A highlight from S6 E10 - Real Conversations on Mental Health (w/ Special Guest: Patricia Perkins)
May is mental health awareness month. And i felt it only right to release an episode focusing on the topic of mental health. Now if you've listened to the podcast for any length of time you've no doubt heard me talk about my own struggles with ptsd depression and mon experiences. Not all that uncommon in the veteran community. What you don't often hear though is from the veteran's spouse and on today's episode. I get to sit down with my wife patricia. As she shares the story of her own emotional journey with mental health diagnoses medications. Hospital stays and a whole lot more. This is the we serve now. What podcast where. I do my best to answer the questions. Veterans and their families are already asking so you can make your post military life your best life by way of introduction my name is aaron perkins i am a us army combat veteran daddy to amazing kiddos. Host of this podcast. If you hadn't guessed. And i am joined today by my beautiful bride patricia. Welcome to the show thank you. I'm so glad to be here excited to talk about a subject that i'm passionate about. Yeah absolutely absolutely well. Great to have you here. I'm i'm incredibly happy that you agreed to be on the show. Usually it is me saying. Hey i'm going to be recording tonight. So if you you and the kids can kind of keep it down a little bit and but really really grateful that you here today. So today was one of many days where you're going through this. I don't know call procedure or treatment treatment. Okay so so. Obviously i went with you. Today is able to accompany you to that treatment and it specifically four depression right and so start with today. Let's start with today in a kind of what happened today. And what the treatment is. And let's start there. Sure okay so. The treatment is called. Tm s it means trans cranial magnetic stimulation menendez Treatment that oddly. Enough stimulates your brain. It's post what is supposed to do is to help the neurotransmitters talk to each other better and it is usually reserved for someone who's tried a few different types of medication for depression but it also helps with like anxiety. Ocd and sometimes even physical pain. Okay so so so. This is not a it. Sounds like it's a noninvasive. It's not a surgery type of thing so basically the way they explain it. It's like electromagnetic therapy. Where like in the old days where they would maybe cut. Open your head and maybe electric your brain things like that but this obviously they're not doing that. You can sit down in this chair. It's kind of like the big dentist chair. They strap you all in and they put this big magnet next to your head in a certain spot at a certain level. It's already been determined by your doctor and it made me last twenty minutes. And then you're you're on your way okay. So is that it's not obviously. I know this right before listeners. This is not like a one time thing. This is one of how many treatments you have to get. Okay so today was off my fourth treatment and i think if i did the math right i have at least thirty three more to go. So it's over a nine week period and because of where we live. I have to drive basically an hour and a half to get there. And then i'm there for fifteen to twenty minutes in the drive an hour and a half and and yeah i i definitely know that. That part in itself is frustrating. The drive so let's go back a little bit now so you're having this it might not be invasive but stewart pretty extreme treatment of kind of remapping your brain right yes. It's it's had some side effects already some some anger some tiredness Brain fog lightheadedness. The way the only way. I can explain it. It's like there's a big garden with a huge gate and there's all these locks and each treatment seems to slowly work open a new lock and then hopefully by the end all the locks will be open and king come open and i can be free of depression anxiety. I don't know if that's going to happen. I have faith that it can happen so hopefully it does happen. You me both you both so so take us back a little bit. How did you get to this point. You know obviously you. Have you know some sort of depression or anxiety or whatever take us back to diagnoses and that sort of thing so i i got diagnosed probably sixteen years ago like actual clinical diagnosis of major depressive disorder and house have severe anxiety. I have d. c. Ptsd so what is so ptsd. I know what is cd. Basically childhood post traumatic stress disorder. And then i have. Ocd okay so so ptsd. Veteran community intimately familiar with cps d c p s de. It is then the so. How did that come about. I mean this this is like you know really getting into the nitty gritty of it a little bit but i had parent you know. I had parents that. They weren't believers not that that makes you any less of a good parent but they were involved with things that they shouldn't have been involved with and they didn't have a good relationship with one another so that meant a very rocky relationship with their children and so without getting into too much and making people uncomfortable. This is a really bad childhood really bad and even in my teenage years there was some other stuff that was really bad. So just you know things that people don't really think about as being post traumatic stress disorder. I've heard other people say. How can you even have that. You weren't a soldier. Well that's not reserved for soldiers or servicemen period. Post traumatic stress can happen after a car accident after your home gets broken into after a traumatic. Any traumatic experience you can. Pdf st right right so so with depression. You were diagnosed. She said sixteen years ago crack and so did the anxiety diagnosis. Come along with that or out of that will work. It was shortly after. I think they at i thought maybe it was just really bad depression and they realized that it was both mint so they started treatment to different treatments who different medications and over the years between the two just the depression and anxiety. I know i've had over sixteen or seventeen medications and sixteen or seventeen. I didn't know there were that many others time for i mean i know. There's a lot of medications out there right. But most i know i i'm gonna go out on a limb here and say most people when they're struggling with anxiety depression or even if they do have a legitimate diagnosis of anxiety. Depression or both. It's okay let me go get this. Let me go try it. You know and then if that doesn't work maybe they go try something else but sixteen or seventeen that that just sounds like an extreme number is sensitive to medications and so what may work for a lot of people. Just doesn't seem to work for me. Or i ended up being allergic to it but i will say that i did. This test called a g. e. n. e. s. t. and it's a dna test and that's something that you're psychiatrists can do for you. There is a cost involved but it will tell you which medications and you know. They're all different classes. Work for your dna type so you have a red section and you should stay away from those. You have a yellow section. That may help. And then you have. A green section is more likely to help with your dna type so that can help a lot of people. Stay away from having to try sixteen or seventeen different medications. Sure sure that that's a really good point. And obviously you. You didn't take that 'til later. Right actually took it last year. Yeah so the break i. I wish i could have taken ten years ago. But i don't think even knew about it and that's another thing i would say. Is you know educate yourself. Don't wait on your doctors to find all the resolutions for you. Like feel free to look and research and bring it up to your doctor. you know. it's a good point. So medication is just one side of the depression anxiety. Ptsd just one side of it before the medication happens. There's something that either. Your doctors realize your families realize or you personally realize something different in me. Something is not working as it's supposed to or it's manifesting in in a certain way and i know that when it comes to ptsd specifically it manifests itself in a lot of different ways. They can manifest itself in anger in inability to focus and chronic pain. In a guilt it can manifest itself in different ways. So let's focus on the. Let's say let's. Let's go with depression right the major depressive disorder. How did that or does that manifest itself in your life. The first time. I realized that i might have an issue with. Depression was actually. I had a really bad episode. After i had caitlin so caitlyn's daughter. Sorry caitlyn's her daughter. Yeah she's fourteen now. After i had her. I was sitting just watching tv. And she was sitting there beside me and her little old bouncy seat. And i actually started having these really dark feelings kind of like oppression and actually that coincided with an anxiety attack as well and actually got rushed to the hospital because they thought i was having a pulmonary. Embolism so they thought that. I had blood clots. I was about to die. You know there was but it was a mixture of depressive episode and anxiety attack which i had never felt before and that really scared me and the doctors were able to put me on medication to help with that. It did not stop it but it did help. Sure sure so what what happens next. You know you're you're on this medication. It's helping look what happens. Is there a point at which you realize. That medication isn't working or isn't working as well as it should. Yeah most doctors will tell you you know. Give it two or three weeks to really get in your system if you don't see any changes or if you see getting worse than you're to want to let us know so that we can adjust or change that medication and over the years. That has happened so often. That i i got to this place and i'll say that it's okay to do this if you need to. Own your closet by yourself and cry for a little while. 'cause you're just overwhelmed and nothing seems to be working and you want so badly to be quote unquote normal. Go have cry. Go eat ice cream or chocolate or something. I don't even care. It's okay to do those things. But i got to this place where i was like. None of this is working. I need something completely different. And i think that's when. I did the insight site testing because most of the medications that i had been put on. Were in my red list more in the list that was for your dna. These are not going to work for you. Oh wow so going through this process and the truth is i didn't even realize this at the time we've been married for fifteen plus years and i knew that kept having different medications tried and you like oh. This is not working but we had no idea why. It's not working until this test. You didn't says hey this might actually work for you Yeah that's that stuff okay. So what about the anxiety piece you know. It started with an executive attack How does that manifest itself or did it manifest itself in your life. So i have an odd anxiety like i have panic. Attacks panic attacks but generally speaking. I'm just anxious and it's like my anxiety and my ocd. Like to just hold hands and frolic through my brain and so what. I'm feeling extremely anxious. I have to clean everything so it's kind of like since i can't control my emotions i can't control what's going on in the world. My brain has to find something that can control and the cleanliness in my house. I can control thankfully because you and the kids are pretty neat people. But i have to do have to be able to do something. Control something to calm down. If i don't do that ended up in the closet crying eating chocolate well like you said. That's okay if you have to do. It's not not not every day but so talked about the depression. Talk about the anxiety. Ptsd how does that manifest itself in your life on a day-to-day basis weekly basis. How how often what does it feel like said the. Ptsd is like a whole different monster. That lives somewhere inside of my person. And the worst episodes i have with. Ptsd is when my children especially caitlyn our daughter when she reaches those age those ages where you've espn we. We had talked about this a little bit today. As we're preparing for the podcast but it was as a recall kind of like the same ages or proxy ages where something traumatic happened in your own childhood right so so then. My brain is like imagine that happening to kaitlin. Imagine that having to our son. Christopher and then it's like this overwhelming like it's not a mama bear feeling is a mama dragon. And it's like i will. I will died to protect but at the same time. It's then there's this the the little girl in me is like. How could my mom have let that happen. How could my dad have let that happen. Where was the the parental. where were they. Why did these things even happened. That i have this trauma but we're all human doing the best. We can now. That i'm older i can. I can look at my pass without being completely angry with my parents because they were just doing their best as well. Sure sure so. We're won't take a break real quick but coming up after the break and now you have a few things that you want to share with our listeners. More as encouragement and continuing the story obviously but also practical steps. Stay with us. Many americans today don't realize the stress and anxiety. They feel is likely because of their finances. According to bankrate.com more than six out of ten people couldn't cover a one thousand dollar emergency seven out of ten. Don't budget regularly. An eight out of ten are living paycheck to paycheck to these describe you. Are you ready to live like others. Can't too many make the mistake of budgeting their lifestyle instead of budgeting their basic needs. I my friend. Marco over at mc business lab has a simple process to automate the basic things. You need to live and then never looking at one of those bills again. Head over to live like others can't dot com to get on the wait list for his own line course to learn this automation skill. That will significantly reduce your stress anxiety. And if you think one on one attention could be the way for you. You can also schedule your free consultation with marco once again that's live like others can't dot com get on the path to your dream life today. Alright so here we are back. Second half of the show here with my wife patricia talking about mental health. And it's okay. She's looking at me right now. She's like oh just made a noise like it's okay. Well we'll cleared up. It's fine and so so anyway so here talking to my wife patricia about mental health and about her own challenges and struggles with it. And so obviously there's no one in your corner so to speak. I mean there's the stigma associated with it but there's also no one kind of coaching. You through this of like okay. Well if this isn't working here's what you do right not currently. I've had counselors in the past. You know and they've we've tried to work through things. I have been the hospital couple of times. And i think there's a lot of people who mean well but it doesn't mean it's going to work for you and so i feel it's important that people understand that if you do have a mental illness. It's okay to research an advocate for yourself. You don't have to wait on a doctor or counselor or someone who you feel like is more intelligent or just because they have letters after their name that they know you better than you do feel free. No not feel free. Please speak for yourself. that's huge. That is so huge. And i think that advocating for yourself is such a critical element of getting the help you need. Because when i think of veterans who are struggling right. You know whether whether it's a physical health or mental health concern. They know themselves like better than anyone else knows them and so when they go to the doctor when i as a veteran go to the doctor i have an obligation to myself right to be as honest and as really a as direct as i can like look. This is the problem. This is how. I'm feeling. I'm here for you to help me fix it right. But then there's the stigma especially in the military community. Where if something isn't working right in your brain you're not working right. Oh absolutely that is the stigma is is really and i think the worst thing about mental health diagnoses today at least in america. If not all over the world it absolutely needs to be normalized that your your brain is an oregon and just like your heart and all your heart muscle but you could knees your liver. If any of those things were failing if they weren't working like they were supposed to have so many people around you. Hey what can i do for you. What can i do for your family. Could i get my blood tested to see if i could be donor. How in the world could make your life better but you hear someone is in a three month depressive episode and they can't even get out of bed. I don't see people lining up with casseroles. I don't know. I don't see that happening. You know if you have to leave an event because you had an anxiety attack there's whispers. There's not help this is strong. It is so strong. And there's a you know within the military there is a fear and i will say rightly so that if you say hey i have this particular mental condition it can potentially impact your career and in the civilian world because well as a mom i if another mom i don't know maybe somebody's going to hear this and maybe they don't want their kids hanging out but as a mom you think. Oh can this person actually take care of my kid. While i'm away or is everything issue going to be too overwhelmed. Is she going to have some kind of attack. That i don okay. If you know somebody like that. Just educate yourself right and know that that person wouldn't take on that responsibility if they didn't feel they could handle it. Yeah absolutely and you know. That's a critical point to is. There is so much misinformation out there about mental health. And you know here's the thing. Hollywood doesn't help and i'm not going to rant. I'm not. I'm not trying to say like oh. Don't make movies about people with mental conditions. You know but there is this you know. The joker movie that just came out with a joaquin phoenix. That's joker yeah. Okay so you know. He obviously has a mental health problem. It looks like severe depression and he turns out to be this mass murderer. Right and so people associate edison. He's bipolar but go ahead. Fair enough fair enough so people associate those mental health conditions with something so extreme that they saw on a screen or read an article. now there are extreme cases. it's true. I mean you can't just say that that. No one is that bad off but there are people that bad off that they're not usually the people who look like they're doing okay. There those the people who are really struggling there are more signs right than than you just meeting them. Like if i just walked up to you and said hi. My name's patricia. Perkin tie you doing. You would never think i had five mental disorders right. You know someone. who's that far gone. You know they're going to be showing signs. Oh yeah absolutely for sure for sure and you know the thing is when it comes to mental health when it comes to you know having a a severe enough level of mental health challenges concerns whatever. You wanna call them. If you don't have an official diagnosis right there are so many. I guess levels is probably the best way to put it of of severity. Because you know like saying. Hey i'm feeling depressed for a couple of weeks is a far cry from major depressive disorder right okay. Yeah may i believe probably should have been a little more research but it would be depressed for at least six months before. It is a clinical diagnosis. And so there's going to be events someone dies. A friend moves away. You have to switch jobs then you could go through a you know a few days or a week of feeling depressed. That's normal. yeah exactly. That's the normal depression. That's not the go quick. It'll medication so you can feel better. That's right it's just a normal life happens and you get down and i've even had people say to me. Well you know you have a lot of stuff. You're very blessed. You have a nice home. You have a great husband. Smart kids you you you have you have you have you have. That has nothing to do. With what my brain is doing. I have the intelligence to know that. I a blessed person a blessed individual but that does not mean that my brain is going to let me enjoy all the time. Yeah that's so true. That is so true. And so i just saw an article earlier today from cnbc said fifty one percent of young americans are struggling with mental health. Fifty one percent. I can believe and i think a lot of that if i can just put in. My personal opinion is social media. I'm sure you constantly see people who are throwing up. There highlight reels on instagram. And some of them still on facebook and then those who are throwing out things on twitter but there you're not getting their whole life you don't read what's actually going on. I mean if people looked at my facebook they would see highlights. Because i want to show the good. I don't want to show the days. I don't wanna get out bed. Showed the days where. I'm like begrudgingly. Driving my kids to school because i have to. I'm an adult to do these things. You don't see those things and especially the generation under us. They're so obsessed with social media that they think that's real life. I mean i have a good life. But it's not insta worthy like everything. I do isn't gonna be popping up on instagram. Because it's not real life right. That's just advertising then like you said it's just highlights right. Yeah and so. I want to go back to the stigma piece for just a minute. Because that's a piece that i'm really passionate about and you know in the military you know being healthy being fit to fight. That's part of the job if you're broken your broken leg unit can't use you to go to war right. You have to get that leg fixed. I if you're broken mentally your unit may not be able to use you to go to war because like there's something wrong with you and like the. The thing is with the stigma. It's okay in you know outside of the military that things that your body or your brain is not working like it's supposed to and i've heard so many veterans so min- countless veterans really be rating their brothers and sisters in arms when they talk about having. Ptsd like your combat. Experience was different than mine. Therefore you don't have ptsd or you can't be depressed or you can't be anxious like you're just whining because you want to get paid from the va. You want the va to take care of you. That's ridiculous it. It really is our veterans out there who just looking for that that extra little bit of money out a month sure. There are but by and large the majority of veterans who who are having the courage to stand up and say. Hey i got something wrong in my brain. It's not working like supposed to. They should be applauded and say you know what that is. Surreal courage that you having right now to go and say i need help. Yes it takes a ton of courage and just in time out of being a military spouse and then my time out of it and interacting with veterans and even people who are still currently serving. They they have these but they don't even know how to say it out loud. They will become an alcoholic. But there's nothing wrong with me. I had no problem with war. Or when they get out of the military you know they get hooked on drugs. Oh in the military didn't affect me very much. I'll have i don't have any. Ptsd that that crazy stuff you know or all of a sudden. They're wife isn't good enough. Their kids aren't good enough and they want to be away from them at all times. They don't want that interaction but they say they're fine because they're afraid to say i might be broken inside and might need some help. So instead of having the courage to say that they are literally ruining their lives in other ways right what alcohol would drugs with breaking up their homes with neglecting their responsibilities. That's may there's so much i want to. I want to fix it right. I want to fix the stigma. Problem wanted but there is no easy way to do it. But i think what we're doing right here is having the conversation for the world to hear that. Look it's not just veterans. It's not just veteran spouses. It's according to that article. Fifty one percent of young americans who are struggling with some sort of mental health condition right regardless of what title you go by better in active duty man woman boy girl. Mental health is no respecter of persons. I'm sorry mental illness right. No you're right and mental health needs. You know it doesn't matter who you are. What are what color you are just like any like. I said any other body part in any other thing. That may need attention. Don't be afraid to give it that attention. Don't be afraid to speak up and speak out. Don't let the stigma hold down. Yeah for sure so from our conversation today. I know we're running up on time. So we're gonna wind this down and you know. Obviously you and. I have talked about this a lot and me in the future. I'm sure we will get you back on the show and talk and talk about about this and how fixing your life especially how the team s treatment is grain because he you know. I'm not afraid to talk about right. My inner demons especially can help somebody else. I feel like i feel like god puts us through situation so that we can help other people and if we can't take the bad and turn it around and help someone than what's it for and i have to have faith that it's it's to help others. Sure sure so. We have alluded to these three big takeaways right like the big takeaways from this episode. We've alluded to them throughout the episode. We've talked about them. We've even said them but remind us remind listeners. What those big three takeaways are from listening to this. I would say the first one is to advocate for yourself like i said. Don't be to research. Don't be afraid to figure out what might work for you. Ask for the jewish site testing. Ask for even if you've been on medication for a long time talking about the s you know there are other ways to go about it than just constantly saying in that cycle of pill after pill after pill with no results there. There is light at the end of the tunnel. So don't be afraid to say. Hey i think this might help me. What do you think. Don't wait on them. The second one i would say is. Don't let the stigma prevent you from seeking help Let's there is nothing wrong with you. If you have mental illness nothing like innately wrong review. You are just a person who is struggling and number three. I would say no that you are not alone like you were saying that article fifty one percent of young americans. This isn't even us. The older americans during these are young americans who were struggling. You're not alone. find group. fine fine started group. It right to you know. Don't don't stay alone either. When you isolate yourself things. Things often get worse so definitely seek out others who may have similar problems going on that you can talk through to to have some sort of accountability with and accountability is huge. It is huge and those are the three big ones. But i wanted to add one more. And it's something that i've done personally and it has to do with what i was talking about with social media and it's so funny because our pastors just said at this sunday delete block. You do not have to look at sally. Suzy sampson's and wish it was yours. Delete her blocking her. If if watching her highlight reel is taking your joy. Delete her if mr man who has it all together all the money all the muscles and the most beautiful wife you've ever seen if that stealing your joy delete him bought him because you need to focus on you and yours is so good. That is so so good so patricia. It is been an amazing conversation with you. I wanna thank you personally. Thank you for your courage to come on the show and talk about not just health in general but your own mental health your own struggles with the diagnoses. You know you've had hospital stays as a result had so many things going your life and so thank you so much for talking about this important topic with us you know. We all have a lot of questions but the most important question you can ask yourself is. This have accepted the forgiveness of sins. That only comes through faith in jesus christ and before we go one thing. Patricia wanted me to point out was earlier. she referenced. cpt. St and she called it childhood. Ptsd it is actually complex. Ptsd would she informed me of later in complex. Ptsd is brought about from long term trauma that might be physical emotional sexual abuse own going childhood neglect things like that. It could even be a prisoner of war type of situation that brings about complex. Ptsd so just clarification. There that that was what she was referencing in the second. Half of the episode. You may have heard probably did hear a lot of clicking in the background while that clicking was my burien husky running around on a hardwood floor and unfortunately we can't edit that out he just kind of made a cameo appearance on the podcast so that dog is the way i deal with my ptsd and depression having a pet. It just helps a lot so anyway. Thank you so much for listening. It has been a joy sharing our hearts with you today. Be sure to check us out on social media. We at facebook at courage to fight again. Instagram also occurred to fight again and twitter at courage again and check us out on our website at courage to fight again dot com a whole lot. More resources there well until next time. Thanks for listening. We served now. What is a production of courage to fight again.