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Episode 71: Tragedy and Mental Health Advocacy with Sheila Heard


“This is Episode 71”


"Welcome to 'Wellness in Every Season,' the place where we explore the rich tapestry of motherhood and wellness in all its forms. I'm Autumn Carter, your host, guide and life-coach."


Autumn: Hello and welcome to episode 71 of wellness in every season I am autumn carter and today I have with me Sheila Heard.

She is known as a mama warrior and she has an amazing story to tell, so I am excited to dive in, and I'm even sneaking her in between others that I'm interviewing. Just because I'm very excited for what she has to talk about. It's something that I am passionate about, but I have, but has not touched me personally like it has her.

Can you go ahead and introduce yourself, and let's get started.

Sheila: Well, my name is Sheila Heard, and I am a mother. Of two adult children, one who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, one who has been diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica, which is a neurological disorder that claimed her eyesight and she has limited use of her arms and legs.

And my youngest son, the one who was diagnosed with a mental illness, was charged with my oldest son's death. And that was like in the year of 2016. At the time I was in, I was studying. To be a clinical psychologist and I had retired from the military to come home to take care of my daughter and my son.

And while I was Studying for clinical psychology. I guess when I came across the holistic approach and I was reading about it and I said, you know what, we have enough people that's doing the traditional side. I think I'm gonna get over here on this side because I have had situations with both my children.

Where I have had difficulty with getting them the medicine that they needed when they needed it the most. Because you know when you're dealing with a person with a mental illness you don't have time to sit up here and wait for them to do this or for them to do that. You don't have that kind of time.

So I had got it on the holistic side to be able to try to do something for that in between time if not replace it. So that was my reason for taking the whole holistic side and as I was Working with them. And I noticed that it worked for me as well. It worked for me so much as well, because as I tend to get older, things don't work as, as good as they used to.

But I noticed I tried some of the practice myself and I can fare a whole lot better. My body functions a whole lot better. It's such an overwhelming feeling. It is, it helps me. To deal with my kids, especially with my son, because you just don't know what kind of day you're going to have.

And it's just help you to have that peace when you can center yourself and you can find yourself, I'm telling you, you can find that peace in the midst of any kind of storm because when my son had died, I was already on that path because I'm very spiritual. I'm very spiritual. And no, people would tell me, you are so strong and I just have to tell them, you just don't understand the path of which I stand.

You don't understand the foundation on which I stand. It is so vital for me and it works for me. So I just like I tell anybody, if you are going through in your life, doing whatever in your life and whatever that you find. It's that place, that space for you, and it is not benefiting you in every area of your life.

I will invite you to try something else. Try something else, because I guarantee you, it's something else out there that will work for you. Because everybody is different. Everybody. That's one of the things I have learned with dealing with nutrition. Everybody is different. What works for you may not work for me.

Cause everybody's body is different and we have to understand the best ways for us to take care of our own body. It's not based on what somebody else tells us, what somebody else is doing or what somebody else has. We have to discern a lot of things for ourselves and what we can do to walk in our own shoes instead of trying to put on somebody else's shoes is not going to fit no way.

Your life could be so much better. You can find, when you can find that inner peace. I tell you, there's nothing that's better than having that inner peace for yourself. Because even though my son died, I have these two children with disabilities, and I've had trials and troubles. Through it all. But at the end of the day, no, I cannot lose Sheila.

I cannot afford to lose Sheila. That's one thing I will not do is lose Sheila.

Autumn: I think that's so important because there's so many women that when their children are grown and no longer need them, or even let's back up to when they're all in school full time for the first time, they realize they don't know who they are.

They haven't taken that chance. And it can be very debilitating. That can be the time when you're going on medication, antidepressants, or if you are on the journey already, like it sounds like you already were, it makes that healing so much easier. It makes you in tune with yourself. And that's where, My passion lies in coaching is helping moms there.

So let me clarify clarifying questions here. So it was your youngest who killed your oldest.

Sheila: Well, I know I'm not going to say kill, but they were struggling over the gun because it wasn't my son that died. gun because his best friend had died that Monday and I had heard the one who had killed him was looking for him.

So I don't know. So I just, I'm not even going to worry about that part. So it was his gun and they got to struggling and tussling and the gun did go off.

Autumn: Okay. So there was some kind of Mental breakdown and there was a struggle over a gun and the gun went well.

Sheila: He already had a mental breakdown I had already had tried to have him picked up, but they had counseled the order and didn't tell me I'll stand up and look for them to come pick him up in one of the opposite, but they had called it Yes, I said, how did they call and counsel the order?

I mean, it's just crazy

Autumn: And this is when I was contacted about this. We were talking about how with the healthcare system, it's very broken, especially with mental health. Oh, yes. Yes. Because we have this catch 22 going on because back in the sixties and even earlier, so many people were institutionalized that should not have been.

And we tend to, as a human race, we pendulum from one extreme to the other. So we went from Way too many people institutionalized for way too long against their will everything here to now we have people who need help and there's a fine line here need help forced on them because yeah, I understand

Sheila: what you're saying exactly.

Because they told my son, if you feel like you wanna come back, you can come back. So he felt like he, he needed to go back. They wouldn't take him back. And if he is not trying to kill himself or kill somebody else, they pretty much not gonna take him. And that's, it is a shame it takes that because, as they, as long as they go without their medication, they're going to get worse.

See, that's them needing help.

Autumn: Depending on the mental health problem, they can have a hard time remembering to take their medication. It's not just elderly who forget to take medication. It's also people with mental health disorders. Or, hey, I've forgotten to take my medicine. I'm not one who normally takes it, so why am I out of bounds?

A lot of times, too.

Sheila: A lot of times, they don't like how the medication makes them feel, too.

Autumn: Right. Because it makes them feel so different

Sheila: As I've been researching, cause I, cause I'm still going to school for a doctorate in natural integrative medicine, I have learned that even with the mental illness, everything is going to end up coming back to the gut.

Everything's going to end up coming back to the gut because you got to feed those sales, the proper nutrients, because if those sales are not getting what they need, your body is not going to act right. Guess what? Your brain, that's the second good. That's the second good. And it's all going to come.

That's why I do the nutrition. That's why I do the meditation. That's why I do the breath because I have my son meditating one time and he said it helped him. He really did. I said, how'd you sleep? And then he said, I did. I slept good. Cause I had put some essential oil in his room because I had to sleep last night.

I slept good when I told him to meditate and he did. And he said it helped him, but I got to do something to keep him doing that. But it really does help. Because like when my son is not on medication and he leave the house. That's hard because I know you got some parents who don't know where their loved one is that has schizophrenia and I feel for them, I do.

So when my son leaves out that door, I just pray to God and I go to bed. And he comes back through that door every time, but I have to do that every time. Every time he leave out that door. Every time.

Autumn: So for those who are struggling in your past shoes, what advice would you give to them? And then, after that, can you tell us a little bit about the journey that you've been on?

The parts that you want other people to think about and maybe mirror for themselves?

Sheila: One of the things I always say is see, Christ is my foundation because I tell you if it wasn't for Christ, I don't know where I would be because I tell you, because your family members are not going to be there because they don't want to fool with them.

They do not want to fool with your love and they don't want to deal with that. So you are left by yourself. Even when you call, even when you call them, when you call the professionals to come, because he had put all my tabs on flat one time and locked me out the house. So I called the police and they wouldn't take them.

They would not take them. So I just said, okay, so you know, you have to find that peace within yourself. And not only that, you have to understand that their life is not your life and you cannot feel guilty for feeling, happy or feeling good about something in your life because that is not your life.

Because I'm gonna tell you, whenever they are not on medication, there is really not a whole like really can do for them, but really just to pray and put it in God's hand. And I'm not gonna lie. I did. I lied sometime to get him where he needed to be. I had to lie to get him there. I did. I had to lie to get him there.

And he'll go there. He'll be there for his look. But this how he is now. He do not want to be without his medicine. Because you want to know why? Because he's scared to go to jail. Because, well, I said, we know you ain't going to take a shot tomorrow. I ain't going. I said, all right, you're not going by my, he said, all right, I'm going.

Because he don't want to have to keep going through that process. But see, when he get on his medicine, we have that conversation. Now you see what happens when you don't be on your medication. And he can tell the difference because he'll tell me that he can tell, cause that's something he'll tell me.

It's time to go take my medicine. Yes. It's getting close to the time for you to go. He can tell that they can tell it. And then a lot of times too, they can tell when people don't want to deal with them, that stigmatism that people put on them, they are hurt by that. So I try to instill in him, you got to be your own person.

You can't let their problem become your problem. You got no problems of your own. And then even when me as the caregiver, I said, no don't mess with my baby. I know my other son is gonna like people say all the time, how are you still up? Because I know my child, I know the state that he's in.

And if my other son was alive today, he would tell you, leave my son, leave my brother alone. He would tell you that. That's what I always say when they are on their medication, have that conversation with them, take them through the process that they go through when they don't be on their medication.

Cause I was listening to a Ted talk and he was saying, a lot of times you, A lot of people don't like to talk to them. They just like to dismiss whatever they said, but you have to understand what they are saying is real to them. It's real to them. And you've got to talk to them like it's real to them.

I said, like he always has like, he's in the military. I said, well, you will. I said, I was in the military too, you know, that is very hard, you got to play on them sometime and they'll try to play on you too. Now don't get it twisted.

Now you got to know your loved one, but they'll try to get over on you too. Like I always said, but you have got to get into a place yourself. You got to get your proper rest. You got to eat correctly, got to take care of yourself because you cannot take care of your loved one if you don't take care of yourself.

Cause I guarantee you, they going to need you. Because I hear so many sometimes say they want to give up. And I ask them, I say, do you really know what that means? Because you talking about giving up on them, that might be the death of them. Can you handle that? They said they don't been, they don't been a thought about that.

Autumn: You know, so much of what you're saying works for moms in general that I hope that there aren't people that are dismissing this like, Oh, this isn't for me because there's so many pieces in here that work for moms in general, no matter what type of child they have, no matter what type of struggles are. There with raising children and...

Sheila: you know what I always say though. I always say, what you're going through. Okay. What you have already been through. What's the alternative? It's actually, what is the alternative? You have to do something different because what you've been doing is not working.

You already know help is not coming. So you've got to, you got to get creative. If you have to get with some other parents, if you got to go in there. Cause a lot of times I know what my son is, I'm not on medication. He'll do real good with a stranger. Then he was somebody that he know. Why is that?

I've heard that too. I don't know because it was one of the police. He, it was one police officer. He was good and he got him to go to the hospital to go and take his medicine. He didn't know anything about him, but everybody that he knew, he was always paranoid. He don't trust me at all when he's off his medication.

Autumn: Oh, that's so hard. Yeah.

Sheila: Yeah. But see, but like I said, though, I have to understand where he's at. See, I can't meet him where he's at. Because they ain't gonna do neither one of us no good, just like everybody else. One us wanna, write 'em off and do this and do that. But that's not gonna benefit him.

That's not gonna do him any good. Trust me, when I say it takes a lot of prayer. it takes a lot of prayer. I just take it, it takes Jesus . I'm just gonna say it. It does. 'cause I tell you, when you don't have nobody, nobody's there coming. You ain't got no help over here and it's just you.

What's the alternative? Try something different. And I tried something different and it works for me. Hey, you just have to find what works for you. That's all I can say.

Autumn: So keep trying until you find what works. And when it stops working, keep trying again.

Sheila: Yes. Yes. Yes. Like I try to I'm trying right now, but he know he needs to eat.

He needs to eat more healthier. He said that. I was shocked he said that though. I said, okay that's something that I can build on. You just have to throw it in there a little bit at a time. Cause he ain't gonna remember it probably. He probably don't even remember saying it though, I just got to keep it in his head and you know, just kind of throw it in there.

Yeah. You got to be a little sneaky too.

Autumn: Yeah. I throw vegetables in our kid's smoothie. I love when they're like, I don't like this. Like if you only knew what you're drinking each day.

Sheila: Now he likes, he likes smoothies. He likes smoothies. Because what we're not understanding is a lot of this, a lot of this stuff that we put in our food.

A lot of this stuff that we put in our bodies is not good for our bodies. It's breaking our bodies down. Sugar is a death trap. It really, sugar is really a death trap. What happens is, it's just like a car. If you don't put oil in your car, it's not gonna run. If you put transmission fluid in there where the oil goes, it's not going to run.

Your body is the same way. When you keep on putting all this junk in here, putting all this junk in here, now you have a toxic overload. And now your cells is not working like it's supposed to. Now you, symptoms is going to start. But see, we have to learn how to pay attention to our bodies. Just like with him.

I know right now. He keep turning the TV up real loud. I said, you got fluid back in your ears again, don't you? He said, yeah. I said, okay, make a point to go to the doctor. You got to pay attention. Just like with my grand babies, when they get to having headaches and they get to doing this and doing that.

Yeah. All that matters is all this stuff that we've put into our bodies, not exercise, not getting the proper sleep. It all matters.

Autumn: So for people who don't know, explain the gut brain connection, explain that part.

Sheila: Think about it. Whenever we eat something, see, whatever we put into our bodies, It's going to have to go somewhere and it goes to all our organs in our body.

And it's going to come from what we put in our mouth. And one thing that a lot of people don't understand is our oral health has a lot to do with a lot of things as well. Our oral health. And a lot of times it's just like you got fluoride in the water. You got fluoride in a lot of things. We've got a lot of things that's out here.

We just have to learn how to make the best decision for us and for our bodies. Because like right now I, I wrestle with acid reflux and I know cause the LDS don't operate properly, but I can't come back there by the things that I eat. I can get some kind of relief, by the things that I eat, cause just like with dementia and Alzheimer's.

Sugar, diabetes, all that sugar that we be eating. And even things that we put on our bodies, we have to be careful, because they can have toxins in it. Think about it. Because we breathe in things that we breathe in our bodies, aromatics, things we put on our skin that's topical, things that we put inside our body that we ingest.

All that, everything is connected, all things matter and we are all unique. Somebody else's body may be more stronger than somebody else's body. That's why a lot of times for somebody they can eat this and this person can't because your body is different. Your metabolism is different. You got to stop going off of what somebody else do and what somebody else is doing that may not benefit you.

Autumn: And you can get some keys to it by looking at your family. What things are they more prone to have maybe indigestion on? Okay it might be the same for you because of family history.

Sheila: It just all depends, it just all depends on your body. And it's not for one particular thing more than likely. It's not going to be from just one thing because one particular thing can be the cause of all these things that all these symptoms that you're having now.

That you're like, you may have an inflammation, but you don't inflammation or have fever, you may have aches and pains. It has more than one simple, but I was going to go back to this one thing right here. And most of the time he is either going to be bacterial is either going to be inflammation or genetics.

Most of the time, all three. or two out of the three. It's never one simple thing. That's why every time you go to the doctor, you take medicine, you get a little bit better, but you have to end up going back for the same thing because it's not targeting the root cause.

Autumn: Sometimes it makes more problems than less.

Sheila: Yeah, it is not, it's not targeting the root cause. And that's where the problem comes in. And that's one of the things that we do. We try to target the root cause and it may take, and it may take a little bit to get to the root cause to find out what the root cause is. You just don't never know.

That's why you just can't just give a diagnosis. You're just like, Just because this person got schizophrenia and this person got schizophrenia, that don't mean the same medicine is going to work for both of them. And that's what they do. You say you got this right here, somebody's just going to give you this medication.

But there are so many other factors that come into play. Somebody else may, they may eat healthy. They may eat healthy. This person over here may not. You just don't know. This person may be allergic to something. This person may not. You just don't know. That's why it's individualized.

Autumn: And I've noticed that depending on different health, different with schizophrenia, for example, I only studied it a little bit.

I know you studied it so much more and up close, but for some of these people, they are deficient in certain nutrients, which is what you alluded to earlier. I know that as you study more of this, depending on what your child needs for the general audience listening, definitely look into what nutrients are typically missing.

Like if your child has ADHD, we know that they need to stay away from dyes and sugar, but what are they missing? They also have excess like there's both sides of this, but I know that there's a lot of scientific data A lot of studies that have been done on what is good and what isn't depending on what diagnosis your child has

Sheila: Yeah.

Autumn: So what have you noticed personally with your son?

Sheila: What I noticed with him is that, I don't know, sometimes I wonder, did he need his, did he really need his medication? And yeah, he really do need his medication. But I noticed that now as it get closer time for him to take his next shot, he's not showing as many signs or symptoms. As he used to like, I don't know if that's because he'd been, staying on his medicine or whatever, month after month because he only get a shot once a month.

But I noticed with my son though that he needs something to do. When he's doing something, he's a lot better. He functions a whole lot better. He talks a whole lot more because he used to just stay in his room, wouldn't even come out of his room. For months or he'll used to walk around the house so much girl.

It took a year for that path to go away. That's just how much he just walked around my house. It took a year for that path to go away, but see, he's really nervous about being around people. Now he didn't used to be that way. Cause he's a real people person. And ever since, he done had this, that this diagnosis, he's kind of recluse.

He don't like being around people. He don't like being around crowds of people at all. Just like I said, don't you want to go somewhere sometime because my daughter said won't you come down here my other daughter? She said won't you come down here and visit for a little bit? So he finally went one day and we was down there for about maybe about an hour until he was ready to come.

I said, what you ready to go home for? And you ain't got nothing to do. At home you out just enjoy yourself. He'd be ready to come back home because of how the people how people talk to him and how people treat him just like he had a job and he lost his job one time because That was on his record.

He wasn't charged with it. I mean he was charged with him He wasn't indicted, but I guess they still had it on his record and he lost his job And he was doing a good job too. He said mama. I lost my job and then I said, yeah You did don't worry about it that was big on him because he's not in control of his life.

There is nothing that he can do. But there is, he learned that there is because He's over his own money. I'm still trying to get him to learn how to spend his money because I want you to be able to get your own place. I don't want you living with me forever. So I'm trying to work on, him learning how to spend his own money because I want to be able to just build some tiny homes for people like him so they can go through a process, get their own place.

And I want to have my own like herb garden and stuff and let them work it So they can you know, so they can have a job that they can enjoy and they like, you know They can talk with other people because a lot of times when he's you know, working a job, he said people just call him crazy because he do walk and talk to himself a lot.

I said you do talk to yourself a lot. But he don't talk to himself as much like he used to, but he still do. But he always, on every job he get, they say he do a good job.

Autumn: Okay. So here's my question. What advice would you give to People who come in contact with your son, what would you like to see be different?

Sheila: Just to look at him as a human being and not like somebody that has a condition cause this is not something that he bought on himself. Schizophrenia, they don't know what causes schizophrenia. I believe that somebody had put something in his drink because somebody had mentioned that to me during that time.

I'm like, why would you say somebody else did that unless you saw him or unless you did? So that just didn't make sense to me. But I don't have, I don't have time to worry about all that because. He, he has this now, so that's what's most important now. And he has this, regardless to what the system will do and won't do, that's irrelevant.

I still got to be able to do something to be able to combat that. So that's what I'm working on.

Autumn: So see him as a human being.

Sheila: Yeah, see him as a human being. If they feel nervous. He has feelings. He has feelings. Yes, and he has feelings.

And I know that for some people it can be hard to tell the difference, which doesn't matter. Between they fried their brain on drugs and their schizophrenia. They're still a person.

Autumn: Yeah, but what would you say to people who are judging in that way and wondering?

Sheila: You will not know until you don't walk in those shoes Because that's just like when the incident happened with my son.

It was some people that were saying, you know They were sitting up there. Talking about well, where was their mother? How did she raise them? They didn't have anything to do with it. My son had a mental illness. They didn't even know he had a mental illness So you pass a judgment on something. You don't even know nothing about get the facts first, get the facts.

Autumn: I know that just like

Sheila: right now, just like right now, you've got a lot of people that's in jail now notice this mentally ill, but you got some of them also too. Now they can't even get their medicine. From my understanding now, you got some people, it's hard for them to even get the medicaid, to get their to get their medicine.

Just like I was talking to another lady the other day, and she was saying what she was, that they don't have nothing there, and the judge was going to be out till next week. I said, but your son has a, has schizophrenia. He can't wait till next week. It's just so crazy.

Autumn: Wow.

There's so much, so many more layers than I realized just right there. So you help families get to the root cause of illness so they can live a better quality of life. And you have a master's in psychology, holistic alternative psychology, master coach. You've done a lot of work here.

Sheila: Yeah. Yeah. I have to, because I have to stay on, I have to stay on top of things with my son.

That's why I'm going to school now for natural integrative medicine. Makes sense.

Autumn: And how can people get in contact with you if they are? You're speaking to them. You're speaking their language. They want to reach out to you. They need the support. They want to work with you. You said schedule an appointment.

What's your answer? How do they do that?

Sheila: Yeah. I will give you my my calendar link, but you can always go to guardians of health. My, this is my Facebook group, guardians of health.

Autumn: Perfect. So they can find you there

Sheila: or, and I give you my own, my calendar link as well.

Autumn: Perfect. Is there anything else that you want to speak to as we end today?

Sheila: Life is meant to be embraced. It doesn't matter what happens to you or what comes at you. Suddenly it's all about what you say to yourself and what you tell yourself in that moment, because guess what? That's going to determine how long you're going to be there. Because when my son died, I looked up at the sun and it was coming up and I said, you know what?

I want to rise with the sun. I don't want to be stuck here in this space. And you don't have to be stuck there. Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is a choice.

Autumn: Amen. Wow. I would drop my microphone, but then I'd regret it. That was beautiful. Well said. Thank you so much for being on and for all the insights that you gave us and for the vulnerability.

I know that you have walked a very difficult and very enlightening journey. Through this.

Sheila: So I still have my moments now. I still have my moments. Yeah. Cause when I have those moments, see, I know what to do when I have those moments about the end of the day, I'm good. So, that's one of the things you, things happens and it is going to hurt, but you just have to learn how to channel that in your life and your life would be a lot better instead of being stuck there years and months later than one.

And how did you get here?

Autumn: Very true. Thank you so much for being on with me today, Sheila. I really enjoyed our conversation and learning from you and learning about your path and the heart that you have. Everybody else, I am so grateful that you were with us and that you took the time to listen, and I hope you had some key takeaways as well.

Thank you so much, and I will see you next week.

Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode. I'm Autumn Carter, guiding you through motherhood's seasons. I hope today's discussion inspired you and offered valuable insights. Stay engaged with our motherhood wellness community by signing up for my newsletter. Whether you're interested in exploring specific topics more deeply or considering personal coaching, joining our newsletter is a great step.

Just visit wellnessineveryseason. com slash free resources to sign up. We value your journey and aim to keep you connected and informed through our newsletter. Your shares, subscriptions, and reviews help us reach more moms seeking empowerment. So please spread the word about our podcast. Thank you for being a part of our podcast community.

I look forward to continuing our conversation, sharing stories, and exploring wellness in all aspects of motherhood. Take care until next week.



Autumn: “Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode. I'm Autumn Carter, guiding you through motherhood's seasons. I hope today's discussion inspired you and offered valuable insights.

Stay connected with our motherhood wellness community by following me on Instagram at Moms Wellness in Every Season for more tips.

Your shares, subscriptions, and reviews help us reach more moms seeking empowerment, so please spread the word about our podcast.

If there's a particular topic you'd like to delve deeper into, or if you're considering coaching from me, I encourage you to join our newsletter. Simply visit to sign up. Your journey is important to us, and our newsletter is a great way to stay connected and informed.

Thank you for being part of our community. I look forward to continuing our conversation, sharing stories, and exploring wellness in all aspects of motherhood. Take care until our next episode.”


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