The Importance of Mental Health Care with Keith Taylor – Season 2 Episode 2

Henry Hoffman
Monday, February 20th, 2023
Last modified on November 7th, 2023


Well, hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of the No Plateau podcast. I am your host, Henry Hoffman, and happy to be here with you today. We have a very special guest with us today. Please welcome Keith Taylor to the podcast. He’s not only suffered a stroke at the age of 48, but he started an awesome online coaching, mentoring company that I’m gonna dive into. Of course, Keith being a stroke survivor himself can appreciate the struggles that a lot of our stroke patients go through.

And we’re excited to have him on, and the focus of today’s podcast, of course, is to learn more about Keith’s journey and his struggles and how he took those struggles and made something positive out of them and started the new company, Strength After Stroke, which is that life coaching online mentoring program for stroke survivors so they can maximize their potential.

Podcast Transcript

Keith Taylor (00:53.937):
Thank you so much, Henry. I’m doing great, doing really good. I want to make sure I say thank you so much Sabo has been a great company to follow, and I just follow you, and I think the world of you guys.

Henry Hoffman (00:58.612):
Well, that’s…

Henry Hoffman (01:07.818):
Well, we appreciate that, and thank you very much, Keith. And I wanna dive into what life was like for Keith Taylor a couple of weeks before your stroke. That’s what I wanna start there, and then we’ll get into the nitty-gritty.

Keith Taylor (01:22.465):
Okay, sounds good. So I was one of the owners of a multi-million dollar manufacturing company actually. And we were going along, and of course, we went through kind of the depression cycle that happened, you know, and we were coming out of that looking really good, and things were going well. Like I said, I was a sales manager. There were four of us partners of it and very passionate about it. My retirement was all in place. I had all those things were all in place and then things changed, right? Yeah. So no, yeah, it was still great.

Henry Hoffman (02:13.07):
So when did you actually, yeah, so at that point, when did you actually suffer the stroke?

Keith Taylor (02:20.373):
So I had a, the story really is, you know, I just felt off. It was a day in September, and I felt off. I was supposed to take off for Seattle for a sales trip. And I pushed it out a day because this never happened. You know, as a business owner, I’m sure you can attest this to this too, but you know, we worked, you worked many hours, and you.

You keep pushing, and I just felt really off this one morning. And so I was supposed to go to Seattle. Well, I decided, nah, I’m not going to go. I’m just going to lay down and take a nap. And the next thing I know, seriously, my wife got home from work, and she was like, what the heck, you know, and I’m laying in bed, and the day got away from me, but I could I just thought I was sick, you know, and so she checked me out.

I remember she looked in my mouth and looked at a bunch of stuff on me, and everything seemed okay, so I just went back to bed, and then the next, well, the next morning she goes to work really early in the morning, or did, and so she left, and I, she checked on me before that, but then I got up and got around and I took a shower and then I always got these phone calls from either my business partner or I was helping some other guys. And I got this one call, and he says, “What the heck is wrong with you?” And I guess I wasn’t making any sense. And he said, “Don’t go anywhere. Don’t head to Seattle.” And the next thing I know, my wife got home and took me to the hospital. And that’s what happened.

Henry Hoffman (03:59.511):
Ha ha.

Henry Hoffman (04:12.974):
Wow, that’s amazing. So prior to the stroke, you were set up, you were doing great, you’re doing wonderful things with your job, you were thinking about retirement and felt secure, and suddenly out of nowhere, life happens, right? Not your will, but life happens. And what was your wife’s reaction for that first four or five, six hours when she knew something was wrong and you’re at the hospital?

Keith Taylor (04:31.674):
Yeah.

Keith Taylor (04:41.245):
That was a tough deal. The hospital, people were asking me all kinds of questions, and I thought it was hilarious. I was laughing, and I couldn’t answer. I remember specifically one question was, “What year is it?” And I, excuse me, I had no idea. I had no idea. I didn’t know birthdays. I didn’t, and I thought it was really comical.

And my poor wife, she was just going through it. And the whole caregiver thing, that’s a whole other topic we could talk about because that’s a huge, huge out there. I’m very much a proponent of that. And we talk a lot about that. Yeah.

Henry Hoffman (05:19.392):
Oh yes.

Henry Hoffman (05:27.914):
Wow, that’s unbelievable. So you will fast forward, because I don’t wanna dive deeper into what you’re doing now, but when you suffered your stroke, one last question on that, what were some of the deficits you had at the time of the stroke? And do you have any lingering deficits, you know, 10 plus years later?

Keith Taylor (05:52.125):
Okay, so right after the stroke, a couple of things were key. And I want to go back and I want to tell a little bit of a story about some of that stuff when there’s time, Henry. But the deficits were definitely there. Our product line for our manufacturing company was very intense and had lots of it.

And when I ended up with a lot of scares.

Henry Hoffman (06:22.654):
A lot of skews when you say intense. Sorry for interrupting. When you say intense, a lot of skews. So a lot of different products that you have to keep track of, right?

Keith Taylor (06:31.825):
Absolutely. Now I’ll tell you this we made cabinet doors only for cabinet makers and We had built this company very large. It’s doing really well right now actually and so every edge profile every inside profile every panel every Everything okay had its own skew, so E2 e4, you know, clear up to the 40s. Those were just edge profiles. So that’s an example. So when I came back in, I didn’t know any of the standards at all. And it was a struggle, boy, I’ll tell you. Which reminds me, I’ll tell this story real quick because when I did finally start going back in, which was a few months, you know.

And when I finally started going back in, we would sit around the table and have these owner meetings, which we did every Friday before. And after my stroke, we’d sit around and go around the table. And here I was as the sales managers, quote unquote. And when it would come to me, tears would just flow down my face. I couldn’t even communicate. I couldn’t talk about it. I couldn’t communicate. And it was a tough, tough time.

Henry Hoffman (07:57.922):
Well, I can’t imagine that situation where you’re in the meeting. At that point, you were very self-aware of your deficits. And you were in, normally prior to the stroke, you could ramble off everything you needed to do. You were multitasking at lightning speed, I’m sure. And suddenly you’re there, and it’s your turn. And you’re trying to just express specifically what you want to express, and you can’t do it quickly. You can’t recall.

Keith Taylor (08:06.476):
Mm-hmm.

Henry Hoffman (08:26.514):
And so of course your emotions get the best of you. That’s just an unbelievable experience.

Keith Taylor (08:30.322):
Exactly. And so.

Yeah, and so I went from being this owner of doing all this stuff. I mean, I was a salesman. I drove the sales of this company, multi-millions. And it was a tough, tough battle. My partner had gone to a neurology appointment with me in the very beginning.

He came, and my wife was there, and the neurologist told me at that time. And this is one of the things that why I’m so passionate, Henry, about helping people and getting the word out about what I do. Because he told me you got about a year, year and a half as good as it’s gonna get for you. And so guess what? About a year, year and a half later, I was bought out of my company, and I didn’t have any choice in the matter.

Henry Hoffman (09:24.66):
Wow, wow, that’s unfortunate. Now, how did you cope with all this? Now, again, how did you cope with your deficits that you’re still struggling with, and how did you cope with the job loss?

Keith Taylor (09:39.389):
Well, let me back up. If you don’t mind, let me kind of tell a little bit of a story because when all these things were going on and my wife goes back to work, right, I remember I’m standing in this, we had a two-story house, and we had this picture window on the upper level, and it was fall, of course, late fall, and all the colors were changing, and everything was beautiful outside, but I was

I was suicidal. I was thinking about ending it. I had lots of life insurance, you know, all this stuff. And I seriously was debating ending my life because I didn’t know, you know, what was going on. I felt like, you know, here I was, the owner of this company, the man of the house, all that good stuff. And then I was nothing. I mean…nothing basically, and it was really tough, it was a tough pill to swallow for a while, and we’ll get into this is you know I’ll say it now, and it was it was right in that in that time period that I thought, wait a minute I’m here for a reason there’s something that’s happened here that’s caused this for me and I’m not going to allow it to take over I think it’s a message that tells me that it’s time to get some things put in place for others. And that’s what I went to work on, Henry, and I’m very passionate about that very much so.

Henry Hoffman (11:19.842):
So, yeah, let’s unpack that a little. That must have been an awful experience and a dark, very low experience in your life. How long did you feel that sense of having those suicidal thoughts? And did you share it with your wife? And how did you flip the switch to go from, you know what, maybe I can do something positive from this? Can you just spend a few minutes talking about how long you had that? And how did you?

Keith Taylor (11:46.451):
Yeah, I would love to actually. So no, I did not share it with my wife, okay? Because it would have created a hell of a mess for us, okay? At the time, she already had her hands full. And she had, at this time, she had started going back to work, and she didn’t need more of that. And one of the things that, why I mentor people.

I have my mentoring program because, and I’m a stroke survivor, who gets it. And there’s so many people out there who understand a lot of these things that are going on in their own mind, but they don’t want to share them with people that they love and trust, and, you know, like their spouse, because it would just create an enormous problem in their household. And so they lock it in. They don’t talk about it. They don’t get it out.

And so that’s one of the reasons I started that. Am I answering your question correctly?

Henry Hoffman (12:56.31):
Yeah, absolutely. And then how long were you, you know, depression is such a common issue following any type of, you know, serious ailment, let alone stroke. Not enough people talk about it. I don’t think enough people are getting attention that they need. And I know that there’s a lot of resources out there, including what you’re doing to address it. What do we do as therapists? We focus on the arm, we focus on the leg, we focus on the hand, you know, accomplishing the main goals, getting them out of the hospital so they can walk.

Keith Taylor (13:02.642):
Yeah.

Henry Hoffman (13:26.674):
You know get back to return to function, but a lot of them rightfully so are going to go through these trans you know these stages of grief if you will where they’re going through. I can’t believe this happened to me to all the way to acceptance and trying to adapt and modify and be the new person that the new version of themselves that they can be How long did that process take for you going from rock bottom? because rock bottom in my opinion is suicidal ideation to, you know what? I’m gonna start a online mentoring self-health program. How long did that process take? Because that’s a massive transformation.

Keith Taylor (14:09.949):
Yeah. So a couple of things come to my mind. And you and I may or may not agree on everything, Henry. I want to make sure I, you know, one of the things that you said was, you know, the physical part. Well, yeah, the physical part is a huge key. And I agree with you. But if your mental state is not right, it’s really hard to continue to grow. That’s my own thought. But I would say that 90% of people go through depression. Now the depression levels are all over the place. So for me personally, once I found a new goal, a new driver, okay, because you have, you know, all these people they have their own goals, they have their own inhibitions, where am I going and all this? And then, you know, it hits the fan and their life is upended a hundred percent.

And all of a sudden they have to rethink that. And I talk to so many people and mentor so many people who are going through that right now because their life totally changed. So what do I do now? Well, you have to be willing and you have to be open to life is gonna change and you gotta find a new passion, a new purpose. You know, people think that…

Purpose is just, that’s my purpose, that’s where I’m going, but what happens after a stroke or anything other than a stroke that upends your life? You’ve got to be able to find a new purpose and there’s your motivation. Now, so I believe that’s huge. For me, it’s when I found that new motivation to help other people that started getting me out of it. Now, did it happen overnight? No, Henry. You still go through depressing times, depressing thoughts. You talk about my speech and all that. I still struggle. There are some things I struggle with specifically that I’m working on all the time. One of those is people’s names. I used to know everybody’s name, and now that escapes me, and so I’m working on how do I get better because you can retrain your brain, and that’s what I love about Sabo.

Keith Taylor (16:30.953):
Because you can retrain your brain. You can find these new neurons that are connecting and stuff. And so I’m very, very passionate about that.

Henry Hoffman (16:41.206):
Well, that’s great. And I want to transition in a second into exactly a little bit more about your approach and how people can receive your online coaching and mentoring. Before I do, let’s talk about the delivery care model. Most of these podcasts, we talk about, like you said, the physical, right? We talk about neuroplasticity. We talk about rewiring the brain for motor function.

But obviously neuroplasticity exists for mental health as well. From a service delivery model, where could it have been a little bit better? Or do you think there’s an area that needs improvement from the mental health side? And using your example, you’ve suffered a stroke, you went through shock, the hospital does an amazing job keeping you alive. You of course had a higher, quote unquote higher-level stroke from the standpoint that you’re doing great. Arms are moving, your legs are moving, you’re talking, you have no significant issues cognitively. So you’re one of the good stories, as a lot of stroke survivors would say. But what we don’t see is how was the actual interventions handled when it comes to mental health? During your journey, you already had OT-PT speech. Did anyone from a mental health aspect, a counselor, were they injected into the care? At any points, whether it’s inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, home health, ER, when you were stable, is there any at all? Isn’t that amazing? When you think about it.

Keith Taylor (18:18.78):
No.

Keith Taylor (18:24.437):
There was absolutely none of that. And my wife reached out to some people and luckily we had a friend who worked at a huge hospital in Portland. And she was like, what, you know, let me do some work. And so she found me a therapist, but it was a PT, it was a physical therapist that I went to. Now…

I say that, but maybe she was OT because I worked on some other things as well, not just physical.

Henry Hoffman (18:54.53):
Well, yeah, what usually happens, Keith, is, you know, a social worker sometimes steps in and tries to play that role as a counselor as well, because they do have a lot of training in that area. But it’s really crazy to think that how much it’s ignored when it comes to, because your outcomes, your motivation, your chances for more recovery, it all starts with, you know, having that core belief that you can actually improve. And you have, in a way you’re going to have that belief as if you’re, you know, mentally you’re feeling okay, you’re not depressed. It’s okay to be having struggles and it’s okay to be frustrated. But if you’re paralyzed from depression, you mean mentally paralyzed, it’s gonna be hard to rewire your brain and improve in all those other aspects. So you feel like that onboarding team really needs to have a mental health professional. And then for a lot of these cases, it’s the social worker. But I truly wonder how much time is really spent, sounds like none for you, on, hey, Keith.

Keith Taylor (19:29.362):
Right.

Henry Hoffman (19:53.698):
This is what you just went through. Here’s what the expectations are. Here’s the feelings you should feel. But good news, here’s what’s gonna happen in the future. And it sounds like none of that takes place or very little it takes place throughout the country.

Keith Taylor (20:08.369):
Well, and so Henry… I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Were you done? I apologize, but…

Henry Hoffman (20:13.11):
Yep, go ahead. I’m always done for you, Keith.

Keith Taylor (20:21.969):
I’m sorry bud, I hope I didn’t interrupt you. But anyway, that’s the problem, okay? The doctors and the hospitals, they all have their own agenda and they do a good job. I’m not bashing anybody, but they all have their own. And frankly, some are for profit, some are not. And they have to watch their Ps and Qs, I get it. But people who have a stroke,

They’re pushed out into society. And then they got, now in today’s world, yes, there’s a lot more PTs, there’s a lot more OT training that happens from the hospital a lot. That wasn’t the case when I had mine. At least I didn’t experience that. And then, but the mental health aspect that you’re talking about, I feel like there is still a huge hole that we have to fill. We have to figure this out and help people get that filled and maybe you’re onto something more than I am Henry, but that gap is Huge and we’ve got to fill that gap

Henry Hoffman (21:31.286):
Yep, I agree. And so strengthafterstroke.com is your website. We’ll put that in the show notes. Let’s transition into trying to fill that gap with you, right? So how many years after your stroke did you decide to create these mental health resources for stroke survivors? How many years did it take did you, before you ended up, you know, pulling trigger on strength after stroke?

Keith Taylor (21:56.773):
Well, what I’m going to say is I pulled the trigger on Strength After Stroke not too far, probably three, three and a half years later, I started Strength After Stroke. But the whole BASE program, my BASE, which is about belief, attitude, strength, and energy, that whole program that now exists online and can be purchased for somebody to go through.

on their own accord is online. That took a while. I wrote a bass program, I wrote the bass program, and then I started sharing it with people, and it was in a written form. And then I met with another stroke survivor, and she told me, she said, this is too much too soon. And so that’s when I decided to put it in a format that people can take it step by step. And so now it’s a 15 module course that lives online too.

Henry Hoffman (22:54.186):
Yeah, why don’t you spend a few minutes. Oh, sorry, Keith. There’s a little delay.

Keith Taylor (22:54.63):
And that I

Keith Taylor (23:00.469):
That got done, gosh, two years ago maybe? Not that long ago actually. And so yeah, I’m just kinda getting the word out about it.

Henry Hoffman (23:11.262):
Okay, so let’s do this. And by the way, I love your mission statement, helping stroke survivors discover their passion, set the intention, and execute a plan. So passion is in all caps, intention is in all caps, and execute is in all caps. So why don’t you explain briefly how the BASE program works and maybe elaborate on that mission statement.

Keith Taylor (23:37.405):
OK, the mission statement came because I actually trademarked something else before I ever had my stroke. And it’s called SIMPLE as PI. And PI stands for Passion, Intention, Execution. And so I’m actually working on that program now. But anyway, so the base, remind me that question again, please.

Henry Hoffman (24:00.586):
A little bit more about the BASE program. So for the audience, there’s a lot of caregivers and patients for sure who are struggling. And I’m assuming a ton of them are gonna be just as frustrated as you were. Some are rock bottom. Some are barely hanging on with hope because they’re just frustrated with how life has changed for them. If you could give us an intro of what the BASE program is and how people can learn more about it, that would be wonderful for the audience.

Keith Taylor (24:18.557) :
Mm.

Keith Taylor (24:31.409) :
Okay, okay. Well, what it is, it’s just, it’s a program that helps, you know, people get from point A to point B, and then they can retake it and stuff. But let me go into a couple things. So B is about belief, right? And so I have these stepping stones in each one of these B, A, S, and E. And for example, telling a new story is the first PDF that somebody has to fill out and they go through because, you know, life’s changed. You’ve got to be able to talk yourself through a new story and get a new vision. And in the attitude section, one of the things I talk about is focusing on growth. I’m that guy, you know, I’m that positive guy who is always looking for something to keep moving forward.

And so that’s what I believe and that’s who I work well with, are those types of people. So, in the attitude section, focusing on growth, in the strength modules, there’s one in there that says, find your support system. I think that we need, whether it’s a buddy, whether it’s another stroke survivor, whatever it is, we all need that. We need somebody to talk to that we can be honest with.

You know, in my other stuff, we run a men’s group, we run all these groups, and we do all this stuff so that people can get out and talk about themselves a little bit without worrying about everybody else. And then in the energy side, one of my favorite parts is I take people through a seven levels deep series. And what that does is it asks the question, you know, who are you, what do you do? And it actually gets, you can get emotional if asked it correctly. And that’s where you can come down to more of what’s your legacy? What do you want to leave for the world? And so that’s kind of it in a nutshell.

Henry Hoffman (26:45.07):
So that sounds fantastic. It sounds very comprehensive. Are most of your clients stroke survivors or are there other diagnoses as well?

Keith Taylor (26:53.825):
Well, so I’ve thought a lot about this, you know, from a marketing standpoint, of course, and usually caregivers are the ones who buy it for their stroke survivor spouse. I’ve seen that quite often. And then I have some stroke survivors who’ve done it. And then the mentoring part, the one-on-one talking, I absolutely love doing that, Henry, and that’s where you can really, the rubber really meets the road.

I love doing it and that has an impact.

Henry Hoffman (27:25.154):
So with the, yeah, let’s talk a few minutes. So we talked about the base program. Let’s dive into the one-on-one mentoring. You know, out of curiosity, is there a scenario where you would do group mentoring, or is it always typically one-on-one?

Keith Taylor (27:42.229):
I am thinking about, no, the thought is there, yes. The answer is yes. Has it been developed? No. I would love to do group coaching. And then for those who need the one-on-one, I would love to offer that. It’s not all about the money or anything like that, Henry, really. I do feel like if people aren’t willing to pay a little bit for what they get, they don’t take it seriously. And so I do charge, but I want to put a team program together like you’re talking about. I think that’s a great idea.

Henry Hoffman (28:25.674):
Well, I think as we wrap up, Keith, not only does your story tell a lot about who you are and what you’ve accomplished and where you came from, not only before the stroke, but definitely post-stroke when you have those dark, deep thoughts, to where you’re now, which is doing one-on-one coaching and mentoring, who’d have thought that was the plan for you, right? But the plan was there. And I think that…

Keith Taylor (28:50.849):
Mm. Absolute.

Henry Hoffman (28:54.374):
As an occupational therapist that spends most of my time dealing with upper extremity issues for patients, of course, there’s a psychosocial aspect that we address too. And I can’t tell you, countless times where I can see clients coming into the clinic and they’re just not able to produce the results that they want, and a lot of the times it’s either a lack of sleep or, because a lot of them have sometimes sleep and endurance and fatigue issues, or they’re going through a bout of depression. And when you go through a bout of depression, it’s gonna affect everything. And the caregiver, you mentioned caregiver, that’s absolutely 100% right. They’re part of this problem too, right? I mean, they’re the heroes for a lot of these clients. And they get affected emotionally, patients getting affected emotionally. So now we need more Keiths throughout the country providing coaching. And it really needs to be part of the critical team, right? So if we’re talking about, you know, if I always, the analogy for me is you’re building a house,

Keith Taylor (29:25.149):
Mm-hmm.

Henry Hoffman (29:53.622):
You have your crew, and then you are gonna have contract subs, right? And there’s gonna be an OT sub-worker, a PT. We need to have mental health as well. And I think that needs to be rounded out. And imagine through the onboarding, not only to get their evidence-based practice to improve their leg and their hand, or speech and cognition, but they also have the right mindset day one on what to expect because that’s gonna be a huge part of what’s gonna happen in the recovery.

Keith Taylor (30:00.222):
Mm-hmm.

Keith Taylor (30:22.617):
Well, and so Henry, and you probably know more about this than I do, but on the insurance side, you know, and that’s why I offer what I offer, and it’s really cheap and all that, but on the insurance side, what we need is we need that mental help taken care of for these people from the get-go. You know, they go to the PT, they go to the OT, they need a mental, they need that. They need somebody that they can talk to, and it needs to be paid for.

Henry Hoffman (30:53.166):
100%.

Keith Taylor (30:53.322):
Somehow, and boy, that’s a huge undertaking that we’ve got in front of us, but when I die, I hope that some of these things are taken care of.

Henry Hoffman (31:04.33):
Well, you’re setting up a legacy as well, and you’re helping hundreds of patients around the country maximize their potential. And that’s all because of what happened in your life. Keith, I want to thank you. I want to thank you so much for sitting in here on the No Plateau podcast. I’ll definitely put all of your information in the show notes. I hope that a few of the folks listening on the call can appreciate what this conversation was today. And I know we’re going to try to come up with some way for you.

Keith Taylor (31:14.804):
Exactly.

Henry Hoffman (31:33.91):
I don’t know if it’s going to happen before this is published or after, or you can do a little bit of a webinar for interested caregivers and patients so they can learn more. But I want to thank you again for hanging out today on the No Plot Tale podcast, Keith.

Keith Taylor (31:48.157):
Henry, I just want to say, seriously, I have followed you and Pete, of course, but I’ve followed you guys for quite a while. You do an awesome job. I’m very, I feel blessed to know you, and I think the world of you. So yeah, right back at you.

Henry Hoffman (32:07.302):
Well, thank you very much. I want you to have a good day, sir, and we’ll be in touch. And for the audience, thanks for listening. And check out the show notes for more information.

Keith Taylor (32:16.491):
Bye bye.

Henry Hoffman (32:17.346):
Take care, Keith.

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