The survivor of many difficult challenges, and an attempted suicide, DeShaun Williams has been able to take everything that he has faced, looked at the lessons that they taught, and ran with it to create the change, and inspiration that he desires in the world. He has started doing this, by becoming an Ordained Minister, Certified Christian based Transformation Coach, & Speaker, author, and South Carolina field advocate for the AFSP where he promotes awareness on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶
🎶 Episode Intro: Deshaun Williams has been through a lot in his young life, including a failed suicide attempt and hospitalization. He has come through that and built a life that he loves. He's written books. And accomplished so many things. I can't wait for you to meet him and be inspired by his story. 🎶
Deshaun, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. How are you
today? I'm doing well. Uh, thank you for asking and thank you for having me on today.
My pleasure. I'm glad you could be here. We've got a lot to talk about. So let's just jump right in. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do
these days. So, uh, my name is Tashaun Williams. I am actually an ordained minister through Universal um, life Church. Um, it's a funny story behind it. We can, we can discuss that as a little bit But, uh, along with that, I'm an author of seven, getting ready to be eight books, um, podcast host and I'm also a mental health and suicide prevention advocate. And, um, I'm also a transformation coach and public speaker.
Sounds like you've got a lot on your.
That I do. Oh, Anna, I'm a husband to be, so, yeah. Well,
congratulations. When's the big day
we that we have not decided yet?
Okay. Fair enough. Deshawn, you've had a lot of challenges and obstacles that you've had to overcome to get where you are. Let's talk about some of them. Let's talk about A D H D to begin with. How has that been an obstacle in
your life? A D h D, uh, it is been an obstacle because, um, I'm, I, well, technically I wouldn't call it obstacle, but it does bring its challenges. So, you know, having all these different things that I, that I pursue, all these different things that I do. There's times where it's like, okay, I wanna do this. And then when I feel like it's, so, I always say I'm a, I am, I'm my own biggest critic, but also at the same time, you know, I'm the hardest person to please when it comes to myself. And if the name doesn't seem right, I'll change it. If I feel like it's off, I'll change it. If a project that I'm working. um, even if I've just started it two days ago and I feel like, oh, this is not gonna work, I'll change it and I will stop the entire direction and I will do a whole 180 of being like, okay, what can I do now? And so, you know, it, it has this, it has the advantages, but also has disadvantages. The short attention span, uh, as you, and, you know, just me moving around like I am right now and, uh, and just constantly either having to have something in my hand or, uh, just looking away. And it's, it's always something because most people think I'm not paying attention or I'm not listening. It's like I am and I just have to have something for a minor distrac. So that's how A D H D has played a part in my life.
You know, there's something to be said though about a willingness to change because I've worked with people, you know, 20 plus years now, and as a minister that's been serving in a congregation and you know, it's true that people can dig in and stereotypes don't serve any of us well. Uh, there's a stereotype that church people don't. That's not entirely true. I've seen people make remarkable changes and transformation in their lives, but there is a human tendency to want to dig in and to resist doing something different. So I'm sure that that switching, you know, can cause its own challenges and obstacles in your life, but also it gives you a freedom to not dig in and to get bogged down by an idea that's not working for you.
Yes, ma'am. That that is true. Um, you know, so many people, it's like, oh, you've like, big example. And then I said, I'm a transformation coach. I actually started out as a confidence coach and I've went down the line. It's like, okay, this is, this is what I've focused on. This is what I damn focused on. And now, so ADHD also played a part in that as well, because I had, it helped. Realized what it was that I was focusing on a lot.
Yeah. So what I, what are some other challenges that you've faced in your life?
Um, you know, I, I faced, I faced a lot, um, some better than others, um, some worse than others. Um, one challenge that I have faced growing up was, You know, I was raised for my grandparents, um, and being raised by my grandparents, that meant that, um, that meant I was awarded the state. So I was actually taken, um, from my mom, who is now technically my sister, uh, cuz my grandparents adopted me. And so, um, you know, being taken from my mom at the age of three years old and me and my. um, being separated, him going to go stay with, um, like my brother went to go stay with his father. Um, they couldn't figure out who my father was because we've, we've done over 16 d n a tests and all of 'em have came back negative. So it, it is definitely been, that was a challenge, uh, growing up because, you know, going to school and they have the, uh, they have the. Where the parents can come to school and both of my grandparents, um, were disabled. Now, granted, my, no, not granted, but unfortunately my grandfather dad passed away when I was in seventh grade. Um, that left me and my grandmother. Uh, she's disabled, she's not allowed to drive because of her health, uh, conditions. So, you know, continuing to go through schooling, you. Um, even watching my cousins, watching their mom come, who was my aunt, who's my aunt, and just realizing I have no one that can, that would show up for me. Um, it always, it always made me feel like I was less than everyone else because, you know, everyone, um, everyone's out and they're, they're laughing, they're enjoying time. Then there's me who's just kind of in the corner. But it also helped me realize, you know, um, I've come in contact with people who say, oh, I wish, um, I wish that my dad was never here because he doesn't do this, or he doesn't do that. Or, I wish my mom, um, wasn't hearing things of that nature. And it makes me realize, you know, that, and I've told them it. Um, y'all, y'all are lucky to have either one of both parents in your life. There's some of us who don't, and granted, my, my grandparents were mine. They were my parents. But to actually have a relationship with the person who gave birth to you and knowing that as you grow up, you'll never have that, you'll never have that close knitted relationship like you. Everyone else have that. That's, that's very heartbreaking. Um, but it was something that I had to understand because that, while they didn't, while they couldn't teach me while my, the parents who gave birth to me, while they could not teach me what it took to become an adult, they taught me what it took not. So they pretty much taught me what not to do as an. and what not to do when, when it's time for me to become a parent. I
appreciate your mindset on that, that you've taken it and you've made something of yourself. You've made quite a bit of yourself, honestly, and you're taking those challenges, those things that you lacked, and you're making it something to step forward and step higher with, and I really admire that about you. Yes, ma'am. What would you say is the biggest challenge you've faced?
Huh? Biggest challenge I've faced depression. Um, I've always suffered from depression. Um, to this day I still do. Um, it's just not as bad as it once was. So, um, I always tell people that 2018 was the biggest year for depress. Um, because I tried to take my own life. Um, and you know, that was, so that was September, the date I believe was September 23rd, 2018. And, um, it was a Saturday and I just remember laying in bed. I, uh, I was 20 years old, I think. Yeah, I was 20 years old. And it's like, okay, nothing's going right. At the time, I was actually, so I had a, I was engaged then, so I was engaged at 20, um, which I feel like I was a little too young to be engaged at now. Um, but I was engaged. Um, I was working. Almost 70 hours a week, roughly 68 to 70 hours a week trying to, trying to go to college, trying to maintain a social life. It just didn't work. Um, and everything started going, um, downhill. So the first thing to go was to relationship. Um, when that went, I was like, okay, something's going on. Something something's. Don't know what it is, but it's not me. Um, that, that's just how I felt. Like it's not me. Whatever it is, it's not me. Mm-hmm. Um, then on top of that, you know, I'm getting, I was getting ready to realize, I was realizing that it was the anniversary of my, um, my grandfather's passing had just lost another friend of mine. Uh, accidental overdose. So it, it was just September of that year was just, uh, just a hard month, uh, to be honest. And, uh, so after, after the failed engagement, you know, the, the next thing to go was, uh, college, because I didn't wanna go to college. I'm working anywhere between eight to 16 hour shifts. The last thing I wouldn't do was go to. uh, because I barely had enough time to sleep. And, um, so when it came down to it, it was like, okay, college is out the door. And then everyone was like, oh, well, you know, you don't have anything else to do, so now you can pick up more hours. So, you know, I, I, I thought about it and it's like, hmm, pick up more hours, make more. and pay off my car faster because granted, I, I was young, I was dumb. I had a car that was paid for and I traded. Then I got a card that had a part that had a card payment. I don't Sure, um, advise anyone to go out and do that if it's paid for. Correct.
But we've all done that, right?
Yes. L lesson learned, um mm-hmm. And so, you know, it was. Right when I got time to, uh, right when I was asked, Hey, can you pick up more hours? And I didn't give them a definite answer. They told me, they was like, go home, uh, think about it. Let us know Monday when you come in. So that night when I went home was September 23rd. That was the night that I ultimately tried to commit suicide. Most, a lot of people have asked me, they like, how did you try? Did you try to cut your wrist? Did you try to hang yourself? Did you try to overdose on pills? The answer was no to all of those. The surprisingly, most people wouldn't think this, but it was more of, um, me pulling out the gun that I had at the time and trying to. Shoot myself in the head and it malfunctioned and, um mm-hmm. So, you know, at, at that point I laid down, I cried and I went to sleep the next day. Uh, cuz I, I'm a church scorer and, you know, I went to church and, uh, there was, I've never had anyone just walk up to me and be like, you look like total crap. And I was. Thanks. That's cute. Mm-hmm. And they was like, what's wrong? Well, I didn't get any sleep last night. I tried to commit suicide. It was like, why? Well, I just feel like I don't belong here anymore. I'm just tired. And you know, we just kind of love to the conversation at that. That was like, we'll pray for you. And that was the conversation. So, you know, I didn't think anything about it in my mind. You know, this is a normal conversation. This is something that we talk about. Something that just gets brought up that Tuesday. Uh, we have what is called Rally. So I'll go to a church named New Spring that's big here in South Carolina. And um, rally is for 18 to 25 year olds. Um, so young adults in college and while I was not in college, I was still age, I was still within the age limit to go, so I. Took a picture before the event, uh, before the church service that night. And, you know, I'm in front of the car that I'm paying on and I'm, and I, I'm hitting the dab in the photo and I got a hand pointing up to the sky and, uh, nothing looks, nothing looks wrong. I got on the shirt that I was a brand ambassador for and you'd never thought anything was wrong. I went through that entire service that. Thinking, Hey, I can make it through. I can make it through and nothing will stop me. And you know, I made it to that service. Um, I showed a little tool to no emotion during that service, even though it touched me. I showed no emotion during that service cuz I knew if I did, um, I would bust out crime. So the best thing to do, yeah. Show no emotion. Go home because I drove myself. That's how out of touch I was with everyone. I would drive myself two places and drive myself back. So go back into work that Wednesday, work 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM and get off work. Come home. I get a text message from one of the leaders inside the church. Hey, you coming to, you coming? Because you scheduled to volunteer. Yeah. I'll be there tonight. We need to talk. Talk about what? So, you know in my mind, like mm-hmm. I know what you, I know what you want. I know what you wanna talk about, but I wanna play it off. I wanna act like I don't know what you want talk about because I don't wanna, this is something, this is the elephant in the room that I don't want to confront. Let's just keep the elephant in the room and, um, I went that night before the service got started. So we've, we've done our run through of the service and everything before the, um, the middle school, before the middle school and high school students come in and, uh, we're having our, we're doing our prayer and right after the prayer they pulled me inside. He's like, we need to talk. It's like about. and he goes into detail about, Hey, so I heard you tried to do this. And I'm just standing there looking away from him now with my phone and my hand just scrolling because this isn't a conversation I want to have. And you know, I'm, I'm getting told like, Hey, um, we have no option. Like you have to get. I've, I've been getting, I had literally received help from the day I was born from a mental health therapist. So I didn't want to go get help from another therapist. And so I was like, I'm not going to a therapist. Oh no, you're not going to a therapist. No, you going to a hospital. Which hospital do you wanna go to? Hmm. So I choose the hospital that was local to. and I was like, I'll drive myself there after the service. Oh no, you're not driving there. We're taking you. Huh? You're taking me. It was like, yeah, we're gonna take you. And so it's like, okay, so my car is parked behind the church. After the service we're Dr. Me and the person that actually baptized me, it's actually drive me up to the hospital, um, while when we get to the hospital and everyth. um, and get checked in. And I, I still find it odd that they called the, the room that I stayed in the hospital part. I don't know why they called it a part. It still intrigues me to this day because it was a room mm-hmm. um mm-hmm. And it was, I had to stay there. I had to stay in that ER room over. The next day they take me and seven other people up to the second floor. So we're walking up cuz we're not taking elevators, we're walking up to the second floor next's, like, welcome to the, to the site ward. Oh. So I'm on a crazy floor, huh? It's the first thing that went through my mind. So I'm on a crazy floor. Um, granted, I'll never let that come out my mouth. Uh, cause I was afraid of what might happen if I did. Uh. And it was like, Mr. Williams, this is your room. Now, granted, I have nothing but the hospital gown that they have given me. Nothing else, no clothes, nothing. So I go to the room, I lay down, I go back to sleep. I sleep, I think for about four hours before I hear a buzz come into the room over the ACOM saying, Mr. William. You can't sleep all day. If you want to get out of the hospital, then you have to interact. Me being the ignorant person I was at the time, I don't want to, I don't want to interact with anyone. I don't want y'all to mess with me. Please leave me alone. All I wanna do is sleep. I mean, I was tired of working and almost every hours a week. Mm-hmm. I'm tired, like, please let me sleep. And I was like, this is part of the requirement you have to. if you want to get out. At that point, it's like, oh, how long do I have to interact before I can, before I can be released?
Perfect. It was like, can I go say hi? Do I have to have a conversation?
right? And so they was like, whenever the therapist feel like you're good to go home, it's like they could be a day, they could be two months. I went back to be in the hospital for two months. I can tell you that now. Mm-hmm. So I left out the. Went to the family room and started interacting with everyone. Hey, hey, hey, hey. How y'all doing? My name is such and such. Yeah, and uh, I tried to head back to my room. That's like, Nope. Uh, y'all got the therapy session now. Okay, so therapy session there, going over the three levels of depression, your minor, your moderate, your major, everyone in the room, minor or. Then there's me major. I was like, oh, I'm just an eyeball out. Huh? And it's like, well, yeah. So during all this time in the, in the hospital, I'm, I'm in the room. I'm in my room just trying to figure out like, what can I do? Why is the shower not staying on for longer than 30 seconds? Why is the sink not staying on for longer than 30 seconds? Finally I can get a phone call. So I called my grandmother, Hey, I'm in the hospital. I need some clothes cause I'm tired of wearing this gown. Um, and I need some shoes. I need some socks. Cause I'm tired of walking around these little slippery, these little slippery socks. Um, they good, but the little grippy socks don't, they don't fit me. So, um, and so, so my grandmother, uh, she calls her daughter, they come up, they bring me, and, um, it was just one thing after another. Uh, you know, we actually had a decent conversation and, uh, after they left, I went back to the room because visiting hours I think was like from six to seven. So, um, we had to be in bed by 10 o'clock. So I went back to my room before, um, before it was like our little hour of free time. And so, I went in there, got dressed, it's seven o'clock, it's seven o'clock at night, why do I need to get dressed right? But I got dressed, um, walked back out and interact, watching tv and they were like, Mr. Williams, it's time for your medicine. I was on the depression medicine and I was on the sleeper medication. Medications that interacted and interfered with each other cuz the depression, medicine kept you up. Sleeping, medicine made you sleep. And so that was like, one is going to do the opposite of the other. I was like, okay. And um, with that being said, it was just, it was wild because the next day, um, it was like October. So at this point it's October 5th and. I'm in the room crying because I'm supposed to be at this event, um, that I went to every gear. They would shoot off fireworks and I was supposed to be at it and I just couldn't go. And I was crying and I was like, okay, I have to figure something out. I have to get out of here because I cannot take this any longer. Um, well, I end up standing there for about four more days. And the final day that I was in the hospital, the therapist comes and talks to me and she says, Mr. Williams? Yes. So you know that you have major depression? Yes, ma'am. You're not gonna be able to be as successful as some people who have mild and moderate depression. Okay. We also wanna let you know your health insurance. You have a $19,000 medical bill. Oh, no. You know, interesting. Being told that you have a bill that high, especially when you're in the hospital for, for depression. Mm-hmm. Um, yeah.
And by the way, it's major,
right? Like, like, you know, y'all could, I could leave at this hospital and come right back in because y'all done told me. Um, but I got released that day. Um, I had to wait for a family member to come pick me up from the hospital and take me to the church so I could get my car. I'm so glad that nobody stole my car because my keys were sitting in the ignition. They had literally put my key in the ignition, and so I drove home with like renewed and refreshed. Then I get a phone call. Hello? Yeah, we're short staffed. Can you come in today? I know you just got out the hospital. I'll be there in 45 minutes. I went to work and I went to work cuz I had something to prove because I wanted to become a supervisor and I wanted to prove to them that no matter what happened, no matter what I battled. I could, um, I could always be the one that they counted on. And so, you know, looking back at that depression, if it wasn't for that, I don't think I would be the person I am today. And today
you're a mental health advocate. You're a suicide prevention advocate. You're a public speaker, you're a podcast host, you've written books. Say, you're kind of making a place in this world. Yes, ma'am. And you're very humble, too.
believe it or not, before depression, I was not humble. Uh, I was the person that said, oh, um, this is how I feel. I don't care how you like it. I don't care if you like me. Uh, it was literally my way or no. and now it's like it can't be that way.
Well, being a mom of a teenager, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say, that just might be part of being a teenager. Also,
some of that, that may be true too.
So, Deshawn, tell me about unscathed.
What, so I said that, that that is true. We do tend to get rebellious as a teenager. I just never sneed. It's been said. Yes. Yeah. I just never sneaked out the house, so I didn't have a car to sneak out the house at the time. So when I was there you go, and all my friends couldn't drive either, so I had to call their parents if I wanted to go somewhere. and niggas, not the house that the parents though. Yeah. Had to use a landline phone, so definitely couldn't. Definitely couldn't plan. Um, mm, but unscalable, uh, which is soon to be so unscalable, is my podcast, um, which is soon to be rebranded to on the issue. And, um, it's a podcast that focuses, originally it was a podcast that was supposed to, uh, that literally had no sense of direction. Um, I just, I would book guests and. and we would, we would just talk it out, um, whatever topic they wanted to discuss. And if I felt like it was aligned with me, we discussed it. However, the last, um, team's, episodes have seen the biggest drop off in audience. And so it's like, okay, it is sound to rebrand. It's time to get serious. It's almost two years old. So it's time to get real serious about this podcast. So, you know, we are planning, like I'm planning on changing the name to own the issue, and we're gonna be talking about, um, about things that's going on in society, things that need to be changed, why they're being normalized. So, um, you know, we're gonna be talking about why is, um, why it's cheating in society, why has that been normalized? Uh, why is. I know this one's gonna get a lot of, uh, feedback. Why it is the L G B T Q community. Uh, look, look down on so much and, uh, and then, uh, you know, um, it's just, uh, and then we're also gonna be having episodes, you know, where we're raise, raising awareness. Mental health, suicide prevention, gaslighting, domestic abuse, and things of that nature. Because I think those are, those are the things that are going on in in society now that aren't being talked about a lot. Or they get talked about just enough and then it gets swept underneath the rug. So that's what on. So
it's an inconvenient truth, isn't
it? It is. And. The whole name of the, the new name of the podcast on the issue, um, is literally we're on the issue about the issue and we're gonna fix the issue. So that's, that's what actually, um, inspired the new name for it.
That sounds like an amazing podcast. When Will on the issue debut,
so on the issue, um, Because it has to go un under the rebrand, relaunch and everything. Um, it was supposed to, it was supposed to launch June 1st, but I want to go ahead and get that name out there. So I'm thinking after my 25th birthday, uh, which is February the 11th, um, I think around February. So I don't have a calendar. So the 11th is a Saturday. So on February the 16th is when, um, the new trailer for it will be, uh, put out. And then that's where every week afterward you'll have an episode. And people who have been following me since my very first podcast may notice that, um, that they are going to hear episode. Similar because of being of, um, shows being repurposed, coming from one podcast to another podcast, just a name change.
So mid-February, watch for on ma'am issue. And folks, it sounds like it's gonna be an amazing podcast, so make sure you check that out. Deshaun, as we wrap up here, I wanna give you an opportunity if there's someone listening to this interview, to this podcast that's struggling. what would you say to them,
to the person that's out there struggling? Um, always remember, well, I want you to remember this. The things that are happening in your life, they're not happening to you. They're happening for you, and they're happening through you because at the end of the day, it's going to help you become a better. But you have to be willing to allow these things to mold you to become the better person, become that person that you desire to be in order to make that impact that you want to see in the world.
And that's spoken from a man who knows. Deshawn, thank you so much for being with us today. Congratulations on your append nuptials. Whenever you get married, make sure you let us know. We'd love to give you a little shout out on Pursuing Uncomfortable and celebrate your Marriage, and congrats on the new podcast, and we hope that you just go out there and kill it with, with all that you're doing. I think your podcast is a needed voice in our society. I'm glad you're doing it, and I think you're just the right person. So thank you.
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