Join us today for Part 1 of the Interview with Johnny Crowder founder of Cope Notes...

This is Part 1 of the interview I had with suicide and abuse survivor, speaker, musician, mental health and sobriety advocate and founder of Cope Notes.  

In today’s interview with Johnny Crowder, I ask Johnny about his journey and how it brought him to found Cope Notes.  Johnny also shares his faith journey and how that brought him to the point he is at today.  Johnny also shares about mental health and the internal voices we hear and why it matters.

Join in on the Chat below.

Episode 1256: Invest in Yourself - Interview with Founder of Cope Notes Johnny Crowder - Part 1

[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Thanks for joining us on episode 1,256 of the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:00:06] Johnny Crowder: Hey, I'm Johnny Crowder and I'm challenging you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent, and your treasure to live out your calling. Having the ability to train your brain to combat anxiety is key, and just one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this The Inspired Stewardship Podcast with my friend Scott.

[00:00:35] And this, these people who experience this, which is literally every human, not all of them would be formally diagnosed with an illness. This is something that happens in your brain, and it is largely a protective mechanism. So I would tie mental health to basically any activity that's happening inside of your brain, whether you're living with a formal diagnosis.

[00:00:57] Scott Maderer: Welcome and thank you for joining us on the [00:01:00] Inspired Stewardship Podcast. If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent, and your treasures for your true caller in the Inspired Stewardship Podcast who will learn to invest in yourself.

[00:01:16] Invest in others and develop your influence so that you can impact the world.

[00:01:23] In today's interview with Johnny Crowder as Johnny about his journey and how it brought him to found cope notes, Johnny also shares his faith journey and how this brought him to the point he's at today, and Johnny shares about mental health, the internal voices we hear and why it matters. One reason I like to bring you great interviews like the one you're gonna hear today is because of the power in learning from others.

[00:01:50] Another great way to learn from others is through reading books. But if you're like most people today, you find it hard to find the time to sit down and read, and that's [00:02:00] why today's podcast is brought to you by Audible. Go to inspired to sign up and you can get a 30 day free trial.

[00:02:10] There's over 180,000 titles to choose from, and instead of reading, you can listen your way to learn from some of the greatest minds out there. That's inspired to get your free trial and listen to great books the same way you're listening to this podcast. Johnny Crowder is a 29 year old suicide and abuse survivor, a 10 x speaker, a touring musician.

[00:02:37] Welcome to the show, Mental Health and Sobriety Advocate. Thank you so much for having me, and the founder and CEO of Coke Notes, a text-based mental health platform that provides daily support to users in nearly 100 countries around the world. But in the years leading up to these incredible leaps in advocacy, every day was a battle against schizophrenic hallucinations and suicidal idea.

[00:02:59] After a [00:03:00] lifetime of resisting professional care and shying away from sharing his story, Johnny's curiosity flowered and the healing slowly began. Earned with 10 years of clinical treatment, a psychology degree from the University of Central Florida, and a decade of peer support and public advocacy through the National Alliance on mental.

[00:03:19] Johnny's youthful figure for mental health has impacted millions of lives across the globe since his first keynote in 2011. Johnny's refreshingly vulnerable and candid perspective has attracted praise from hundreds of outlets, including Upworthy, cnn. And Forbes, even when commanding a virtual stage or touring with his metal band prison.

[00:03:39] His infectious positivity and firsthand experience with multiple mental illnesses ranging from bipolar disorder and PTSD to O C D and beyond uniquely equip him to provide realistic, yet hopeful insight into the pains of hardship with authenticity, levity, and unconventional wit. Welcome to the show.[00:04:00]

[00:04:00] Johnny Crowder: Thank you so much for having me, dude.

[00:04:02] Scott Maderer: Absolutely. I'm looking forward to it. So we talked a little bit in the intro. I kinda shared a little bit of your background, but can you talk a little bit more about your journey and what brought you to the point of working in and founding something like coat notes?

[00:04:21] Johnny Crowder: So when I was growing up, I was somehow simultaneously frustrated that I felt the way that I did. But then also I wouldn't admit that I felt the way that I did at the same time. So I was like contradicting myself and

[00:04:35] Scott Maderer: having taught teenagers for 16 years, I perfectly understand that expression. Yes. .

[00:04:40] Johnny Crowder: So I was in.

[00:04:42] I was in high school and I always look at this as a catalyst. I was in high school, I was in a magnet program and you had to choose your elective. And I really wanted to choose something like art or music, cuz I've always been very artistic. But because of what I was experiencing, I elected psychology.

[00:04:59] [00:05:00] As my elective and when I really started like scratching that curiosity itch around like what the heck is happening in my brain and what am I experiencing? I took one year of psych and then the next year I elected again and did higher level psych. So I chose it again, and then I went to college and majored in psychology.

[00:05:19] And then I think that snowball growing where I was thinking like, if this is true about the brain, then what about this and what if this ties with this experience and this behavior? And it became this fascination that made my mental illness feel less about me, Like something sad and difficult that I'm experiencing and more of this like fascinating landscape of like science and human discovery.

[00:05:45] So it turned it into, An opportunity to learn and grow rather than, I think for a long time I felt so defeated that I didn't wanna learn about it, talk a little bit if you don't mind, about what [00:06:00] you felt frustrated yet at the same time you didn't want to admit it.

[00:06:02] Scott Maderer: What, what was going on in your life as you were in there in high school?

[00:06:07] Johnny Crowder: I was experiencing abuse from all angles whether it was at home or at school, and. I was living with some pretty severe O C D and bipolar one. I had some pretty severe anxiety and depression. I think also this was around the time when my hallucinations were getting a lot worse, so I live with paranoid schizophrenia and this is like a really complex cocktail of diagnoses.

[00:06:35] I kind had the sampler platter of mental illnesses. So as I'm experiencing all of that, I found that it was really difficult to turn to home for support and it was really difficult. Turn to people at school. Cause I didn't wanna be judged. I didn't want people to think I was weird. So I just clammed up and used art as an outlet, which I think the art part was healthy, [00:07:00] but the clamming up part definitely wasn't.

[00:07:01] Scott Maderer: So if somebody let somebody out there is hearing this, and either they themselves or perhaps someone in their circle, a family member, a child, a spouse, Close friend, whatever it is maybe suffering from some mental challenges, some mental health issues. What are some of the things we can a look for?

[00:07:23] And then what are some of the things that somebody can do to of help support somebody going through that?

[00:07:29] Johnny Crowder: So I wanna preface it by saying I'm not a clinician. Clinician, and I'm gonna give a pretty simple answer based on lived experience. So I'll say that something that I look for is pattern interrupts.

[00:07:44] So let's say Oh, Johnny always comes bowling with us on Fridays and he hasn't been in three weeks. Or, I noticed that Johnny used to eat salad. For lunch when he sits with us, [00:08:00] and now he's mostly just like eating a bag of chips or not eating. And so if you see those changes in behavior or he used to play video games with us, whatever that pattern established pattern is that you've seen with that person socially, if the pattern is breaking, it doesn't necessarily mean that something is wrong, but it could mean that there's an opportunity to check in with.

[00:08:22] Not even ask about the pattern interrupt or the pattern break, but just ask about what's been going on. And I think that on the side of what you can do for somebody, and again, not a clinician, but something that helped me was feeling included. So if I don't go. Bowling with my friends for three weeks, I might think my friends don't care about me.

[00:08:42] And they don't even notice. They don't even notice. Yeah. So to have a friend reach out and say, Hey, dude, like we miss you. We would love to have you out this Friday. I don't know if you've just been busy or whatever, but it's definitely not the same without you. Let us know if you want us to switch it to another day.

[00:08:58] So that you can come if it's better for you. [00:09:00] Someone choosing to engage with me when I was pulling away really helped disprove the thoughts that I had around not being valued or not being loved, not feeling important. Awesome. Yeah and I think that that. change from the baseline is actually a sign for a lot of things.

[00:09:20] Scott Maderer: Like you said it may not be a mental illness, but it, it may be, it may even be something positive, but Oh yeah. It's a chance to check in and find out more about what's going on. So how, in this journey, how did your faith journey actually intersect and help you as you work through this journey?

[00:09:39] Johnny Crowder: I think it ties in. What we were just talking about with feeling included, feeling loved, feeling important, like the, I think the thing that always, First of all, I should start by saying I never wanted to hear about God. I never wanted to hear about Jesus. I was like, get that stuff outta my face [00:10:00] is not for me.

[00:10:01] You don't understand me. Nobody could love me. So that was like my attitude. And once I started getting a better understanding, Who God is and the fact that God does love us, it really started melting away these, like I used to think I used to very seriously consider suicide. I've made attempts on my life before.

[00:10:22] I've struggled with self-harm, especially in my teenage years and when. You start learning about who God is and how God loves you and who Jesus is and what, who, what Jesus did for you. You start valuing your own life differently. You start, your identity starts shifting, and I think for me, that allowed me to.

[00:10:46] View my mental health recovery through a totally different perspective. Cuz I went from thinking like, Oh, you're just trying to fix some broken piece of trash to now I am restoring a gift that was given to [00:11:00] me, which is like my body and my mind and my life now. I'm like being a good steward of it.

[00:11:05] I'm taking care of it by seeking treatment, it changes the frame that you're looking at it. So why do you feel like mental health and this is so important for so many people when we're trying to do what you're talking about, trying to take care of ourselves, trying to grow in some way, why do you think mental health is such a key part

[00:11:27] of that?

[00:11:29] Dude I had a conversation with a buddy of mine, this was years ago. And she said something that has really made me think ever since she said she was describing her depression and she was saying, if there was a the easy button from Staples? Uhhuh. Uhhuh, . So she was saying like, if you placed an easy button on my dresser in my room, and if I press that easy button I make a million dollars a year, and I get in the best shape of my life and I meet my dream husband, and all of this stuff [00:12:00] happens, My life gets totally sorted out and I'm happily ever after, but I'm too depressed to get up and walk across the room.

[00:12:07] To press the button does nothing for me. And so I've always seen depression and anxiety and these mental challenges that all of us face, these distresses, these concerns, anxieties, fears and even guilt, and grief and loss, and all of these things, addiction, hardship. These are the things that prevent us most commonly from making changes in other areas of our life that seemingly are related.

[00:12:34] Like anxiety and depression make people's physical health worse. Absolutely. They make people's relationships worse. They make people's professional lives worse. So in my opinion, mental health is one of the only things in your life that touches every other thing directly. Yeah. It even affects your career.

[00:12:54] Scott Maderer: It affects your money, it affects everybody, everything. To be [00:13:00] clear when we're talking about mental health here yes, you could be talking about something like clinical depression, but does it go broader than that? Is it also just those limiting beliefs and those conversations we have in our head.

[00:13:12] Johnny Crowder: dude. There's actually if you're listening to this right now, open up a Google. and Google automatic negative thought and just read for a minute. This is something that happens not because you're broken, not because you're stupid, not because you're a pessimist, not because you're sick.

[00:13:32] It's something that happens in your brain. A lot of it the word automatic is inside of it, and the principles that you have. You. You have these thoughts that are fairly critical. Oh, my voice sounds so annoying, or I can't believe I wore this shirt today, or whatever. Whatever your thought is, your little nitpicky, yourself critic, those thoughts play on repeat roughly [00:14:00] 80% of the time.

[00:14:02] And this, these people who experience this, which is literally every human, not all of them would be formally diagnosed with an illness. This is something that happens in your brain, and it is largely a protective mechanism. So I would tie mental health to basically any activity that's happening inside of your brain, whether you're living with a formal diagnosis or not.

[00:14:23] Scott Maderer: Yeah I actually had the opportunity to speak in front of a group of a few hundred, I think it was five, about 500 people in the audience, all entrepreneurs. Very successful business people all of 'em had a business that was up and running external measures. You would look at these folks and you would say they're doing well.

[00:14:41] And I asked the question, How many of you have a voice that talks to you, your in your head? And everybody's hand went up? Yep. I said, Now keep your hand up if the voice is nice to you. And everybody's hand went down, . That's so funny. And it's here's a room full of people. Again, empirically, externally, they're [00:15:00] successful and yet all of them are telling themselves bad things in their head.

[00:15:05] So why do you think so? You talked a little bit about it there that it's a protection mechanism, but let's unpack that a little bit more. Why do you think that negative internal voice exists and what are some of the things we can do to begin to reprogram or combat.

[00:15:20] Johnny Crowder: Yeah I'm actually a big fan of evolutionary psychology.

[00:15:25] So reading about like how certain psychological mechanisms serve us or served us years and years ago, that might not be relevant now. So if you think about let's go back to the year 1000. You might have the thought, I don't know if I should drink that water. I don't know if it's clean.

[00:15:47] And that thought might have saved your life. You might have thought I don't know if I should associate with that person. They give me weird vibes or whatever, and that. [00:16:00] Tendency to isolate might have protected you from disease, for example, or from crime. So if you go even further back, there are fears associated with loud noises for natural disasters or predators or whatever.

[00:16:11] So there are all of these fears and anxieties that made so much sense within the context of where they originated. But now in the year 2022, Quite as helpful anymore. They're like remnants from our ancestors' brains that have been passed down biologically. It's It's a really unique theory and I find there to be a lot of truth to it.

[00:16:32] Scott Maderer: So what are some of the things given that if it's something that's programmed into us what are some of the things we can do to help reprogram that, that automatic program?

[00:16:43] Johnny Crowder: Dude I try really hard and I try, it's not something that comes naturally to me. I try hard to when I experience those things, I try to bring myself back to the present moment, literally.

[00:16:58] And I do a checklist. [00:17:00] I say where I am, when I am, who I am, and what I am doing. So where I am, I'm literally in my office. I'm sitting on an exercise ball when I am. Right now we're recording in the year 2022, and if you zoom in even more, it's a Thursday. So I'm Thursday, it's 10:21 AM on this Thursday.

[00:17:27] I said where I am, when I am who I am. I'm Johnny Crowder. Thank God I still get to be the same person. And then what I am doing right now is having a conversation. So if you zoom really close, if you zoom in on the present moment, you remember, I'm not being chased by a sabertooth tiger. I'm not in the middle of a tornado.

[00:17:47] I'm not trying to defend my immune system from dirty water. I'm just having a conversation with somebody so that zooming into the present moment and my little checklist, you can make your own. But where, when, [00:18:00] who? And. Really helped me. I don't know if it's like calming down a crying baby and a baby might be crying and you go down to that baby and you're like, What's actually wrong buddy?

[00:18:12] Are you just crying cuz you're crying? That's okay. You're a baby. You can cry. Just know that there's nothing actually wrong in this.

[00:18:18] Scott Maderer: or is it your diaper's dirty or is it you're hungry? Or is it,

[00:18:22] Johnny Crowder: Yeah. And that might actually be what I am doing right now, The answer to the baby might be like, I'm sitting in a dirty diaper.

[00:18:29] Scott Maderer: Dude, . Yeah, exactly. And that is actually the only thing I've, cuz I do a similar thing and one of the things that I add to that list, and it's is what am I physically feeling right now? That's, If I'm, And the reason why I say physically, not just emotionally feeling is I'm literally trying to get in touch with my body presence, can feel my feet against the pad I'm standing on. I can hear the sound of the air conditioner. I [00:19:00] can feel the air blowing against my face. That's perfect. I can what is it that I'm sensing with my body? Because it is trying to get out of the emotional state and into to some extent the physical state of what am I actually feeling?

[00:19:15] What am I actually sensing? At least for me, sometimes that helps too. Oh,

[00:19:19] Johnny Crowder: that's so smart.

[00:19:21] Scott Maderer: Because again, I and listeners that know this, but I have suffered from clinical depression for years. I was diagnosed with that. I've, similar to you, I've had suicide attempts in my past and other things like that.

[00:19:35] And the, it's not something that you ever quote, get rid of or get over though. You can learn to deal or to cope or to you could develop coping skills, but it's not a it's not like I think, Oh, I'm cured now, everything's better. If that makes sense.

[00:19:52] Johnny Crowder: Oh, a hundred percent.

[00:19:53] Scott Maderer: You can follow Johnny on LinkedIn or Facebook is Johnny Crowder. He's also over on Instagram as Johnny [00:20:00] Crowder loves you and he has a If COPE notes was something that you want to check out, you can also find out more about COPE notes over on Of course, I'll have links to all of that in the show notes as well.

[00:20:14] Johnny, is there anything else you'd like to share with the.

[00:20:17] Johnny Crowder: I just want to say I've gotten in the habit of saying this recently. There are people who are listening to this right now. Maybe you who think I'm not doing enough, or I'm too far away from where I want to be, especially when it comes to mental health.

[00:20:33] They think, Oh, I can't be helped, or, I'm too far behind, or I'm too broken. I want to encourage you to say that if you just spent your. Listening to a conversation like this, you are already past one of the hardest parts, which is gearing your brain up to care. About this. So I encourage you, please, after this ends, listen to another podcast about [00:21:00] mental health.

[00:21:00] Google a question you have about mental health. Look on YouTube and watch a TED Talk about mental health. Does not have to be mine. Check out a book from your local library about mental health. Don't let this be the end of the conversation, and if it's any encouragement at all to you, at least in terms of from the perspective of my journey, you're past the hardest.

[00:21:19] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for listening to the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. As a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this, Please. Please do us a favor. Go over to inspired

[00:21:46] Rate all one word iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review, and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every [00:22:00] episode as it comes out in your feed. Until next time, invest your. Your talent and your treasures. Develop your influence and impact the world.

In today's episode, I ask Johnny about:

  • How it brought him to found Cope Notes...   
  • His faith journey and how that brought him to the point he is at today...
  • Mental health and the internal voices we hear and why it matters...
  • and more.....

Some of the Resources recommended in this episode: 

I make a commission for purchases made through the following link.

These people that experience automatic negative thoughts which is literally every human… this is something that happens in your brain and it is largely a protective mechanism. – Johnny Crowder

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About the Author Scott

Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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