MindForce: Mental Fitness & Career Stories!

Russell Lewis: Inspiring Change from Gang Life to Mental Health Activism

January 17, 2024 Nathaniel Scheer
MindForce: Mental Fitness & Career Stories!
Russell Lewis: Inspiring Change from Gang Life to Mental Health Activism
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When we peel back the layers of society, we're often confronted with a raw, untouched narrative of personal challenges and mental fitness. That's where our guest, Russell Lewis, comes in. His journey from navigating a single-parent household and a gang lifestyle to advocating for mental health is the inspiring story you never knew you needed to hear. We unpack the stigma around mental health, the significance of intentional assistance, followership, and the importance of realizing it's okay to seek help.

Let's fast forward to a world of time management, financial literacy, and self-discovery. Russell divulges his admiration for the Robin Hood app for investing and "The Speed of Trust" for understanding trust dynamics. We'll let you in on something - authenticity and individuality are the secret spices here. We share personal escapades about breaking free from societal mold and embracing the raw, unabashed version of ourselves. It's a tale of battles with vulnerability, self-expression, and persisting authenticity despite adversity. 

We stripped back the curtain on mental health within the military, focusing on the Military Resilience Training (MRT) program. As we debunk common misconceptions about seeking mental health services in the military, we emphasize the necessity of self-reporting. The conversation takes a personal spin, as we relate how starting a podcast sparked creativity and engaged different parts of our brain. We wrap up this chat with positive vibes, discussing self-appreciation and the importance of keeping it real. Our stories and experiences are an offering to inspire and guide you through your journey.

Scheerious Positivity!

Nate Scheer:

Welcome to the show. Mind Matters, the podcast for love, life and learning. Today we're going to be talking about a little bit of mental fitness. We have a wonderful storyteller here and Russell Lewis. Welcome to the show, Russ.

Russell Lewis:

I do. I appreciate the intro. I wouldn't say a wonderful storyteller, maybe mediocre at best.

Nate Scheer:

Awesome. Well, first question I got for you right off the bat Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you become interested in the topic of mental fitness and MRT?

Russell Lewis:

Yeah, man, but before I do that dude, I got to say thank you for having me on. It really is an honor to even get an invite to your platform and it does mean a lot to me. I really do appreciate it, nate Dahl.

Nate Scheer:

That's my nickname for you, bro.

Russell Lewis:

So mental fitness, and then I get into the MRTPs right after that. But when it comes to mental fitness, man, I would say I gained a lot of trauma over the years, specifically in my childhood. What I usually tell people is kind of like that analogy A snowflake that turned into a snowball, that turned into a snowman, then an avalanche, and after a while you kind of get lost and buried in the snow. You kind of lose yourself and what's going on around you, and a lot of times it takes time for that to happen. But the good thing about that is, if you do, especially in the military, if you take those resources that we have, like mental health, and actually don't be afraid to do that. It's a stigma surrounded around mental health. But for me, man, I've been through a lot and thank God I was able to reach out to mental health and start getting help, because I did go through a lot and a lot of it came on the front end of my military service. But when it came to MRT man, after I got help with my issues and the realm of mental health, I wanted to do the same thing and turn around and help others with theirs and I wouldn't say I'm a role model or anything like that, but if nothing else, I want to be a guy that can help people with their mental fitness.

Nate Scheer:

Absolutely. I think that's the biggest thing on the show. We're just going to kind of keep repeating some of the things that have come up, and it's interesting because with the different guests I've had people from all different backgrounds and things like that. But no matter the background, the themes are always there, and one of these themes that keeps coming up is reoccurring and intentional assistance, right. So it's interesting. We go to the gym, we have a workout schedule. You hit that Monday, wednesday, friday, but it's like I'm not going to go to therapy or a counselor until I'm on like the worst day of my life, which is bizarre. It should be that ongoing, like if you have an appointment Monday, wednesday, friday at the gym, why you not have Monday, wednesday, friday at your counselor? Or Tuesday, thursday or whatever. And so I hope through these conversations, we're clearing the stigma. People are hearing it from not only me but all these different guests and whatnot that you should be proactively getting it and getting it at whatever level of the spectrum you need. There's the I just need to vent and talk, that's cool. Or like there's the clinical, actual mental health, and you know that's okay too. But there's things all along the board. It seems like we've gotten to this point where everything's grouped together, one and two. It's all grouped on the you know, the far side of the spectrum, where it's like it's got to be terrible, there's counselors that can just listen and talk to you. So that's good stuff. So we're going to move into the next section. Let's get to know you, russ. So very first question, a good fun one Tell us your origin story.

Russell Lewis:

My origin story. Sadly I say I have an origin story that a lot of other people have. Nothing spectacular about it and the sad part about that is I come from a single parent household, very private, poverty stricken environment. I'm from Mississippi originally. I don't want to get emotional on the podcast.

Nate Scheer:

You can go in depth as much as you want or surface humble as much as you want.

Russell Lewis:

Yeah, dude, we see how that goes.

Nate Scheer:

But once I start getting emotional.

Russell Lewis:

It's hard for me to talk. Yeah, man. So my dad? He was a drug dealer. My mom, she worked two and three jobs to make ends meet and even then man making ends meet was. It was difficult for her, but what I learned from her was what work, ethic, right and my personal story man, juvenile delinquent at the age of 13, I had got charged with breaking and entering and a few other things. But the breaking and entering charges what really changed my life? At the age of 11, I was in a gang. I joined the gang. The reason I joined the gang, in my opinion, in my humble opinion, is there was a big boy that my father had left. He was in and out of prison Most of my childhood and I needed a mentor. I needed somebody to follow. And a lot of times in the military we look at followership. Sometimes it's a bad thing, especially if you are a quote unquote leader, but do followership is just as important as leadership, especially when you are following the right person. And when I was a kid dude, I was not following the right people. I was following people who were heavy in the drugs, were heavy in the crime and a lot of other illegal things so fast forward. After I became a juvenile delinquent at the age of 13, my mom she really took note of where I was headed and it's funny because I was kind of living a double life. My dad is African American, my mom is white, but a lot of the family members that I have on my dad's side were in gangs. We don't even live close to a lot of my mom's family. They're in, like Texas, louisiana. So she kind of made a decision to take me away from my dad's side of the family because she knew I was getting influenced negatively and I was making all these bad decisions, man. And when she did that, I made a kind of 180 degree change in my life. I did a 180 turn. Wasn't perfect by any stress of imagination, dude. I barely graduated high school and we talked about me my first year in college. I am a college dropout. How I became a military officer I have no idea, but, man, yeah, dude, she helped me out a lot. So college dropout in 2009. I suffered from depression for the first time in 2009 after my grandmother passed, but at that time I was 19. So I didn't really know what depression was. I didn't know what I was going through, but I was on academic suspension my first semester of fall of 08. And started to turn around. Man After Christmas break came back in the spring in 2009, after my grandmother passed. I just gave up on everything. I remember working at Walmart at the time and my manager told me to do some light, like small work. Somebody did a million and one times, and, dude, I just went in the bathroom and broke down crying yeah. I didn't know what was wrong with me, though, Nothing was wrong with you.

Nate Scheer:

It's human.

Russell Lewis:

But, dude, I ended up being homeless for four months after I dropped out of college. I would live in my car. I still parked in the dorm where I lived during my college time because it was a police station right next door. So I was like hey, people usually don't break in the cars right by a police station. So I'm like maybe I can sleep here and be okay, and what I would do is my routine, man, every day, for that four months of being homeless, dude, I would wake up in my car. I had established great relationships with the people around me at the school, so I would go to the gym first thing in the morning and I would work out, only because I knew I needed to act like I was living the same lifestyle, just so I could take a shower. But while I was working out, I'd be charging my cell phone, right, because I knew I was going to need that throughout the day. And after that, man, I would go to the cafeteria to get food and I had told two or three people that worked in the cafeteria kind of what I was going through. And, man, dude, they would give me like three meals a day. So relationships matter. Those connections matter because those people can really save your life, man, because I can afford food at the time. Then I would go to work, charge my phone some more and Go to my home was my car and start all over. Man you know, long story short. I met my. You know my voice is changing, so you know where we're going. I met some amazing mentors, dude, and they changed my life. I started following the right people, god specifically, and some people that he brought into my life and, dude, I am where I'm now. I'm not perfect, I'm still growing, but I Love not being homeless and I love. I love where I am now man, beautiful, family and I can't thank God enough for everything it's done for me.

Nate Scheer:

That's awesome. I think that really goes to show how important mothers are, because I wanted to ask you the question like where was the turning point? I wanted to know. Some people have to hit these rock bottoms to be able to have that turning point. But it sounded like your mom got you moved in on a different track. So it's crazy, without you know, moms me and my mom also have a pretty strong bond. It was just me and her for a while. So kind of have that like us against the world type thing and just have a few like smaller stories that are always like super and important and deep for me. Like I remember I was three or four and I got my tonsils out and we lived in this small, crappy two-story apartment and we only had one TV and I wanted to watch cartoons and so my mom you know not being massively strong Manages to drag the mattress from upstairs downstairs to the TV so I could just like Relax and eat popsicles and whatnot, and it's not like a huge thing, but just one of those things like she'll do whatever she needs to take care of us me, you and whatnot. So that's, that's great. We're gonna move on to the next question. I love this question. It's a three-part question but gets us a chance to kind of know how you're using your time, and I think that's a good way to understand somebody in a very short amount of time. So I'll try and break it down into the three parts. So what's one app you're currently using?

Russell Lewis:

One app that I'm currently using Facebook for sure, besides Facebook dude, I Was a Robin Hood. I believe heavily now in investing my money. I think a lot of people don't have financial literacy because it's one of those things that's usually not taught in school, so I Think we got to do a better job at that man. So definitely Robin Hood when it comes to investing.

Nate Scheer:

That's a good one. Yeah, it's so bizarre to me sometimes that we have these, you know, high-end classes physics, biology and whatnot which I'm not saying they're not important, but we really didn't want to touch on taxes or finances. I think that would have been good. It's like things to actually live your life, yeah, so next one is a book. You recommend a.

Russell Lewis:

Book I recommend. I would say my book Same as plug. I Was a my book but it hasn't come out yet. But you know, maybe if you are listening to this and it is out. It will be called how to win a life in leadership Guides and navigating life's challenges and overcoming depression, failure and trauma. But something that I am reading right now man is the speed of trust, and that's kind of the basis of what we just went through, kind of the experiment that I was telling you all about, because I want to know how fast. All right, if you know how fast you can gain trust, let's learn the opposite. How fast can you lose stress, right?

Nate Scheer:

So yeah, definitely read that book for sure and when you lose it, I guess the identifications probably the most difficult. Some people keep going and they probably need to get out. I think, yeah, some people they just keep going and going because they don't know what else to do. But I think at some point you gotta know you've maybe lost that loving feeling to get out. Last thing, one thing you're listening to. One thing that I'm gonna be podcast, audio book or maybe just music. What's, what are you man?

Russell Lewis:

I am a big motivational type of guy. I love Tony Robbins, I love less brown. I love Eric Thomas. I actually got to interview him. That's long ago. Man, he's phenomenal but also dude. I just I'm learning to. I'm trying to learn a new language. Now I'm trying to learn Mandarin. So do you'll see me sometimes in the gym and people probably think I got like some rock or something going on. I'm like no man, I'm just trying to learn different language, because I think it's really important, man, to expand your mind, and a lot of times do we Don't really know how to feel at quiet time, like when you're in a car. I'm about to misquote this. I know about the misquote it, but the amount of time we spend in the car on average per year is About the amount of time it takes to get a PhD in any subject. And in fact, check me on this right, make sure you Google what I'm saying, but I'm pretty sure, yeah, it's equates to the level. This equates to the time it would take you to get a PhD. So, man, always use that quiet time, that buffer time, even if it's, even if it's in a 15 minute car ride. Man, you can learn something.

Nate Scheer:

Yeah, that's definitely true. That's one thing I kind of started when I was out in Guam. One of my biggest fears is like the breaking down of the mind. For some reason I'm okay with my body breaking down. That just seems like a natural part of life, so like my knee is gonna creak and my hips gonna pop, but I have more of the fear of the mind not knowing. You know what's going on and forgetting things and everyone like knowing that you're lost it and you haven't. You don't know you've lost it. That kind of terrifies me. So out in Guam I got my scuba certification and I started this thing where I try to take on a something, some type of hands-on or certification or something in each base. So I got my scuba certification in Guam, I moved to Edwards, I got my skydiving certification and then I got to Kadina, got my PMP out there, just something to actively keep the mind going and hopefully my thought is, if it's actively working, the gray matter will stay active and hopefully have a lesser chance of breaking down. So I don't know how it how it works. Maybe that's part of the experiment, hopefully it works out. So the last question and getting to know you what's one lesson you've learned in life that you feel everyone should know?

Russell Lewis:

Man, I learned so many, but the one that sticks out to me right now, especially where I am in life at this current moment, is be yourself. And it's so simple to say but it's so hard to execute. The example when I first came into the United States Air Force as an officer, I focused heavily on being the perfect Air Force officer. I wanted to win all the awards, I wanted to do all the things, I wanted to be out in front, I wanted all the high-biss jobs and I just wanted to be the go-to guy. But Quite quickly I started to lose myself Real quick, man, like to the point where you start to look in a mirror and you don't even recognize, recognize the person you're looking at. And now, man, what I've learned is you have to be authentically you, not for other people, but for you. So now, dude, if you look at me, I'm like tatted up tattoos, not because I'm trying to be some tough guy or Trying to be intimidating or anything like that is me, right? I'm not afraid to be emotional in front of people. I'm not afraid to be myself. So, man, no matter who you are, no matter what you're going through, be who you are. Remember who you wanted to be as a kid, as a young adult and even now. Think about that person that you want to be and I say, go towards it, because it's really easy, especially with everything going on in society, to Allow that to influence you. And not all the time will it be positive. A lot of times it'll be negative. You're trying to jump on somebody else's bandwagon or you're trying to be somebody else, but there's somebody who needs you who can't relate to Russell Lewis, but they can relate to Nate. Right, I'm not gonna be able to touch everybody and everybody's not gonna like me and I'm cool with that now, but, dude, two or three years ago that would have really bothered the crap out of me. Um, something, and be yourself and don't let anybody change you for the negative. Now, I always be willing to take tips and techniques on getting better and the form of communication and the form of mental health and the arena of leadership, but I always be Nate.

Nate Scheer:

Dang, that's, that's great stuff. It's interesting you say that because I just recently I think it's been a month now I wrote a post on LinkedIn, which is funny because I think I have like three posts on there ever. But my wife stumbled across this video from ALS when I was in ALS way back in the day Airman Leadership School and she's watching this video and at that point it's been eight years, I think, since it had occurred and she sees me in there being goofy and weird and she's like you never change. And we were laughing about it and it made me stop and I reflected back and I remember my first year as an officer Went to OTS. They said you're gonna have no bad days, you're gonna be perfect and don't, you know, have the the flight influenced by your, your negativity or these different things. So I remember my first year. I thought I was supposed to be up tie and, you know, super by the book and by the rules and iron this and press that. And it wasn't until that first year Kind of came and went and I reverted back to how I always am, and so that was kind of interesting because that was the first time I stopped and like, looked at it it had happened, but I didn't really reflect and like noticed that it happened but I tried to be something that I wasn't. You know I will always be the slightly ridiculous, goofy, whatever, like I just can't not do that. So it's kind of sad. For that year I was like I'm gonna be proper and and not that, you know, I should be Inappropriate or whatever still a leader, still got to maintain Respect and bearing and things like that. But I still have to be myself and I like that you said it's easier said than done, because I feel like that's one thing Be you Like, that's that's true. But we're all struggling with some type of inner turmoil of you know what's going on, because, like the one thing I think I struggled with the most is I love the happy, go lucky, but then I feel like there's negative things that come with that. Like people say that nothing bothers me, or you got nothing going on, or maybe you need more work or all these different things. Because I don't, like you know, actively get dragged down by things. But the experiences have had if my bonus, dad passing away and other things have kind of influenced me to the point where it's like life's too short and Not in the YOLO like I'm just gonna go crazy type, life's too short, but like there shouldn't be anything that can take down an entire day. I know I've seen like the things on tiktok or whatnot. There's the one where the guy talks about like the, the Amount of money you have in your bank account being the minutes in the day. Like you wouldn't give away the, the extra money if one thing went bad. So I think that's a really good one. But but yeah, that's that's interesting that you had kind of the same thing, a mold that we felt we needed to fall into, and we Try to appease everybody but ourselves. That's kind of kind of sad that happened, but I'm glad we're trying to actively be ourselves.

Russell Lewis:

It was necessary bro that that one year. What you went through, I'm sure, taught you everything you need to know about not everything you need to know about leadership, but interpersonal stuff. Dude, you will never revert back to that person because of what you learned in that year. So, yeah, and I think the biggest part of that is the vulnerability.

Nate Scheer:

I mean you got Brene Brown and whatnot talking about it. It's, again, easier said than done but I've noticed when I've been open with people I try to highlight some of the challenges I've been with. If it's from you know losing, losing a parent or custody battles, or you know different stuff with trying to co-parent, I bring those things up not to be like this negative Nancy, but just to kind of highlight some of the things I've been through and hopefully make some type of connection. And I also don't want to say like I've seen everything, like that's not the point of it either, like been there, done that, like no, it's just like I've been through some negative things and sometimes the e2o, like divide, is bigger than it should be. It's this kind of odd pedestal where it needs to be respectful. You know we can't be doing everything together, can't be, you know, doing certain things and whatnot, but it doesn't mean we're not all people.

Russell Lewis:

Yeah, man and dude, I just want to let you know, dude, I'm proud of you, like for putting it all on the line, out in front of people. What you're doing right now is not easy, and a lot of people have a lot of opinions about content creators. I know because you and I have talked about me doing the same thing. So, man, I just want to applaud you because I know, as a content creator, you don't get enough of that. I appreciate what you're doing, man, it's really is a big deal, because you don't know who's really listening and a lot of people won't tell you that they're listening and Tuning in to the lessons that you're pushing out. But, dude, this is big stuff, it really is.

Nate Scheer:

Yeah, I'm excited. I was super nervous when I started I'm still kind of slipping over my words and I got my ums and things in there and I was really nervous to begin. But then I reflected it kind of had an epiphany after I wrote the pilot episode. I recorded the pilot episode three, four, five times and after like the fifth time I kind of stopped, just like why am I trying to make a Podcast about mental fitness? Perfect, that's yeah, kind of. It's kind of Against the grain there, like it shouldn't be. Perfect lives not perfect, people aren't perfect, and so if I'm making this where I'm cutting and editing and making it sound perfect, I think that kind of goes against. It shouldn't be perfect. There's gonna be some things here and there and some laughing and cackling and whatever else, but yeah, bro, we're gonna move on to the rapid fire round. So I got a question for you. We'll do three, three for each person, one each way. So the first one for you, russ, is Can you speak to any current mental fitness initiatives being implemented? Is there anything going on the Air Force with MRT or anything like that?

Russell Lewis:

Oh, absolutely, man. So, like going on with MRT, it's like ever-changing, right. But right now we're focused on those core things that we implemented early, and my most favorite one is reframe. And basically, at his core, reframe is taking a step back and Viewing things from a I would say, from a more organized standpoint, right. So a lot of times we just fly off the cuff what we're used to like that system, one part of our brain takes over. So, reframing your thoughts, your behaviors, that way you can kind of have more positive actions, yeah, man.

Nate Scheer:

Awesome. Okay, question for you or question for me. What do you got?

Russell Lewis:

Question for you what have you learned most since starting your podcast? I?

Nate Scheer:

Think the thing I've learned the most is we all need to be creative. I've considered myself not a creative person and Outwardly have said like I have no artistic ability and like joke, I wasn't given that trade or whatnot. I feel like I love science and math and I'm more on the logical side. I love nature and things like that, but I typically wouldn't go to an art museum and like look at Paintings and things like that. So but I think that going back to exercising the brain, coming up with outlines and scripts and thinking about questions I could ask, and Even learning how the software and the interface and the mixer and all these things, it's just a ability to keep using that brain and exercising. So I think it's it's important to use different aspects. I don't know if, since this is more on the creative side you know I don't know enough about the brain, but the left versus the right, maybe I'm using part of my brain that I normally haven't used. But it's been fun. I mean challenging and learning and I think some of us in the military a types and Perfectionists like we want to learn really fast. So that's been kind of that frustrating, like I wish I just knew everything already. So I like record one and have to like scrap it because there's a weird echo, or you know, I've learned how to like remove fan noises from the recordings and whatnot. So, long story short, I think the biggest thing I've learned is we all need to be a little bit creative. Nice, even if you think you're not artistic, because I definitely did not think I am, but I think it's required. So next question for you, russ Can you give us an example of a common misconception or misunderstanding about mental fitness and explain your truth?

Russell Lewis:

I'm gonna focus more on the military side, or the military aspect, specifically when I was a flyer. A lot of people think that just because you go or I'm not even just flying, right, just period a lot of people think if you go to mental health, you're gonna lose something. You're gonna lose your top secret security clearance, you're gonna lose your job, you're gonna lose something if you go to mental health. Right, that's the stigma. Not at all, man. And even if something does happen, where you have to lose one of those things, what you gain in comparison Trump's all of that dude like 100%. I am so much better since I went to mental health and got help that Even if they said, hey, man, you got to go out the military tomorrow, all right, cool, I'm better and I know that I have the skills and ability to take care of myself and my family, even if it's not in the military, but I'm not going to wear those.

Nate Scheer:

So yeah, it's interesting. I had a retired colonel on Robert Swanson. He runs a program called fight for us and he goes around and does suicide prevention briefings and he brought up a really good point, I thought, is he ended up losing his clearance after his second suicide attempt. But he lost it because they saw a pattern of him not Identifying that he needed help and getting help, and so his was. They were worried about his ability to make sound choices and so that's where if he would have reported in and got help, he would have been fine. But they were trying to get him to get help and he kept resisting and so it was more. It wasn't necessarily the second Suicide attempt. It was this pattern of poor judgment making where they're like, uh, we're not sure if you should be seeing things, you could maybe release things, and so it was connected to a different thing. People like, oh, it's because, no, he could have probably checked in, gotten help, they would have gotten back on track, he wouldn't have lost anything, but it was more. It reminded me a lot of like when you do your equip and you do your security clearance renewal. If you just If you report, self report things, you're usually fine. It's when you don't report and they find it. That's usually when they take it like, oh, I went to China and I did this, and like, oh, what's up with that? If you would have just told us you went on a leave trip for a week from these days to this day, this is what we did. Cool, we'll move on. And so I see it that way. Not being a mental health professional, but that's the closest thing I see. If you report, get in there, say, hey, I need help, do this, you're on track. It's more if you don't and you stretch it out and then it starts to get into other things judgment, sound mind Then they start to get kind of nervous. I think if he would have got in there and got reported, even self reported, he would have been a lot better off. But that's a good point.

Russell Lewis:

Next question for me so the next question I got. So we just finished watching officer school by the graduating literally hours or less. What have you learned about this overall experience the most?

Nate Scheer:

I Think the biggest thing would be probably self-reflection. I know there was, you know, the academics and the different things like that. It would be either networking or that personal self-reflection. Most of the things that I think I learned were outside of the classroom, which is funny because they, you know, want us to read and watch videos and turn in assignments and I know they touch on the beginning, so they're aware. But I think most of the learning happens outside, out, doing stuff with each other and, you know, spending time together. I think it really reinforces which I'm sure is like the book answer, which I hate to go with the book answer but Reminds me of ALS and some of the other PME's. It's that networking and I know that's like what everyone says, but I don't mean networking in like the personal relationship, which is still super important, but more of Understanding how important each of us are to the mission and things like that. We say it all the time we're wheels in the machine, we know that we need support and whatnot, but I think just seeing it really helps solidify it. I know Joe is has said a bunch of times like he needs his maintenance people and he needs, you know, all these different things, and so it's good to just see everyone and just really learn a bunch of stuff, like I've learned so much about Intel. Once Caroline start talking, I have no idea what she's saying most of the time. And then we were going through the Warfare video game and everyone's Talking about munitions that I know nothing about, which is funny. I was air traffic, so it's like I know the jets, I can tell you that's a 15, I can tell you that's a 16, but the thing that hangs under it Not so much. So yeah, I kind of round about, but I think Networking, which unfortunately is the book answer, and then self-reflection, just stop in and making sure we're doing the right things for ourselves. Yeah, I know the commandant has been amazing. I've really enjoyed his breeze, but he's talked about, you know, trying to bust the myth of work life balance and making sure you're taking care of your family and things Like that. So definitely gonna go back and try and make sure Taking care of the family and making sure the front row at retirement is is full. So I think that's what I would say. Last question for you, russ Can you speak to any ways societal Norms or attitudes or, I guess, stigmas? Stigmas, probably the best words. Societal stigmas related to mental health have changed in recent years.

Russell Lewis:

Mmm, yeah, I think we're headed in the right direction. It's probably gonna take us a while to get where we need to be, but just removing the stigma associated with mental health. I've seen a lot of military professionals, a lot of people of influence, whether it be actors, rapper, singers, people that are in the limelight, so to speak. They are actively talking about it and that makes all the difference, right. Even what you're doing right now makes a big difference because it's gonna impact somebody. So I think we're headed in a good direction, a good positive direction. It's gonna take time and and nothing happens overnight. It's kind of that brick by brick Analogy, right. So one person every day saying and speaking out and showing that you can have a positive experience with mental health after Growing through something that might be traumatic, whether it be depression, failure or whatever the case may be. Man, this is gonna take time and I Wholeheartedly think that we're headed where we need to be in society.

Nate Scheer:

I had a recording yesterday with a good friend of mine, nick Jenkins, and it was funny because we had a great conversation for a full hour and then we ended up hanging up and then he was like, oh, I should have said this, and it's always funny, you come up with ideas and what not. But I'll try to highlight it here and I don't know if I'll have another conversation with him we can highlight it again. But he had mentioned the positive aspects, which I had never really thought about it. It feels like when you have a counselor, therapist, everyone always thinks of like you're gonna go and dump all this negative stuff. But he was having his reoccurring appointment and then he was getting a promotion at work or he got a new job or whatnot, and they were excited for him, and so you have another person that's like cheering you on and I feel like there's an added Benefit or it feels a little bit stronger when the person is unbiased. They don't have to be excited for you, but they are, and so I think that's something that's cool, because your friends are gonna be excited for you, your family is gonna be excited for you. That makes sense because they're, you know, gonna support you. That's the way it goes. But when you're getting advice good, bad or indifferent from someone doesn't have to tell you a certain thing, they're completely unbiased I think it weighs a little heavier in whichever direction the good or the the bad. So that's another thing I'd like to highlight. Your counselor, therapist, is gonna be excited and happy for you. So you're gonna have some appointments where you're talking about good news. It's not laying down and crying on the couch every time. I mean there's Good in bed. And I think that goes back to kind of the spectrum of mental fitness. You're gonna have good days, bad days, same way as the gym, you know. You're gonna have days of your gas and your cardio on the elliptical isn't that good and then the next day you have like a pr. It's kind of the way it goes. So I really like the analogy, or the, the verbiage of mental fitness. Mm-hmm. Okay, russ, you got one last one for me.

Russell Lewis:

Yeah, dude, so that won't be Dude. What do you appreciate about yourself the most?

Nate Scheer:

Appreciate about myself the most. I think it's something I don't normally think of. My little brother had written a post about it quite a while ago now. It's something I never really thought about, but I think the more I live and learn and reflect, it's something that is super core to me and and it's that I will always be, which is funny we just talked about this. Like myself, be genuine regardless of what other people think, which is a lot easier said than done. I have a lot of internal dialogue on worrying about what people think and what I said throughout the day and replaying situations and stressing about did I say the right thing and did I do the right thing? But I do it, I guess, well enough, where, throughout my 36 years, I've done goofy things throughout the time and it, I guess, goes to show that I do care to a certain extent, but I have to be myself. So I think I didn't really know or stop and think about that until my little brother had said that, but I'm glad that I do and hopefully it's a good example for him to just be himself and just be true and authentic. Be a little weird I use the reference sometimes. If you ever watch the show Bones. He's an FBI agent. He has to wear a suit, he's got to be professional, but then he wears these goofy socks and it's his way of like being himself, being authentic, and he has to have something for himself. So the suit will always be black and white. He looks professional, he blends in with the dress code, but he's wearing avocados or reindeer, I don't know what the? examples are. But he has something internal to him, so that's something I always remember from that show, which is kind of an odd thing, an odd thing about a show about murder. But okay, we're gonna transition over and dive deeper into some mental fitness questions. This question I'm gonna ask every guest just cause I wanna do some data collection. Haven't got a yes on this question yet, but did you have conversations about mental health growing up?

Russell Lewis:

Yeah.

Nate Scheer:

We first yes.

Russell Lewis:

With my mom for sure. She was willing to listen. But I will say that we didn't understand the health growing up. But, like with you man, my mom and I were so tight dude we can literally have a conversation about anything. The downside about not understanding mental health is you don't know how to help your child. His children have anxiety and depression too. So, yeah, I could have if we knew what the hell it was.

Nate Scheer:

At least you were having the conversation. I feel like it's gotta start there. I think that's one of the biggest problems, cause mass majority of people have said no to the question, like we didn't talk about it. You just went to your room, you just went wherever we separated, we didn't talk through things. So at least the conversation was being had. I mean, that's only the starting point.

Russell Lewis:

Yeah, but it's just you as a parent. If you're not privy to mental health, you don't know how to deal with it for your child, to help your child. So my mom, she didn't know, I didn't know, so I'll be mad. And there were times where, dude, she was just hug me and she'd be like let it go, whatever it is.

Nate Scheer:

So, yeah, so extension of that question what's your perspective of mental health now versus growing up?

Russell Lewis:

I would just say the knowledge that I've acquired over the years, dude, like now, I know I can identify and understand it. Before I came into military I was a therapist, right, and now I always tell people I am the therapist that needed a therapist. So I would say my knowledge, I understand a lot about mental health. Now, first is back then, dude, we didn't know anything about mental health.

Nate Scheer:

Okay, I got a fun one for you. This one might be a doozy, but we're gonna have deep, meaningful conversations on this podcast. What's the biggest challenge you've overcome in your mental health? Say it one more time what's the biggest challenge you've overcome in your mental health?

Russell Lewis:

Oh suicide, yeah, man, in 2019 I attended suicide. Obviously, I failed, thank God, but I prepared to do it a second time. My wife she called me about 12 minutes before I executed it and she kind of saved my life.

Nate Scheer:

Dang sounds like a God thing. Yeah, so you had the first one and the second one. What were the triggers or how did you get back to that dark place the second time, and are you worried about getting to a dark place again?

Russell Lewis:

No, man, so I'm gonna answer your question backwards. No, I'm not any more dude because of what I've been able to learn about myself and those dark places. Before I go to them, I can always feel myself when I'm getting overstimulated, when I'm getting anxious, when I'm getting depressed, when I just need a break from whatever, even sometimes it's people, sometimes it's places, sometimes it's loud, noisy. Sometimes I need a break from me. I need to go to sleep. But how I got to that dark place initially, man, was that avalanche I was talking about In 2018, I deployed, came back and I had a very difficult time integrating with my family. Prior to my deployment, my mother and I we kind of fell out over a disagreement and we didn't talk for almost two years and I felt annexed or kind of cut off from my family, which was my main support system outside of my wife. So that was kind of like the snowflake. Then I deployed, came back. I would say that's a snowball, the snowman. I always say my wife and I we separated, we were on a verge of divorce and I was going through undergraduate air battle manager training in 2019, so a Lot of stressors were involved in what I was going through, that training in and of itself is One of the most difficult trainings in the United States Air Force. They put all that Stuff that I was going through on top of that. It was just kind of icing on the cake. And when I attended suicide the first time it was after I hooked a ride or failed a ride or an event in that training and man, yeah, I just couldn't. Nothing in my mind made sense, nothing was logical. I was just Not in a good place.

Nate Scheer:

And yeah, I think that goes back to kind of the proactiveness and making sure you're getting the Appointments and just sticking with them the same way, like we talked about going to the gym. That should just be actively going on, because I think sometimes people believe that it's gonna be one Massive event, and so I like that. You've mentioned the snowball Avalanche a couple times. It's gonna be a lot of little things and that's, I think, the exact reason why you need that Reoccurring appointment, because you're just offloading the little things so that doesn't become the avalanche. If you wait for the Darkest, worst day, then it's already too late at that point. That's, that's a good, a good Thing to remember and keep in mind. Can you share any tips or strategies that you've learned, maybe through MRT or whatnot, that someone that's listening in could you know? Take Right now, go home today, this week, this month, and and start working to improve their mental fitness.

Russell Lewis:

Oh, yeah, absolutely, man talk to people Talk to when you, when you're going through what you're going through, don't be afraid to tell somebody. The biggest issue, right, I'm not gonna say right now, but the biggest issue I've had with mental health is I think I'm strong enough to do it all Among. I think I'm perfect. Well, not now, obviously, but you know, when I was going through some of my worst times, I thought I was perfect. I thought I was strong enough to carry whatever load on my own, and that's why, at the end of the day Not just in the military, but you got family, you got friends, you got people that care about you. And even if you don't, if you tell somebody what you're going through and what you're thinking, what you're feeling, nine times out of ten, you got somebody that's willing to help you, man. So don't be afraid to say hey, I think I need help right now. Can you help me?

Nate Scheer:

That's awesome. So, to summarize, some of the points we talked about today is be proactive, get your help reoccurring, try to get some of that stuff off your plate before it becomes a larger snowball, and then talk to people and make sure you're asking for help. I think that's one thing we really struggle with in the military, especially a types we've come in to lead and do different things, and so we are down to help everyone else, but it's difficult sometimes for us to raise our hand and say that we need the help. So, finally, what message or takeaway do you want to give today's listeners?

Russell Lewis:

I forget. You give you one takeaway. What would it be? Dang, that's a good question, man. I definitely wanted to say. I would want to say be yourself, but also, I do know what I want to say, man. We talked about you. If you're going through something, helping getting help. Don't be afraid to help other people. It's a lot of times we're afraid to have uncomfortable, uncomfortable conversations. You need to be willing to. When you notice somebody going through something or their behavior is off or whatever the case may be, don't be afraid to say, hey, how are you doing? They want to give you that generic I'm doing great living a dream, and you know they're going through something. You can just kind of see it in their body language and their expression and their tone. Don't be afraid to ask again no, how are you really doing? Is there anything I could do to help you? Can I walk with you? And you'll be surprised just how much you can impact the individual just by willing to have those uncomfortable conversations.

Nate Scheer:

That's a good point. Yeah, having the difficult conversations are definitely important, so I encourage all the listeners to share your thoughts throughout. Any questions, let us know on social media or wherever you can get ahold of us. I can get you in contact with Russ if you want to talk to him, and I will always be here. But I want to thank you, russ, for coming on the show. It's been a great time. I want to make sure as we close, as always, make sure if you do need any help, any support, any assistance. Look at your military one source chaplains, wingmen, you do have the new National Suicide Hotline. You can call or text 988 now and you can get connected directly to a person that can help talk through. Hopefully you're working more proactively and getting set up with those reoccurring appointments, but if you do find yourself at the lowest point that you feel that you you could be at, there is that 988. I did not realize until more recently. You can text. So if you're not feeling like you can place a call. You're more on the other side. At least you're getting connected and starting to have some conversation with somebody. But that's all I got. You got anything else for us?

Russell Lewis:

No man, I appreciate it sounds good.

Nate Scheer:

Have a good day, see you.

Mental Fitness and Overcoming Challenges
Exploring Apps, Books, and Life Lessons
Authenticity and Embracing Individuality
Military Mental Health Stigmas and Awareness
The Importance of Genuine Self-Appreciation
Mental Health and Overcoming Challenges