Episode 216 Sonja Wasden Starting Conversations About Mental Health Transcript

This transcript is from episode 216 with guest Sonja Wasden.

[00:00:00] Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran active duty guard reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host Scott DeLuzio and now let’s get on with the show.

[00:00:21] Scott DeLuzio: Hey everybody welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Sonja Wasden. Sonja is a suicide survivor and a mental health advocate. Who’s here to discuss how we can have meaningful conversations about both suicide and mental health. And I think these conversations are especially important because if we’re not talking about them we tend to ignore them and nothing seems to really get better when they are ignored.

[00:00:49] Scott DeLuzio: So, without further ado wanna welcome to the show, Sonja. Thanks for being here.

[00:00:54] Sonja Wasden: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here.

[00:00:57] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. When we first met and we started just [00:01:00] real brief getting to know each other a little bit your story just seemed to kind of resonate with.

[00:01:05] Scott DeLuzio: The types of things that we talk about on this podcast. And I know your story doesn’t necessarily come from a veteran’s perspective, which is a lot of what we talk about here, but certain topics like suicide, mental health, other things like that for. Years and years have just sort of been taboo and like, people didn’t want to really talk about those types of things.

[00:01:26] Scott DeLuzio: It’s almost like we just brush ’em under the rug. Go away. If we don’t talk about them. But but if we don’t talk about them, then, like I said earlier don’t. Really see how we can make them any better without bringing to light some of the issues that are going on. So, so that’s why I’m really excited to have you here, because it seems like that’s really in your wheelhouse.

[00:01:44] Scott DeLuzio: Like what you are doing is really bringing this up and talking about these hard to talk about issues and really helping people get to the core of what’s going on with all of this, right?

[00:01:54] Sonja Wasden: Yeah. Yeah. Well, 22 veterans die of suicide every day. [00:02:00] That’s one, every 65 seconds. And I feel like, especially people in the military, they give their lives to service.

[00:02:08] Sonja Wasden: They’re there to protect they’re there to help. And so sometimes when I work with veterans and I have spoken to them, they think suck it up. I’m tough. I’m strong. I’m serving. I mean, what they do is incredible, but nevertheless, their mental health is just as important. And I think oftentimes gets neglected.

[00:02:28] Sonja Wasden: Now the government and people are doing more programs for them, which is amazing. There needs to be more done, but you know, even. You know me who hasn’t dedicated my life. Like they have to others and, protecting others. But I still hid my mental illness for over 20 years because of the stigma, because of the shame.

[00:02:50] Sonja Wasden: And it got to the point where I wasn’t really getting the help that I needed. And so I swallowed over a hundred pills of my antipsychotics and [00:03:00] attempt to take my life. And so what I would encourage. The military and that’s even their spouses, I’ve talked to them too, their spouses, it’s a family thing that they’re dealing with that they, that it is courageous to speak up.

[00:03:16] Sonja Wasden: We’ve gotta change. The dialogue of you are brave. You are courageous and you are strong.

[00:03:21] Sonja Wasden: And the more they do it, the more other veterans will come forward or even active duty

[00:03:28] Scott DeLuzio: That’s true. When you start talking about this, it in. Think about how I phrase this, when you start talking about this in a way that encourages people to get the help that they need. It becomes almost a snowball effect where one person looks at it and is like, okay, well, I guess it’s okay to talk about this.

[00:03:49] Scott DeLuzio: Now we’ve kind of accepted this and then the next person. Oh, well, okay, well that, that’s something we can talk, I guess we’re cool with this now. We’re talking about this and we’re doing this thing. Right. But [00:04:00] I know even, gosh, a little over 20 years ago, there, there was a TV shows and things like that.

[00:04:08] Scott DeLuzio: Where people would talk about going to a therapist or something along those lines and people would book at ’em like, oh my gosh, are. are you crazy? Like, what are you thinking? Like why would you go and do that? And if, you fast forward to now and you see these conversations, like the one that we’re having right now, and it’s a complete 180 from where people were back then.

[00:04:32] Scott DeLuzio: And if that wasn’t even all that long ago, if you think about it, right. There’s I mean, some of these television shows they made jokes about this type of stuff. Like it. Something funny when you’re talking about someone’s mental health and someone’s wellbeing, it’s like, that’s not, you wouldn’t make a joke about cancer or about, someone who was in a car accident or something like that.

[00:04:52] Scott DeLuzio: Just, it’s not funny first off, like, and second off it’s not productive. It’s not helpful either. So, now we have this. [00:05:00] Little change in the way that society is looking at this stuff. And now it’s opening the door to having these kind of conversations where it’s a little more productive and it gets us to get, gets us to a point where we can actually.

[00:05:13] Scott DeLuzio: Make some sane, rational decisions about what’s going on in the mental health space in this country, right?

[00:05:21] Sonja Wasden: Yeah. And I think it’s also one thing. It was really neat. I went for this lady reigns of hope in California. She has where. Veterans and active duty come and do therapy with the horses. And we okay.

[00:05:35] Sonja Wasden: Were talking to their staff and there was also some veterans there. And as he shared his difficulty in with his mental health, it made other veterans feel comfortable. And so, like you said, this conversation is gotten better. There’s a long way to go. . But as every person speaks.

[00:05:57] Sonja Wasden: And makes themselves vulnerable, which [00:06:00] is takes a lot of courage. Then the next person can come forward and talk. Yeah. Like when I was taken to the hospital where my husband was currently CEO and a leading psychiatrist there told him, never bring her back to this hospital. Again, take her to a hospital where people don’t know you.

[00:06:17] Sonja Wasden: So even the psychiatrist, right. Know that there’s stigma and what’s unfortunate. I know his intentions were good. But what, it could have been a learning moment to say, Hey, even the CEO’s wife. Right. Just attempted suicide. Let’s have a conversation let’s come forward. And so I think that’s, what’s gotta change cuz as long as suicide kills conversations, it’s gonna continue to kill people.

[00:06:41] Sonja Wasden: Yeah. And so I think what’s so critical for the military and government and people who are supporting them is to have these open conversations. So we’re not having 22 veterans die suicide every day. Exactly.

[00:06:53] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I mean, that’s one of the reasons why I started this podcast because I’ve personally [00:07:00] known several soldiers who served with me at one point or another who either committed suicide or were on that brink where they were suicidal and they were about to had they.

[00:07:10] Scott DeLuzio: Had some sort of intervention from supportive family members or other people in their lives. The, that number of people who actually were successful in committing suicide could have been even higher. And thank God it wasn’t higher, but I, to me this conversation is just so important because it opens up this door to let people know that it’s okay to get help.

[00:07:31] Scott DeLuzio: It’s okay to talk to people. It’s okay. And it doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, whether you’re A lower enlisted person in the military all the way up to high ranking officers like generals and things like that. It can affect you. It can affect your family. It can affect the people who are around you just the same as it can anybody else.

[00:07:50] Scott DeLuzio: And, I think you’re good example of that because not to necessarily shine the spotlight on your situation, but you. On the outside, looking in to [00:08:00] your life. It would seem like, well, you got everything going for you, right? Your husband’s a CEO. got your pretty successful, you should be a fairly happy life.

[00:08:09] Scott DeLuzio: Right. And why, what went wrong? What happened? And obviously something was there and something that wasn’t being addressed. But to someone on the outside looking in, they may not realize that there was something going on at that point. Right.

[00:08:22] Sonja Wasden: Well, exactly. So. I appeared to be living the Ida life, married to the hospital, CEO, three beautiful children, a beautiful house, attending charity events.

[00:08:31] Sonja Wasden: I would go to the psychiatric hospital, spend a week there, go to church the next day. No one knew not anyone, not even our church leaders, not my friends. I kept it a secret because I didn’t want the stigma. Right. You’re crazy. You’re weak. And people at church would be like, how are you? And I’d be like, I’m wonderful.

[00:08:51] Sonja Wasden: It’s great. Even though behind closed doors, obviously my life was holding darker storylines [00:09:00] and. I was like walking on broken glass. And so a lot of us put forward this front, right until obviously I got to my breaking point and attempted suicide. And then all my neighbors right. Saw the ambulance, meet my body, taking out under stretcher, then the secret was out.

[00:09:18] Sonja Wasden: Right. But we have to have these conversations about, Your mental health and what I would encourage people when you start feeling like your mental health, isolating, sleep, changing, eating, changing thoughts and sadness that those are a little alarm bells of saying you, your mental health is saying pay attention to me because just like your physical health.

[00:09:43] Sonja Wasden: Your mental health is just as important. So, you may be working out and getting really fit, but your mental health is just as important. And if you don’t take care of it, your mental health is going to, keep pounding on that door to you saying, pay attention to me. And, we’ve gotta do that.

[00:09:58] Sonja Wasden: And a lot of people in the [00:10:00] military also go through a lot of experiences that cause a lot of trauma and how does someone process that? And when you have those experiences, they do need therapy. They do need somebody to walk them through that, to, heal from those things. I mean, they’re putting their life on the line and their families.

[00:10:18] Sonja Wasden: Their families are sacrificing. So it’s not just the military women and men going out, but it’s also the families.

[00:10:28] Scott DeLuzio: It is, it’s. A group effort in, in, in a strange way, right? The service member. Yes. They do put themselves in harm’s way. Very often whether they’re deployed or even in training exercises, things go wrong in training exercises all the time.

[00:10:44] Scott DeLuzio: And they could see things or do things that. It will affect them. It will traumatize them and they bring that home and now the families are dealing with that. Or even if they don’t bring it home the while they’re deployed or while they’re out on these training exercises, the [00:11:00] families are home worried.

[00:11:01] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. What’s going on? What’s happening with our loved one who’s deployed overseas or who’s off on this week or two week long training exercise or whatever, and, will I ever see them again? And that takes a toll on the families as well. So, so you’re right. I there’s a lot going on with all of that.

[00:11:20] Scott DeLuzio: So I guess the biggest question that I have right now is. How would you suggest that we start having these productive conversations about mental health, about suicide, about these tough topics? That a lot of times, traditionally people didn’t want to talk about, they just swept it under the rug or push it down.

[00:11:37] Scott DeLuzio: Where do we get started? I know conversations like the one you and I are having right now are a good place to start, but just, for the people listening where can they get started with this,

[00:11:46] Sonja Wasden: People ask me a lot of time. I’m a big mental health advocate and I do a lot of advocacy work, but the best type of advocacy you can do is write in your circle of influence.

[00:11:56] Sonja Wasden: So whatever military families you are [00:12:00] with or around your friends, start with your own voice. So if you’re having suicidal urges, or if you’re having mental health challenges, share that with your fellow. Veterans or active military friends or your wife or the whites should be talking, or when you go to dinner with your couples or your families have these conversations.

[00:12:27] Sonja Wasden: So if you wanna make the biggest change, like I know I’ve been reading some articles, some things the government is starting to do for military families. And I think that’s wonderful, but what I really think is most powerful is any military. Person or any military family member he’s listening to us right now, you can make the most biggest impact more than any program, speak to the people in your circle, your families, your friends, your children, open up the conversation.

[00:12:59] Sonja Wasden: And that [00:13:00] takes courage and vulnerability. And I just, that is the number one thing. Because then imagine if everybody’s doing that, then it just spreads like wildfire right. Throughout all military’s family. So I know military moves a lot every time you move, you know what I mean? Share even if you have recovered, even if you’ve gotten through it, Share say, Hey, this is what I went through and I got through it and I’m stronger and it’s okay, you will get through it.

[00:13:30] Sonja Wasden: So even if you’re have moved past it, it’s just as important for you to share your success story.

[00:13:36] Scott DeLuzio: Exactly. And that’s what I do a lot on this podcast is I have people on, who’ve been through. Different struggles. It could be mental health related struggles could be homelessness or substance abuse or, and I know a lot of those things are all tied to mental health and everything.

[00:13:50] Scott DeLuzio: And that’s fine, but they’ve overcome the issues that they were dealing with. And they’ve made it through that dark time in their [00:14:00] life. And they are now leading happier, healthier, more productive lives. And for exactly the reason that you just said, it’s there to. Serve as inspiration or to give hope to the people who are listening to let them know that, someone else has been there and done that too.

[00:14:17] Scott DeLuzio: And while you may seem like all hope is lost and that everything is all doom and gloom and everything, there are better days ahead. You just have to work through this tough time and you’ll get there. Right?

[00:14:30] Sonja Wasden: Yeah. And I always like to tell people how you’re feeling today. You won’t always feel this way.

[00:14:37] Sonja Wasden: And even with the joy life is up and down. We have joyful moments. That’s how we know we’re alive is that we have difficult and hard moments. So when you’re in those hard moments, These feelings will pass. You will not always feel this way because no feeling stays forever. And I have mental health challenges that’s for a lifetime so mine’s biological.

[00:14:58] Sonja Wasden: Mine’s not even environmental, [00:15:00] so mine’s for life. And I have them all the time, but when I’m having a difficult moment, I always know, okay, it’s gonna change just like the weather. The sun’s gonna come out and then you embrace that. But I also wanted to tell you one other thing that people have done that have found really helpful, and I’m not doing this to sell books, just buy one and pass it around.

[00:15:20] Sonja Wasden: I always tell people, I wanna see how many, one copy of my book, how many people it can get to, but my book and impossible life. You can get it on Amazon and it’s the Eric Hoffer, 2022 grand prize winner. But you know what, one thing that some veterans have done, they’ve had book clubs and I know this sounds crazy, but they do.

[00:15:39] Sonja Wasden: They have family book clubs, or even the wives and they buy one or two of the copies. And if you can’t afford it, reach out to you and I’ll mail you one. You pass it around and read it. And then reading my story, tipping the scales at 250 pounds going on an epic manic episode of $150,000 on worthless items.

[00:15:58] Sonja Wasden: In three months, my dad died [00:16:00] from suicide. I attempted suicide and you see how it affects the whole family and how we get through it. Sometimes talking about somebody else’s story. Kind of opens the door for you to talk about your story. Yeah. So this is why I opened myself up. I’m no longer hiding. I want to be the story that you guys I’m being vulnerable.

[00:16:23] Sonja Wasden: I lay it all out there. Take my story. And have it be the starting gate. I’ve made myself vulnerable to discuss me, my family. You can have all these inputs of my mental health challenges and how my family acted and how they responded and the pain and the joy. And there’s even some funny stories in there that maybe that will help you open up to talk about your own story.

[00:16:47] Sonja Wasden: And so I, and if it’s not my book or go find another book, but I find that’s very helpful. If you’re feeling like I’m not ready. I’m too scared. Go get a [00:17:00] book and read somebody’s story. Have a book club and start talking about it. Yeah, no, it’s really, it

[00:17:05] Scott DeLuzio: works. Yeah, it does. And that I think is a great way to dip your toes in the water where you’re maybe reading somebody else’s story, whether it’s your story or another story that’s out there.

[00:17:15] Scott DeLuzio: The similar things that you might have going on in your life. And that’s also part of why I do what I do on this podcast and sharing. I love what’re

[00:17:22] doing,

[00:17:22] Sonja Wasden: I applaud you. I love what you’re doing.

[00:17:25] Scott DeLuzio: Thank you. But you’re right, because it’s so much easier to talk about. Somebody else what that other person is going in.

[00:17:31] Scott DeLuzio: And you hear about it all the time when someone has that quote, unquote hypothetical question for that friend that they know, and it’s really they’re talking about themselves. Yeah. Hypothetically, if I had a friend that was dealing with this, what would they do? Like clearly they’re talking about themselves, but when you make it about somebody else, then.

[00:17:53] Scott DeLuzio: That conversation works a little bit easier because yeah, you’re not necessarily admitting it’s you that’s having a [00:18:00] certain problem. Right.

[00:18:01] Sonja Wasden: Right. And it’s funny because I get emails from a lot of people and I’ve had some people say, I’m not alone. I read your story. I am mental health challenges.

[00:18:10] Sonja Wasden: I feel suicidal. I read your book and I was like, I’m not alone. I feel what you feel. Yeah. And they didn’t know how to quite explain to their family members. So they just handed my book to their family members and go read this. This is how I feel. And then I’ve gotten emails from family members going, my eyes have been opened.

[00:18:27] Sonja Wasden: I did not realize. What it was like you opened the door for me. And so it opens a conversation sometimes between families . When we read about somebody else or hear about somebody else’s story, because being vulnerable, like I knew I wasn’t ready for 20 years, it took me to get ready. So I understand it’s a journey and I understand there’s a lot of people listening to this that aren’t maybe ready and it’s a personal journey, but nevertheless, I would say.

[00:18:57] Sonja Wasden: Keep taking that faith and that [00:19:00] step forward and just put one foot in front of the other, that there is hope I am telling you if I can do it, anyone can do it. anyone.

[00:19:12] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I like what you were saying earlier, and I wanna circle back to this about the spheres of influence that you have those little groups of people, the pockets of people, your neighbors, your coworkers, your absolutely your other family and things like that.

[00:19:24] Scott DeLuzio: Most powerful. It is super powerful. And I might go off on a little tangent here. Yeah. Bear with me here, but there’s a book called tipping point by Malcolm Bradwell. Yeah. And in the book he talks about this this teenager in I think it was Micronesia or someplace like that. And. This kid, this teenager got into an argument with his father and eventually this argument escalated, and he got to the point where he hung himself and he, the kid killed himself.

[00:19:52] Scott DeLuzio: Right. And at that time, suicide was almost unheard of in that area. But then after that event, it became extremely [00:20:00] common, it more and more people. And it was all teenage kids who were doing this. And so over the years, it. To the point where I wanna say it was somewhere around like eight times what the rate was in the United States.

[00:20:11] Scott DeLuzio: Like it was just a super high rate. And while that might be all interesting, I guess the point is that the book goes on to talk about how these social. Epidemics that take place like the suicide problem or teen smoking in the nineties or eighties or whatever, right in here in the us and other things like that oftentimes are driven by what they call salesmen in the book.

[00:20:34] Scott DeLuzio: People who make that negative behavior seem to be almost glamorous, like, Marilyn Monroe after she killed herself the suicide. Went up in the us by I forget what the percentage is, but it went up like a high amount because you had this influential person and it’s like, well, if that person can’t deal with whatever it is that they’re going through, then clearly I have no shot.

[00:20:55] Scott DeLuzio: Right. But when, if you were to take [00:21:00] that argument and flip it around yeah. And now you see. Now we have a strong person that I know this guy who’s in the military or yes, woman who’s in the military. Who’s yes. Super strong, super fit. Seems like they’re tough as nails. Anything, they could deal with anything and here they are going to get some help and it’s like, okay, well, if they can go and do that, if they’re strong enough and courageous enough to go and do that.

[00:21:23] Scott DeLuzio: That maybe I am too. Maybe I can do that. Right. And so maybe we can flip this conversation around just by being that example the, we talk about leadership in the military all the time, being that leader who leads by example and shows other people that it’s okay to follow the same path, right?

[00:21:39] Sonja Wasden: Yeah.

[00:21:40] Sonja Wasden: They’ve done studies and. Anyone, especially in the military with leaders, that if you make yourself vulnerable and say, Hey, I am struggling with some mental health challenges and give examples that will make other people feel comfortable in talking about it. But what’s incredible. I think it [00:22:00] was like 65% of people within their circle in work military, wherever, if they feel like there’s conversations happen.

[00:22:10] Sonja Wasden: 65% of people said they were more apt to go get help. And you think like, well, why wouldn’t they just go get help anyway? You know what I mean? Why do they need other people to encourage them? But yet, like what you were saying tipping point, or we are influenced by each other and we have to admit that.

[00:22:26] Sonja Wasden: And so in the military, when you say, I love that lead by example, I hope everyone listened to this. Even their wives or partners or husbands. Lead by example with them and have those conversations be a powerhouse, be a powerhouse and be like, I will not be ashamed. I will not apologize. I am brave.

[00:22:47] Sonja Wasden: I am strong and I am human and I’m a person and mental health challenges are part of everyone’s lives. But like we talked about in the military, you guys are a certain unique type [00:23:00] of people doing unique jobs. in my opinion and stuff. I’ve read on you. I think you need even more support with your mental health because you’re having, you’re taxing your physical health a lot, which influences your mental, or then your mental starts to, your mental and physical are tied together.

[00:23:19] Sonja Wasden: And so, and incredible amount of service. And I don’t wanna get emotional, but just service and just you, men and women, you are precious. You are precious. And what you do is so important, but you need to keep your mental health well, so you can be a of greater service and yeah. Gotta take

[00:23:37] Scott DeLuzio: care of yourself.

[00:23:38] Scott DeLuzio: That, that is the point right there. I think that a lot of people miss, because they think if, oh, if I go and talk to somebody, I go get counseling or whatever that they might need. Well, that’s. That’s taking away time that I could, I can’t be focusing on leading my troops or doing other things that I should be doing and everything like that.

[00:23:58] Scott DeLuzio: But when you’re. [00:24:00] When you’re running on empty, you’re just running on fumes and you’re not taking care of the things that you need to be taken care of. Like your mental health. You’re not gonna be operating at your peak potential. So yeah. Take a little time. Take some time, go get the help that you need.

[00:24:16] Scott DeLuzio: Get your mind, right. Get your body right. Get everything. Going right. And then you’re gonna be able to operate at a level that you probably couldn’t even imagine before. Right. For sure.

[00:24:27] Sonja Wasden: And the other thing to realize is if it gets ignored, it will catch up with you. Yeah. Like I did that, it catches up with you.

[00:24:35] Sonja Wasden: So, now that I have taken care of my mental health therapy medicine support system, if somebody would’ve told me 10 years ago, Sonja you’d be speaking to. Veterans people in the military Fortune 500 companies, your book, An Impossible Life would be an Eric Hoffer for 2022 grand prize winner. You would’ve published, articles in the Washington post and the hill and this magazine, I would’ve said you’re lying [00:25:00] to me.

[00:25:00] Sonja Wasden: You’re lying to me. I was in bed doing nothing, barely functioning and. When you take care of your mental health, I loved what you just said. You will be stronger and better than you can even imagine. And I love that you said that because that’s why I have found true for myself. I am doing things that I never thought I’d be capable of.

[00:25:20] Sonja Wasden: I always thought, well, my mental health is a disability and it’s just gonna hold me back. But what you said is more true, that if you take care of your mental and physical, you will be greater than you even possibly think you could be. And so I love that you say that.

[00:25:37] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And something that you said earlier too, about how people like it doesn’t make sense that people wouldn’t go and get the help that they need.

[00:25:46] Scott DeLuzio: A lot of times it’s very irrational. Some of these like I was talking about before these social epidemics that, that take place. Right. And I think veteran suicide is probably classified as one of those types of things. Cuz I mean, 22 people a day [00:26:00] losing their lives to anything is a huge number, right?

[00:26:02] Sonja Wasden: Oh every

[00:26:03] Scott DeLuzio: 65 seconds. Yeah. It’s just, it’s too much. Right. And but if you think about other things that. Are negative. Like, like I, I mentioned like teen smoking in right back in the nineties or whatever, back then everybody knew that smoking was bad for you. It, it was well publicized. It was, there were posters all over the place and schools, the dare say no to drugs and the smoking and all that.

[00:26:28] Scott DeLuzio: Like, it was well known. Right. But again, it’s irrational, people were doing it because they were following in the footsteps of the. The influential people in their life the quote, unquote cool kids who are doing it right. Well, if they’re cool and they’re doing it well then obviously if I wanna be cool, I gotta do that too.

[00:26:47] Scott DeLuzio: So, that it, sometimes it is just irrational. And so sometimes you might have to think outside the box on how you’re gonna get people to move in that right direction. And if we start. doing things that are [00:27:00] irrational, like talking about our own mental health and the issues that we’re having.

[00:27:04] Scott DeLuzio: Sometimes that might seem irrational cause it’s like, oh, I don’t wanna come off as being weak or crazy or anything like that. Well, maybe that might just be the thing that tips people in that right direction to get the help that they

[00:27:15] Sonja Wasden: need. I love what you just said there too, about how people think it’s, maybe weak, right?

[00:27:22] Sonja Wasden: Yeah. And what I would love to see. Not just in the military, but everywhere that getting help is a sign of strength. Cuz I loved what you said there about, not wanting to appear weak, not wanting to appear like maybe they won’t get promoted at the ranks or maybe they’ll seem like they’re, can’t be a good team player or.

[00:27:43] Sonja Wasden: But if we can change that stigma into getting mental health, help is a sign of strength is a sign of courage. Is that maybe, you know what I’m saying? We need to change that [00:28:00] shift. Cause I really agree with you that. A lot of people aren’t doing it, cuz they don’t wanna appear broken. We maybe scared of you’ll get past for that promotion.

[00:28:10] Sonja Wasden: Right. And so yeah, you’re, when you said that it made me think of something that we have talked about that let’s change it to a, it’s a sign of strength to get help.

[00:28:20] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And to take care of yourself, right? Yes. And that’s, I think the whole point of this and if I could maybe just put it into military terms yeah, go ahead.

[00:28:29] Scott DeLuzio: That the people who are listening might be able to wrap their heads around. When you’re in the military and you’re deployed, you’re in a combat zone and you get into a fire fight and one of your. People on your team or in your squad or whatever they get hit by something, enemy fire or whatever, and they’re injured and they’re laying out in the open.

[00:28:52] Scott DeLuzio: You can’t, you should know this. If you’re, if you were in the military, you probably know this, you can’t go and run and go help them. Right off the bat. [00:29:00] As much as you might want to, you might want to just go and grab them and drag them back behind cover and help them give them first aid, whatever it is that you can do for them, you might want to do that, but guess what, whatever shot that person is now gonna be aiming at you too.

[00:29:15] Scott DeLuzio: And then you’re gonna be no good to that person. Who’s laying on the ground. You’re gonna be laying right now, down next to them. And you’re gonna be no good to them. If you just run out and try to help them. You should know that number one priority is the security of the situation. You make sure that the threat is either eliminated or is retrieving or something like that before you go and help out that person who is injured on the ground.

[00:29:43] Scott DeLuzio: Right? And so if there’s somebody else who needs your help and you’re not gonna be any good to them because you’re not taking care of yourself. Then you’re not really helpful in that situation. So you have to be, quote unquote [00:30:00] selfish a little bit and take care of yourself in order for you to be able to be there for the people who need you the people who are on your team, on your, in your squad and your platoon, whatever whatever level of leadership that you have.

[00:30:12] Scott DeLuzio: There are always people who are counting on you. Even if you’re the lowest ranking enlisted person in the unit, someone is relying on you to be there, to. Provide cover fire in a certain location or something. And if you’re not there, if you’re not there mentally, you’re not gonna be able to do a good job,

[00:30:29] Sonja Wasden: And I’ll make myself vulnerable situation.

[00:30:31] Sonja Wasden: Cuz you’re, this is a great conversation. So I’m a mother as well to three children and because I didn’t get help and my I attempted suicide, the doctor saved me. They basically, I got to the point where they’re like, you’re in no shape to be a mother. So my son at 16 left home, went and moved in with my husband’s brother in a different state to finish high school.

[00:30:57] Sonja Wasden: He left his tennis team. He left his church friends. [00:31:00] He cried And that is a, I don’t wanna get, that’s a consequence yeah. Of my choices of not getting help to the point of almost taking my life. And then I didn’t get to finish raising my son. So, and my husband almost divorced me, you because it’s taxing on the partners and, what you’re saying is so true for you to do your job as a husband, as a mother, as a friend, as a daughter, as a son in the military, to each other, you owe it to them and yourself to take care of your mental health, because your example applies not just to the military, but to anyone, because you can’t be there for the people.

[00:31:45] Sonja Wasden: I paid the consequence. My son and I have had to go to therapy. Our relationship is so much better now, but it’s, still a work in progress. Sure. So, yeah. And it’s, and again, if you have [00:32:00] been through things like that, if you’ve got a divorce or there’s certain things where you’re like, oh, my mental health got that, I wasn’t there share those two.

[00:32:08] Sonja Wasden: Because then maybe it’ll encourage other people. And that’s the reason why I’m sharing my story and why I wrote my memoir. Right. An Impossible Life is to say look at my life, look at my choices. Look how mental health affected me, my husband, my children, my sister my mother, and hopefully we’ll let people know you’re not alone and to get

[00:32:28] Scott DeLuzio: help.

[00:32:29] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely. So, I know you, you briefly mentioned your situation where you ended up in the hospital and you were, that’s the spark that started this whole journey for you, right. Where your life was saved. And then you started on this healing journey, but. If you don’t change your mindset after something like that.

[00:32:49] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. You’re not really going to find that life is still worth living a after that. Right. And clearly you have had a mindset shift that has [00:33:00] given you this gift of, these extra years and all this time that you now have and the advocacy work that you do and everything What was a spark for you that lets you realize that life is worth living and that there is more to life than whatever these temporary problems might be.

[00:33:17] Sonja Wasden: Right. I think a lot of people and probably in the military too, who has faced stuff, or almost died from the majority people, it’s kind of a huge wake up call of, like. I almost just died. And I knew the truth needed to be told. I was done hiding. I think it was just this culmination losing my son after my attempted suicide, my husband was gonna divorce me.

[00:33:43] Sonja Wasden: It was just like, I hit such a rock bottom sitting in that ICU. My husband says, we’re gonna separate. I’m gonna divorce you. The doctors you’re in no shape to be a mother. Your son’s moving to Utah. I was unconscious in the ICU. They were fighting to save my life. When I woke up, it was like, you almost [00:34:00] just died.

[00:34:00] Sonja Wasden: Your husband’s divorcing you and you’re not fit to be a mother. And your son’s you going to Utah. And so what, I also loved what you said, cuz something, my therapist said I had two choices I could quit or I could find a life worth living. So I love that you said that my therapist said that to me, that Sonja, you can create a life worth living with mental health challenges it’s possible.

[00:34:27] Sonja Wasden: And I didn’t believe her, but I stepped forward in faith. So I would say anyone listening to our podcast, listen to you, right? You said, create a life worth living. Listen to me, who’s done it. That it is possible to have mental health challenges to come out stronger and to still create a life worth living.

[00:34:45] Sonja Wasden: There’s a life worth living with trauma, with pain. We all are wounded inside. I know some of the military are wounded on the outside with scars, from battles, but there’s also inside battles and wounds and. Where we have been [00:35:00] in battle for our lives, for our happiness. And you can come out a Victor.

[00:35:05] Sonja Wasden: Yeah,

[00:35:07] Scott DeLuzio: for sure. And it seems like a big part of that is finding a purpose, finding a meaning for your next day to the thing that will get you outta bed the next morning to get you to put that smile on your face and. Get yourself out of bed and get yourself moving so that you can have a positive impact on the world.

[00:35:29] Scott DeLuzio: And whether it’s the world that the whole world, or if it’s just your own little sphere of influence, you’re you get up and you do something and you have this positive impact. And that seems like exactly what you’re doing and that, and what I would encourage people to do is to find. That thing that, that gives your life, meaning that gives you a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, because I think once when you found that then, so much good will come from that.

[00:35:57] Sonja Wasden: I love. Yes. I love what you’re [00:36:00] saying. And I would tell people to be patient, cuz it took me a while even, it’s my attempted suicide was six years ago. So just realize it’s a journey, right? We’re all on our own personal journey and just embrace it and find your purpose what you said, but allow yourself to explore and take time to do that.

[00:36:19] Sonja Wasden: There’s no rush.

[00:36:21] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, exactly. So your book again An Impossible Life yes. Now that’s a part of a series, is

[00:36:26] Sonja Wasden: that correct? Yes. So An Impossible Life is my story, and then you’re gonna love this next title. An impossible wife is my husband’s point of view, cuz it can be challenging being married to someone with mental health challenges.

[00:36:39] Sonja Wasden: So it gives my husband perspective to try to help. Whose partner. And then my daughter, an impossible childhood is being written right now about what it’s like to be raised by a bipolar mother. And then my last book will be a possible life that will have us, right. That we’re on this podcast. We’ll have all my journey of what you said.[00:37:00]

[00:37:00] Sonja Wasden: Creating a life worth living. So the last book is a possible life showing how I did create a life worth living. And that’s not that’s being currently written too. So I love this speaking to you today because you have said so many things that my therapists have said, so anyone listening to your podcast should continue to do so because I find it so interesting that you have a lot of wisdom.

[00:37:22] Sonja Wasden: Yeah.

[00:37:23] Scott DeLuzio: And I don’t even get paid for this. So that’s, this is just a labor of love, right? Yeah.

[00:37:28] Sonja Wasden: But, look at your sphere of influence, look at your purpose. Look what you’re contributing. And so, yeah. I mean, what an honor to speak with you.

[00:37:37] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Well, thank you very much. And again, you said the book is available on Amazon and yeah.

[00:37:42] Sonja Wasden: It’s Amazon, or you can order it. It’s online Barnes and Noble Walmart Target. Excellent. But most people go to Amazon.

[00:37:49] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So I will have links to the book and the website where people can go to find out more about the upcoming books, because yeah. The other stories, mailing

[00:37:57] Sonja Wasden: list.

[00:37:57] Sonja Wasden: Yeah. Or if there’s a spouse out there, they may [00:38:00] like bypass my book and go straight to my husband’s An Impossible One

[00:38:03] Scott DeLuzio: sure, sure. Because I think all of those and I love how it kind of comes full. Yeah. With the series of books and yeah. And so I’d encourage people to check ’em all out.

[00:38:12] Scott DeLuzio: Maybe one of them isn’t necessarily right for you. But I think at least two of the four of these books are going to be right for you. So, definitely check those books out. And again, I’ll have links in these show notes for all of this, so you can check those out.

[00:38:25] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And

[00:38:26] Sonja Wasden: I, and I just wanna say one thing, if you do end up purchasing a book after you read it, pass it on to someone else. My goal is how many people can read one copy of my book, keep passing to people. That’s the whole reason I do this is just keep passing that book around and tell them to pass it on and pass it on.

[00:38:42] Sonja Wasden: Pass it on.

[00:38:44] Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Pass it around until the book is worn out and

[00:38:46] Sonja Wasden: oh, in shreds in shreds. Yeah.

[00:38:49] Scott DeLuzio: But that’s great. And I think a book like this with such a powerful message, powerful story in it is worth a whole lot more in the hands of somebody who needs it than it is collecting dust [00:39:00] on a shelf someplace in, in a house or in a wherever, yeah.

[00:39:04] Sonja Wasden: So, yeah, I agree. And even some people, what they do, they write a little message of hope inside my book and pass it on. And then I’ve had people write messages of hope in the book that they keep passing on so that other people can read, like you’re not alone. I’m, I have been through mental health challenges and I’ve overcome, or some people have wrote an inspirational quote.

[00:39:25] Sonja Wasden: So I love that too. Like I’ve seen some people write little messages and they pass it around. So it’s been I love.

[00:39:30] Scott DeLuzio: I love it. So it’s like the book just gets better and better each time it passes around. Right. Yeah. Uhhuh. So that’s great. Yeah. Well, Sonia, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today.

[00:39:39] Scott DeLuzio: Thank you again for joining me and taking the time to share your story with me and the audience.

[00:39:44] Sonja Wasden: Well, thank you so much for doing this podcast to help people. I mean, Bravo to you. Thank you so

[00:39:49] Sonja Wasden: much.

[00:39:50] Scott DeLuzio: Thanks.

[00:39:52] Scott DeLuzio: 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 [00:40:00] website driveonpodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.

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