Sharing Hard Stories With Nate Kelly of The Sobriety Diaries Podcast


Did you fit in when growing up?

Today on the podcast, we have Nate Kelly, who didn’t feel accepted growing up; he had a loving family but never really found his place in a small town. 

Acceptance is an essential component for growing up, and it was this struggle to find acceptance that led Nate Down a path of alcoholism. After almost losing his life to a stroke, he was finally able to find his road to recovery with the help of the Mary Haven treatment center. 

He now takes his story, helps others find it, and shares it on his podcast and launching soon over LIVE stream on YouTube.

"You can't learn from the mistakes you haven't made"

Key Topics:
  • Nate’s story with addiction to alcohol (1:14)
  • What was it like coming out as gay to his community (6:27)
  • Why add the media component to his story (8:38)
  • How to create engagement with the guest and the community (13:57)
  • Trusting your gut in an interview and letting it guide you through the conversation (16:45)
  • Advice to others with a passion to getting started (18:24)
  • Why is adding video something other podcasters should consider (19:23)
  • What made Mary Haven a special place to recover (23:40)
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00:00:02.340 – Speaker 1
Hi and welcome to CausePods, I’m your host, Mathew Passy. Here at CausePods, we have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcast as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better place, whether it’s in their own local community or their taking on global issues. Please visit us at where you can learn about our guests, show their favorite charitable cause. Join our Facebook group of resources for CausePods podcasters and find a link where you yourself could be a guest here on CausePods.

00:00:33.960 – Speaker 1
Again, that’s all at All right, everyone, we are taking you out to Columbus, Ohio.

00:00:43.060 – Speaker 2
We are chatting with Nate Kelly. He is the creator and host of The Sobriety Diaries podcast. He’s also a grateful recovering addict. Nate Kelly, thank you so much for joining us here on CausePods today.

00:00:54.640 – Speaker 3
Thank you, Mathew. I appreciate it. Glad to be here.

00:00:57.590 – Speaker 2
I assume since the name of your show is The Sobriety Diaries and you have added grateful recovering addict to your title, that you yourself are a recovering addict, and do you want to talk about your story and when you had your moment of Zen and that moment where you were putting your life back on track?

00:01:15.940 – Speaker 3
Yeah, I love to. I ask that my guests do that. I always like to. Yeah, it’s only fair and I like to provide the same so that they feel comfortable doing so. You know, I had a good childhood. My family life was nothing out of the ordinary. You know, I speak to a lot of addicts who have had a trauma or chaos as a child, and that just isn’t part of my story. I do, however, feel I remember feeling always sort of a part of and away from the norm and away from the regular kids and the groups and the activities.

00:01:57.190 – Speaker 3
I was always sort of just away from the action. And since talking to my parents and being open and honest about growing up, my mom sort of said that I was always a troubled soul and I love her for that honesty. But yeah, just growing into an awkward adolescent was difficult in small town Ohio. And as that sort of evolved and, you know, there was just this difference that I didn’t understand. And as I sort of develop a bit more, I realized that I was gay and just didn’t know what that was at a younger age and sort of what that difference was.

00:02:43.930 – Speaker 3
And of course, living in rural small town America, that wasn’t something that I was going to share with anyone specifically for the time being. But, you know, it was just a different thing to distance myself from the group. So early in high school, alcohol became a way to interact with people and a way to sort of ease my mind and ease interaction, sort of the social aspect of high school. And it just really progressed from there.

00:03:15.130 – Speaker 3
I started drinking alcoholically as a teenager, and after the first time that I was drunk, I woke up with the worst hangover and a pounding headache and vomiting and I couldn’t wait to do it again. And that is the mind of an alcoholic and it sparks a mental obsession. For me. It sparked a mental obsession that turned into a physical addiction that progressed into adulthood and into a life of misery. It got to the point where at age thirty two I had a stroke.

00:03:54.160 – Speaker 3
It got to the point where at age thirty two I had a stroke. As a direct result of my alcoholism, I spent a month in inpatient rehabilitation. I learned to walk again. I rehabilitated my body from a from a tragic event. And that itself was not enough to to stop my drinking and to sort of spark a willingness to live a better life. I had about another year in me, so a friend of mine. Around that time had started working a 12 step program and we were partya together and she.

00:04:41.400 – Speaker 3
Sort of started this new life of sobriety and did it in the most perfect way, and she introduced it to me in the most perfect way, just sort of these little tidbits and these little hints and suggestions to me. And, you know, it got to the point finally where the misery and sort of the addict’s life of just squalor and depression was enough. And I was willing to ask for help. And that is when my my family intervened and we found Mary Haven, which is a inpatient treatment facility here in Ohio.

00:05:22.980 – Speaker 3
And it saved my life. And that was six years ago. And I am grateful as you introduce me as a grateful addict in recovery. And that may sound crazy to some folks. And that’s actually in my introduction. That may sound crazy, but I wouldn’t be where I am and helping others without it. So I truly am grateful for for everything that I’ve been through.

00:05:52.950 – Speaker 2
You know, you said a lot of the stem from being, as your mom described, a troubled soul and figuring out who you were, but also facing. What you perceived was going to be a hostile environment to be that person openly and truthfully and, you know, happily, at what point was it post the start of your treatment? Was it before the like? At what point were you able to not that you needed to come to grips, but at what point were you able to say, screw it?

00:06:28.180 – Speaker 2
I don’t care. This is who I am. Deal with it. Columbus, Ohio, or don’t.

00:06:32.560 – Speaker 3
As far as coming out to family and friends, it was sprinkled through, I think, high school and college. But I was still in my active addiction. So for me personally, you know, I was in relationships here and there and doing my thing. But, you know, to your point, I hadn’t really come to terms with it and sort of. Wasn’t able to truly be myself and live a happy existence until, you know, I would say probably a year or two after finishing treatment and working on myself and those insecurities that I was able to, in your words, say, you know, like it or not, this is who I am.

00:07:12.940 – Speaker 3
So, you know, I would I would say three or four years less than maybe, you know. And as we chatted before we recorded, I just turned thirty nine. So there are a lot of new things still still happening in my life. And we recorded an episode yesterday and I was talking to another alcoholic about, you know, as addicts we use drugs and alcohol to numb our feelings and to run from things for so long that. In recovery, as adults, there are new feelings every day, there are new experiences every day, which is exciting and fun, but it’s not necessarily something that.

00:07:56.640 – Speaker 3
Folks without an addiction understand about people in recovery, so it’s it’s still new and exciting Mathew.

00:08:03.600 – Speaker 2
Well, and for anybody listening, anybody who I’m not sure what your relationship status is, but Nate does not look thirty nine at all. Very healthy, spry like a man. So if you were out there in the market and Nate is available, I can’t recommend this gentleman enough. You go through this full life experience, right? I mean, this is something like you said, the stroke and the coming out and the treatment and the addiction and like you have led a big life and you’re not even 40 yet.

00:08:37.950 – Speaker 2
So why then, after all of the things you went through that you decide, hey, you know what, this deserves a podcast, right? Like, why did you then turn around and say, I need to get a microphone and a light? Because I see he’s got this great studio light behind him and he’s doing video as well. You know, what made you turn around and say, I need to create media now?

00:09:00.580 – Speaker 3
I work a 12 step program and part of the treatment and part of working on myself is giving it away to others to be able to keep it for yourself. And I need to. Help other alcoholics and addicts, both in recovery and in active addiction, find their path, and whether that is helping to share a story of of another addict and putting that on display at the close of my show is if we just help one person, our job here is done.

00:09:37.480 – Speaker 3
And I truly believe that if we can help one person per episode, our job is done. So I guess to answer your question, it started sort of with these little blogs that I did on my YouTube channel, just talking about part of the story that I told you today and my journey through the stroke and recovery and treatment. And, you know, it kind of sparked this interest in me to sort of shift it to the podcast format in hopes that I would be able to help folks and create a following and sort of a community that can help remove the stigma of addiction and treatment.

00:10:20.020 – Speaker 3
So long form answer. I think it’s the perfect platform to help others that are in their addiction.

00:10:27.790 – Speaker 2
When you started this, what was your experience in creating media? Do you have a background in this? Did you do communications in school or did you just. I like podcasts, strong indications, background, a love for video and audio tech gear, I guess is sort of how I was born and yeah, truly, truly just be getting more confident and telling my story to other alcoholics over the last four years and just finding my voice and being able to share it with others.

00:11:03.930 – Speaker 2
I mean, I don’t want to sound corny, but I had a dream one night, Mathew, and it was after I started the YouTube channel and it just kind of clicked that, you know, we should sort of shift it to the podcast format. I would be able to chat with a larger audience and I think share it, you know, in turn with a larger audience. So that’s that’s sort of how it was born.

00:11:30.460 – Speaker 2
So as someone who’s done both video and audio and increasingly both in what I do professionally, which is work with podcasters, but also, you know, seemore more CausePods podcasters video is a very is an increasingly important part of the mix. Right. You can, I think, go a lot further, grow a lot faster having video. But I’m curious, what do you think are some of the key differences between producing video content versus producing audio content or maybe better stated, growing video content versus trying to grow a podcast audience, since it seems like you’re recording video and then just kind of uploading that as a podcast for now?

00:12:11.260 – Speaker 3
Yes, I actually just transitioned to the riverside as well. So this is the platform that I use. Also, I have come to learn that I think the audio is more important. I think listeners are more apt to stick around if the video is at a lower quality. But the audio is kind of great and crisp. And that certainly is my focus as I continue to learn and sort of find different platforms and fine tune. That skill, I guess, is where it will sort of evolve.

00:12:49.210 – Speaker 3
But I do pride myself in the quality of the episodes that will be released this week and moving forward. I have had a little help in that area, a little tutorial and sort of coaching session. So I’m not going to release anything that is of poor quality. But I am also not a professional audio mixer either.

00:13:11.800 – Speaker 2
I think some folks make a huge deal about how good your audio has to be. I would agree with many folks that if the audio was terrible and unlistenable, it’s going to be hard for people to sift through. That’s one thing. But I also don’t think that you have to sound like you’re sitting in the studios of NPR or The New York Times or CBS News in order to be successful. I’ve said it and probably I’m parroting something. Dave Jackson, you know, from your hometown areas before, you’ve never heard a person say, man, I didn’t really like what they were talking about, but, man, it sounded good.

00:13:45.520 – Speaker 2
So I kept listening to that podcast. So I think it’s you know, there’s a minimally viable quality that you have to have in order to put something out there. But good content is always going to be more important. And certainly King. So would have been the other lessons you’ve learned in terms of whether it’s getting people to open up about such a delicate topic to them on your show or growing your audience, finding people who are in your target market, getting a.

00:14:15.650 – Speaker 2
To listen and the news, everybody wants to know, then how do you get them to engage with your content?

00:14:20.780 – Speaker 3
After I started getting folks to agree to share their story with me on Reddit and I posted ads on Reddit for folks who have been in recovery for at least a year and were willing to share their story on a podcast. And the immediately emails started rolling in. And, you know, at first I was delicately trying to sift through the emails and sort of trying to pick their story apart based on the kind of brief that they gave me in their email.

00:14:58.010 – Speaker 3
And I found that it is much better to talk with sort of as many people as possible at this stage, at least in my podcasting career, guide them through the process of sharing their story and maybe ask questions that they want. They wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable in answering and letting them just talk. And if, you know, they give you a couple word answers, ask them to elaborate. And, you know, I talked to a woman a few days ago who was talking about her meth addiction and being pregnant, and I asked her if she was using during her pregnancy and her initial answer was no.

00:15:45.140 – Speaker 3
And she said that’s the only time that I was, you know, in the last 13 years that I haven’t used meth was during my pregnancy. And I just paused because I got a sense that she wasn’t being honest with me. And and you don’t just quit meth for a pregnancy. And I and I asked her again and she said, let me take that back. Actually, I was using during my pregnancy and it opened up this whole other route of the conversation that we will use in the episode.

00:16:14.750 – Speaker 3
And it’s just raw and truthful and emotional. So I sort of let their reactions and what they’re willing to share lead the conversations. And I’m hoping that that raw. Truth, you know, great content will lead the listener to come back and follow on social and interact with a community that we can create.

00:16:39.520 – Speaker 2
You know, I just got off another interview on CausePods, and one of the things that we were talking about was great interviewers. Our great listeners, and I think that what you just talked about, the example that you just gave of the woman who you listen to her, you’re like exactly what I said to myself, you know, listening as closely as you did and then following your gut instinct seemed like it led to a really unique and amazing moment for the show.

00:17:13.130 – Speaker 2
And do you think that you actively or purposefully or knowingly did that or do you think that just was instinct for you to be a good listener as you’re doing the show?

00:17:24.770 – Speaker 3
I’m naturally I’ve always been told that I’m a good listener. I’m very empathetic and just kind of a part of my personality. So as she was saying it, like as it was coming out of her mouth, I knew that I was going to ask her that question, but I let it go a little longer and it completely changed the course of the interview. You know, the the 10 or 15 minutes that we had been chatting prior to that, I wasn’t even sure that we would get an episode out of it.

00:17:54.920 – Speaker 3
And that, like I said, completely changed the course of the interview. And it’s probably one of the best truthful moments that I’ve recorded so far.

00:18:05.880 – Speaker 2
So given the experience that you’ve had kind of learning to do this and overcome a lot of different things to get to where you are, what would be your advice to somebody else, whether it’s about addiction and sobriety, mental health? Right. Lots of good causes out there, but somebody’s passionate about their cause, looking to make an impact. What would be your advice to them as far as. Getting started, overcoming some of that early nervousness to do this, yeah, the I mean, the nervousness, the anxiety is real.

00:18:39.500 – Speaker 2
I think if there is something that you are passionate enough about and feel as though you have a voice to share and the ability to help other people and an audience that is ready to receive it, take the jump. You know, put your anxiety aside for a moment and just take the leap with any risk. There is a reward. I think I have sort of thrown myself into situations, unknown situations, and there’s always that doubt. But if you feel that you can help others and you have the choice to do so, do it.

00:19:24.350 – Speaker 2
And I want to go back a little bit just to the video aspect of everything that you talked about. Do you think there are inherent benefits to producing video content, even though I know you said you’re going to make the podcast sort of like the bigger focus and, you know, shift your you know, what you’re thinking over there. But do you think that there are advantages to. Producing with video in mind versus just doing audio, or have you learned any major tips or tricks in.

00:19:59.140 – Speaker 2
Publishing video content that those right now who are only doing audio could benefit from?

00:20:04.120 – Speaker 3
Absolutely, I think the video aspect lends itself to. You know, almost be able to double your audience if there are folks who don’t subscribe to Spotify or you aren’t familiar with the podcast genre, but are YouTube fans or TV fans that search for recovery tips or tricks or true stories, of course, that have made it out of addiction. That is someone that we can help via a YouTube video. I think there’s also a huge opportunity for live streaming.

00:20:42.600 – Speaker 3
Starting in July, we will be live streaming the sobriety diaries every Saturday, which in turn I will be able to then take that audio and produce a podcast out of it. But we will be live streaming, producing that video, being able to interact with our audience, you know, in a live streamed capacity. So I think that it can truly double the amount of people that you reach with certainly not double the work, but there’s recorded on a camera as well.

00:21:13.170 – Speaker 2
Live stream is a totally different animal, right? It’s one thing to. Sit down, record a podcast, know that it’s not Leive, know that you can go back and edit it and you can make a mistake and be like, oh, let me fix that. Right. Like, you know, we can we have a little bit more freedom. It takes the pressure off. Are there things that you have done either in previous live streams or that other people have advised you on that?

00:21:38.830 – Speaker 2
Would be helpful for folks thinking about going down that route so that the first time they do it, they don’t just become a, you know, a bundle, a gooey pile of mush because the nerves.

00:21:51.070 – Speaker 3
So if you’ve got any tips, I’ll take a look.

00:21:55.210 – Speaker 2
Fair enough. I mean, I have done some live streaming in the past and I’ve enjoyed it. But I also have a background in broadcasting. I was on the radio and, you know, the only thing I can say is ninety nine percent of people are going to be nervous being live. Whether there’s one listener or one million listeners, it doesn’t really matter. And the only way you’re going to get over it is by doing it more and doing your reps.

00:22:27.250 – Speaker 2
And to this day, I remember the first time I was ever on air. I was working for a station called Millennium Radio and I was so nervous. I called it Manelli and Radio.

00:22:41.530 – Speaker 3
And they probably didn’t like that, did they?

00:22:44.140 – Speaker 2
You know, they put me on the station that nobody listens to anyway. I had an hour that nobody listened. So honestly, nobody really cared. Obviously, I cared. I heard it. I knew what was happening. And at the time, I was mortified by what I had done. But, you know, without going on air, without getting that out of my system, without having that nervous moment, I never would have been able to go back again and not make that mistake and gain my confidence and speak with a little bit more authority next time I was on the air.

00:23:15.580 – Speaker 2
And now I’ve got a great story about the first time I was on the air. And the name is I’ve got a few other stories like that. We’ll save those for another show. But, you know, my advice is, just like you said, you know, you got to take the plunge and just do it because you’ll you’ll never get better until you start. You can’t learn from the mistakes you haven’t made yet. Well said. Is sort of the advice that I would give everybody.

00:23:40.120 – Speaker 2
You mentioned earlier, Mary Haven, and that is the center that you went to for treatment. It’s also the cause that you want to support as part of your appearance here on CausePods or anybody interested. We will have a link to Mary Haven Foundation, but you can just find it at Mary Haven dot com. It’s also a little bit more about the work that they did. And, you know, folks who might be in need, what you know, how they can find out more information and what they need to know.

00:24:07.540 – Speaker 3
Absolutely. Mary Avon dot com for information, if you are in central Ohio or otherwise, there are virtual and online resources as well. There are outpatient treatment via Zoome mental health treatment via Zoom. So you don’t need to be here in central Ohio. But they offer programs across the board, inpatient and outpatient addiction services, family services for mothers who have addiction issues, mental health. They just are across the board and they are state funded by grants and by generous donors.

00:24:49.150 – Speaker 3
So if you are looking for an amazing organization to donate to, if you are in recovery or have family members who are addicts or you need resources, please consider donating to the Mary Haven Foundation. They saved my life. You know, I came out of their inpatient program, a different person, and I was not ever a drug user. Alcohol is my drug of choice, but I spent six weeks with folks who came straight out of corrections or, you know, or IV drug users or had felonious assault charges.

00:25:32.440 – Speaker 3
But we are all there. We are all the same. We are there for the same reason and we’re all working on the same thing. And we made a commitment to live a better life and they changed my life. So please consider donating.

00:25:46.060 – Speaker 2
Please show your love and support for Nate Kelly here by checking them out and donating. As we said on the show before, you know, to donate a lot, sometimes just another dollar and just having one more person showing their support really can go a long way. So that’s Mary Haven dot com will have a link to the show notes or at And if you want to check out The Sobriety Diaries podcast, of course, we will have a link to Apple, Google, Spotify here in the show notes.

00:26:15.730 – Speaker 2
Also, we’ve been talking about his video work. So YouTube dotcom magnate Kelly website at this point coming very, very soon, the sobriety diaries, dot com. And Nate, if they want to check out the live streams that you’re going to be doing, where are those going to happen?

00:26:31.780 – Speaker 3
Those will happen on YouTube, dotcom flash, Nate Kelly.

00:26:34.930 – Speaker 2
So there you go. YouTube dotcom, Ned Kelly to check out. Upcoming live stream work and his back catalog of episodes, Nate Kelly of The Sobriety Diaries, thank you so much for joining us here on CausePods today.

00:26:50.100 – Speaker 3
Thanks so much, Mathew.

00:26:52.230 – Speaker 1
Thanks for listening to this episode of CausePods. If you’ve been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes of this episode in your podcasting app or at There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast, links on Apple, Google, Spotify, as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here. In this episode, you will also find a Barletta subscribe to this show on your favorite podcasting app, How to sign up to be a guest on this show and a link to our Facebook group, which is going to have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good cause.

00:27:28.800 – Speaker 1
And I can tell you right now, we’ve got one great deal from our friends, a pod page. But you’re only going to learn about it and get that special deal if you are a member of the Facebook group for CausePods.

00:27:37.740 – Speaker 1
And before I go, I should say thank you in particular. The show is edited and produced by Ben Killoy of the Military Veteran Dad podcast and what a great job he has done. And all this is made possible because of the great support that I received from Shannon Rojas here at the podcast. Consulted Dotcom once again. If you want to learn more, go to Thank you so much. And we will see you next time on CausePods.

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