Starting a Podcast: How I Fought Past Mental Barriers to Help Others

Starting a Podcast: How I Fought Past Mental Barriers to Help Others
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You’re chronically ill, super anxious, crazy shy, unconfident, and have no interviewing skills. To some, that recipe may sound like a terrible concoction to start a podcast. However, for me, I knew it was something I had to do. I had to share people’s stories. I had to raise awareness of different conditions. 

On May 30, 2019 — World MS Day — we launched our podcast. It’s been a crazy whirlwind of a year, and I’m so proud that my podcast has blossomed into a platform that raises awareness of different illnesses and makes the invisible visible. It’s not what I expected to do after a multiple sclerosis diagnosis in my 20s

My previous experience with podcasts was listening to business podcasts in a van while driving up and down the country. My husband was a wedding singer, and every weekend we were at one event or another. Often we were at multiple functions in a single weekend at completely different locations. 

I remember listening to an episode of a podcast called “Entrepreneur on Fire,” a business podcast we both enjoyed. At the end of the show, the guest would say what their favorite book was and some other useful tidbits. I always frantically pulled out my phone at this point to write in my notes what the books were so I could read them later. It saved me hours of searching for my next book.

I also loved the lightheartedness of the podcast. The host always focused on what “lights up the guest” rather than concentrating on what was super hard. 

I thought: “How cool would it be if a chronic illness podcast existed that acknowledged hardships, but focused on the right side of what someone has managed to do since their diagnosis, as well as changing how people think about their illness by focusing on the positive side of the story and what they learned?”

When I get my heart set on an idea, it’s the only thing I can see. Questions followed, flying around in my head 24/7. What should I call this podcast? Whom would I interview? How do I even start a podcast? 

I was so excited.  

I planned, researched, and freaked out. Eventually, I got to a “screw it, just do it” attitude, which is Richard Branson’s favorite quote. We called the podcast “DISabled to ENabled,” based on the initial shock of being told I was disabled, which didn’t fit with me.

I was ready to interview. But whom do I interview first? Friends and family? Acquaintances? 

Nope, that would be too easy. I went straight in at the deep end to interview none other than the creative director of the National MS Society in the U.S. I sometimes am my own worst enemy. 

With minimal tech rehearsal and zero interview rehearsal, this shy, totally unconfident, non-techie girl with multiple sclerosis did her first interview. She managed to stumble through and make it out alive with the hopes of getting better quickly. 

I’ve now interviewed everyone from actors to Paralympians, radio DJs to CEOs, and patient advocates to people who started charities after a diagnosis. It has been amazing. 

I’ve made many mistakes with this chronic illness podcast. There have been so many days I’ve gone to record an episode with a guest and totally freaked out about my brain fog and how I couldn’t string a sentence together. I worried about what question to ask next during an interview. I worried about how to record adverts for the first time (many sounded terrible). I’ve even had conversations in which I’d get through the entire interview only for the guest to tell me I’d pronounced their name wrong the entire time. (Rookie mistake!) 

I needed to go through that to learn how not to do those things, however awful it was at the time. I’m so proud of where I’ve gotten to. I never expected after a year to have released 101 episodes with more than 12,700 downloads. That’s just crazy. It just proves what you can do when you really put your mind to it. 

I’ve learned so much from the guests I’ve interviewed, too. I started running and did my first 10K after speaking with marathon runner Cheryl Hile, who has completed nearly 60 marathons. I’ve made new friends and had some fantastic business opportunities off the back of my podcast. I could not be prouder of myself for pushing through my mental barriers, taking the leap into the unknown, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway.

It means so much to me that people download and enjoy the show. I also love to read lovely comments from listeners who tell me that my show has helped them accept their illness. Keep them coming! 

Of course, I am not on my own in this crazy journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my right-hand lady who helps edit my podcasts and keeps me sane when I’m freaking out. 

I’m grateful to all the volunteers who help me run the podcast and to our ENabled Warrior Facebook Tribe. You guys rock. 

Please comment below and tell me the last thing you did that put you out of your comfort zone. 

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Jessie Ace is host of the DISabled to ENabled podcast. A podcast that aims to inspire people living with chronic illness. She’s interviewed everyone from Paralympians, radio DJs, chronic illness bloggers, and marathon runners. She’s also a writer and illustrator for the biggest MS charities worldwide such as the multiple sclerosis today, National MS Society, MS Society UK, shift.MS, MS-UK amongst others and she has also written articles and illustrated for Momentum magazine, MS Matters and New Pathways. Jessie was diagnosed with MS at 22 years old and says MS makes her feel blessed every day to be able to live a new life and to connect with so many amazing people. Her own experience of being newly diagnosed so young was negative and scary – she wants to change this for other young people and support them through the process by being a patient advocate.
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Jessie Ace is host of the DISabled to ENabled podcast. A podcast that aims to inspire people living with chronic illness. She’s interviewed everyone from Paralympians, radio DJs, chronic illness bloggers, and marathon runners. She’s also a writer and illustrator for the biggest MS charities worldwide such as the multiple sclerosis today, National MS Society, MS Society UK, shift.MS, MS-UK amongst others and she has also written articles and illustrated for Momentum magazine, MS Matters and New Pathways. Jessie was diagnosed with MS at 22 years old and says MS makes her feel blessed every day to be able to live a new life and to connect with so many amazing people. Her own experience of being newly diagnosed so young was negative and scary – she wants to change this for other young people and support them through the process by being a patient advocate.

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4 comments

  1. So glad I have stumbled across your podcast! You definitely sound confident now. Can’t wait to listen to more episodes. Thank you for bringing some positivity to the world. 101 guests in one year, that is amazing.

    • Jessie Ace says:

      Thank you so much 🙂 and good on you for updating your Linked in profile! How did it feel after you’d done it? It’s good to talk about it, you never know who else is going through something similar and may have been afraid to speak out so well done 🙂

  2. P.S. The last thing I did that scared me was update my Linkedin profile to include my writing experience. I was afraid to do it because I write mainly about my genetic disease and that is something I don’t talk about at work really.

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