Lessons From a Former Navy SEAL on Facing Your Fear + How to Begin Healing from PTSD
In this podcast (episode #271) and blog, I speak to former Navy Seal and bestselling author Brandon Webb about how to face your fears and use them to your advantage, healing PTSD, how to help veterans and active military members with their mental health, and more!
Thankfully, today it is more acceptable for members of the military to say that they need to talk to a therapist or need mental help. When Brandon was a Navy Seal, however, there was a lot of fear and stigma associated with saying you need help. You were often seen as weak if you were struggling mentally, and could potentially lose your position or job if you admitted that you wanted to see someone because you felt a certain way or were battling to deal with something in your life. People experiencing PTSD generally only had one option for treatment: medication. However, although the VA is now more open to alternative ways of managing mental health issues like PTSD, as Brandon notes, they still have a long way to go.
This is also the case for veterans. Often, when you leave the military, there are no support mechanisms on the other side. As Brandon notes, you are kind of on your own, and you must learn how to re-adjust to civilian life, which can be incredibly hard to do. Your identity for so long was tied to the military, and when you get out, you are forced to ask, “who am I now?”. This is compounded by the fact that many of the US engagements today seem to have no sense of purpose behind them, and when people return, many of them feel like they have done all this work for no real reason at all. The sense of failure, confusion and loss of time can be overwhelming.
These feelings are often made worse by the stigma and confusion that still surrounds the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In most cases, someone experiences PTSD symptoms because their brain and body are trying to process what happened and cope with an extremely adverse experience (or experiences). This is not a sign that something is wrong with this person, nor is it a disease. PTSD is a sign that their mind, brain and body are trying to deal with something horrible, with a “virus” of sorts—something that no person should have to experience, which has a real mental and physical impact on their health.
In Brandon’s own life, he started yoga and meditation to heal a back injury, and found that this also had a positive effect on his mental health and PTSD. This helped him become aware of just how many great tools there are to help people manage their mental health, which is why he loves sharing his own story with as many veterans and active military members as possible. He even made a great YouTube documentary, called Big Mountain Heroes, about how the outdoors can be a form of mental health therapy as well!
As Brandon notes, when we share our story, we give others permission to do so as well, especially men. When men share their own struggles and stories, they show other men it is okay to be vulnerable. They help people look at things differently, showing how it is okay to be “masculine”, while recognizing that being “masculine” does not preclude being vulnerable.
For more on Brandon’s incredible story, healing PTSD and men’s mental health, listen to my podcast (episode #271) and check out Brandon’s website, blog and books. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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1:30 Brandon’s time as a Navy Seal
3:00 Brandon’s experience with burnout, and why he left the military to start his own businesses
3:46 Failure as a learning experience
4:15 Why Brandon loves writing books, and his exciting new novel!
7:20 What it is like having PTSD in the military
10:30 Using the outdoors as therapy
13:00 Why people often see therapy as something to be ashamed of
15:51 Why transitioning out of the military today is so challenging
18:00 The power of purpose and meaning
20:25 Why PTSD as a coping mechanism, not a disease
24:28 Why training in the military should change
33:03 Men’s mental health and “toxic masculinity”
This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.
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