Scott DeLuzio 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. Now let’s get on with the show. Hey, everyone, welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Kelsi Sheren. Kelsi is the first Canadian veteran that we’ve had on this show. Thanks for joining us from our neighbors up north she’s the CEO of Brass & Unity and the wrong supporter of military and mental health programs. We’re going to be chatting about her time in the military, what caused her to transition out and how she’s dealt with her own PTSD and TBI, after getting out. Welcome to the show. Kelsi, I’m glad to have you here.
Kelsi Sheren 00:00:56 Thank you so much for having me.
Scott DeLuzio 00:01:00 Before we started recording you, you mentioned you’re, you’re kind of battling a little cold, but you’re, you’re a trooper and you’re still showing up for it. I’m really happy that you are here and that we’re getting this on the recording.
Kelsi Sheren 00:01:15 I hate when people cancel on me and have to move things. I get life happens, but I always try my best to show up. I stayed home all day until this and then decided I could come in for it. I’m glad to be here.
Scott DeLuzio 00:01:31 I appreciate that so much. It’s great having you. We kinda went back and forth trying to figure out a time to get you on here and awesome that you’re here. For the listeners who might not be familiar with you and your story, could you just tell us a little bit about your deployment to Afghanistan and your background with that?
Kelsi Sheren 00:01:51 I was an M seven artillery gunner on the howitzers. We ran the 1 55 S in Afghanistan, I’m from the Canadian artillery or the Royal Canadian artillery. The five regimen of VA Quebec is who I deployed with. I did four years in the military in a very short stint. I ended up being medically released in 2011 with a diagnosis of a post-traumatic stress disorder. I was medically retired then. Everything was pretty quick, like a lot of people do. If there’s courses going, you can bang out all the training really fast. The fact that we were in an active war and we were deployed, and all of those things meant that we were doing rotations in Canada. We knew that we would be deploying fairly quickly after joining. That was the discussion we kind of had when we came and when we got in. I was aware and I did all of my training pretty quickly in 2008. I was posted at the end of 2008 to VSE, which was my regimen that we ended up deploying within April of 2009 to Afghanistan.
Scott DeLuzio 00:03:02 When you were there in Afghanistan obviously you got released from the military with a diagnosis of PTSD. What was that deployment like for you? How did that develop for you? How did that take place in Afghanistan?
Kelsi Sheren 00:03:22 It was fairly simple. I was on an operation with another country and things just went sideways. I was on an F, when we first got there. I went to Framrod. Our artillery unit was sent out there to support some Americans and the rest of the regiment was sent to some other or fabs to support some Canadians and other countries that are in those areas. Ours was very specific. We got to go and hang out at FA rod, which was great. We did a lot of firing there for the Americans, but at the time they were, they were taking other women from other countries in the military and using them as I think you guys call them CSTs is what I’ve learned. Culture support teams I was just told I was being borrowed.
Kelsi Sheren 00:04:09 I ended up being the British military out on operation. Some stuff just kind of went really sideways and it was a little rough and it ended up causing a lot of issues for me and a lot of damage done very quickly in a very short period of time. I finished my deployment two weeks short of the rest of my regiment. Two or three weeks short of the rest of my regiment. I was sent home. and then they wanted to retrain me. They tried to retrain me and that didn’t go well either. Finally, they just said, you’re not gonna get better from this and like enough for us to keep you in the military. They decided at that point that it would be a medical retirement. I think it’s a three-B med retirement in Canada. I’ve been out since May 23rd, 2011. I was supposed to go on like many in our regimen. We would’ve deployed again in a very like, six to nine-month period after that, just based on the amount of rotations the country was doing at the time., I guess it wasn’t in the works or in the plan for me.
Scott DeLuzio 00:05:14 These things happen and, you’re dealt the cards that you get, you are dealt and you kind of have to play ’em the way, right. The way that they fall. It’s actually interesting that the date that you said that you have been out since, because I, my discharge date was June, I think June 11th of that year. It was just like a week or two later or something like that.
Kelsi Sheren 00:05:41 Oh, that’s funny to me. I thought you were gonna say 2009. I was like, oh, that was a really bad day for me. A lot of people, I was like, oh, that’s too close, man. No, no, no, that’s crazy.
Scott DeLuzio 00:05:51 It’s a similar timeframe. We’ve both been out for about the same amount of time, when you got back home, so they diagnosed you with PTSD, they kind of figured it’s not
Kelsi Sheren 00:06:02 Gonna get much better. They diagnosed me when I was in Afghanistan. That operation was bad enough that I started going to the doctor there, they started to see signs and they sent me to the doctor there. Then they gave me an acute diagnosis there and then they started medicating me while I was in the country. That was a great time
Scott DeLuzio 00:06:28 Actually in a way it’s kind of good that they caught that early enough, while you’re still there. That way they’re not throwing you into stuff that you probably weren’t ready for at that point.
Kelsi Sheren 00:06:41 Well, I think that there’s a way to look at that. I think maybe for them, maybe that felt like the right decision for me. It felt like I should have been able to finish out my deployment because I was still effective and I was doing my job. Once they medicated me that it was just sketchy. The fact that they had me on a machine gun doing like an op post tower, like on the tower, like they that’s sketchy. Nobody should be doing that when you’re that drugged outta your mind. My sergeants above me had no idea I was on those medications. I actually was on the phone with him not yesterday day before we were just chatting, catching up. He always brings it up to me because he feels so bad about how badly the situation was handled.
Kelsi Sheren 00:07:28 I had no idea you were on that much medication. I had no idea. None of us had a clue as to what went wrong or what happened. We just knew you just stopped talking. Then some things started. Then some things kind of started happening and they started to realize there was something really, really wrong here. Now, Sarge talks about it now. He’s an officer now, so I refuse to call him by his rank. He didn’t understand and he knows now that he didn’t understand, then it, it was because right around that time, like 2007, 2008, 2009, that’s where coming home from Canada.
Kelsi Sheren 00:08:12 Coming home from Afghanistan back to Canada and people weren’t paying attention to what PTSD was. People had it from early on in the war, but people weren’t catching it or people weren’t aware of it or knew what to really look for. Is it even something real or is it a stress thing that they just figured if they give him rest, it’ll be fine? They weren’t conscious of it. He even says to me, I had no idea what to do with you. I had no clue what to do with you. I wasn’t trained to know what to do with that because it’s not something I learned. When I’m seeing one of my troops, like one of my members, struggling. I know that she went out, he understood some of the stuff that happened.
Kelsi Sheren 00:09:00 I had told him, and he hadn’t heard through others about it. He knew that there was something wrong, but he just didn’t know how to approach it. The problem is, when I was in the country, they should never have medicated me in the country. They should have sent me out of the country as medicated as I was. It just wasn’t a good situation. That’s how you could tell that the ranks above were just inept. They did not know how to handle somebody that was struggling mentally, while they were in the country. They just kept them there and did like monotonous tasks and things like that, which just ends up making it worse. I don’t know if it’s good that they caught it. Hindsight’s 2020.
Kelsi Sheren 00:09:48, I still felt that way. I had a hard time transitioning out because I felt I was ripped away from a situation I wasn’t ready to be taken away from. There was no closure put to that. I think that’s a huge, significant thing to look at when people are leaving Afghanistan, if they’re injured or things like that some people have that feeling of like, I just wanna go back there. Or part of me is still there. I hear that a lot from that. Part of me is still there and that’s okay.I know what that feels like. I can understand. When I was taken, taken out the way I was, it just wasn’t good. Nobody really knew how to handle it. That was definitely like the unfortunate part about having a diagnosis in a country and all of those things. I know maybe they would argue, no, it’s better. We medicated you, you could have been worse. I don’t know about that.
Scott DeLuzio 00:10:45 Hindsight is 20/20, but right. They were probably just doing what they thought was the best at the time. They may not have known, because you said we didn’t really know a whole lot of what to look out for and how to deal with that kind of stuff.
Kelsi Sheren 00:11:03 I was actually getting in a lot of trouble because I was having outbursts, like angry outbursts towards superior officers. They weren’t handling it from a medical standpoint. They were writing me up like legit, like hits against my record and being like, like saying that she’s being insubordinate. They were trying to have me charged on things. They had no fucking clue how to handle mental health. And it’s obvious because at the time I would go and talk to other Americans in the fall and be like, I’m struggling with this. Because these guys were going in and outside the wire constantly. My guys hadn’t left and hadn’t left inside. They weren’t experiencing the same things that I was. I had a very short period of time outside the wire.
Kelsi Sheren 00:11:50 But when I did it, it wasn’t good. It really fucked me up and a lot of people. Those guys that were infantry that were going in and out in and out and seeing shit all the time, I could talk to them, but then I would get in trouble for talking to them, telling them how they were handling it. I just got written up for this thing. Then another Canadian would rat on me to one of the officers being like she’s showing of confidential documents to the Americans when really it was them just saying like she’s being insubordinate when I was literally losing my fucking mind, so right. They didn’t know how to handle it. Thankfully I’m hopeful that they’re starting to handle it better now. I know plenty of people that went through those situations, like sexual assault things while they were over there and it was never dealt with and still never been dealt with. I sometimes have a hard time believing that, they were trying because it was just such a piss poor fucking job track
Scott DeLuzio 00:12:45 It’s an unfortunate situation, maybe a positive way to look at it. Maybe some of the mistakes that were made and maybe they weren’t trying, but hopefully, now they’re trying better and they’re doing better for the troops that, that, that are out there now
Kelsi Sheren 00:13:07 They’re trying,
Scott DeLuzio 00:13:08 They’re trying whether they’re doing a good job or not. I
Kelsi Sheren 00:13:12 I think it comes down
Scott DeLuzio 00:13:13 Not there anymore.
Kelsi Sheren 00:13:14 Well, fair enough. I think it also comes down to who your officers are. Who your superiors are and how educated they are. That’s always a telltale thing is like, if your staff knows what they when it comes to mental health and understands it, that’s gonna be a different thing for the rest of the troops underneath them.
Scott DeLuzio 00:13:29 I also know kind of what you’re talking about, about getting ripped out from that feeling. Being ripped out from Afghanistan and leaving the way he did. My brother deployed the same time I was in Afghanistan. He was killed in action and I was sent home like the day after he was killed. I started my journey home and then a couple of weeks later, watching on the news as the area where the base that I was stationed out of is on CNN. I wish I was there. I didn’t want to be there. I knew in my head I wasn’t gonna be in the right state of mind to be there, but I knew all of the guys who are at that base right now. I need to be there hundred percent. It was just a terrible feeling.
Kelsi Sheren 00:14:20 It is. Yeah.
Scott DeLuzio 00:14:21 it is what it is, and you kind of have to just deal with it and move on. After you got home, what treatments were available to you? I know some of the treatments that are available here in the US, but I don’t know too much about Canadian, VA, and their system up there. What treatments were available to you for the PTSD and eventually you were diagnosed with a TBI, right?
Kelsi Sheren 00:14:47 They are just as bad as you guys. RVA is just as great and awesome as the United States VA. You’re not the only ones. They’re ruthless. I came home and then the military and I was sent home to my regimen and my RSM handed me an envelope and was like, you’re being reposted. You went to Ottawa and you had to report to the hospital. I reported to the hospital, but then after that, no one from the military called me for like a good six months. I found out after talking to my Sergeant. He and I just reconnected a couple of years ago, he said we had no idea where he went. We were not told anything about where you were posted.
Kelsi Sheren 00:15:35 All we were told is to gather up your stuff, you were gone and that was the end of it. We had no idea. I always wondered to myself, why didn’t anyone reach out to me or anything like that? And he said we didn’t know where you were. That makes a lot more sense, obviously. In Ottawa, I would go to the doctor and the only treatments that were available at the time were traditional talk therapy, EMDR, and medication. That was it. And now obviously being 2022, the healing modalities are drastically different than they were in 2009. I’ve gone through a handful of doctors. I was on 10 different pharmaceutical drugs.
Kelsi Sheren 00:16:27 They wanted to retrain me after six months. They kind of reached out and said, we have to start thinking about a position for you and where, because you can’t go back to artillery. Where can you go? What can you do? What can we remaster you to? The only other thing I wanted to do in the military was infantry. They weren’t gonna do that. They said we’re gonna put you at a range. We’re gonna just have you go to half days a week and then that’ll give you time to go to your doctor’s appointments and do all those things. I did that, but really what that did was distance me further from the military and the people I needed support from at the time. I felt very segregated off like this, almost like sickbay or like the, where you guys go when you’re ONAP, when someone breaks a leg and you’re just sitting there in a room. I felt useless.
Kelsi Sheren 00:17:22 I did that two and a half days a week. It was interesting getting reintegrated into Canada, that was a really big struggle for me. Certain things just really hit me and some of my triggers were really prevalent in the area. The way some people dress was a little bit difficult. There was a situation where I attacked a family at a Walmart. I did a really good job of masking it and faking it and, looking like everything was fine, but really I was crumbling inside. I don’t know at the time if they would’ve had better healing modalities. If I would’ve been on a different path, but I know at the time it was medication talk therapy and EMDR, and obviously, they wanted you to work out and stuff cuz you’re still in. Obviously, physical fitness improves mental health significantly. That was really key to keeping me well and keeping me healthy. That was pretty much it at the time.
Scott DeLuzio 00:18:29 You eventually found art therapy right through this.
Kelsi Sheren 00:18:34 It was just in conversation with my doctor. They did all of this for about a year and a half and then they told me I was gonna be released from the military, whether I kind of liked it or not, the retraining wasn’t going fast enough. I wasn’t getting her fast enough. They said we’re gonna release you. I said, Hey, I’d like to be posted out where at the time my boyfriend was in British Columbia. If there’s a posting out there, I can take I’ll, I’m fine to go out there and continue and keep trying to work at this. I didn’t wanna get out. I wanted to be a career military member. That was what I had hoped once I joined and I ended up coming up to British Columbia.
Kelsi Sheren 00:19:14 That’s when I got my long-term doctor that I still have now doc PASI. He’s been with me since 2011 or I think at the end of 2010. He’s been with me all the way to now. Through Congress, we have weekly treatment sessions and stuff like that. We got to a point where he is like suggesting something along the lines, of doing something with my hands. For me, you gotta understand it was a success to like get outta bed every day in a row. That was a big step, big girl steps, I still started to suggest art therapy. I decided I was going for whatever the reason, I was gonna start a jewelry company. At that time I just needed it, it was just a jewelry thing.
Kelsi Sheren 00:20:02 I was building on the kitchen table. I wasn’t trying to make it a company. It rolled into a company kind of naturally on its own. I just started with a pipe cutter, like a handheld pipe cutter, a drill, and a hammer, and then a block of wood and just destroyed my kitchen table. I would build these bracelets, which I called Molly beads. And the company at the time called her wearables. It was making me feel better. I was having days where I didn’t feel suicidal and I was having where I felt like I was alive and that was weird. I kept doing it. Then my husband suggested, Hey, I think you could do something with this. I took it around to a few stores and they purchased it and I really wanted to help the community, but I didn’t know how to do that because at that time, there were nonprofits, but I didn’t know how to run a nonprofit.
Kelsi Sheren 00:20:58 I didn’t know what that would look like. I didn’t really know where to go. I just knew I wanted to help. I figured, well, if I can take this product and then have people buy it, then I can donate money and then I can donate to the nonprofits and they know what they’re doing with it. We did that and it rolled into, in 2016, it rolled into Brass & Unity and we incorporated that. We’ve been Brass & Unity ever since. We’re in our sixth year in business now.
Scott DeLuzio 00:21:29 I love how it turned into that. It started off just as you were on your kitchen table, banging away, making stuff that just made you, made you feel better. It was probably something you just kind of got lost in as you were doing it. Didn’t even realize the benefits of it until afterward. You’re like, oh my God, what is this weird, like good feeling that’s coming over me.
Kelsi Sheren 00:21:55 It wasn’t even necessarily a good feeling. It didn’t hurt to sit up and it wasn’t like painful debris and it wasn’t like everything didn’t take a momentous amount of effort. All of a sudden I was just sitting there peacefully and my mind wasn’t racing and my thoughts weren’t trailing off and going crazy. That was a huge thing for me, was just being able to do that and be successful at that and work towards strengthening my mind a little bit and getting better, with the other treatment I was doing. And then, that led into different types of healing modalities. All kinds of it all started there for sure, which it’s great to see art therapy being utilized by more and more veterans. First responders realize that there’s a creative part of human beings and that when you activate that it can really help your mind. It can help easily, and bring the noise down and fill focusing on a task like that. Those are the things that sometimes get you outta your head, which is what we all need.
Scott DeLuzio 00:22:57 The thing that I love about it too is that you figured out a way to not only use the art therapy for your own benefit to help your own mental health but also if you were to just be doing this for the sake of doing it, you’d be have boxes and boxes piled up of jewelry. That was going nowhere. You turned it into something that now you can get ’em out the door and have some money coming in that you can now donate to some of these charities.
Kelsi Sheren 00:23:29 The whole goal has always been to help other people because there’s no need to suffer on your own for God’s sake. I mean, the world is hard enough. The last thing we need to do is to be doing this on our own. I wanted to also create a community and I thought, something as simple as wearing a bullet could create a community because if you, if you people understood why I was doing it, they could understand and see themselves in something and realize that, oh my God, there’s other people all across the world that have the same issues. That for some reason we tell ourselves, we’re the only ones that go through it, but we’re not. We’re human beings. We’re no different than anyone else. When we are able to see ourselves and everyone else, then we can all kind of be good to one another.
Kelsi Sheren 00:24:09 I could create this community, it could be more than just a jewelry company. We started it back in 2015 when the mental health conversation was just starting. It wasn’t a thing yet. It was very taboo. I started screaming very early on about struggle and we need to do something about it. People are doing that now. It’s a beautiful thing to see people from within their own community, helping their own community because that bleeds into the civilian population. It bleeds into everyone else. It bleeds into the wives of the military or the husbands of the military bleeds into the children of the military. That creates a community. Something they can wear, a touch piece that they can feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. That’s what’s really special to me about it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:24:56 When that community gets the support that it needs, it gets stronger, it gets more resilient and it’s able to impact their own local communities as well. So it has this exponential effect. Not only is it just the military community that’s being helped through programs like this, it’s also their local communities. As these people are getting back into society, getting the help that they need, they’re able to now have a positive impact as well. I mean, it’s a big exponential impact that you, you end up having.
Kelsi Sheren 00:25:34 When you’re starting something or you’re working on something like that, you wonder, how am I gonna get it outta my town? How am I gonna get outta my city? How am I gonna get outta my state? How am I gonna get it into the country? How does that work? It’s like the best way is to do it locally and do it and do it heavily and do it as much as you can. Where I live, there’s not a ton of vets. We don’t have the same type of community. I mean, we have in certain pockets of Canada, but we’re so widespread as a nation with the amount of military members, we’re all spread out really far apart. When you go down to Texas, you can drive any direction every half an hour and see a black rifle of coffee.
Kelsi Sheren 00:26:14 If you go in there, it’s gonna be your like-minded people who are more than likely people in your community, or you have a brother who served you guys. It seems like you guys are all one-degree separation of a military member from some direction in the United and Canada feels a little more spread out. I wanted that community for me, selfishly, I wanted a community again, I wanted the brotherhood and I wanted that sisterhood. I wanted everyone that I had before, where I woke up. I went to work that day and it was just all my homies or all the people I just liked to hang around. We blew things up for a living. I missed that. I missed that community and I wanted it too. I was hopeful that I could not only create it for myself and for the people I wanted to surround myself with but allow that to grow naturally outside of itself.
Kelsi Sheren 00:27:01 I think at the end of day, when you try to affect change, you gotta start small. Those small ripples, they go out and people find it on their own and people connect with it differently or for different reasons on their own. You might not know what those are gonna be. Might shock the hell out of you. I hear these crazy stories all the time. And it’s such a beautiful thing because it doesn’t even have to be military. We’re about mental health. We’re about helping everyone outside of mental health. We don’t want anyone to struggle. In the past two years, fuck, we’re the most divided we’ve ever been across the board. You could all just realize for a second that we’re all just human beings going through a human experience and we’re all affected by it differently.
Kelsi Sheren 00:27:50 We’re gonna react differently to things. If you can give a unifier or something that they can all connect to like, Hey, we, our brains all are hurting right now. It sucks. It’s the reality. But here, if you wear part of our piece or you join our mental health group on, on our signal or you, you come on our lives or you do whatever, we’re all just here to just help each other. We just want each other to feel supported and loved. Somebody would miss you if you weren’t here. Right. That’s the thing affecting change is not easy, but I’ve, I’ve, I’ve built, over the past six years, I’ve done my to put every day forward to helping someone else and doing that just through a very abstract, different way. Everyone has their way of doing it. Black rifle does it with coffee, they help charities. We do it with jewelry with bullets, Combat Flip Flops puts bullets in shoes. I mean, we all do it in a different way, but we’re all doing it nonetheless.
Scott DeLuzio 00:28:45 I think that’s the thing is someone has to do something and that’s what you’re doing. You’re doing something. You try something, maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t work right. In this case, it seems like it’s working. good on you for it. It’s that positive thing. I’m sure you wouldn’t just be sitting there like, oh, oh, well, let’s just throw in the towel. I’m done. You’d find something else that would work. You keep trying until something works.
Kelsi Sheren 00:29:17 Yeah. Because at the end of the day, I don’t do this to make money. I don’t even take a paycheck for Christ’s sake. I don’t do this for that. I do it because I wanna help people. I don’t want anyone to kill themselves anymore. I want people to realize that they should be here on this planet and that it’s not their time to go. You should wanna help people right now when you see the world struggling, the way it is, you should want to help people. There’s just so much hurt right now. There’s no need to just feel alone and right. More than ever. I don’t wanna see people suffering anymore. I don’t think anybody does
Scott DeLuzio 00:29:51 That’s exactly why I started this podcast. I was lucky enough that the company I was in, we didn’t lose any soldiers overseas in Afghanistan, but when we came home, we started losing them here to suicide. We came from a country where people actually wanted to kill you and you came home. You came back to a country where people actually wanted you to thrive and do well. Now we are losing you. That didn’t make sense to me. I wanted to do whatever I could and reach as many people as I could by offering words of wisdom or inspirational stories or even other resources that are out there, different types of therapies, cuz God knows enough. People have gone to the VA and gotten frustrated and just didn’t want to continue doing anything. There’s other stuff just like with this jewelry business, with the coffee business, with the combat flip flops, with all those things, try something. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else. Keep trying, just don’t quit. Try.
Scott DeLuzio 00:30:55 Yeah, exactly.
Kelsi Sheren 00:30:56 That’s the key, right?
Scott DeLuzio 00:30:57 Eventually you were diagnosed with PTSD, right? When did that diagnosis come up and, what kind of treatment was available for that?
Kelsi Sheren 00:31:10 I haven’t even been rated yet for it. I got diagnosed when I went down to do some treatment. What we now know is that small arms and things like artillery and mortars cause a concussive blast every time you fire one. I was an artillery gun and a mortarman and shot, small arms fire and everything else. Those things all have repetition hits to the head. I was going down a slow decline for the past 10 years. Like the PTSD thing. We knew what I was dealing with and ways to cope with it daily and slowly getting better with that. Obviously, there’s gonna be some things for me personally that are like lifelong issues, but there’s gonna be some that used to be crippling and now they’re nothing.
Kelsi Sheren 00:31:58 So it really just depends., I started to have more of a slow decline in terms of things like my memory was getting really bad. In my inability, my gut health was an issue. I was sensitive to everything. Light sensitivity was like getting outta control if it was sunny. If I had a pair of my sunglasses on, I would still be pouring tears. It was just so aggressive. I was starting to get these bouts of vertigo. I had a chronic migraine all the time that I just thought was normal. I just always had head pain. Those were just some of the symptoms, but those are things that I was kind of slowly progressing with since I got back. Didn’t really think anything of it.
Kelsi Sheren 00:32:45 Then really what happened was my husband started showing the same issues. Then one-day last year, his whole body just shut off. It just shut the fuck off. We were just making conversation. I was smoking a joint and all of a sudden he goes, honey, I’m dying. He grabbed his chest and he dropped in the garage and it was arguably one of the scariest moments of my life since Afghanistan because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to help him. All I know is I started having a huge wave of adrenaline income. I just started running in the house for keys and the phone and everything else. I called 9 1 1 and they put us on hold. I called my neighbor over and they helped get Brady to the car.
Kelsi Sheren 00:33:34 They stayed at the house while our son was there and I got to the emergency room with him. Then they decided that because Brady had ingested cannabis, they weren’t going to treat him properly. They deemed him a drug user on paperwork. Brady was crashing like I’ve never seen. It was the weirdest thing. He literally went from full conversation to nothing. Right after that, even when he was conscious, he was in and out and he was gray and he was sweating profusely. I thought he was having a heart attack. I didn’t think it was a stroke because he was talking, but it was bad. They were just absolutely horrendous at the hospital and they ended up releasing him. I don’t even know what they said. I don’t know if they even gave us the thing.
Kelsi Sheren 00:34:20 They thought maybe it was blood sugar related and we’re like, his sugars were fine. It took us a very long time and only, and I mean only because my husband is very research-based like he’ll research something to death and he’s very smart. As he started to decline and was not able to get outta bed and not be able to do anything or tolerate anything, he started researching and researching, and then we thought he was diabetic. Then we thought he had another issue. Then we thought it was this. Then we thought it was that because the doctors had no answers. Finally, we were sitting there one day and I was like, I wonder if it’s your head because he was a professional, a cross racer. So this guy has hit his head more times than I can count and broken both femurs and all of EV, all of the stuff.
Kelsi Sheren 00:35:09 He started asking the doctor about getting an MRI and all these things. We did all of that. I just made a call to a friend of mine. He was an army ranger, Ron O’Farrell. Because I knew Ron had done this treatment program in Texas at the resiliency brain health center through defenders of freedom. I knew I watched him go through it. He kind of documented it on Instagram and he was doing amazing symptoms and stuff. He was having issues with getting better, like crazy better. I called him and actually, left him a voice message and I was bawling my eyes out. I said I need someone to help me because no one up here in Canada has a clue.
Kelsi Sheren 00:35:53 Brady ended up going down to the brain resiliency center, with doc G and everyone down there. We found out Brady had a TBI and that’s what was happening. His hormones were bottoming it out and bottoming out and all these things were happening and what men don’t understand or just finding out now, or, or aren’t aware when they have head injuries and as they age, their testosterone drops. But when you have a head injury, it really bottoms out and a lot of your hormones, and it will shut your body down with stress and everything. It’s really, really bad. Because of that we went, or maybe there’s something to that with Kelsi, maybe there’s something to a lot of these issues that were progressively getting worse. Things were not getting better.
Kelsi Sheren 00:36:39 They were getting worse. The psychedelics had helped me a lot, probably 50 to 60%. It was better after experiencing psychedelics from the PTS side, but there were some other things that were just not good. Defenders of Freedom sent me to the Brain Resiliency Center and I did two weeks of intensive TBI treatment and yeah, sure enough, a TBI. So, the VA now in Canada is just starting to get paperwork from me about this because it’s gone, since 2011, so 12 years, 10, 11 years. I wasn’t rated for it. I talked to my kid, she said, straight up, this is something new we’re seeing in people. Before the diagnosis might have been PTS, but really it was probably both. The way of treating things obviously changes as you understand what’s wrong with the body.
Scott DeLuzio 00:37:36 From what I understand, some of the symptoms of a TBI mimic some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress as well. It could be hard to diagnose when you’re having some of the same symptoms. But what did the treatment look like when you were down there? What was that treatment that you went through?
Kelsi Sheren 00:37:59 I did a lot of different things and I don’t know the medical terms. I did an episode with Doc G who runs the brain resiliency center. I think it’s episode 98 or 99 on my show. We kind of broke it down, everything that they did to me and why they did it to me. There were a lot of different things. In terms of you do a whole bunch of testing when you get there, and they’re able to show you your test results and basically why your brain isn’t working and that’s a fun conversation. Here’s all your faults. but here’s how we’re gonna fix them. There’s everything from eye movements. Like SKAs who you do these it’s like these, this eye work, which is really, it sounds simple.
Kelsi Sheren 00:38:43 They use a little stick to do it with, but I’m telling you right now, I call it the death stick because it is so intensive and it’s so hard on the brain. Then they have one of those lovely chairs that looks like an astronaut chair, where they spin you upside down and do all these things. They’re checking for things like that. I found out I have disc anemia. At a certain point, when you tip me backward, my brain feels like it’s flipping upside down. So that’s why I had things like car sickness constantly unless I’m driving motion sickness. My brain is not right. You do things like that. You do a lot of things differently. Have you ever seen those blaze pods, in the gym? The pods you hit with the lights?
Kelsi Sheren 00:39:25 I want you to say the alphabet and I want you to say a food for every letter, and then you can hit the light, like just really intense or slow like work. Then sitting over with the interactive metronome. It’s a computer game. You play with sensors on your hands, on your feet and you’re listening to things. When it does, it helps you slow down your brain or speed it up. Depending on how your frontal lobe processes things, it will help with that. My God, that is exhausting. My legs buckled at one point, it was so weird. It’s all like sneaky, painful, good stuff. It doesn’t make sense why they’re doing it, but whatever they’re doing, it’s working.
Kelsi Sheren 00:40:11 You just do lots of things like they’re really talented, smart individuals down there and they’re on the cutting edge of every different science. There’s our RTMS, which is like electromagnetic pulsation on your head. And it is the best feeling in the world. It takes your anxiety down tenfold. I wish I had a machine in my house. Those types of things. I was having a stroke response on my face from types of migraines. The left side of my face was drooping. Stimulating nerves and getting the nerves and the neurons and your brain to start firing again. When it started happening, it felt really painful at one point. Then all of a sudden it lifted, which was this, it was a wild experience, but it is definitely one that I can say is transformative. It’s terrifying to realize that I was living that long with that many symptoms and realizing, and thinking that was just normal healthy behavior. When realistically we didn’t, they always say to you, you don’t know what good is. I was asking how are you feeling? I’m like, good.
Scott DeLuzio 00:41:17 When a vet goes to the doctor and the doctor says, okay what’s your pain level? And it’s, I don’t know. The normal amount of a normal amount is zero. But it’s like, wait, really? No, I don’t, I don’t think so. No, it can’t be zero.
Kelsi Sheren 00:41:33 Exactly. You must be in some type of pain all the time.
Scott DeLuzio 00:41:36 I mean, that’s just normal, right? You’re it’s either your back or your knees or your head or your arms, whatever, it’s something. it is interesting that they have all those types, different types of treatments obviously a TBI is gonna affect each individual a little bit differently. Like you said, either slowing down or speeding up or whatever the case may be. I also have heard of another treatment that has done some good work for TBIs and it’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Kelsi Sheren 00:42:15 They don’t do it there, but they do recommend it. They do check your hormone levels and they check your panels and they also balance you chemically. That’s a huge thing they do down there that really helps with all of the training and treatment you’re gonna do. Then they send you home with a ton of homework to keep progressing and getting better. There are other things that they suggest if you can do hyperbaric, they’re gonna suggest you do it because it’s great. We’re actually looking at getting a home one because my husband and I both need it. Those things are not cheap sessions. If you can get it covered, hyperbaric is definitely something that they suggest doing. There’s a lot of little things suggested doing, and I just scratch the surface of the different treatments they do there.
Kelsi Sheren 00:42:59 But I know my God, they’re at the forefront. They’re constantly there when I was there. They were signing up for another clinic to go to another thing, to learn another thing, like they’re constantly learning and changing they’re healing modalities to help as people come back they start to see different symptoms and dealing with men and women are very different. Because women have a different balance of inflammation halfway throughout the month and men don’t. There’s a lot of different things. They’re very specific and individualized treatments. I wasn’t doing the same stuff as one of the Army Rangers, J Belfor. He was there. I didn’t do some of the stuff he did. He didn’t do some of the stuff I did. It’s because it’s not what was needed. But hyperbaric definitely, really keeping on your fitness to those types of things is, is really important to keep everything moving.
Kelsi Sheren 00:43:50 I said, they’ll balance you chemically. Your vitamins and the things that you’re supposed to be on being, paying attention to that wearing blue light glasses after a certain period of time, or when you’re on a screen. The only time I don’t wear them is when I’m doing a podcast. But always having a pair of blue light glasses, because that really affects the straining of the eyes, wears you out and it affects TBIs, those types of things. There’s tons of little things that they teach you when you go down there that you take home and you just keep improving and working on. It’s an interesting process, but it’s definitely a game-changer for sure.
Scott DeLuzio 00:44:25 All those little things like the blue light glasses and all those little things are things that add up over time. If you’re not doing that kind of stuff over time, that’s gonna just make matters worse. What you’ve learned and what you’re able to take away from that is probably invaluable and it’s, and it’s only gonna help as you go forward.
Kelsi Sheren 00:44:46 You gotta be accountable, right? It’s not a quick fix. This isn’t like something it’s not like, it’s like anything else you wanna get? You wanna get good at it. You gotta practice. You practice the things they teach you. You make sure you do it the way you’re supposed to and you pay attention to it. One of the best things they taught me that I use when I’m in the office all the time. It sounds really silly, but it’s a good take home for listeners if you’re having anxiety or you can feel yourself kind of spiking up or getting upset. One of the best ways to help slow that down is to gargle water. Gargling water is really hard. I’m saying like on repeat, you’ll feel yourself come down from it because what it does is it vibrates the VA nerve. That helps slow the fight or flight. It brings it down. Garing water or humming or singing, cuz it vibrates. It affects it in a massive way. Those are like, seriously, Gargling water, singing, or vibrating right here. That makes a massive difference.
Scott DeLuzio 00:45:51 All those things just sound so simple. I know things like almost like you’re shitting me like that. It’s that easy.
Scott DeLuzio 00:46:00 I haven’t been in that position where I’ve needed that type of treatment thankfully. But, when people like yourself go and do that, it’s like, oh my God, it was that simple. All this time, I could have just done that.
Kelsi Sheren 00:46:15 Yeah. It’s that certain things seem that simple. Then there’s definitely in combination with X, Y, and Z and medication and blah, blah, blah. There’s definitely a lot more to it, but those are little simple things that help bring you down. That was a thing for me. I would be standing there. I had a conversation with the founder, Donna Cranston. She came to see me at the clinic and we were just talking about something, nothing controversial, just something that I was maybe irritated with. I don’t do it very much anymore. My whole body would just start to shake, and I couldn’t make it, it stopped. It was just normal for me. She goes, are you okay? I said, yeah, why?
Kelsi Sheren 00:46:59 The doctor started on the core eye. She’s like, all right, come sit down with me. You’re not okay. Let’s talk about what just happened there to your body. It was a cortisol spike and it was a big dump of cortisol so that my body was reacting to it really aggressively. She started doing all these different treatments, but then when I left, she goes, listen, there’s throughout you learn. That’s the thing. They don’t just do things to you. They teach you while you’re doing it. Which helps significantly. That helps me wrap my brain around. Why is she making me hit these colored lights on the wall or tap my hands like this? What is the point of this? But the water thing, in particular, it’s super effective and anybody can do it. It’s gargling water and then it’s done.
Kelsi Sheren 00:47:41 It’s like gargling for a couple of minutes, like spit out and then try and then keep going because it will bring you down. But those little things that we don’t think about. I mean, a lot of, a lot of people wanna quick fix and I get it. But if you can learn, go and do a program like this or get the opportunity to heal properly and then learn techniques. The least you can do is at least pass on a few of those little handfuls of techniques that you learn but hopefully can help bring somebody else down when they’re having a panic attack or you can feel, they can feel themselves getting worked out.
Scott DeLuzio 00:48:15 That’s great that these treatments are available. Unfortunately, I wish there was more available locally for you that didn’t require you to come all that way, to figure it out.
Kelsi Sheren 00:48:27 I’d rather it’s fine. I would rather come down to Texas. I love America. They’re they’re free.
Scott DeLuzio 00:48:34 I wasn’t gonna go there, but you did. It’s fine.
Kelsi Sheren 00:48:38 That’s cool. I was on the drinking bro last week and we were having a whole conversation about it. They brought me on specifically to talk about how we’re communist, so it’s fine. I’ve got no issue talking about it. So it’s nice to come down to places like Texas, where I could have open conversation and dialogue and not feel like the crazy person in the room.
Scott DeLuzio 00:48:58 Right? Well, definitely not. I think you’re on the right track there. You also mentioned your podcast, the Brass community podcast. I wanna give you a chance to talk about that. What, is that all about, and, what can people expect when they check that out?
Kelsi Sheren 00:49:15 Oh God. So I started it about a year and a half ago now. I think it’ll be a year and a half now. We just hit our hundredth episode on Friday. Our first year we did one episode a week and then this year we bumped two episodes a week and it’ll be bumped to three soon. But what the Brass community podcast is to talk to all walks of life. People, tier-one special forces, actors, professional athletes, fortune 500 CEOs, doctors, neurologists, and all types of individuals. I pull apart their life. I wanna know how they got to where they are. I wanna understand them in a way that they haven’t really shared with others. I want them to be vulnerable and talk to me about real-life issues that they’ve gone through with their mental health and with, their life and how they’ve been able to pull themselves out of progress and get better.
Kelsi Sheren 00:50:00 I want them to share the tools that they’ve learned so that others that are listening can pick something up from it and hopefully put it and progress and integrate it into their lives so that they get something positive from it. So we don’t sit there and run about the news. We talk about the realities of life and individual stories. And we have conversations where sometimes we go on tangents about plenty other things, Lego on one of them with a professional rower for the Olympic rower, from Britain. We ranted about Lego for a while, but there we talked about all different types of things. Sometimes, the world bleeds into it a bit and we have those types of conversations, but for the most part, it’s individualized based on the guest.
Kelsi Sheren 00:50:42 We do episodes from an hour to three hours with the mindset of I wanted to do something different than just sell jewelry. I wanted people to understand why I do what I do and it gave me an opportunity to do so. We’ve been really fortunate with the show. We’ve had some great people on We’ve had some great actors from a band of brothers. We just had Alexander Ludwig on for a hundredth episode from Vikings, and Lone Survivor we’ve, but we’ve had people from the community we’ve had Mike Glover on we’ve had Andy Stump. We’ve had Brian Bishop. We’ve had Griff from combat flip Flo. We have community members. We have gang member units from the RCMP police. We have Dean Scott, we have special forces from Britain. We have ’em from everywhere. We kind of talk to as many different personalities as possible. People who feel like they have something to share. That’s kind of the show.
Scott DeLuzio 00:51:40 It sounds like your show and this show has a very similar mission in terms of sharing stories, telling people’s sides of things, and how they’ve progressed through stuff. I’m glad to have you on hand and be able to share that with my audience because quite frankly, I don’t care where people get the help that they’re looking for. I don’t care where they get the inspiration, whatever. If you find it on the Brass Unity podcast. Awesome, cool. We’ve checked that box, and we’ve helped somebody. Go check out that podcast. For the listeners, I really do encourage people to go, go check it out, subscribe. I’m assuming wherever you listen to podcasts, that you can find that right. go check it out, subscribe to it, listen to a few of the app and see, see if you can’t find what you’re looking for on that podcast as well. Really thank you at the end of the day, we wanna help people bottom line. I don’t care where they find it. Anyways, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today. I really enjoyed this conversation. I think it’s a lot of fun and I’m sure we could probably go on for a few more hours if we let it go that far, but, maybe we’ll have to have you back on another time.
Kelsi Sheren 00:52:59 For sure anytime.
Scott DeLuzio 00:53:01 Where can people go to support Brass Unity and all the stuff that you guys are doing and check out all the products that you have to offer.
Kelsi Sheren 00:53:09 Yeah. You can go to brass, I unity, brassandunity.com. We ship everywhere in the world. If you’re from Canada, we have retail locations with can X, which is at our PXS. We sell at the Marine Corps exchange as well you can get everything online. We also, yeah, we have Instagram, which is bras and unity. my Instagram is just Kelsi, Sharon. There, we post a lot of different content, not just about the show, but just lifestyle, kind of what we’re doing. If you sign up for the subscription list for the website, you get 30% off your first order. So that’s always fun. You can pretty much find anything on social media we’re around. We’ve done a few other podcasts if you’re kind of looking to hear just more about me and who I am or the show we have you can take a look, we’ve got all those podcasts listed as well.
Scott DeLuzio 00:53:58 As an American here for people who might be thinking about ordering something from Brass Inity, and worry about shipping times and things like that. I bought something from Brass Unity. I actually got, I got, the quattro.
Scott DeLuzio 00:54:21 Yes. From Brass & Unity. And I ordered it on a Sunday, like late Sunday night, and I think it was in the mailbox on Wednesday, or maybe Thursday or something like that. It was quick. If you’re worried about shipping times or, or anything like customs or whatever, it was quick, I was actually surprised at how quick it was. Because I actually ordered it for a Mother’s Day present and I was thinking, okay, I’ll give it a few weeks, just in case it gets hung up in customs or whatever. Now I’m good to go. I still have it, with plenty of time. I was pretty psyched about that.
Kelsi Sheren 00:55:01 Just because we’re Canadian doesn’t mean we’re that far. We live on the border, so we’re really close. Ship, everything from here. Don’t stress, we’ve got you covered.
Scott DeLuzio 00:55:08 Yeah. It helps that I’m on the west coast, but yeah. Even for the east coast, it’s not gonna take that much longer. Your shipping times are amazing. The product is great. I really do encourage people to go check that out and support Brass & Unity as well. I’ll have links to everything, your social media, your website, the podcast, everything in the show notes. So anyone who wants to check it out, please check out the show notes and head on over to brass unity.com and check out all the great products that they have to offer. Thanks again, Kelsi, for joining me today.
Kelsi Sheren 00:55:41 Thanks so much for having me.
Scott DeLuzio 00:55:43 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.