[00:00:34] Detective Ev: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Health Detective Podcast. If you’re tuning in live, glad to have you, or maybe you’re watching the live right afterwards. I finally got my dang numbers down for the live versions of these. This is going to be episode number 275 with a very special guest speaking about mental health.
I say special guest because when I started working for FDN, probably about three years ago now, it was very shortly after that Bry and I were working together. I’m doing clubhouse. Shout out to anyone who remembers clubhouse. It was funny because I was explaining this to my fiancée, Maddy, the other day. I was telling her all about you and how we used to have so much fun on clubhouse. And Maddy was like, what is clubhouse?
That just shows how niche it was to the business and entrepreneur community. This is an average person that uses social media doesn’t know anything about this. We logged on and it is not quite what it used to be, I’ll put it that way. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s just like music channels, very, very strange. Most of it’s not English, I couldn’t figure it out.
We have a cool episode today. We were going to do this in the past and it’s crazy how fast time can fly. I was looking back, and it was April of 2021 that you would have been on. But I’m really glad we did wait all this time because now the podcast has been built. You get a real audience here now. Not the biggest in the world, we’re not Mark Hyman, but enough that it actually matters and people are really listening. So, you can make an impact doing what you’re doing.
Mental Health: Practice History
This is a special topic today in general that we wanted to sneak into September. So, we did the best that we could. We did get it live on the video portion for the topic, but you guys will understand that in a second.
I’m going to read Bry’s bio. Her name is Bry Austin, and she is the mama to two boys and two fur babies. Her husband and her reside in the Bay Area of California with her little family. They love anything that brings them outdoors. She firmly believes that being in nature every single day, totally agree with this, will heal all things and that the body is meant to heal naturally.
She’s extremely passionate about holistic health, thinking outside the box, always challenging the norm and helping people break down their own barriers through the functional and holistic lifestyle to unlock the magic that lies within them. She’s been an FDNP since 2020 and has had the honor of working in a variety of different niches. She’s gotten to work with people who have been exposed to toxic mold, high level corporate folks, and all kinds of athletes to name a few.
About a year and a half ago, she made the difficult decision to step away from her practice in order to handle a personal matter that her family and her had been working through over this time. In addition, she wanted and needed to take that time to just be a mama to her 10-year-old boy, and now seven-month-old little baby boy.
Mental Health: First Responders and Military Personnel
As she’s worked through what the last year and a half has presented in their life, she’s realized that now more than ever, the world needs FDNs. Very true. She’s decided to return to her practice with a new purpose and mission and even deeper passion and motivation to help people and a specific focus that was born as a result of this experience that her family and her have been dealing with.
Bry, welcome to the show. We’re glad to have you.
[00:03:43] Bryanna Austin: I didn’t even know you were going to read all that. So, I’m impressed.
[00:03:44] Detective Ev: Well, we got to let people know who we’re talking to. So, we usually ask a specific question first on the show, but I know that there’s also a particular purpose in you wanting to join us today and I’m very happy with it. It’s a space I’m super passionate about.
When it comes to the mental health thing and what’s going on in September, can you just give us a brief background on why that’s something you’re super passionate about?
[00:04:06] Bryanna Austin: Yes. For those who don’t know, September is Suicide Awareness Month. Suicide has become something that I’ve become extra passionate about, particularly within the first responder and military personnel space due to something that happened to us personally in our immediate family over the last year.
Dealing with that has been an eye-opening experience both leading up to it, when it happened, and then after, and how we’ve been pulling through. That’s why I’m here. I just really want to help and be of service to the people however I can.
Mental Health: Other Options
[00:04:44] Detective Ev: I greatly appreciate it.
You know I’m in the mental health space and it’s complicated. We both see that there’s many sides to this and understand that mental health sometimes is very much needing functional medicine. Other times you do need a therapist. You got to talk to someone. There are many things to this.
It’s scary but also motivating for me. When I’ve been in schools giving a talk, I know by definition, there has to be someone in that audience that is struggling with some type of depression/suicidal ideation that the cause of that is the same things that it was for me. This is a biochemical thing; it’s inflammation. It’s something that if they change the diet and get these things uncovered, those thoughts go away. That’s not theory because that’s what happened to me.
I think about how many people have lost their life, never realizing that there were other answers. The more we can share that, that’s where the motivation comes from. That’s a heavy thing to say and to accept. But when we can realize that there’s something to do about it, it leads to unlimited passion, unlimited energy to share this stuff. And that’s what we’ll do today.
Before we get into the main mental health topic, the first question on the show that we always ask is when the individual’s health symptoms started and what they looked like. I know you’ve dealt with your own health stuff as well.
[00:05:59] Bryanna Austin: We don’t use the word diagnosis, but my experience started, honestly, I couldn’t tell you when. But when I noticed it, it was probably 10, 15 years ago. I started to feel gut issues in high school all through college, I had really bad gut issues.
Mental Health: Lots of Mold
Then most recently, probably like seven or eight years ago, is when I really started feeling some serious craziness, some dizziness and numbness on my left side. I was experiencing vision changes, slurring my words, couldn’t remember names of people in my family, couldn’t remember where I parked the car. Well, I’m 37 now. So, however long ago that was, I feel like that wasn’t normal for that age.
[00:06:39] Detective Ev: It’s not normal for a lot of ages.
[00:06:40] Bryanna Austin: At the time, I was a single mom, so maybe a little longer than seven years ago, maybe 10 years ago. I’m not really doing a great job with the timeline but that’s when all of it starts. So, lots of stress with a strenuous relationship, really toxic, unhealthy. Then I had a baby.
Then we were living in mold, come to find out. Fast forward a few years, we were living in mold directly, to the point where we were holding pots and pans to catch the drips in our roof from the rain, with my baby. It was crazy. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Who does, right? You don’t know any better. You’re just like, oh, okay, like there’s a leak in the roof. I’ll put a pot there to catch the water.
So, I lived in that house for two years. I then moved to another house for two years after that, also had mold there. Wouldn’t remediate. Had this house remediated that we’re currently in for two years. And we’re now moving to Colorado for the air.
[00:07:35] Detective Ev: Like, I give up. I’m out.
[00:07:37] Bryanna Austin: I give up on California.
Mental Health: Optimal Health
That’s really in a nutshell what happened. I had been able to kind of heal through FDN and some supplementation and just changing my lifestyle for a while there. And then I got pregnant.
Which was great because I think I got pregnant 10 years apart from my first one, because I was able to heal through FDN with the mold and heavy metal toxicities and all the things that were going on. As I got pregnant and wasn’t able to detox anymore as normal, and then now that I’m breastfeeding, I am not able to detox and now living in mold and breastfeeding and all the things. I’m definitely starting to feel all that stuff again.
So, I’m here to say that it freaking works. And when we can do it and stick with it, because it’s truly a lifestyle change and it needs to be continuous, not just like change a few things here and there and hope for the best. You need to find ways to continue your FDN and lifestyle changes in order to maintain optimal health.
[00:08:35] Detective Ev: I know we’re here mainly for the mental health thing. We can keep bullet pointing it if it’s okay. Always, it’s one of my favorite questions to ask on the show. I am so fascinated by how some people make this paradigm shift and become open to more of the natural thing. And I don’t mean this in a judgmental way at all to people who don’t.
Mental Health: Away from the Western Narrative
The reason I’m fascinated by it is because I saw my aunt, several years back, she passed away from cancer. My aunt had her IQ measured by the school system when she was young cause she did so well. I mean, objectively, 1 in 10,000 type of IQ. So, as smart as you can be. The reason I mentioned that is you’d think, well maybe people are just smart, but she was as smart as you can get.
She had a few kids that she loved, and she has a husband that she loves. So, she has a great family. And she took it, I mean, literally to death, this idea that I’m not changing the diet, I’m not doing these things, and didn’t see the validity in that even having someone like me and my mom in the family who have already been through this stuff in a certain way.
So, I’m fascinated with what leads certain people to making the shift for sometimes relatively benign symptoms, not in your case. But sometimes it’s benign on this show and they’re still willing to do it. And then others, you have cancer, and they still will not make the changes. So, at what point did you say you needed to think outside the box and go away from the Western narrative?
Mental Health: Feeling Helpless
[00:09:58] Bryanna Austin: Great question. I have so much to say about that, maybe another time.
So, probably now I’m talking about six, five years ago. I was in and out of the ER with my son. My child was suffering because I couldn’t be a mom. Like I was completely debilitated, depressed for days on end. I didn’t get out of bed, felt just like putting the covers over my head. And I felt like crap. Nothing was working.
They put me on PPIs. They were like, oh, you have some symptoms like low stomach acid, we’re going to give you this, of course. Which there’s a time and a place for Western medicine. It wasn’t that time for me. But they had put me on all these things. I’m not a drug person. Number one, I don’t like it. It doesn’t react well in my body. And so, in and out of the ER, I want to say like six times.
Now my husband was just like, are you okay? And I was like, I don’t know. I honestly think I’m going to die. Like I literally had the feeling, like dark thoughts, I feel like I was helpless. And it sounds so ridiculous compared to what other people go through in life.
It’s just the mentality when you’re in that space of trying to heal yourself all these different ways because you know you need to get through it for your children. You want to feel better. You’re just depressed from that alone. At that point, I was like, okay, there has to be some other way to go through this. I didn’t know about holistic medicine at the time.
Mental Health: A Made-Up Mind
And I was talking to my college professor, of all people, who I love. He’s a mentor, a genius at St. Mary’s college. His name is Derek Marks. If you guys go there, go say hi. He’s one of my sports medicine teachers. And he was like, hey, did you ever hear about this program, FDN? I wanted to do it forever. You should do it. You’re science oriented. I graded all your stuff, and it was always so deep in the biochemical stuff, chemistry and all that. And he’s like, you go do it and then tell me how it is.
So, I was like, okay. I think that day, I called you guys. And I talked to Piper. I was like, this is what I’m doing. She was like, you need to waste exactly zero minutes more and sign up.
[00:11:54] Detective Ev: What a closer baby. I love it.
[00:11:56] Bryanna Austin: She was so great. And she was so happy. I just have no words. It was just a universal alignment with the experience of going and calling. And I was like, okay, I’m doing this. So, I did it.
And as I went through the course, I was listening and doing all the things we were supposed to. I did the course in a really short amount of time and started my own journey with Jenny Woodward, who basically healed me. Long-winded answer saying, when I was in the hospital over and over again, my kid needed me and I couldn’t be there, is the day that I decided this needs to change.
Mental Health: Moms on a Mission
[00:12:26] Detective Ev: Either I forgot, or I just never got to this idea of your origin story with FDN. I never asked. That does not ring a bell. So, that’s really cool that, of all people, a frickin professor at an otherwise normal college is recommending this stuff.
I got to hit up Piper and ask her for some sales tricks, I guess. Because I love that – you got to wait zero minutes. You sign up right now. Where’s the credit card? Love it.
And then man, you got the big dog. So, you got Jennifer Woodward after that, that’s amazing, helping you out. So many people that listen to this probably know her. She’s like one of the favorite guests that we have on. That’s very cool that you ended up working with her. I’m glad everything worked out.
What’s interesting about this story is this is not the first time at all that I’ve heard something like this. When you get a mom with her kid, they are on a mission, man. They will do whatever they have to, to figure this out. And I think this sparks this creativity and this relentlessness to, I’m going to do everything.
I’ve seen that even on the client perspective. So, I had a woman, and she shares this publicly. I shout her out, she’s fine with it. Her name’s Kate. Kate had her firstborn baby and that’s when she took care of her health. She went from eating fast food, McDonald’s, to food sensitivity testing, farmer’s market, gluten free the next month, lost 34 pounds in one month, no tracking calories. Got the thyroid medication down to like nearly nothing.
But those moms, man, they’re out there. They’re ready to do it. So very cool.
Mental Health: A Mom’s Mindset
[00:13:43] Bryanna Austin: I think for me it was a different mindset. Cause I was an athlete also. Never had unhealthy history. I was always really on the, so I thought, healthy end of things.
But when you have a kid and you’re a single mom. And even when you’re not a single mom, like it’s so crazy, that shift. It’s a different mindset. They are. Tracy said, moms are fighters. Yes. Everyone’s a fighter in their own way. But I feel like being a mom, it’s just a switch in your mindset.
[00:14:08] Detective Ev: I agree because I’ve seen it. It creates a motivation that’s just awe inspiring. It’s very cool. As a male, I don’t know if I’ll ever fully get it in that way. But I’ve seen what it can do, and it moves fricking mountains, baby. And it makes for some of the best practitioners. It’s really cool.
With all that said, we kind of have this awesome background on you and how you got into all this stuff, which is important. I always like our audience to know that virtually everyone we bring on, we’re really careful to make sure that they’ve been through their own thing.
Because sometimes when you get into the world of even the functional medicine doctors that are super well versed. I mean, God bless them. There’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing. But sometimes they got into it after cause they saw what it would do for clients, but they didn’t necessarily go through it themselves. I don’t want them to go through it themselves. That’s good that they didn’t.
Mental Health: A Foot in the Door
But it’s a different level of connection when we know we’re talking to someone who truly understands what it’s like to have these health issues and you feel like you’re losing your mind, you feel like, at the extreme, you might die. I definitely know what you mean. A lot of people feel that way.
So, on this topic again of mental health, where can we even start? Because I know that the situation you alluded to in your life, I’m sure there were many factors there. But the one factor we can certainly talk about today is the lab testing side.
So, as you get your practice back in gear, I’m sure one of the things you’ll want to help is people may be dealing with some mental health stuff. What does that look like from this functional perspective for those that might be hearing this for the first time and don’t understand it?
[00:15:29] Bryanna Austin: That’s a broad question. Where do we even start with that?
[00:15:32] Detective Ev: It gives us something to start with then, right?
[00:15:34] Bryanna Austin: Yeah. Again my focus is going to be for first responders and military personnel specifically. I think for me, what that would look like is just getting my foot in the door to help them believe that there’s another way.
Because for their type of benefits, in my experience, the benefits offered through their companies for firefighters and police officers doesn’t typically cover functional medicine, right? So, for me, getting my foot in the door to help them understand that there is another way. And then from there, educating them on what lifestyle changes could do that are free. For example, filtering your water, eating whole foods, all the things we talk about in FDN.
Mental Health: Not Treating the Paper
In terms of labs, I think that, most importantly for these people who are walking into crazy toxic environments, just nuts of stuff, or staying at army bases or military bases that have horrifically toxic water and environmental components to them, just what they’re exposed to, both parties, on their daily lives, definitely lab wise, a good idea and place to start would be heavy metal toxicity test, mold toxicities tests, and candida, like the OAT test.
I think a gut test would be super important. And of course, maybe some food sensitivities here and there and foundational blood work would be where I personally think would be a good start just to give us kind of a baseline of what we can see that’s going on. But here at FDN, let’s reiterate that we never, ever treat the test results. We treat the person.
What do you think? Do you think that’s a good start?
[00:17:10] Detective Ev: It absolutely is.
I’m more thinking about this broader topic of the first responders and military. I find it fascinating because it’s not something I, admittedly, focus on much myself. But it’s going to make for an interesting conversation. Because I think about how did people even get into these positions, specifically the military.
The health conditions, I’ve looked it up in the past. I don’t come from a military family. It’s not like I was literally considering it. But there was a time where I was taking the self-help so seriously that I was very into this mindset thing of, I want to go do hard stuff. And there are limitations on what the human body can do.
Mental Health: Weeding out the Weak
I realized I was in a crossroads because I was so sick. Even just doing normal workouts at one point, like at the gym, it felt terrible. But then I’m seeing these people go through BUD/S training. I think I would die if I did that. How do they not? And then you look it up and you realize, actually, occasionally, someone does die doing that, which is horrifying.
But at the same time, they also weed out the weak genetically. And for myself, like, I wouldn’t even be able to get into the United States military with the diagnoses I’ve had in the past, namely like Meniere’s disease and stuff like that. And the gluten issues, they’re going to say you’re not even allowed in. I realized, oh, that’s how they do this.
They’re just weeding out anyone that even has remotely bad problems. Then we’re going to do the physicals and make sure you’re up to it right now. And then we’re going to push it to the limit. So yeah, we know it’s stress. We know you can’t handle this long-term.
We’re finding the bodies that are capable of still getting hit a little bit, cause maybe they haven’t been getting hit since they were younger or whatever it is. This is crazy. You got the night shift, lack of sleep.
That all aside really quick, someone like you who understands this, let’s take the labs out of it for a moment. What is the issue in this broader community of first responders and military in general? Why is this such a problem with the mental health thing? Because it really is.
[00:18:59] Bryanna Austin: Why is mental health in general such a problem or getting functional healing to be a thing?
Mental Health: Emotional and Trauma Therapy
[00:19:04] Detective Ev: Well, I can guess the latter a little easier because you have those very traditional people, typically, going into those roles. And they don’t necessarily think in this nerdy way. Not always, I don’t want to be too stereotypical.
What I mean is, why do you think these groups are struggling so bad with their mental health? Because if I’m not mistaken, there’s stats to back this up. There’s some really serious stuff going on in those communities.
[00:19:27] Bryanna Austin: Again, as a former first responder, the obvious answer to that question is they suffer because of what they see.
And you are alone on an island unless you have a crew with you that sees the kind of things that they are seeing in the world today. Like running certain calls as a former first responder, I will never get those out of my head. And the only people that would remotely understand that are the people that I was with that day on that call. We live on an island.
So, that mental piece, I always rest on, thoughts are things. Everyone can probably understand that comment in the FDN universe because thoughts really are things. A lot of the work that we would do too, is like trauma work and emotional release work and things that are stored in the body.
I think that that’s a huge component, and not many people do that in this area of people. They don’t. Talk therapy is huge, of course, cause it’s normal and it’s what we are used to. But there’s different forms of emotional and trauma therapy that need to start to find their way into these industries to help people. And that all coincides again, like going back to their environment.
Mental Health: Environmental Toxins
Like firefighters, for example, what’s on their uniforms that’s just seeping into their skin? And then they go into hundreds of degrees of fire, and it just melts onto their bodies. Right? What’s that doing to their organs that are producing all these hormones that are talking to their brains and messing up all the chemistry in the brain.
I don’t know if that answers the question. But I really feel like, for first responders and military specifically, there are so many environmental and toxic factors with their jobs every day in and day out that are going unnoticed, undiscussed, dismissed by the government and dismissed even by the city governments. And then just not talked about, compounding the emotional component. Does that make sense?
[00:21:21] Detective Ev: It 100 percent makes sense. And it answers the question.
What really got me is what you first said with what they see. Because I think common sense would tell someone, if you asked, hey, do you think cops, first responders, other people, do they see tough stuff? I think anyone with half a brain would say, yes, it’s got to be tough. But then to realize the weight of it, I’ve never been in that space like you, so it’s not the same thing for me.
What happened is, I’ll keep the situation private just for the sake of the family more or less. But I told you on Facebook Messenger that recently there was a suicide in our area that I was connected with. Not anyone that I loved or family members, it’s all good. I’m not saying stuff like that. But it happened recently enough, and thankfully, I didn’t see the aftermath of this.
Mental Health: Colossal, Underpaid, and Underappreciated
A cop needed to be involved, basically, to get the door open. And the reason I bring this up in terms of what these people see, we were talking about small town, local cop. This is not a particularly exciting area, right? It’s a very good, very safe area. I’d send Maddy walking around at 4 AM and not really worry because there’s just not much going on in that sense. Yet, even him, in an area that I perceive to be relatively chill, the stoicism on his face when he walked out of that room. And this was a gentleman who took his life by gun.
[00:22:38] Bryanna Austin: I might get emotional.
[00:22:39] Detective Ev: That’s okay.
Bryanna Austin: I’m sorry in advance.
Detective Ev: That’s okay.
He walked out and his answer was just like, well, instead of going to therapy, this is what this guy chose to do. Yeah, we see it all the time.
Now, if you perceive that comment wrong, it wasn’t him being rude or dismissing it. I looked at a man that couldn’t accept all of this that he sees on a daily basis. And so, the only way to rationalize it was, I have to blame it on not getting therapy, put it somewhere else. And I got to just continue on my job.
Then he’s working night shift, and then he has long hours. I’m not saying this in a political way, this has happened on both sides. Then you got half the country thinking that most cops are bad when that could not be further from the truth. And you’re underpaid on top of it. It’s a heck of a job, man.
Mental Health: Isolated and Unprepared
[00:23:23] Bryanna Austin: Let me tell you a further thing too. And this is coming from also experience of one of my dear friends who has had military and police experience. He runs one of the academies that are in our area. They do not train a single moment on understanding how to handle mental health, understanding how to support with nutrition to help keep the body healthy if the mind kind of goes sideways. They train none of that in the academy.
So, these young people, some older, are going into situations like that. They see them the first few times, it’s probably like, oh my God, like, how do I handle this? Again, you’re on an Island. You can’t tell your wife or husband what you saw. They will try so hard to understand, but they will never understand. The same for military, right? You’re on a kind of an isolating space in your brain.
That’s just not talked about in the academy, what to prepare because you can’t prepare for it. But compartmentalization is the only way to get through that over the years. And that sounds like what he was doing.
[00:24:23] Detective Ev: It was so obvious; it was like, whoa.
I think most people could have picked it up. But having the mental health background for myself, I’m like, no, no, no. That’s not a guy who’s cold and calloused. The exact opposite. He can’t even handle this, which who the heck could? I couldn’t.
This is just part of the job. He’s going to have a call two hours later. Right back to it. Speeding ticket after that. It’s like, whoa. I mean, we needed to digest this for a couple of weeks. Just, it’s a part of his job.
Mental Health: Where’s the Line?
And when he said he sees it all the time, it just made me think, you could have the most peaceful town in the world, but this stuff still happens everywhere. And the person you’re going to call is the first responders when this happens. So, obviously cops are still going to see this even in a very peaceful place.
So Bry, again, functional labs aside, we can talk that in a second. That’s very important and cool. As someone who gets this, where would you recommend the line gets drawn if someone’s listening today. Because to be a cop, to be a firefighter, to be in the military, especially the special forces, like the Marines, the fricking green berets, let’s be honest, you do have to kind of be a tough SOB, like, that’s present. But you cannot be so closed off that this eats you up inside.
So, where does the practical line get drawn, in your opinion, between, I’d have to be open about some things, but this is the nature of the job is I got to be hard. What is the fine line there?
[00:25:44] Bryanna Austin: That’s a great thought worthy question, Ev. I’m thinking as you’re talking, cause I have so many friends in just all these areas. I don’t know. I’m going to be honest. Like, I don’t know.
I feel like that line is different for everybody because everybody has a different threshold for where they draw their own line, right? Like, how much they’re going to feel comfortable sharing with either their top therapist or where they go and release their pent-up energy from that last call or pent-up emotion. I don’t know where the line is.
Mental Health: Personality Issues
And that’s part of where my mission is coming from. It’s like, at what point am I going to break down my clients to the point where they can finally release that emotion and let it out? Then we can start the work. That’s what part of my mission is.
I know some of the toughest SOBs, as you put it, and I’ve been able to get through maybe two of them to the point where they’ve actually wept from my personal experience.
And I don’t know how much time we have, but from my personal specific experience that just happened, that was a suicide. This person had a number of different personality issues, right? So again, let’s consider these people also have personality disorders or personality issues that they’re battling, like narcissism maybe. Because as a result of all of these things, it’s a way for them to block out the world and not accept responsibility. Right? And that probably is stemming from some serious stuff that they’ve had to go through and see.
There are probably some other personality things that are affecting. I’m generalizing. Keep in mind, I’m not trying to say anything that’s triggering at all. I hope to God I’m not. Coming from a good place, in my specific scenario, there were things that I was not able to get through. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, it was so far into the person’s mentality that this person identified with PTSD, identified with, like, I’m the victim, but I’m not at the same time. He was suffering and you could do nothing.
You can do nothing for people in this state of mind. It’s such a helpless feeling.
Mental Health: Proactive Training
So, if I could get him to a point where there was a line to be even drawn, I think we could have saved his life. And so, I don’t know what that line is. I just hope to God that everybody that we work with, that’s in this space, can have the courage and the open mind enough to know and to trust somebody to get them to that line.
And then we could start to separate out, like, okay, this is my job, this is where I need to be strong, but this is the place where I can feel safe. Does that make sense?
[00:28:28] Detective Ev: Yes, it does.
And just so you know, I mean this genuinely from an audience perspective, cause technically, as much as I am a host, I’m also an audience member, in a sense. I would a thousand times rather someone just be straight up with us and say, I don’t know the answer to this specific one. I think that’s actually comforting in a sense. Because guess what? The rest of us don’t know either. It’s like, okay, even the person that’s in this is still trying to figure this out and then we can all come up with a different solution.
I’m thinking in my head. Again, to someone who’s relatively ignorant to this stuff and this specific topic, really the line should have been before they ever went out into combat or saw these things. Like you said, they’re not prepared with it when they’re training. It should have been then to let them know this is going to happen, this is part of your job. And yes, there are going to be times, if you’re on the battlefield, no, that’s not the time for the therapist.
Mental Health: Processing Society’s Way
I get that, we got to push through, we’re in war right now. But after you get back, that, we got to unpack and process. I’m just making this up, but it doesn’t seem like that’s ever put out there before they go into battle, whether it’s the battle of a cop, the battle of a firefighter, the battle of the military member. It doesn’t seem like that’s ever prefaced that this is going to happen. Let’s make sure we’re on top of it when it does.
[00:29:35] Bryanna Austin: Because I don’t think that people, like I said, can put words to the level of true emotion that are felt in those experiences.
And yes, maybe they’re in the middle of a battle and maybe that isn’t the time for the therapist. But guess what? People are going to break down in those moments, right? So, I just don’t know that we can put our thumb on a line because it is different for everyone.
I agree with what you said, though. I definitely think that the line that we’re talking about should be in training before you even get out to the field. But again, the people that are teaching these people have lost track of the line because they’ve gone and seen a lot of stuff. They dealt with it the way that they knew how, the way that society has prepared them to do. And that is, tough luck, buck up.
Actually, I’ll share this with you. I was listening to a podcast the other day and it stuck with me. Somebody said, depression is a luxury. And I was like, ooh, that is super triggering for some people. Some people would probably be like what? Like, it’s not a luxury. I’m struggling.
Mental Health: The Ability/Inability to Feel Feelings
Some people would be like, wow, he makes a really good point. Where does this come from? Things like that, depression is a luxury for some people; depression is a luxury. They can sit there and feel their feelings. Other people can’t feel their feelings. Other people it’s too late and it’s way past depression.
Again, I still come back to, I think everyone’s line is different and it should be in training. But even the trainers who are training don’t know how to draw the line and don’t know how to describe exactly what they’re walking into and maybe we start there.
[00:31:09] Detective Ev: That’s a really good point. I was kind of thinking that while you were talking because the training and the experiences are so brutal that if you somehow make it to the other side. Like, let’s say you’re a BUD/S instructor for the Navy SEALs. Not only are you a tough SOB, I mean, you’re borderline shut off at that point. And now, there’s probably, I would imagine, this odd projection because you’re kind of putting other humans through what you went through, right? So, now you’re subjecting them to it. It’s a very odd place to be.
And speaking of that, I wanted to go back to one thing that you said. Because I understand fully that it was probably more theoretical, but I’m curious if you believe that you’ve actually seen this anecdotally. You brought up this idea of narcissism in the sense that it seems the person’s empathy has shut off. Again, I understand it’s theoretical. We’re not going to quote you for a scientific study. I’m genuinely curious.
Mental Health: Narcissistic Behavior
Are you suggesting then that you’ve seen people that you believe otherwise were probably psychologically normal at one point and as a defense mechanism, maybe even as a young or moderately aged adult had to shut off empathy just to get through this kind of stuff?
[00:32:11] Bryanna Austin: I honestly believe that that was the case. Actually, it’s funny that as I said that it clicked in my own experience that that might have been what happened. Because when you lose someone to suicide in the direct family, anyone really, you probably can relate and many people can, but it’s a constant thought process after the fact, especially when you’re dealing with the emotions of the family members.
It’s constant asking questions like what could I have done differently? What could I have done better? How could I have helped this person? What happened? Did I miss something? What could I have done over the years? Where did this begin? Like there’s thousands and thousands, even a year and a half after, it’s like, I’m still asking these questions.
So, your question is, are you suggesting that narcissism is a defense mechanism that’s shut off empathy? I genuinely feel in my heart that that may be an option for narcissistic behavior in this category of people, perhaps. I would love to have the conversation and see what other people think. I don’t know.
[00:33:07] Detective Ev: It’s interesting to play with because I think that’s actually very valid in the sense that, I’m not a psychology major or anything, but I’ve always found it fascinating. I do study it to a degree.
Mental Health: Defense Mechanisms
When you look at antisocial personality disorder traits, for example, we do know that there’s a subset of the population that they’re born with it. You literally can see it as a kid. It’s very scary, not good. We don’t fully understand that, but we have an idea the brain structure is different, whatever.
This was kind of loosely from my understanding how the term psychopathy and sociopathy used to be, and I don’t think they actually define it this way anymore. But psychopathy used to be, hey, this is born. Sociopathy was, oh, this is created.
The point of me saying that is, if a lack of empathy, we already know in some cases can be created by traumatic childhood experiences, who is to say that a 20-year-old or a 22-year-old that has a traumatic experience, that’s especially some of the most severe ones, cannot also develop that same thing as a defense mechanism?
I never, ever share this. It was, honestly, one of my good friends though, someone I was very close to who had passed away a while ago now. Drugs. Bry, I know, swear on my life, that that kid was normal at one point, because I knew him when we were, like, five, six years old in kindergarten. I know he was normal.
And then the stuff that he started doing because of the abuse that he suffered, he tricked me. I didn’t even know how bad this stuff was until later. You can’t fake that at five years old. I’m not a PhD, so maybe I’m wrong. But a five-year-old, you would see the callousness, you think, and the lack of empathy. They wouldn’t have learned how to navigate the world socially yet as many psychopaths do.
Mental Health: Nutrigenomics
I know something went wrong after 5 and before 22, that led to him not being able to properly feel for others. So, I think you’re onto something with that. If you see these things that the empathy shuts off, not because you’re a piece of crap, the exact opposite, you have such a big heart that the only defense mechanism is that.
[00:35:05] Bryanna Austin: Exactly. And I think that it’s fascinating talking about this cause genetics also play a huge role. So, maybe we go back to the labs, and we say, okay, well, let’s look at the genetics of the human being, right? Maybe that’s part of our original assessment. What does the genetic makeup look like?
Now, I am very acutely aware that genes are not definitive, they do not define you. What do we say?
[00:35:24] Detective Ev: We load the gun; environment pulls the trigger.
[00:35:25] Bryanna Austin: Right. So maybe we look at Nutrigenomics. Why don’t we look at that stuff? That’s a huge component that nobody freaking talks about in your academy as the police department. Nobody in their right mind is going to take the time to talk about your nutrigenomics, all the things. Who’s talking about that?
Nobody talks about your genetic makeup and what your DNA looks like. And nobody talks about your poop sample and how that can help you.
[00:35:48] Detective Ev: That’s a brilliant point. We’re already screening them for diseases. Again, I would not qualify just because of the Meniere’s disease and stuff. I think that’s very valid. Even if it was just a risk factor, not an ultimatum, still, why would we play with those people?
Mental Health: Incorporating Functional Medicine & FDN
What if we did know, genetically speaking, using the Nutrigenomics, that you have an 80 percent chance of getting PTSD if you see this in war? Where this other person, yes, they’re going to have to go to therapy, but for whatever reason, they are able to somehow rationalize this or manage this a little better because of something. I think that makes a lot of sense. That’s really interesting.
[00:36:19] Bryanna Austin: Right. And that’s the mission. How can we get functional medicine and functional lab work and DNA testing and genetic understanding into the beginning of the process of screening our military, screening our firefighters, screening our police department people? These people are on the streets, protecting us, going into our homes, protecting our families, fighting for freedom, fighting for themselves.
We’re screening them through Western medicine. Awesome. Great. There’s a time and a place for that. But if we could just add this layer of protection for lack of a better term, not only for the individual’s understanding of themselves better and how they could try to mitigate what potentially could turn that switch on and they just shift, like your friend. You know, what triggers that? There’s something that triggers that. What is it?
If we know what we could do to prevent that, and we add and incorporate functional medicine and FDN into the initial sequence of understanding how to get into these professions, I feel like we could do a heck of a lot more than we are to prevent suicide.
[00:37:24] Detective Ev: Wow! That might be one of the most interesting points of the show today, which is saying something because this has been great.
Mental Health: Functional Labs
Looking at the friend I was referencing that I just know something went wrong, he had an older sibling and a younger sibling. Now all of them ended up doing less than favorable things, but it was completely unique to them, it was different.
Some were, again, callous towards other people; some were more hurtful towards themselves. Others just made risky behaviors that, they’re otherwise good people, but they were doing things very stupid illegally and got themselves in trouble.
So, yeah, when you bring in this genetic component, there’s an age difference, there’s a different time. I’m not suggesting that their experience was identical because it wasn’t. But generally speaking, they lived in the same house. They kind of had the same abuse going on. And yet all three react badly, but very differently in the way that it was bad. I think there’s something there that we just haven’t figured out yet. My gosh, if we figure that out, holy crap, we’ll help a lot of people.
With our last bit of time here, Bry, you don’t need to rush. Just so we have an idea, what other things would be a good idea to screen people with potentially as this hopefully becomes more mainstream? The genetic thing makes a ton of sense to me if we can understand that further. I’m almost wondering like even a hormone test, because if you’re about to go to night shift constantly or sleep four hours a day, probably good to know where that’s at beforehand to see if you’re putting yourself at unnecessary risk.
That’s something that’s coming to the top of my head. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what other testing you’d like to see done preventatively or proactively before they’re even out there.
Mental Health: Looking at the Whole Person
[00:38:52] Bryanna Austin: Great question. Just to summarize, I don’t think I said hormone before. But just to summarize, I think genetics is a really good place to start. I think the hormones, as you just mentioned. Looking at an OAT test, so the mold toxicity, heavy metal testing, and some gut testing would be a great place to start in addition to that.
Honestly, and this might be a push and it might be really tough to do cause it takes more time, and time is money in the government’s eyes, right? So, if you’re going to a government job, time is money. But I would really love to see, and it’s not per se a test, but just an extensive family history or health history, any of the histories, but like more so than we already do.
Cause like you’re saying, again, they were all raised in the same house. They all had some similar upbringings, all started doing similar things, but different, and had different outcomes. Let’s say they were going into some sort of experience in the military or first responder, if we could know that stuff, then maybe we’d be better prepared to handle it on the back end or even when we’re discovering it before they enter the field.
So, in terms of testing, again, we look at the whole person. My mission is to look at the whole person, not just based on testing. So, blood chemistry, I don’t think I said. But I think those would be the basic tests that we’d like to have and push into a regular requirement for this group of people. I think that’d give us a super great starting point, just knowing their toxic loads, understanding if they’ve been exposed to mold.
Mental Health: PTSD
All of it can do crazy things to us, including mental health. Then just the history, if we have a history of personality disorders or things that we’ve been seeing in our lifetime, like from traumatic experiences, that’d be helpful to know.
[00:40:36] Detective Ev: You’ve mentioned that one a couple times. And we do have time for this question so don’t worry. You mentioned the personality disorder specifically a couple of times. Is that something that you believe is like overrepresented in people who get into these careers or was that just more of a personal thing and that’s why you’re mentioning it?
[00:40:53] Bryanna Austin: Honestly, I didn’t even notice I was mentioning it, but it comes to mind, of course, subconsciously, I guess. I think when I’m saying that I don’t think it’s necessarily personality disorder because I’m thinking, when I’m saying it, of PTSD. So, not necessarily the same thing.
Narcissism does come to mind. But I was just thinking subconsciously, I think of what we were talking about earlier about PTSD and things that have happened dramatically to people that are already kind of in that direction of the PTSD. And I don’t even think they’re using PTSD anymore. Correct me if I’m wrong. I think there’s a new category of what that means now.
[00:41:28] Detective Ev: I can’t keep up.
[00:41:30] Bryanna Austin: I know, same. So, I’m just going to say that as an umbrella. And I just want to say too as a disclaimer, I hope that anything that I’ve said today hasn’t offended you or anyone else by generalizing and saying really heavy things like PTSD, like trauma, like all that stuff. I don’t want to offend anyone. This is just from personal experience.
Mental Health: Risking Being Offensive
[00:41:49] Detective Ev: No, you know what? Listen, and maybe this isn’t encouraging, I’m not sure. But I’ve learned this in the public speaking stuff. I mean, Bry, if you put yourself out there to ten people, let alone a hundred or a thousand or whatever, I mean this seriously.
I have done mental health speeches where some kid claimed that this saved their life. Now, I believe we save our own lives, but that’s beside the point. And then another kid was completely offended and upset in the therapist’s office. Same conversation, same speech, two different things.
The point is, Jordan Peterson says this brilliantly. He says, in order to think, you have to risk being offensive. And I think this is where intention matters. Even if someone was upset by something that you said, the idea that anyone could look at you or listen to you in this and say, oh, this is a person with bad intentions is asinine. I don’t know how anyone could interpret it that way.
So, you can not like what someone says, but still understanding that they have good intentions. There are plenty of things that are said to me that meet those exact criteria. And when we think about the intentions of where someone’s coming from, I think that’s when we can actually deepen understanding as humans, instead of just going into defensive and judgmental mode. I would be shocked to find that someone perceived these things that way today. So, don’t worry.
Last quick question, if you don’t mind. Would you think it’s favorable to do things like EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy, neuro feedback? Not you personally, but do you recommend things like that?
Where to Find Bry Austin
[00:43:09] Bryanna Austin: Yes, I highly recommend that being a part of someone’s protocol. I think it’s insanely helpful. It gives them tools that they probably wouldn’t have had before.
Also, just on the topic of other free-ish things is deep breathing and ice baths. These are things that are protocol related that can take the nervous system into a whole new different experience. That’s what we’re trying to do ultimately is shift the nervous system from fight/flight into rest/digest, and learn how to do that in stressful situations, essentially. So yes, all of those things are great.
[00:43:42] Detective Ev: Just so you guys know that are listening and watching, we were kind of joking off air about there’s 270 episodes, so it can’t be the best and it can’t be the worst. But Bry, what this was today, and I mean this quite seriously, for a specific group of people, this was the best. Was it the best for everyone? No, of course not, because some people don’t even get this. But for the people that need this, man, this is top tier. So, thank you.
Where can those people find you if they’d like to work with someone like you that has such an intimate understanding of this stuff?
[00:44:18] Bryanna Austin: Oh gosh, intimate is a strong word. But you know what, if we touched even just one person today, my job can be done.
Mental Health: One Thing to Know
[00:44:38] Detective Ev: Beautiful.
And last thing really quick, it’s the signature question on the show. But I’d like to switch it today just because this has been such a specific topic, if you don’t mind. I want to switch up the question a little bit, because normally it’s like, what’s the one thing we’d get people to do for their health? But I’m just feeling called, I think it’s more relevant today.
The question I’d like to ask you is, if there is one thing that you’d like someone like me, a lay person who’s not a first responder, doesn’t have any in their family, to know about first responders, military, stuff like that, what’s the one thing you’d just want us all to know?
[00:45:09] Bryanna Austin: That’s a great question.
I hate that we’re live because I can’t think about it the way I want to. At the same time, I’d say, honestly, just remember that we’re also human. And I say our, but it was like a total past life for me. I shouldn’t give myself that honor.
I think people that do this job, just remember that they also have emotions and sometimes aren’t perfect and sometimes break down and are triggered when they see things just as much as the normal human being is. As strong as they need to be in certain scenarios, they still deal with it.
And also, the next thing is, remember that these people have families, and their children have to deal with these emotions as well. So, just be kind. Some people are not kind. Just be kind, please.
[00:45:56] Detective Ev: Excellent. You’re definitely kind. You’re leading the way with that.
Excellent perspective. Excellent episode. Thank you so much for finally coming on with me. I think this was well worth the wait.
[00:46:07] Bryanna Austin: No, it was my honor. It was totally my honor. Thank you guys for having me. I’m so excited to be back.
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