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Having conversations about mental health during a pandemic

Richard Taylor Jr. offers practical advice for daily living


Last updated 3/18/2021 at 10:33am

Richard Taylor Jr.

Richard Taylor Jr.: "The goal for the book was to simplify and further break some of the stigmas associated with mental health."

In addition to taking more than 525,000 lives nationwide, including 5,100 in Washington state, the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has led to a documented increase in mental health issues.

Edmonds resident Richard Taylor Jr. has experienced the depths of depression, depths that led to thoughts of killing himself. With support, he was able to transform his life and become a sought-after speaker who has published seven books on mental health.

Taylor will speak about his latest book, "31 Days of Power: A Simplified Approach to Everyday Mental Health," 6-7 p.m. Thursday, March 18, at the Edmonds Bookshop. The virtual event will be held on Facebook Live. You can sign up at http://www.bit.ly/3qtTXny.

In the book, Taylor brings to light some of the most common and not-so-common conversations around mental health, and gives practical approaches the reader can use in their daily living.

Here is a Q&A with Taylor in advance of his appearance.

Edmonds Beacon: Can you tell me about the book and your appearance for the bookshop?

Richard Taylor Jr.: My latest book, "31 Days of Power," was inspired by a series of messages I have done for the last two years for 31 days during the month of May. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I started doing 31 days of conversations to help simplify mental health for those struggling and those who want to help.

The goal for the book was to simplify and further break some of the stigmas associated with mental health. This will be my second appearance with the Edmonds Bookshop. The first was in 2019 during the release of my fifth book, "The Other Side."

Beacon: There is a lot of talk about mental health during the pandemic.

Taylor: The book is definitely timely, and I believe that this was a huge motivation for me to create this work in order to help those who are struggling.

One of the main points from this book and a lot of my speeches is that, "We all have a mental health." The same way we all have physical health, we've got our mind and our emotions that we must cater to as well. Having a mental health isn't a bad thing, even if we find ourselves struggling with it.

With everything that 2020 has presented, many of the people who I've worked with from the corporate, education, and nonprofit sectors over the last 10 years have circled back with me about how they or members that they serve have been affected mentally during this tough time.

My ultimate goal with this book is to be able to bring hope as we have these conversations around mental health. From there, I try to bridge a gap between hope and seeking out help.

I believe that it is so important for all of us to know that we deserve help, and we can't be too proud to admit when we need it. So as I help to reframe hope to individuals, I'm always reminding them as well that seeking out help will allow them to become more proactive rather than reactive with their mental health.

Beacon: Tell us a little about your background.

Taylor: So I was born and raised in Taylor – Chicago. I dealt with bullying during my preteen years that led to a deep struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts for the 10 years that followed.

During my high school years, I was a standout athlete and excelled in football as a quarterback. Unfortunately, a heart condition stopped my play during college, which led to a downward spiral during my first two years of my college career. I gained 170 pounds in the span of 18 months, and my mental and physical health took a turn for the worse.

January 2008 was my lowest point in life, but it was also the opportunity for transformation. My final failed attempt at ending it all led me to community support on my college campus (Northern Illinois University), and an amazing transformation to learn to live a life of healing and restoration.

This is one of the reasons I'm so passionate about mental health and seeing others thrive in their own mental and emotional endeavors. After graduating, I worked one job before founding TaylorMade Empowerment, a parent company that oversees the Richard Taylor Jr. brand, publishing and consulting ventures for college and corporate clients.

I've self-published seven books since the TME inception, and have been on a mission to spread love and empathy since.

Beacon: Can you tell me about your podcasts?

Taylor: The "Between the Dream" podcast was created in 2018 and became somewhat of an extension from my second book, "Between the Dream." The podcast airs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I have a host of conversations that range from our daily life experiences, to conversations from various books, and I also sprinkle in some of my love for comic books and professional wrestling as well.

The main goal behind the podcast is to bring a few quick minutes of encouraging content to help individuals reconsider their current circumstance, or give them the boost they need to get through the day.

I usually bring on different guests from around the world, as well as have conversations that I believe will be thought-provoking and helpful to my listeners. The podcast is available everywhere podcasts stream; I've noticed that most listeners usually tune in from iTunes or Spotify.

Beacon: How did you end up in Edmonds?

Taylor: I moved to Washington state in 2017 after meeting my now-wife a few years earlier during a college speaking tour through Washington. Yes, I moved for love, best decision I've ever made.

One of the first places my wife took me after arriving in the state was Edmonds. I fell in love with the ambience and charm. I'm also a water baby, and having the Sound right here was a no-brainer for me.

Beacon: You are involved in Edmonds community events and live in town?

Taylor: We moved into Edmonds about a year and a half ago. We live in the Bowl, and I have been involved in a few Edmonds community events; well, as many as COVID restrictions have allowed.

Outside of community events, I can usually be spotted talking to and loving on our neighbors during my daily runs through the neighborhood and down on Sunset.

Editor's note: Help is available for those with suicidal thoughts:

Snohomish County 24-hour local crisis line: 800-584-3578

24-hour chat service: http://www.imhurting.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255).


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