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Episode 13 – Bryde MacLean (Season 1)

Bryde MacLean is a podcaster and yoga instructor.

In this episode she shares how how yoga helped her overcome her anxiety: “I find that if I can control the physical aspects of my anxiety, it has a tremendous mental effect.”

John Bateman (JB): Next I’m talking to podcaster and an actor and I’m sure many other things that I don’t know, but we’ll maybe we’ll find out. This is Bryde McLean. Hi Bryde.  

Brydie McLean (BM): Hi.

JB: I’m so glad that you got on. It was all my fault.

BM: It’s a tough thing to coordinate schedules.

JB: You must be super busy I guess.  

BM: Well today we went to camera on a new film, so it’s been pretty busy leading up to that, but today is pretty smooth sailing so far.  

JB: Oh, that’s good. So you’re working on something right now.  

BM: Yeah,  

JB: So what’s your anxiety story? How has it affected you in your life?  

BM: That’s a really big question.  

JB: Yeah. It is.  

BM: I grew up in what they call a broken family, but I don’t really think of it that way. My dad and my stepmother raised me and my sister. Tara and I have the same mom so she was on the other side of my family, not the family that I grew up with. When I was about eight, Tara and my other sister Shea came for a visit to where I lived and they picked me up and we spent the day hanging out and it was great.  

BM: And then they drove me home and I just remember this stomach ache, this deep, deep, ache that just had me on my knees. I was so stressed out and feeling so anxious just because of the dynamic of my family wasn’t always really positive. So coming home with, with that side of my family to my home, where there was a lot more conflict. I felt like that I couldn’t handle that in my little eight year old body. For as long as I can remember, that’s always how my anxiety has presented itself, just like awful physical cramps in my stomach and that have followed me my whole life. I don’t know if I wouldn’t have known that if it wasn’t for my experience practicing and teaching yoga over the last 15 years. Doing that helped me identify what physical sensations are related to my anxiety.  

JB: So yoga is one of your coping mechanisms.  

BM: Yeah, definitely. It’s a peaceful break from things and slows the breath and relaxes my body. I find that if I can control the physical aspects of my anxiety, it has a tremendous mental effect.  

JB: That’s amazing to hear. I mean, that’s a something we haven’t really heard that, that angle before. Usually people are tackling the psyche right away, but connecting those physical symptoms to your body and then addressing those can be a powerful thing too.

BM: Yeah, absolutely. It’s similar to my acting training, where you can create a psychological experience within yourself. Tap into emotions that are, that are not your own because they belong to the character, but you do it from the outside in. So you can do it from using physical gestures and physical exercises to affect your psychology. And I’ve used that in the same way cause because of course performing brings up a whole different kind of anxiety.  

JB: Yeah. So how do you differentiate those kinds of anxiety? Do you consider one anxiety to be more healthy or useful and the other obviously to not be. How do you differentiate between those two?  

BM: I don’t think either of them are healthy or useful. I’ve been an actor for a long time and I feel like I haven’t really made my peace with it yet. Every single time, the entire time being confronted with that impostor syndrome even though I have years of experience and training, like I’m not supposed to be here and I’m not meeting people’s expectations et cetera. It’s weird because then as a podcaster where I’m standing up on stage or on the microphone and presenting myself, I feel none of that: I feel very free.  

JB: Is that right? Because your podcast is very different. Your podcast is called ‘Turn Me On’. Tell me the gist of what that podcast is about.  

BM: It’s about what it’s like to be a sexual being in the world. My husband and I, we interview everyday ordinary folks about their experience and sometimes we get some really wild stories and sometimes they’re pretty, they’re much more relatable, but we’re pretty open about our experience. We see other people and so we have lots of experience to draw from and yeah, we get pretty personal. 

JB: Yeah, for sure. And was that a decision that you and your husband came to where you decided it was more comfortable to be open and transparent about it?

BM: I think so. The older I get, the more I feel like there are certain patterns I’ve fallen into in my life that I didn’t realize were choices. It just matched what was happening around me in the adults that I saw everything from, the trajectory of a career to the trajectory of a relationship. And I feel like being trying to fit into a shape that’s not necessarily my shape is stressful.  

JB: Yeah, for sure. And you found that kind of opening up and transparency was a good way to deal with it. Freeing, as you say.

BM: When everything’s on the table, when everything’s just wide open and transparent, then it becomes a lot easier to deal with. 

JB: Your husband has got a super popular podcast called Sick Boy, about his dealing with cystic fibrosis. How is it dealing with that, that in your relationship, because for me that is pure anxiety. How do you deal with that?  

BM: It’s like a low hum all the time, ‘cause he’s coughing all the time. And it’s always really present, especially now with the podcast. But this might be a really weird thing to say, but I feel like maybe that relationship is a defence mechanism for me because when I was making that transition from high school to my independent sort of adulthood, Tarah and I lost our other sister really unexpectedly and nothing could’ve shook me more. And that definitely sent me on a number of years of depth and discovery. And when I met Jeremy, I think there’s something soothing to some part of my brain and that I at least know that this is probably how it’s gonna happen and what it’s probably gonna look like. And that might be a really strange thing to say, but I think that’s how I make sense of it.  

JB: Yeah, for sure. You mentioned your sister Shea, who passed away in a car accident. How do you feel that affected your mental health?

BM: It was my very first experience with of grief. But my family also, it pulled us all closer. I was 18 and just finding the world on my own. So I definitely numbed my grief for a couple of years with the same sort of thing that from the outside might look like your average every day. I was a 20 year old. I smoked a lot of pot am I drank a lot of alcohol and it helped I thought. And then one day I showed up to a yoga teacher training at age 21 and I was like, I want to feel healthy.  

BM: And that yoga training really challenged me in things I believed to be true and challenged the hardness that had formed a little bit around my heart. It’s not easy. It’s absolutely maddening to be challenged like that on all your defence mechanisms. But I think yoga helped bring me out of it. The love of my family, my acting training also gave me ways to process that kind of pain.

JB: I guess that kind of thing helps the brain a little bit too.  

BM: Yeah. It’s funny ‘cause I think a lot of people who are drawn to yoga and who are drawn to acting have mental health stuff that they are wanting to look at or work with.  

JB: Do you think that they always know that when they get into it?  

BM: No, definitely not. And maybe some of them never do.  

JB: Yeah, that’s true. One of the comments that I always get is I’m “funny”. I mean, I’ve suffered from anxiety and I’ve had depression my whole life, and we all use different ways to cope, but there’s something about humour that we gravitate towards.  

BM: Yeah. The levity, the lightness, is so important. So important to take all those feelings and channel them in something.  

JB: Yeah. Well, you sure find out who your friends are once they see the other side of that.  

BM: That’s super true.  

JB: What’s the name of the project you’re working on now?  

BM: We’re shooting an independent film on Prince Edward Island. It’s a landmark moment or Prince Edward Island film making. It’s cost a small fortune and it’s a thriller. My mom and dad are in it. It’s a family affair.  

JB: That sounds great. Bryde, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. And good luck with the movie!  

BM: Thank you very much! We’ll talk soon.

JB: Bye bye.