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Chemotherapy, Anxiety, Trauma, and Triumph with Tamara Taggart

Episode 53|43:57 min|

Podcast Categories: Adults, Treatment, Workplace,

#OurAnxietyStories – The Anxiety Canada Podcast
#OurAnxietyStories – The Anxiety Canada Podcast
Chemotherapy, Anxiety, Trauma, and Triumph with Tamara Taggart
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Work anxiety can impact anyone, but can you imagine having an anxiety attack right before you need to go live on air?  

In this episode of #OurAnxietyStories, Tamara Taggart shares her story. As a successful broadcaster and speaker, she thrived in her professional life, with many around her noting that she was the busiest and most successful people they knew. But behind the scenes, she felt “odd,” and later realized that she’d been dealing with undiagnosed anxiety and depression for years. She coped by staying busy through work and volunteering so that she never had to “think about anything else.” From childhood chaos, to having a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome, to her own cancer diagnosis, Tamara was in survival mode for as long as she can remember. Tamara and host John Bateman discuss her journey to understand and work through her anxiety—a journey she is still on today. 

This episode explores how a support system can help you cope with anxiety and mood disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mood disorder, consider the Mood Disorders Association of BC’s peer-led support groups. MDABC support groups are a safe place to share your story and find support. For more info, visit www.mdabc.net/resources/mdabc-support-groups. 

Additionally, if this episode resonates with you, check out ‘Visions: BC’s Mental Health and Substance Use Journal,’ an award-winning magazine that brings together many views on mental health and substance use. Visions features different aspects of wellness, personal experiences, and interesting discussions. The journal is written by and for people who have experienced mental health or substance use problems or used mental health or addictions services, along with service providers, family and friends, community advocates, and leaders/decision-makers.  

About the Guest  

Tamara Taggart was a major broadcaster on national television for over 30 years. Now, she’s a writer, moderator, keynote speaker, and advocate for mental health and down syndrome. Tamara’s activism and advocacy, plus her natural curiosity and talent for interviewing, led her to her own podcast. She hosts ‘Telus Talks with Tamara Taggart,’ where she interviews different experts, thinkers, and leaders, and advocates for healthcare for people with disabilities and marginalized communities. 

"I recognize now that I… always had anxiety, I always had depression. But I think that I was in survival mode all the time."

- Tamara Taggart

This podcast is brought to you by Anxiety Canada™, a leader in developing free, online self-help and evidence-based anxiety resources. For more information and resources, please visit our website and download our app, MindShift™ CBT.

Transcript

Intro: This is #OurAnxietyStories, the Anxiety Canada Podcast with John Bateman. This is the place where people from all walks of life share their anxiety stories to remind you that you are not alone. If you have an anxiety story you’d like to share, contact us at AnxietyCanada.com/OurAnxietyStories. 

John Bateman: I am John Bateman. You’re listening to Our Anxiety Stories, the Anxiety Canada Podcast, which can be found on AnxietyCanada.com, or on any of your popular podcast platforms. Today, I’m talking to Tamara Taggart. After 30 years in broadcasting, Tamara is exploring new opportunities with her activism and advocacy in healthcare for people with disabilities and for the marginalized people in Vancouver. She’s also the host of Telus Talks with Tamara Taggart, where she brings together experts, thinkers, and leaders sharing stories and staying connected when Canadians need it most.  

John Bateman: Hi, Tamara.  

Tamara Taggart: Hi.  

John Bateman: Thanks for joining me.  

Tamara Taggart: I’m excited to be here.  

John Bateman: I’m excited that you’re here.  

Tamara Taggart: Yeah,  

John Bateman: We will kick it off with the same question always. Tamara, what’s your anxiety story?  

Tamara Taggart: Yeah, I see, I know you start your podcast this way. I’ve been thinking about it and it’s such an interesting question. And I often wonder how people I know would answer that question. I think that my anxiety story started from birth. 

I am someone who has lived in an anxious environment when I was younger. I did not know what anxiety was until about, I would say about eight years ago, maybe six years ago. I don’t know. It started for me, truly, when I recognized it at work. I had just finished about 10 months earlier. I had finished my chemo. I was on, I had cancer, I was diagnosed with cancer in 2000- and 12, I think — it’s all foggy to me now. And I did three years of chemo.  

John Bateman: Wow.  

Tamara Taggart: I also was working full time. I had three little kids at home. I had a husband who was on the road a lot. I still have a husband and I still have three kids. 

John Bateman: Check, check.  

Tamara Taggart: Yeah, exactly. But I was working a lot and volunteering a lot. Any of my extra time. Which wasn’t very much. I was volunteering. And I was at work. We had finished our news meeting and we were sitting around the news boardroom table. There were four of us and we were discussing something that was coming up. And I felt odd. Like I knew that I felt odd, I felt angry, and I was feeling angry because I was being asked to do something again that I felt my co-worker was never asked to do. And it really bugged me that day for some reason. And, I said something, I said, “How come you can’t do this? Like, why do I have to always do this? Why can’t you do it?” And they turned to me, and they said, “because I’m not going to.”  

John Bateman: See that sounds triggering.  

Tamara Taggart: I lost it.  

John Bateman: Many people would, many people would.  

Tamara Taggart: But I had something happen to me that I didn’t even know was possible. I lost all feeling in my body. I had no control over what I was saying, how I was acting, how I was feeling, and I had, it felt like, 40 years of rage come flying out of me towards this moment. And I stormed off and I, you know, I went on air. 

John Bateman: Wow! And you gathered yourself somehow within that?  

Tamara Taggart: It was, I don’t even remember any of it. And shortly after that, I saw my psychiatrist. I’d never been on medication. I had never been diagnosed with anything. I had gone to originally see them because I was worried after my son was born. So, my son has Down Syndrome, our first child, and it came with also a lot of stress that I didn’t recognize. And a lot of fear that I didn’t recognize. Fear of the unknown and the gaze of other people, you know, that really, weighed heavy on me. And it was like everything just came out. And I went to go see my psychiatrist and she said, “You’re not going to work for the next little while.” And I said, “What?”  

John Bateman: Wow.  

Tamara Taggart: She said, “You’re not going to work.” And I said, “Oh, no, but I have to go to work.” Like I worked through, I came back early from all my mat leaves. I went back to work when my kids were three and a half, four months old, all three of them.  

John Bateman: Wow.  

Tamara Taggart: I went back to work too early after cancer. Like I cannot take time off because, I had a little bit of a hissy fit at work, but it wasn’t that, you know? And shortly after that, I was diagnosed with anxiety; I was diagnosed with depression. And that has been where I’m at for the last, I’d say eight years, but I recognize now that I … always had anxiety, I always had depression. But I think that I was in survival mode all the time. I left home when I was 15. I lived with friends and their moms and all kinds of things. I had a very tumultuous childhood and there was a lot of, you know, a lot of trauma that was not… I guess I just buried it, and I disassociated from all emotion, and I buried myself in work. And if work wasn’t busy enough and home wasn’t busy enough, then I volunteered all my extra time so that I never, ever, ever had to think about what was happening in my brain and in my body.  

John Bateman: A lot of people do that. I still do that to a degree. 

Tamara Taggart: I do too.  

John Bateman: It’s like I always like to be doing something and I have a hard time sitting down and doing quotes. Nothing. Because then I start listening to my brain, and that’s not always a great thing. It’s interesting how you, you know, you took a career path where you have to be together. When we used to watch you on TV, like you said, after you had your hissy fit, you had to be put together. So, do you feel like that your career forced you down a path of suspending your emotions in that sense?  

Tamara Taggart: 100%. I didn’t know that at the time. It’s been five years since I was on television, and in that five years, I’ve done an enormous amount of work on myself. And, I haven’t figured it all out, but I do see things now where I understand how I was, how I coped with things. You know, we all have different coping mechanisms and mine was to be so busy that I didn’t have a second to think about anything else. And it’s funny because I don’t know if you notice this, but every time you see a doctor about your mental health or something, one of the things they always ask you is, How’s your sleep?  

John Bateman: Yes.  

Tamara Taggart: Right? How’s your sleep?  

John Bateman: Kind of number one with diet and exercise.  

Tamara Taggart: Yeah. I am an excellent sleeper and I always have been an excellent sleeper, and I still am an excellent sleeper. And I think it’s because I’m just exhausted all the time because I never stop. And I realized that my new thing right now is I still have a lot of old habits. You know, volunteering for everything and keeping myself busy and all that sort of stuff. But I also have now started during the pandemic, I started rage cleaning. I can clean an oven or a dishwasher like nobody’s ever seen before.  

John Bateman: I’ve never put a label on it, but I know exactly what you’re talking about.  

Tamara Taggart: It’s rage cleaning. And for me, it calms me because I’m like, Okay, this is what I’m feeling. I can identify it. I’m going to take that dishwasher apart, and then that’s what I do.  

John Bateman: It’s so interesting because there’s such a fine line between what I think are healthy tools and what I think are unhealthy tools, because I do a lot of that too. I rely on when I’m not doing something, you know, work, podcast, renovating my whatever. I’m like you, I always have a list of the things I’m doing. But I find myself trying to justify these alternative tools for working with my brain and one of them is definitely cleaning and organizing and doing the dishes.  

Tamara Taggart: Yes.  

John Bateman: And doing them perfectly. 

Tamara Taggart: Yes.  

John Bateman: And stacking the dishwasher perfectly. I feel like we sometimes get shamed — people who are “workaholics”. I come from a family of them, and a lot of people get shamed for that behaviour. You know, “you should be sitting down, you should be reading.” But I’ve turned the corner on that where I think, this is what I like doing and I have a great result at the end of it.  

Tamara Taggart: No one’s ever said that to me. No one’s ever said, “You should be doing this.” What they used to say to me is, “You are so busy. I don’t know how you do it all. You’re amazing. How do you do all of this?” And I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m not busy. At all? What are you talking about? Like, no, no, no, no, no. I’m like, I’m not busy. I’m not amazing. I’m not . . . no, no, no. I’m just doing what I like.”  

John Bateman: That’s normal for you.  

Tamara Taggart: That’s how I framed it for myself, right? Because I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea. I couldn’t identify any of that because . . . I feel now looking back . . . That it’s two things. One, I think that I have been hiding who I really am. I’m not, it’s not like I was a, you know, fake on television. Like my personality is my personality. That’s who I am. Who I was on TV is who I am in real life. I’m very open and honest but, you know, I have deep, deep trauma, and it’s hard for me to say that because I also compare trauma, right? So, I see other people’s trauma and go, “Oh, yeah, my trauma’s not that bad, so I’m not going to even mention my trauma.” 

John Bateman: I do the same thing. It’s very classic.  

Tamara Taggart: It’s comparison, right? It’s like, what right do I have to complain about my childhood? When this person over here really, you know, they really had trauma. And I also think that on the outside everything looks pretty good. I think people have always looked at me and thought that I’ve had it easy and that I sailed through life and that I have lots of money. 

John Bateman: Oh my gosh. We are like, that’s carbon copy for me. Hard copy me, because my dad is a “wealthy artist”. So, people just assume.  

Tamara Taggart: Of course. Right. And I think that I am a book that’s been judged by its cover. And that’s fine. I get it. I totally get it. So, what I’ve done, my doctor said to me, my family doctor said to me after I had that massive anxiety attack and was off work for three months and yeah, it was something else. 

What an experience. And I went into my GP’s office and told her what had happened. And she went, I’m not surprised. And I said, What? And she said, I’m not surprised. And I said, why? And she said, because for as long as I’ve known you, you’re just a soldier. You soldier on, she goes, you left home when you were 15 and you just soldiered on, how am I going to do this? 

How am I going to be independent? How am I going to get through school? How am I going to get a job? How am I going to do these things? How am I going to work, work, work, work, work? So that I can have the things that make me feel safe. And she goes, “Then you had a baby with a disability, and you were like, Okay. Yep. Nothing to see here, people; we’re going to move forward, everything’s fine, everything’s good. Yep!” 

She goes, “And then you got cancer, and you did the exact same thing.” And she goes, “Almost every cancer patient that I have had has some kind of a breakdown, anxiety attack, something within a few minutes of, within a few months or weeks of, finishing their treatment because you have been in this fight for a long time.” And your only purpose is: you’re just going to follow the rules and survive this, right? That’s what you’re thinking. Then, when it’s all done and your chemo’s done and everything’s done, you eventually realize, Oh God, I don’t have to fight anymore. Now I can feel, and then it all falls apart. She goes, “The difference is, is most people, it happens in a couple of, in a few weeks or a few months… You took almost a year.” 

John Bateman: Which makes sense considering how you live your life. You know, putting things on back burner or ignoring it or whatever you do. How so do you think essentially that you have been in what many of us would call survival mode a long time?  

Tamara Taggart: Yeah. I think I still am. I fight, I fight. I fight emotions so hard, right? Yeah, I really do. And I always thought crying was a sign of weakness. And being weak was bad. That’s what I believed when I was younger. When you grow up in a household that feels chaotic and you can’t understand it and it feels scary for whatever reason, and then you leave when you’re a teenager or you’re asked to leave depending on who you talk to in my family. I think the hardest part for me now is that I’m 54 years old, and I’m still working through what happened when I was 13, 14, and I feel exhausted by it. And so, I think that’s all part of it too: I would rather just not deal with it. Because it’s so much easier to just [say], okay, I get it, this is what happened. I was sad and then I got a job, and I was better and then, you know, these things happen, but now I’m better and I would like to just wrap it all up in a package and send it out there. But yeah, it doesn’t work like that and it’s a lot of hard work. 

John Bateman: I t sounds like when you had this moment in the briefing room where you reached your point, I call it a hill to die on. It’s like you’ve decided that’s it. 

Tamara Taggart: I just had no control over it.  

John Bateman: Yeah, when I’m monitoring my anxiety and depression, my first indicators are not anxiety and depression. They’re short temper, anger. Those are my first ones. And I’m like you, once I’ve closed my eyes, I’m asleep. I don’t have any problems sleeping. So those are my first indicators. I keep really acute, you know, look at those indicators. But what I want to circle back to is, when you went and talked to your psychiatrist and your psychiatrist diagnosed you, when did you start? Because it sounded like you were denying your trauma in the beginning or you knew it was there, but you weren’t working on it. So is there a point where you started working on it and talking about it with your psychiatrist or with friends. What point did you start working on it? And it sounds like you’re probably still working on it on some level.  

Tamara Taggart: Oh, I’m definitely still working on it. It’s interesting because I am somebody who has been in therapy my life — since for as long as I can remember. And I do remember being maybe 14, 13, 14 and going to a counselor, something with my parents. That was my first exposure to that sort of talk therapy, if you will, except I was in it with my parents and I was not interested.  

John Bateman: That’s quite early. Sounds like you’re probably born around 1968.  

Tamara Taggart: That’s correct, John. Very good. 

John Bateman: I know that because me too, and in that era that’s pretty enlightened and early to be going to a counsellor. You’re talking about basically 1980, that you’re a young person going to counsellor because, Man, not many were. What was the catalyst for you going into the therapy at that age? Was it your parents? Was it you? 

Tamara Taggart: It was because my mother got remarried. They decided that we needed to do this because, I don’t know, I guess they thought I was a bad kid or something. I have no idea.  

John Bateman: But Interesting they did it with you. That… doesn’t sound like it [worked]. 

Tamara Taggart: No, I think that when I went for the first time, it was short. So, what happened was, I was kicked out of the house twice.  

John Bateman: Okay.  

Tamara Taggart: Now, my family might describe it as, I chose to leave. I vehemently disagree. We all have different perceptions of history. Each person. You know, could be in a room and experience the same thing and then 10 years later is completely different. Recounted completely differently. I know. And then I think I came back after the first time and that’s when we went to some counselling. And then after that, no we didn’t, and I didn’t enter any therapy or anything until I got into my twenties, and I had completed high school. And then I put myself through BCIT. I lived on campus there. I applied for a student loan, and I also got a little bit of a bursary. And I completed BCIT and then I got my first job. And my first full time job was at Sea Fox. And I was young, I was 21 or something. I remember because one of my friends there, he went to go give me a hug or something. And I recoiled, and he said he noticed it. I saw him notice it. I was never good with that. 

And he said something to me one day, he said, I noticed that whenever anybody goes to put their arm around you or give you a hug or something like that, you physically, you have a physical reaction. Why is that? No one had ever asked me that before. I just remember thinking, “Wow, this is a new person in my life and that’s very interesting that they would notice that.” He said to me, “Do you think that maybe you should talk to someone?” And he gave me the name of somebody. 

John Bateman: He saw that as obviously as an avoidance of physical intimacy or whatever we can call that trust or something. 

Tamara Taggart: He just saw something that he recognized. And he was somebody that I looked up to and I called the person and I saw them for quite a while. And from there I just moved from person to person. I did some art therapy; I did some writing therapy. Then I started doing some really heavy work when I got into my thirties and then life happened, right? Kids, marriage, everything. Busy, busy, busy, busy. And then I was focused on how I was going to support my family and all that sort of stuff. 

So, I didn’t really think about what was going on in my brain, but meanwhile, I have family around me who is acting like it’s still the eighties. Eventually it all comes back. And I think the most difficult part for me though, really, John, is that I feel like I’ve done an enormous amount of work to try to figure out why I feel the way I do and, and to just heal, whatever it is, right? Just heal it instead of denying it. And when I feel like whenever I get a few steps ahead, something happens within the dynamics of a family, if you will, and it throws me back. It can throw me back decades. That’s where I’m at now. I’m still doing the work. Like constantly, every single week. I still talk to somebody.  

John Bateman: Did you ever have classic sort of physical symptoms of anxiety? Whether it’s rapid heartbeat, sweating, nervous. . . All those sort of classic symptoms. 

Tamara Taggart: No, no, no. I became so good at protecting myself from a very young age. Emotionally protecting myself. I can be crying in a ball one minute, and then if you told me I had to go on air, I could do it. I think that it just became. . . I got confused as to: who am I authentically, who am I and who do I think I am, you know?  

John Bateman: Because you say that you are the same person that you are on air, that you are off air, et cetera, and I believe that. But I do this and do a lot of live events and stuff like that. People can see a big difference in me because when I’m in an anxious state or a depressed state, I wear it on my face. I can’t deny it. but then, I’m like you, I can get on stage and be laughy, jokey, blah, blah, blah, and people don’t get it. Do you feel like you . . . become a character at all? Where you have to split off and protect? What is you privately and what is you publicly?  

Tamara Taggart: I think I work so hard to get to that point in my career where I… Listen, I think it’s very weird that a person like me who has trauma, no self-esteem, who doesn’t want anyone to look at them… I am somebody who prefers to not be looked at. It’s just the weirdest thing that I ended up on TV and it doesn’t make any sense at all, but in some ways, it does make sense to me because I became that person. I became the person that I always wanted to be. I was happy and I can be myself on television and it was such an odd thing for me because, at my core, I’m a people pleaser. And I want people to like me, and I want people to want to be my friend, and I want to be friends.  

John Bateman: Hence the volunteering and all that other stuff you do too. I don’t think there’s anything really particularly wrong with that. Unless it’s starting to sacrifice your happiness.  

Tamara Taggart: But listen, I will say that when you work somewhere for 22 years and you’re told that you are this amazing person at the workplace and then you’re blindsided and let go, which is what happened to me. That was something obviously I wasn’t prepared for. I wasn’t prepared to be blindsided. I get really emotional when I talk about this. Something that really still is with me.  

John Bateman: If people don’t know it was you and your anchor, co-anchor that both were all of a sudden gone.  

Tamara Taggart: And there’s not an explanation.  

John Bateman: I did watch you guys every night.  

Tamara Taggart: Yeah. And a lot of people did. It was horrible. And what I didn’t realize at the time was that it brought up something that I had been hiding for decades. And that was abandonment. And I didn’t realize that. I didn’t know that at the time. I just knew that I was physically incapable of functioning for quite some time after that. It was just in the news that Lisa Laflamme, who was the big time on the news, the national anchor at the place where I used to work. She was blindsided. After 35 years working at the same place. And when I read about it, and I know her, and we all know each other. I felt like I had been taken back to April 5th, 2018, and obviously that pain is still there, so what is that pain? And that’s where I have to dig, right? So, clearly, I am not healed from my trauma of abandonment. Listen, I think that anybody that gets blindsided at their job, no matter what they do for a job, I think it’s hideous. And I think that it should never be done to somebody. I understand why bosses do it but there’s no humanity. Human resources does not have any humanity in it. It’s unbelievable.  

John Bateman: It’s very corporate.  

Tamara Taggart: I started 2018 knowing that I was turning 50 in a few months. And that I had never felt better in my life. I felt strong. I felt like I was finally going to be an adult when I turned 50 and that life was good. It was really good. And I liked people I worked with. I loved my job. And for the first time I was feeling really confident. And then that happened, and I feel like it took me right back to when I was, you know, 14, 15 years old. 

John Bateman: It’s interesting because I’ve interviewed people who don’t have typical symptoms of anxiety. It seems to me that you’ve got something in your brain, some way of thinking that enables you to move on and be a productive human, which is amazing. I wonder . . . If you have conscious thoughts, say, once you’ve gotten over the initial shock of being let go, or once you’ve gotten over the shock that you have a child who has down syndrome, what are you telling yourself at that point? What is your brain saying to itself? Because a lot of people would be like, life is horrible, I give up, and then they go in bed and don’t come out. 

Tamara Taggart: I did have days like that. Don’t think I didn’t. Yeah, of course I did. I had days where I couldn’t get out of bed. I had days where my husband was deeply worried about me. I don’t want anyone to think that I haven’t had those days. I’ve had many of those days over the last five years. I didn’t have them before. But the blindside at work after 22 years, it felt public. I felt like I was publicly humiliated.  

John Bateman: I don’t think people felt you were humiliated, but people certainly. . .  

Tamara Taggart: I felt that way. 

John Bateman: Yeah, of course you would. Our perception in the public’s very different.  

Tamara Taggart: Yeah, of course. And I didn’t get out of bed for a long time. I just went out with my friends and drank lots of wine and wallowed in my sadness, right? 

And when will I get to anger? I think what’s really interesting is, and this is why I think therapy is so fascinating because, here I was in therapy for so long, and I was only diagnosed with anxiety and depression a few years ago and put on medication. Which I’d never, ever done before. And it changed my life within weeks. I felt like a different person.  

John Bateman: That’s amazing.  

Tamara Taggart: And I recognized, oh, maybe somebody should have mentioned this to me before. But yesterday when I was talking to my doctor, I was crying. 

And I don’t cry in therapy really. Therapists have always said to me, “You never cry.” And I always say, I’m scared that if I start, I won’t stop.  

John Bateman: I’ve heard that before.  

Tamara Taggart: That’s truly what I am scared of. But yesterday I was crying because I’ve had something come up in my extended family that has really upset me and taken me back a long, a lot of years. So, I was crying, and she said to me, as we were talking about my childhood and that sort of stuff, “I think that this is grief what you’re feeling. This is grief.” 

John Bateman: And that made sense to you. Did you have a definition of grief before that even, because it sounds like a lot of what you’re describing to me would involve a lot of grief and it’s interesting to go back to this because, you talk about grief and [thinking], No I’m not experiencing grief or trauma; that’s grief and trauma. But I feel like we really need to take the time to justify what we’re going through. Count our blessings from what we’re not going through, but then realize our grief and our trauma is just as legitimate no matter how big or small.  

Tamara Taggart: And I don’t think I ever did do that. And I think that I was brought up to believe that you only have grief if someone dies. You don’t have grief if you lost a job, and you don’t have grief if you know you’re sad about your childhood or something. That’s not grief; grief is when someone dies. And I think I’ve always believed that, and I understand [that] to not be true now. Grief comes in all different ways and forms. And we all deal with grief in very different ways. The one thing I don’t like is how mentally exhausting therapy is. It is a workout. And sometimes after I have a session, I can’t do anything else. I just can’t explain it to anybody. It’s just, it’s too much. I’m done. And maybe it wasn’t even that intense or something, I don’t know, but it’s just something happens in you physically where you’re like, I just, I need to go, just take it easy.  

John Bateman: I think I’m probably 50/50. I think sometimes I come out for lack of a better word, jacked, like it gives me energy, and sometimes I come out just spent. 

Tamara Taggart: I think I’m more of the spent kind.  

John Bateman: We all process things differently and definitely the way our brain functions anxiety and depression, that leads to physical exhaustion. That definitely leads to that. To circle back to grief for a second… are you hoping for you anticipating a time…? Because I’ve lost best friends. My best friend for 20 years died out of nowhere. He was only 60. I’ve experienced a lot of death grief, a different kind of grief. I came to realize that there’s no end to it. It comes in different forms and comes and goes, and it’ll always be there until I die probably. How do you view grief? Do you view it as being a beginning, middle, end, or as a journey?  

Tamara Taggart: It’s interesting that you say that because one of my dearest friends is a grief counsellor and she she’s an author and lives in California. Her name is Claire Bidwell Smith. And she wrote a book, she’s written many books, but her last book is called Anxiety: The Missing [Stage of] Grief something like that. I can’t remember. Anyways, I can’t remember what it’s called exactly. She’ll be mad at me for not remembering. And her and I talk about grief all the time because I’ve learned so much from her about grief, and she’s very open and giving to others about it, like through social media and stuff. And so, I don’t look at it as a beginning, middle, and end. I understand that it ebbs and flows. Now I understand that grief comes… It shows up differently in everybody. And I do find that both my mother-in-law and father-in-law have passed away. 

And my mother-in-law, she died last year, and it was during the pandemic, and we did have a service, but it was only 50 people allowed and all that sort of stuff. I’ve had a very hard time with her death, and I know that my husband has too, not that we didn’t have a hard time with his father’s death. Of course, we did. It’s a massive hole in our family. But we were with him all the time. From when he was diagnosed to when he passed away, and before that we were with them all the time too. But during the pandemic, we couldn’t. You couldn’t see mom.  

John Bateman: You didn’t get to go through the regular progression. 

Tamara Taggart: And so, it’s been very difficult for all of us, especially my kids, because we missed so much time with her because of the guidelines that we were under. The public health order and all that, which we had to experience, obviously to keep everybody safe. We couldn’t go see her if, you know, we could be sick. So, I think that is grief there that I’m having, I know we’re all having a challenging time with, because it’s still a year later, [and it] doesn’t seem real to us, right? So, it’s very interesting.  

John Bateman: Tell me a little bit about your podcast with Telus.  

Tamara Taggart: What was it? March 13th, 2020, is when I remember it so well, right? That’s when the last day of school before spring break, and then all of a sudden it was like, oh wait, there’s this thing, and we’re shutting everything down. The next day, March 14th, it was Saturday, I get a phone call from somebody at Telus, and they said, “I have an idea.” 

And I said, “What?” And they said, “We want to do a podcast. And we think that this COVID might be a big thing. And I think that we should let people know how to take care of themselves with longer conversations.” 

They’re on top of it. It was unbelievable. And I said, “Oh, that sounds amazing.” And they said, “Yeah, we can have conversations with doctors and epidemiologists and stuff. Like, what can we do? What can we do to be safe? What can we learn about this?” And I said, “This is great.” I said, “if you get it organized, you could probably make this happen in the next couple of weeks.” But they said to me, “Oh no. I was hoping you could show up this afternoon at our studio to record the first one.” I said, “what? Yeah, okay!” 

John Bateman: Of course, being you, you did.  

Tamara Taggart: I did! I drove down there, and I recorded two [episodes]. Then we started to lock down and they showed up in my basement and they set up, honestly, they hardwired me in for Wi-Fi, put a light in my office, they put a microphone here, and we’ve done I think 130 episodes now. We’ve been doing it a couple of years.  

John Bateman: Now you’ve obviously come out of the COVID thing. I assume you’re talking about everything in that broad spectrum.  

Tamara Taggart: Yeah, we are now. And it’s great. I think that we lean health: mental health, physical health, emotional health. We also talk a lot about social justice.  

John Bateman: Amazing.  

Tamara Taggart: We talk a lot about Indigenous life and how we can be better and how we can decolonize. We talk a lot about that. I’ve had some incredible guests on, I can’t believe some of the people I’ve spoken to. And really, we have a monthly meeting, and we brainstorm and I’m an avid reader and I’m always buying books and every time we have a meeting, I’m like, “Okay, I’ve got eight new books, and I think we should talk to all eight authors!” I love having conversations with people. Like, I like talking to you. I like talking to my guests. I love it.  

John Bateman: Yeah, me too.  

Tamara Taggart: I think it’s what I do best is, asking people questions. I want to keep doing that, you know? 

John Bateman: It’s an excellent way to give back and to share within your hosting duties, you share a lot of what is you as well. I don’t know how that couldn’t really come out.  

Tamara Taggart: I try to. A little bit. 

John Bateman: That’s amazing. So that’s called Telus Talks with Tamara Taggart…Tamara, I really appreciate you taking time to talk to me. I hope we can talk again because I feel like there’s another hour of questions [that] I can ask you. You’re just so good at this and I really appreciate you taking the time and I appreciate what you do for the whole healthcare system. It’s just awesome.  

Tamara Taggart: Well, thank you so much and I’m thrilled that you asked me to be a guest on your podcast, so thank you.  

John Bateman: Okay. Take care. 

Outro: Thank you for listening to #OurAnxietyStories. If you’d like to support this podcast or Anxiety Canada, go to AnxietyCanada.com.