Hello! Who are you?
Hello, my name is Dr. Kyle Elliott, and I currently live in Santa Barbara, California with my partner, J.V. We’re both Disney Magic Key Holders and moved to Southern California from the San Francisco Bay Area at the beginning of the pandemic to be closer to Disneyland!
When not at Disneyland, I’m a career coach, and I specialize in senior managers and executives in the tech industry. In other words, I help leaders find jobs at companies like Meta, Amazon, and Google, as well as private equity and VC-backed companies and hyper-growth startups.
I’m also a writer and love using my words to help educate others, whether it’s about navigating the nuances of a modern-day job search, growing in their careers, or managing stress and anxiety.
I’m a proud mental health advocate and manage my mental health through lots of therapy, self-care, and, of course, trips to Disneyland.
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What is your struggle and when did it start?
One of the biggest challenges in my life has been learning how to effectively cope with anxiety on a daily basis. In my undergraduate studies, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, following five years of daily migraines that seemed to have no cause.
While it was helpful to finally uncover the root cause of the chronic migraines and see them quickly dissipate as I began managing the anxiety, it’s an ongoing journey that has required consistent attention, ongoing tweaks, and the help of my community.
Looking back, I’ve had anxiety and OCD for as long as I can remember. As a child, I had interesting quirks such as the constant urge to straighten picture frames, ensure hangers were spaced the same distance apart, and check that the lights were turned off. As an adult, my anxiety manifested as a work addiction with perfectionist tendencies and people-pleasing behavior.
How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?
I’ve always been a high performer, and my anxiety has fueled my success, though it has also resulted in fatigue and burnout at times. Anxiety has been both my superpower and my kryptonite.
My anxiety was at its worst while in graduate school. I was sexually assaulted and subsequently developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of the most frightening PTSD symptoms was panic attacks that felt like déjà vu but would last for hours on end.
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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?
While I started therapy during my sophomore year of college, it really made the most impact when I met my current therapist, Stephanie, and she challenged me to stop waiting to live the life I wanted.
Before meeting Stephanie, I said I would relax once I got to college… And then once I got to graduate school… And then once I landed my first professional job… And then once I launched my business… And then once my business hit six figures…
During our very first session, Stephanie “caught on” to the fact that I perpetually pushed off my goal of relaxing. Since then, I’ve strived to live a more balanced, mindful, and meaningful life.
What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?
Therapy has been a game changer, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without therapy.
However, it wasn’t simply attending sessions that made the difference. Instead, it was reviewing my goals and deciding which ones I wanted to work toward, figuring out how to turn them into a reality, and asking for help as soon as I got stuck.
As a recovering workaholic, learning to rest and relax has also been a game-changer. I used to skip family functions and time with friends to work. Now, I schedule my work around my travels and am constantly planning my next trip with my family.
Speaking of which, I wouldn’t be where I am today without my community, which includes my family, my friends, and my professional network of peers. You cannot and should not go through this life alone. Find people who have been in your shoes and learn from them.
Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?
I am proud to share my lived experiences with others to inspire change, and I am thankful to be surrounded by people who have been supportive and uplifting when I share my mental health experiences.
That said, I do recall a hurtful experience I had in college shortly after being diagnosed with anxiety and OCD. After finishing a therapy session, I met a then-friend for lunch. She asked where I was coming from, and I nonchalantly mentioned therapy. She proceeded to ask if I was “crazy” and whether it was safe to be around me.
While I had the courage and knowledge to educate her about mental health, the words still stung and have stuck with me to this day. They motivated me to write my dissertation on the mental health experiences of college students.
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?
I know it’s easier said than done, but please don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling. You are not alone, and it gets better. There are people out there who have been where you are and who want to help you.
When you’re going through a difficult time, it can be difficult to remain hopeful. However, please know that recovery is possible, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. You’ve got this!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?
- Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist: This book required me to face my perfectionist tendencies head-on, sit with the discomfort, and begin to work through the difficult feelings.
- On Being with Krista Tippet: This podcast series has tons of timely topics that give me a greater sense of meaning and make me feel more grounded in life.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
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