Episode 384 Jeremy Hancock The Journey of Resilience and Growth Transcript

This transcript is from episode 384 with guest Jeremy Hancock.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] 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.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guest is Jeremy Hancock. Jeremy is a combat veteran, a PTSD survivor, and resilient advocate for mental health and post traumatic growth. His journey is a testament to the power of resilience, transformation, and the importance of seeking help and support.

So from battling with PTSD and suicidal ideation to finding hope, healing, and a new sense of purpose, Jeremy has faced. Numerous challenges head on and emerge stronger on the other side. And in this episode, we’ll discuss Jeremy’s experiences, the obstacles [00:01:00] he overcame and the advice he has to offer other veterans who may be in a similar situation.

Uh, but before we get into that, I want to welcome you to the show, Jeremy. Thank you for being here. I’m really glad to have you here.

Jeremy Hancock: Excellent. Thank you. Thank you for that introduction. I appreciate the opportunity to to be here. Appreciate that.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, you bet. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, um, so let’s kind of maybe take a step back and talk about your, your time in the army. You were a combat veteran served in the army. We’re talking a little bit about, uh, one of your, uh, one of the deployments on, um, that you were on, um, before we started recording here.

Uh, tell us a little bit about your experiences in the army and, and how those experiences during and after your service contributed to, um, you know, kind of the, some of the struggles that you may have had.

Jeremy Hancock: Sure. Yeah, like for me, where to start? I tried to join, I’ll start by saying I tried to join in 1999 right out of high school, so I was 18 years old and, and they wouldn’t take me. I got to MEPS and there, like a couple years before that, I’d had an incident where [00:02:00] I, I was, I fell asleep at the wheel, crashed a car.

And, uh, they just didn’t believe me that I fell asleep and they had marked it on my, my record as a, as a part, possible seizure or something to that effect. Anyway, MEPS threw me down. They’re like, come back in five years without having a seizure. And I was like, I went 18 without a seizure. I can go five more, right? So I didn’t join until I was a little older. I was 23. I went back exactly five years later in 2004 and joined. And, you know, as we know, like everything changed from 1999 to 2004, right? Like everything. So.

Scott DeLuzio: Everything.

Jeremy Hancock: Right? There wasn’t anything going on in 99 when I tried to join, but in 2004, they’ll take anybody, so, uh, Yeah, so I hit my 20 years this, this, um, this year.

I’ll hit 20 years as a, as a reservist. But as a reservist, when I was at the six year mark, I had, I accumulated 49 months of active duty time. Right? And that was almost three years in Afghanistan, a year at language school, um, My civilian [00:03:00] side was just shot and I remember my wife being like, I thought this was just going to be one week in a month, two weeks out of the year.

I was like, I did too, but I was dumb to think that because We’ve got like full fledged two face war right now. And so, um, yeah, right, right after I joined, I right away was on that deployment with, uh, you know, guys that you know from Connecticut National Guard. And, um, which is crazy because we didn’t know that about each other when we met.

So, uh, but yeah, and so, and then, and then I’m back again. But it, to me, it was more just the op tempo. I never got really time to, to process, uh, you know, young family, newlywed, and I found myself. Deployed and, um, I, I did that in active duty. We got back. I figured I had already 49 months. I’d just go active duty.

I went AGR. I ended up, um, you know, training soldiers at the schoolhouse. And then in 2016, I left active duty and went back to reserves. And when I was active duty, I was AGR. I wasn’t, you know, so those National [00:04:00] Guard guys, reservists, so be familiar with that term. Uh, yeah, but I was, I was in an active duty unit as an AGR guy and then, uh, got out in 2016 and went back to the reservists, reserves anyway, so, um, that’s where I am.

I think, you know, that, that story, you know, I’m sure that’s the same that others can be told. There’s nothing real special about that. For me coming home, the, the PTSD and the issues that I personally dealt with. Um, you know, the, I had three, in retrospect, I had three things going on at the time. I don’t think I could have, uh, you know, identified them, but I definitely had PTSD.

I just felt vulnerable. You know, you’re, you’re in combat. You’ve got a Kevlar vest and ceramic plates and a full combat load. You’ve got, you know, 60 to 80 pounds of protection on you. And it was a weird feeling to just be out in the community and the only thing between me and the world around me was, like, my t shirt.

It was just this, like, thin layer. And I just, personally, just felt [00:05:00] so vulnerable. I had my, I was just always on guard. And, you know, young dad at the time, this was, my last deployment was 14 years ago. It was 2010 is when I came home. Um. Yeah, I thought I was doing things that would help my kids and family, you know, do, just as a young dad, I wanted to create stability for my family, and I think I focused a lot on physical security.

It’s like, are the doors locked? You know, make sure you, it’s just very controlling. What I ended up doing was just, you know, creating fear in my kids and my wife, like, why are we, why are we locking the door? Is there a threat? You know, and, and, and the reality was, there wasn’t. And Um, I, so that was one thing I had going on.

The second thing was just this survivor’s remorse. You know, I’d lost friends that were close to me, and training for the Army, I think, is good. Like, combat felt just like training, and those that have been in the experience, that can probably relate to some extent, but when you lose someone that you love and someone that went through the same training you went, had the same [00:06:00] protective gear you had, was in the same up armored vehicle you were in, The odds of survival are exactly the same, but their number’s up, you know, and yours isn’t.

There’s no training in the world that can prepare you for that feeling, and it was just grief. And I just didn’t know, I just didn’t know how to deal with grief. Uh, and um, and the third thing I had going on was just a moral injury. You know, we had, you know, we learned what appeared on the surface in a couple incidents.

You find out later it wasn’t exactly what we thought it was, but the damage was already done. And, uh, you know, and, and specifically, you know, we were engaged, enemy, enemy KIA, you find out they were entrapped, they were forced to fight against you, and I mean, they, they did, they, they attacked us, so they got what they deserved, the mistake they made is they, they, they fought against coalition forces instead of with them, and, and so, yeah, but, but when you think about it, they weren’t the enemy, they were, they were doing what we were doing, they were, they [00:07:00] were getting a paycheck to fight a war that they didn’t start, And they believed in something, you know, and, and, and there really wasn’t much difference between them and us and when you let your mind go there and you start thinking about what if they had a family too, you just, there’s, there’s moral injury.

So those 3 things, like, were just, when I got home, um, I just didn’t know, I just didn’t know how to react and, and I will say, you I give the army credit, and I’m not really sure if it’s the army or our commander at the time, but my first deployment we came home, and it was like, okay, you need to go see the behavioral health specialist.

Nobody would go. They’re like, I don’t need to see the behavioral health specialist. Right? Like that’s not for me. When we came back, this is the second deployment I went on. We came home and at that time, they’re like, hey, you need to go see the combat health specialist and they reframed it. You know, it’s.

And if I have a message, I guess that’s the message, I don’t know that I have a message, but it’s just reframing things, like, they said combat health, and then soldiers were lining up, all of a sudden it was like, oh yeah, I gotta go, [00:08:00] I gotta go to the combat health specialist, same building, same office, probably like the same behavioral

Scott DeLuzio: It’s the same people, probably.

Jeremy Hancock: exactly right, like, but because they referred to it as combat health instead of behavioral health, soldiers were lining up, and then we were giving all each other, we were giving each other a hard time in line, being like, you weren’t in combat, it’s like, It was all of a sudden, but that was help we needed, and looking back on it, I wish I would have taken advantage of that a little bit more and really paid attention instead of just checking the box so that I could get home.

There’s probably a lot there that I could have learned, but those were the things, and so it just created a lot of contention within my family. My kids were scared, my wife was beside herself, and I wasn’t around to really form that bond in those early years. And what I thought I was doing was good for my family was actually not.

And, uh, I just, every time it wouldn’t work out the way I wanted it to, I felt like a failure. It’s like there’s things going on. My job [00:09:00] was failing. We started a business because I couldn’t stand working for someone. I didn’t want to be told what to do. You know, it’s like all these things that I realize now, looking back.

They were symptoms of, you know, of PTSD, of, of survivor remorse, of just avoidance, I was depressed, I just was in a, wasn’t in a good space, um, with my mental health, but I also couldn’t handle it. Uh, Ohno. I couldn’t admit it. I, I wasn’t, and I wasn’t even aware of it, I think. I just felt like, what’s all, like, how come I’m failing so much?

And then it just spirals down, right? You, you start hating yourself, and that leads to failure, and then you hate yourself more, and that leads to failure. And I was on this path of destruction, I guess, and not even knowing it, but I think what I was trying to do was recreate the chaos. of combat at home, because that’s the only place, that’s the only space that these feelings made sense was, was within chaos.

And if I could recreate that [00:10:00] at home, then I felt, I felt, I just felt more comfortable in that, in a chaotic space. So. Yeah,

Scott DeLuzio: understand where you’re coming from with that. And I’m, I’m sure there’s some listeners out there probably nodding their heads, like. Like, yeah, you’re talking, you’re talking about me, like that, you know, that, that’s, that’s kind of the, the way, uh, you know, probably a lot of people are, are feeling about that.

Um, but I, I know exactly what you’re talking about with, um, coming back and then saying, Oh, you got to go talk to someone from behavioral health. And, and for us, it was not, it was not like optional. Like you had, you actually had to go sit down and talk to someone, but it could have just been for like a five minute conversation, just, you know, check the boxes kind of thing.

And. That’s the way I treated it, was, I’m here to check the box, like, they’re telling me I have to come, and so I’m coming, and I’m talking to you, and as soon as you get all the answers to all the questions that you need, I’m out of here, and [00:11:00] you’re never gonna see me again, like, that was my attitude about it at the time, um, cause I didn’t want to talk to somebody, I didn’t want to, like, Open up and, you know, share all the emotions and stuff that I, I still, at the time, I still had no idea what was going on in my head anyways.

And how am I going to open up and. Tell somebody else about that kind of stuff when I don’t even know what’s going on. And, um, so I was like, yeah, let’s just check these boxes and get me back home. Cause I don’t want to be here right now. Um, and, and I’ve talked to other veterans who had the same exact mindset.

They’re like, this is stupid. I don’t want to be here. Um, but in hindsight. I wish I opened up. I wish I said everything and said, Hey, there’s some red flags going on and I need, I need some help. I need to talk to somebody, um, because something’s not right.

Jeremy Hancock: Totally agree. And, and, and the other thing you have going, and this is along the same line, I wish I would have seen that the value in talking to someone at Combat [00:12:00] Health that wasn’t part of my day to day circle, because I could be, I could be more open. The other problem that you, you can probably relate to, and a lot of listeners can, is that You don’t necessarily want to talk to those that are closest to you because there’s always a chance you can go back, like the war wasn’t over.

Last thing I wanted to do was tell my family and friends how awful my, my, you know, experience was and then have to go back and, right? And so it was like, and then I just didn’t want to be seen as, as attention seeking or, you know, needing anything. It just, it was for whatever reason, I would wake up and like, what does the world need from me today?

And I was never asked the question, like, what do I need? It was always like, what does the world need from me today? And then I was just resentful of everything that was needed of me. It’s like, but that’s because I was ignoring myself and, and not paying attention to what was, what was going on until things got to a real [00:13:00] dangerous, unsafe place, right?

And that’s when. Yeah, so,

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And, and to your point, it’s like. I need to be a soldier and if I go and admit that there’s something wrong, there’s a chance I may not be a soldier and like I need to be able to do my job. And so I go and raise those red flags. They may say, Hey, well, we’re going to take you off. You know, whatever your duty was, you’re not going to do that anymore.

And, you know, we’re not going to give You know, we’re not going to give you, you know, guns and we’re not going to give you, you know, all this other stuff that, that could be a problem if you’re dealing with mental health issues. And, um, you know, that’s kind of the thought that goes through a lot of people’s minds.

And, and so it’s like, well, I’m not going to go raise those red flags because. I don’t want to lose my job. I don’t want to not be a soldier. Like that’s who I am. And, and that’s what I want to continue to be. Um, and so I’ll just soldier on and deal with it and, and not, you know, [00:14:00] not, not, you know, worry about, uh, you know, what, what’s going on with me.

I’ll, I’ll just figure out how to, uh, you know, do whatever it is that. That they’re asking me to do whatever my job is and you know, yeah, I may be angry and disgruntled and you know, whatever, while I’m doing it, but I’ll, I’ll still figure out a way to do it.

Jeremy Hancock: right. And not only are you angry, but we almost taught that that’s how you have to be, especially when you start getting up in rank as an enlisted soldier, you know, it’s like being angry and disgruntled as part of the job, right? It’s like you just, but why is it? It’s because we haven’t created that space where we can talk about it.

And the reality is when you’re, I feel like, you know, when you’re, when you’re in combat and you’re, and you’re really in like, In the thick of it, day to day, you don’t really have time to take the knee then, but, but, but, the conversation is when, okay, when it, when is it taking a knee and when is it quitting?

When is it taking a knee and when is it, like, being a, being a soul, like, minimum standard I, like, [00:15:00] like, am I a piece of shit or am I taking a knee? Right? Like, am I a polished turd? You’ve heard the phrase, like, a turd and a polished turd. It’s like What if I’m not a turd at all? What if I’m just taking a knee for a little bit and I really just can’t handle it, and we’re home now, this is time for me to, to, to recover so we can go back out again, like, why is it such, uh, why does nobody, why isn’t anybody willing to just, like, why do people want to soldier on, and they don’t want to, you know, why isn’t talking about that issue and taking a minute to get yourself right not considered soldiering on, and the reality is it’s because, like, You don’t have time for it when you’re, when you’re actually doing what you’re trained to do, but when you’re home and you’re, and you’re just in training, that should be part of it, so

Scott DeLuzio: It should be. Yeah. And, and the thing is, and I hope everybody can understand this and wrap their head around this is that. Everybody’s level of tolerance, let’s just say for [00:16:00] the stresses of the job or stresses of combat, the traumas that you might see, everyone’s tolerance level is going to be different.

You’re not, it’s not like there’s a baseline. It’s like everybody can, you know, uh, uh, tolerate up to this amount and, and. If you tolerate anything less than that, you’re, you’re a piece of shit. And anything more than that, you’re a stud. It’s not that, you know, like it’s everybody’s level is different and there’s going to be some people who.

Can’t really tolerate very much. There’s going to be some people who can tolerate a ton and you’re, most people are going to probably fall somewhere in the middle. And, you know, just because you and another guy went through the same experience and you’re having some trouble with it and that person isn’t, it doesn’t mean that you’re a piece of crap and that person is some superstar.

It just means that you need help to. To be able to handle whatever it is that you went through, it’s, it’s just like, you know, you go to the gym and you might have somebody who can lift, [00:17:00] you know, tons of weight and that person’s, uh, you know, in the gym all the time, they can pump tons of weight, tons of weight all the time.

And you might. Not be going to the gym, you know, quite as often, or, or maybe even if you are, your body’s just not built that way. Um, and you can’t lift quite as much weight as that person. It doesn’t mean you’re a piece of crap. It just means you can’t lift as much weight as that person, you know? Um, and, and you get, and you get help when you need it too.

You get, you get a trainer, you get, um, you know, someone spotting you when, when you’re, you’re trying to, you know, push past that, but you, you have help. You’re not trying to do it all on your own.

Jeremy Hancock: Right. You’re exactly right. And, and, and I think we, you not only is like our tolerance level different, but you get in this habit of, of operating in, in, in a very stressful and frankly, fear like it’s. It’s scary, right? Like there’s, there’s always that fear. That something could go wrong, you could lose, you could, you know, you could not be victorious [00:18:00] on the battlefields.

Like, basically, we’re taught that if it ever boils down to you or the other guy, you’re gonna make damn sure it’s the other guy and then never look back, right? So, and that goes on a lot, I mean, and I’m not talking just combat, I mean, unfortunately, even the culture of the Army sometimes, you’re just like, not my job, I’m gonna leave that, you know, like, we just, we’re taught to always be like, Just dominate.

We’re just taught to dominate, but that stress, we get comfortable operating in that stressful environment. We come home, and then we don’t see the stress around us as an issue. We see it as just like part of life. The, the job. And so we don’t, we don’t consider the fact that maybe we don’t need as much of the stress in our life as we’re, as we’re feeling.

And so things start to crumble, right? Marriages fail, families break up, people, you know, we lose friends, we lose jobs. It’s like, at what point do we stop and be like, wait, uh, you know, like this is not necessarily, this, a lot of this isn’t necessary. This is unnecessary drama and stress in my life. If I would [00:19:00] just Have the conversation about not, and part of the reason is we don’t know what to say.

Like, I know for me, I had no idea what was going on. I just knew something wasn’t right. And so if you were to say, hey, is everything okay? I’d be like, no, and I couldn’t tell you anything more than no. It’s like, What is it that’s bothering you? I have no idea, but I, I can’t get along with anyone, right? And, except for the toxic people in my life, that, like, our relationship is based on just, like, banter, ball, but, like, none of it’s healthy, and, but it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s engaging, and I get by, but the reality is, you know, anything that requires an ounce of emotion or presence, not my thing, you know, and, and we get to this space of avoidance.

And how many, Pete, how many listeners, and maybe yourself included? Come home and they, like, full time job, plus part time job, plus they’re gonna go back to school and get, get a degree, plus they’re gonna start a business on the side, work in the shop late at night, [00:20:00] plus be a dad to their kids. It’s like you just fill your life with so many things.

You’re avoiding, you’re avoiding any possibility of sitting still for a minute and actually reflecting on what’s happening, right? And, and I think when I became aware that that was happening, Um, it was, it was, luckily for me, I had the opportunity, it could have been too late, you know, I, I was definitely on a path of destruction, creating separation from myself and all of my responsibilities, because my plan was to end it, I was done, like, this wasn’t, this isn’t for me, you know, and I, I say that now, it sounds so distant, but this has only been a few years ago that, that I was on, You know, and, and, um, I think of the people who, who, you know, weren’t as fortunate as I was, but, you know, on the day that I would plan to do it and had everything lined up to, you know, and, and I say this in all sensitivity because I realize there are people that, you know, this is an incredibly [00:21:00] sensitive issue and, and we know people that have taken their own lives.

It was almost me that day, but for whatever reason, I picked up the phone and called the VA hotline instead of picked up the gun, right? And. This sounds maybe a little bit harsh, but the reality is, as soon as I called them, they had, in Utah, where I was at the time, they had a quick reaction force for the VA.

These are just volunteers. They showed up at my house. This was like two in the morning. They showed up at my apartment, and they just like, were like, hey, what’s up? I’m like, I don’t know you guys at all, but they’re from the VA, and they’re like, they’re all soldiers. They’re like, we’ve been there, man. Like, I’ve been there.

One guy was playing the guitar in my front, in my front room, just like, we’re just here to stay with you. You don’t have to talk to us, you don’t have to do anything, we’re just going to sit with you for a little bit. And I was like, why me? Right? Like, it just, all of a sudden, it was like, holy shit, someone cares.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Jeremy Hancock: You know, and, and um, that led to, that led to just more conversations and, and um, it wasn’t [00:22:00] the end all, like, I still struggled a lot, but at least I knew I was safe in that moment. And what it made me realize is, I wasn’t talking to anyone, I wasn’t talking to my family, I wasn’t talking to my friends, and I was ready to take my own life, I backed myself into a corner, no safety net, it was, that was it, that was the moment, and I think about my life now, years later, and the thought of not being able to experience what I’m experiencing in life today, is just like, it fills me with a sense of gratitude, But then I just feel this, I also have this feeling of like, so many people don’t make it through that moment, and they do take their life, and it happens way too often, and I really feel like if people would just start talking, like, you know, you, you have a podcast that, that creates a, a, a space for people to talk about things that are real, and they matter to us in our lives, you know, people just need to talk more about it, and had I not kept talking, [00:23:00] I wouldn’t be alive today.

Truly, you know,

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. And, and so, I mean, that, that’s obviously a great thing that those, those folks showed up to your door and stayed with you and talk with you and, uh, you know, just you. We’re there for you and enabled you to get past that time in your life to realize, Hey, I gotta, I gotta do something different because it’s obviously it’s not working.

Um, and, and something needs to change, but so despite all of this, um, You’re now viewing, you know, PTSD as an opportunity for, for growth, uh, post, you know, post traumatic growth. Right. Um, tell us a little bit more about that mindset, mindset shift, um, and how you reframe that perspective based on, on these experiences.

Jeremy Hancock: True. So, uh, you know, I give a lot of credit to, um, those [00:24:00] guys that came and showed up that day. It kept me going. Um, I realized in that moment that the cognitive behavioral therapy that I was getting through the VA just wasn’t doing it for me. It’s effective for so many people. It just was not effective for me.

The idea of like identifying a trigger and then learning to respond. Slow your response to that trigger to give yourself enough time to, to recognize that it’s a trigger and then decide how you’re going to read. It just didn’t work for me. If I felt a trigger, I was like, I couldn’t get that. Like, it just didn’t, that didn’t resonate and I kept going over and over again.

So I give a lot of credit. Those guys showing up, they kept me alive. It made me realize that what I was doing wasn’t working and I need something new. I started researching and I found a ketamine clinic in Salt Lake City and it was, you know, it And I’d learned a little bit about ketamine, um, just as a, as a psychedelic and, and just as a, as a treatment for depression.

And I thought I’d look into it. Well, right away, it was beyond my reach [00:25:00] financially. Like, it was just more than I could afford. And I was like, this, you know, that’s, but I was curious about it. So I just kept looking. I went and sat down with them. I listened to their spiel about ketamine and what it does, and I was intrigued.

I was, and I really wanted that. So it became something like that became the first step of like, okay, I’ve got something to work toward that’s for me. It’s not a requirement of the world or it’s not the burden of life like this is something specific for me And and suddenly I was like, okay wait if I can take that if I can do this and then fortunately a year later I guess it was almost two years later.

There was a program and Where they were a nonprofit organization is doing some research and they were they were gonna sponsor a couple veterans To go through this ketamine treatment. I was again fortunate enough to, and had I taken my life, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity, right? So, fortunate enough to get, um, selected as [00:26:00] one of those sponsors and they paid for the ketamine treatment.

And that, the thing about ketamine that was so effective Two things, one, the first, like, I’d never, like, I grew up in Utah and in a very Mormon family, like, I’d never touched anything, like, there were, like, I’d never experienced anything like that feeling of ketamine, but it immediately, like, I’m sitting on this, you know, this comfortable chair, They give me this shot of ketamine and within a few minutes, it’s, I all of a sudden could like, feel my foot in my shoe and like in my sock and I could feel the collar against my neck, I could feel my tongue against the back of my teeth, like things that if I focus on right now I can feel, but I was aware of it like all at once.

And then it, but it was feelings and then that just kept progressing into where I, my, my brain was just like firing on all cylinders and it just kept going to where I was also aware of like my emotions and then it just to the point where it was like complete [00:27:00] disassociation and I was In all reality, like in my perceived reality, I’m like floating through space and like doing like a psychedelic trip, like a journey.

Um, and there’s, you know, to me, like, first of all, I didn’t realize what that would do for me. But what that did is it, it made me, I suddenly became aware that my perception reality, just like my, is limited to my five senses. And what I perceive is, is reality is really not, like, there are other things going on in the world around me, in the universe around me, that I’m unaware of.

And I’m only, I, I, I’m only aware of what is happening in those, like, within my five senses. And then all of a sudden I’m having this experience where it, it felt real as anything else I’ve ever experienced. Where I’m, like, flying through space and I’m encountering things. That aren’t real, but they felt so real to me, [00:28:00] and I, I can still describe it as if it were a real thing that happened, but it wasn’t.

I was sitting on a couch. It was a psychedelic journey, right? But when I got back from that little journey, everything felt new, and all of a sudden I was like, wait a minute, if I can create that, if my brain has the ability to create that, and it felt so real. But I know it’s not real. What else am I hanging on to that feels real that’s not real?

And it, and it was like light bulbs going on. And I was like, I’m dragging all these nets from combat with me. And I’m telling myself a story. And I’m creating this feeling of like, I need to keep my guard up because there’s a threat. But there’s not a real threat. I’m creating that in my head and it’s not real.

And all of a sudden I was just able to let go of things. And, and it was amazing how Once I could see the power of my brain to create a scenario that wasn’t real, how easy it was for me to let go of these things that I was holding on to that weren’t real. Uh, you know, the feeling [00:29:00] of, of, you know, like, I’d be better off dead.

Not real. It wasn’t true. But I believed it. Um, the second thing Ketamine does is, and I didn’t know this, but at the time, I know it now, It increases the plasticity of your brain, so there’s a physiological effect, and when you get into the science of it, you know, we have these dendrite ends in our brain that release all the happy chemicals, dopamine and other chemicals.

When you’re under a lot of stress, especially for a long period of time, cortisol and other things get in your body that just wreak havoc on your body, but one of the things that stress does is it frays the ends of those dendrite, uh, endings. Well, ketamine and psilocybin as well, you know, it has this physiological effect that it starts to hone the ends of those, it sharpens those dendrite ends.

And so the dopamine and the, like the five happy chemicals, you know, can get where they need to be. That was life changing for me. And then with the increased [00:30:00] plasticity of my brain, you can suddenly, there’s creating new thought patterns. Like, there is more to it than just, you know, experiencing a psychedelic trip, which I fully understand why people use psychedelic drugs recreationally, right?

It was effective because of that. It, it, that’s not something I could have experienced with just regular therapy. I needed to disassociate. I needed to go someplace and come back, you know, to feel that, if that makes

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, and, and, and the, the physical changes that take place, I think are important to highlight there too, which you mentioned, um, but you know, when your brain has been under so much stress for all these years and dealing with your These untrue thoughts that you were, you’re basically telling yourself that you were saying, like, you hated yourself and thought you were better off dead and, and all these things that were just not true.

I mean, [00:31:00] yeah, maybe you felt like you hated yourself, but for untrue reasons. Right. And then like your brain just didn’t have the ability to create those, those new. Pathways to, you know, uh, form new thoughts. And, and so, um, the way some of these, these, uh, neural pathways have been described to me in the past is kind of like, um, you start off with like a little stream that that’s, that’s kind of going through the countryside or whatever, and it’s just like this small little thing, a little bit of water.

Um. Then you start getting a lot more water and it’s, it, it, it, uh, really digs it in and it gets deeper and deeper and deeper. And it’s harder to move that stream the deeper it is, um, when it, when it starts to get, uh, a whole lot deeper. Um, it, it’s really a lot more difficult. And so, um, that’s kind of what’s happening in your brain, is it, it’s getting kind of dug in.

Um, you know, it’s basically put in the military terms. It’s entrenching itself, uh, in, in your brain. And, and it’s there and it’s not. [00:32:00] It doesn’t want to go anywhere. It’s there. Um, and, and so what you’re, you’re basically trying to do is, is kind of just rewire that and allow that stream to kind of branch off and find a new thought pattern that maybe is a little bit more positive than, than the old one.

And, and hopefully. Eventually redirect all of the water, if you will, from, from that stream to the new thought pattern, that’s, that’s better, a better thought pattern, uh, than, than what you had been thinking previously. And, you know, you can’t do that when it’s so deeply entrenched, uh, the way, the way that it was, um, you know, and that’s, it’s just, uh, um, you know, a physical thing that,

Jeremy Hancock: Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: Again, you might need a little bit of help. And in this case, the ketamine is the help that you got, you know, just like, uh, you might use a spotter in the gym. Um, you need a little help to be able to make those physical changes and, and take, take the [00:33:00] help. Like it’s not that, it’s not that hard to, uh, to grasp that, that concept.

I don’t think, but, um, but. But yeah, you, you know, you need, you need to have some of that sometimes. And, um, you know, the more entrenched those thoughts are, the more help you might need. And, and in this case, this is what worked for you. And, and so, um, so that’s, um, you know, helpful to be able to now have these better thoughts and, and go,

Jeremy Hancock: You bring up a good point. I think ketamine just saturates

Scott DeLuzio: you were.


Jeremy Hancock: you can, so you can, you know, change that, the direction of those trenches. That, that, that term, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It’s because of what you’re talking, those neuropathways are so deeply entrenched and I’m not a professional, but.

I know that that’s, I know that that’s a fact, and when you can saturate that ground and soften it up a little bit, it’s amazing how quickly you can retrench new pathways, and, um, You know, and I would say having experienced it [00:34:00] myself, it’s not something you do on your own, you know, I would, I would, uh, you know, it just having someone there as a guide, because a lot of times what it, what this does, and those with more experience could probably attest to this, but for me, whatever mood I was feeling when I, when I went in for this, and I’ve had now, you know, just over a dozen different, you know, probably, probably closer to 20 ketamine sessions.

Uh, or since 2019, January 2019 is when I had my first one. Um, you know, I think whatever feeling I went into, it would just exacerbate that feeling. If I was sad and depressed when I went in, I really got to a bad spot. And the other thing I will warn people, there is a certain, and maybe all of this, this is maybe something I should have started with.

It starts with a willingness to be vulnerable, right? Talking about things is being vulnerable. Um, what was hard for me with ketamine is as soon as I started feeling all these things like that first [00:35:00] shot, I felt really out of control and I felt super exposed and then I was like, disassociating. and I, and, and there was this level of vulnerability that was outside of my comfort zone.

And I just had to kind of allow it and having someone there gave me the confidence that I could go to that new place safely. And I, I know, you know, like, you know, I think of just, I’ve heard horror stories of people buying ketamine on the street and it, and it laced with fentanyl and their debt. Right, so, like, I just wouldn’t ever try to do anything, like, even growing mushrooms, psilocybin, like, I just wouldn’t try it on your own, I would, I’d make sure there is someone there with you that, that is a professional, and do it through a clinic, and the reality is, when, when things come in question at some point, you know, fingers crossed, the VA, or somewhere, at some point, they start allowing this type of treatment through the VA, if those that have done it professionally have documented clinical problems.

Accounts that we can [00:36:00] provide and say, hey, look, this is this was our experience, you know, and and so there’s the other reason why you weren’t professional is it helps everyone when you do it properly. So.

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, exactly. Cause you start hearing the horror stories of people who are doing it on, you know, using the street drugs and, and things like that, where, where that’s, uh, obviously not the direction you want to go and, and you end up having, like you said, people who get stuff that’s laced with something else and they, they take the wrong dose and, and they

Jeremy Hancock: Right? That’s

Scott DeLuzio: end up dead and that’s, that kind of defeats the whole purpose of the whole, the whole thing. Right. Um, and so, uh, while you’re going through this, you said, you know, obviously do it with someone, do it with a professional. Is there a therapy component, like a talk therapy component that goes along with this or is it, is it the, um, you know, the, the drugs, uh, the, the, the treatment with the, the, [00:37:00] the

Jeremy Hancock: Good question. So for me, the first time I did it with this ketamine

Scott DeLuzio: how does that

Jeremy Hancock: just the ketamine. And then it was like, have a nice day. And I went home. Um, so, but I had a therapist that would walk through the, as, as things advance that treatment advanced to, and there’s, there’s programs now that you can go, you can do ketamine therapy at home, you know, with a, with a sponsor, there’s a guide there with you.

Yeah. The therapy part is important, especially with ketamine, when you have that increased plasticity, there’s, you know, that’s where affirmations start carving new pathways. So, if you can work with a therapist that can help identify these issues that you’re, you’re working on, that’s when it becomes, um, opportunities for growth.

You know, for example, I wanted to go to the 4th of July, and 4th of July for me, like, fireworks celebration, I was never, um, you know, for whatever reason, we decided to celebrate with fireworks this year, just like small arms fire, and [00:38:00] so I get it if I’m You know, people, I was never the type that would, like, react to it.

I was always cognizant of the fact that it was fireworks, but what they would do is I’d just get depressed. I’d hear small arms fire. That’s what, you know, it would remind me of, I’d hear fireworks, it would remind me of small arms fire. And then the reel would go in my, you know, the, the, you know, it would remind Like pushing play on the, on the, on the film in my mind and I would just remember all these horrible experiences.

I would get depressed and so fireworks or something I couldn’t do, um, but I, like, again, I was like, but why? That’s something I enjoy. It’s something I enjoyed growing up. It’s, it’s a, I have positive family memories. I want to be able to take my kids and do that. So it’s like, you know what, this year I’m going to do fireworks.

I’m going to go to the 4th of July and I’m going to, and when things start to feel, I’m going to shift my thinking. I’m going to, I’m going to, you know, divert, um, my thoughts from, from those, and I’m going to create new memories. I’m going to [00:39:00] create positive thoughts. Experiences with my kids and my family and I’m going to let them know, hey, if things go, if I start to feel weird, I might have to take a break, you know, put on my noise cancelling headphones or something or go sit in the car or whatever, but I’m going to come back because I didn’t want to abort, right?

It was exposure therapy and this was, this was advice from a therapist. Like, hey, let’s work on exposure therapy. Let’s work on creating new memories with these things. And so, all this trauma that I experienced, it just became opportunities to grow. And then all of a sudden you feel like you’re winning.

It’s like, hey, I did it, I went to the 4th of July. And it wasn’t ideal, like I, I really, it was a, it was not a pleasant experience for me. But I, I, I made sure that that unpleasant experience I was having was just For me, I didn’t share it with, I didn’t let the world know that I was, you know, struggling. I just threw on my noise canceling headsets for a little bit, relaxed a little bit, did my own affirmations, and I got through it.

And it was a win, and then you come away and you’re like, dang, I just did that. Now, what’s [00:40:00] the next thing? You know, I was in the gym and You talked about, you know, the guys that can lift heavy weights. I was asking a buddy, he can lift a lot more than me. And he’s like, I just channel my self hatred into my workout.

And I was like, okay, that’s like really depressing and like dark thing. But I get it. Like, why not channel your self hatred into growth? You know, and he was being a little facetious, but not totally facetious, like he abused himself in the gym, like that was punishment, but what did he do? He took something that was traumatic and he was turning it into a growth opportunity, you know, in a little different way, but those things started to click for me.

And then it just became like, okay, what’s the next thing I can, I can tackle? That has been a struggle. You know, my marriage was over. I was divorced. Like, it was not gonna get fixed. Time, I, kids were scarred for life, right? God bless them. That’s, what can I do to show up in those spaces and be, and [00:41:00] just turn it into growth?

Like, why am I going, am I gonna, am I going to Continue down, like identify as a victim of, of trauma, or am I going to look at it as an opportunity to say, Hey, not everybody gets an opportunity to benchmark their progress like this. I can, so what can I do next? You know, keep a job for more than a year , right?

Like, not get into an argument, be calm with my kids. Like they’re, the list goes on and on. It it, the things that, that, you know, you that create drama, you know, not, not wanting to be around people. Not, not being willing to be vulnerable. Um, vulnerability’s a weird thing. It’s, it’s, uh, we, it creates trust in people and, and it, it, but it also, it’s just exposure, right?

And, and I sometimes I had to ask myself gl sorry. Sometimes I have to ask myself like, is it the person that I don’t trust or is it myself? That I don’t trust. Do I not trust myself to set a boundary with this person, [00:42:00] you know, and that’s why I can’t be vulnerable. It’s not because I don’t trust them. I don’t know them.

I, like, I’m not expected to trust somebody I don’t know. Do I trust myself to say, hey, I’m going to put a boundary down. I’m going to say we’re not going there or, hey, I don’t, I don’t want you coming to my house at all hours of the night, right? Like, whatever. I had a neighbor that would just come knock on the door.

Hey, neighbor. It’s like, I, I, thank you for being neighborly. I don’t appreciate someone just coming up to my door and knock on, like, I just, you know, people don’t, I just don’t, I’m not neighborly, right? Like, I just don’t want to be, and so could I put a boundary down with him? Yeah, I could, you know, and since then, like, he respects that boundary, but the point is, that vulnerability is such an important part, but that was one thing that I had to turn into a growth opportunity, so can I, here’s another one, can I spend 15 minutes just by myself?

Is that going to drive me nuts? Can I, can I take a night off and just, like, go do whatever and not be [00:43:00] productive and not even, like, for whatever reason, be safe, but not, maybe not even responsible. But am I allowed to do that? Of course I am. And those were things I was like, okay, but that’s, that’s a risk, that’s a vulnerability.

Yeah, but what it did is it, it also is like, it helped me realize that life didn’t have to be wound so tight I could, I could be as productive. And, and what I was doing wasn’t who I, how do I rephrase that? What we, the actions, the things that we do aren’t really who we are, it’s what we do. And, and you know, I think of people who I know that, that, um, you know, I have a, a, a dear friend of mine, his dad has Parkinson’s disease so badly that it’s like a, just a shell of that person.

Does that make him A different, like, is he a different person? No, he’s not. He’s the same person. His worth is the same, his value is the same, who he is as a person is the same. Does he do any of the things [00:44:00] that, you know, that we identify as things that create worth in ourselves? No, he doesn’t do any of that anymore.

Does that make him less valuable or less important or less significant? No, it doesn’t. So, I had to, I had to go there. I had to like, I had to accept that. And, and, and so I would say, and that brings me to another point. The therapy that I chose to do with ketamine was acceptance, it’s ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

That has been far more effective for me than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You know, cause I just, we accept what it is, we just accept it as reality. It’s like, I don’t know if you’ve seen the meme where it’s like, there’s three glasses, you know, one, they’re full of yellow liquid, one’s like, I’m glass half full, and the other one’s like, I’m glass half empty, and the guy’s like, I think we’re drinking piss, right?

Like, he’s, he’s the realist, right? He’s like, I don’t, whether it’s half full or empty doesn’t matter, this is piss, right? And so you just have to accept

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Jeremy Hancock: Sometimes it just sucks, right? And so, and that’s where the [00:45:00] safety plan comes in, but I know that was kind of a long winded tangent there, but my point being that there are plenty of things you can, you can set as a goal To grow, to be, to make it a strength.

Um, you know, as you do that, you become, you feel so much better about yourself as a person too. You can see progress. It’s so critical.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Absolutely. And you just mentioned a safety plan. And I know, I know, uh, we kind of have a hard stop coming up here in a little bit, but,

Jeremy Hancock: Yeah. So I give a hundred percent credit to the VA hotline for my safety

Scott DeLuzio: the

Jeremy Hancock: When I call the VA hotline. You know, not only did they send a quick reaction force to my house, but I was on the phone with, with a behavioral health specialist. She was as cool, like, just easy to talk to, non judgmental, and right there in the moment, we started a [00:46:00] safety plan.

So, my safety plan. First thing on my safety plan, when I, when I start feeling the, the suicidal ideation. Or depression, or I, I, I can feel myself going down that road and we, and you can kind of, you know, when, when, when, and I just can’t shake the thought, you know, first thing I do, I jump in a cold shower.

That’s on my safety plan, right? You cannot, it’s impossible to think of anything but that cold shower if you’re in a cold shower. So those that haven’t done it, it’s the, whatever, if, if you can’t get your mind off of something, jump in a cold shower if it’s available. If that’s not available, my brother has agreed to be, uh, a safety line, uh, one of my good friends and, and, and soldier buddies, Robert, he’s agreed to be my safety line.

And when I call them, so that’s, that’s plan B. If I can’t jump in the cold shower, I’ll give my brother a call, or I’ll give Robert a call, and it’s a diversion tactic. They know that we’re not, I’m not calling them to talk about suicide. I’m not calling them to talk about, I’m just calling them to [00:47:00] get my mind off of whatever rabbit hole I’m going down, okay?

They know that, and sometimes I’ve called them and they didn’t even know I called them as a safety plan, they just thought I was calling to say hi. And I encourage you, if you have that in your safety plan, call the people regularly so that every time you call, they don’t think, it’s like, oh no, here we go again, right?

Call them regularly, call them when you’re not in need of a, of, of, of intervention or diversion, so that when you do call, it doesn’t, The other part of my safety plan is, is that I have to give them a copy of it. So they’re aware of it. They hold me accountable. So if they, you know, my brother stopped by the house, uh, this has been probably 6 or 7 months ago.

He’s like, you’re not doing well. Are you? I’m like, he’s like, if you jump in the cold shower, I’m like, you know, right? Like, I was, I literally would have, you know, like, he, he holds me accountable to that. If you don’t have somebody like that, that’s where a therapist comes in, a friend comes in, the VA hotline comes in handy, you can call at any time, I know, like, it was effective for me, and I hope it works that way across the [00:48:00] board, like in every state, but I know where I was, it was good, so, and the last part is sometimes, like, the other part of my safety plan is preventive, so each day, you know, when I wake up in the morning, I have these, these affirmations that I go through, and, and, I’ll be completely honest, in the beginning, it was, I felt ridiculous.

I did them alone, I felt ridiculous, I did, I was like, this, this is, and I still kind of feel ridiculous thinking about it. I don’t even know how they work. I just know that since I started doing those every day, my thoughts of suicide, my thoughts of self harm, have become almost non existent, like they just don’t happen.

They’re fleeting thoughts. So, you know, I think now my goal is like, Have death be a sweet option because I’ve exhausted my life doing good rather than, you know, have death be a sweet option because I’m avoiding, you know, life in general, if that makes sense. So,[00:49:00]

Scott DeLuzio: sure. Yeah. And, and, you know, to your point about, you know, like what, how does that, how, how do those affirmations actually work? Uh, you know, going back to the ketamine treatments that you were talking about, how it kind of like, you know, uh, you know, helps rewire your brain is if you’re telling yourself positive, you know?

Uh, you know, uplifting type things, as opposed to, I hate myself. I want to die. All these, these negative things that you keep telling yourself, you keep telling yourself positive things. It’s going to rewire your brain to think more positively. And as a consequence, you’re not going to have those negative thoughts as often is, is kind of my understanding of it.

Um, I may be wrong and someone smarter than me out there probably can correct me if I am wrong. But, um, you know, that, that. Is the way it seems like it would work, uh, you know, to me anyways. And, um, you know, if you just make it a habit of doing that, uh, on a daily basis and tell yourself these positive uplifting messages, then[00:50:00]

Jeremy Hancock: it’s so true. Your repetition is the law of learning. I mean, how many dime drills did you do before you You know, like, to learn Trigger Squeeze and Breathing Control, like, you do it repetitively, you do it over and over and over again, and that’s how, that’s how you wire, that’s how we wired our brain for combat, now you’ve got to wire your brain for life after combat, and that’s where the post traumatic growth comes in.

Growth comes in. It’s truly just same things you did to wire your brain for combat, you’re going to do to wire it for post combat. So,

Scott DeLuzio: exactly. And, and for the folks who are out there and like, well, I, I want to be prepared in case, you know, World War III breaks out or some stupid shit like that, you know, whatever, um, you know, like you still have that in you. It’s like, you know, you can get back on the bike and ride the bike, even though you haven’t done it in 30 years, like you could still do that.

[00:51:00] Um, you know, so you don’t need to be constantly hyper vigilant on alert, a hundred percent. You know, of the time when you’re walking through Walmart, well, maybe Walmart, but, you know, when you’re walking through the grocery store, you know, um, you don’t have to be, uh, you, you know, a hundred percent on alert all the time.

Um. You can, you can let your guard down just a bit and, you know, realize that, you know, we’re, we’re in a pretty damn safe place. Like, we don’t have IEDs going off on the street. Last I checked, there really haven’t been any IEDs going off. There’s no, there’s

Jeremy Hancock: right. Your level of readiness

Scott DeLuzio: uh, you know,

Jeremy Hancock: I didn’t mean to cut you off. I’m sorry, but you’re exactly

Scott DeLuzio: places around the world here,

Jeremy Hancock: of readiness should

Scott DeLuzio: okay.

Like we don’t have, we don’t have to worry about these things.

Jeremy Hancock: awareness. That’s what it is.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, no, go ahead.

Jeremy Hancock: be aware of the, like, what’s happening around you, and then you, you, yeah, you match your, it’s not complacency, it’s escalating to match the environment around you, and, and when you’re in a safe environment, you don’t have to be amped up, you know, so.

I will say too, just start where you [00:52:00] are. Don’t, don’t try to go back and correct. That’s not post traumatic growth. Be aware of this and ketamine will help you be aware, like you become so aware, like aware of awful things that you can’t fix and repair either. And that’s where the acceptance and commitment therapy comes in.

You’ve got to just accept that the damage is done. Don’t try to go back and repair, just move forward and start where you are and move forward.

Scott DeLuzio: There you go. Well, before we wrap up this episode, I want to, uh, do a, a short little segment here. Um, I like to always end an episode with a little bit of humor. A lot of times you talk about some kind of heavy, dark, you know, topics and, and, uh, you know, I like to. Put a little smile on people’s faces, uh, you know, before, um, uh, before the end of the episode.

And so, um, this, this, uh, segment is called, is it service connected? And, uh, you know, I, I, I do that with the veterans cause it usually gets a laugh when, when I bring up the, just the topic of it and it’s usually, you know, watching, uh, either, uh, [00:53:00] you know, a US service member, you know, some. Someone from another, uh, service sometimes, because that’s just the videos I can find, um, you know, doing something stupid.

And then we talk about, you know, would that be service connected if, uh, if that was, uh, you know, an injury that they, they, you know, uh, had during, during their service. So I’m going to bring up this video real quick for you to take a look at so we can watch it together. Um, and, uh, it looks like it’s, uh, for the audio listeners, I’ll try to describe it as best I can.

It looks like, um, a soldier. Doesn’t look like a U. S. soldier. It looks like someone from somewhere else. I don’t know, kneeling in the woods. Um, and I’m going to click play here and see what happens. And he’s banging a stick on the ground and flinching as he looks away, can only imagine what’s, oh yeah, so he’s trying to disarm, uh, you know, some sort of, some sort of mine or something in the ground that, that he found by banging a stick at it.

Um. That’s stupid, uh, like, [00:54:00] it was, it was effective because it happened to be a small enough thing that, I mean, the stick that he was holding couldn’t have been

Jeremy Hancock: yeah,

Scott DeLuzio: what, five or six feet long. Um, so, I mean, that’s about how far, plus maybe his arm length, that’s about how far he was from this thing.

So, um, that was stupid. Like, don’t, like, anyone watching, don’t do that. Um, but, uh, yeah, if, uh, I don’t know, I guess

Jeremy Hancock: well,

Scott DeLuzio: If he was to get some

Jeremy Hancock: that’s not how the story’s told when he’s, when he’s, when he’s applying

Scott DeLuzio: I guess maybe that would be service connected, although they, they do tell you not to do that, shouldn’t they?

Jeremy Hancock: yeah, yeah, he successfully disarmed a

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, right, exactly. Yeah, that That video is getting lost, uh, when, when he’s applying for that.

Jeremy Hancock: wow,

Scott DeLuzio: Exactly. Yeah. He was a hero.

Um, anyways, uh, well, Jeremy, thank you again for taking the time to join us. Um, I, [00:55:00] I do appreciate you coming on and sharing your story, um, and

Jeremy Hancock: it’s been my pleasure, thank you so

Scott DeLuzio: traumatic growth and, uh, you know, hopefully serving as an inspiration for others to do the same. So thank you.

Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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