[00:00:00] Detective Ev: Well, hello, my friends. Welcome back to another episode of the Health Detective Podcast by Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. My name is Evan Transue, AKA Detective Ev. I will be your host for today’s show. I’m doing kind of a solo thing today, talking about my mental health journey. We’re also going to be talking about the recent discoveries with SSRIs and how they might not have been as great as we once expected.
Particularly, we’re going to talk about my story and my journey with mental health and how I eventually came to the functional side. This was truly and literally a lifesaving thing for me that I am so blessed to have discovered.
I did do a solo episode on here definitely over a year ago now. I talked about other things that I dealt with along with like GI issues, cystic acne, Meniere’s disease. If you want to hear all of those things, a more laid-back version probably, check out that.
This is laid back, it’s off the cuff. But it’s more formal in the sense of, we have the video, we’re 167 episodes in, and we’re just going to be exclusively talking about the mental health side today. Now, I’m not going to read off my bio. You guys probably know who I am from listening to the podcast, but if not, you’ll find out today, that’s for sure.
Mental Health Journey – Starts at Age Five
When I’m mentioning all this stuff, just know that there was a bunch of physical health issues going on as well that did get progressively worse too, but we’re not discussing those today. Around five years old, I started dealing with panic attacks. Now we did not know that it was called a panic attack at the time.
I don’t think anyone in my immediate family even knew what a panic attack was. Just to give the time reference, I’m fairly young, I’m 26, but this was still then 21 years ago. If you are listening to this, I’m assuming you’re over the age of 20, I would guess and probably even over the age of 30.
I want you to think back 21 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Think about how differently the world viewed mental health. It wasn’t as talked about, there was certainly more of a stigma around it. And I’m not saying that everyone’s talking about it today or there’s no stigma. There certainly is a stigma still to this day that’s part of the work that I do outside of FDN actually.
[00:02:18] Detective Ev: But at the time it was different. I think it was so different that doctors didn’t even know necessarily what to look for. I’m not saying they wouldn’t have understood the symptoms, but there wasn’t an expectation that someone’s coming in my office all the time with this. Certainly, there wasn’t an expectation that a five-year-old guy (because it’s statistically less common for males to deal with panic disorder), to be coming in at five years old and dealing with panic attacks.
I should also specify, I suppose, I wasn’t dealing with panic disorder at that time, but the panic attacks did start.
Mental Health Journey – Feels Like You’re Dying
My parents brought me to the doctor because things were getting interesting. It wasn’t happening all the time. In fact, it probably only happened a few times a month on average, maybe even two times a month on average. But the point was, if you’ve ever seen a panic attack and if you’ve never had one or never seen one, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
It is incredibly real to the person experiencing it. Because they believe it’s so real, it makes the other people think that something serious is happening. Now, I’m not saying real in the sense of implying that there’s some kind of delusion here, there isn’t. The physical symptoms that come with a panic attack are very, very real. You will feel them.
You’re not dying but that’s what a panic attack will make you think. It will make you think that you’re dying. It will make you think that if you do not do something right away, this is it for you, game over. That’s not the case, you’re not going to die. I guess you could have a heart attack probably from being that freaked out and that worked up, but certainly at five years old, you don’t really have anything to worry about.
Yet, every single time you deal with one of these things, you will be convinced that this is the last one. This is the one that’s going to kill me. I’m dying here right now. Of course, any good parent, and I had great parents, they took me to the doctor to get this checked out. What this doctor said to me was actually something that stuck with me for the rest of my life. It admittedly was a big mistake on his end.
Mental Health Journey – He’ll Outgrow This
Now I know in the world of functional, we’re always talking about Western versus functional. This has nothing to do with that. I’m not suggesting that he messed up because he was in Western medicine. I think anyone could have messed this up. But it was just a different time. It was just a different time when people looked at these things differently.
What he said to my parents and myself is that this isn’t something to worry about. Evan just gets himself a little too worked up and he will outgrow this. As a fairly smart kid, I always made a joke that all the juice went from one side of my brain, which was the athletics to the academics.
When I was young, I scored very well in standardized tests and was recommended for the gifted program. I am not the smartest person in the world by any means, but it was certainly something I had that was an advantage. But with my mental health issues, it was actually a huge disadvantage because I had the intellectual capacity to understand and grasp a lot of the things that I was dealing with.
But just because you have that level of ability does not mean that you have the emotional ability that would also match that. So, I’m thinking maybe more like an adult, just in terms of being able to grasp certain concepts, but emotionally, I’m a five-year-old.
I kept having these things back and forth where I felt like I was going to die with this panic attack, so I would contemplate what is death like what actually happens.
Mental Health Journey – Inappropriately Fascinated with Death
I realized that the adults in my life couldn’t answer this for me. Of course, some preached certain religions, and I’m not condemning anyone that is religious. But if you talk to enough people and you’re coming at it from an unbiased perspective, which as a five-year-old, I was, you’re going to get a lot of different answers.
You start to quickly realize, wait a second. You guys are the adults, you’re the ones that are supposed to be taking care of me. You’re the ones that are supposed to have the answers when I ask a question. Yet, I don’t think that you guys know any of this stuff, either. This is pretty important.
That alone created a very weird mental health type of dilemma for me, that was probably not the same as the other mental health stuff I dealt with. It was a very legitimate existential crisis where I became, I don’t want to use the word obsessed, but, inappropriately fascinated with this concept of what happens when I die. What happens when my family members die? Where did I come from for that matter?
Hey, since no one knows about this, this is something I should really avoid. Oh crap, when I had these panic attacks, I feel like I’m going to die. Now it is this very, very, very scary experience. But again, this doctor said this isn’t something to worry about, Evan’s just going to outgrow it.
Mental Health Journey – School Change, Changed Ev Socially
The years go by, and I would have times where I didn’t deal with panic attacks at all. I was always a very anxious kid, but for the next several years, things were all right. I was doing well in school socially, actually, for a little bit, which looking back is beyond shocking.
But in third grade we had this thing where there was a new elementary school built where I lived. I am kind of from a suburban, slightly rural area that’s become mostly suburban now. They built a new school at the time. So, there was a hundred kids that were transferred from that original school to the new school based on where they lived, kindergarten through sixth grade.
Amongst those kids, there’s only maybe like, I guess that averages out to like 10 or 12 per grade that were actually transferred to this new school. You were lucky if you knew anyone. I kind of knew a few people, but this new school was big. So, I didn’t have any friends in my new class when I got there.
Ironically, this is where I met someone who’s still my best friend to this day. His name’s Jake. He was assigned to be my friend in that third-grade class. We literally just saw each other two or three weeks ago; he came up and visited my girlfriend and I when we were in Vermont. Pretty cool how that worked out, because that’s about 18 years of friendship at this point, maybe 19.
But the point is, once I switched over to that school, despite getting assigned someone who ended up being one of my best friends in this life, it changed me socially.
Mental Health Journey – Pretty Stable Throughout Elementary and Middle School
This caused me to become a lot more awkward, a lot more shy. I went from being a pretty popular kid to, kind of middle of the ground type of thing. I could kick it with everyone, but I didn’t really belong anywhere.
Over this time, the mental health issues got worse. So, I don’t believe the transfer was causal. It couldn’t have been, I had this stuff before that. But it certainly acted as something that exacerbated this already existing set of problems.
Fourth grade goes by, fifth grade goes by, sixth grade goes by. I’m maintaining pretty well in all of these. There is certainly an underlying anxiety, occasional panic attacks, but I can make it through the day.
Then we switch to middle school. Seventh grade, kind of the same thing. Everything’s alright. Eighth grade, same thing. I don’t want to fast forward just through all of these. I mean, basically I was just known as an anxious guy, a paranoid guy, but I was okay, I was stable. But then ninth grade came around.
Towards the end of the ninth-grade school year, still early in the actual calendar year, but later in the school year, I had a panic attack at my friend’s house while I was in the basement with all of our other friends. We were waiting to actually get picked up, cause we were only 14 and 15 at the time, no one was driving.
Mental Health Journey – Bad Panic Attack as a Ninth Grader
While I’m waiting to get picked up, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I felt one of these things about to come on, the panic attack. Now at this time, remember, I still don’t have a full understanding of what this even is. I’ve never actually yet received a formal diagnosis of panic attacks and I don’t really get them as often. I’m a very anxious person, but I don’t get it like that. This came out of nowhere and it was bad.
Because now I’m more of an adult type figure, a young adult figure dealing with these things. I just remember sprinting up the stairs to his parents that were on the first floor. I’m screaming, I can’t breathe. Of course, you can breathe if you’re screaming, but you’re not really thinking that logically when you’re dealing with something like this.
I’m freaking out. So, the mom being scared, she immediately takes me and the friend who’s house it was, and we leave to go to the hospital. Now the stepdad stuck there with four other guys waiting for them to get picked up. We fly over to the hospital. What happened is, although I didn’t acknowledge it at that time, I started to calm down in the car.
Now that did not happen at first. What was really weird, I didn’t get this as dramatically as people describe this sometimes. I never got it again, and I never got it before that. I hope I don’t get it again, but I had that life flashing thing. It was very weird.
Mental Health Journey – My Life Flashed Before My Eyes
It was fast-forwarded, chronological imagery of my life, not bad, not good, it just was. It wasn’t something that I left my body to go experience, which is again, how I usually hear it described from other people. This wasn’t that profound. I’m still in the car, I’m still here. But this is happening as I’m accepting that I’m about to die, cause that’s what I believed was happening.
Well, that car ride to the hospital is not particularly long from their house, maybe eight, nine minutes tops. Maybe around minute 5, 6, 7, because panic attacks are very short-lived overall, typically they’re not more than 20 minutes, they can be as little as a few minutes, I start calming.
I’m still scared, but I also begin to realize that this was probably one of those things I dealt with before. Again, not having a name for it per se, but knowing that yeah, I’ve been here before, haven’t I? I don’t want to say this though. It’s one thing to do it in front of my family members, especially like my mom or dad, but it’s a whole nother thing to be doing this in front of my group of guy friends.
If you’re a guy or you were a part of any guy friend group as a girl, maybe when you were younger, we’re pretty rough on each other. I mean, half of our conversation just consisted of literally picking apart each other’s worst insecurities. It’s kind of how you grow some thick skin as a male.
Mental Health Journey – Panic Disorder Starts
I don’t actually think it’s the worst thing in the world, but because of this, the last thing I wanted to do is say, I have this thing that makes me think I’m going to die and then it goes away, kind of. Yeah, sorry about that. I was confused about it. I didn’t understand how someone else would get it.
Nonetheless, my parents come, they pick me up. When I was at the hospital, my vital signs were good. Everything was fine, of course, because there’s not literally anything happening when you have a panic attack. I mean, your blood pressure might go up, your heart rate’s going to be elevated, but everything looked overall fine once we got there. So, we just kind of wrote it off to freak accident.
I go home super exhausted that night. I don’t think I went to school the next day. But for whatever reason, out of all the panic attacks I had dealt with in my life up to then, and there were some bad ones. There were ones that happened in school, there was ones that happened when my grandparents were watching me. There were some really disturbing events with those. But this one triggered what would be in a drawn-out sense, it would kind of be the beginning of the end for me. Here’s what I mean.
That panic attack was terrible, it was scary. It started what became legitimate panic disorder.
Mental Health Journey – Finally, a Diagnosis
Panic disorder is classified by a few things. If you really care, you can go look it up. But a couple of the things that it’s classified as, is one, you’re obviously having frequent enough panic attacks. Number two, you start to develop a fear of the panic attack itself.
Now there’s this anticipatory fear that you’re constantly living with, waiting for the next attack. The next attack inevitably happens. You’re pretty exhausted and pretty stressed out most of the time. And that day in my friend’s basement triggered what would be legitimately, no exaggeration, didn’t miss one day in this timeframe, it was about three to four months of daily panic attacks, sometimes multiple times a day.
I always feel weird saying this because there’s people that have gone through a lot of crazy stuff. I’m also not someone who believes that you expressing your pain of something is less than anyone else’s. Or that you have to go through the worst thing in the world to know what true pain is.
It is weird to say that life kind of felt like a living hell, that’s how I would say it, when I know other people are dealing with way worse things. But my experience, my truth at that time was, life was a living hell. I had a middle-class, upper middle-class family. I had a great home in many senses. Some of that stuff doesn’t matter when you’re dealing with these types of things. Now, I’m sure I’d rather be dealing with these things in my comfy bedroom than the projects, but nonetheless, it was not good.
We did go to a doctor again, at that point, and the doctor diagnosed it as panic attacks and panic disorder.
Mental Health Journey – Xanax Was Recommended
This was a huge, almost like annoying aha moment for my parents and I, because we started thinking, well, wait a second. We came in here 10 years ago and talked to you guys about this for the exact same symptoms, and there was no diagnosis at the time. The immediate recommendation was Xanax, which is Alprazolam, it’s a benzodiazepine. Something that I would assume most people are familiar with, especially if you’re listening to a podcast like this.
To be fair, this was a good recommendation. I’m not condemning this at all. Now, a 15-year-old getting it, it’s not my first option. But if you’re going to use that in the way that it’s supposed to be prescribed to people, this is one of those situations, daily panic attacks, the person cannot live a normal life because of it, and we need to calm that down. No, I think that was the right call.
But, at the same time, my parents also made a correct call by not allowing me to get on that. I don’t mean it was some disciplinary type of thing. They just thought this wasn’t a good idea for a 15-year-old to be taking it this young. Both groups were correct. The doctor was correct to recommend that. My parents were very correct and know me well enough to not recommend it because I would end up abusing this stuff anyway, when I started getting it illegally. Go figure.
So, who knows what would’ve happened if I had a legitimate prescription to this, especially at 15 years old. Well, we kind of stepped out of that. No therapy or psychiatrist was ever recommended that I remember. I’m almost positive one wasn’t recommended.
Mental Health Journey – Belief of Being Crazy
The other issue was I had formed a belief system in my head over the last 10 years. Because remember, what was I told? You’re going to outgrow this, there’s nothing wrong with you.
Now, before this day, when I went into a doctor and actually got a diagnosis, there has been 10 years, which at that point is two thirds of my life, where I’m saying to myself and realizing, I’m not getting better, I’m getting worse. And if the doctor couldn’t figure this out, maybe there’s something really wrong with Evan Transue.
Because we look up to doctors, right? We put them on a pedestal as these authority figures, they are very smart. They’re very educated. They make great money. These are all true things, right? They should be looked up to in many senses. But they’re not gods or goddesses.
I looked at that as the ultimate ruling, a doctor couldn’t be wrong. I’m five years old. I lived with this belief that there’s something inherently wrong with Evan Transue. I’m crazy. I can’t talk to people about the things that I deal with. So, those panic attacks forced me into the doctor and the hospital quite a few times during those several months.
But I had a refusal to get help in a way. I didn’t want to talk to people about this because in my head, even though this doctor is diagnosing this now, I was still equating this with the word, “crazy”. With the words, “messed up”, that’s how I felt. I’m just a messed-up person. I’m a crazy person. I can’t talk to people about this stuff.
Mental Health Journey – Summer Helped Chill Things Out
So, yeah, we went to the doctor, but then we didn’t go to the doctor. My parents wanted me to see a counselor, but I threatened to hurt myself or run away if I had to see a counselor. My parents are great people. They’re not mental health professionals so it became a really kind of awkward thing at my house and in my life.
The panic attacks continue for three to four months. I ended up at the hospital a few times, like I said, because of that. Then summer came around. This is always a confusing part because it’s like, well, was school causing the panic attacks? I don’t believe so.
But what I do believe is that not having school anymore really helped chill things out. I wasn’t forced to go participate with other people at any time I didn’t want to. I was a younger person, so I slept in until probably 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, at that time. Panic attacks made me stay up really late and I kind of just passed out from the exhaustion eventually. So not having to force myself to wake up three or four hours later to go to school, which no one wants to do anyway, I don’t think the panic attacks were being caused by school by any means. I had these long before I was in school, but I don’t think it was helping.
Mental Health Journey – Major Depressive Disorder Begins
So, the summer comes around and those first few days of summer are, from what I remember, the first few days where it really started just relaxing a little bit. We’re calming down, this isn’t as bad as it once was. Certainly anxious, but not like freaking out at that level. But I don’t feel good.
At some point over those three and a half, four months, I now know what was the beginning of major depressive disorder had begun to develop. I didn’t get diagnosed then because I didn’t go back to a doctor until I was 18 years old, unfortunately.
The depression changed me as a person. That’s the way I kind of always describe it to people. If I took someone that doesn’t speak our language, let’s say they weren’t even from this planet, and I plopped them here. All of a sudden, I could give them a panic attack, they would know something’s wrong with that. They might not know what it’s called, they might not know there’s a name for this. They instantly know something is wrong with them and something has changed.
Mental Health Journey – Depression Kicks In
With depression, and I’m not saying everyone feels it this way, but this is how I experienced it, and maybe it was because I was dealing with panic attacks, I had bigger problems at the moment. But depression seems to just take away 1% every little day. It does this 1% thing. 1% thing, 1% thing, until three months goes by, four months goes by and that’s a lot of percentages to take. You start to realize, oh, I’m not the same person that I once was, but I’m stuck now.
Again, I definitely didn’t know what depression was. That was something totally foreign to me and totally new. I knew this wasn’t anxiety, but these symptoms, they were different.
At this point, I’m almost 16 years old. I’ll be 16 years old in September of that year, we got out of school in about June. I’m at a position in my life, and a time in my life where all my friends are experimenting. Everyone has smoked a cigarette, everyone’s drank alcohol, everyone’s smoked weed. At that time, I had done none of those things.
Some are obviously doing it heavier than others. Some are just, you know, once a month, some are almost getting to about every day, but not quite. And they weren’t using it for the same reasons. Well, I was very resistant to drugs, I was actually a pretty straight edge kid. But when depression kicked in, for the first time ever, it’s not like my friends were pressuring me into this.
Experimenting with Marijuana
Our friend group was terrible influences on each other, but we had respect for each other. We liked each other. I don’t remember anyone saying to me, Ev, come on, do this. You’re not cool. We’re not hanging out with you. I don’t recall anyone saying that ever. But certainly, there’s just a natural pressure from it being around. I would say mostly that was my decision.
Something changed in me where I went from the straight edge kid who used to tell these people that I wouldn’t be friends with them anymore for doing these things, that is now the one saying, well, you know what? I’ll smoke weed. That was, for the first time.
I understand weed is not the worst thing in the world, but I do not recommend it at all to any developing brain. That is a terrible idea. I think you should have the right to do it as an adult, but it’s a terrible idea for any developing brain, knowing what I know now. I started with that.
The first time didn’t really feel much. Second or third time, I think about the same thing. Fourth time. Wow.! Okay, that’s something. I’m feeling something now. It was like a mix of nervousness, but also like fun. I was with a ton of great friends. Everyone else was in good spirits. So, it was all good then.
Mental Health Journey – Trying to Gain Control
Fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth. I can’t even remember how many times after that, I would get panic attacks when I smoked. This is the hardest one for me to try to comprehend. I’m not a psychologist, but I wonder was there a control thing here? Like why would I do this when I started to recognize that this would trigger panic attacks almost every single time I did it? Was this my way of getting back in control?
Sure, I’ll do this. It will gimme a panic attack, but I get to decide when this happens. Because before, I have it anyway, and it’s at any time of the day. It could be in the morning, the middle of the day, at night, or at all three. This gave me a little more control, I guess.
I have no other way of explaining that other than that’s maybe why I kept using it because it actually was not a fun experience at all for those first several times. I got whacked out, man. That stuff was wacky to me. Well, I kept going, and pretty quickly, I became one of the people with the biggest problem in the friend group. I eventually was the one that needs to smoke weed every single day.
I’m doing this all the time, like literally in the morning, midday, nighttime, before bed. What really was tricky, is the first two months, it worked. I was getting better sleep. I felt really good. My grades, I think slightly picked up during that time, I was a little happier. My parents even said something at the time. They didn’t know what was going on, obviously. But they commented that things seemed better.
Mental Health Journey – Anger, Numbness, and Hopelessness
So, I’m thinking, wow! You guys have to remember, this was 11 years ago. I know weed is legal in, I think, 18 states now, and it’s medical everywhere pretty much. At this time, this is, I don’t even think like a few states yet. It was barely a few states had medical and nowhere, I don’t think, it was legal. It was a different perspective on this stuff.
But I did know that when I went online and looked this up, because I was paranoid about everything that I took, that this was a medicine. I said, all right. Maybe it’s helping. Maybe it’s a good thing. Now, I don’t remember any website that told me to smoke joints and blunts all day, every day, but nonetheless, it was a medicine, right?
Then, of course, as this story always goes, no matter what drug someone starts with, it’s not working as well anymore. The next drug I took was not alcohol. I know sometimes we don’t even think about that as a drug, but it is, obviously, by definition. I didn’t even do that next. The reason I didn’t do that next is because there was still this side of Evan Transue, that didn’t want to do drugs. I had no interest in this.
I didn’t really like the feeling of being out of control, but I wanted to feel something different than what the depression was providing me with. What the depression provided me with was anger and numbness and hopelessness all mixed in together. Those are pretty crappy feelings. So next for me was not alcohol.
Experimenting with Xanax
Next for me was Xanax. I remembered the doctor recommending this to myself and my family. I didn’t know much about this at the time. This was again, a time where it was not used as recreationally in colleges. That wave kind of came several years later. I’m sure someone was using it. I’m just saying like, now it’s like a really common thing, unfortunately. But I remember them saying this and I looked this up.
I was still, again, I still kind of had that like smart guy perspective, I was just doing very dumb things. But I was trying to do this as safely as possible. So, I looked this up and I realized, wow, that might work pretty well. I got this from my friend’s brother. He had a prescription and he sold me the smallest amount that a doctor would prescribe.
I don’t mean like just that amount, but he sold me the 0.25 milligram tablets, which is the smallest amount at the time of recording this, that you can get in a prescription. That’s what I started with. So again, I know it sounds so obvious looking back, but at the time, I’m thinking like a depressed, messed up, 15-year-old, 16-year-old, maybe 16 at this point, where I’m trying to do the right thing, but I’m also being pretty stupid and playing doctor. So, I started with that 0.25.
I hate to even sound like this, cause especially if someone out there that’s listening has maybe like abused drugs or seen someone abuse drugs, this is the last thing you want to hear them say. I still remember that exact moment when it hit, when it fully kicked in.
Upping the Xanax
I’m transitioning right now. I’m about to move out into a different place from the pandemic, but I’m at my parents at the moment. That day, I remember being in that room over there and walking into the bathroom. I looked myself in the eyes in the mirror and just started giggling. I was so happy. And this is off, remember, just a prescription dose. This is actually, technically, what the doctor would’ve given me anyway.
I’m not high on weed at the time. I wanted to see what this did by itself. And I am giggling with happiness. I always had this really strong shoulder pain, always. Always took Advil for it, never thought about it being like a stress or anxiety thing. Of course, now we know that’s a symptom. That just went away. I’m calm, my heart rate is normal. I got into the shower and just enjoyed the shower. Turned on some music on my phone or whatever, and I was just happy, man. I felt so good.
Well, that’s great. And maybe, the right step there, would’ve been to go talk to a doctor, but I wasn’t ready to do that. So, of course, it starts with 0.25, and within two weeks, I’m experimenting with 2.0, like two milligrams. If you’re not familiar with that at all, I’m not saying people don’t take way more, but if you give someone that does not take this stuff, two milligrams, you can give them a million dollars to hide it, they’re not hiding.
Selling Marijuana and Staying Paranoid
They’re going to appear very inebriated. They might pass out. They might just fall asleep. If they’re really, really someone that doesn’t tolerate things well, that alone will just black them out. Like they won’t remember hours at a time. It’s pretty serious.
Now I’m not taking this every day. But I keep experimenting. I take little breaks because I also knew that I could develop this severe addiction to this. Again, all of this is so crazy looking back because clearly, I had severe substance abuse problems, and I met the diagnosis for that. But my paranoid mind didn’t want to get truly addicted to anything. So technically, I don’t think I ever met the diagnosis criteria for a true addiction. Go figure.
Now that this is in the mix, it’s a whole different ballgame. I’m smoking heavily. I’m abusing a very illegal drug. I can’t afford any of this anymore. So, I start to sell weed myself. This was not something that I thought was cool. This was not something that I wanted to go do. That was probably the most paranoia causing thing that I did after this whole time.
Because no matter what you do, you just have it on you. I always had something in my car for the most part. It was so easy to get caught, there’s texts and stuff. It’s really hard to get out of that one if someone catches onto what you’re doing. So, that probably scared me worse than anything and caused more stress than anything. But I cannot afford these things anymore.
Bringing Alcohol into the Mix – Giving up Control
I do work a part-time job. It’s either sell this or steal or quit. I wasn’t about to do the stealing or the quitting, so I chose selling. That gave me too much freedom. I actually made good money doing this. Like not anything crazy, don’t get me wrong, not cartel stuff. But enough that my friends and I could smoke whatever we wanted, all weekend. And I could do whatever I wanted with weed at any time. There was never a problem with that.
At some point, I believe it was junior year prom, alcohol got added into the mix. I think that’s exactly when it was. So, I’ve been doing drugs for like a couple years now, and I’ve never even tried alcohol. But I read that you weren’t supposed to mix alcohol with Xanax. Now, it’s not like I just wanted to do that to be reckless, but I said why? I’m like, oh, it potentiates, it strengthens it. And that was my test. I basically would drink a small amount of alcohol and mix it with the Xanax, which, guys, you can’t do that.
It works though. I mean, it strengthens it, but you give up control. You’re giving up your choices now and your decisions. You’re giving up your life to something else. Because when you mix those things together and then you’re smoking weed on top of it, you’re losing track of what’s going on pretty quickly.
This continued for a while. Basically, what would happen is the weed smoking was heavy, lasted all day, every day. The Xanax and alcohol would come in mostly on the weekends.
Trying To Straighten Up
Between the summer of junior year of high school and senior year, things were not going well. I had smoked so much that weed did almost nothing for me at that point. No more could I get high, just zoned out, weird feeling. I didn’t feel good. I had, cause I’m sure none of you have ever smoked weed, I had that introspection that you get when you use it. Mine was the very negative type of introspection.
It wasn’t like, oh, cool, this is how I can go better my life. It was dude, you suck. You’re terrible. Like, what are you doing? It wasn’t good. It got so bad that I knew in the back of my head, something was going to snap. I don’t know how to describe that, but I knew something was bound to snap, I just didn’t know what.
Well, senior year approaches, and this is something I actually don’t talk about many times in this story when I share it, but I was trying to get better. There was a goal of that for a little bit in the beginning of that school year, because the weed’s not working anymore. So, I realized, all right, I want to maybe get my life together a little bit here. I’m going to start doing better in school. I was really focusing those first couple of weeks into the senior year.
Then what happened is, since I was going to be 18 in that first month of the school year, my birthday, September 30th, I knew that I would get in a lot more trouble doing the things that I was doing at 18 versus 17.
Sober For the First Time in Two Years
Now in my head, I’m thinking, well, half the stuff I’m doing, isn’t even working anymore. What does this even matter? I might as well just get rid of it. So, I legitimately did quit. I’m trying to do well. I’m trying to focus in school and I quit all this stuff for like a day and a half. Where I messed up is I still wasn’t getting help and asking people in my life for support with these things.
So, when I get sober for the day and a half, that is the first time I’m sober, really for maybe the first time in two years, little less. I think I had one or two days where I didn’t do anything, not by choice though, during that year and a half or two-year period. Then I would take things like ZzzQuil or Benadryl to just pass out and fall asleep. I wasn’t trying to get high off those, but I was trying to pass out and fall asleep.
Well, something was going to snap, and I did not realize how psychologically reliant I had become on those drugs. I get off of everything and I go into school the next day. No bueno! No good! I don’t feel so good. I’m kind of freaking out. The anger and aggression are so bad I’m getting into it with everyone at school.
An Altercation and an Arrest
What ended up happening is I got into a fairly serious altercation with someone else at that school who did not want to be in an altercation. There were consequences to that. I left the altercation and within 10 minutes, I was pulled over by the police department that I lived nearby. Four cops surrounded the car, and I was detained and put into the holding cell at the local police station.
My dad came, once they were able to get ahold of him. Not that he wasn’t answering, but they didn’t have the number or anything. There was a whole thing with that. I wasn’t allowed home that night they said. That’s what we didn’t realize. He said, well, no, you don’t go home for this. So, my dad had to leave and then I was taken to the juvenile detention facility up the road.
So, the whole life got flipped upside down pretty quick. I’m in this place and there were some weird moments with that. Because the first night I was there, you’d think it would be scary. And it was. But what I mean is, I’m sleeping on a metal frame with like this really thin, but probably like an inch and a half thick plush kind of mattress that you could just pull off if you wanted to. The same thing with the pillow, it is not comfortable. You got nothing in the room because they’re really, really, really big on kids not dying by suicide when they’re in this place. So, they have nothing for you.
Finally Caught, No More Hiding, Able to Sleep
You have this desk, you have the little bed, and you have the mat and stuff. Then all night long, every 15 minutes, you’re always, every one of you, is on a suicide watch type of thing. They turn the lights on every 15 minutes, routine. Then they turn them off. It like beeps every time too. It’s annoying. Then they would walk away. Yet that first night, I slept for 12 hours, no drugs, scary situation and I sleep for 12 hours.
What I concluded looking back is that it was over. No more worry about living this life that I was so scared of. I didn’t want to get arrested, disappoint my parents, or get in trouble at school. While all three of those things just happened instantly. There was this odd sense of relief because of it.
I don’t have to hide this anymore. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not. Well, that’s what I thought at least. Because no one initially thought that the reason that this altercation had occurred was for the reasons that it did. My parents knew something was off. They didn’t know that I was using drugs in the way that I was. They didn’t know what was going on there. No one really connected this to a mental health thing as far as I know.
I still didn’t want to talk about these things because, in my head, I am crazy. I’ve thought that for years and now I just went out and did something like that. I am crazy. It wasn’t, I think. It’s, I am. There’s something absolutely wrong with Evan Transue, I am messed up.
Messing with Drugs While on House Arrest
I don’t talk to people about this. Got out of juvie. Was well behaved in there. I was about 150 pounds, maybe 148, at almost six feet tall, soaking wet back then. So, the last thing I needed to do was start problems. It was a very nice juvie, but still, you don’t want to be messing around with people. I got out and was put on house arrest now.
I cannot stress enough that my parents are some of the best that you could ask for, very attentive people. If someone that is half smart wants to do something, they’re going to figure out a way to. I continued to do drugs while on house arrest. How did I do something like that? Well, I had a lot of connections, so I had people drop off stuff at three in the morning to the end of my parents’ driveway when they’re asleep. I continue to use these things.
Do I think that’s a good idea? No. It’s the only coping mechanism I have ever taught myself for the things that I’m dealing with. Somehow, I get away with this on house arrest. There was a scare, one time, with a drug test, but it was close enough to me getting arrested that it was something I could play off. So, I couldn’t do things every day anymore. But I’m messing with it a little bit, still on probation, going back and forth.
Then finally something happened. This, to be clear, all happened, I think it was September 13th, 2013, I believe it was, maybe the 17th. And now it’s New Year’s Eve.
Out on New Year’s Eve Night
Things are overall not going well, but everyone in my life thinks it’s going better. Seems better than before to my friends, my parents, definitely. It seems better, probation officer. Doing all right? Okay. I convinced these people I should be allowed out on New Year’s Eve.
Now the probation officer and my parents were not that stupid. There were a few things here that led to this. I was a legal adult. So, I can technically, in some sense, do kind of what I wanted, but I had this 12 o’clock curfew on probation. It was a whole thing. Everyone did think I was doing well, so they didn’t want to punish that.
Basically, the rules were, you can go out on New Year’s Eve if mom and dad are willing to pick you up. My mom and dad are great people. They were willing to pick me up because they thought I was doing well. And of course, I’m only supposed to be hanging out with my friends and my girlfriend, that was the idea.
While I get dropped off, I can’t resist. 10 minutes in, I’m drinking and doing drugs, just like I always did. In the 12:00 AM, we get picked up like we’re supposed to. Who’s we? We is me and the girlfriend. Now I convinced her to do a lot of the same things I did that night, but she wasn’t so experienced doing those things, not in the same way. She definitely did them but not in the way that I did them. And this girl was probably 105 pounds soaking wet.
Realizing the Negative Effects on Loved Ones
When we get into the car, I had the very unimpressive skill of being able to hide these things. If my breath smelled like alcohol, I would’ve said, well, I just had a shot at 12 o’clock. Like I just did it when the New Year’s thing, I didn’t do anything else.
She couldn’t hide it. Maybe you remember being drunk for the first time or seeing someone drunk for the first time. Not that it was her first time, but I mean, it might as well have been. She had a story to share with my parents. It was a story that involved her repeating a full sentence to them, almost word for word 30 seconds into the car ride. I’m looking across the seat at her, like, yo, shut up. I’ll take it from here, but she’s got a story.
She’s got that confidence that only alcohol can bring and there is no stopping her now. Well, it was fairly apparent to my parents that something was wrong here, and they were not happy to say the least. But I looked okay. I sounded okay. They thought it was her. I had been with her for a while so it was one of those relationships where in a sense, you don’t yell at the girlfriend, but you can kind of say some stuff to the girlfriend.
They yelled at the girlfriend. They were yelling at her. What happened in that car ride is that these people that I loved were having this thing go back and forth. I’m starting to realize just how badly I’m affecting the people in my life.
Thinking The First Choice
Now, my girlfriend at the time, she wasn’t a big fighter. She’s not going to yell back or anything. Eventually, she just kind of becomes silent. There’s that awkward car silence, 10, 15 minutes that only an angry parent can bring. And I’m thinking.
We get home, my girlfriend and I would go upstairs to my room, and I got a couple choices that night. The first choice would’ve been the right choice. It was the choice that I was thinking in the car. What I was thinking in the car was, I’m so sorry for getting you involved in the things that I got you involved with tonight. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Hey, thank you for having my back through some of the worst times of my life, because I’m looking around and I’m starting to realize most other people they’re gone, aren’t they? Hey, by the way, I kind of love you cause I know we’ve been dating on and off for the last four or five years and I’ve never told you that. But I kind of knew that from pretty early on. So yeah, my bad, I, I love you.
I wanted to say those things, but I did not want to say those things more than I wanted to hide from these issues, more than I wanted to hide from this image of being crazy, or in my head, the reality of being crazy. I wasn’t ready to share that yet. So that was the first choice. I chose the second choice.
Doing The Second Choice
The second choice was one I don’t recommend. Instead of taking personal responsibility for what I did that night and what I got us involved in, I started blaming my girlfriend. I was very good at blaming other people for my problems at that time of my life. I was an expert in it practically. So, I start yelling at her, freaking out at her.
At first, it wasn’t that bad. But what happened is, it was almost like the drunkenness and the guilt and the shame and all these things I was feeling in that car ride, started coming out. I’m projecting anger because anger was one of my main ways of communicating back then. It’s a lot easier to show that we’re angry than that we’re ashamed or guilty or upset, isn’t it?
Certainly, it is easier to blame someone else than take responsibility for our faults. So now I’m really yelling. I’m really saying some things that you don’t say to people in general, let alone someone you claimed to love. And I hurt that person, man, emotionally. I had done a lot of stupid things over those four years, that one probably took the cake.
One of the last memories I have of this person is her just being so upset and crying for like an hour before we went to bed. We went to bed, I wake up in the morning, she’s gone. I’m sober so I’m starting to think clearly.
My Aha Moment
What I started to realize is I’m really, really affecting the people in my life. This isn’t okay. This isn’t something that I can keep doing. I’m doing hard drugs on probation. I’m going to die or I’m going to go to jail. And I asked myself, Ev, which option are you trying to choose? I didn’t really like either of those.
Then I started thinking all these other things. I’m like, dude, you don’t have a high school diploma, no college lined up, no job. Everyone doesn’t trust you anymore and now you have pushed away, you’ve permanently damaged this relationship with this person that you think that you’re going to marry one day, with someone that you think you’re going to love. How much more do we have to lose or ruin before we wake up to the idea that the Evan Transue plan isn’t really working so well, is it? That’s what I call my aha moment. Like, aha, I get it now. I need to go do something different.
The reason I share this story, whether it’s on a podcast or when I speak in a school, cause that’s another job that I have, the sole reason I speak is because I understand how lucky I was to get an aha moment. I didn’t realize it that night, but I realized it eventually. Because as you might know all too well as an adult, who’s probably lost people in your life or family members, we don’t get a lot of aha moments in life. They are not evenly handed out to every single person at the perfect time and now you get some cool story that you get to share with everyone else.
Let This Be Your Aha Moment
For every one person like me, there’s about a hundred, like one of my other best friends, who I knew since about five years old. He passed away at 22 from a drug overdose. Where’s his aha moment? Cause that guy was 22 years old. I guess he doesn’t get one.
Before we talk about anything functional, what I’m going to ask is this. If you clicked on this today and you’re listening to something about mental health, I’m assuming that’s not by accident. Either this has affected you, directly or indirectly. Directly being yourself, indirectly, being someone that you know, love, or care about.
What I’m going to ask is, if you’ve been looking for an aha moment of sorts for anything that might be relevant to you, whether it’s asking help for yourself, taking that next step with functional medicine, having a conversation with someone you haven’t talked to in a really long time that you know you should, do me a favor. As someone who actually cares and as someone who’s been through this, let’s make this conversation the aha moment. Don’t wait for the other stuff to happen.
If I had gotten this under control with the million warnings, any one of these million warnings, if I took the opportunity to get control of this stuff with, my life would’ve been completely different. If one of my best friends had gotten this under control when he saw the warning signs, I’m pretty sure one of my best friends would still be here with us today, doing some cool things for this world.
Where to Find Detective Ev
I’m asking you as someone who cares and as someone who’s actually been through this in his own way, let’s please make this the last day we’re waiting to do what we know we need to do.
I think what I’m going to do is this actually. I’m at 49 minutes, I didn’t really mean to go that long. My poor friend and colleague, Tracy, who I love so dearly. This podcast could not happen in the way that it does without her. She transcribes everything for us, and she helps get the social media content out and do all that kind of stuff. What I’m going to do is, this is going to be part one. It’s going to be the story. Then I’ll do a part two for you guys where we talk about the functional side of things, what I learned, and it will have a more upbeat, ideally, type of thing.
Now, I don’t normally plug any of my own stuff on here. You guys know that for a fact, if you’re a regular listener. I never ever, ever say stuff like that. However, I’m not in competition with FDN at all for what I do. So, if you are ever interested in this, evantransue.com is where I have a website. It’s not anything super fancy, but it’s how you can get in contact with me for speaking engagements. I do speak to kids. It’s a little bit of a different version of what you heard today and certainly there’s more uplifting stuff at the end.
But basically, my goal is to bring this story to kids, to help them speak up about mental health issues, or get proper help if they have spoken up about it but have never sought treatment, or maybe they stopped treatment too early to actually get better.
My whole goal is to prevent suicides and drug overdoses for people that are dealing with these things. I can’t cure everything, but I’m pretty sure we can stop those two things. So, I promise, I promise, I promise there’s some good to this story. It does get better. I cannot wait to bring you guys the part two.
So, that will be released, if you’re watching this or listening to this, as soon as it came out on Thursday of this week. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you guys have a great day.
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