Gregg Martin
Eradicating The Stigma

General Gregg Martin's story in the Military with bipolar disorder illustrates how mental illness, while challenging, can be managed with proper understanding and treatment. Through medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes, Martin regained control over his mental health after years of undiagnosed hyperthymia and mania. Those with bipolar disorder can live fulfilling lives.

Gregg Martin
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Show Notes

Gregg F. Martin, PhD, is a retired Major General of the US Army with a distinguished 36-year career in active duty. A West Point graduate, he holds a PhD and two master’s degrees from MIT, as well as master’s degrees in national security strategy from both the Army and Naval war colleges.

General Martin’s military career includes significant combat experience, having commanded an engineer company, battalion, and the 130th Engineer Brigade during the first year of the Iraq War. His leadership roles extended to various high-ranking positions, including Commandant of the Army Engineer School, Commander of Fort Leonard Wood, Deputy Commanding General of Third US Army/Army Central in the Middle East, Commandant of the Army War College, and President of the National Defense University.

Martin served multiple overseas tours and held key positions such as Commander of the Corps of Engineers Northwest Division and Special Assistant to the Chief of Engineers. His extensive experience and education have made him a respected figure in military engineering and strategy.

In recent years, General Martin has become an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness, particularly within the military community. After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 in 2014, he has dedicated himself to reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness. He shares his personal experiences and insights through his book “Bipolar General: My Forever War with Mental Illness” and through public speaking engagements, working to improve understanding and support for those facing mental health challenges.

“Bipolar disorder is extremely common across the military; Especially in special operations.” 

– Gregg F. Martin

  • Understanding Bipolar Disorder: Martin explains bipolar disorder as a mood disorder characterized by cycles of mania and depression. He describes his experiences with both states, including periods of extreme productivity and creativity during mania, followed by debilitating depression.
  • Crisis and Diagnosis: Martin’s bipolar disorder fully manifested while he was president of the National Defense University, leading to erratic behavior and his eventual removal from the position. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 in 2014, at the age of 58.
  • Recovery and Management: Martin’s recovery involved finding the right medication, undergoing therapy, and adopting a healthy lifestyle. He emphasizes the importance of having a purpose, supportive relationships, and maintaining a structured routine.
  • Mental Health in the Military: Through his book “Bipolar General” and public speaking, Martin works to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly in the military. He advocates for better understanding and support for those with mental health issues.

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Book: Bipolar General


[00:00:41] Mark Divine: Greg, thanks so much for making the trek out here. Really, really appreciate it.

[00:00:44] Mark Divine: And it’s great to see you. 

[00:00:45] Gregg Martin: Mark. Thank you very much. It’s great to be with you. 

[00:00:48] Mark Divine: Yeah. So 36 years. In the army. Yes, that’s incredible That’s about half your life probably 

[00:00:59] Gregg Martin: Right and plus that doesn’t count the four years at west point where you’re actually an active duty Oh, that’s soldier as well. So that it really is 40, but I only I don’t count.

[00:00:00] Mark Divine: Thirty six years? 

[00:00:00] Gregg Martin: Yes. That’s incredible. The reason I could get by with, like, no sleep and so much energy and creativity and drive and enthusiasm, I discovered is that I had a condition called hyperthymia. By the time I was 58, I went into full blown mania, raging inferno, where I went basically into a state of madness.

[00:00:22] Gregg Martin: If you choose to get help, you can live a happy, healthy life. But the big deterrent is stigma. 

[00:00:30] Mark Divine: So if someone’s listening to this and they’re really suffering or they know someone’s suffering, what should they 

[00:00:35] Gregg Martin: do? The key to my recovery has been. 

[00:00:41] Mark Divine: Greg, thanks so much for making the trek out here. Really, really appreciate it.

[00:00:44] Mark Divine: And it’s great to see you. 

[00:00:45] Gregg Martin: Mark. Thank you very much. It’s great to be with you. 

[00:00:48] Mark Divine: Yeah. So 36 years. In the army. Yes, that’s incredible That’s about half your life probably 

[00:00:59] Gregg Martin: Right and plus that doesn’t count the four years at west point where you’re actually an active duty Oh, that’s soldier as well. So that it really is 40, but I only I don’t count.

[00:01:09] Gregg Martin: You don’t count the west Most of your peers 

[00:01:11] Mark Divine: probably would count that. 

[00:01:12] Gregg Martin: Yeah 

[00:01:13] Mark Divine: I mean, it’s counted in your retirement package and everything at that, right? Yeah We have a lot to talk about like i’m excited to dig into your book, uh, bipolar general You Uh, you have an esteemed career. Uh, thank you for your service, sir.

[00:01:26] Mark Divine: You’re welcome. Incredible. 

[00:01:28] Gregg Martin: It was exciting and I loved it. 

[00:01:30] Mark Divine: Yes. I well, most careers are, are great. You know, like a heartbeat, right? All sorts of ups and downs. So I imagine you’ve got some stories to tell yes Why don’t we just start at the beginning like what what compelled you to go to West Point?

[00:01:44] Mark Divine: And and what was your kind of origin story that that shaped the the young lieutenant Martin? 

[00:01:50] Gregg Martin: So I was born in Holbrook, Massachusetts, which is near Boston. And, uh, I grew up in a family with a strong military tradition. So my dad was in the Navy in world war II, all my uncles were in some service. So I always knew I wanted to go in the military at some point in my life, either as an enlisted or as an officer.

[00:02:09] Gregg Martin: And then when it came time to, uh, Start applying for colleges. I had been a really successful student athlete leader all through, you know, high school, junior high, et cetera. And so my mother, you know, tiger mom, Irish, she really thought the academies were great, uh, that that’s just what I needed to do and the price was right.

[00:02:29] Gregg Martin: So I applied to all the academies, and the only one I got into was West Point. And so that’s where I went, which really was perfect. It was just the right place for me in terms of the academics, the athletics, the leadership development. So I went to West Point, and you know, at the beginning, I didn’t like it very much.

[00:02:46] Gregg Martin: And I had to do an attitude adjustment. And 

[00:02:51] Mark Divine: Imagine how challenging that would be. Yeah. 

[00:02:53] Gregg Martin: So once, once I got in the right mindset and decided I am just going to do my very best at every task we do, every moment, every day, and be the best teammate I could to all my classmates. Everything went great. I mean, that attitude just propelled me to a very successful time at West Point, made lots of really good friends, got commissioned into the Army.

[00:03:15] Gregg Martin: I chose the engineers, which includes combat engineers, construction, like the CBEs, etc. Basically, I chose Germany to go to during the Cold War. I thought Germany would be really cool. You know, not only the main mission for the U. S. military against the Soviet Union, but but also the chance to travel around and experience the culture.

[00:03:35] Mark Divine: What years is that? When did you graduate West Point and what years were you in Germany? 

[00:03:39] Gregg Martin: Was at West Point from 75 to 79. And so I came in just after Vietnam ended, graduated, went to army ranger school, airborne school, every school I could get to that went to Germany and was a platoon leader and a company commander of combat engineers between Say, 1980 and 1985.

[00:04:00] Gregg Martin: So, my formative years as a leader were in Germany, which was awesome. And, uh, we had a great wartime mission. We basically put in obstacle systems along the East German border to slow down and stop the Soviet tanks so we could kill them with our tanks and artillery and close air support. So, the engineers played a really key role.

[00:04:22] Gregg Martin: Because you know, it’s basically you put these obstacles in that either slow down or channelize or make the enemy turn. I’m going to tell you what these obstacles are like. Minefields, anti tank ditches, barbed wire obstacles, and you wouldn’t think that sounds like too much against tanks, but it is. 

[00:04:39] Mark Divine: They get all tangled up.

[00:04:41] Gregg Martin: They get tangled up. When they hit a tank ditch, they actually can’t go through or over the tank ditch. They have to either fill it in, which slows them down, or build a hasty little, um, uh, And all those things slow them down so we can then bring in artillery on their heads. We know where they are and so our tanks can then pinpoint them, kill them.

[00:05:01] Gregg Martin: And then of course we would have great close air support. So it was really a key role on the battlefield and a lot of fun. The other thing that we did is we put in, um, protective emplacements where basically you just scoop out the earth so tanks can hide and the only thing above the ground is the barrel of the tank.

[00:05:19] Gregg Martin: Same thing for artillery. So the artillery would be down under the ground and all the, the only thing that would be up above the ground would be the tube, which really protects them. And the same with infantry fighting vehicles. So that was a lot of fun. And in those days, You know, the soldiers had a lot of problems, personal problems, finance problems, getting, you know, medical things, getting their pay, their promotion, and all that kind of stuff.

[00:05:41] Gregg Martin: And so what I, what I quickly learned is the thing that they needed most from their leader was to help them not only train for war and maintain the equipment and do all the logistical stuff, but to help them with their personal problems. And as a lieutenant, you have power. I mean, you can go into battalion headquarters or company headquarters and say, Hey, look, we need to take care of Private Jones.

[00:06:02] Gregg Martin: Private Jones hasn’t gotten paid in two months and, you know, let’s fix it. And so when I found that I worked hard for the troops, They would do anything for me because they knew you cared about them. And then the other thing that was really interesting is I in my platoon of 40 combat engineers. I had about 10 guys Who were convicted felons?

[00:06:22] Gregg Martin: No kidding because we’re at the beginning of the all volunteer force, right? It wasn’t going so well There weren’t that many people volunteering and so they had this program where they would let Felons, no rapists, no murderers, no violent crimes. But they would let them serve in the army and if they served honorably, their sentence would be commuted and they could be free again.

[00:06:42] Gregg Martin: So these guys were really interesting characters. They were quiet, they kept a low profile, they didn’t want to get noticed and they worked really hard to do their job so that they would get it. They didn’t wanna go back. They, that’s right. 

[00:06:54] Mark Divine: That brings up an interesting story, if you don’t mind me.

[00:06:56] Mark Divine: Sure. Like just telling a story. ’cause my dad served a whopping. Four years, I think, in the army. He too is in Germany in the fifties in a unit called the 11th Airborne. If you ever heard of the 11th Airborne, it was disbanded. I think this is before we were so worried about the Soviet threat. So this is more about the tail end of rebuilding Germany and you know, whatnot.

[00:07:16] Mark Divine: And so that 11th Airborne didn’t have a great mission. The reason he was in the army is because he got drunk one night and drove his car into a fraternity house. And he was at union college and the judge said, okay, uh, Lise, uh, you can either a go to jail or B join the army. He goes B found himself in the 11th airborne.

[00:07:39] Mark Divine: He wasn’t a convict, but he was darn near close to it. And he did not have a good time. Interesting. So that infused my, my original thinking about the military. And like, I didn’t grow up thinking I would be a military guy because it wasn’t something we talked about. I didn’t have a rich military history like you did.

[00:08:00] Mark Divine: Yeah. So my, my path to the seals was a little different. What we’re, I mean, you’ve already hit on a few key leadership principles. One, taking care of the guys, keeping your eyes on them. If you can help them with personal problems, it keeps their mind in the game. The institution is not going to do it for them. Like most people are probably surprised to hear that.

[00:09:23] Mark Divine: Yeah, you could go for months not getting paid, like a simple glitch in the system and the bureaucracy moves like pond water. Right. And so this poor guy, right, that happens really frequently. It even happened in the SEAL teams. I mean, I remember times where I couldn’t get paid. I’m like, what the, what’s going on?

[00:09:38] Mark Divine: You need to advocate for the smallest of things. Right. So that’s one. What are some of the other kind of like major leadership lessons from those early years? 

[00:09:49] Gregg Martin: I think training was super important. You know, it would start off in the, in the morning. I would, I lived on a German farm and I would run four miles into work and then I would basically put the platoon and then later the company through a really tough, you know, P.T. Session physical training. I was always the best athlete in the best shape of anybody in the unit. And so by being that, you instantly earned a lot of respect from the troops. And so it put them through that. And then we would train hard all day, do equipment maintenance. Then I would play basketball at lunch and I would usually be, you know, it was pretty much all black guys except for me.

[00:10:29] Gregg Martin: And so, I mean, they really would take their shots against me, you know, as a Lieutenant and, you know, uh, a white guy. That was really good, too. That was another thing that sort of earned respect that, you know, once you’re out there on the court, I mean, there was no rank, obviously, and then I would work all day until my mission was done.

[00:10:48] Gregg Martin: Whatever I had to get done, I would just stay and work into the night, and then I’d run home, you know, four miles back home to the farm I lived and then do farm work. They had a restaurant there and I would actually work in the kitchen. I mean, I was only getting, you know, and then I would go to bed probably, Oh, then my friends would pick me up.

[00:11:05] Gregg Martin: The other friends from the unit, we’d go out and party in Germany was a great place to have fun. I mean, great beer. I mean, live music all the time, dancing, you know, it was just wonderful. And so I wouldn’t get to bed till like one o’clock in the morning in the next morning, I would get up. And, uh, do farm chores and then run to work again and do the same thing all over again.

[00:11:26] Gregg Martin: And, uh, what I later, since, you know, basically in writing this book, I discovered is that I had a condition called hyperthymia. You know, I was born with a bipolar brain, lived on the bipolar spectrum and what hyperthymia is. 

[00:11:39] Mark Divine: But you didn’t know that. I had no idea. No clue. 

[00:11:42] Gregg Martin: But the reason I could get by with like no sleep and so much energy and creativity and drive and enthusiasm was that what hyperthymia does is it’s not bipolar disorder, but it’s a low level of continuous mild mania.

[00:11:58] Gregg Martin: So what that means is the brain always on, always on the brain’s making extra dopamine and endorphins. And so I had no idea I had this, but it gave me a tremendous boost and it elevated my performance, you know, from high school on all the way through the army. But what was happening is little by little, I was climbing the bipolar spectrum until by 47 I had my actual onset of bipolar disorder.

[00:12:22] Mark Divine: Can you be bipolar with hyperthymia? Yes. Okay. Yeah. That’s And, you know, 

[00:12:28] Gregg Martin: if you have hyperthymia, you’re really kind of fortunate because it gives you this. 

[00:12:34] Mark Divine: Sounds like it warded it off for a long time. 

[00:12:36] Gregg Martin: It did. And it gives you, uh, sort of this natural chemical based high that is amazing. And so, I mean, I was always happy, enthusiastic, tons of energy, tons of drive, very creative.

[00:12:50] Gregg Martin: Able to solve complicated problems, you know, really quickly and, uh, but the problem with hyperthymia is you’re inching year by year, decade by decade up the spectrum towards actual bipolar disorder in real mania, which is exactly what happens. Is that 

[00:13:06] Mark Divine: because of an imbalance in hormones or what’s causing that inching?

[00:13:10] Gregg Martin: What’s causing it is that the brain, it’s called the kindling effect is one scientific term. And what it means is that if you have hyperthymia, every time in your life that you have a little event that’s bipolar in nature, it’s like putting a little piece of kindling on your brain and it starts burning hotter.

[00:13:32] Gregg Martin: The flame gets a little bigger. 

[00:13:33] Mark Divine: I’ve experienced both spectrums a little bit more and more and more. 

[00:13:36] Gregg Martin: Exactly. And, and more and more kindling wood gets put on this little bipolar mini fire. And then instead of little kindling, it becomes sticks and then, you know, huge logs. So by the time I was 58, I went into full blown mania, raging inferno where I went basically into a state of madness, insanity, at which point I was.

[00:13:58] Gregg Martin: You know, fired from my job as a two star, forced to retire, and then later hospitalized. 

[00:14:04] Mark Divine: Wow. Okay. So back up here. Define bipolar for a listener who may have heard the word a thousand times, thinks they know what it is, but maybe they’re not. So, 

[00:14:18] Gregg Martin: bipolar disorder is what they call a mood disorder, meaning that the brain sort of takes it on its own initiative to produce more chemicals like dopamine, endorphins, and others that drives you into a state of mania.

[00:14:36] Gregg Martin: And then the same brain decides, okay, I’m tired of being manic, I’m going to underproduce and underdistribute those same powerful chemicals, which then drives you into depression. And it used to be called manic depressive illness, which is really a very accurate name for it because it, you fluctuate between, you know, mania and the characteristics of mania are, uh, grandiosity where like, I thought I was the smartest person in the world.

[00:15:02] Gregg Martin: I held the key to world peace, religiosity, where you become. Absolutely over the top with regard to religious activities and beliefs and so forth, which I was. I was doing 30 plus significant religious events per week when I was in my fifties across four different churches. I mean, it was, it was wild. I mean, my life was revolved around it.

[00:15:25] Gregg Martin: Other things you don’t need much sleep. When I was in full blown mania, I went about three months with no sleep. And prior to that I was maybe getting an hour or two or three, no sleep at all. Yeah, yeah. Nothing. I didn’t sleep for three months. What? And you think about what that does to the brain.

[00:15:41] Gregg Martin: Basically, it’s because I was manic, and then as you get no sleep, you become more manic. And so it’s a spiral upward. 

[00:15:48] Mark Divine: Yeah, I mean, sleep deprivation is used to drive You know, prisoners nuts, 

[00:15:54] Gregg Martin: right? Which I was. Wow. The other thing is you make very reckless decisions and you spend, you know, lots of money that you don’t really have to spend.

[00:16:04] Gregg Martin: Like I spent thousands and thousands of dollars on religious activities, pursuits, causes without saying anything to my wife. So she was not happy. Um, another, I was 

[00:16:15] Mark Divine: going to ask you, you bet you were, when did you get married? 

[00:16:17] Gregg Martin: We got married in 1982. Okay. I met her in Germany on a blind date. So she 

[00:16:23] Mark Divine: wrote all the good years with you then?

[00:16:24] Mark Divine: Right. She started to see this Yeah. behavior. 

[00:16:28] Gregg Martin: You know, some other aspects of mania, incredible energy, you know, just drive, creativity, the brain. Like, when I was in, just for example, Iraq, and I commanded about 10, 000 troops during, you know, the first year. I could see and anticipate. My brain was like a high speed computer and solved the problems, these complicated problems before anybody else knew there was a problem.

[00:16:53] Gregg Martin: And, uh, you know, so just this Sounds like 

[00:16:55] Mark Divine: the limitless drug. 

[00:16:57] Gregg Martin: It is. It was amazing. But then when you go into depression, it’s the opposite. Withdrawn. No energy. Confused, indecisive, no interest in anything, wanting to die, becoming suicidal, all these different trends. So, mania is the upside, depression is the low side, and so bipolar disorder, going back to the original question, you generally cycle between the two.

[00:17:23] Gregg Martin: How long 

[00:17:24] Mark Divine: would they last? 

[00:17:25] Gregg Martin: For me, my manias would last from, well at first they, they lasted for almost a full year. And when I was in my hyperthymic state, I was high. Only one depressive episode from, I would say high school through, The first time I can remember any depressive symptoms was when I was about in my early 40s.

[00:17:48] Gregg Martin: So I was high that whole time for decades. And then once the bipolar disorder kicked in at age 47 in 2003, I was in Iraq. Once that kicked in, I was mostly manic. But I did dip into depression and then after about 11 years of mostly mania, I fell into two years of severe crippling depression, which I call bipolar hell.

[00:18:12] Gregg Martin: And then I finally pulled out of it when I got on the right medication. 

[00:18:16] Mark Divine: Wow. Okay. So is it just strictly a biological hormonal thing that determines when you shift from manic to depressive or depressive to manic or can it be life circumstances or there certain trigger, what triggers the transition? All of the above.

[00:18:35] Mark Divine: All of the 

[00:18:36] Gregg Martin: above. The way scientists and psychiatrists explain bipolar disorder and the onset of it is that you have to have the genetic predisposition, which I, Obviously have and then it takes some sort of a triggering of that something, you know, very stressful traumatic Really pressurized and for me according to the VA and the Army Medical Department Both of which did independent studies on how did this general get bipolar disorder?

[00:19:04] Gregg Martin: You know, how did this happen 

[00:19:05] Mark Divine: the two? 

[00:19:07] Gregg Martin: They were really interested in figuring it out. So they both did independent studies and it included interviews with me, interviews with other people, et cetera. And they came to the conclusion that it was the, the triggering event was the Iraq war, the, you know, the high intensity preparation and then, you know, the high intensity thrill, which for me, the war was, I didn’t find it traumatic.

[00:19:29] Gregg Martin: I thought it was thrilling. I was euphoric. I loved it. I was the happiest I’d ever been in my life. It was the high point of my life, but even that can be enough to trigger it. So all of that triggered it at age 47. So it’s the genetic predisposition, which I had. And then the triggering event that caused the onset of the bipolar disorder.

[00:19:49] Gregg Martin: And then your other question is, how do you go from mania to depression and back again? First off, the bipolar brain, it’s a sickness, it’s a disease or an illness inside the brain whereby the brain sort of has its own rhythm independent of what else is going on internally or inside your own mind. You may want to slow down and not be manic.

[00:20:13] Gregg Martin: Once the brain decides to go into mania, it’s going to happen. I mean, it’s going to happen. You have the willpower to override it. You can’t. You can’t do it. Because it’s a physical, biological thing inside the wiring and you know, the neurons and the chemistry and all that stuff. And then the same thing, you may not want to go into depression.

[00:20:30] Gregg Martin: That lack of those chemicals drives you into depression. And then to your other point, external things can Like, for example, uh, like let’s say you get into real severe legal trouble or financial trouble. You go broke or you, you know, get fired from your job or your spouse dies. Those can, you know, also trigger a depressive episode and drive you down into depression.

[00:20:56] Gregg Martin: The difference is, is that we all have ups where we feel happy and enthusiastic and things are going well. And we all have downs, you know, the blues, a bad day. Things aren’t going, you know, I’m not really happy, but the difference is, is the degree. And so what the medical community has done is come up with this manual called, uh, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM, DSM five, and it lays out specific criteria for what constitutes depression and mania.

[00:21:25] Gregg Martin: And so when you read those, what it takes to be manic or depressed, they’re far beyond the normal. I’m having a bad day kind of thing. 

[00:21:35] Mark Divine: Right. 

[00:21:35] Gregg Martin: What about self 

[00:21:37] Mark Divine: care exercise? Obviously you do that alcohol. I mean, what do people do for self care if they’re either in denial or maybe not recognizing the bipolarness?

[00:21:48] Mark Divine: And so of this self care, what is positive? And obviously, you know, things like alcohol, what is destructive and will any of it work? 

[00:21:56] Gregg Martin: So self care is incredibly important. And I’m doing a good job on my self care now, because I pulled out of the bipolar hell eight years ago. I’ve had a few small incidents, not major, and I’ve been able to recognize those, take steps to kind of correct.

[00:22:14] Gregg Martin: Do you catch 

[00:22:14] Mark Divine: it on the descent, you’re saying? So, or in the essence, you catch it before it gets out of control. Yes. And you’re able to rebalance. It’s 

[00:22:21] Gregg Martin: both going up and going down. And so I’m able to work through it and come out of it. Okay. So, uh, once I got out of high school and was no longer living at home, I sort of turned into a kind of a wild man.

[00:22:34] Gregg Martin: And I mean, I partied a lot. I drank a lot, mostly beer. I didn’t sleep much at all because I figured I have time to sleep when I die. And, uh, and, and there’s too much girlfriend. 

[00:22:46] Mark Divine: Tell me that one. Yeah. And there’s sleep when you’re dead. There’s back to work. 

[00:22:49] Gregg Martin: There’s too much to do to spend much time sleeping.

[00:22:53] Gregg Martin: And the other thing that happened was I got, once I got out in the army, I I got really serious about it. I loved it. I loved everything about it. The mission, taking care of the troops, the adventure, the fun, the danger, the excitement, everything about it made me happy. And I threw myself into it, you know, 110%.

[00:23:11] Gregg Martin: So I was really into my, my army job. My mother in, when I was in my twenties, she said, uh, Greg, you’re going to get very unhealthy and bad things are going to happen to you. Your health is going to go down because number one, you don’t get enough sleep. You need to get eight hours a night. And I was getting, you know, maybe three, four, five at the most.

[00:23:33] Gregg Martin: And that went for years and decades. And as I got older, closer to bipolar disorder, I even got less sleep. Then she said, number two, you party and drink too much and we have alcoholism in the family and the alcohol is going to kill you. And then the third thing is you take your job way too seriously. You work late at night, you’re in on the weekends, you’re taking phone calls, you’re so dedicated and then, you know, you don’t read like books normal people read.

[00:23:59] Gregg Martin: You’re reading. You know, military stuff. And uh, she said, you know, you have to back off a little because if you drop dead tomorrow, you know, the army would bury you and then some new guy would come in, take your spot and nobody would miss you at all. And my mom was absolutely right. She was totally right.

[00:24:17] Gregg Martin: And so those are all elements of what you call, you know, what you said about self care. If I had started doing that at an earlier age and had, you know, Hobbies outside the military, drank less, slept more. I mean, there’s a chance I never would have actually had a bipolar onset. 

[00:24:35] Mark Divine: But the hypothermia prevented that, right?

[00:24:37] Mark Divine: Like, if you didn’t have that, then maybe you would have been able to do some of the rebalancing. It sounds like that kept you, you know, going a hundred miles an hour all the time. 

[00:24:46] Gregg Martin: Yes, you’re right. It did. And that was obviously in my case, the precursor to bipolar disorder. 

[00:24:52] Mark Divine: Is that common in people or is that common people with bipolar?

[00:24:55] Gregg Martin: Yeah, I would say there’s a fair amount of it. I don’t know the number. I don’t know what percent. That’d be a good, good figure to know, but I don’t know. 

[00:25:04] Mark Divine: And how common is bipolar in general? Your friend Serena was saying that it’s probably a lot more prevalent than is widely understood. 

[00:25:13] Gregg Martin: Yes, I think it’s much higher than what is put out there.

[00:25:16] Gregg Martin: So what you read in the literature is that about three to four percent of the population live with bipolar disorder. Diagnosed. Yes. I think it’s probably much higher than that. Because a lot of people don’t know they have it. 

[00:25:30] outro: Mm hmm. 

[00:25:30] Gregg Martin: Or if they do think there’s something wrong, they don’t go get medical help because of the stigma and they don’t get a diagnosis.

[00:25:38] Gregg Martin: So I think it’s quite a bit higher. Here’s one for you. I read a statistic that startled me until I began to study it. That in the veteran community, it’s as high as 25 percent of US veterans live with bipolar disorder. 

[00:25:52] Mark Divine: Wouldn’t that mean that 25 percent of the active duty population has it as well?

[00:25:56] Gregg Martin: Probably. Yeah. It probably does. And then Joe Votel, who is the commander of Special Ops Command. I remember, 

[00:26:02] outro: yeah. 

[00:26:02] Gregg Martin: Votel wrote a blurb in my book, and he called bipolar disorder one of the signature injuries of the post 9 11 wars. And I asked him, what do you mean by that? Like, I’d never heard anybody say that before, and he said, bipolar disorder is extremely common across the military, and especially in special operations.

[00:26:22] Gregg Martin: First off, people with the predisposition for bipolar disorder are unusually attracted to the military in general, and the special ops even in particular. And then, so they’ve already got A lot of the traits, the genetic predisposition, a lot of them are probably already hyperthymic. And then what happens, you come in the military, or especially something like the SEALs, in immediate stress, pressure, trauma.

[00:26:48] Gregg Martin: And so the triggering event is right there when they walk in the door. Then there’s deployments, then there’s combat. And so, you know, it just goes up, up, up. And what a lot of special operators have said is that. You know, who have studied bipolar disorder and who have been diagnosed that it’s going into mania that, you know, a controlled mania, a high productive mania, not where you’re mad and you’re out of your mind, but that controlled high performing mania.

[00:27:16] Gregg Martin: gives them the surge to go over the top, to do the most dangerous things and to have that incredible drive and courage and fearlessness to do what, you know, most normal humans would never even dream about doing, let alone accomplish. I think that all of those things Probably lead to a higher level of bipolar disorder in the military in general and probably in special ops And then if they do have a disorder They generally don’t go to get help because they’re afraid of the stigma.

[00:27:48] Gregg Martin: They’re afraid they’ll lend their career So a lot of them hold off and to get diagnosed like I’ve got a really good friend who is on special ops He said many of his, you know colleagues or you know, fellow special operators You They held off until they retired and they got their 20 years in and then they went and got help and got a diagnosis and are on the meds and are at the VA now.

[00:28:11] Gregg Martin: So it’s interesting. But when you really study the factors that go into all this, it’s really not that surprising when you think about it. 

[00:28:21] Mark Divine: So Can TBI or PTS cause bipolar, you know, what you just said made a lot of sense. So if you have the underlying condition, genetic predisposition, the stress and the, you know, the drama is a triggering event.

[00:28:35] Mark Divine: So that presumes they kind of had it and it was going to show up eventually. But what if that none of it existed? Could TBI and post traumatic stress or trauma stress actually create? 

[00:28:49] Gregg Martin: That is a great question. Um, I really don’t know 

[00:28:53] Mark Divine: because I would think because the changes that happen in the brain and what happens with, with especially TBI, all of a sudden all your hormones get out of whack and you know, everything just goes haywire.

[00:29:02] Mark Divine: The brain changes. I could see how that might, that’d be an interesting study. 

[00:29:07] Gregg Martin: Yeah, I, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it could or did. Yeah, 

[00:29:13] Mark Divine: another kind of fantasy question back to that kind of idea of the limitless drug. I imagine, The military would be really interested in figuring out how to capture that controlled mania and bottle it.

[00:29:26] Mark Divine: Has there been any attempt to figure out how to activate that? I mean, of course, like flow state and you know, all the things we’re doing there, but like in terms of a, a drug or some sort of intervention that could, cause that could be really helpful in combat. It’s 

[00:29:41] Gregg Martin: hugely helpful. And I mean, I’m one of probably tens, hundreds of thousands of people who have benefited enormously from going into mania.

[00:29:51] Gregg Martin: Again, not off the charts mania, but a controlled, high productive mania. It’s like a 

[00:29:56] Mark Divine: competitive advantage. 

[00:29:57] Gregg Martin: It’s a, it’s a huge, I didn’t know that. No wonder 

[00:30:00] Mark Divine: I wasn’t as successful as 

[00:30:01] Gregg Martin: you. It is a huge competitive advantage. I don’t know of any, any studies where the army has tried to, you know, sort of identify it, bottle it, and, you know, Put it into people.

[00:30:12] Mark Divine: It’d probably be the CIA, not the army. 

[00:30:13] Gregg Martin: Yeah, probably. I will say that until mania gets too high and goes out of control, the military loves people who have those characteristics. 

[00:30:24] Mark Divine: Yeah, they just call it being a good leader. 

[00:30:26] Gregg Martin: That’s right. Good leader. Lots of drive. A lot of motivation. Gung ho. Gung ho.

[00:30:30] Gregg Martin: Whatever you want to call it. You know, hoo ah spirit. All that stuff. And so, like, for me, you know, every Efficiency or evaluation I got from second lieutenant on even going back to west point even going back to high school It always said most energetic Most enthusiastic most driven Person we’ve ever seen 

[00:30:52] Mark Divine: every single one just magnifies all the good qualities.

[00:30:54] Mark Divine: It really 

[00:30:55] Gregg Martin: did 

[00:30:56] Mark Divine: how um often does severe alcohol abuse? Or alcoholism company bipolar behavior 

[00:31:03] Gregg Martin: I would say alcohol is a factor, in fact drugs and alcohol can be the triggering event. So they can actually activate the genetic predisposition. It was, it was really interesting when I was really manic and was in full blown mania, I just wanted to drink alcohol.

[00:31:22] Gregg Martin: When I was in full blown mania, I was drinking like 10, 12 drinks a night and didn’t get drunk at all, like zero. And when I would drink, 

[00:31:30] Mark Divine: Just did that to feel normal. 

[00:31:32] Gregg Martin: Yeah, and what it would do to me is when I was manic I wanted to drink and when I drank I got more manic and then I want to drink more And so it was this upward vicious cycle And then the same thing happened when I came back from iraq in during the year in iraq Which was you know, very very intense in every way.

[00:31:51] Gregg Martin: I got back to germany And, you know, the adrenaline’s gone, not in Iraq anymore. I sunk and plunged into this 10 month long depression. And I went in and told the doctors on more than one occasion said, Hey, I’m really depressed. You know, I think there’s something wrong with me because I’m normally, you know, energetic and extroverted.

[00:32:10] Gregg Martin: And now I’m introverted, no energy, no interest. And so they, they asked me, they said, well, How do you deal with it? What are your methods to, uh, deal with this? I said, well, number one, I try to do really intense PT, uh, physical training, but it’s very hard when you’re depressed because you don’t have the energy or the willpower.

[00:32:28] Gregg Martin: And then I said, number two, I listen to really intense rock and roll music, you know, lifts my spirits. Third, I recite key power verses out of the Bible. There’s all kinds. There’s all kinds. Thousands of verses that are uplifting and then, uh, fourth, I drink alcohol. And so the doctor said to me, he said, wow, sounds like you have everything under control.

[00:32:48] Gregg Martin: That’s good, good care. And I look back now. He even 

[00:32:52] Mark Divine: approved of number four? 

[00:32:53] Gregg Martin: Yeah, yeah. Wow. Alcohol is really bad for depression because when you’re depressed, then you want to drink to relieve the pain and suffering. You just go deeper into depression and then you drink more and you get more depressed.


[00:36:41] Mark Divine: It’s interesting because on the manic side you said it made you more manic. I was curious about that like because alcohol is a depression You would think the alcohol would be to kind of moderate the mania somehow 

[00:36:52] Gregg Martin: You would you would think so, but it would spin me up when I would drink then I had even less need for sleep.

[00:37:00] Gregg Martin: I would start sending in the evenings after my wife and son would go to bed. I couldn’t sleep. So I’d start doing texts and emails and I’d send out dozens and dozens of them. And then I would CC hundreds of people, many of whom had nothing to do with my command. They were like zero. So the next morning, People go to work and there’s like, you know, dozens of emails from, you know, the boss, which of course is terrible leadership.

[00:37:26] Gregg Martin: Then I’d go out on power walks in Washington, D. C., or I’d go for a bike ride, or there was a 24 hour gym on base that I’d go to and, you know, lift weights, work out. I had psychosis as well, which are hallucinations and delusions. 

[00:37:40] Mark Divine: This is at that, the moment, right? You’re talking about where it all came crashing down.

[00:37:45] Mark Divine: I’m glad you’re getting, I wanted to ask you a little bit more, like, what’s that experience was like? 

[00:37:48] Gregg Martin: Yeah, so when I would go on these bike rides, I would ride my bike, you know, two, three, four in the morning all around Washington, D. C. I’d go up on Capitol Hill, which is the only hill, and I’d bomb down the hill as fast as I could, and I would hallucinate that I would fly up in the air on my bike and could, you know, Fly over and around the monuments.

[00:38:09] Gregg Martin: So again, that’s psychosis But in all of those things were happening during the months leading up to me getting fired 

[00:38:16] Mark Divine: Mm hmm. Generally speaking. We have an awareness of how our actions are affecting those around us like metacognition Let’s just say how was your metacognition? Was it offline during this, did you have any sense that you were heading over a cliff?

[00:38:31] Mark Divine: I mean, what was going on in your higher self? 

[00:38:34] Gregg Martin: Yeah, so my metacognition was really bad. It was, well, it sounds like it. It was, sounds like it got shut off a bit. It was. It was. It was pretty terrible. I believed fervently that I was the smartest guy in the world. I mean, I’m not joking. I’ve believed I held the key to world peace.

[00:38:51] Gregg Martin: I had a vision for a global security university that could spread world peace around the globe. 

[00:38:58] Mark Divine: That’s not a bad vision, by the 

[00:38:59] Gregg Martin: way. My visions were, what was interesting, We should revive that one. But I was president of National Defense University, which is the highest level school in the entire Department of Defense.

[00:39:11] Gregg Martin: My boss was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who I had worked for four different times and knew really well. So I saw him, You know, probably every other month. That was general Dempsey. Yeah. Martin Dempsey, who was a fabulous, fabulous guy. Great boss. Love him to death. He probably saved my life when he, you know, fired me, but I would see him routinely.

[00:39:32] Gregg Martin: He actually hired me to go into National Defense University and essentially transform the place, make it more relevant, more cutting edge, more forward thinking, more relevant to modern warfare. That’s why he brought me in. Yeah. And so I was doing it between him and I and others, we created this transformation plan.

[00:39:52] Gregg Martin: And then I was the guy that was to drive it through in the mission. He gave me, he said, Hey, go in there, be a bulldog, you know, break China, you know, force this thing through because we don’t have that much time to do it. And they’re going to try to slow roll you and, you know, try to do everything possible to make this fail.

[00:40:10] Gregg Martin: So just go in there and, you know, kick ass. And so then I would brief him on a regular basis in the feedback. Up until the day I got fired, even the day I got fired, he told me I was doing a fantastic job. But the feedback was really, really good, very, very positive. He backed me up a hundred percent. But I had very little awareness of how hard I was driving, not only myself.

[00:40:36] Gregg Martin: And the university. I mean, I was pushing too hard and I took a lot of my cues in incentives from the chairman, but I was going too fast. This transformation plan instead of trying to do it in two years. This was a five or 10 year journey. I didn’t have a good sense for that. All I knew was people were out against me, they didn’t want to change, and so the harder they resisted, the harder I pushed and punched and, you know, and, and drove things.

[00:41:05] Gregg Martin: So, I, I would say, not really good self awareness, and there were people who tried to talk to me, say, slow down. You’re pushing too hard. You’re pushing too fast. There were leaked articles to the press that said I was a mad man. I’d gone crazy, things like that. And my higher ups in the Pentagon just said, don’t worry about it.

[00:41:25] Gregg Martin: That means you’re doing a good job because if they’re going to the press, that’s because you’re pushing them. And so, yeah, Tom Ricks wrote some scathing articles about me, which of course he got all the info from people inside the university, what it really did anytime there was sort of. Push back or pressure against me.

[00:41:42] Gregg Martin: It made me push harder. And so again, I think my metacognition was poor. It wasn’t good. I was basing my decision making on a lot of lessons. I had learned in the previous 35 years in the army and I don’t think I took into account that sort of who my troops were, you know, professors, PhDs, former state department, former CIA.

[00:42:04] Gregg Martin: They weren’t, 

[00:42:04] Mark Divine: the grunts you had in Germany. 

[00:42:06] Gregg Martin: I mean these weren’t a bunch of combat engineers, you know, who were all dirty and ready to go blow stuff up. They were, you know Sophisticated, very well educated professionals who are entrenched in a system that they loved just the way it was because they had carved out these little niches and, you know, empires for themselves.

[00:42:26] Gregg Martin: And the last thing they wanted to do was change. It didn’t matter if the mandate for change was coming from me or from the chairman or from the president. I mean, they really didn’t care. They just weren’t going to change. And then what was interesting is really nobody came to me. said, Hey, I think you’re out of control.

[00:42:45] Gregg Martin: I think you have something wrong with you. I think there’s a mental problem or emotional. They looked at 

[00:42:50] Mark Divine: just as a leadership issue, right? You’re pushing too hard. 

[00:42:53] Gregg Martin: I think that’s what it was. But what happened is near the end, you know, in the spring summer of 20, 20, The whole thing kind of blew up and I, I went into a state of madness, insanity.

[00:43:06] Gregg Martin: They call it full blown mania where I just lost it 

[00:43:10] Mark Divine: subjectively. What was that experience like? If you can remember it, 

[00:43:13] Gregg Martin: I was extremely happy, but then I would cycle into. Agitation, anger, rage, extreme paranoia that people were out to get me, and they actually were out to get me fired because they thought I had completely lost it, which I had.

[00:43:31] Gregg Martin: I was mostly manic, but the mania has a couple different flavors. Most of my time in mania, I was happy, you know, euphoric. Super enthusiastic, loved everybody, was funny, was the life of the party, talked all the time. Oh, that’s another thing about mania is you talk continuously, interrupt people, um, you’re a fountain of never ending quote good ideas.

[00:43:57] Gregg Martin: I mean ideas just come pouring out of your head and people can’t keep up with it at all. Track of time. So I would swing between this happy mania and this Angry full of rage mania and then I would also dip into sharp bouts of depression But they didn’t last I would dive down deeply into the depression But boom like an hour or two or later i’d be manic again 

[00:44:23] outro: Wow, 

[00:44:23] Gregg Martin: and they call that rapid cycling where I was going rapidly between high mania Sharp depression and then back and that went on for months.

[00:44:33] Gregg Martin: And so my behavior was really You erratic, out of control, over the edge. The beginning of the end was the faculty, the administration, and the students started writing anonymous letters to general Dempsey, the chairman saying, Hey, we love general Martin. You know, he’s a really good guy. You know, he’s very funny.

[00:44:52] Gregg Martin: He’s the life of the party. There’s always excitement wherever he goes. We’ve done a lot of great things, but here’s what we’ve observed. And they were very scientific letters saying, I mean, they described my Bipolar state very well. Now, some of them might’ve looked up in DSM 5, you know, what the characteristics are to give more credibility, but they wrote these letters.

[00:45:14] Gregg Martin: There are dozens and dozens of them. Imagine you 

[00:45:17] Mark Divine: were the talk of the coffee room. Right. Right. And so they collaborated and said, let’s, we got to have a campaign. 

[00:45:23] Gregg Martin: Yes, that’s exactly right. I mean, so this was well orchestrated. And so what General Dempsey did, you know, very fair, very good guy, cared about the university, cared about me, knew me well from previous, you know, assignments.

[00:45:37] Gregg Martin: He did a series of assessments and investigations. That, you know, really drilled into and focused on, you know, what’s going on at NDU and with Greg Martin, and he came to the conclusion that he said, you know, I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist, but something is really wrong. Greg is suffering emotionally and mentally.

[00:45:56] Gregg Martin: And so he made the decision that for the good of the university and my personal good, he needed to get me out of there. And it was really great. I got a call on, uh, it was a Friday afternoon. It’s really 

[00:46:05] Mark Divine: great. I got fired. I got a call. I thought it was really 

[00:46:08] Gregg Martin: great. This is a good story though. I got a call on a Friday afternoon from the Pentagon, it was in July of 2014, so almost about 10 years ago, and it said, report to the chairman’s office Monday morning.

[00:46:20] Gregg Martin: I go, and I don’t know whether he’s going to promote me, fire me. Extend me in command. I figured it was about an equal chance of either of them But so I go in his office Monday morning. First person I see is the lawyer. I said, oh, okay. No, no promotion I’m out the door. And so Dempsey he walks across his office.

[00:46:41] Gregg Martin: It gives me a big hug. He said Greg I love you like a brother. You’ve done an unbelievable job at NDU I give you an A No one could have done what you did in just two years, but your time is over. You have until 5 p. m. today to resign or I will fire you. And even I was smart enough to know there’s a huge difference between resigning from command and getting fired.

[00:47:07] Gregg Martin: And it has to do with pay, rank, all kinds of stuff. So I listened to him and he said, you know, The other thing, I’m ordering you to get a psychiatric evaluation this week at Walter Reed. What are your questions? I said, no questions. Thank you, sir. This is great news because God put me here to do big things.

[00:47:25] Gregg Martin: And now he’s going to put me somewhere else to do even bigger things. What’s amazing is 10 years later, I was right, because this mental health advocacy is the most important work I’ve ever done. And I mean, General Dempsey was just looking at me like, and by the way, he wrote the foreword to the book. And it’s a great foreword that, you know, he really explains things and, you know, is very encouraging, supportive, positive about the whole, the whole thing.

[00:47:51] Mark Divine: Tell us about the recovery. And so, you know, with an ear for people listening, going, Oh, wow, I hear myself in Greg’s story, Where do I go? Like, what could they expect to experience? What was your experience in recovery? 

[00:48:04] Gregg Martin: What happened with me was, when I got fired, I was at peak mania, full blown mania. But you can’t, you don’t stay at mania forever.

[00:48:11] Gregg Martin: And so I started to spiral, and what goes up must come down. And so I was super high, so I was gonna go super low. And over the next few months, I spiraled, then crashed into hopeless, crippling depression with terrifying psychosis of my own death. By the way, I got evaluated three times at Walter Reed. And three times they said, you’re fine.

[00:48:32] Gregg Martin: There’s nothing wrong with you. So that made a total of six times the military medical people got it wrong. Three times when I was in depression, three times in mania. But anyway, I crashed into crippling depression. And this was in November of 2014. And I went back to the doctor, same doctor and said, Hey doc, there’s really something wrong with me.

[00:48:53] Gregg Martin: I am so depressed. I can hardly get out of bed. I have no energy. I’m not interested in anything, et cetera. And my wife. Which provided what they call collateral information, which is really important if they had gotten collateral information from, you know, friends, family, 

[00:49:09] Mark Divine: 360, 

[00:49:11] Gregg Martin: they could have diagnosed me years earlier and saved a lot of, I mean, cause this almost killed me.

[00:49:17] Gregg Martin: So the doctor, my wife said, you know, he’s really depressed now, but before. He was manic and the doctor asked a few questions and then all of a sudden the light went on in his head and he said, Ah, depression, mania, hmm, sounds like bipolar disorder. So he diagnosed me that day with bipolar disorder type one, which is mostly high level mania.

[00:49:39] Gregg Martin: And, uh, when he diagnosed me, I gave him a big hug and I said, thank you, doctor. I knew there was something wrong with me, but I didn’t know what it was. Now you’ve given me a target with a face on it that I can go after and do battle with. And I made a decision right then and there in the depths of depression.

[00:49:57] Gregg Martin: I said, I am not going to be stigmatized. I’m not going to be ashamed or embarrassed because I know this stuff is physical. It’s biological. I’m not going to do that. And so that was some good news on that. Terrible day, but I then just went from bad to worse So I went into about two years of intense crippling depression terrifying psychosis passive suicidal ideations Hospitalization you 

[00:50:23] Mark Divine: didn’t act on them, 

[00:50:24] Gregg Martin: right?

[00:50:24] Gregg Martin: Okay, what passive means when you have an active suicidal ideation You want to kill yourself when you have a passive ideation, it means you want somebody or something else to kill you and just end it, but you don’t have the desire to put a gun to your head and actually end it. And so I actually had these passive ideations, which I found out at the V.

[00:50:48] Gregg Martin: A. what they were and how dangerous they are. And they’re so dangerous because a passive ideation can morph into an active ideation just in a heartbeat. And then you do develop a plan. You do kill yourself and you’re dead. That’s what was the key criteria with a VA admitted me to their inpatient ward. So I kept going into further depression and the inpatient stay, I spent two weeks in the locked ward and then six more weeks living in the, in the hospital, undergoing intensive therapy and rehab.

[00:51:17] Gregg Martin: And that was good. It, it sort of kept me from getting worse, but I didn’t get better until they gave me the right medication, which really proved to me how important chemical balance in the brain is. I couldn’t get better because my brain was messed up. But once I got the right medication, it was a combination of three, primarily lithium, which is a natural salt, and then Lamictal and Latuda, the three of them together.

[00:51:42] Gregg Martin: Once I had that combination, the symptoms went away, like in less than a week. 

[00:51:48] Mark Divine: Now, is that your combination or is that a combination that works for any bipolar? 

[00:51:53] Gregg Martin: Mine. Everybody’s brain chemistry is different. The combination that I have for bipolar type 1 is not an unusual or unorthodox combination. But for every The 

[00:52:03] Mark Divine: amounts might vary depending on That’s right.

[00:52:05] Mark Divine: Yeah. 

[00:52:05] Gregg Martin: Or they may put some other type of medication in there. There’s no formula that says Okay, this is exactly what’s going to make you better. They try something and they wait and see, is this working? Like they tried two really good medications, Lamictal and Lasuda. They tried those. I was out taking those for over a year with no, no positive effect.

[00:52:28] Gregg Martin: But once I went on lithium, I got better in just days. 

[00:52:33] Mark Divine: Wow. 

[00:52:33] Gregg Martin: It was unbelievable. It must have been 

[00:52:35] Mark Divine: such a relief. 

[00:52:36] Gregg Martin: So that was eight years ago. So you asked what what’s the self care? How do you get out of it? So I basically decided I need to rebuild my life Rebuild my marriage rebuild my family rebuild everything because I workable 

[00:52:48] Mark Divine: that your wife hung in there Oh, I know 

[00:52:50] Gregg Martin: and you know the key and she talks about it There’s a piece in the book by her and she said the the main reason why she hung in there was that I always wanted To get better and never gave up And, you know, that if I didn’t quit and wanted to get better, then she wasn’t going to quit.

[00:53:06] Gregg Martin: And so, yeah, I’m really lucky that, you know, that I married her and she stuck with me. The key to my recovery has been, number one, have to get the brain chemistry straight, which for me was through medication. And I think that’s true for the vast majority of people. Number two, therapy is really important to sit down and talk to a trained psychotherapist to help you understand your triggers, how to live a healthy life.

[00:53:30] Gregg Martin: What to do if you run into trouble, talk through problems, how to deal with your thoughts, the metacognition, all that. Thirdly is live a really healthy lifestyle. So you know, healthy diet, lots of exercise, plenty of sleep, you know, eight hours at least. 

[00:53:44] Mark Divine: And you’re able to sleep now. 

[00:53:46] Gregg Martin: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I have no trouble sleeping and I take a fitness nap in the afternoon.

[00:53:50] Gregg Martin: All right for 30 minutes I 

[00:53:53] Mark Divine: might borrow that Go get your workout 

[00:53:58] Gregg Martin: It’s really naps are actually really good awesome and uh, and then plenty of water low stress You know cut 

[00:54:03] Mark Divine: down to six beers from 12. So i’m i’m 

[00:54:06] Gregg Martin: way way down I i’m like, you know, either no alcohol or maybe one at the most two and and so You That healthy lifestyle is really, really important.

[00:54:15] Gregg Martin: So those three elements, you know, medication, therapy, healthy lifestyle are necessary, but not sufficient to have a recovery that’s built to last. They’ve got to be anchored into what I call the five P’s and the five P’s are number one purpose. You have to have a purpose for your life and being military guys.

[00:54:35] Gregg Martin: We always had a mission, a purpose, but once you get out, you don’t have it anymore. 

[00:54:39] Mark Divine: Huge. Huge. I think that right there. It is a big one for a lot of our vets who are suffering because they leave their mission, their team and their purpose. Yes. And they don’t have a clue what they’re going to do. And then they go into this dark, depressive state.

[00:54:53] Gregg Martin: And so it took me a while to develop a purpose. It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t fast. I had to think about it, talk to mentors, you know. But I finally came up with my purpose, which is sharing my bipolar story to help stop the stigma, promote recovery, and save lives. I mean, that’s my driving purpose. That drove me to write this book and give all these talks and come to San Diego to see you.

[00:55:16] Gregg Martin: The second thing is people. Uh, surrounding yourself with a network of fun, happy, energetic people. 

[00:55:24] Mark Divine: Positive 

[00:55:24] Gregg Martin: people. Positive, that you love to be around. So I’ve got that in Cocoa Beach, and I’ve got a, like a, a dancing group, uh, you know, we do line dancing with really fun music. It’s, I mean, it’s a blast, uh, fitness classes, you know, sing karaoke, all that stuff.

[00:55:39] Gregg Martin: It’s great. The third thing is place. I think living in a place place that makes you happy and lets you do what you want to do. Like you obviously have picked San Diego. It’s a wonderful place. We 

[00:55:50] Mark Divine: talked before we started about the, you know, the positive triggers of living in the sunshine and weather and healthy people.

[00:55:56] Mark Divine: You have that in Cocoa beach. Everyone who lived up in Washington, you know, they’re all depressed during the winter, they’re all happy in the summer, the few days that it’s cold. So, place, 

[00:56:06] Gregg Martin: and then fourth P is perseverance. Recovering from mental illness, like lots of other maladies, is really hard. I mean, you have to have a fighting spirit.

[00:56:16] Gregg Martin: You have to want to recover. Cause you’re gonna have downturns and episodes and you might have a relapse, which luckily I’ve not had a relapse. I have had probably half a dozen. Which are concerning and, you know, dangerous, but they never turned into a full blown relapse, but you’ve got to, you know, never quit, keep going, keep pushing forward.

[00:56:37] Gregg Martin: And I think being military people gives an advantage on that. I mean, when you think about pushing through, I mean, I was never, you know, a special operator, but did get to go to ranger school and, you know, things like that where you just, it’s just grit. And, you know, just don’t quit, just keep going. And then finally, the fifth one, and you brought it up earlier, is, I call it perspective.

[00:57:00] Gregg Martin: And perspective, I define as the ability to objectively get outside your own head and do metacognition. And just a little simple example, like, let’s say I get a thought that, you know, such and such a person is thinking and talking bad about me, they’re out to get me, they want to hurt me. Now I can say, wait a second, not only is that not true, that person’s not thinking about me at all.

[00:57:26] Gregg Martin: They’re thinking about themselves or their own job or their family. And so I think those five P’s are really critical and I’ve worked very hard on those as part of my recovery. And it’s every single day. And I think having a routine, a structured life where you’re doing stuff in a structured, disciplined way is really important.

[00:57:46] Gregg Martin: Going to bed at the same time every night. Take your your fitness nap at the same time, go to the gym at the same time. Take your your beach walk or your bike ride. Do your line dancing. Yeah. That structure holds everything together. It keeps it together. 

[00:58:00] Mark Divine: That last p sounds a lot like some meditative practice.

[00:58:04] Mark Divine: How do you practice that contextual awareness? 

[00:58:08] Gregg Martin: So first off prayer and my prayer life is is pretty brief compared to how it used to be But I mean like, you know waking up in the morning just first thing thanking God for hey, I’m alive. I’m in this cool house You know, I’m in Cocoa Beach. I’ve got a beautiful great wife who you know still loves me which and I love her I mean, that’s great.

[00:58:30] Gregg Martin: You know three kids that are terrific, have all these friends, like I’m so blessed. I mean, having this attitude of gratitude is really, really important. If I have, you know, it’s interesting in the last I had an adjustment in medication and I went into depression, uh, for just short periods of time, like a day or two.

[00:58:50] Gregg Martin: But the, when I was in this depressed state, I had no energy, I couldn’t hardly get out of bed, I had no willpower, all that, it was bad. But it made me even more grateful for the blessings that I had. And it made me, I said, how did I Because you 

[00:59:04] Mark Divine: had those five Ps in place. 

[00:59:06] Gregg Martin: Yes. 

[00:59:06] Mark Divine: Right. 

[00:59:07] Gregg Martin: And, and, and I said, you know, what worked for me before, it was this structure.

[00:59:12] Gregg Martin: So I got back in, I got back on my feet, everything, and I’ve been good ever since. The prayerfulness is really good, the gratitude. Another one is doing a devotional. So I have this little devotional that is like, you know, it’s all positive stuff about God and, you know, the blood. It’s like 

[00:59:29] Mark Divine: a Affirmation or a mantra?

[00:59:30] Gregg Martin: It’s really kind of an affirmation thing. I do do sort of a religious mantra that I sort of say to myself. I don’t do it as long as I should or spend as much time, but I do that. And then this breathing is really good. You know, deep breathing, hold the breath, count, let it out. Once it’s out, count again to, you know, a certain number, and I think that deep breathing does a lot for the brain, for the organs, for the, you know, total well being.

[01:00:01] Gregg Martin: So those are a few things that I do, but actually, I’m glad you brought it up because one of the things I really want to improve in is my mindfulness, my meditation. I do yoga every day on my own. That’s an area. That I need to do better on 

[01:00:15] Mark Divine: my son’s like you’re doing incredible in all areas. So that’s just a little fine tuning there, but yoga is, I look at yoga.

[01:00:21] Mark Divine: I’ve been doing yoga since 1999 doing breathing and meditation since I was 21. Oh, that’s awesome. I credit that for why I went into the seals because I developed the metacognition to see that I was heading down the wrong path as a CPA, MBA, you know, merchant. I was meant to be a warrior. All that came from the meditation bench.

[01:00:39] Mark Divine: Wow. So, but yoga is a. It’s like a meta practice because it includes breath, it includes meditation, it includes movement. And the movement that, you know, people at our age need, spinal health, right? That’s big. Organ health. So yoga is not exercise. I highly encourage you to take more of that up and to combine those elements into that practice, which makes it a, packs a really powerful punch.

[01:01:06] Mark Divine: Just like 20 minutes a day is all you need. Right? Don’t even need to go to a class. Serena can teach you. Hey, sounds good. She’s on it. This is incredible. So your book, Bipolar General, came out in September. My forever war with mental illness. You’re not at war anymore. Sounds like generally you can lay down your sword.

[01:01:27] Gregg Martin: So the reason I chose that title is, you know, bipolar because I, you know, I live with bipolar disorder. It will never go away, which is why it’s, I call it a forever war that it just, once you’re in it, it won’t go away. I would say that the bipolar disorder is, it’s contained in my brain right now. It’s like, it’s kind of in a cage.

[01:01:50] Gregg Martin: You get 

[01:01:50] Mark Divine: a piece of dividend if you manage 

[01:01:51] Gregg Martin: Yes, but it’s still in there. And if I Don’t take care of myself with all the things we just talked about. It can come bursting out of there like a, a wild lion and destroy me again. And, you know, lead to all kinds of terrible things, including suicide of which people with bipolar disorder commit suicide or die by suicide at 40 times the average population.

[01:02:17] Gregg Martin: So. That, that was the title and, you know, the idea of bipolar general, I thought, hey, you know, I have bipolar disorder, I am a general, you know, why not just throw it all out there? 

[01:02:28] Mark Divine: Right. Because most people aren’t going to think that, you know, you could make it to two star general with such a debilitating issue.

[01:02:35] Mark Divine: So that’s a powerful use of that, by the way. I would, I would applaud the use of that. You know, I 

[01:02:40] Gregg Martin: even wonder, speculation, would I have gone as far in the military as I did without bipolar disorder? And I think the answer is probably no. Because when you think about, I mean, there are literally tens of thousands of incredibly successful people in all walks of life who live with bipolar disorder.

[01:02:59] Gregg Martin: And Including lots of military people, artists, business people, entertainers, you know, you name it, politicians. I don’t think I would have gone quite as high without it. 

[01:03:11] Mark Divine: Right. I mean, just for some reason, I was thinking about Robin Williams, that he was bipolar, right? And he couldn’t get himself out of the depths of despair.

[01:03:20] Mark Divine: It’s unfortunate. So, if someone’s listening to this, besides going and buying the book, and they’re really, Suffering, or they know someone’s suffering, what should they do? 

[01:03:29] Gregg Martin: If a person has the awareness that they’re suffering, then they should, on their own, go seek medical, professional medical help. Go in and get evaluated and, and try to deal with it themselves.

[01:03:42] Gregg Martin: That’s unusual. What usually happens is people don’t know they have a problem. Other people can see it, but they can’t. So what’s really important is, like in the military, and in the general population, people need to be trained on what are the most common mental illnesses and what are the characteristics.

[01:04:00] Gregg Martin: Like, what does it look like? So, bipolar disorder. What are the key elements of mania, depression? So that, you know, not to train them into being a psychiatrist, but just, you know, Like, about as much as we know about first aid, or physical fitness, or healthy diet. Everybody needs a peer support person who can be trusted and is their confidant and their buddy.

[01:04:22] Gregg Martin: In the military we call it a battle buddy. Everybody needs that. And so what the peer support or battle buddy really needs to do is If they see something, they should go have this hard conversation and say, Hey, look, Mary or, you know, Joe, I really care about you. And here’s some of the things I’ve noticed.

[01:04:40] Gregg Martin: I’m concerned. Let’s go see a medical professional. I’ll go with you and we can take, you know, your spouse or a family member, but let’s go see a doctor or a therapist or a, you know, a social worker or somebody who’s professionally trained in this stuff. And they can evaluate you and see if. If there is, if you get a diagnosis, embrace it, embrace it, own it, take charge of it, start, learn about it, and so you can start getting better and recover and live a happy, healthy, purposeful life.

[01:05:11] Gregg Martin: But if they say you’re okay, then that’s good news too, because then you know you’re all right. Your choices are get help or don’t, and if, like with bipolar disorder, if a person does not get help, they’re going to. likely go down a path of destruction where their marriage will be ruined, their family, their career, their finances.

[01:05:31] Gregg Martin: They’ll often end up homeless, addicted, in prison, and die some kind of violent death, either at their own hands or by somebody else, or, you know, get shot by a police officer. And so that’s the bad news. But if you choose to get help, you can live a happy, healthy life that’s full of purpose. And you know, you can have a wonderful time.

[01:05:55] Gregg Martin: But the big deterrent is stigma and stigma is based on fear and ignorance. And there’s no place for it at all. Because when you think about it, there’s no stigma against somebody with diabetes or cancer or heart disease, but people with mental illness or mental health issues. There’s a stigma that’s really based on, again, ignorance.

[01:06:16] Gregg Martin: My vision for the stigma on mental illness is, the example would be breast cancer. If you go back to the 1970s, uh, breast cancer was stigmatized, it was embarrassing, shameful, nobody talked about it. Until First Lady Betty Ford got breast cancer, talked about it, laid out the facts. So it took a while, but now look at how our culture has changed.

[01:06:37] Gregg Martin: Fifty years later, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National football league players wear pink ribbons, pink socks, pink shoes, and women recover, you know, fighting breast cancer are seen as heroic warriors battling this, you know, terrible disease. And I think the same should be true of, um, mental illness.

[01:06:57] Mark Divine: Within the military, you’ve been doing a lot of talks and, you know, presentations. If someone either through their own means or, or through their battle buddy says, Oh geez, yeah, there’s a problem here. And they get diagnosed and they get. Stabilized can they keep their career or is it right? Where’s the military at with that?

[01:07:17] Gregg Martin: So each case is different by the way, I would say I see it is in the last 20 years Especially the post 9 11 wars because of the stress and the deployments All the ptsd and the traumatic brain injuries and depression the military has improved a lot Yes, their understanding has gone way up the uh, the amount of resources that they have And training that’s put into it is tremendously, uh, improved.

[01:07:43] Gregg Martin: That’s the good news. So I said, I sat on a panel, this is one of many, but yet all enlisted, mostly enlisted troops in the audience. And then on the stage you had, you know, a, Flag officer, the head psychiatrist for the base, other medical people, et cetera. And they explained what the policy is. And the policy is that, you know, mental health, go get evaluated, go get treated.

[01:08:07] Gregg Martin: You know, we’re going to try to do everything we can to help you, to accommodate you. The psychiatrist said, you know, we look for ways to keep people on in the service through accommodation. We take every case one by one. It’s individual. Uh, the only cases that are pretty much always going to be separated are bipolar disorder type one, which is what I have, which, you know, this high level mania and schizophrenia.

[01:08:34] Gregg Martin: Everything else can be accommodated. That’s what they said. And yeah. Well, the troops aren’t buying it. 

[01:08:39] Mark Divine: I bet. 

[01:08:40] Gregg Martin: They are not buying it at all. Because what they say is, Hey, I hear you, you know, General, Admiral, I hear you, Dr. Psychiatrist, but that is not reality down where the, you know, at the deck plate or where the rubber meets the road.

[01:08:54] Gregg Martin: The truth is, if you’re down there inside of a squad or a platoon and you say, I’m depressed. I need to go see the doctor your first line. NCO supervisor is going to say what the heck is wrong with you Do you look in this motor pool? Look at all these tanks and trucks we have to fix and oh, by the way We’re already short, you know in a squad of 12.

[01:09:19] Gregg Martin: We’re already short two guys which means You know, that’s two trucks or two tanks are not getting serviced and taken care of and, you know, we’re getting ready to go on another deployment or another big training exercise. I can’t afford to have you go see the doctor and you know, you’re depressed. Well, I’m depressed too.

[01:09:40] Gregg Martin: I got problems at home. I don’t have enough money. My kids get in trouble. Suck it up and get your ass back in here. I mean, that’s what happens. And it’s not because the NCOs are mean, it’s because they have enormous pressure on them to accomplish the mission and get things done. And so the higher up in the chain of command, the better everything looks and sounds, , 

[01:10:03] Mark Divine: that’s the truth.

[01:10:04] Mark Divine: A lot of things. But as 

[01:10:05] Gregg Martin: you go down the chain of command, there’s problems. And uh, a lot of the troops would say is. Hey, look, you know, I went once and then I showed up on this extra duty roster and you know, all I did was go to the doctor and now I’ve got extra duty at night, which is making me worse. Or, you know, I got taken off the promotion list or or whatever.

[01:10:25] Gregg Martin: So most troops see some kind of retribution. and they don’t trust the system and that’s a cultural issue that in a resource issue that’s going to have to be addressed over time and it’s in the the military can’t fix it overnight but i will say talking to a bunch of these psychiatrists who are the ones who trigger the medical review boards that decide if a person can stay in or not they are actually retaining many troops that uh have all kinds of mental health issues they basically say look this person has Depression or PTSD or TBI or you know, what have you they have this condition, but are they doing?

[01:11:05] Gregg Martin: Okay, can they live with it? Can they do their job? Are they on medication? Is there any problem with taking that? Are they under supervision? If they feel confident, they say retain and keep them on. Even people with bipolar disorder type 2, which is mostly depression and little blips of what they call hypomania, are being retained on active duty.

[01:11:27] Mark Divine: Probably reassigned after their diagnosis. Probably. Yeah. That’s fascinating. Okay, so bipolar general folks can get this Amazon wherever books are sold Yes, is there any other way that people can reach out? You’d like to connect with people who are interested in your work. 

[01:11:47] Gregg Martin: Yes. I have a web page. It’s called bipolar general Perfect.

[01:11:52] Gregg Martin: And the webpage has got, you know, dozens of articles that I’ve written and published in a whole wide, you know, a variety of publications. Um, it’s got dozens of podcasts and interviews and talks that I’ve given. So it’s just loaded with information. And then there’s other resources, organizations, uh, nonprofits, businesses that specialize in this field, et cetera.

[01:12:17] Gregg Martin: So there’s a lot of good information that’s out there. Awesome.

[01:13:03] Mark Divine: Thank you so much for your time today. It’s been a real honor. And, uh, thank you so much for the work you’re doing. It’s making an impact. A big one. 

[01:13:12] Gregg Martin: My pleasure, Mark. I really enjoyed it. And thanks for what you’re doing. It’s, it’s making a huge difference. 

[01:13:17] Mark Divine: Booyah. 

[01:13:18] Gregg Martin: Booyah. Ha.


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