who’s a doula, not my Doula, but went with me to the first assessment at the Behavioral Health Hospital. And they said that I was on the line between inpatient and outpatient. I wasn’t at the mandatory commitment place, but I was really on the line between inpatient outpatient, and the only thing that kept me on the outpatient line was my support network. And how incredible my friends and family were. Yeah. And so at that point, I decided, You know what, I can’t go into this program. I don’t want to go into this program until my body is a little calmer, and my mind is a little less buzzy. I wanted to get grounded before I started this program. And I have a, who I call my honorary mom. I’ve known her since I was five, shared that her daughter and I started kindergarten together. And I ended up texting her and saying, Can I just come out? And have you literally take care of me for a week? I just need to be small and be cared for. And immediately she texted back? Yes. So a few days later, after that initial assessment, I went out to Laguna Beach and stayed with her for a week. And I cried every day, she held me every day while I cried. She is a retired therapist, and was able to talk me through a lot of the things that I was feeling and thinking and tuck me into bed at night, and just nurtured the hell out of me in a way that gave me the platform that I needed, in my nervous system to come back and really be able to dive into the work of the outpatient program.

Yes. So Emily, I want to, again, pause. Because what I’m hearing is this theme of asking for help, and how much that changes everything and what you’re learning and doing it. And it’s this really in depth reservoir of love and care around you of people who are skilled and loving and caring. And that at that moment, it could have been so expected in the story that like, Okay, we go into this intensive outpatient program, and I’m just kind of following along. But I’m disconnected. But there was a part of yourself, I imagined that was connected enough that you knew and felt safe enough. And were connected enough to yourself to reach out to your honorary mom, and asked her what you knew she and only she could provide? Yeah, that stands out to me.

Yeah. And thank you for calling that out. And that was a lot of my therapist doing honestly, I have an amazing therapist who I was, I still see and was seeing at the time. And she said she encouraged me to pursue that foundation of steadiness first. And, and I remember her, I remember writing the text tomorrow, before I got in before I went up to a session. And Nancy said to me, Well, you know, What’s plan B, like, what are you going to do? If she says no, and I said, She won’t say no. And she did. And my dad also came down, when I flew out that first time, you know, my dad also came down and stayed with us for a little while. And, you know, at night, I would watch when we were watching TV, I would sit between him and Mario on the couch, and, you know, have my head on her shoulder and have my legs on his lap. And, you know, at 35 years old as a new parent, like I had, I never dreamed that I would be able to be in that sort of vulnerable position and accept it fully. And it took me hitting the lowest point of my life to let myself get there. And I’m so glad I was able to get there so that I can get there a lot more quickly before I should I ever hit a point similar to that before it ever gets there, you know?

Right, right. And that’s as we get to, you know, getting more to the conclusion and there’s no conclusion but for the sake of this conversation, yeah, more like closure on where you are today. Know that those questions are coming. What did you learn, right? Yes, I imagine there’s just such a depth of what you learned. But continue. So you, you come back and you start. If I memory serves, it was intensiv outpatient?

Intensive outpatient. And while I’m there, I discover that going and my therapists agree that going back to that work environment, and that boss is not an okay idea to keep my mental health and wits about me. So I started thinking about like, where else could I go? What else could I do? And one day, I get a message from HR that they need to talk to me. And I ended up being part of a massive 80% layoff at the company, which came with a beautiful severance package. So I was able to not only get out of the company, but also I was able to do so in a way that afforded me more time and financial stability to find my next move. So it was a real blessing in disguise that layoff see? Yes. And I started thinking about, like, what do I want to do next? What, what comes next? And, you know, I’m still living in a house with Megan, and we very much love each other. And we’re, you know, working on our marriage as much as we can. While I’m in treatment, co parenting, and I finish outpatient treatment, and I’m still thinking about what do I do? What do I want to do? And I flew out, again, to have another week in California with Mari and we’re sitting in our hot tub. And I don’t remember how the conversation started. But I said, I think I want to be a social worker. And she said, I think that makes more sense than anything else you’ve ever said to me. Because it was all the best of who I am. Without trying to make me into something I’m not. It’s the one on one support. It’s the it’s the counseling, it’s the coaching, it’s the advocacy, it’s the pot, the political pieces, it’s and it’s so widely applicable, that I didn’t feel like I would have to worry about financial stability in that in the way that I had before. You know, trying to have my own coaching business and trying to hustle for work and contracts. And everyone knows what an LCSW W does. And there are lots of job postings for that. So I remember saying to her and her overwhelming, yes. And then poor Megan, I just think back on this and I think, what were you doing, I came back and I just announced that I was going to go back for a master’s in social work. I didn’t ask her. I didn’t talk to her about the financial piece of things. I just said this is what I’m doing. And she was terrified. She was supportive, completely supportive and thought it made total sense. And also, here was her spouse in the midst of a mental health crisis with deciding to go back to social work school without talking to her. And I think I know that she has always been so wildly supportive of anything that I’ve wanted to do and try that. She said, Oh, okay, like if you can make it work cool if you need to defer okay, like I can tell this is important to you. And I ended up applying to UNC to the to the adult three year program. And found out I got in the day the world shut down for pandemic. Oh my goodness.


So it was a big mix of incredible joy. And also what is happening now? So, yeah, and andyou know, I’ll say that, for our marriage quarantine was the best thing that could have ever happened to us. Because we were in the same space with the same goal of protecting our family. And that aligning on the same page about something for the first time in a while. Made us laid the path for us to get back together.

Emily Gelblum 44:51
Yeah. So..

Kristin Taylor 44:53
Being united in that way.

Yeah, being united and keeping our family safe and andIt was the three of us against the pandemic. Um, yeah. And it, it became this, this thing that brought us closer together. And my mental health continued to get better and better found the right medications, able to No, ask my friends consistently for support and a lot of hugs and a lot of no accepting asking for and accepting help when it’s offered to me. One of my one of my friends is just one of the warmest humans you’d ever meet. And during all this, as I was getting back on my feet, we used to have dates where we would have dinner, and then she would just wrap me up on her couch. And just we would, I would take deep breaths. And that whole vulnerability piece is so integral to my story, and how I was able to move through this to where to where things are today with, you know, year two of a three year Social Work program. Yeah. Well, so much as I listen, first of all, thank you for sharing with the level of openness, vulnerability and intimacy of what it felt like to be navigating all of that. And there’s so much about your story that is so important in terms of d stigmatizing mental health struggles, and really talking about what it feels like from the inside out. And although you felt the pressure, and you felt the scarcity, financially, so much of your story is about this abundance, this wealth of love. I write this that yes, that is that is something that I never fully knew was there until I felt at my lowest point in my whole life. I have never, I never realized how many people want to help. And how many people want to support because I’ve always been the supporter and the caretaker.

Yeah, I read about you.

Emily Gelblum 47:27
Yeah. I am a, I am a giant Jewish mother and I literally and figuratively. And I love caring for people. And I didn’t realize how desperately I needed that care in return, and how critical it is to my health, and my overall well being. To have that ability to say, I’m not okay, I need help. I and to do it before I even get there.

Kristin Taylor 48:02

Emily Gelblum 48:03
One of the things that, that Marie has said to me consistently is you are so easy to love. And every time she says that my heart just melts. Well. I get teary, because I think I spent most of my life not believing it. And it took this crisis, and so many humans in my life showing up to feed us and hold us and offer all kinds of support in every way to make sure that our little family was okay.

Kristin Taylor 48:42

It has completely changed my life and how I live it, but also how I relate to other people who are in similar circumstances.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s where so what is standing out to me right now. And I use this. Hopefully it comes across from this place of absolutely hearing the depth of the despair of the shame how painful it was. So I don’t want that to feel minimized. But even when I think about my life, and some of the areas that have been so very, very difficult, it is often in hindsight that yes, it happened to me, but it also happened for me, because I learned so much that I otherwise would not have and, and from that place and I’m seeing you nod your head. Share a few more things that have stayed with you that forever change how you move through the world and how you see yourself and also how it will shape who you are as a social worker.

Emily Gelblum 49:42
Oh, God. Good question. Um, the lessons that I’ve learned that will stick with me forever are how important it is for me to only have friends and My life who I can be that kind of vulnerable with. I don’t really have time anymore. I don’t have time. Not even that I don’t really I don’t have time for friends that I can’t cry in front of, or tell them that I’m scared or tell them that I messed something up and have them come back to me and say, Okay, you messed up, you did a thing. You’re okay, you’re wonderful, you’re whole, you’re complete. You’re a great person, how do we how can I help you fix it? You know, and take it out of that shame place so that it doesn’t ever spiral. If I only have people around me, who I can be ashamed in front of, then I never have a reason to hide that. That includes my spouse. I can tell her anything and have her say, okay, you know, I She got me a sticker for my computer. Not long ago that says we will always figure it out. As I get a little choked up when I say that, because I’m looking at it right now. And it was her way of saying to me, nothing will ever be bad enough that we can’t figure it out together. And I need to look at that every day to remember that message. So my big choice and friends and my refusal to have anyone in my inner circle that I can’t be that Rahway is a huge lesson six with me. Another lesson that sticks with me is how much people want to help me and support me in all sorts of ways. I’m extremely lucky that people in my life can support me financially and help our family when we need it. I’m extremely lucky that I have friends who you know, a neighbor of mine made a huge tray of enchiladas with rice and beans for our family just because she knew I was going back to school. Like, I never thought that would have been a neighbor becoming fast friends.

Kristin Taylor 52:14
So kind

Yeah, and just just I was the one doing that for other people. And it just is so beautiful to surround yourself and know that you’re worthy. Like, I know, I’m worthy of that kind of care now, and I never knew I was worthy of that kind of care before this story unfolded between, you know, 2017 and 2019 2020. Other lessons, I think I’ve learned are that my dad loves all of me completely. Whether I’m achieving or whether I’m in bed under the covers, he wants to do what he can to support me being happy and my family being healthy and okay. And achievement isn’t a necessary ingredient for his love. That was a huge realization and learning.

Yeah, it’s unconditional.

It’s unconditional. It is. And I think the last thing I really learned is how good it feels to find something that just fits like a glove for a career. Every piece of Social Work makes sense for me. Every piece, there’s some stuff that’s more difficult. There’s some stuff I don’t like as much. But there’s nothing that I’ve studied so far in school that hasn’t made sense in who I am, or the ethics of what I want to do with my career and in my relationship with people. And it’s just freakin beautiful. To find that, you know, I’ll be licensed by I’ll graduate at 40 and be licensed by 43. And so the latter part of my career, I’ll be able to do lots and lots of different things that I really love. And I’m just so I would do all of this over again in a freakin heartbeat. If it led me to a healthier marriage, a healthier friend circle and being and also a career path that I’m so excited about. And I’m also a better mother because of it. You know, I’m I’m doing what I am doing what I love, and I’m learning how to do what I love. And so I’m able to be present for Arlo in a way that I was definitely not when I was trying desperately to prove myself worthy enough for this job. That wasn’t right.

Sure, sure. Yeah. The other part is about how this shapes and informs you as a social worker, and what I was going to say. So that is the question. That’s all, I want to keep that in my mind. So I don’t forget to how the shapes informs you as a social worker, all this experience. But for me, when I learned that you were doing this, it was like, of course, it made so much sense. And I just see as you transition into your fourth decade, that what you experienced carries with it and imbues you with greater wisdom, and compassion that isn’t just theoretical, but embodied.

Emily Gelblum 55:33

Kristin Taylor 55:33
So maybe I started to even answer that question for you. But tell me more about how this shapes you as a social worker.

Emily Gelblum 55:40
Um, I am more able to recognize the privilege that runs throughout my story that I’ve ever been that I would have ever been. I was always grateful for what showed up for me and when it showed up, but the having it at all, is such a ridiculous privilege. And so being able to, in social work, recognize when privilege is there, when it’s not, how that motivates actions of other people. How that informs the stories behind patients that I work with. I’m working at UNC hospital for my placement right now. And the role that privilege plays in my patients stories and in their actions and reactions, and how that might influence their next steps. That’s big. I think it also allows me to offer hope and alternatives when possible, by a little bit of self reflection that where you are doesn’t need to be where you stay. And if you don’t have the options, then how can we carve out tiny steps of options that could lead you to a different place may not be the place that you ultimately want to get to. But what are the tiny things that you can do? It’s helped me work with patients on how to how to be okay, believing that what they need is important. And focusing on that, and a lot of our of my work with them, that it’s not selfish to get yourself to a safe place. You know, right now I’m working with patients who are in interpersonal violence situations or have been, and that it’s not selfish to leave with the kids. It’s not selfish. Let’s talk about how that could happen. You know?

Kristin Taylor 57:56
Yeah, yeah.

Emily Gelblum 57:57
And reminding folks that asking for help, is a sign of strength. And the opposite of a sign of weakness. Hmm, finding the people in your life who hold you up, when you’re when you haven’t showered in a week, and your hair’s a mess, and you smell awful. And they still want to hang out with you anyway. Those are the people that I want my patients to, to find. And yes, so I think that’s another way that it’s it’s influenced social work. And also just being able to hold space better. I can hold space better for people, having gone through what I went through, because I really realize that sometimes people just need to cry. They don’t need me to fix anything.Sometimes they just need me to sit in the hospital room with them while they talk at me.

Kristin Taylor 58:59
That’s right.

Emily Gelblum 59:00
I don’t need to interject anything. I don’t need to ask questions. Sometimes they just need someone to say I believe you. I believe that this thing happened. I believe that you feel this way. I support whatever you want to do next, because this is your life and not try to fix them.

Kristin Taylor 59:19

Emily Gelblum 59:21
Yeah, I think that’s big. And there’s also this piece of nervous system regulation that I’m learning more and more about. Because that was a big piece of my story that I touched on, but I didn’t really go deep into it that I discovered the the calming effect of the weighted blanket, and how quickly someone putting their arms around me call me down. And when my nervous system was regulated, and I had eaten and I had slept and I had drank water, how much better I was actually able to function And so frequently, I’ll ask patients, how much sleep did you get last night? You know what, what helps you calm down? Like what in this hospital room? Or what can I get for you? That will help you feel grounded and calm?

Kristin Taylor 1:00:16
Safety cues. Yeah.

Emily Gelblum 1:00:19
And you just I’ve realized that no great work can really be done without. Without the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs being met, right. You need to feel safe to be able to do the hard work. Yeah. So I guess that’s exactly right. Taken a lot out of the situation, that color social work.

Kristin Taylor 1:00:43
Yeah, no kidding. No kidding. It really deeply carves and prepares you to hold that space from a place of depth, integrity, and your ability to show up, grounded, feeling safe, so that you can co regulate and hold that space with being a safe person for them. Yeah. I just want to thank you so much for sharing in the way that you did. And you shared so much wisdom. I will say this. And I said this to you before. As parallels happen, and synchronicities happen, it is such an honor to hear your story, because I didn’t let you in when you were my manager, when I had just had a child. I just had a baby. However, the safety that you represented through your kindness, I never told you until later that it was one of those linchpins that I needed. So when I hear that you are on the receiving end of a boss that wasn’t fully honoring who you are as a leader and a human being, it breaks my heart. And I’m so grateful that all the love you gave to me, even without knowing you were able to receive so thank you.

Emily Gelblum 1:02:07
Thank you. Thank you for sharing that story with me. It meant means a lot.

Kristin Taylor 1:02:13
Yeah, you’re very welcome. Thank you. And thank you for, for being with us today.

Emily Gelblum 1:02:18
You’re so welcome.

Kristin Taylor 1:02:21
Although Emily struggled with fears of financial scarcity, and of letting those she cares about down most, her story is truly one of abundance. Emily’s story, as I see it is a love story, an unconditional love story that allowed her to realize how easy to love she truly is. My hope is that everyone starts to learn how lovable and deserving they are too. I of course recognize with a paint heart that not everyone is able to access such a network of support such beautiful and welcoming soft landing places. My deepest hope is that given this reality, we all can be on the lookout for how we can become better at loving. My hope is that we can all be on the lookout for how we can be a better friend, a better coworker, boss or neighbor, one who was more unconditional in our love, non judgmental, in our acceptance and unrestrained in our kindness, as we offer a hand a genuine, how are you doing really, or even a plate of bean and cheese enchiladas and that these gifts are extended our way that we become more willing to simply say thank you. As we inch our hearts closer to really believing we too, are worthy of loving kindness. Although she did not know it because I did not tell her at the time. New motherhood for me brought along with it. Postpartum depression, anxiety and yes, panic to Emily was my boss at this time and without effort. And as an extension of who she was. And his her kindness Karen warm, provided a safe harbor during a chapter of my life that felt very Uncharted, and very scary. Thank you, Emily for sharing so openly. It sounds like your love story is only growing richer.