Bonnie Frankel

Mental Health Champions: Why & How Bonnie Frankel Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness – An Interview With Michelle Tennant Nicholson

As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Bonnie Frankel.

Bonnie Frankel was in her mid-forties when she reinvented herself to be an inspirational woman who took a choke hold on her life and changed it from a soap opera into a positive running talking hugging informercial. She re- entered the educational system and began a long-running devotion to her passion of the connection of mental and physical fitness. Bonnie is known for changing an NCAA rule for women, a world class runner, author, inspirational personal trainer (expert to finding the right exercise to achieve a healthy mind and body).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I was raised in an affluent area living a privileged life style in a dysfunctional family marked by a suicidal mother. My mother was mentally challenged with depression which led to her many suicide attempts. At an early age, I was my mother’s therapist as I listened to her problems and wanted to fix it for her. Her solutions of coping with her chronic state was to smoke like a chimney as opposed to deep breathing, take anti- depressant/sleeping pills like they were candy, and one-time shock therapy treatment in which she maintained destroyed her memory, and psychotherapy. These remedies she used were band aides, not solutions. My mother’s condition was onerous for me and I was sent to day camp which offered a variety of physical activities which helped to comfort my mental state.

You are currently leading an initiative that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit more specifically about what you are trying to address?

My initiative to promote mental wellness is to encourage people to find the right exercise they would enjoy doing. Exercise is a natural remedy to promote mental wellness without side effects, and becomes your reliable BFF. This remedy activates your endorphins to kick in and you feel mentally joyous. Since Covid-19 occurred, people are more psychologically challenged with their mind and body connection. Most people use improper solutions to fix their depression that can lead to side effects, toxic health, and possibly death.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

There were a series of events that touched me to feel passionate about being mentally healthy. Losing my mother and then my best friend from suicide had a great impact. I was directly affected with my own guilt when I attempted to end my life because of my victorious fight over breast cancer that gave me another chance at life. My attempt took place when I was overwhelmed with a series of major challenges: the process of breast cancer coupled with it changing my direction of my life, the relentless struggle with divorce, and my suicide attempt. I felt compelled to find a rocklike solution, not a band-aid to help me and help others feel joyous.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

Unexpectedly running into a roadblock to compete in a division one collegiate sport formed an idea. This situation led me to acknowledge my own mental strength and began my journey as an activist. I decided to do battle with the NCAA along with a skillful game plan to change an eligibility rule. By changing this rule, it would allow me to compete as well as other women to follow suit. The development of my running and its expansiveness was in the making by changing my life’s course and giving the educational system one more shot.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Coming up with a theory to assist others to find the right exercise for them and putting it in a form of a book. I am plagued with various learning disabilities never thought this would be actualized. There is no health without mental health and the right exercise helps to achieve this. It will enable you to release chemicals in your brain that make you feel good as well as promote your emotional and physical immune system to be and stay healthy. Also, going back to the educational system put me in touch with a younger generation which turned me on to new ways of thinking and doing. These kids were competing in a sport with a woman half their age.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Mary Beyer, my best friend, a cheerleader for over forty years. When I was mulling over whether to return to the educational system, she was a trailblazer for me to follow her lead. Most importantly, she has always been there for me through thick and thin, and never made me feel ashamed about my suicide attempt or abandoned me. When I had my hip surgery, this woman all of 5 ‘2 inches lifted me into her four- wheel drive homeward bound. When I thought I would never walk or run again, she boosted my spirits that I had faith it was attainable. Mary is a great listener, problem solver, and without judgement. Everyone should have a Mary in their life.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

Mental illness is linked to a negative label because of the shame and abandonment that is associated with. The illness suggests that you are unstable and will have trouble at succeeding with certain tasks. It can take the shape of you feeing branded in a variety of situations. Some will experience bullying, shunning, trouble getting a job, and find housing. From my own experience, I felt remorse, labeled, judged, and isolated. As time passed, I felt fortunate to get another shot at building a welcomed new life.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

All of us need to be more physically active especially after Covid-19 appeared as it secures the connection with your mind and body to thrive to attain mental and physical balance. Individually you can join a group that involves an exercise you like, build a support system so you can communicate your feelings freely. We need to be activists with developing ideas to put pressure on our community, state, and government. It is essential to get them more actively involved to lobby to pass official legislation or public policy to expand physical activity programs. The government needs to be nudged to provide funding, and support research and innovation. We as individuals need to put our feelings into motion so we can change to help the many that suffer from this disease.

What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own well-being and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

Running the trails surrounded by nature is my form of exercise and meditation. This is how I acquire a healthy fit emotional and physical immune system. The beauty of nature that surrounds me sets the stage and my first step begins to kick in the inhalation of fresh H20. This quickly gets my endorphins to kick in as I enjoy being in the present moment. This will gift me to maintain a joyous mental feeling coupled with a healthy fit body.

Eating and drinking to nourish my body with healthy choices is easy to achieve when you exercising. When I am physically active, my mental state is in a place of contentment. My mood stays in a more balanced mode because I am not emotionally eating nor am I overeating. This enhances my mind and body to work in a synergetic manner to feel and stay mentally stable.

I enjoy writing articles to inspire people of all ages to build and sustain a mental wellness and a strong physical body. My goal is to motivate to transform sedentary people to achieve a healthy fit balance with their mind and body. Sharing my knowledge that I have picked up through my seventy-eight years is a joy for me. I want people to have a balanced attitude and make great decisions. To encourage those that suffer from mental illness, they can change it to mental wellness.

Sharing my life story with others is very important to inspire others that mental illness is not a death sentence, that there is a glorious path for you to pluck. Your worst years are your best years because you do the most growing. I had no idea after my suicide attempt that I would live such a blessed life with the unexpected way exercise entered my life.

Deep breathing before retiring to sleep lulls me into a peaceful state of mind so I can get the restful sleep to wake up refreshed to experience a stellar day. Sleeping is just as important as exercise. It controls the negative thoughts that may arise from the past, the anxiety of what the future holds and propels me to stay in the present moment which gives me peace of mind, not a troubled one.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now; Dr. Wayne W. Dyer Change your thoughts — Change Your Life; Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck; Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from The Sea; Bonnie Frankel, Bonnie’s Theory Finding the Right Exercise.

If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Exercise because it sets the stage for others to follow your lead to attain mental wellness and physical fitness as well as help to legislate for more facilities. By doing this, it makes the world more joyous and connected. We need this more than ever because we are living in a divided and mentally challenged world. Everyone has something to add to make a better society. Let us rally to expand mental wellness to be more abundant and get rid of the stigma label it connotates.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

How can our readers follow you online?, Facebook, Amazon

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Read Full Article on: Authority Magazine

Contact Bonnie