Bottled Away Sharing a Veteran’s Story

Drive On Podcast
Drive On Podcast
Bottled Away Sharing a Veteran's Story

Lani Hankins is a repeat guest on the show, who is joining me to discuss her new book Bottled Away: Confessions of a Struggling Veteran. In this episode we talk about the importance of sharing your story, and Lani shares the process she went through to write this book. I think her insights are great for other veterans who are looking to write their own book but don't really know where to start.

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Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:03    Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we talk about issues affecting Veterans after they get out of the military. Before we get started, I'd like to ask a favor if you haven't done so already, please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. If you've already done that, thank you. These ratings help the show get discovered so it can reach a wider audience. And while you're there click the subscribe button so that you get notified of new episodes as soon as they come out. If you don't use Apple podcasts, you can visit to find other ways of subscribing, including our email list. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio and now let's get on with the show.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:44    Hey everybody. Today, my guest is a returning guest Lani Hankins, who was back on episode 64 and talked about her time in the Army, her podcast that she had back then was her mental health Veterans' suicide awareness amongst other topics back in that episode.  If you haven't listened to that episode (episode 64 is titled Kruse Corner) go back and give that episode of listen to find out a little bit more about today’s guest.  I'm having her back on the show to talk about her new book, which is titled Bottled Away Confessions of a Struggling Veteran. So welcome back to the show Lani.

Lani Hankins: Thanks for having me.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, absolutely and before we started recording, I did spill the beans a little bit about my somewhat selfish reason for having you on the podcast.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:01:43     I'm in the process of writing my own book and I'd love to talk a little bit about the process that you went through to write your book and again, it's not totally selfish because I do think that it could also be helpful to someone else who might be listening and has a story in the back of their head and they're thinking of writing it. They just don't know where to start or things like that. So, it might be beneficial to some of the listeners as well. And I think that that would be kind a cool thing to talk about, but let's talk about your book first and your book Bottled Away Confessions of a Struggling Veteran.  Let's talk about that and where that came from, what's the book all about and what made you decide to write the book?  

Lani Hankins:    00:02:26    So, we were actually just talking about it right before we started recording.  I kept a lot of notes when I was in the military and especially when I deployed, I kept a journal because I wanted to annotate the day-to-day life stuff. I was just one of those people that was always really into psychology and for whatever reason, it was like, I wanted to see how, and if I changed in any way and didn't really want to forget stuff; I'm pretty forgetful on my own. I just want to just jot some stuff down and hold onto it. And so, I had that journal and I had tons of letters that I had mailed home to my mom when I was in basic when I was deployed, AIT, all that stuff. I have all this paperwork and all these notes, and I started briefly sharing it when I first came out with Kruse Corners through the podcast and the blog, and I realized, I couldn't really cut my story down to five-minute posts.  

Lani Hankins:    00:03:21    I just couldn't do it. I talk too much. I write too, there's just too much there. And I felt like I was almost censoring myself by trying to consolidate all this work into these little tiny intros where I just had to get to the point. And I couldn't always get to the point without feeling like I cut out a lot of the story. And so, I got this idea, especially when the pandemic started, because I had a lot of time and I just started putting these notes together and building this story with the idea that I knew I wasn't some bad-ass soldier when I was in, I had probably the average person’s story. I was a supply clerk. I worked in a PLL, our office was at the motor pool, but when I started struggling with transition, I noticed there weren't stories that I felt I could relate to.  

Lani Hankins:    00:04:09    And you had to be that bad-ass war person, warrior or whatever, and have all these Hollywood-worthy stories. And I couldn't find it. I just realized I felt bad like these people I was reading about, but our stories are nowhere near each other. So, it was like, I'm going to go ahead and just put my story out there and hope it encourages more people to speak up for those of us that didn't have the crazy combat story, didn't have all these crazy things happen, but we still struggled. I thought, well, if I could do it for the little people, maybe there are a lot of people that were ashamed of having PTSD or having a rough transition because they didn't feel they were allowed. There are so many things that happen in life. Maybe if I do this, other people will do this and maybe some civilians will learn in the process. Like it's not all Black Hawk Down, it's not Platoon.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:07    Exactly. And that's a great point too that you brought up by saying that your time in the military was pretty average. It wasn't this extraordinary thing that you hear of all these heroics that happen, but those are the ones that get the media attention and the publicity and all that sort of stuff because they're exciting and they're fascinating. They're interesting. And so, of course, they're going to talk about that because it gets the clicks to the websites. It gets views on television. It gets the seats in the movie theaters and all that stuff.  Those are the exciting things, but they are sort of outliers. They don't happen to you and me like that. You're putting yourself out there and telling your story, even though in your words, it's an average story. It's not something that you feel is extraordinary, which I would question, but that's maybe a different conversation.  

Lani Hankins:    00:06:18    That's a pretty tough critic on my own stuff. So, I know there's definitely people that have read it already. They're like, wow, that's rough, but I still don't. I still see it as being a very common story. And I think a lot of people could relate to different sides of it. Even me being a female Veteran, I feel like there are things I went through that everybody can relate to in the military, the long time away from home, the separation feeling like you leave your life behind. And when you come back, you're just willing to jump into it. Like you were never gone. Like there's other issues that chip away at you that nobody really talks about or not enough people talk about, or the ones that do talk about it, have those awesome stories of all this stuff they did in combat. So, it overshadows that. So, people are like, Oh, that's rough, but do the stuff you went through, it's crazy, so it just gets shuffled inside.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:07:14    And one of the things that the average person who never served in the military, or doesn't know anybody who served in the military, all they really know about the military is the Black Hawk Down and Platoon and Full Metal Jacket and those types of movies. That's really all they know about. And so, in the back of their mind, they're probably thinking, okay, everybody who I meet who's a Veteran probably is a little bit messed up in their head because they went through all of this crazy war stuff, and it's just insane. But you're shedding light on the other side of the service to where it's not jumping out of helicopters and or airplanes, or being blown up and shot at 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the entire course of your deployment.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:08:07    There's another side of it. There are lots of other jobs in the military that don't get highlighted. And I think it's great that someone like yourself is highlighting these other jobs that are maybe not quite as glamorous.  They don't get the media attention, the pomp and circumstance or whatever you want to call it.  You're talking about your story. I think that's great.  So, tell us a little bit about the story and a little bit about your background that went into this book.

Lani Hankins:  So, it really just sort of  

Lani Hankins:    00:08:56    starts off explaining why I left for the military in the first place, because when I had the blog, it was already just talking about what the Army turned me into. There was no baseline of who I was before at all. And so, it starts off just being that college kid. I was in school for an Art degree and didn't really know what I was doing.  It is starting to turn into the Van Wilder story. I was just hanging out at community college and that I didn't have any direction. And I was a surfer kid because I grew up in central California. And so just wasting time and I didn't join until I was 22 and was really excited about it. I thought I was going to go in and be a lifer. I had a lot of goals to become a Warrant Officer.  

Lani Hankins:    00:09:41    I had a lot of family that had been in the military, so I just wanted to get that under my belt, like everybody else did. And I had grandfathers in WWII, an aunt that was a WAC when she was in WWII.  My dad was a Vietnam Vet. And so, I thought, Oh, I'm going to do it too. And then right off the bat, within the first six months of being in the military, I experienced stuff like MST, a lot of harassment and it was not what I remembered it being in the movies. I went in with the idea of GI Jane and if you just try really hard, they're going to accept you, but it doesn't really work that way. And so, I was a little naive or pretty naive going in.  

Lani Hankins:    00:10:27    And so it just goes to show that you can be as motivated as you want and one little thing can throw it off course. And it got thrown off pretty quick. And so, my military service, even though it ended up being far shorter than I intended, I was only in for six years, four of which were active.  It was always a lot of combating battles within myself trying to move on past trauma, trying to remain part of the team, be seen as one of the guys, always pushing away females because I felt like if you're close to the women, you're going to be a target. I was attached to a Cavalry unit. So, mostly around the guys. So, that was who you wanted to get along with. There was a lot of other stuff that fed into why I left so early.  

Lani Hankins:    00:11:18    So the book just shows how my mental state got to where it was, where the transition was bound to be tough, and how it put a lot of it away, the whole military mentality of bottle it up, push it down and keep going, assault forward. Like just let it go and get over it. And so, you suppress a lot of stuff. And when I got out, my biggest issue was I got bombarded with all these old things that I'd never dealt with. And so, it was a rocky transition out, figuring out who I was outside the uniform and basically how I survived myself once I didn't have the Army anymore, when I didn't have my buddies anymore.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:12:07    It's probably not as common of a story as you're making it out to be.  There's definitely more to it, probably even that you're talking about right now.  If you want to know the story, buy the book and there will be links to the book in the show notes where you can find the book, but there's definitely more to the story then you give it credit for. I think one of the things about the military is we don't tend to want to brag too much about ourselves, we'll lift other people up but we'll be slow to take the praise or lift ourselves up.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:13:00    And I think that's maybe a little bit what we're seeing here with this. I think there's definitely more to it than what you're letting on.  When you started writing this book, you said you had a bunch of notes basically from your time with the service and what was the process like of actually putting all that random stuff that was basically put together with no real purpose other than just to keep your memories in line and writing letters back home, or to whoever; what was the process of organizing all of that stuff?

Lani Hankins:    00:13:44     Well, the blog made it easier because I was able to divide it into topics. I had stuff to talk about PTSD, the transition part, deployment, suicide, losing buddies, stuff like that. And in terms of the notes, I went along the same line, where's the common denominator in each story, or each note like, okay, this feeds into the PTSD, this feeds into dealing with pharmaceuticals in the military, how much they pump you full of that. I just found things that would explain certain things. And so, it took me well over a year of just figuring out and then restructuring it just making sure stuff flowed and things explained the next thing and led into it. So, I mean the system, I think it just took a lot of editing just to make sure, because when you tell your own story, you can fill in the blanks, if you're not reading it, so your head's putting it through.  

Lani Hankins:    00:14:48    So I'd have to put myself in someone else's shoes. Like, would that make sense, right? Or how far do I explain this? Because I did touch on it even though my full story is not the real common thing. No one has the story I do, but the topics, the suicide, feeling it either yourself or losing someone to the post-traumatic stress how far do I go into explaining these things to where it's not just a trigger book the whole time? There's going to be people that dealt with that same thing. It's not like, how far do I have to go to make a point? And that was really the hardest part was trying to draw back. Don't go too far into it. Just make the point, but still enough to show why this would be so hard to cope with.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:38    Yeah. Enough so that someone who has no idea what you're talking about, they haven't lived or experienced it but can follow along and know what you're talking about. But then at the same time, like you said, not to be a trigger book and have it make people not want to read past the first page, when they're getting triggered left and right with the level of detail that you might be going into.  As far as the publishing process, you self-publish the book, is that correct? Or did you have a publisher?  

Lani Hankins:    00:16:13    I went that route. I know if you go the author route, that's the dirty word of saying, Oh, I self-publish because other people are like, Oh, but to me it was this idea of I wanted it to stay my voice. I wanted it to stay my story. I didn't want to change it for someone that wouldn't really understand it the way I did. I wrote it, intended it to be exactly as it was, I mean, hours and hours and hours of editing. I mean, I'm a perfectionist. So, it definitely got to that point where it's like, you have to let it go. I couldn't fill the end of my life. I could have just always found something wrong with it, but it was at that point where I wanted this to really remain mine.  

Lani Hankins:    00:16:57    And I didn't go into this with this idea of, I'm going to get rich, I'm going to get famous. It was like, even if it's one person, this is to help somebody. And so, I felt by self-publishing, it allowed me to do with it as I intended and to not try to make myself out to be this huge person or have someone trying to pump it up. I'll let people read this when they're ready. And I was lucky enough to meet another Veteran that had actually introduced me to the Amazon KDP process. And that's how I was able to realize that I could self-publish because I thought my biggest issue was, I wrote the book, what do I do with it now? How do I get it out there? And I had talked to other authors and the feedback I always got was, if you're not rich, you're not going to publish; you better have a lot of money.  

Lani Hankins:    00:17:53    And it made me mad that this idea of, I'm too poor to tell my story. There's got to be another way. And so, I ended up reading a book, it was like a hundred ways or a hundred days to write a book, a hundred-page book, something like that. But basically, it just explained the KT process through Amazon, which was really self-explanatory if you go through Amazon but Barnes and Noble does it too; there are actually a lot of self-publishing things out there, but it made it attainable. And so, it was this idea that was my motivation to actually go through with doing the book all the way and not just writing it and then sitting on it for the end of the time.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:18:34    And I actually talked to somebody a couple of months ago who actually helps people who write books get some publicity, sort of a publicist, but not exactly.  They said that one of the authors that they were helping had gotten published through a publisher and they said that the biggest benefit to going through a traditional publisher is that they're able to get the books on the shelves in the bookstore. So, Barnes and Noble and Target and Walmart and other places that people traditionally will buy a physical copy of a book. But with the coronavirus, with a lot of these things either locked down or with people just not willing to go out to the store, they're turning to Amazon, or they're turning to other online sources. They're not selling the books.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:19:32    And this one author in particular that they had been talking about said that they had an order through Barnes and Noble for 5,000 copies of their book. And it got slashed down to 300 copies because nobody's going to the bookstores and buying the books these days. So, to your point of the difference between a traditional publishing and self-publishing, I think these days you might not even want to go the traditional publishing route because not only do they take a cut of your sales and also maybe chop up some of the book and make it not be what you want it to be; there's not really a whole lot of benefit to it at this time.  

Lani Hankins:    00:20:17    That was the other big thing, if I didn't have a middleman in there, I was trying to keep the price down. And because through Amazon, that price, when people are like, why isn't it free? If you care so much about people reading your stuff, the issue with it is you do pay printing costs. You do pay taxes or stuff like that. So that has to come out of something. If it was free, I'd basically be paying people every time they buy a book, I have to go throw five, six bucks down to have it printed it out. And so, a lot of what you're paying for, even through Kindle, there's printing, there's distribution cost, there's all these other things that go into getting this book out there.  

Lani Hankins:    00:21:00    And I had considered, do I want to find it on a shelf? I would love to walk into a Barnes and Noble and see my stuff on a shelf. But I also understood that Amazon has like 80% of the market when it comes to books. And so, it's probably not going to end up on a shelf anyways, even if I want to try to go through like a mom-and-pop shop or something like that, or I want to see it in a library. And I know my book is not going to be in a school library.  There are too many disclaimers on that. It's not. And so, you have to look at the market, if Amazon is 80% of the market, where am I going to find the most people that are going to actually have access to this book and you can make it shareable so that people, if you get the Kindle version, you can share it and they can loan it to somebody and stuff like that. It gives you a lot of freedom all the way down to the cover design. Everything about the printed version and the Kindle version that I designed; I did everything. It's all my stuff. Everything was just me sitting there playing with the whole system. I'm not tech savvy whatsoever, so I can promise you if I figured it out, you can too; it is pretty easy, they do a pretty good job of step-by-step stuff.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:22:22    Well, that's good. So, people who might be considering writing their own book and then worried that it's just going to fall on deaf ears because if they don't have a way of publishing it and getting it out to people, then what's even the point.  There’s always that option of going through Amazon and like you said, it's step by step. It's a pretty easy process to go through. And as far as things like your cover design and other things like that, if you don't have the design chops to figure that out on your own, you can probably find somebody on Upwork or Fiverr or something like that to put something together for you. And it really wouldn't be all that expensive to do;  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:23:14     and a decent looking cover, because let's face it, most people do judge a book by it and a decent looking cover could totally help with your sales of your book. So, I have a feeling that's probably going to be the way that I end up going; as you know, my graphic design skills are not the best. And so, I'll probably have somebody help me with that, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.  For the people who are out there on the fence or they might have a story to tell, it might be the next Black Hawk Down type of story, or it might be the next average, Joe/Jane whatever story that they don't think is important enough to tell, what advice might you have for the other Vets who are out there, who do have a story, because all of us do; we can talk about our time in the service and it will be interesting to somebody maybe, maybe not to everybody, but it'll be interesting to somebody.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:24:21     What advice do you have for them as far as telling their story?  

Lani Hankins:    00:24:26    Well, I think what you just said, the key word in that someone's going to get something from it. And so, for me, I was horrified by the idea of putting some of the stuff I was going to put out there just for everyone to judge and tear apart if they wanted to. But it was this idea of if I could just make a difference for one person. And if we were all doing that every day, because I was going back to the 22 Veterans a day; if we were all just doing something to help somebody else out, you're making a difference. And I thought there's got to be at least one person that can relate to my story in some shape or form that this will encourage them to maybe not write a book, that's a scary thought for some people, that's not therapy, it's therapy for me.  

Lani Hankins:    00:25:19    For some people that's a big no-no, but the idea that you can open up and it's going to be received by someone, you're not going to be by yourself. Someone will stand by you. It was just this idea of, if one person gets something out of this at the end of the day, I didn't suffer for nothing. I didn't go through all this for no reason. And that for me was the biggest motivating factor that I don't know who it's going to help, but there's got to be somebody out there that this can do something for at the end of the day.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:25:52    Yeah, absolutely. And even looking at the older generations of World War II as the numbers of the Veterans from that era are slowly dwindling, think about all of the stories that just went untold.  Even the average stories, it doesn't matter that all of the stories that just went untold and now are lost to history because those people are gone.  I think another reason to tell your story is for historical purposes, even if it's for no one more than your own kids, or even grandkids who want to know what did grandma or grandpa do when they were in the military? You know, your story is now out there for them to know about. I know my grandfather was in the Navy in WWII and he was at Iwo Jima. He was where a lot of stuff happened. I know next to none of it because he died when I was young enough to not really understand the significance of it. And my God, if I could have him back for an hour, an hour to just sit him down and talk to him about it, that would be amazing. But that's obviously not a possibility.  

Lani Hankins:    00:27:11    That was something I even mentioned in the book was that aunt I had that was part of the women's Army Corps during WWII.  I had mentioned that she was a big reason why I wrote, because all of those women that served in whack were still, up to the 1970s, having a hard time with the military. Like you weren't recognized for the benefits, you could get kicked out for the littlest thing, like getting married or having a kid. And a lot of them didn't talk about their service because it wasn't well received. And so, I thought about how many stories she had that a whole generation of women vets that didn't really feel like they could talk about it or that nobody would care.  My dad died in May, I think it was 2020 of complications with agent orange, lots of stories  

Lani Hankins:    00:28:05    I don't know from his time in Vietnam. And just how the tidbits of how they were treated when they came back. And it really did become this idea of nobody can take this book away from me once it's out there, this story. And I might forget it completely one day. I might not even remember it anymore, but it's there and it's this little time capsule. And so, there were a lot of people that I thought about the number of stories that go untold because people either feel like they don't have a story worth telling or someone convinced them to just stay quiet about it.  That was a big thing and I was hoping to encourage other people to not let this generation at least just disappear and go to the grave. I just wanted people to know what we go through. We all have such different stories and the more of us that tell them the more it covers.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:29:04    Exactly. Yeah. I want to read a quote of yours from a post that you put up on Instagram, if you don't mind.  I know I'm springing this on you. I didn't tell you I was going to do this, but you said a few years back, “I had an idea, it started with a blog and I received harsh criticism for sharing my struggles, but I kept sharing. When I decided to move the blog to a podcast, I was told I didn't have anything worth talking about, but I kept talking. And when I decided I wanted to write a book, another author told me publication was only for the rich, but I kept writing. I pushed on because even though I don't have a glamorous story, I believe my experiences with trauma and hardships were not unique. I knew I wasn't the only one suffering.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:29:53    And I knew if I could just help just one person that was one more person that would choose to see tomorrow, no matter how bad-ass or mundane your story is, we can all learn something from one another. We take what we can use, then pass the wisdom on to others and let them decide what they can take from it. My story may not be the one people are looking for, but at the least, I hope my journey encourages others to open up rather than to continue bottling the pain away.” And honestly, this is me. Now, this is not your quote.  I don't think you need any more reason than that to tell your story in whatever format you choose, whether it's writing a book, starting a podcast writing it in a journal, it doesn't have to be a published book or anything, or just sitting your kids down and telling your story or your wife or your husband or whoever.  I think that was so well put that I wanted to include that message and again, I don't think you really need any better reason than that.  

Lani Hankins:    00:31:07    Yeah. My big thing was always just that don't let people convince you that you can't do something that's making you feel better. For me, it was always writing. It was the only way I could get it out. I'm a pretty quiet person. So just opening up and talking about the podcast for me was really coming out of my comfort zone because it was asked for, I was trying to do it for other people because people were like, I don't want to read would you read it to me. And so, it evolved from the people that didn't want to go read the blog or whatever. But my biggest thing was with the whole bottled away, it's not just stacking all those memories and traumas and stuff inside yourself until the point where you just explode, you got to get it out somehow and everybody's going to find their outlet.  

Lani Hankins:    00:31:56    But the key is finding an outlet to not just carry it with you to heavy weight, especially if you get out of the military and you don't have your battle buddies around anymore, like when we're in the service together, we disperse the weight, we all help each other carry it. When you end up alone, I ended up alone after the service and it was a lot and nearly lost myself over it. And I didn't want other people to feel like you just have to hold it all in until you can't do it anymore.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:32:26    Yeah, absolutely. And for the people who are struggling with trying to figure out how to let it out and tell their story, I had another guest on the podcast a few weeks ago and she was talking about how she uses artwork.  She makes these clay pottery and things like that. And her story is told through the artwork and when she puts it out there, people will start to ask her at art exhibit type things. People will start to ask her. So, what was the motivation behind this particular piece or whatever. And then it just starts flowing out of her, her story. She starts telling her story, and this is where it came from and all that. So, the way you tell your story can look different, but the fact that you're telling your story doesn't necessarily change. And I think that that's really the important piece.  

Lani Hankins:    00:33:28    Yeah. It's a really good icebreaker, whether it's art or writing or whatever, because for me, the book's out there. So, it's just like I don't feel I have to explain so much anymore. It's there; because I got tired of explaining why I felt bad as a supply clerk. Because a lot of it didn't have to do with healing. It was trying to convince people I was allowed to feel as bad as I did. And so, what I couldn't write, I did start with art and it was just another way to show there was pain. And it did become an icebreaker where people can see clearly that it's not a normal painting. There are some issues there. So, what's going on. And he's like, well, that's what the writing was for me.  

Lani Hankins:    00:34:13    It's just unfiltered. You're left alone to do it on your own time. That's where the writing has been easier than podcasting. I had people that fought back at what I would say. So, you couldn't ever really just say your story. And for me it was like, just get it all out. Let me just say what I got to say. And then judge it, then come to your conclusions. Just let me say why I feel bad. And so again, whatever it takes to get you to just be able to open up or to help you tell that story, that's what I think everybody needs that saves lives. I mean, it saved me.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:34:55    Yeah. And it's because things like the traditional talk therapies and things like that are not for everybody. They don't work for everybody. And that’s not to say that there's anything wrong with them, with those particular types of therapies. They do work for some people and they're the ones that they work for. They're great. And it's wonderful, but there's other ways of expressing yourself and there's other ways of getting things off your chest and getting it out there.  Don't be discouraged if you've tried a bunch of different talk therapies, there's all a whole slew of different things that you could try if it doesn't work, there's something else out there for you. So don't get discouraged. Don't give up, keep on, right? Find the right fit and keep on moving forward.  

Lani Hankins:    00:35:49    There is not a one size fits all thing. When it comes to therapy, like there's ended up from my own experience. It was a collection of things. Like it was not just one thing worked. I had to create a whole lifestyle around it, a whole bunch of sustainable things that just added to being able to heal. So, it took getting outside, leaving the house once in a while, getting your thoughts out, eating better, it's a whole collection of things.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:36:19    And as hard as it may be to get out of bed and leave the house some days, which I know is a hard thing to do for a lot of people where they're suffering from depression or PTSD and they don't want to do anything. They don't want to go anywhere. They don't want to see anyone or talk to anyone, but sometimes just forcing yourself to do that one thing, there's the theory of just making your bed and starting the day off right. And just accomplish that one little thing and then get that momentum. Then go out and do that next little thing. And even if everything else goes wrong, at least your bed's made when you come back to bed at night and you're that much better for it. And then the next day do it all over again and see how much better you can make yourself.  

Lani Hankins:    00:37:11    Just to continue what you were just saying, because I was definitely one of those people that had a hard time getting myself out of bed and getting myself to do daily stuff.  My big advice is something I did was I would leave notes up around the house where I'd see them. Affirmations or things that kept me on track. I'm one of those people that I get in my head real easy and I can talk myself out of anything and I can make any situation worse. So, it was one of those things to keep me from doing that and to remind me why I had to keep going, why I needed to take a shower that day, why I needed to do something as simple as go sit outside for five minutes in the sun or something because I could talk myself out of doing those things, even though I knew they were important. I think the biggest thing is just to find that thing that's going to keep you out of your head sometimes because we can be our own worst enemies and to not let somebody else take away something you love to do or talk you out of doing something that means a lot. We can't do it to ourselves either.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:38:21    That's a great point; whether it's finding reasons to do those things or even if that reason is for someone else, I don't want to let my kids down or my spouse down or something like that. That could be reason enough to keep moving. And ideally, you'd like to find the internal reason to do something is that I want to be a better person. I want to better myself, but do what you have to do to just keep moving forward. That's something I've struggled with. I think a lot of people have struggled with finding those reasons to keep moving forward and keep on going. And once when you find those reasons and you get into a habit of doing these things, it gets a little bit easier to add one more thing to go outside for more than five minutes, to go to the store, to take a shower. You know? I think those little steps will eventually lead to bigger steps and they may seem like complete crap because of all the other stuff that you've done, you may have been deployed and done the bad-ass stuff, and you're now struggling to take a shower or every day it might seem like it's complete crap.

Lani Hankins:    00:39:52    The other thing that we have to do is we have to learn to do is to cut ourselves some slack, really reflecting on ourselves or something like that. I was like that, I feel like I want to cry today, but I used to be in Afghanistan. Why can't I deal with washing the dishes today? We are human, we're allowed to have rough days, we're allowed to break down. It's just not getting stuck. You have to just cut yourself some slack once in a while for having a human response or feeling emotion or something like that.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:40:24    Yeah, absolutely. And that's absolutely true. We are human and we have normal human reactions to abnormal situations that we get put into. And the military unfortunately puts us into a lot of abnormal situations, especially when it comes to deployments and things like that, there's nothing normal about a lot of the stuff that we do and you definitely have to cut yourself some slack; have a little grace and rest, relax, come back better and stronger, but don't try to keep going at a thousand miles an hour because it's not going to work out.

Lani Hankins:    00:41:10    To come back from too, the more you do it, the more you neglect yourself, the harder it is to come back from it all.

Scott DeLuzio:    00:41:16    Yeah. And one of the things that I recently found out or discovered is how cyclical some of this stuff is because sometimes when you're feeling down, it's easier to just withdraw and isolate away from other people, not go out and not get out of bed or to just do those kinds of self-isolating type of practices. But that gives you an immediate fix for feeling down, because then you're not worried about going out and all the other things that might come along with it, but at the same time, not being around other people brings you down even more. And then the next day you're just going to keep doing it and doing it and doing it. And because it's an easy fix, it's the quick fix to a long longer-term problem.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:42:11    And it really does take some work and dedication to keep going. And so, it's not easy a lot of times to do this, but you do have to keep fighting and keep moving forward. So, Lani, it has been a pleasure speaking with you and talking about your book and a little bit about your story.  I want to give you a second here to tell people where they can go to follow you and your story and find out more about your book and where to get it.  

Lani Hankins:    00:42:53    So in terms of following me, I'm still on Kruse Corner through Instagram, it's still the KRUSE_Corner.  I don't have the website anymore but if you want to look for the book it's on Amazon just put in Bottled Away, Confessions of a Struggling Veteran in the search bar, it should pop up. Kindle. It's a print version. That's about it. I've cut back on the social media stuff.  I don't have a whole lot of content anymore but that's probably the main thing to get a hold of me on is Instagram.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:43:33    Perfect. I will have links to both of those in the show notes. And so anyone looking to buy the book, please do go out and buy the book, a paperback, Kindle version, whichever you prefer that will help get Lani's message out there maybe help you if you're struggling with a similar situation that Lani had gone through in her military service, even if you're just feeling like your service was mundane and average like Lani was saying that hers was and you want to maybe give yourself a little inspiration to say that maybe it wasn't quite as average as you think it was, go out and get that book and give it a read and also review it because I'm sure that helps with getting the book found on Amazon as well. So do help out Lani help out other Veterans who will then find her book. So, with that, thank you again Lani for joining me and sharing everything that you did today.

Lani Hankins: Thank you for having me on again. I really appreciate it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:44:48    Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, We're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.

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