War, PTSD, & Psychedelics | Kelsi Sheren | EP 446

War, PTSD, & Psychedelics | Kelsi Sheren | EP 446

Coming up (00:00:00)

  • The importance of maintaining the same standards in combat situations to ensure the safety of fellow soldiers.
  • Lowering standards can put people in dangerous positions and lead to casualties.

Intro (00:00:32)

  • Introduction of Kelsi Sheren, CEO of Brass and Unity and author of "Brass and Unity: One Woman's Journey Through the Hell of Afghanistan and Back."
  • Kelsi's background as a martial arts champion and her decision to join the Canadian military at a young age.
  • Her experiences in Afghanistan and the challenges she faced.
  • Discussion of the state of the Canadian military and Canada.
  • Kelsi's journey to finding happiness through experimentation with psychedelics.

Discipline and drive: “I started fighting at four years old” (00:01:47)

  • Kelsi Sheren started Taekwondo at the age of four.
  • She trained twice a day and became a second-degree black belt and a national champion by the age of 12.
  • Taekwondo instilled discipline, drive, self-reliance, and a belief in herself.
  • It helped her handle bullying and gave her a strong identity.
  • Kelsi Sheren served in the military and was deployed to Afghanistan.
  • She experienced intense combat and witnessed the death of her friends.
  • After returning home, she was diagnosed with PTSD and struggled with nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety.
  • She tried traditional treatments like therapy and medication but found them ineffective.
  • Kelsi Sheren turned to psychedelic therapy as a last resort.
  • She underwent a series of psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions using MDMA and psilocybin.
  • The psychedelic experiences helped her process her trauma, reduce her symptoms of PTSD, and find inner peace.
  • She is now an advocate for psychedelic therapy and believes it can help other veterans with PTSD.

Bullied as a tomboy, lack of relation, “I would have been transitioned” (00:05:20)

  • Kelsi Sheren, a transgender woman, experienced bullying from a young age, primarily from girls. The bullying started when she was around six years old and involved verbal teasing, particularly about her short hair and music preferences. As she got older, the bullying escalated to physical violence, especially after she earned her black belt in Taekwondo.
  • Despite the bullying, she found solace and a sense of belonging at her martial arts club, where she had close friends and spent most of her time.
  • Sheren describes how she felt like she wasn't the person she was supposed to be and struggled with her gender identity. She transitioned to female and found it frustrating that she was expected to give up activities she enjoyed, such as cutting and splitting wood, because of her gender.
  • Sheren discusses her experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how psychedelics have helped her manage her symptoms.

The discomfort and trauma of puberty, how sexual assault impacts young women (00:09:45)

  • Experienced discomfort and trauma during puberty, feeling disproportionate and uncomfortable with physical changes
  • Coach sexually assaulted and raped a teammate, leading to anger and loss of community
  • Coach was imprisoned for statutory rape, but later remarried and had twin daughters, causing discomfort and concern
  • Lost sense of community and trust, struggled with anger and identity issues
  • Experienced borderline gaslighting conversations at home, leading to feelings of something being wrong with her

Are trauma and the proclivity to develop PTSD linked? (00:12:53)

  • Kelsi Sheren believes that witnessing someone's death can leave a lasting impact and increase the likelihood of developing PTSD.
  • She experienced a traumatic event as a teenager, which she believes may have contributed to her susceptibility to PTSD.
  • Another significant factor was an authority figure's harsh treatment after her injury during deployment, compounding the trauma.
  • Sheren also discusses the psychological impact of witnessing a training partner's assault and the feelings of inadequacy that arose from various experiences.
  • She emphasizes the importance of finding a supportive therapist who can provide validation and help individuals overcome self-doubt and negative beliefs.
  • Sheren sought help from a psychiatrist who specialized in post-traumatic stress research and had served as a medic in Rwanda and Bosnia.
  • This therapist provided unwavering support and never made her feel inadequate, even during difficult times.
  • Sheren credits her healing to various factors, including the support of her therapist, her own determination, and the opportunity to reflect on her experiences.
  • She believes that going through challenging experiences was ultimately beneficial as it led to personal growth and self-acceptance.

Joining the army, basic training, “way too masculine for a lot of women” (00:16:21)

  • Kelsi Sheren, a Canadian woman, joined the military at 18 after speaking with a female Air Force pilot.
  • Despite being assigned to the male-dominated Infantry, she deployed to Afghanistan with an American unit.
  • Sheren enjoyed basic training and used the competition within her group as motivation.
  • As a woman in a male-dominated field, she used underestimation as a driving force to excel.
  • During basic training, only five women were in her group, and some struggled with the physical demands.
  • Despite having no prior experience, Sheren was drawn to the artillery gunner role because it seemed exciting.

Female versus male fail rate, lowering the standards (00:24:02)

  • Some women failed when the standards were equivalent to men.
  • A few men also failed.
  • Some individuals joined because they were good at video games but were overweight and not physically fit for the demands of military training.
  • The stairs in the barracks and the daily routine required a high level of physical fitness.
  • Gagetown training involved handling real guns and weapons, which was a significant step up from previous training.
  • Shooting the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle for the first time was a powerful experience that made the reality of combat sink in.
  • Artillery training introduced a new level of complexity and danger with 105mm rounds.

Weapons breakdown, “This is not pretend” (00:25:56)

  • Carl gustoff is a shoulder-propelled rocket launcher with an explosive head.
  • C7 is a long-barreled rifle that shoots 5.56 or 7.62 rounds.
  • Hand grenades are round like a baseball and not like pineapples.
  • Mortar rounds are fired from a tube with a firing pin and can travel up to 5 km.
  • 105s are 40 PB rounds that can travel about 20 km and have a big brass casing.
  • Trip 7s are 155-millimeter Howitzers with GPS-guided rounds that can shoot up to 40 km and carry 100 lbs of explosives.
  • Kelsi Sheren, a former artilleryman in the Canadian military, shares his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving in Afghanistan.
  • Sheren describes the intense training and weapons he used during his deployment, including rocket launchers, rifles, hand grenades, mortar rounds, and Howitzers.
  • After returning from deployment, Sheren struggled with nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety, which led to a diagnosis of PTSD.
  • Sheren found relief from his PTSD symptoms through psychedelic therapy, which helped him process his trauma and reconnect with his emotions.
  • Sheren advocates for the use of psychedelics as a treatment for PTSD and other mental health conditions, emphasizing the importance of research and responsible use.

Joining a french-speaking unit (00:28:09)

  • Posted to a French-speaking unit due to another soldier's health issues.
  • Deployed to Afghanistan with the French-speaking group despite not speaking French.
  • Learned basic French by interacting with fellow soldiers and using a human translator.
  • Eventually became proficient in French, including military terminology and commands.
  • Some resistance from fellow soldiers due to being English and a woman.
  • Had to prove herself and work twice as hard to gain acceptance.
  • Experienced inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment, which was common but rarely prosecuted.

How women and men serve in the military, their roles and obligations (00:32:06)

  • Kelsi shares her experience serving in the military before differential standards were implemented.
  • She believes that the same standards should apply to both men and women in the military, using the example of who would pick up a wounded soldier on the battlefield.
  • Kelsi acknowledges that women face unique risks in the military, particularly the risk of sexual assault and torture if captured.
  • She emphasizes that women who choose to serve in the military are aware of these risks and are willing to take them in order to help others.
  • Kelsi reflects on her own willingness to take risks and acknowledges that she might not have fully understood the dangers she was facing when she served in Afghanistan.

Both sexes need to operate under the same standards (00:35:59)

  • Men and women should be held to the same standards in the military.
  • Lowering standards puts people in danger.
  • Women need to be in combat roles because the enemy uses women in combat.
  • Women can search people that men cannot.

Selective outrage (00:38:56)

  • The author criticizes people who are now speaking out against the Taliban's treatment of women but did not speak out when the US was in Afghanistan.
  • The author calls this "selective outrage" and accuses these people of contributing to nihilism among young people.

Sexual assault and DEI in the armed forces, regulating a war culture (00:40:03)

  • Sexual assaults in the Canadian Armed Forces have been ongoing and are not effectively addressed.
  • The introduction of women into the Armed Forces has not prevented sexual scandals.
  • Retooling the entire culture of the Canadian military is recommended to decrease the frequency of sexual assaults, but it is unclear how this can be done while maintaining a war culture.
  • The Dei approach is not expected to be effective in regulating sexual interactions among single men and women in the military.
  • Poor leadership and lack of support for veterans are contributing to the decline of the Canadian military.

When Sheren shot her last round, noticeable fall in standards (00:43:39)

  • Kelsi Sheren went back to shoot her last round as a gunner in 2020.
  • She observed a decline in standards among the military personnel present.
  • Beards, long nails, piercings, jewelry, and colored hair were seen, which violated the previous standards of clean-shaven men, short nails for women, and limited accessories.
  • Sheren expressed concern about the lowering of standards and the potential impact on experienced personnel who may leave as a result.
  • Kelsi Sheren, a former soldier, discusses her experiences with war, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the potential therapeutic use of psychedelics.
  • Sheren describes the challenges of transitioning from military life to civilian life and the difficulties of dealing with PTSD.
  • She highlights the importance of seeking help and support for mental health issues and emphasizes the need for more research on alternative treatments such as psychedelics.
  • Sheren shares her personal experiences with ayahuasca and psilocybin and how they helped her process trauma and find healing.
  • She discusses the potential benefits of psychedelics in treating PTSD and other mental health conditions and advocates for further research and clinical trials.

DEI makes things worse and leaves us reliant on the worst people (00:45:12)

  • DEI policies allow men in women's spaces, increasing the risk of assault.
  • Women are transitioning to men to avoid sexual assault.
  • The military is losing women and attracting fewer recruits due to these issues.
  • The military is filled with both the best and worst people, and DEI policies are making it worse.
  • Removing funds from the military leads to shittier people joining.
  • The US military is being bought and paid for by the CCP.
  • The US has weak borders, no military, no weapons, and is running out of artillery rounds.
  • People are less likely to want to join the military due to these issues.

Who will stand when the police turn on citizens? (00:48:23)

  • Kelsi Sheren, a former soldier and business owner, criticizes the Canadian military and police for their handling of the trucker protests.
  • She expresses her support for the protesters and reveals leaked WhatsApp chats from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) containing derogatory comments about the protesters.
  • Sheren questions the loyalty and effectiveness of the military and police, particularly those who support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
  • She argues that veterans, who have experienced real war, are the ones who will stand up against potential police oppression.
  • Sheren discusses the challenges faced by veterans, including inadequate support, lack of proper equipment and nutrition, and over-reliance on pharmaceutical interventions.
  • She criticizes the military for failing to address these issues and expresses her disillusionment with serving in the Canadian military.

Afghanistan, actions in war, and post-reflection (00:50:54)

  • Kelsi Sheren, a former Canadian soldier, deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 at the age of 19 and served as a gunner.
  • She was later selected to join a British operation as a female searcher, accompanying soldiers on house-to-house searches and ensuring proper procedures were followed.
  • During her missions, she faced challenging situations, such as searching a house with screaming women and children, which left a lasting impact on her.
  • Sheren reflects on the potential trauma she may have caused and the guilt she feels, especially after becoming a mother.
  • She emphasizes the importance of empathy and self-work in healing from the psychological effects of her experiences.

Serving with the Brits, near death experience, moral injury (01:05:02)

  • Kelsi Sheren, a former soldier, shares her experience of serving in Afghanistan at the age of 19.
  • During a mission to clear a road, she witnesses a devastating explosion that kills one of her comrades.
  • The graphic nature of the incident and the realization of what she had just witnessed overwhelms her, causing intense rage and a sense of urgency to escape the situation.
  • After the incident, she felt a sense of dissociation and became a different version of herself for a decade, experiencing moral injury.
  • The speaker, Kelsi Sheren, experienced a loss of empathy and intense aggression during war, leading to a desire to kill without remorse.

Clearing compounds, worsening emotional state (01:14:24)

  • Kelsi Sheren, a former Canadian soldier, experienced a traumatic event while serving in Afghanistan, witnessing someone's death and feeling intense hatred.
  • As a result, she underwent a significant personality transformation, becoming quiet, withdrawn, and exhibiting obsessive behaviors.
  • During another intense combat situation, a bullet hit the buttstock of her rifle, narrowly missing her hip.
  • After these events, she began experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including heightened anxiety and hypervigilance.
  • While searching women during a military operation, one of them attacked her with shears, leading to increased anger and frustration.
  • The operation turned chaotic with continuous firefights, casualties, and the need to evacuate injured soldiers and interpreters.
  • Despite bonding with her fellow soldiers, Kelsi felt unsupported and was sent back to the Canadians after the operation.

“Something’s wrong,” diagnosed with acute PTSD (01:21:17)

  • Kelsi was diagnosed with acute PTSD after a traumatic experience in Afghanistan.
  • She was prescribed various medications to manage her symptoms, including sleep aids, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.
  • Despite the medication, her symptoms persisted, and she struggled with anger, drinking, and irritability.
  • Kelsi returned to the FOB and had another traumatic experience, almost pulling the trigger on a child due to misidentifying a wave as a gun.
  • She was sent back to the doctor and her condition was deemed to be worsening.
  • She was assigned to mundane tasks like counting pens, which caused further distress and led to an outburst.
  • Kelsi was sent back to Canada and hospitalized in Ottawa.
  • She underwent treatment and was eventually deemed fit to attempt retraining, but the process was unsuccessful due to her ongoing PTSD symptoms.
  • In 2011, she was medically discharged from the military with severe PTSD and an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury.

Coming home, seeking treatment, and what worked (01:24:09)

  • Kelsi sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during her military service, which contributed to her PTSD symptoms.
  • Upon returning to Canada, she received various treatments, including hypnosis, EMDR, medication, and exposure therapy, but her condition worsened.
  • At the operational stress injury clinic in Vancouver, she met Dr. Passy, a psychiatrist who understood her condition and provided her with the support she needed.
  • Dr. Passy's approach focused on giving Kelsi space and time to heal, rather than labeling her as broken.
  • The fear of being the only suicide Dr. Passy would have motivated Kelsi to stay alive.

What every soldier loses when they enter civilian life, use of cannabis (01:26:14)

  • Kelsi highlights the challenges of transitioning from military life to civilian life, particularly the loss of community and identity.
  • She was labeled as an injured veteran who would never work again, which reinforced her negative self-perception.
  • Cannabis helped Kelsi manage her sleep problems, allowing her to get the rest she needed.
  • She began exploring holistic approaches to healing, including art therapy.

How art therapy led to new purpose, founding Brass & Unity (01:27:59)

  • Started art therapy in 2015, making bracelets from spent casings.
  • RCMP confronted her about the legality of her work.
  • Brass & Unity took off in 2016 after receiving advice from Kevin Hart to make the name unisex.
  • Celebrities started wearing her bullet jewelry for suicide prevention.
  • By 2019, Brass & Unity was featured in fashion magazines and carried by 200 retailers.

COVID ended the jewelry business, trying psychedelics (01:30:06)

  • COVID-19 caused the jewelry business to collapse overnight.
  • Struggled with suicidal thoughts again in 2019 despite trying various therapies.
  • Received a call about iasa (ayahuasca) and decided to try it with a group of veterans.
  • The experience with iasa and the supportive community changed her life.
  • Stopped taking pharmaceutical drugs after the iasa experience in 2020.
  • Currently sleeps well due to a combination of iasa and brain treatment in 2022 at the Resiliency Brain Health Center in Dallas, Texas.

There were other undiagnosed problems contributing to depression (01:32:41)

  • Kelsi met Griff within the first four episodes of her podcast in 2021 and used psychedelics to cope with her depression.
  • After experiencing some popularity on her podcast, people noticed something was wrong with her eyes.
  • Her husband suddenly collapsed and died while they were watching a Joe Rogan podcast.
  • Despite seeking medical help, they were repeatedly told it was mental health-related.
  • A friend recommended a brain clinic in Texas that treats veterans and civilians.
  • Kelsi was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), dysautonomia, and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).
  • Her vestibular system and hormones were severely affected, causing various symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and an inability to drive.
  • She underwent a two-week intensive treatment program at the clinic.

Meaning through responsibility (01:36:10)

  • Kelsi Sheren discusses how she manages her depression and maintains her well-being.
  • She uses microdosing, journaling, writing, and psychedelic integration coaching to help herself and others.
  • Sheren emphasizes the importance of self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, and avoiding triggers.
  • She also highlights the significance of having a support system and being grateful for the people who have helped her.
  • The host thanks Kelsi Sheren for sharing her story and invites viewers to join them on the Daily Wire side for further discussion on the state of the military in Canada and psychedelic treatment.

Overwhelmed by Endless Content?