The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast

Katherine Knapke: Overcoming Chronic Depression, Recovering from Anorexia and Breaking Free from the Barriers of a Passivism-Based Mennonite Upbringing

Episode Summary

NOTE: This podcast was recorded toward the beginning of lockdown for COVID (important for the beginning of the podcast!) Katherine Knapke was raised in a small, Mennonite community in Columbus, Ohio.  Taught to be peaceful, quiet and not ask for anything you want, Katherine’s upbringing stoked the fire for chronic depression, which ultimately led to a devastating struggle with multiple eating disorders, a panic disorder and crippling anxiety.  After escaping an abusive relationship in college, she relapsed into her eating disorder.  Her story of finding herself in the midst of her recovery and surrounding herself with healthy people who support her recovery is beautiful and inspiring, and reminds us that all things are possible. Katherine is now the Chief Operating Officer at the American Negotiation Institute.  She also hosts the Ask with Confidence podcast, which is designed to empower women by helping them develop the skills and confidence they need to better navigate difficult conversations and achieve the highest level of success. Katherine’s background is in the medical profession as a Psychiatric Nurse trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and she is a Certified Mediator. She is dedicated to helping women overcome psychological, emotional, and societal barriers in the workplace.

Episode Notes

NOTE: This podcast was recorded toward the beginning of lockdown for COVID (important for the beginning of the podcast!)

Katherine Knapke was raised in a small, Mennonite community in Columbus, Ohio.  Taught to be peaceful, quiet and not ask for anything you want, Katherine’s upbringing stoked the fire for chronic depression, which ultimately led to a devastating struggle with multiple eating disorders, a panic disorder and crippling anxiety.  After escaping an abusive relationship in college, she relapsed into her eating disorder.  Her story of finding herself in the midst of her recovery and surrounding herself with healthy people who support her recovery is beautiful and inspiring, and reminds us that all things are possible.

Katherine is now the Chief Operating Officer at the American Negotiation Institute.  She also hosts the Ask with Confidence podcast, which is designed to empower women by helping them develop the skills and confidence they need to better navigate difficult conversations and achieve the highest level of success. Katherine’s background is in the medical profession as a Psychiatric Nurse trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and she is a Certified Mediator. She is dedicated to helping women overcome psychological, emotional, and societal barriers in the workplace.

 

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Episode Transcription

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Hello beautiful people. Welcome to The Courage to Change, a recovery podcast. My name is Ashley Loeb Blassingame and I am your host. Today we have Katherine Knapke. Katherine was raised in a small Mennonite community in Columbus, Ohio. She was taught to be peaceful, quiet, and not ask for anything she wanted. Katherine's upbringing stoked the fire for chronic depression, which ultimately led to a devastating struggle with multiple eating disorders, a panic disorder and crippling anxiety.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

After escaping an abusive relationship in college, she relapsed into her eating disorder. Her story of finding herself in the midst of her recovery and surrounding herself with healthy people who support her recovery is beautiful and inspiring and reminds us that all things are possible. Katherine is now the Chief Operating Officer at the American Negotiation Institute. She also hosts the Ask with Confidence podcast, which is designed to empower women by helping them develop the skills and confidence they need to better navigate difficult conversations and achieve the highest level of success.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Katherine's background is in the medical profession as a psychiatric nurse, trained in therapeutic crisis intervention, and she is a certified mediator. She's dedicated to helping women overcome psychological, emotional and societal barriers in the workplace. You guys, this is awesome. Katherine is amazing. Absolutely amazing. And you will love hearing how she was raised in this Mennonite, don't ask for anything you want kind of, be peaceful, be quiet surrounding, upbringing, milieu. And now she's the Chief Operating Officer at the American Negotiation Institute and hosts a podcast called Ask with Confidence. I just love it. It's so awesome. And her story of her eating disorder is really intense and I hope that it reaches somebody who can relate to the experience. So without further ado, episode 63, let's do this. So you're in Columbus, Ohio and when did you guys go on lockdown?

Katherine Knapke:

Oh, it seems like ... I feel like it's been forever. So things started shutting down about four weeks ago now and I ended up getting ... So OSU shut down during the spring break. And I know that because we were in the middle of teaching a very intense course. My boss, who I work for, co-teaches at the College of Law and it's a very intense week long course and they get two credit hours for this. And so they shut it down and we had to figure out what do we do during the shutdown. And at the very end of it, I ended up getting sick. So I was on isolation for 15 days and I had problems getting access to testing. So on the 12th day-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you get COVID?

Katherine Knapke:

I don't know. I had a lot of the symptoms. I never had a fever, but had, started with a sore throat, got a little bit of congestion and then had this really awful-like dry cough and lost my sense of taste, lost my sense of smell. So I don't know if I had it, but I couldn't get access to a test until about day 12, and so everything-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Sounds like you had it.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, the timing is weird. And I wasn't exposed to any other germs. And my boss had traveled to California, Florida and New York within the span of like a week so it's possible I got it somehow from him. So then by day 12 and when they tested it came back and we don't have the testing for antibodies yet. So don't know if I had it and was already exposed to it or if I just had something else, but was-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean, you lost your sense of smell, that's a pretty telltale sign, like did you test it or did you literally like try to smell things that smell and nothing?

Katherine Knapke:

Just no sense, I just woke up one day and had like, couldn't taste, couldn't smell. I mean, trying to eat food and just nothing there. And I wasn't like super congested or anything, it was very light congestion. So no reason that I would lose anything like that. So it was a few days that I dealt with that, so super fun.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What do you eat when you can't taste anything?

Katherine Knapke:

So for me I mean, I'm not like a huge food person because I mean, my history with eating disorder and stuff, food is kind of still weird. Like I'm terrible at cooking. So for me then it's just like going through the motions of a regular eating pattern. And at that point it's just no fun. I mean, you might as well feed me cardboard and I wouldn't know the difference. So at that point, it's just going through the motions of breathing. You just get it down and it's very disappointing because it's like, oh, I know what this tastes like. I expect it to taste like something and then nothing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It doesn't. I think it so wild, what a wild experience. Well, I'm glad you're feeling better.

Katherine Knapke:

Thank you. Thank you. And of course, after I think they announced the lockdown close to when I was about to get out of isolation. And so then it's like, oh man, I can't even go anywhere after this. So it's like still being on isolation.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well, at least the fear of catching it, it's probably a little bit less.

Katherine Knapke:

Slightly. I mean, I'm hoping that I had it so that way if I go out then I'm fine, but there's still the chance that I had something else, so I don't know, it's hard to say.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Well, I'm glad you're feeling better and you are here, welcome to the podcast.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, well, thank you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

For being here.

Katherine Knapke:

Wild times. So I had no idea I'd be doing this podcast under quarantine and pandemic and apocalypse, so I'm super excited.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's pretty wild. It's pretty wild. It's weird, most of my schedule has not changed because I already worked from either home or an office, but I can easily work from home. And then I go to school online in the evenings and I have little kids. So like most of my life has not changed, but the energy, like the actual, it feels different. Things feel different. So it's been a really ... I was expecting to not kind of feel that much change, but it has. I've been surprised that just the energy on the planet feels different.

Katherine Knapke:

That is, yeah. So I mean, I technically, I guess work from home. I mean, we're a small business. My background is in nursing. So at some point I'm getting emails right now from the Ohio Board of Nursing that we have to fill out, could get deployed. I don't know, which is very weird to have emails saying that, because I'm not in the military, so I've never had to experience any kind of like deployment or anything. So it's kind of like, I feel like it's almost like a war. But so technically it's a small business and I could work from home, but we have an office. So I go to an office and have worked very hard to set up a routine where I'm not just working at home because I have a very hard time separating stuff and I will burn myself out because I'm a type A personality and I like things to be perfect.

Katherine Knapke:

So I had to work very hard to kind of separate that. And so now I'm at home and I'm having to re-establish work habits at home. And so that has been very hard to do and because I will find other things to do and will get distracted and I'm finding low motivation. So it is definitely a different feel going back into that. And yeah, the atmosphere, it's very weird.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Very, very weird to go outside and like no one's there.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's like, or there's people like walking their dogs, but they're looking at you. It's a very weird environment.

Katherine Knapke:

I feel like I'm living in those pandemic movies, those horror movies, I feel like I'm living in one of those.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I have a three year old twin boys. I took them on a walk and I like yelled at them for getting too close to somebody. You know? I was like, "Get over here, you guys." And I like can't explain anything to them. So I just seem like this psychotic human being now, oh my God.

Katherine Knapke:

It's weird. It is so surreal. It's very weird. And like being afraid of people is [inaudible 00:09:00].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. Such a weird ... Yeah, my neighbors I'm like, sorry. Well so, okay. So you're in Columbus, Ohio, and very interesting fact about you, you grew up a Mennonite and I actually know a tiny bit about Mennonites. I went to treatment with a girl who was a Mennonite, and so I learned all about it from her and she was there. This is a little side fact. So I went to treatment. I went to this, I don't know about treatment, but it was a lockdown in Utah in 2003 and I was 16. She was 15 and they sent her ... so I was there for shooting heroin and just having this crazy life and she was there for wearing pants.

Katherine Knapke:

That's a very different life. So they're different branches of Mennonites. So we have conservative Mennonites, then we have liberal Mennonites. So your conservative Mennonites are going to be the ones that are dressed more similar to like the Amish style. They're wearing like the dress and the head covering. And they at least [inaudible 00:10:10] and use electricity. So that's kind of like an obvious difference between the Amish and the Mennonite. And then more liberal Mennonites, which is how I grew up, you can discern us from an atheist.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, okay, I didn't know that.

Katherine Knapke:

Mm hmm (affirmative). But the tenants are the same, so it's pacifism. So growing up very peace based. So yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It was interesting. So like on its face, I remember at the time thinking like you're here why, like oh my God. But another interesting piece of it, which was that she ... so someone broke into her home. It sounds like she was a more conservative family, but someone or her uncle or someone broke into her home and assaulted her and her family didn't stop it because they knew who it was, and because the tenants were around peace and non-interference and non-violence. And so they made the ... because they knew it wasn't like a stranger breaking in, like some of the most wild ...

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So of course my introduction to it was very, clearly that's what I thought a Mennonite was. And I was like, she's a Mennonite, oh my goodness. Yeah, so that's what ... and I remember thinking like, oh, peace and pacifism and what could go wrong? Like that sounds great, right? And then ...

Katherine Knapke:

It does, and for the most part it is. And I don't want to bash my upbringing. I had a very healthy upbringing and very happy upbringing. My parents were very supportive and I really enjoyed the environment that I grew up in. But clearly I kind of took it to an extreme and it had an impact on me that was detrimental. And I didn't learn kind of where the line was that was too far where it impacts your ability to kind of care for yourself and speak up for yourself. And that combined with mental illness and my mental health issues was very detrimental to my health and to my ability to speak up for myself and set some boundaries that I really needed to be able to set. And so that kind of created this snowball effect later on.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Like a perfect storm almost, like the pacifism, and then the innate pacifism. That's interesting. Do men have the same experience in terms of like ... women, men, is the pacifism the same?

Katherine Knapke:

I mean, I don't know the statistics on that. At least speaking for my family because right now, so my job, I work for a company called the American Negotiation Institute. And so we go around providing trainings on negotiation, conflict resolution. And so coming from a background where nobody in my family negotiates, because the idea is, is that you are grateful for what you have. So my parents have never negotiated. And like my mom is a massage therapist and she struggles with raising her rates because she doesn't want to rock the boat with people being upset that she's charging more.

Katherine Knapke:

My dad with his job, he has never negotiated his salary. And he's always said, "I don't feel like I've needed to do it because I'm just grateful for what I have." So I've always just been brought up in this environment where you are thankful and grateful for what you have and the idea that pushing for more is kind of frowned upon.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. It's such an interesting thing because on its face that seems very ... like it would breed happiness, right? It would breed like being grateful for what you have, peace. I mean, it sounds really ... and it's interesting like, there are things that in any religion, any upbringing there're unintended consequences, right? Anything, and it's just interesting what the unintended consequences are in this situation. So you mentioned the mental illness, you were diagnosed with mental illness at nine.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So I was diagnosed very young and I have ... it's both a blessing and a curse. It's a very strong genetic link. So runs on my mom's side of the family. My grandma has some, right, struggles with some mental illness. My mom had it pretty significantly. My sister has it and then I have it. And so each generation tended to get slightly worse. And so I'm the youngest in the family, so I had significantly more struggles than the generations before me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How many siblings do you have?

Katherine Knapke:

Just the one sister.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. And they diagnosed you with depression, anything else?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, it started with chronic depression and my mom ... and at the age of nine and I've asked my mom before and she says that she saw something. And at the age of nine, I'm not entirely sure what she saw and I don't have very many memories of things being bad at that stage. I was with a group of friends, I wanted to be part of the popular and in crowd. And that kind of started a lot of the issues with people pleasing and really trying to fit in at that age, which caused a lot of problems later on and was a huge trigger for disordered eating and later on my anorexia.

Katherine Knapke:

But at that age, at that moment when I was diagnosed, I don't have many memories about what exactly it was. My mom says that she saw something and I'm not totally sure, but that's when I got that diagnosis. And then later on anxiety was added onto that. And then years later, some more things were added on as well.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. So you really, with the chronic depression, especially that young, what did that look like?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, so at that young age, and like I said, it's a blessing and a curse. So with my mom having gone through it and then also my sister having it as well, and she was diagnosed also pretty young, it's not like it was a stigma in my family. And with my background as a nurse, I worked as a psych nurse and would see a lot of ... I worked on an adolescent unit and I would see a lot of patients come through. A lot of kids come through and their families didn't want to deal with it. They didn't want to talk about it.

Katherine Knapke:

So the kid would come in, we treat them, they'd get stable and then they'd leave and the parents wouldn't want to deal with it. So the kid would have like no follow-up after they left. And so they would immediately be back in just because there was no follow-up. I was lucky in the sense that my parents were well aware. My mom had been dealing with it for a long time, so there was kind of immediate support. As soon as those signs were seen, my parents immediately put me into therapy and I started on medication at age nine. And so it was talked about, it wasn't hidden in my family. So I'm very lucky that it was caught and it was talked about. And so it was never something that I was taught to be ashamed of.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's awesome. It seems like the Mennonite pacifism might have been a barrier to getting that level of interference and treatment had your mom not had that experience? Is that common?

Katherine Knapke:

I don't know that it necessarily has to do with the religious upbringing on that. I know from my mom's upbringing, she basically had to kind of forge her own way and kind of advocate for herself. And she had a pretty significant struggle. My grandparents and kind of at the age, my parents are older. So with their generation mental illness was of this thing that you didn't really talk about. So my grandparents were more or less in denial and so it wasn't until my mom was an adult where she was really able to advocate for herself and kind of do things on her own. So up until then my grandparents just kind of ignored it and it's not anything negative on them. And my grandparents were very loving. It's just how the times were, and how that culture was.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, so part generational. Yeah, that makes sense. And so you switched schools and traveled abroad. What happened when you came back?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So switching schools and traveling, there's a big gap there. So with my diagnosis at age nine, and I'd talked about wanting to be part of the popular crowd. And I tried so hard in things, and I was bullied at this age and things got so bad that I needed to switch schools. And so once I switched schools, things got good for a while and I had thankfully my middle school years and early high school years went really well. And then my junior year of high school, I studied abroad in England and had been on very low dose of depression medication, essentially almost like a security blanket of how low of a dose I was on and then stayed for an entire year abroad in England.

Katherine Knapke:

And it's hard to get a prescription for that long when you're overseas and you have to see a doctor. So we just decided since I had been doing so well, hey, I might not need it. And so I went off of medication and then when I came back, that's kind of when all the triggers hit. And so when I came back is kind of when the depression got significantly worse and my anorexia kicked in and that was kind of immediately when I got back from studying abroad.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So that was in high school, but had you had any dieting behavior before?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So I was an overweight child. So dealing with depression and being overweight and was in and out of doctor's offices and they would tell me, oh, hey, you need to lose weight. And it wasn't done in like a mean way, I was picked on by kids for being overweight, but I started my first diet in fourth grade and it was Atkins diet. So I remember doing like no carbs and whatever. And from there it would be more overeating and then going on some ridiculous fad diet.

Katherine Knapke:

And that was kind of a cycle, but it was never like a diagnosed eating disorder. And it was always ... my parents wanted to support me with what I wanted to do as long as I didn't take it to an extreme, but it was definitely kind of a cycle. And it was always very frustrating for me wanting to be part of the skinny group, the thin group I had always wanted to kind of achieve, being popular and that kind of stuck with me, but I was able to manage it up until I got back from studying abroad.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did it look like when you got back from England?

Katherine Knapke:

I went through grief when I came back from England. It was a grieving period. I met, and I'm still friends with the people that I made friends with. I go back and visit them and I'm actually going in October for a wedding. So I keep in touch with them. And so when I came back, it was like losing a family. And so it was a grieving period. And so I don't know what switched it, but that was the trigger that kind of set it off. And then I just stopped eating. I got sick one time and then that kind of just set off this trigger for me to just severely restrict my eating.

Katherine Knapke:

And a lot of people with eating disorders will hide their behaviors and I never tried to hide my behavior. So my parents caught on very quickly. And so I got back in June and come November, that November, I was in treatment for an eating disorder. I was restricting so severely that I was already in treatment in November.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What was the catalyst to being in treatment? Were you having symptoms other than being too thin?

Katherine Knapke:

Significant weight loss definitely was not so just significant, significant restrictive behaviors, couldn't get me to eat anything. And it wasn't inpatient, it was partial. So I was in my senior year of high school at this time. My parents took me out of high school, and so I was in a partial program. So I'd go there every single day, Monday through Friday, and then I'd come home in the evenings and they had a tutor for me that would help me with schoolwork. And so I still graduated. I was again, very type A perfectionist. I would rewrite all my notes. And I graduated valedictorian. So I still did very well, but was definitely burning myself out at that point.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did the weight loss look like? Like just for understanding at a deeper level. Like if you came home, how much weight do you think you lost when you stopped eating?

Katherine Knapke:

So when I came home from England, I won't give numbers because I don't want anybody listening that may have an eating disorder because people kind of talk, yeah and will use those. But I would have been more on the normal to overweight side. And then when I went into treatment, I was on the underweight side. So I lost weight very rapidly. Probably, I don't even want to give a number for that, but I definitely want to the underweight category.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Were you at a medical risk?

Katherine Knapke:

At that point no. In another, because I had multiple stints in treatment, at another time I was. But at that point was not yet at medical risk. They did worry. I have very low blood pressure, so they would worry about that and would monitor it. But I wasn't in a need where it would be hospitalized at that point.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And then when you got out of that treatment, what happened from there?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So after I got out of that treatment and I was very angry at my parents. I felt very proud of this eating disorder and my fitness. So I was very angry and these were some very rough years because I wanted the eating disorder and I was very attached to it. And so after I got out of that, I went right back to the restricting. And so I was more strategic about the restricting because my parents had rules about ... and also the doctors that I was seeing had rules about you have to be at a certain way in order to go to college. And so I maintained that and I was at the very lowest, the lowest limit to go to college. So I maintained that and made it two weeks into college before there was an intervention. And I was pulled out of college, think that I was not doing very well.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Two weeks. Wow.

Katherine Knapke:

Yes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's a lot to happen in two weeks.

Katherine Knapke:

I did not make it very far in college. And I had goals of becoming a doctor, but I knew I was sick. So I still had a rational brain. I knew I was sick and I did not think I would make it. So I had the foresight to know that people with eating disorders, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. So I knew that I was very sick. And so I went into nursing with the knowledge that, hey, I can probably at least make it through this. And if I'm still doing okay, I can go to medical school.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So were you being weighed those two weeks? Were you away for school? How did they know?

Katherine Knapke:

So I went to the University of Cincinnati and my parents kept tabs on me. And like I said, I was not very good at hiding and I would have some, this is the point where I was starting to have more medical symptoms. So things like passing out and some hospital scares where I did not feel right and would get myself to a hospital. And so I would call my parents in a panic.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. So concrete things that were happening, okay. I was picturing them coming to your dorm or something.

Katherine Knapke:

[inaudible 00:26:27]

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Step on the scale.

Katherine Knapke:

My parents were very worried at that point. I know that they probably, if it was up to them, they probably would not have even let me go to college. But since I was an adult, they wanted to let me try at least. And I appreciate that they even let me try and after they staged the intervention and let me go two weeks, I managed to convince them that I did not need to go to treatment yet and that I could manage to do it on my own. And so I moved home.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

See, you thought you couldn't negotiate.

Katherine Knapke:

Oh, I was a master negotiator at this point, like master manipulator. And I convinced my parents and I know that they ... I think it's just because they wanted to believe that I could do it and that I would get better. And I had like no intention of following through. And sorry, mom and dad. I had no intention of falling through, but I managed to convince them that, hey, I will go to the appointments and I will get better and then I'll go to college. And so that lasted from the two weeks that I was, came back from college.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Two weeks after?

Katherine Knapke:

Well, no, I actually lasted until February. And so I had a job working at a jewelry store and that lasted until February, but again, I was not following through. And then had the scariest medical scare, the worst medical scare throughout my entire history with the anorexia. So I was working at this jewelry store and there's only one of us working at a time because it was a little kiosk and all of a sudden I felt like I was going to pass out and vomit.

Katherine Knapke:

And so I'm not supposed to leave the kiosk unattended, but I had to go. So I start walking out and all of a sudden, I can't see, like my vision just goes and there are other kiosks around and I hear somebody saying, "You don't look good." And I remember mumbling, "I don't feel so good." And then like my bowels went, so like both of them go, which is gross, but like-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But no, I mean, that's a serious reaction, that doesn't happen.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, and like then like I couldn't walk. And so people, two people carried me to the bathroom and I still can't see. And so then the next thing I know EMS is there and then they transported me. And then this is the time where I was in the hospital, inpatient and then I was there. And Ohio doesn't have any inpatient facilities for adults for like eating disorder treatment. So they were trying to find a place for me to go and they were struggling to find a place for me to go. And I didn't find this out until a few years later once I was in a better mental state, but the hospital actually determined earlier that I was okay to be discharged, but my dad's work actually covered my hospital bill for longer.

Katherine Knapke:

And so I was in the hospital and then there was like a three day overlap where I was home. And then from there, I went to an inpatient treatment in Oklahoma and was there for like four months in inpatient treatment. And was very angry, still very angry, did not want to be there, but it did save my life, so.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Is this like there's no gays in Russia, there's no eating disorders in Ohio. They don't think they need any treatment for eating orders.

Katherine Knapke:

I don't know. Ohio has great medical facilities. We have fantastic like the partial program that I went to is fantastic. And I just found out that they're adding an adolescent inpatient facility, like they're going to be building it on to the partial program that they have here. They just don't have the facilities for adults. So I don't know. We're a little bit behind on that one.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So what medically happened that ... what about malnutrition causes someone's bowels to go?

Katherine Knapke:

I think a lot of it is electrolyte imbalance, very low body weight, low blood pressure. And just the act of like passing out and like all of your muscles relax. So that includes my [inaudible 00:30:40].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So you did pass out.

Katherine Knapke:

Mm hmm (affirmative). I was totally out. I am still not really clear on like why I went like blind first. And I think that still has to do with like the electrolyte imbalances, but yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Was there any lasting damage, like once they were able to get electrolytes in you, were you back to ship, well, ship-shape is relative, but were you ... I mean, was the recovery from that particular place, did it take time or was it like as soon as you were able to kind of get nutrition at that level, you were okay?

Katherine Knapke:

So I have some lasting, like I do have some damage to like thinning bones in my hips. I had a DEXA scan done. And so with my hip bones, they're slightly thinner. There was some damage, slight liver damage, trying to think of what else. I lucked out that I did not damage my heart. You can do that with anorexia. That's a common one, do some serious damage to the heart, so I lucked out on that one and I think that is it. So I got lucky, but I did not do more serious damage because of how severe I was restricting, but yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So you go to inpatient in Oklahoma of all places. I mean, you're really sending me for a loop here. Mennonites, they don't dress like Amish and then there's no eating disorder treatment for adults in Ohio, but Oklahoma.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So Oklahoma just happened to have the first bed open. So it's not that Oklahoma is the closest facility available to Ohio. There are treatment centers in Wisconsin, there's treatment centers in Virginia, but it just happened that Oklahoma had the bed available.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Their most available, okay. And so you'd go there and at this point, are you like, okay, I don't want to do this anymore, or you just don't want the consequences or kind of what's your head space?

Katherine Knapke:

I was furious. So I tried to get my parents' insurance to drop me. I was a crafty person. I tried to get them to drop me-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That could ruin them.

Katherine Knapke:

Then I wouldn't have ... that's what my doctor said too, so that's a first to try to get out of being in treatment. Luckily they did not. And so they had a case worker assigned to my case. So I'd have like a specific nurse that would talk to me. And she was like, just no, she laughed and told me no. And I burst out into tears and I'm just like, why? This would save you money. And she goes, "No, your parents love you. You're staying there. I'm sorry. We're not going to drop you."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh man. I bet she's still like, top 10 strangest funniest calls of working for an insurance company. The one time someone begged me to drop them from the policy.

Katherine Knapke:

Yes, I know. I know, of all the things. And I hung up on her after that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Of course.

Katherine Knapke:

And then I would not talk to her. And I think of-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you have a bad review? So, and so insurance is the worst insurance ever, I told them ...

Katherine Knapke:

At that point, I did not. They did not give us access to like internet and no anything. They had requirements on like what clothes we could wear and different things that we could use. So probably if I had access at that point, I would have but luckily for them I did not have access, but I think about like my top 10 highlights of behavior, that is one of them. Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's definitely a good one. And so okay, so you're pissed. So you're pissed, it's funny, it reminds me, it's like so much like the head space of drug addicts and alcoholics where you're like something horrible happens to you that is clearly a sign that you're out of control and that your loved ones put you in some sort of safe place and you just could not be more angry with them, could not. And incensed, absolutely incensed. And they're like, this person is insane. Like how do you not see that ... And the anger is palpable. And so it's funny.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

For some reason, I would think that the anorexic, passing out, the whole thing, like you'd be like, okay, I don't know why I thought that, but I thought that was coming. Like, okay, I see clearly I need to go. But I mean, it's the same thing as I would have been like, this is a complete overreaction, I just miscalculated, whatever.

Katherine Knapke:

So with anorexia, they actually often link it to like alcoholism or drug addiction and they actually have us recite the alcoholics anonymous prayer.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Do they?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, because like the link is, its very strong. So yeah. Even though I knew this was horrible, I was so attached to it. And so like addicted to the feeling and the control and kind of almost the high from it and I couldn't stop. So when my parents put me in it, I was pissed.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. So you get out of treatment in Oklahoma and you go right back to where you started.

Katherine Knapke:

Almost.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. Almost.

Katherine Knapke:

Almost, yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You went back to college?

Katherine Knapke:

So I got out in June or July and had a very rough summer. And this is kind of where it's like bingeing. So I switched from anorexia to binge eating disorder, and it went like, it went bingeing for a little bit. And then I went back to college in the fall and did a year down at UC and then decided to transfer to OSU. And I did it one, to be closer to home because I was lonely down in Cincinnati and I isolated a lot and did a lot of bingeing that year. And two, I met a guy and I started dating this guy and wanted to move back to Columbus for him. So I transferred back to Columbus after that year. And then it was bingeing for a little bit longer after that. But shortly switched back to the anorexia after that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Stay tuned to hear more in just a moment. Hi, this is Ashley Loeb Blassingame. I am here to tell you that national online recovery day will debut this year on September 22nd. In celebration, Lionrock Recovery is sponsoring a live sober influencer panel on getting clean and staying connected. Join me as I moderate an hour long interactive discussion with three prominent panelists live on the Lionrock Recovery's Facebook page, September 22nd at 2:00 PM Pacific Time, 5:00 PM Eastern time, mark it down. Visit www.nationalonlinerecoveryday.com for more event details.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And this got ... we always talk about like people who are attracted to us when we're at our worst. Like if you start ... this isn't always the case. So take it for what it's worth, but like people attract ... you attract where you are in life, right? So you attract, like if you have someone who thinks you're amazing when you're at your worst, the likelihood is they are not the healthiest person in the world.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. I've always heard like, you attract what you think you deserve. And as much as I hate to admit it, in that stage of my life, I definitely attracted not the healthiest character. And like the first year of our relationship was good. It definitely got me out of that pit of despair. I had some not eating disorder related hospitalizations, but more psych related hospitalizations. So some almost cries for attention, I wouldn't necessarily call them suicide attempts, but more-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Self-injury type?

Katherine Knapke:

Overdoses, but kind of not like a ... it's almost weird. It was almost like I took it, like this isn't going to do anything kind of overdose. And kind of like a, I don't know what else to do. I'm kind of going out of my mind. I don't necessarily want to kill myself, but I don't know what else to do. So I didn't spend a whole lot of time in psych because it wasn't necessarily, I want to die or I'm not harming myself. I am going out of my mind and I don't know how else to express it. So very weird attempts, but definitely cries for I need help.

Katherine Knapke:

So the guy that I started dating definitely got me out of those. And I'm very thankful for that because that was a very rough cycle and a very rough year. And when I moved back, I got to experience other things and I kind of got out of that rut. But after that first year is when it started to get more abusive. And it was definitely more sexually abusive and eventually turned into a rape situation. And I've actually never been publicly open about being raped.

Katherine Knapke:

My parents finally found out and I went into trauma therapy finally for it after some time, but this is actually the first time I've ever spoken publicly about it. And I am under the feeling now that the more that I'm open about these things, the less of a hold it has on me. That's kind of how I've stopped most of my binge behaviors and all of my other mental illness behaviors as well by being open about it and talking to people about it. So that relationship took me a long time to get out of and I went kind of back and forth between binge eating and more anorexic behaviors. It was like a pendulum swinging back and forth, and they would last.

Katherine Knapke:

I dated this guy for about four years. And so it was a very back and forth abuse cycle that once I decided to get out of it, it ended in rape. And so that was kind of the turning point for me to actually start taking care of myself. And pretty much the turning point where I started to get more serious about recovery, I guess.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What is it, for people who've never been in one of those relationships, what is the experience like when you start to question the relationship or when other people point out that things aren't normal, but you aren't totally aware yet? Like what is that process like? Because I think for some people it's like, well, why didn't you just leave? Why don't you ... there's all those questions. And those of us who've been to that party we know why, but for the people who don't understand, or maybe the people who are in it who want to ... where you might say something, they relate to, what was that experience like?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. And for me, it still blows my mind that I was in a relationship like that. I mean, I come from a good family. I don't have, like people in my life do not go into abusive relationships. Which is very stereotypical, but that is culturally, that's how it is. And like for me, I was a straight A student, very good grades, a good girl. So for me to fall into a relationship like that, it was very shocking. And for me to get stuck in a relationship like that for as long as I did, it's even more shocking. And it's still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I stayed in a relationship like that. And so from the outside, looking in for people that have never been in relationships like that, it's very easy to be like, well, why don't you just leave?

Katherine Knapke:

Obviously, when somebody starts hurting you, you should immediately, hey, that's a red flag. Get out of that. The same for people that have never had an eating disorder. Why don't you just eat? It's not that simple. So with that relationship, it would be like, oh, well, if I just ... I liked him, I loved the guy. I truly loved him. And so when it was good, it was very good. And then something bad would happen, and so I would just my peace loving and my need to people please, it would just be okay, I'll just kind of roll over and then it will be over and then things will be good again. And so between that and the things that were wrong in my life.

Katherine Knapke:

So I had things that I needed to work on. I was very clearly struggling with my own mental health issues and my own feelings of self-loathing. And so there's this guy that's giving me attention and I didn't want to lose that because at that point I was kind of putting off my own problems by trying to fix this person and throwing all of my efforts into trying to fix this relationship. And oh, if I just try harder or, oh, if I just do this, it will get better. And so it would get better sometimes and oh, things are great and then it would go crappy again.

Katherine Knapke:

And so then it would go through the cycle again, and that's kind of how abuse cycles work. It's abuse. I'm so sorry, things get good again and then the cycle continues. And so it's not just as easy because there are feelings involved. There are a lot of mixed emotions. And then there are underlying feelings for the person that is being abused and underlying problems that they aren't addressing. That makes it hard for them to leave as well.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What was the catalyst for deciding to leave? Like what was the final enough?

Katherine Knapke:

So I had started to take care of myself. I was starting to get stable again, and he had a hard time dealing with that. So we were fighting a lot more. He didn't like the fact that to him, it seemed like I wasn't paying enough attention to him. So he felt like I was drawing away. And so we would fight more, which would lead to more abuse. And so it was an on again off again. So it wasn't like we were together the whole four years. It was definitely on again, off again. And so at the very end of the fighting, I went and saw him for a last time just to tell him, I'm tired of having this conversation and felt like I needed to give him the time. Like I owed him that time and that's when it ended in rape. And after that I knew it was done.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What do you think, like I don't know, maybe you have or haven't heard friends say like I think I owe him to break up with him in person, or I think like, I owe this or I owe that. What are your thoughts around when you're leaving a relationship that's not healthy and ending it, having been through what you've been through?

Katherine Knapke:

I think it depends on the situation. So if it's a situation where you were putting yourself in danger, you don't owe them anything. You do not need to tell them in person that you want to break up, especially if it's a situation where you've tried in the past and things have not gone well. In like a regular relationship, sure, don't tell them over text. Tell them in person. But if it's a situation where you know you could potentially be putting yourself in harm's way, you don't owe them anything. And to keep yourself safe above everything else. And I know that's easier said than done and you want to be a nice person and you want to do things the right way, but there's not necessarily going to be a "Right way."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you know that you were at risk walking into that situation?

Katherine Knapke:

Honestly, I didn't think that he would take it that far. There had been throughout a lot of our relationship, it would be what I would call consensual rape, meaning that he would push for sex and it would get to the point where he would push so much that I would just kind of roll over and let him, otherwise it would turn into a fight. It would get ugly. And so it was just easier to say, okay. But it doesn't mean that I wanted it. So I never thought that it would actually turn into being held down kind of thing. So, no, but I also knew that he was not happy about the situation and I knew what kind of person he was. So I guess there's a part of me that knew it could go south. I just didn't think it would go in that direction.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. And so where did you go? You ended that, that happened and did you leave there and call somebody? What did you do after that?

Katherine Knapke:

Nothing. In hindsight and female empowerment and whatever I should have called somebody, I should have reported it and whatever, should have, could have, would have, didn't, in hindsight I didn't do anything and I'm okay with that. I made my bed and laid in it. And I have gotten the treatment from it. And I am a strong and powerful woman now. But after that, I did not and I continued to take care of myself and I moved on.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

[inaudible 00:48:44]. So did you, at that you were still living close to home?

Katherine Knapke:

Mm hmm (affirmative). I was actually living at home. My eating disorder threw off a lot of my independence that came at an age where I should have been finding my independence but was dealing with the anorexia. So a lot of those years where I could have been living on my own, I was struggling. And so being independent took a lot of times. And so actually it hasn't been until recent that I've been able to thrive living on my own, but that took a while.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You were diagnosed with mild narcolepsy. How did that play into things?

Katherine Knapke:

I was. The narcolepsy diagnosis actually came a lot later. And that one kind of hard to tell. So it's depression and very low motivation. And a lot of sleeping with that one. And so it's hard to tell where the line between the narcolepsy and the depression comes in. And so it wasn't until I started taking better care of myself and was more on the stable even keel. And I've been doing this for a long time. I can kind of tell where my baseline is, and I know when I'm starting to feel the depression, and I also know when I'm not feeling it.

Katherine Knapke:

So when I was on an even keel for a while and on a stable path for a while, noticing that I am still tired all the time and I would be sleeping six hours a day and then sleeping all through the night. And I'm like, this is not normal. So I got it checked out and ended up with the diagnosis of narcolepsy. And a lot of people think that narcolepsy, you just fall asleep instantly. It's a spectrum.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's right.

Katherine Knapke:

So yes, there are people that are just going to like fall asleep randomly. I'm kind of on the lighter end of the spectrum where I just feel exhausted and could just sleep constantly if I don't do anything about it. So having that added into the mix makes it a little bit more difficult. And when I'm feeling depressed, it kind of adds this extra layer of heaviness where I just kind of feel like I'm walking through molasses and it's like this extra brain fog that I can't seem to break through. So getting that diagnosis and then getting the proper medication for that made a world of difference. And all of a sudden it was like, wow, this is what normal what people feel. I had no idea. I could have been awake this whole time. And now that I have the medication, I'm like one of the most productive people ever, but when I don't have it, you can definitely tell a difference. So it's made a world of difference.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. And what happened after you left this relationship and with your eating disorder, take us through your recovery piece after that experience.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So the recovery from the eating disorder and from the relationship wasn't necessarily like once I got out of the relationship it was all good. With mental illness, it's kind of, it's a rollercoaster and it's not a straight line. So there are definitely still times that I don't do as well. I still have dips, but with the anorexic piece, at least I would say that I've been in solid recovery for probably about six years. I decided it was almost like a light switch for me. Most people don't get that, I'm very lucky. One day I just decided I was done and decided I wanted to be vegan actually.

Katherine Knapke:

And my parents were all for it. They were all about me getting better. They were desperate to get me to eat anything. And so they said yes. My doctor was totally against it because a lot of people with anorexia will use diets, like different diets, veganism or whatever, to restrict food intake, even more. Me being the defiant patient and child that I am, I did it, and it worked for me. And so I was vegan for about a year starting March 3rd, 2014, I think. And then after that, I decided that I really wanted to work on eating with family because at that point I was still eating separate.

Katherine Knapke:

I grew up eating dinner with family. Like we'd all sit down at the table and eat dinner together and I really missed that. And so then I started working on eating meals with them, but then when I would eat on my own, like lunch and breakfast, I would eat how I wanted to eat and then transitioned from there. And now I eat a standard diet. I don't eat vegan anymore, but that's how I got out of it. And from there things started to improve. And I still struggle, like I said but with the anorexic piece, I can still see the signs they've said, once an anorexic, always an anorexic.

Katherine Knapke:

So I still struggle with like things that have a higher fat content in it. I still struggle with picking that food or like if I see two of the same types of food and one has higher calories, it's my natural tendency to grab the lower calorie thing. And so just small things like that. I have to think very consciously about, am I grabbing it because it's lower calorie or am I grabbing it because I actually prefer the taste of that food, but I don't actively restrict anymore. So I'm very lucky in that sense that I don't deal with that piece as heavily, but I still deal with the depression and the anxiety. And when those get worse eating disorder behaviors such as bingeing and wanting to engage in more eating disorder type behaviors, those come back stronger when I'm not doing as well.

Katherine Knapke:

And so I have to share that I'm a very routine person. And so this, the coronavirus pandemic, I've had to be very conscious about keeping a routine and sure that I'm still sticking with the routine and making sure I'm still taking care of myself. And one of the biggest pieces of getting out of it was making sure that I was setting boundaries of, no, I can't do that. No, I'm not going to take on that project. No, I don't agree to that kind of thing. And making sure I'm not just people pleasing for the sake of people pleasing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So you go from this, you grow up a Mennonite and then you go through this journey and you're a psych nurse, and then you end up at the American Negotiation Institute. Okay? So that's quite the jump, right? How did you get to the American Negotiation Institute from psych nurse?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, so background is in nursing obviously. And I went into nursing. So my entire, probably from about fourth grade until sophomore year of high school, I wanted to be like interior decorator, interior designer, and then the eating disorder hit. And all of a sudden I have this obsession with health and wanted to be a doctor. And so I started to recover when I was almost done with nursing school. And at that point I had no idea what my interests were. My interests going all the way through college was anorexia. And so it was kind of this process of rediscovering myself. And by the point I had started recovery, I was almost done. And so I just decided, you know what? I'm just going to finish my degree at this point because I don't really know what I want to do. And so nursing was never really, I guess, my passion. And so I think I went into it for the wrong reasons. And so with nursing, I burned out very quick.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well, psych nursing too.

Katherine Knapke:

So actually I really enjoyed psych nursing, do what you know.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But the burnout has to be much higher than-

Katherine Knapke:

Burnout with nursing is very high. The load on nurses is a lot and it was very stressful for me. And I am a perfectionist and I'm also very a highly anxious person. And so dealt with a lot of fear of, I might hurt somebody by accident and then just like wanting my notes to be perfect. And the other demands like the red tape and the documents and the paperwork. I loved working with the patients, but everything else was very rough for me. And then working 12 hour shifts for somebody that needs to be very routine.

Katherine Knapke:

It was very hard on me because sometimes you don't get a lunch break and for somebody that has an eating disorder and needs to be very strict like I don't really have hunger cues or I still don't feel those. So like I eat based on time. So at this time I eat breakfast. At this time I eat lunch. At this time I eat dinner and I don't deviate from those because otherwise it throws everything off for me. And so with nursing, you don't necessarily get that.

Katherine Knapke:

So some days I wouldn't get a lunch and some days I would like have to do overtime and I would have no dinner prepared. And so it would be very hard for me. And so the burnout was very fast and I had moved back. So I did my psych nurse, I was down in Cincinnati again for that. Moved back, was working as a school nurse. And during that time I met my boss who I currently work for running this company called the American Negotiation Institute and really enjoyed the work that he did, and I was looking for something else to do, but kind of felt like I was stuck in a corner with nursing because nurses can do nursing and then there's not much outside of nursing that nurses can do. And so he was very gracious in letting me start basically as just doing admin work was all I had time to do. And then I moved up from there, just started working with him a lot more and moved up in the company and now the Chief Operating Officer.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Wow. That's amazing. And tell us about the American Negotiation Institute.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, so we provide trainings like professional development trainings on negotiation and conflict resolution to different businesses and organizations. I do a lot of our work with women in negotiation and then also work in like public health and hospitals. So everything covering negotiation in the health sector is what I do. So yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What's the biggest need in that, in the area that you work, like talk about women and women in the health sector and what are some of the needs you see?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So the biggest thing with women is the studies have shown that women are typically not as successful when it comes to being ahead in the workforce. So I guess we're ... there's the wage gap. And when you look at the statistics of CEOs and people in the C-suite level it's predominantly male dominated. And so when looking at the studies, they do a lot of studies about why that is. And there's a great book called Women Don't Negotiate or Women Don't Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. And I actually had Sarah on my podcast. She's the last guest that I had on there, looking at how it's not necessarily that women aren't successful in negotiations. They have all the skills needed and do very well when they ask, it's just they aren't asking.

Katherine Knapke:

And so giving women the skills and empowering women to actually ask and showing them the opportunities because a lot of times women aren't seeing the opportunities. And then there's also the fact that women are often asked to do the invisible work. So they're most often expected to do the housework, take care of the children on top of their regular work, whereas men don't tend to have that sort of being asked to do more, but also being paid less at the same time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What do you think is different or what do you see that's slightly different in the women in healthcare arena?

Katherine Knapke:

So a lot of the work in health care is not necessarily just geared towards women. In health care, there is a bigger population, especially with nurses, a bigger population of females in there, but it's not specifically geared towards women. But with healthcare, the work there that is, that we're doing there has to do with the aspects, the multiple pieces between patients and then working on a treatment team, and then also the moving pieces with, depending on who we're working with.

Katherine Knapke:

So sometimes when you're in healthcare, you're also having to work with getting medical supplies. And so there's all these moving pieces around. And so you kind of have to switch between that patient piece, which is highly emotional. So between the patient, the patient's family and then between the patient and the treatment team there. And so there's all these many negotiations going on, but then there's this other piece of like supplies and how you deal with all these moving pieces going on, so that's a lot of the work with that piece.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's awesome. I'm so glad that you are doing that. And what kind of services do you offer to the public?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah, so we have a podcast. So I host a podcast called Ask With Confidence which is specifically for women. And then my boss, Kwame, he's the director and he has a podcast Negotiate Anything, and it's the top ranked negotiation podcast in the world. And he's been doing it for a lot longer than I, so his podcast has hundreds of episodes. So those are free for access. Then we also have negotiation prep guides. So we recommend to anybody that is having like an upcoming negotiation, preparing for the negotiation, because studies have shown that just the act of preparation creates not only 6% more value or 11% more value for you, but also 6% more value for the other side.

Katherine Knapke:

So it's a huge, huge benefit. And a lot of people think that if they just think about what they want, that is preparing, and there is so much more into preparation that is involved and that you can do. So we have these free preparation guides that kind of walks you step by step on how to prepare. So you can also get those on the website at americannegotiationinstitute.com/guide, and those are all free and there's 20 different guides that you can get access to. Like there's an introvert negotiation guide, there's a salary negotiation guide, there's car negotiation guide, so there's tons of those.

Katherine Knapke:

And then we do workshops for the public and for businesses. So you can have us come in and do like a professional development training. We also have an online course that you can sign up for and you do that on your own schedule. And so that has a lot of modules. So there's a bunch of different opportunities for people to learn different negotiation skills through us.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Are you guys doing anything special for any ... while people are stuck at home? Or is there anything new coming?

Katherine Knapke:

I am so excited you asked that. So we are a non-essential business. So most of our trainings are shut down and being rescheduled. But we are having a free webinar coming up and it's ... we were only going to have one, but it was so popular that the first session sold out before we partnered with three universities, OSU, Otterbein, and the Ohio Dominican University, it sold out so fast that before the universities had a chance to even send out a notification to their people.

Katherine Knapke:

So we added three more sessions and it's a free webinar and we're asking people to come and it's going to be discussion-based. And so we'll discuss like the best practices for virtual negotiation and conflict resolution, since we're all having to have conversations virtually now. And after the pandemic is over, things may transition to more digital communication. And so we'll take all of that data that we gather there and we'll create a comprehensive guide that will be free to access to anybody on how to best handle virtual negotiation and conflict resolution.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. Pop quiz.

Katherine Knapke:

Mm hmm (affirmative).

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

If you were to negotiate getting off of your parents' insurance back in the day, what skills that you have learned at the American Negotiation Institute would you employ?

Katherine Knapke:

I am not touching that one because I'm afraid that somebody is going to try to do that and I do not recommend that at all of trying to get off of insurance. I am so grateful, even though I was so angry, I am so grateful that they did not because it is a life saving measure. So I am not touching that one. Do not do try that. Do not try that at home.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. Well, I had to try.

Katherine Knapke:

I need not pass away some skills for dropping any kind of insurance, keep your health insurance guys, keep it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

If you learned anything, I was like man, her negotiation, she probably has some tips and tools. And I actually think the psych nurse piece is really interesting because you also know what it's like. So the mental illness and the psych part, you also know, have this experience of negotiating with people who aren't in their right mind. And I think that's a really good skill to have in my experience. Like when I go to a negotiation with people who are fully in their right mind, I feel like I'm on top of the world because I have had to negotiate with everything from toddlers who rule my life, to schizo effective people who are hearing things. And having that wide range of experiences I've found to be helpful.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah definitely. I mean, it has definitely added an extra layer of empowerment. The biggest thing with people that are highly emotional is to remember that one, it's normal and two, not to try to throw logic at them. I often describe, if you've ever seen anybody that is terrified of flying and you're trying to get them on a plane, the last thing that is going to work is trying to throw statistics like, hey, statistically speaking you're more likely to get killed in a car crash than you are in a plane crash. It's not going to work. My dad would always try to throw logic at me with the anorexia for like to get me to eat and it never works, because it's highly, you're using your emotional brain in these moments and you're not using your frontal lobe, your prefrontal cortex, which is where logic and reasoning is.

Katherine Knapke:

So when things are really emotional, you got to handle that emotional piece. They need acknowledgement and they need validation that they are experiencing emotions. And so once you validate and acknowledge that they are having emotions and get them to calm down, then you can start using the logic and reasoning and appeal to that logical part of the brain. But when people are in heightened emotional states, don't use the logical reasoning because it doesn't work.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. That's great advice. One thing my husband and I do is we talk about like, if I'm at, on a scale between one to 10, fully calm and freaking out panic attack, like I'm at a seven, can we come back and have this conversation when I'm at a four. The shorthand of like my nervous system is so hyper activated right now that I can't even hear the logic you're saying, and since ... from doing interventions, I've had that, I can see when someone is basically immune to logic. And so you just wait until the nervous system has calmed down to the point where they can absorb that information and that's exactly what you're saying.

Katherine Knapke:

Right, exactly. And I know it's so tempting to like just want to like shake them. Like can't you see, this is very logical. Like there a clear explanation here. And yeah, I get it. I mean, half the time, and even as a psych nurse, I would see patients and I'm like, what are you doing? And looking back on my experience with anorexia, I get it. I completely understand why my parents just wanted to shake me by the shoulders and be like, just eat food, like what are you doing? This does not help you, but it doesn't work. They're in heightened emotional states. And again yeah, they can't hear it. They cannot hear that logic. They need somebody to acknowledge that they are having emotions and have that moment. And sometimes they don't even need the emotional acknowledgement first. They might just need some space to breathe before you can even appeal to them.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Do you guys do any hostage negotiation stuff?

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So I haven't had anybody on my podcast yet. My podcast just came out in October is when we just started this. But Kwame's podcast, my boss, his podcasts, he has had quite a few hostage negotiators on his show, really popular one, Chris Voss, hostage negotiator, FBI hostage negotiator, has a fantastic book, Never Split the Difference and he had Dan Oblinger, also excellent hostage negotiator. And so those have been very interesting negotiation scenarios and interesting takes on how to translate like hostage negotiation situations into like business negotiations and where to use those skills and how they apply.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I've heard one of the first one you mentioned, he spoke on Dax Shepard's podcast. It was awesome.

Katherine Knapke:

Oh.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. So, okay. So if people want to get in touch with you, they want to find your podcast. Let's give listeners the breakdown of where they can reach out, where they can find resources.

Katherine Knapke:

Yeah. So can always find me on LinkedIn. Katherine Knapke on LinkedIn and my last name is spelled K-N-A-P-K-E. It's kind of a hard one. And then the podcast is Ask With Confidence and you can find that on any platform. So Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, you can also find it on our website, americannegotiationinstitute.com. Then there's a podcast link that you can click and it'll take you directly to the podcast and you can find all the episodes there as well.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Awesome. And I'm going to put some resources for eating disorder, depression, mental health in your show notes. So anyone who's curious about definitely there's a ton of resources.

Katherine Knapke:

Please do. And I am also equally happy to provide my email on anybody that is wanting resources or wanting to reach out just to talk about any mental illness concerns you're having, wanting to know how I dealt with anything. Any questions about how to find resources, I'm more than happy to talk about any of those.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Awesome. Thank you so much for being here and I really, really appreciate it. And I'm going to find one of the negotiation courses and report back. So we'll see how I do.

Katherine Knapke:

Perfect. Thank you. I'm excited. And this was a lot of fun. Thank you so much.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So much fun. Thank you and we'll be in touch.

Katherine Knapke:

Perfect. Thank you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

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