Mark sits down with Melanie Sliwka, Certified Unbeatable Mind Coach. For the past 12 years, Melanie has trained and worked with Navy SEALs, thought leaders, and top-performing executives. Join Mark and Melanie for a candid conversation about mental health, suicide, the unique mental health challenges of veterans, and how we can take our well-being into our own hands.
Today, Commander Divine sits down with Melanie Sliwka, Certified Unbeatable Mind Coach, to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time: mental health. This important episode covers a lot of ground, from the state of veterans’ mental health to the best techniques to take our well-being into our own hands.
“Warriors have the sense that they want to go out, well, they want to go out, you know, running toward the sound of gunfire, saving their teammates, you know, serving and protecting the country from evil people. And suddenly, when they leave that all behind, and their body starts to go into its older years, and they start to have issues, physical or mental. Some of them think, Well, shit, this isn’t what I’m here for. Right? I should have gone out in a blaze of glory.”
“Getting your body back into balance through breath training, proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep, those are the big four of the physiological rebalancing.”
“Remember this acronym: PBTA: pause, breathe, think, act.”
“We’ve got to dispel this illusion that you have to be broken to talk to a therapist. It’s completely false. It’d be like saying, Mark, you’re screwed up because you talk to a therapist. I’m not screwed up. I actually am thriving. I consider it extraordinarily valuable to have a therapist hold a mirror up to my thinking, and to validate my thinking, and sometimes I realize, wow, I’m going down a fricking rabbit hole with that one, and the therapist can haul you back out or help you haul yourself back out.”
“There’s no one thing that’s right for any person, so everyone should try multiple things. But ultimately what is really important is the kind of a multi dimensional approach to healing.”
“There are solutions. And once you plug in and start working them, it’s like a glimmer of light suddenly peeks through the shade that you’ve drawn across the window, and you’re drawing the shade across the window of your own spirit, so let that light kind of peek out. And then once you see the light again of your spirit, and you feel that glimmer of hope, then you’re basically healed, it’s just a matter of time and continuing to do the work.”
“The news media is obsessing about politics and about war. And they should be obsessing about mental health and about creating opportunities to heal and grow. Regardless of who you are on the political spectrum, doesn’t matter. We’re all in this together, one team, one fight.”
“Why does our culture literally promote fragmentation of families? Why does our culture promote unhealthy eating? Why does our culture promote religion as something that shouldn’t be talked about in the cultural context? I don’t know what the answer is. But I’ll tell you why it is not certainly doesn’t lead to optimal results or health. It’s almost like mass culture, whoever’s driving that and media, want people to be separated and broken and unhealthy. Because it serves them for some reason.”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
AFSP Suicide Prevention Resources
Study: Suicidal behaviour in adolescence and subsequent mental health outcomes in young adulthood
Study: Addressing Suicide in the Veteran Population: Engaging a Public Health Approach
Mark Divine 0:08
Welcome back. This is Mark Divine on the Mark Divine show. Super stoked to explore what it means to be fearless through the lens of the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders. Here on the Mark Divine show, guests include notable folks from all walks of life, including mental toughness experts, mental health experts, Stoic philosophers, a whole bunch of folks, you can see from our guest list. Really, really interesting people doing amazing things. And being unbeatable in the world.
Today, I’m trying a new format. So my good friend, Unbeatable Mind super coach and SEAL Fit trained athlete, Melanie Sliwka, is here. If you’ve been following Unbeatable Mind, then you definitely know Melanie, she’s a nutrition expert. She’s a mental health expert. She’s a super fit mom, and an unbelievable person. What we’re going to try going forward is to have Melanie join me when we do independent non guest podcasts so that we can have conversations, and we’d love to have you provide us topics and ideas that you want to have conversations that can be just q&a stuff or like, hey, want you to do a podcast on this or that and Melanie and I will do some research and and then we’re going to present our ideas. And Melanie will try to probe and plumb the depths of my consciousness to see what comes out. And I love these spontaneous type podcasts because some really interesting things come out. And I think we can help a lot of people with this format. So welcome Melanie to the show, I’m super stoked to have you. And I’m considering you also, as a co-host, I would love to have a co-host to bring some female energy into the Mark Divine show. So we’ll work on that. And also looking at bringing some activity into the Mark Divine show, as we move our location and change things up in the next six months or so. It may be having guests come to us and putting them through a little integrated training, some breathwork. You know, maybe some plank holds, a little sauna, cold plunge work, you know, hyperbaric chamber, who knows, and then see what comes out through the conversation afterwards. So that’ll be a lot of fun. So standby for a lot of changes there.
At any rate, what’s top of mind this week, and our topic for this week is mental health. So it’s no mystery that mental health has suddenly become a major issue for culture for our society, for vets, for kids, for people who are really still reeling from the effects of COVID. I don’t really have all the stats in my mind. Maybe you do, Mel, but mental health is a real issue.
Where should we start? Like because it’s such a broad topic.
Melanie Sliwka 2:39
Well, I think we’ll start from where it’s close to home. Yeah, carry the load.
Mark Divine 2:44
Yeah. Yeah. So let’s start there. My buddy on the SEAL Team Three, actually recruited him to be my platoon chief in the third platoon. He was a buds instructor and his reputation was like stellar. That reputation is everything for SEALs, like that’s our currency, and he had the million dollar reputation. And so I wanted him as my platoon chief, we had a great relationship, because he had formerly been in SEAL Team Three before he went to buds. So he came back and became my platoon chief, we had developed a great relationship. Later on he became Master Chief in charge of all training at buds. And then ran the instructor training to teach and train new instructors, did that after he retired as a civilian even, until about four or five years ago. And then he retired entirely from that. So he was a Navy SEAL from 17 or whatever. He joined the Navy at about 17. And he was a SEAL shortly after until mid 50s.
Melanie Sliwka 3:39
Really interesting that he was head of all buds, you know, the chief of buds because he always had that safety essence about him. He was always looking out for others. For our cadre, for our campers, trying to have the best route for whatever we were doing the safest route for everyone.
Mark Divine 3:57
Yeah, Mel was referring to, so he also because we’re good friends, I asked him to come help us out and be a coach for SEAL Fit. So he’s one of our top Navy SEAL coaches at our events and also coach our boat cruise at Unbeatable Mind and he committed suicide several weeks ago, out of the blue, like completely shocked everybody. My friend Jean Flusso, who is a retired seal Captain called me, he was my platoon commander, the platoon right before I took over and Jean, and I’ve stayed close. And he called me and literally told me this and I was in stunned silence. I said Jean, you know, it’s not easy to surprise me. But when he told me that he had committed suicide, I was like, wow. And it caused me to like push a pause button on my life and said, Wow, who else could that have happened to? I even had to ask myself, Do I have any of those tendencies? And you know, fortunately, the answer was no, there’s not a bone in my body that wants to off myself. But it’s a pretty big issue. And it’s not just among vets, but we can start there with vets.
Melanie Sliwka 4:56
Well, I mean, the majority of 55 and older vets are those that actually commit suicide.
Mark Divine 5:01
That’s really sad. You know, I’ve heard the stat and most people have heard that 22 vets a day on average, commit suicide. So you’re saying most of those are 50 year older. A lot of those are still from kind of the Vietnam era. But those guys are getting older, older. And like myself, we were Desert Storm era. And then Iraqi in combat tours, he had a lot more combat experience, most of the younger SEALs have a lot more combat experience than I had and so they dealt with a lot of that stress. He seemed to have it all squared away, right? And so on the outside, and he was into service, which is one of the things like if you have a purpose, like he seemed like he was into service, he loved helping people. It appeared as he had a purpose. But that could have been one of the issues. Right. And I think that what we’ve noted in our work with the Courage Foundation with vets is that when the military members leave service, and they have this intense sense of knowing exactly why they’re putting their pants on everyday when they’re in the military, and suddenly they don’t when they get out in the civilian world. And that’s one of the biggest issues they have, they have this kind of existential feeling of like, why am I here, if I’m not useful anymore.
Melanie Sliwka 6:07
And then their purpose is related to the mortality, is what I keep thinking about. It’s like, most people will have a purpose, their accountants, their doctors. A soldier who puts their life on the line for their purpose. That’s what keeps clicking in my head is how is that related to this rate of suicide?
Mark Divine 6:24
Well, that brings up an interesting point that I thought a lot about in context of other vets who are listening would kind of back me up on this, is that military operators who consider themselves warriors. And you and I have had this conversation Mel, not all are warriors, right? Some do it for the GI Bill, some do it for the job, you know, to get out of the university, and all those are valid reasons. But then there’s others like special operators who are like, they got plenty of things to do in their life that they could be doing. Like I was a CPA, I could have stayed and earned a ton of money. But I was a warrior. And so I went and became a Navy SEAL as a warrior.
So a lot of warriors have this feeling like, kind of to your point, I’m willing to die. And like Michael Monsoor, a navy SEAL who won the Medal of Honor. Like he jumped on a grenade to save his teammates. And he’s honored, right? And he went out well. And so warriors have the sense that they want to go out, well, they want to go out, you know, running toward the sound of gunfire, saving their teammates, you know, serving and protecting the country from evil people. And suddenly, when they leave that all behind, and their body starts to go into, you know, its older years, and they start to have issues, physical or mental. Some of them think, Well, shit, this isn’t what I’m here for. Right? I should have gone out in a blaze of glory.
I remember him, and sometimes you hear it joking. Right? And I heard it from others jokingly, yeah, you know, if I ever am like that, just take me out to the pasture, and shoot me. I think I’ve even said stuff like that. So you gotta be really careful what your internal dialogue is. You know what I mean? And so I think might have had some physical or mental news that he just said, You know what, this is not how a warrior is supposed to go out. But that’s really flawed thinking because it doesn’t take into account family and teammates, and it’s just kind of a selfish act.
Melanie Sliwka 8:12
And then you combine, you know, some kind of a TBI, you know. And the aging process.
Mark Divine 8:20
To shift focus, I hope he’s in a better place. And I don’t judge him. Don’t judge anyone who does this. It’s torture. Right?
Melanie Sliwka 8:26
And it’s torture for us here too, yeah.
Mark Divine 8:29
Adults, anybody who’s suffering from the stress of either combat or any kind of trauma COVID related trauma, death of a loved one, it’s very easy to get into this rut, where you start thinking it’s not worth it. So what’s your sense Mel? How do we get out of that rut? What’s the first thing we should do. Besides listen to the Mark Divine Show.
Melanie Sliwka 8:53
Exactly, well, Unbeatable Mind would be a great place to start, just saying. I mean, it really is. I think it really is that brain shift of positivity, and starting to shift, you know, you posted something today, right, about being a pessimist as opposed to an optimist. And so, you know, that starts right now, right here every day for all of us.
Mark Divine 9:14
Yeah, how you manage your own internal dialogue and your thinking process. But it has to be taught and sometimes if you haven’t been taught that and you’re in a rut, to me what you need to do is reach out to someone who’s positive that you can trust. And so to develop, and maybe like a strategy is to think about that right now. Like, who is your fallback person? I know I could turn to my wife Sandy, I could turn to you, I could turn to a couple that people that I’m close with, if I was struggling and I’d be like, help me think more clearly. That’s all you need. Help me think more clearly. Because what I’m thinking right now is dark. And any other vet could call me and I’ll help them through it, right. So who’s your go-to swim buddy when shit gets really bad? So think about that. As you’re listening to this, who’s your swim buddy? That if shit gets bad, doesn’t have to be like, thoughts about death, just dark thoughts, depressing thoughts. Or if you just feel like in a rut, everybody needs a swim buddy. Yeah. And that swim buddy is just going to be a passive listener and someone who says, You know what, that’s not healthy thinking. Here’s what I would be saying to myself, or have you considered this, because it’s really hard for us to see the positive sides of us, we tend to obsess about things that are messed up, especially kids.
Melanie Sliwka 10:28
That’s another powerful tool is time lining. You know, if you can create some space in your mind in that dark place, where you just take a look back and you say, take a breath.
Mark Divine 10:39
Pause, breathe, think and act. Let’s apply that to mental toughness right now. Yeah, I love that Mel. So instead of just shedding light on it, because we know and I want to talk about mental health with teens, because I think it’s a big issue too, but certainly know more about vets. Issue number one for vets is to get your physiology out of a state of hyperarousal. And that can even proceed sometimes, like it did for me, it can precede military service. Because I grew up in a traumatic family, I was already in a state of hyperarousal. Fortunately, I started breathing and meditating when I was 21. So we’ve helped bleed a lot of that off, helped me succeed, but a lot of people don’t have that. So then they get in the military, and they stay jacked up, and then they retire or get out and their bodies are in hyperarousal. What does that do? What does that do when you’re constantly in fight or flight?
Melanie Sliwka 11:26
Well, your body is in a state of inflammation, your nervous system is jacked. I mean,
Mark Divine 11:35
And that leads to challenges, right, that leads to…
Melanie Sliwka 11:39
That leads to challenges. So it leads to physical challenges, leads to digestive problems, I mean, you name it. They say that, you know, a TBI traumatic brain injury, or like a concussion, or having a heart attack. If you did scans of your heart and your brain looks the exact same as PTSD, yeah, but it’s only a short amount of time with the PTSD if you can sort it out. Right. And so this is fact, your body from emotional trauma reacts physically.
Mark Divine 12:07
It does. Period. So the trauma doesn’t discriminate. Just because if you weren’t in the military, and not dealing with combat, just combat stress to me exacerbates underlying trauma that already existed in a lot of people. And I’ve had that discussion with quite a few SEALs who recognize that those who have post traumatic stress, the symptoms often have a trauma that precedes their military service. They didn’t develop the tools to deal with it, such as breath training, and they stay hyper aroused. And then their hormones get all out of balance, because their cortisol is jacked up, which means their sleep is out of whack, so they’re not getting the recovery. Good sleep is where the inflammation gets healed. The positive hormones get created. And the negative effect of the adrenaline, epinephrine get bled off and rebalance.
So if you’re not sleeping, because you’re jacked up in hyper arousal, then you have this persistent state of dis ease, out of balance, and it just builds and builds and builds until you literally will hit a breaking point. And that will show up differently for different people. Some of them are psychosomatic, others, it’ll be just like physical illness manifesting or just serious like depression, without understanding why. Because your hormones are all out of whack. You’re not producing dopamine and endorphins anymore. Growing up in abusive families does the same thing because you’re constantly under stress and it shuts down your ability to produce dopamine and endorphins. So you use alcohol or drugs to make sense, to stimulate and to feel normal.
Melanie Sliwka 13:43
That’s it. And then when you prescribe drugs, by the way, the rate of suicide among those who are taking SSRIs or something, when they take those, it’s two to one. Committing suicide for those on SSRIs vs those who are using other nonpharmaceutical means.
Mark Divine 14:02
Yeah, I think the VA, that’s the go to for the VA, although they’re getting a little wiser these days, they should always be a short term solution.
Melanie Sliwka 14:10
Always. Yeah, and they’re doing a lot better. I mean, this was a 2005 study, but still, it just shows the abuse, you know, and I just keep seeing these ads on TV like you don’t need a doctor anymore. Just join this website, and we’ll get you your antidepressants. I’m like, ohhh no.
Mark Divine 14:24
Getting your body back into balance through breath training, proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep, like those are the big four of the physiological rebalancing, right? And it doesn’t have to be complicated, right, simply breathing and slowing down your breathing, breathing through your nose and turning it into a daily practice. 20 minutes every morning, what we call box breathing, inhale for five count, hold your breath for five on exhale, five count hold your breath. That is basically the anti stress medicine and it’s free. That will start to balance your body and mind and lead to better decisions about what you eat. Now you’re gonna start to feel better. And then you can take an active approach to eating and simply eating closer to the earth, right, eating less barcoded junk food, cut out the sugar. Your cleaner eating program is brilliant, because you just each week, you just cut out something bad, right?
Melanie Sliwka 15:17
Well, also social media though Mark, I mean this is also a way of completely wasting time. We’re doing a podcast, but you know…
Mark Divine 15:25
Well a podcast, that’s learning and growth, social media. Technology can be positive or negative. So the negative side of social media is perfectionism. And the comparison, especially among young kids, that’s really happened. And also the negativity. Right, and so a lot of negativity and comparison going on. And then the news also, so if you plug into any sort of TV, right, TV shows are super violent. They’re just gonna exacerbate the depressed mind. Negative network news. Turn that crap off. Stop watching news, right? Your mom or stepmom, or mother in law, I should say, will tell you anything you need to know about what’s going on in Ukraine. Right?
Melanie Sliwka 16:04
Exactly. And imagine like, comparing yourself to what’s happening on the news… the news is bad. The news tells you bad things. And then you look at your own life. And you’re like, Well, I haven’t got off the couch in a few days, but I’m doing good compared to those people.
Yeah, that’s right.
Mark Divine 16:21
Okay, we’re gonna take a short break here from the Mark Divine show to hear a short message from one of our partners. This episode of the Mark Divine show is sponsored by Athletic Greens or AG1. I love AG1. I’ve been using it for a few years now. I think it’s one of the best supplements on the market. I’m not alone. There’s a ton of influencers and top athletes who also use it and recommend it. What I love about it is that in a single serving, you’re getting 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole foods superfoods, probiotics and adaptogens. It’s like an insurance policy for your health. I don’t need to take a ton of supplements. If I’ve got my AG1. I love to use this by just adding it to a smoothie that I already create in the morning, but you can also just add it to water and it tastes great. It’s pretty cheap and efficient. It’s got over 700 5 star reviews. And it’s a really good company. Athletic Greens donates money to the No Kids Hungry program. They donated over 1.2 million meals to kids in 2020. And they’re Climate Neutral certified. So I like to do business with companies that are doing good and are sustainable, and have a great product and Athletic Greens is one of those. So it’s time to reclaim your health and arm your immune system with that convenient daily nutrition, one scoop and a cup of water every day your new smoothie, that’s it. No need for a million different pills and supplements for your optimal health. To make it easy for you, Athletic Greens is going to give you a free one year supply of the immune supporting vitamin D and five free travel packs. All you have to do is visit athletic greens.com/divine That’s athletic greens.com forward slash divine. Take ownership over your health with the ultimate daily nutritional insurance.
This episode of the Mark Divine show is also brought to you by BetterHelp. Trust me, life can get overwhelming. It’s easy to get burned out. And you might be hyper aroused and not even know. In fact, it’s pretty common. We’re stressed out so much in our society. And then you add the pandemic and war and the constant negative news feed. You can end up feeling helpless or trapped and over fatigued. You know there is a way out. You need some help with cognitive therapy. Trust me, it’s really important. I’ve been doing therapy for years, even married a therapist. She helped me get into therapy by pointing out that I was burned out and stressed and it was very helpful to have someone experienced to help me work through whatever issues they are, like someone who can hold a mirror up to your life. That’s what a good therapist does. But not everyone works well with the in-person talk therapy. That’s why BetterHelp is awesome because it’s customized online therapy. They offer video phone live chat sessions with a therapist. You don’t have to see anyone on camera if you don’t want to even, and it’s super affordable, it’s much more affordable than in-person therapy. And they’ll match you with a therapist in under 48 hours. Listeners of the Mark Divine show can get 10% off their first month at betterhelp.com forward slash Mark Divine. That’s betterhelp.com/Mark Divine, don’t let your mental health drag you down. And now back to the show.
So balancing the physiological then leads to psychological space and a little bit of ability to create better opportunity for better decisions. So that’s the pausing and the breathing. So, PBTA remember this acronym: pause, breathe, think act – pause in your life and pause every day by breathing through your nostrils and slowing it down. The massages your vagus nerve and literally massages your whole being because it’s kind of getting you into that warm blanket of stress release. The parasympathetic nervous system gets activated, that rest and digest, everything’s coming back into balance. And then think okay, what can I eat? Well, what’s gonna you know, a good smoothie instead of, you know, whatever greasy burrito right? Yeah. And then for lunch a good you know, chicken salad, just learn to eat that until your body just rewards you with a high five and then you crave the healthy stuff. You just have to learn to love it, right? Stay away from all the junk food.
Melanie Sliwka 20:25
Stay away from the sugar
Mark Divine 20:27
You shouldn’t be drinking any sugary drinks. It blows me away when I still see adults drinking Coca Cola. Even they think Diet Coke is like, really… this is better for me. I’m like, No, oh, God, no, it’s just poison. It’s poison. You should drink water or sparkling water.
Melanie Sliwka 20:42
Yeah, I mean, the sparkling water is amazing. I love all that stuff. I love it too. Even the diet drinks, you know, they still create that same pleasure center that sugar does in your brain, even if there’s no calories associated with that. So your body still, your brain still wants sugar. So if you think you’re doing yourself a service with a diet, fake sugars, you’re not.
Mark Divine 21:02
And there’s other stuff in there, which is not good. Yeah. So cut out all that junk, then guess what, you’re not going to be as jacked up, you’re already introducing hormones through the breath practice and eating well, that’ll then rebalance the cortisol. So you’ll start to sleep better. And you can take classic sleep hygiene things into consideration for sure. But the most important thing is to stop eating sugar. And stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon. And stop drinking alcohol two hours before bed. And guess what, you’re gonna sleep like a baby within a week. It’s not that complicated. It’s all about habits. So you get that taken care of. Find yourself a swim buddy to help you think better. And that means you bounce things off of that swim buddy. If you’re thinking dark thoughts, bounce them off your swim buddy. And if that buddy is cementing and fomenting those dark thoughts, get yourself a new swim buddy. You want someone who’s going to hold a mirror up and say, Dude, you’re not thinking clearly. Right?
Melanie Sliwka 21:54
Yeah. And you know, in a therapist, someone that you can dial up, you know, we all need the therapy.
Mark Divine 22:00
You know, I’ve had a sponsor called BetterHelp for this podcast. And I really believe in therapy. I’ve been doing therapy since I was probably 31. When I met, I first met Sandy when I left buds, she’s a therapist. So actually, I started therapy when I was 27. I think. So I spent a long time since then, for, like 30 years, I’ve been doing therapy. Now it hasn’t been every single week. But it’s definitely been at least minimum once a month. And it’s been really good. And then I learned through therapy, all these other techniques like EMDR was very, very helpful for dealing with post traumatic stress.
Melanie Sliwka 22:36
That brings me to the question, do you feel that combat Vets should have mandatory psychiatric counseling?
Mark Divine 22:45
Oh, for sure. And now like I know in Naval Special Warfare, they have the human performance program, they have psychologists now who going forward deploy and they’ll go to the forward staging areas not into like the fob is where the SEALs are operating, obviously on the combat lines, but uh, and you have the option to go see them. But I agree with you, I think it should be, you rotate through and you talk to the therapist. In a group, they come and talk to your platoon you’re talking to individually. We’ve got to dispel this illusion that you have to be broken to talk to a therapist. It’s completely false. It’d be like saying, Mark, you’re screwed up because you talk to a therapist. I’m not screwed up. I actually am thriving. I consider it extraordinarily valuable to have a therapist hold a mirror up to my thinking, and to validate my thinking, and sometimes I realize, wow, I’m going down a fricking rabbit hole with that one, and the therapist can haul you back out or help you haul yourself back out. Now if you can’t afford it, and you don’t think you have the time or you just don’t know where to start, then go to one of these online, these new models that provide online therapy like BetterHelp, and you can literally do virtual therapy, so you don’t even have to turn your camera on. And they’re cheap compared to like in person therapy.
Melanie Sliwka 23:54
Yeah, go through your insurance.
Mark Divine 23:57
Check this out. We know that psychedelics have been extraordinarily effective to help people with trauma, like a lot of vets and myself included and I’ll put myself there, have been really helped and healed with psilocybin and or MDMA or ketamine, or Ibogaine, if for addiction and stuff like that. I did a podcast with the CEO of mindbloom, which does ketamine assisted therapy. Extremely useful because the ketamine creates this kind of disassociated state where you get into your higher mind, your more spiritual aspect of yourself. The therapist will help walk you through and talk you through some of the dark aspects of your personality that are really have trapped you energetically into anxiety and depression
Melanie Sliwka 24:38
Over here at Pendleton they’re doing psilocybin therapy. Did you know that?
Mark Divine 24:42
I did not know that. That’s good.
Melanie Sliwka 24:43
Yeah, there’s a special group of therapy. They’re bringing some of the SEALs in for. Yeah, they’re doing breath empowerment, meditation, yoga.
Mark Divine 24:50
Well, that brings up another really interesting thing, Mel is that there’s no one thing that’s right for any person, so everyone should try multiple things. But ultimately what is really important is the kind of a multi dimensional approach to healing. This is really similar to the multi dimensional approach the growth that we take with Unbeatable Mind, approach it from a physical and physiological perspective, that would be breathwork, yoga, massage, you know, somatic therapy tools, approach it simultaneously from a mental perspective, that would be therapy, and then approach it also from an emotional and intuitive perspective, that would be like psychedelics, you know. And then also from a spiritual perspective. And so that’s meaning, you know, coming back to your faith, or believing in a higher power are really getting deep into really clarifying why you’re on this planet, and what you’re going to do about it and finding that goodness inside, right?
We talk about that a lot with Unbeatable Mind. Ultimately, our view of spirituality is that every, every human being has this incredible worth and value and goodness. And it’s our ego that obscures that. And then we get patterned and trained by society to think otherwise. So feeding the courage wolf means you focus on the goodness and slowly the evil or the negativity will dissipate because you’re not feeding it anymore. You’re not giving it energy. But you’ve got to also then actively work to clear up the shadow and the stuff that’s deeply rooted, you know, and use that for somatic therapy and EMDR eye motion desensitization and reprocessing, works at a nervous system level.
So we have all these different modalities. If any SEALs are listening, please go to the SEAL Future Foundation and they have tons of support and money. Go talk to Joey Fio over there and they’ll help you out and they’ll hook you up. So some of the modalities that I know that work really well for vets or for any adult. We’ve already talked about psychedelics we talked about EMDR in therapy, but also electro stim for the brain. So brain Neurofeedback and electro stimulation really helps if you have TBI. I don’t know a single military guy or woman who doesn’t have some TBI if they’ve been involved in shooting and blowing shit up. Yeah, jumping out of airplanes, right? It’s gonna happen half of course, it’s par for the course. So electric stim, neurofeedback, that’s at the brain level, therapy works in the heart and psychedelic assisted therapy works at the heart and kind of emotional spirit, psycho spiritual level. There’s a lot of weekend slash week long retreats now, like the Warrior Project, and we do them with the Courage Foundation. So they teach you integrated training, help you find purpose again, and reconnect with your higher power, so to speak.
Melanie Sliwka 27:30
And then there’s that team essence Mark, I think that when I think of that, that’s coming back. And I think how isolated they become because now their team is dispersed. Maybe some are still serving
Mark Divine 27:40
They find themselves sitting on their own couch eating doritos
Melanie Sliwka 27:43
Right? Where’s their team, where’s anyone that cares? Where’s anyone that understands, civilians do not understand what a soldier has gone and experienced, we just never will. So in order to get, you know, that camaraderie back and that swim buddy, that unnecessary swim buddy who gets it, I think it’s important to bring them into teams as well of people, not just the therapy.
Mark Divine 28:07
This is again, where you kind of need help. So if you don’t, it’s difficult to haul yourself up by your bootstraps alone. And so it’s really important. If you know somebody that’s suffering, then go help them, connect to teammate, be the teammate, go connect to them, and help them plug into some of these resources that exist. And there’s a lot, you know, do some quick Google searches. If you’re a military vet, there’s tons of them. There’s tons of therapy, there’s tons of things that civilians can do who are suffering from excess stress, leading to anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies. There are solutions. And once you plug in and start working them, it’s like a glimmer of light suddenly peeks through the shade that you’ve drawn across the window, and you’re drawing the shade across the window of your own spirit, so let that light kind of peek out. And then once you see the light again of your spirit, and you feel that glimmer of hope, then you’re basically healed, it’s just a matter of time and continuing to do the work. But like, you got to reach a hand down to help someone, pull them up, sometimes.
Melanie Sliwka 29:08
Sometimes, the hand you’re reaching, the words you’re using, aren’t the right ones, because you’re not in the right setting. You have to you know, like teens and stuff. It’s hard to connect to, you know, as us and our modalities and all of our tools we have, they have entered a world right now particularly this group of teens have entered a world where you’re basically in your world catastrophe conditions, right?
Mark Divine 29:31
Yeah, the thing is like, hell in a handbasket, the world’s falling apart, Chicken Little is it Chicken Little, sky is falling?
Melanie Sliwka 29:38
The sky is falling and we had the Red Scare, right. I mean, we’re like, oh my god, the Russians are gonna attack, which they could again, but now they’ve got COVID and they’ve gotten
Mark Divine 29:47
The point is there’s always something there’s always going to be something, it’s gonna seem to get worse. Kids are growing up in this constant negativity and constant crush of perfectionism, which is total bullshit and social media. And all these Tiktok scares and games and, and they don’t know where to turn. How do we help them? I mean you’re a mom.
Melanie Sliwka 30:08
Oh boy, if I had that million dollar question answered, I’d be making dough. You know, you just love them. We just have to love them for exactly who they are. You have to show up. To me that’s love, is to keep showing up, whether shit show or not, you just gotta. You gotta just stand there and experience it with them and take your heartbreak.
Mark Divine 30:32
They just have to know that they’re loved though. Because they don’t know that they’re loved, then the knowledge loss for the teenager I think
Melanie Sliwka 30:38
They just keep searching for it in the wrong places
Mark Divine 30:41
So self love, as we know, is the most important and powerful. But it’s, you know, it’s hard to talk to a teenager about self love. I think that teenagers need, we need to really have a national conversation about how to help teens because I think suicide rates are really getting out of control. They’re like 2x what they used to be.
Melanie Sliwka 31:00
In San Diego alone. There’s not an available psychiatric bed in all of San Diego right now. One of my police officer friends was telling me that they have over four police officers in every emergency room in San Diego right now spending at least a shift watching over a suicide attempt. And these kids aren’t even getting in beds. They’re sleeping on the ER floor for their 72 hour holds. And then the psychiatrists that are on call are seeing over 40 kids, over 40 kids a shift. So their shift’s the weekend. So over a weekend 40 kids are entering from a suicide attempt. At every single hospital in the San Diego area. It’s crazy. They can’t even report it. I don’t even think they are reporting what’s happening. And this is San Diego. I mean, we live in a pretty rad place. There’s a lot of sunshine, imagine what the other places are like, without the other resources.
Mark Divine 31:58
You know, yeah, these things aren’t being talked about. The news media is obsessing about politics and about war. And they should be obsessing about mental health and about creating opportunities to heal and grow. Regardless of who you are on the political spectrum, doesn’t matter. We’re all in this together, one team, one fight.
You know, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest did a lot of damage didn’t it, because we just disbanded and gave up our mental health system in the United States back in the 70s. And now we got nothing. And that’s why homelessness is through the roof and why teen suicide is going through the roof because we don’t really have a safety net for these people and nobody’s talking about it. So we need you know, we need nonprofits and philanthropists and business people to solve this, right? How do we, how do we solve this, government has failed on it like it has failed in so many other ways.
Melanie Sliwka 32:50
And parents, you know, the parents have to show up, parents have to understand to some degree what’s happening and, and accept that, you know, childhood is a difficult time in general.
Mark Divine 33:05
We’re gonna take a short break here from the Mark Divine show to hear a short message from one of our partners.
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What do you think about universal basic income, especially for single moms who are… you know, one of the problems again, is the way our society gets structured, and it’s getting worse and worse. Because it’s very hard to make a living as a single parent, you have to have like two jobs. And if you have two jobs, you’re not there for your kid. Right? And this is one, you know, people my conservative friends would be like clubbing me over the head. This is one of the best kind of rationales for universal basic income is like, let the mom or the dad stay home and parent. Give the family back its central role in our culture. By providing some economic, I would love to see that do away with all the bullshit safety net programs that wastes 85 to 90% of the money and create a UBI that is maybe time based, right? Maybe not forever.
Melanie Sliwka 38:23
That’s right. I like to look more into that. That’s interesting to me.
Mark Divine 38:27
Kids need parents to be there, at least one. And not all the time, but not gone all the time. Right?
Melanie Sliwka 38:34
Well, when we had like a real structured religious aspect to the family unit, which I think is disbanded for many people.
Mark Divine 38:40
Yeah. Well, that’s… faith is another one
Melanie Sliwka 38:43
And I don’t, you know, people want to do what they want to do, if you have a faith based family, those families do tend to be closer together. But why are we not creating families based around morality, based around our principles? How do we form that up to look more like religion for those people who aren’t religious, so that our kids understand these principles of life at a family level?
Mark Divine 39:06
I say we have those discussions and even separate it from religion, because you can have faith in a higher power without calling it something that’s got stuck past and it’s going todredge up fear and it’s going to dredge up fingerpointing and it’s not going to lead to people coming across the political spectrum together and locking arms. So we got to change, this is why I love Ken Wilber’s integral theory, we got to change the dialogue and post conservative post liberal and have an integrated perspective on mental health, for kids, for Vets for adults. And the integrated perspective would include faith, as it’s important for an individual, right, rather than trying to direct it, but the conversation can be had without any kind of religious overtones. Because religion and spirituality are different things, right. And also bring the discussion back to the importance of families. You know, what’s a family? It’s a unit, it’s a team. So why would we want to see a team disintegrated and not be able to even spend time together? Why does our culture literally promote fragmentation of families? Why does our culture promote unhealthy eating? Why does our culture promote religion as something that shouldn’t be talked about in the cultural context? I don’t know what the answer is. But I’ll tell you why it is not certainly doesn’t lead to optimal results or health. It’s almost like mass culture, whoever’s driving that and media, want people to be separated and broken and unhealthy. Because it serves them for some reason.
Melanie Sliwka 40:43
So the majority of the suicides that happened in the last year were vets, teens and white people. So you have to ask yourself, when you look at some of the other cultures, but particularly the Latin American culture, right? So family oriented, their families live together, big families live together, right? We experienced that in San Diego. And so the mental health aspect of those communities is stronger than we have.
Mark Divine 41:08
I’ve never thought about or looked at a demographic statistics on suicide.
Melanie Sliwka 41:12
Yeah, I brought a few. And that’s one of them. fascinating to me, and that’s, you know, our culture, in particular, is dragging everyone apart like that. So, I felt fortunate for the COVID a little bit because I get to be really close with my kids, you know, as a single mom
Mark Divine 41:25
COVID had, you know, like, everything that happens, positive and negative aspects to it, right. COVID was good for me too. You know, we went virtual as a company, I thrived in COVID. But a lot of people didn’t, especially mental health professionals and, you know, first responders and nurses and doctors, they really struggled. Suicide rates are way high among those populations, especially nurses and first responders.
We’ve got to come back into balance. I think that’s our message. And there are tons of resources to do it. But the main resource is you. You know, to get out of your negative rut and recognize that it’s physiological at a prima facia level like if, if you have TBI or if you are suffering from hyper arousal from being exposed to stress year after year, you’re not going to be thinking well, you will be depressed, you will have anxiety and you will start to be thinking dark thoughts just because of your physiology. And it doesn’t make you a bad person, doesn’t mean you’re not super smart. It just means your body is out of balance and your brain is out of balance. So I always say the first place to start is get your body back into balance. Start that with box breathing, and breath practice every day, commit to it as if your life depended on it. Because it does, and then start eating better. Start exercising again and start sleeping better. Take care of that first, find a friend to talk to, right. So make your friend your therapist. But if they’re not helpful, like I said, hire a therapist, or both. Your friend is there to tell things to that you wouldn’t tell your therapist. But they’ve got to be positive, right. So if you’re with a friend group, or you’ve got friends who are making it worse for you, and they’re negative, and they’re petty, then find yourself a new friend or friend group. It’s not doing you any good
Melanie Sliwka 43:11
Friendships are interesting like that. Because oftentimes, you have a good friend and you bring on like your deepest problem, having trouble with my husband or wife. And then they side with you. So now all of a sudden, the husband’s always… you know, and so you have to be careful with your friends on that level as well. It’s always good to find you know, a coach, even
Mark Divine 43:28
Yeah, could be a coach, you know, find a mentor or coach, I think that’s an excellent point. Not all friends are mature enough or trained, most aren’t. Some can be. It’s rare to find one who can provide that kind of objective, non judgmental, or even non siding, I guess it’s a judgmental, if they’re judging on your side and or, you know, if they’re not objective. But a coach, this is where, I look at a therapist simply as a mental emotional coach. Think of it that way and just go to BetterHelp or go to one of the other solutions and find that help.
And then consider getting involved in some somatic work because it’s really powerful. Because these ruts get burned into our nervous system. And you can’t just talk your way out of it. That’s why EMDR and somatic therapy are really valuable, and yoga because you move, as you move the energy, you know, emotion is energy in motion. As you move your body or you get massage in your body or you do some somatic practice, like Qigong or tai chi, then it starts to move that stuck energy that maybe was rooted there as a child, childhood trauma or combat trauma.
You know, when I was in combat over in Iraq, I did yoga every day. I did box breathing, yoga and visualization every day and I came home feeling really good. But my SEAL buddies, you know, they get done with an op and they were playing first person shooter games to unwind quote unquote. That’s ridiculous, kept them high, kept them hyper aroused and they did this six months straight, no wonder. You’ve got to down regulate your system, you do that through box breathing, through exercise, through proper nutrition, through sleep, then therapy, and then long term life practice of some sort of somatic integrated training or integrated movement, integrated training, yoga, dance time in nature, walking, you know, these things, these things that we teach for Optimal Living. They work for your mental health as well. Back into balance is really what it’s all about, and then find that purpose and find a team. And usually they’ll go hand in hand. Because once you’re clear on your purpose again, and that comes through journaling and introspective work, usually will come through the box breathing practice, because then it draws you deeper inward. But then you supplement it with journaling, contemplating, asking questions, who am I? What am I supposed to do? And the answer will come to you, because it’s inside. And once you get clear on that, and then you start aligning it like, Okay, well, I’m meant to be this, then you go figure out who in your community is doing that, and you connect with them, and then boom, now you got yourself another team, and a purpose.
Melanie Sliwka 46:05
Hundred percent. Even if you’re overriding purpose, you know, say you’re a doctor. And it’s, you know, to serve and protect millions of people in a hospital environment, sometimes you have to take the reins back a little bit, and understand that some of these other purposes, these smaller purposes, like reaching out to your vets, buddies that are, you know, that you served with or, you know, reaching out to a family member that’s struggling, like, you got to prioritize some of that too, in the line of service to yourself and to them, or if you’re struggling, but you’re still you know, the hospital, but you’ve got this ball of struggle that you need to place somewhere… then by all means, you know, serve that purpose as well, because unless you’re serving the smaller purposes, those big rocks, they’re not going to be fulfilled.
Mark Divine 46:53
If you’re a parent whose kid is suffering with some mental issues. Be there for them, get them a therapist, you might need some SSR type thing, but make sure that that doesn’t get them addicted, my stepdaughter has been unfortunately, they got her on that early and it’s been a nightmare to get off of it.
Melanie Sliwka 47:12
There’s a lot of herbs. You know, there St. John’s wort, you just have to make sure you’re talking to a doctor first, there’s St. John’s wort, Valerian Root, there’s a lot that will help curb some of that stuff for your child as well. You know, if you know the antidepressants aren’t working or whatnot, but yeah, short term on those is key.
Mark Divine 47:33
Psychedelic therapy really helps with that, microdosing, things aren’t technically legal yet. Not for kids. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids. I meant adults. Yeah, that’s a great intervention.
Melanie Sliwka 47:45
You have plenty of interventions, and then just keep trying, keep showing up, get into groups yourself. If you’ve got a team like that, get into a team of people that understand what you’re going through as well. Because you’re gonna feel like it gets cyclical right, you’re gonna feel like a failure, your kids failing, things are happening.
Mark Divine 47:59
Is there any like national resource for parents to help with kids who are dealing with suicide?
Melanie Sliwka 48:04
There are Facebook groups, and there’s things like that they have to let you in and things like that, you know, I’ve heard of
Mark Divine 48:10
As far as this, as part of this show notes, we can research a couple links for parents to go to and as far as vets, go check out courageFoundation, feed courage.org is our courage foundation and sit down can help you out can point in the right direction. If you’re a SEAL, go to the SEAL Future Foundation or, or the Navy SEAL foundation. There’s plenty of these organizations, psychedelic therapy, the mission within is a great one. Use your fingers and and Siri
Melanie Sliwka 48:38
Talk it out. Yeah, I ask it a million things every day.
Mark Divine 48:41
Right. And I’ve already talked about therapy and online therapy. Cool. Well, there’s a lot of a lot of avenues for healing, but integrated healing, start with rebalancing. Know that there’s help out there. And know that you’re not alone, if you’re suffering from this or your kid is suffering, or you’re a vet. If you’re listening to this, and you know of anyone who’s struggling, just reach out to them. Say, man, how you doing?
Melanie Sliwka 49:06
When you’re in that place, they’ll tell you, they’ll be like, I’m not so good, totally. And then there it is.
Mark Divine 49:13
It is usually just expressing it, then that gives you permission to be like, Okay, I gotta get some help. We’re taught in our society not to ask for help or to receive it. We have to change that. Now’s the time. Okay. Well, thanks for listening. I know this show probably won’t appeal to everybody. But for those of you who are interested in mental health or dealing with issues and family, friends, vet community, then I hope we’ve provided you some good information. And we’ll provide some resources in the show notes. These discussions need to be had, because this is important.
Melanie Sliwka 49:44
I’ll provide some of the links to the data I collected as well, you guys can check out
Mark Divine 49:47
Yeah, thanks for joining me, Mel. We’ll do this again on other topics, maybe more positive topics, happier ones.
All right. So That’s it for now. Until next time, hoo-yah, this is the Mark Divine Show. Show notes will be up at Mark Divine.com. Also, you can find us on Instagram at real Mark Divine Facebook at Mark Divine, Twitter, Mark Divine you know, all that kind of stuff, LinkedIn.
You can reach out to us at info at Unbeatable Mind if you’re interested in connecting with our training at Unbeatable Mind or SEAL Fit. Because those are incredible ways to really up your game and to improve your mental thinking and processing. The Courage Foundation, great place to get support if you’re a vet, feedcourage.org. Ask for Sid.
Also, shout out to Jeff and Mel and Melinda and Jeff Torres, and Jason Sanderson, who produced this podcast, it takes a team. It’s a lot of work, believe it or not, doesn’t just happen. It’s an amazing team. And thanks for being part of the solution and listening to this show. And in other great podcast shows and partners that we have, like Jordan Harbinger and others we have.
It’s really important to be engaging in positive dialogue, positive self talk, sharing positive and abundant mindsets, because you know, that’s what’s going to push back against the negativity and the violence in our culture, it’s not going to be like pushing or fighting the violence, that’s just gonna foment it. It’s by us scaling positivity. We’re gonna have 100 million or a billion people thinking positively, thinking about things with compassion and inclusion and ignoring the violence unless it’s of course on your doorstep then take care of it like sheepdog, but I’m saying we don’t feed the fear wolf. We start feeding the courage Wolf, and if we can do that at scale, then the world will change before our very eyes very quickly. That’s why I’m optimistic about the future. Hoo-yah, it’s gonna be amazing. All right, that’s it. This is the Mark Divine Show. Til next time, hoo-yah.