I’m so excited to say that today I’ll be speaking with Allison Raskin! You might know her as New York Times bestselling author, mental health advocate, co-creator of the Youtube comedy channel and podcast, Just Between Us, and the sole-creator of the 12-part narrative fiction podcast, GOSSIP which immediately hit the worldwide top charts.
Having always been open and vulnerable about her own struggles with mental health, in 2020, Allison founded the Emotional Support Lady Instagram and Patreon community. Here, she began dissecting the grief around being abruptly left by her fiancé and continued to discuss her daily internal thoughts along with the ways in which she’s working to re-wire them. In breaking the walls of shame that these feelings and experiences are often coated with, the Emotional Support Lady community is one of the most authentic, raw, and vulnerable ones I’ve had the pleasure of joining.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Misha Khan: Hi Allison! I wanted to start off by thanking you for taking some time to do this Q&A session with me today. It’s definitely something I’ve been looking forward to! A huge congrats on all of the success with your podcast, a book on the way, and your Emotional Support Lady Instagram account. As someone who was also going through the motions of heartbreak when you first started the account, I felt, and continue to feel blown away by how you’re able to simplify such raw, complex, and vulnerable emotions. Can you talk a bit about the initial intention behind creating Emotional Support Lady and how you navigated shifting it to dissect the grief you faced shortly after it was born?
Allison Raskin: I initially started the account because I wanted to build a mental health community and share what I was learning in school. Even though my fiancé left shortly after creating the account, I felt that I owed it to my followers to be open about what was going on in my life. Posting every day also helped me process how I was feeling as I was feeling it, which was incredibly healing. Plus, I had the unexpected benefit of my followers sharing their own similar stories with me. These stories made me feel less alone and filled me with hope for my future.
MK:You’ve talked about having Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since you were young. I can look back now and notice how unique it was for you to share your experiences with OCD and anxiety way before it became a bit more normalized to do so. Has it always felt natural for you to share your experiences in that way?
Allison: Pretty much! It’s never been hard for me to share that part of myself for whatever reason. So when I started talking about it online and saw that it was relatable and potentially helpful I kept sharing!
MK: In a recent podcast episode, you touched a bit on how you’ve noticed your own growth when watching some of the older Just Between Us videos back. I’m sure it can be especially challenging to witness and experience your growth so publicly. How have the ways in which you speak on mental health and advocate for it changed over the years?
Allison: I think one of the biggest changes is how I talk about myself. I put myself down for so many years—often in the name of comedy—but even self-deprecating jokes can take a toll. I would joke about wanting to die in a way I never would now. I also have a deeper understanding of experiences outside of my own thanks to my grad program, which I hope has made me a better advocate.
MK: Choosing to share your process of grief after your relationship ended and unwrapping the shame that is often tied to being left has been such a gift for so many of us! In exploring your internal process of grief, how has your healing through this circumstance felt different from past breakups?
Allison: I think the biggest difference was that I allowed myself to grieve and miss this person who was so important to me. I let myself fully experience that loss. But I didn’t tear myself down in a reaction to his rejection of me. I didn’t blame myself or assume his actions were a reflection of my worth. I also immediately had a sense that I would get through it and be okay again one day. That sliver of insight made it a totally different experience because in the past I truly thought I would never be okay again.
MK: Within your Patreon, your blog posts and conversations with psychologists and mental health advocates are such an incredible resource for gaining more insight into types of therapy, diagnoses, emotion regulation, and more! The information you’re spreading is invaluable. Before studying your Master’s in Clinical Psychology, did you find it difficult to access this type of information for your own mental health journey? What are some tools you’ve gained along the way that you wish you could give to your younger self?
Allison: Such an interesting question! I think the big one is I would probably have told my younger self to go back on meds earlier than I did. I spent a majority of my 20’s unmedicated and that maybe made things harder than they had to be. I also would have benefited from understanding emotional regulation earlier but it’s impossible to say if I would have been able to get a handle on it any earlier than I did!
MK: Speaking of your Master’s in Clinical Psychology, has the knowledge you’ve gained through this education route contributed to your healing in ways you might have not expected?
Allison: I think it has helped me understand other people better, which in turn makes my relationships a bit easier. I would say it’s been more empowering than healing if that makes sense. I am really proud of myself for pursuing this degree and there is power in that!
MK: I love how many avenues of education you’ve engaged in (therapy, school, reading, and conversations with other professionals to name a few) to grow your own knowledge on mental health! Are there any other avenues you’d like to explore in the future, or goals you have for yourself moving forward?
Allison: Part of the requirement to graduate with my master’s is to complete about 200 hours as an MFT trainee. So actually seeing clients feels like the next big step in this journey. I am terrified but I know that the experience will be incredibly valuable and hopefully I can be helpful in some way to my future clients!
MK: Before we go, I wanted to know if there’s a question you wish you were asked more often and if you could give the answer to that!
Allison: Ooo! Another banger! Nothing immediately came to mind, but if I had to pick one I guess it would be “Can people really change?” and my answer would be absolutely! I have — a whole bunch!
Thank you again for your vulnerability and openness in sharing your stories and experiences, as well as the time you set apart to talk about it over here!
To keep up to date on Allison, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @AllisonRaskin, and be a part of her incredible Emotional Support Lady community on Instagram and Patreon.