In this podcast (episode #425) and blog, I talk to former army captain, politician, attorney and podcast host Jason Kander about his new book Invisible Storm, managing and healing from PTSD and depression, what it looks like to seek help for mental health issues, overcoming mental health stigmas, and so much more!
As noted in his book:
“In 2017, President Obama, in his final Oval Office interview, was asked who gave him hope for the future of the country, and Jason Kander was the first name he mentioned. Suddenly, Jason was a national figure.
As observers assumed he was preparing a run for the presidency, Jason announced a bid for mayor of Kansas City instead and was headed for a landslide victory. But after eleven years battling PTSD from his service in Afghanistan, Jason was seized by depression and suicidal thoughts. He dropped out of the mayor’s race and out of public life. And finally, he sought help.
In this brutally honest second memoir, Invisible Storm, Jason has written the book he needed in the most painful moments of his PTSD. In candid, in-the-moment detail, we see him struggle with undiagnosed illness during a presidential bid, witness his family buoy him through challenging treatment, and, giving hope to so many of us, see him heal.”
As Jason points out, in the army, the message you receive is that what you are doing is no big deal, and other people have it much worse. This makes it easier for people in military to do their job, especially when they are surrounded by danger and doing potentially life-threatening tasks. The notion that it is “no big deal” is like mental armor and helps soldiers do what they need to do.
However, when you get out of army, there is no process for switching off this mindset. Many soldiers know that it is okay for people to get help, but also believe that what they did “is no big deal” compared with what other people have gone through. Consequently, many former members of the military feel that if they are struggling and ask for help, this dishonors people that have gone through more than they have. Unfortunately, the military doesn’t do a good job of teaching soldiers when they are discharged that they have actually been through a lot and are entitled to get help.
Indeed, we all need to process our experiences, even if we haven’t gone to war or been in the military. We all go through challenges, and if we don’t process what we go through, it can affect our lives in other ways, such as the night terrors that Jason experienced.
As I have mentioned before, everything we experience is stored in our nonconscious mind. Things that happen to us do not just go away—we cannot outrun our past. We have to go through it; we have to reconceptualize our memories before they impact how we function.
As Jason points out, there is a common misconception that if enough time goes by, we will be okay, but trauma doesn’t age well. We have to put in the hard work and deal with our stuff and change how it plays out in our future. This is part of being human.
Indeed, we are with ourselves always, which is why mind management and self-regulation are so important. These are life skills, not one-off things. We cannot just “fix” an issue and move on. Life is filled with ups and downs, and figuring out how to manage these feelings and how they impact us is one of the most important things we can learn as human beings.
For more about seeking help for mental health issues, listen to my podcast with Jason (episode #425), and check out his amazing book Invisible Storm. 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!).
You can now also join me on Patreon for exclusive, ad-free content! Sign up for a membership level that suits you, and receive access to ad-free exclusive bonus podcasts. These episodes will include more targeted, step-by-step guides for specific mental health issues AND some fun, more personal podcasts about topics like my favorite skincare products and favorite books, as well as live Q&As, fan polls and requests, and exclusive digital downloads!
This podcast is sponsored by:
BetterHelp. Therapy is a great way to take care of yourself. Indeed, you don’t have to be in a crisis mode to benefit from therapy. Therapy can provide preventative and protective strategies, so that when things do get tough, you will know what to do—it is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. And this month, BetterHelp online therapy wants to remind you that you matter just as much as everyone else does, and therapy is a great way to make sure you show up for yourself! BetterHelp is online therapy that offers video, phone and even live chat sessions with your therapist, so you don’t have to see anyone on camera if you don’t want to. It’s much more affordable than in-person therapy and you can be matched with a therapist in under 48 hours. Visit betterhelp.com/drleaf, and join the over 1,000,000 people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. In fact, so many people have been using BetterHELP that they are recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states! I am proud to say that this podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp, and Cleaning Up the Mental Mess listeners get 10% off their first month at betterhelp.com/drleaf.
3:40, 32:00 Jason’s incredible journey
5:00 Jason’s new book Invisible Storm
7:00 The mental “armor” you have to put on when you enter the military & how it impacts veterans
12:00 The importance of processing what you go through
18:30 Why we should never compare traumas!
23:00 Why mind management & self-regulation is so important
29:10 Why we need to go beyond awareness
30:00 Helping our children manage their mental health
40:00 You can’t outrun what has happened to you
46:00 How our experiences impact how we feel, behave & see the world
49:00 Comparison can lead to shame
50:00 How our mental health affects our physical health
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