Discovering Your Own Path

Wayne Shipman Discovering Your Own Path
Drive On Podcast
Discovering Your Own Path

Wayne Shipman served in the Army in the ’90s and found himself homeless years after leaving the Army. He considered ending it all when he decided he had to discover his own path in life. In this episode, Wayne shares how he felt disconnected from other people in his life, which drove him away from them. He also shares how he ultimately got himself off of the streets.

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Scott DeLuzio  00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let’s get on with the show. Hey, everybody, welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Wayne Shipman. Wayne is an army veteran who wound up living outdoors as a homeless man in 2005. While he was living outdoors, he had to face the realities of his homelessness, divorce, bad parenting, drug use, and his own mental health condition, which led him on a path of sobriety and ultimately ended, his time living on the streets. I want to welcome Wayne to the show. Welcome, Wayne. Thanks for joining me.  

Wayne Shipman   00:01:01    Scott is really great to be here talking to you. I’ve heard a lot of your content and you got me hooked. 

Scott DeLuzio    00:01:08    Oh, awesome. That’s great.  I went over a little bit of your background, but could you give us a little kind of an overview of your background? What led you to join the military and what happened to you in that situation when you’re in the military?  

Wayne Shipman   00:01:28    Yeah, that’s kind of a long story. It’s something I got to shave the ice and just kind of give you the shavings of it, because it’s just, it goes on and on and on its layers of things that kind of led up to the situations that I was in.  I was a homeless guy and I was on dope and given up frankly. The message that I’m trying to bring, I’m trying to give you the end game. You don’t have to spend 15 minutes figuring out why I’m telling you this story after all of my disappointments and things that I experienced after the military, trying to adjust to civilian life. I pretty much encountered shame. And a lot of disgrace that I carried with me because I didn’t make it in the military.  

Wayne Shipman     00:02:21    I failed. I ended up getting kicked out about six months early from my end of service. And that hurt me over the years. I’m trying to kind of reach out to soldiers. Former military that had similar experiences. I went into the military looking for some kind of golden ticket to be respected by my family and members.  My family members growing up as in the post-World War II era, a lot of my grandma, my uncles. They had pictures on their walls of military people. And some of them were from the Vietnam era.  I was the first grandson out of six daughters in the family. All eyes were on me,  and through the years I heard it all. Every Christmas, every Thanksgiving, when people get together, there was Wayne playing with his little Tonka toys, but they were all talking about Wayne’s going to do great.  

Wayne Shipman     00:03:22    He’s going to be this. He’s going to be that. And I kept hearing from more and more and more often, he’s going to make a great military man. He’s going to be a great soldier because grandpa was, and was uncle Tom. It was somebody else and somebody else, and it got to me, to where I expected to join the military, but I resisted it right up to the last minute. I had military parents and we moved around a lot, the whole routine, every two, three years, we were gone somewhere. Over the years I developed some real disorders and adjusting to civilian life after the military because I went into the military with certain expectations and I went into the military expecting to be turned into a real soldier. And I’m not talking about going in blazing guns.  

Wayne Shipman    00:04:18     I really didn’t care if I saw combat. I was kind of scared of that aspect. I was willing when I joined the military, I chose parachute rigger because of course, like most wise recruiters, they give you two really lame things to choose from. And one that they’re trying to push you to. Well, I chose a parachute rigger, which was way out of character for me at the time I grew up smoking pot. I had long hair all the way through high school. I was disobedient.  I was rebellious. I was stubborn and hardheaded. And when I joined the military, I was voted least likely to succeed because of that but I actually expected the shift to happen for me because I was expecting to be a military soldier and do military things. Like I said, I wasn’t looking to go to combat.

Wayne Shipman    00:05:17    But up until that time, I really didn’t have any reason to think that I was going to live a life as an adult of being successful. The typical thing about chasing the American dream, working for corporations, and stuff. Heck, I couldn’t get along with my English teacher in 11th grade for crying out loud. I wouldn’t make it on a job, but I was sorely disappointed, man. When I joined the military like I said, this recruiter had promised me, he said, being a parachute rigger, this was in 1987. And he said, there’s a 99% chance. I’m going to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. And I would be doing real military deployment stuff, not necessarily combat-related, but I would be all the time doing training exercises and airdrop exercises, dropping ammunition and supplies.  

Wayne Shipman     00:06:15    Even if it’s just in training, I would be very busy doing my job as a parachute rigger. And of course, supporting some of the military jumps,  the airborne operations down there. I was all on board for that. And lo and behold, they sent me to Fort Richardson, Alaska into a Garrison unit. And I wasn’t actually in a real company, I was an attachment. There were 14 of us parachute riggers in an attachment of like 250 soldiers and alpha company Garrison. And we had soldiers from some of them who were mechanics. Some of them were cooks. Some of them worked at the troop medical clinic. I’m not even sure what they were doing. We weren’t doing real soldier stuff.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:07:01    They weren’t jumping out of airplanes. But I think that that’s the case. It wasn’t like you were in Fort Bragg where they were going to be doing that with the majority of the people you were stationed with or who were stationed there, I should say. that was basically their job and that you’d be doing all that stuff on a routine basis. But, it sounds like what you’re looking for was the structure and the discipline and the rigor of military life and what you got was thrown into a Garrison unit. And it was anything but that, it seems.  Coming from a life where you were looking for that type of structure, and then you don’t get it.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:08:03, Now if I can’t get it in the military, where the heck am I going to get that from? I can imagine when you get out, that it’s a pretty scary world to get out into. When You’re smacked with that reality of civilian life and how you were no longer getting the training that you were expecting to be getting. After getting out of the military, how long was it before you found yourself living out on the streets and without a home?  

Wayne Shipman     00:08:46    It was many years actually. I got out officially in October of 1990, and it was, I think 2005 when I actually resorted to living on the streets. And, there was a lot that led up to that, but the link there was a link. Once you’re homeless, Scott, you’re around other homeless people and it’s no longer mysterious, they’re no longer mysterious. The mystery about homeless people is kind of why I started hanging around with them in the first place. I ended up in Portland, Oregon, and some traveling. And when I stepped off the Greyhound bus there, I was just in love with the city, the architecture, the statues, the fountains, the people.  I think the very first day I was there, some guy walked by with a backpack and on the backpack, it was like a bumper sticker that said, keep Portland weird.  

Wayne Shipman    00:09:48    I’m not kidding, man. I heard drums and I was like, what is this major drum thing going on? It was something like September of 2002 when I arrived in Portland and I heard these drums. It sounded like tribal drums. Like the Apaches were just over the hill, banging on their drums. Well, I started following the sound of the drums and it was like this, it was like 40 hippies out there. Like a bunch of them were white guys with dreads. They were beating on these drums and it was kind of an annual celebration too. It was the fall harvest kind of thing, and important. They have the rose festival parade and they have all kinds of stuff that happened in September. Well, it was just really an excuse for these guys to be out there.  

Wayne Shipman     00:10:34    Partying is what it was. And when I walked out there and saw that, and then I kind of went around the corner and I started seeing I was on skid row and I didn’t know it, the bus, let me out like three or four blocks away from the actual, the road where most of the homeless missions are on Burnside road, Burnside Boulevard. There’s like 15 different homeless missions down there. And there were all these homeless people standing in line. When I got off the bus, I was just kinda like kicking back, leaning against a tree, looking at them. That was normal. Sorry for you guys, what’s your problem? Why don’t you just snap out of it? What is this? Or you just, you just love welfare. Your mommy didn’t give you a good enough education or whatever.  

Wayne Shipman     00:11:19    I mean, I was pretty sarcastic, but not to them, but privately, I had the same kind of judgment call that most of us have when we see homeless people. But for the first time, I saw literally thousands of homeless people, more than a hundred around downtown Portland. Portland has 2 million people in a metropolitan area. The more I hung around in the actual downtown area, the more I saw just homeless people were common. Later on in 2004, about two years later, I was having some really tough psychological adjustment issues. And it wasn’t related to the military, not directly, but I do have a message and I call it the backside of PTSD. I have other podcasts. I’m not a podcast host, but right now I am really getting invited to other people and I’m a guest speaker on several podcasts.  

Wayne Shipman     00:12:17    What I’m doing is I’ve been trying to convey the message of homelessness to the average citizens, the average people out there, because especially during COVID. COVID changed everything. COVID changed the game, especially for the homeless. At heart, I’m a homeless advocate.  Obviously, I’m not homeless anymore, but I went through this period of very severe psych psychological disorders,  including being diagnosed by a psychiatrist and a doctor. They did blood metabolites. They did the full physical on me, extensive psychological evaluations over a period of like six months. And in the end, it was more like layers of several different personality and mood disorders that were kind of retroactive or triggering each other, which I didn’t know. All I knew was I was angry. I was mad at the world. I was feeling like I didn’t belong.  

Wayne Shipman   00:13:25    I didn’t fit in no matter what job I took, whether it was a warehouse maintenance technician for apartments driving a city cab, now I’ve been a semi-truck driver for five years, and I’m really having a hard time with that. And that’s because there’s too many people out there that have road rage issues. You get on the highway and it’s a game of life and death. And all you’re doing is really just going to get a gallon of milk or something, man.  You go somewhere and people have no regard now for human life, not even their own and I’m in a semi-truck. And so this struggle has been with me for many years, and I didn’t understand what was being triggered into bipolar anger, being triggered into some of the really more serious traits of borderline personality disorder.  

Wayne Shipman    00:14:21    And I mean, it gets intense. I’ve had to really learn skills that aren’t taught in school. I had to learn skills post-military because the military wasn’t willing to offer me any kind of skill training to deal with my psychology, my anger problems, my depression at the time. Unfortunately, I was in a unit that did not really want to take time to help through counseling services. They didn’t get into that. You were in the military, you knew what you were getting into when you signed up, which I don’t really believe we do. Essentially most of us were 19 years old coming out of high school, coming from the busted broken home that I came from.  I certainly didn’t know what I was getting into. I just knew that I was willing. Later on, when I was having a really hard time in 2004, I realized once and for all I’m homeless.  

Wayne Shipman     00:15:25    It wasn’t just because I lost a job or whatever it is because I became the epitome of a real homeless person that could not actually sustain myself by working for a living. I would get a job, lose it, get a job, lose it. I would either get offended by somebody and just walk out, or I would just get mad and just go off the hook, throwing things. And people were frightened. I mean, I punched a time clock off the wall one day because some guy said, well, you can’t be in here taking your 15-minute break if you didn’t clock out. And somebody told me that I could, I walked over there and I punched it. I didn’t punch out with the time clock. I punched the clock off the wall and everybody in the break room just looked at me like, what was that?  

Wayne Shipman     00:16:14    And I’m just looking at them. Like, I don’t know. I don’t know. I found out that it was common for someone with bipolar and especially having a combination of different things going on. And I know a lot of former military personnel suffer from this PTSD. There’s 10,000 people on YouTube and everything else talking about PTSD. But, my first big message is, things like PTSD and bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder, whatever you want to call them, may explain the symptoms that you’re witnessing or they demonstrate. But it certainly does not describe the experience we’re having. If you say, well, he’s got PTSD. Then if you line up five people in a room and you say, what do you think is PTSD? All of them have a different kind of explanation of the symptoms and things.  

Wayne Shipman     00:17:12    My PTSD that I’m talking about is not military-related. It’s post-traumatic stress disorder that came from myself, coming from a busted family of a busted home, a pretty messed up childhood, getting into adult life with some unreasonable expectations of what I thought the military was. And some unexpected, unreasonable expectations of what I was going to become as a military soldier, because it didn’t work when that didn’t happen. The amount of patriotism and the amount of enthusiasm that I had invested in being a soldier kind of backfired. And that’s the amount of disgrace that I felt. That’s the amount of shame that I felt. That’s the amount of disappointment that I walked around with.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:18:01    And we were talking, earlier, before we started recording here. You had mentioned when you became homeless and you were hanging around more and more with the people who were homeless, that you were starting to relate more with them than you were with everybody else in society.  When you start to relate with people, you kind of want to maybe hang out with them more than other people. And so, do you think that that contributed to the fact that you remained homeless for an extended period of time? Or was there ever a time when, early on when you first found yourself being homeless  =that you’re trying to figure that out, or did you just say, what, these are my people I’m going to hang out here.  What was that situation like?  

Wayne Shipman    00:18:59    Well, I think the way that I could explain it is I came to a realization as a homeless person. I was out there for probably a year at the time. And I mean, in the wintertime, don’t get me wrong. There were, at the time, plenty of indoor shelters that kept us indoors at night, but at 6: 30, 7 o’clock in the morning you were out. And I mean, there were days when it was minus five degrees with 10-knot winds, nowhere to go, nothing to do. And they kicked us out of the mission. We’re walking around in the snow, in the dark and December, nothing to do. But what I realized was I found not really a sense of belonging as a homeless person, but I found a sense of how much I related with them in the reasons why they were homeless.  

Wayne Shipman     00:19:57     I found I had the word a minute ago, I kind of tripped myself up normalcy. I started experiencing normalcy in a different way when I was around these other homeless people. And what I mean by that is maybe you can put my YouTube link in, in the show notes and the YouTube channel that I have, I’m not a YouTube, or I’m not doing weekly videos and I’m not trying to gather a following and all that stuff. And I’m not self-promoting, but I have a YouTube channel just so that any of my podcast recordings that I’m doing right now is on there. There’s kind of an arrangement there’s a variety of different topics that I talk about. Every single podcast I’m doing, I can relate with homelessness. I was really homeless.  

Wayne Shipman     00:20:52    I was living with them, camping with them, eating with them. And pretty soon I realized God, I was one of them, man. I wasn’t just experiencing homelessness. I was a homeless person.  I can point to my temple and say, I became homeless right here. And what that means is I realized I was a misfit in society. And I didn’t know why. I mean, that’s the frustration I was willing to be, to work on time. I was willing to shave my face as they wanted me to. I was willing to wear their dorky, look hats with the company emblems on them.  What I mean, whatever they told me to do, I’m a company man, I’m here. I’m going to do this. But where I did not fit in was the company politics. The side jokes going on, a little bit, making fun of each other.  

Wayne Shipman     00:21:45    It’s okay when we get together and we’re buddies enough that we can make fun of each other and stuff, but on the job, it can get awkward. And I wasn’t handling it well because I was mentally unstable. And it went beyond that to where whenever we would sit in a break room, for instance, I always had a hard time with small talk, talking about, well, I went fishing this last weekend and well. I got myself a pair of skis and I’m going to go up to the lodge and go skiing. And, I got me a mountain bike and they would tell you the gear ratio and the tire size and all this stuff. And I’m like, I’m just slipping on my Coca-Cola. And I don’t have any of that to talk about.  

Wayne Shipman     00:22:27    I don’t have anything interesting to say. And, it’s also a shaming element because no matter what environment I’m in back then, no matter what environment I was in, I did not experience normalcy the way they did. I was always the odd guy. I was always the quiet one sitting off on the side, wanting to be left alone. I just wanted to show up, clock in, do my job, take lunch, come back, do my job, go home to them. If you’re not really interesting and engaging, you’re weird and no matter what job I went on, I kind of experienced the same stuff. And when I went into the military, I had the same problem. But as a 19-year-old young man, just fresh out of high school, literally, and, and joined the army, I thought the army was the only backstory I needed.  

Wayne Shipman     00:23:21    I thought being a parachute rigger and doing interesting things, jumping out of C130’s and stuff was enough to talk about. But then here’s the challenge I got into. I was around real military people and I was around people that were stable mentally and emotionally. And I was around people that were confident in their skills. They were confident, not only if they were a parachute rigger or an infantry soldier, they were confident people when you’d see them on the weekend, they were wearing blue jeans and a ball cap. When you see them Monday morning, they’re wearing BDU pants and Joe boots. They weren’t carrying a dummy M 16. It was for real, but these people had real stories. They had really interesting lives. What I had was unreasonable expectations, like I said, and the unreasonable thing that I’m talking about is really linked to some of the disorders that I mentioned.  

Wayne Shipman    00:24:20    It’s called grandiose ideas. It’s called grandiose expectations. The guy that’s bipolar, or the guy that’s very much insecure about me. I was very insecure about my upbringing and who I was as a person. I had a very unstable identity as a person, as a young man. I was around other people, I was hearing their stories and I knew there was no BS here at this table. And the only thing I had to bring was BS stories because I didn’t really have anything I was proud of to talk about. I could not cut it in my military unit, and  I’m just going to give you the 62nd rundown on this. But the world’s worst thing happened to me when I met a girl. When I first got there within the first few weeks of being there, she got pregnant within the first couple of weekends of hanging out together.  

Wayne Shipman     00:25:22    And the story was, she was just as mentally unstable as I was. And in her own way, she had angry meltdowns. She was out of control, just belligerent mad temper tantrums.  I kind of grew up with that I witnessed that in my home growing up. It was just so much more of the same. I had to get away from this lady because she was triggering me in a way that no one had triggered me before. I didn’t realize that I had these disorders, but they were more dormant. They were in their infancy stages back then when I became 34, 35 years old, 2004, 2005, these disorders were very real. And I could not function normally with normalcy among regular people because they would trigger me in certain ways. And I didn’t understand it. My triggers would happen.  

Wayne Shipman     00:26:20    And they just said, look, dude, you need to get ahold of yourself. You need to get a grip.  I kept hearing that in the military, you need to suck it up. You need to march on. We ain’t, we don’t have time to hear nothing about your dang pregnant girlfriend stuff. All these soldiers out here have a pregnant girlfriend. I said, yeah, but mine is, throwing dishes at the wall. Mine is like a real lady. And I was actually asking for a transfer. I think for probably nine or 11 months, I kept sending letters up through JAG and through the military, the right channels. I was trying to get sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. That’s what they promised me. I was wanting to be a real and a real 82nd airborne operation, 82nd airborne

Wayne Shipman   00:27:10    I was in a unit where we were seeing the same, like lame three or four cadence songs every morning.  We did two-mile runs three times a week. And then every time we do the two-mile run, it was the exact same three or four cadences. See one 30 running down the strip.  What do I mean? Come on man. I was the guy in the unit. I was the guy going to a new cadence, new cadence. And they were getting tired of hearing me talk about it, but I just was out of place in the military. And then later in life as a civilian, I just realized I have real disorders. When I was homeless, I was talking to you before we started recording. Not only did I find I was related with most homeless people because we were no longer mechanic maintenance technicians, semi-truck drivers.  

Wayne Shipman     00:28:04    We were just human beings. We were Americans. Right? And we were also displaced Americans. Actually, we were called loitering. There were a lot of really stereotypical things. Labels were put on us because we didn’t have anywhere to go. We were always loitering somewhere. We were always trespassing somewhere. We were always harassed by either security, guards, police officers, or just somebody walking by somebody, taking pictures with their cell phones, looking at these homeless people. And we’re just sitting there and going, I don’t know what my picture was taken. Right. I started encountering on a regular basis, former military, probably my age. I’m saying at the time I was 37 years old, I was encountering former military people that were just recently getting out to maybe 50 years old. Many of them, there’s a thread of commonality that all of us had and it was, we couldn’t adjust.  

Wayne Shipman     00:29:07    We didn’t know where we belonged. And the problem was in the years, back then when I was in the military, there was not as much buzz talk about support. There was not as much encouragement about soldier counseling services available to members of the armed forces. There was not much of that at all. In fact, it was actually shunned. It was kind of like, well, Jesus, why are you here? You gotta get pregnant, can’t you decide it up. They didn’t understand the gunfire going off in my mind. I was at work packing, packing parachutes, but I couldn’t get this out of my head. And I couldn’t focus on what I was doing. And it was just making me frustrated and mad. Well, they saw it as  I was not fit for military service because I was mentally unstable.  

Wayne Shipman    00:29:58    That’s what they started writing down in their psychological evaluations. Right. And the easiest thing in the world would have been to introduce me to somebody that can help me understand how to cope with my challenges. Nowadays I’m hearing, especially on your channel, man, you got me hooked. I mean, I’m still trying to there’s some of them, I’m going, I’m backtracking trying to listen to him a second and third time, there’s a lot of services now where they realize. They recognize just because a soldier has angry fits or just because he’s depressed all the time. Doesn’t mean he’s not fit for military service. It just means he needs help. And he supports, he, she, I mean, one of your, one of your podcasts that really got me stirring, I don’t remember the lady’s name, but it’s called the enemy within or dealing with the enemy with them.  

Wayne Shipman     00:30:52    Brandy Benson, Brandy, man, I guess speechless, trying to kind of just revisit her experience. I hope people will actually listen to that podcast. Because I can’t do it. Justice telling her story right now. But she experienced the epitome of trying to deal with something traumatic with no support, no support from military command, no support from your comrades. Okay. But her mother was the one visiting the hospital. Her mother was staying with her side by side and her mother was the one keeping her spirit, at least with an element of hope. She got cancer in her leg, which sounds like whatever you got cancer in your leg, this cancer was killing her. She was one of the top-notch soldiers. She did not have a chip on her shoulder trying to prove that females can do what men can do. That’s not what she was doing.  

Wayne Shipman     00:31:55    She was just being a soldier. That’s what I loved about her story. She was not, she was not a pitiful story of, I’m a female treat me, right. She was a soldier and she got cancer and it happened to be in her leg. Well, when they had to amputate her leg, later on, she started realizing that there’s an enemy within, because what she said was she was so health, fitness, and so oriented to pushing herself beyond the expectations. She was always trying to max out the PT test and everything else. Well, now she can’t run. She can’t do those things. And there were a lot of things that she couldn’t do because of her limitations. But as the illness came on, she was treated by the military doctors, as this is terminal, this is terminal. You don’t really have any hope.  

Wayne Shipman     00:32:47    You’re in this ward with all these other soldiers and they’re terminal too. We have other soldiers, we have other patients and pretty much, we’re going to try to keep you comfortable, but we have other work to do. That was the atmosphere. And unfortunately, I’m here.  I’ve heard a lot from people that experienced it through the VA hospitals, but I’m also hearing many stories where the VA hospitals if it weren’t for the treatment that they got in the VA hospitals, they would have given up hope anyway, but they were treated as comrades. They were treated as members of a military force and they were given the respect they deserve, but their stories weren’t. And she said, well, you’re telling me I’m a statistic. And statistically, this is fatal. And statistically, she said, what if I’m the exception?  

Wayne Shipman    00:33:39    And she started actually believing in herself as though she could be the succession and she actually overcame it. And she got out. And I think the story was that she was, in the company within the, in the cancer ward, she was the only one that actually made it out alive. And the deciding factor was that she had an attitude of hope. She had an attitude of positive expectation and she had support. Her mother was actually the one encouraging her and reading books to her and just kind of treating her as if there is hope. Right.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:34:17    Yeah. And honestly, that’s the message that I like to get across with this podcast is that there is hope for people who are out there, who are struggling with, with any number of things, whether it’s, homelessness, like in your case, substance abuse, or, diseases or other you name it, whatever you may be going through there’s hope for you. Even if you feel like all hope is lost, even if all the quote-unquote experts are telling you, give up hope because this is, this is terminal, you only have an X number of months or years or whatever to live. Well, what if they’re wrong? It’s not the first time that one of these people has been wrong before. Right. What if they are wrong?  

Scott DeLuzio    00:35:05    Or what if you are that even if it’s 99 out of a hundred chances that, what if you’re that one that is going to make it through? We’re trying to give some hope to the people here. You started mentioning a little bit about how people cope with various things. And I’d like to ask you if you’re okay with it. Could you talk about how you’re coping with some of these disorders now, or if there’s any medications or therapies, things like that you’ve gone through that you’d like to mention?  

Wayne Shipman     00:35:44    I’ve been on a very long lonely walk through some very, very dark places that were not combat-related in the military. But one thing that that soldier was talking about in her podcast was the enemy within its voice. It’s the voice that we hear in our head that either makes it possible or makes it impossible. Am I on the right trail here? It’s the voice in our head that makes it possible or impossible. I was surrounded by people that were sick and tired of hearing my foul mouth at work and at home, I was surrounded by people that were pretty much sick and tired of my phone calls in the middle of the night saying I need 20 blocks. And, I got this going on. I got to, I always had a hustle. I always had a hustle because I couldn’t make it.  

Wayne Shipman    00:36:40    I couldn’t provide for myself by working for a living in an honorable way. And usually, when I was calling up to borrow 20 bucks, I headed off to buy a bag of weed. To be honest, for 30 years of my lifetime. Scott for 30 years of my life, I stayed in a cloud of weed pots. Thankfully for me, I got off that stuff in 2011. The last time it touched my lips. I haven’t had a vape. I haven’t tried any of the new stuff. And I’m so glad because the new cannabis that’s out there is powerful and potent. It’s robbing people’s minds and they have no idea. When I was going through all these psychological evaluations and I was talking to this same psychiatrist repeatedly, what he was trying to get to was there other issues here that’s kind of being camouflaged by the surface symptoms of what we’re experiencing: depression, anger, that stuff.  

Wayne Shipman    00:37:46    Usually we get diagnosed by the surface symptoms that they start to experience, that they witness what we’re doing and they come to a conclusion and then they write it in their medical file. And then they just go with it. Usually, they’re non-conclusive. They’re not accurate. What I first started doing was I resented the fact that the only real treatment options they were offering me was a list of medications. They wanted to medicate, which was standard protocol, that’s called standard of care standard of care. It also means you can’t afford $150 an hour for real psychological counseling, your health insurance doesn’t cover it and you can’t afford it. That’s what that means. Here’s some medications you need to tone it down. I really didn’t sit well with that answer because at the time that this was happening to me, I was sick and tired of my own, my own pattern of misconduct, that got stuck in my mind because in the military, every time they wrote me up with an article 15, it was called a pattern of misconduct.  

Wayne Shipman    00:39:01    It was called misconduct slash pattern of misconduct.  I resented that. It was like, well, it’s not misconduct. I’m just verbalizing my opinion when you’re telling me to stand at attention, but you won’t let me speak.  I ended up going all-in on wanting answers. I wanted real answers. I wanted real-time explanations about why my triggers are happening. I wanted somebody to tell me the real, the real path to mental wellness, other than just medications, and other than well, you have PTSD and you have bipolar disorder. So that explains it. Okay. That explains it. But that’s not good enough. I want to know how I am supposed to manage myself because I’ve heard so many stories of people that came from far worse than me. And they have amazing lives. They’ve remarried.  

Wayne Shipman     00:40:01    They have businesses, they have children and they’re doing it. Why not me? And when I had that attitude, I went all-in on discovering the path for myself. I try to keep telling everybody that you have to find your own way. It’s a very dark, very lonely path, but, like what worked for Tony Robbins or what worked for Wayne Dyer, some of those things, you can find little nuggets of advice, but you can’t just say here’s a six-step process to mental wellness. And if you take a few deep breaths and go by these six steps, you will have mental wellness, you start experimenting. And actually one of your podcasts is about a soldier that I don’t remember his name., I got out of the military and he was also that way he couldn’t find normalcy and everything that he was trying was not fulfilling.  

Wayne Shipman     00:40:58    And he always wanted to start painting. He didn’t really know what his edge was, but he just started, he said what, nothing else is working for me. I’m just going to screw off for a little while. He went to Walmart or something and spent like 40 bucks, right? On some pastel paints and colors. And some board, he went home, he started painting and something in him lit up. And he just found himself by expressing his portraits. He was painting military stuff. And he was like, I remember in the pot, he said, somebody came over and said, man, this is really good stuff. You need to go down here and put it on, go down here to this flea market and start advertising your stuff and let people buy it. He was like, man, people don’t even know what these things are.  

Wayne Shipman     00:41:46     This heavy equipment rifle, they can’t even tell me what it is. Well, when he went down there, it started selling right off the shelf and he couldn’t even keep up with the demand. But he says, you have to try something. You have to begin by trying things. You can’t just stay shut down and stay at home and keep the TV on and keep the curtains closed. You actually have to get out there and start experimenting with things. And what I found was writing and storytelling because I had this compassion for homeless people, which I didn’t understand at the time. And I had this very serious psychological disorder that I carried around with me. And when I actually started writing and journaling, I wasn’t trying to write a book, which I am now. I wasn’t trying to impress people by telling them stories.  

Wayne Shipman    00:42:42    I was actually just trying to write down because it was so confusing to just think out loud. I couldn’t actually process what I was thinking and feeling that was so confusing. When I started journaling and writing. There was one other soldier that was talking about. She ended up writing and now she’s published like eight books. I forgot. Oh, I wish I could remember the podcast. I was just listening to it this morning. It’s one of your guests. She was talking about it. She recently retired and she was talking about most people. Most people talk about the negative aspects of the VA. But the first thing you encounter is the veteran’s benefits department. And through the veteran’s benefits department, they start coaching you in how to write a resume and how to actually assemble your civilian clothing so that you can show up on jobs, interviews, and stuff. She’s writing books. She started out journaling because she was trying to understand her own mess. And, she actually came up with her own way of processing and her own way of adjustment. And later on, her journals and her recordings that she was doing, she had to use that material to write it into a book. And now she specializes in the former military trying to make the adjustment in this way in the world. She didn’t know that until she started experimenting with it.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:44:07    Exactly. I think that’s one of those things I’ve talked to other people too, where they just try something. And if that thing isn’t the thing for you, try something else. I did the same thing with my software, with a painting in writing and, and things like that., I Hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since I was a kid in elementary school or whatever. And I decided, what, I’m going to give it a try and worst-case scenario, it turns out like crap and I throw it away and then I don’t do it anymore. And I move on to something else. But the best-case scenario is I find out that I actually enjoy it. And, and it brings me a little bit of peace and, and everything. That’s what I did. And I just tried something, I didn’t take any formal classes or,  get the fanciest, paints or paintbrush or all that kind of stuff. It’s just something I just picked up and started doing. And  I think that that’s the same thing for anybody is really just trying something. 

Wayne Shipman     00:45:23    That’s the key level. The next level to that, Scott is that’s the beginning. We get locked down thinking there’s nothing else. There’s nothing else for me. I’m an infantry soldier., I’m a parachute rigger. I’m out here in the civilian world. What the heck am I going to do? These people don’t understand me. They don’t relate with me. The shrinks can’t tell me what’s wrong with me. We get stuck in that. And that becomes our story, right? Our story resonates day and night, we live with our own voices in our mind. And what I’m saying is I found the path to telling myself what I choose to believe. I found the path to telling myself what I’m going to refuse to live by. I’m not going to live by the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and I’m not going to live by the terrible things I experienced as a teenager growing up, and I’m not going to live by this disorder label as if this is the end.  

Wayne Shipman    00:46:28    Skip forward to answer your question a little better. For me personally, I’ve realized every person has to find their own way. What works for me, it worked for me, but it might not work for somebody else, but if they try what worked for me and it didn’t work, that’s not the end. If that’s the end for you, you’re not really trying. I have three adult children right now. They were teenagers when I was homeless and it was ripping their heart out, man. I would call them on the phone. They didn’t know how to talk to some homeless guy on the phone, near father’s day. They’re supposed to wish me a happy father’s day. And I’m homeless. The only thing they knew about homelessness is what they saw on TV or in a movie. And any podcast you hear of mine, I talk about this issue, this complicated, my psychotic mind, my mental instability, the element of shame and guilt.  

Wayne Shipman     00:47:29    When those things take over positive thinking is not possible. Looking forward to the future and trying to make plans and trying to adjust and all that stuff. You’re talking gibberish because when you’re stuck in a story of I’m ashamed. I’m a disgrace to my country. I don’t belong here. I don’t fit in what it led to. I was at my homeless camp out in the woods. In 2005, I actually had a rope up in a tree and when you hear my other content, this was real for me, but I didn’t put the rope up there to end my life. I was actually living on a hillside out in the woods and there were a lot of rats and raccoons that would come up and take my food scraps. And I would hike off to town and come back. And my plastic containers would be chewed into, they were getting into my food. I threw this rope up over this limb and I hung my backpack up there at night. And that’s where I kept my food. One morning, I was boiling water for coffee, and I saw this rope up there with nothing on it. And it was just kind of swaying in the breeze.  

Wayne Shipman    00:48:36    I had already been thinking about it and I had already been entertaining. The idea, like what is suicide and what does it matter? Anyway, a part of my recovery began with my rock bottom.  Most of us do not want to experience what we’re actually feeling and thinking when we’re at rock bottom, right? And we will do anything to numb the mind or quiet the voices, right? And that’s where a lot of the drug addictions and opioid addictions, addictions to the painkillers. All that stuff starts because we don’t want to deal with the voices anymore and they won’t stop. They don’t stop. What I started realizing was I had to make a choice. I’m either going to go all in and find a way to be the respectable person that I want to be among everyone else. I want to find a way to fit in or stop lying to myself.  

Wayne Shipman   00:49:33    Man puts on a new song and does it one morning. I had to make a decision and I chose not to. I cut the rope down. I actually shredded it into tiny little pieces. I cut into like four-inch pieces. I just sat there for like an hour, cutting that rope into little bitty pieces. And it was sort of a ritual for me that I’m not coming here again. I don’t care what dark path I ended up on. I don’t care what terrible things happen in my life. I’m not done. My story’s not done. My children are going to find out about me out here. And I knew they would be having children eventually. Now fast forward, I’ve got six grandchildren in the family. If I would’ve done that, the last thing they would know is their grandpa was a homeless guy that killed himself out in the woods, and of my story.  

Wayne Shipman     00:50:23    And as far as I was concerned, and I hope your audience can hear this. I observed better than that because of my intentions, it wasn’t, I didn’t do anything to deserve military honors, but I got, I really didn’t get. I didn’t deserve to be treated like a disgrace to my country over my girlfriend.  I chose to find a path, real answers. I wanted somebody to give me the bullet point way. Like, what do I have to do? And what? They were telling me, they were telling me the same damn thing. My family and friends have been telling me for years, man, you got to take responsibility. Even if it wasn’t your fault. Even if your ex-wife took advantage of you and took the house and ran off with your best buddy, you got to take responsibility and move on.  

Wayne Shipman     00:51:14    If you choose not to move on, you stay there. You sit there. That’s your little foxhole with your little torment. And that’s the voices in your head that you live with. If you choose to stay there, they won. And that’s what really started to be honest with you if you want to bleep this out. But it pissed me off that my mother and my step-dad and the five marriages I witnessed growing up as a teenager and all the stuff defeated me. I got angry because I deserved to be recognized for my intention. I wanted to be a respectable person. I just started going to the bookstores. I started picking up audiotapes and listening to them, even though to me at that time, it sounded sissy. That’s a sissy thing to do to go pick up, Wayne Dyer, how to be, experienced, self-love now six steps to emotional happiness.  

Wayne Shipman     00:52:13    Well, you need to start listening, right? And it goes back to like, if you don’t want to paint if you don’t want to build engines on a car, then go listen to some stuff and start trying to find a better voice to live with. I like that, but there are a thousand voices out there telling us we deserve to live a life of meaning and purpose. And when you decide once and for all, if I was willing at 19 years old to run off into the battlefield, if that’s what they told me, it’s because it was an honorable thing. And I believed in it. I was patriotic cut me anywhere. I bled red, white, and blue. Well, when I was sitting out in the homeless camp, in the woods, smoking pot and thinking about hanging myself with a rope, just because I felt disgraced. It’s the voices I had in my head. I turned it around and I’m walking straight front like we did in the military. We walked towards the threat. We don’t cower down. We might hide under cover, but we’re waiting for the moment. Right? We’re waiting for the moment to have the advantage to move forward and stop the threat. If the voices in your head are telling you, you’re worthless, you’re a disgrace and you choose not to fight back. Then. It’s kind of like, you’re bad. You’re not taking responsibility for it. That’s where I’m at.  

Scott DeLuzio  00:53:33    Well, I think that’s a great message. And, I think if anyone takes anything away from this, I hope that they know that they can keep going. They can keep trying, and, and not give into those voices in their head. I think that’s a great place to wrap this one up, I think that that’s a great message to have. Thank you again, for coming on the show, taking the time to share your story, and your willingness to be open and vulnerable about your story.  It really has been a pleasure, hearing from you and hearing your story. And I know that this story is going to impact some people, who are fortunate enough to listen to it. Thank you.  

Wayne Shipman     00:54:22    And they need to know that it’s okay if it didn’t work out, even if I got a buddy right now, I’m telling you this as a parting message. He’s 60 years old right now. The military can’t use him anymore, but he’s as authentic as they come, but he has a golden heart. He has a golden heart and he kept telling me when we first met, he’s all used up. He’s all used up there. Ain’t nothing out here because he’s all used up. Well, that’s because he can’t go on missions anymore. And he can’t fit into the civilian world, but I’ve convinced him through friendship to accept the fact that it’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. That America is not the John Wayne America that we saw in the Western movies. It’s okay. There are politicians who say what they say, they get in the office and then they do what they do.  

Wayne Shipman    00:55:13    I’m just one person. I’m one man out here. And I’m not with my team anymore. I’m not in anybody’s platoon anymore. And I don’t answer to a chain of command, but when I lay down at night, I’m experiencing genuine self-love and acceptance because I’ve decided that that’s all it’s okay, whatever happened back there, it’s okay. I can accept it, but now my children are coming around and this podcast stuff, man, if you can find other former military that have similar stories like mine, it’s a way to really get it out of your system, but I’m kind of forced to censor myself. I can’t just get on here and F-bomb and be angry. I had to get all that out of my system. Now, hopefully, I have something that people can actually listen to and, and, and carry away with it. It’s okay. If it didn’t work out. That’s my message.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:56:08    Yeah. And I think for sure people are going to take something away from this story and your message. I think it really is an inspiring message where you’re able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and find your own path to healing and getting in that better place. And, with that again, thank you for coming on and joining me. I really appreciate it. 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 also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.

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