Guests: Justin Peck
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Justin is a professional, Lucas Oil Series off-road race car driver and team owner. He is also a firsthand expert in the world of mental health, as he has learned to use his Class 1 Bipolar Disorder to his advantage, sidestepped suicide, and overcome addiction.
Segment overview: In this segment (SEG 2), Justin Peck discusses being diagnosed with class 1 bipolar disorder over a decade ago and how managing Bipolar Disorder has affected his life.
Health Professional Radio – Class 1 Bipolar Disorder
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. Thank you so much for joining us today, I’m your host Neal Howard. Our guest in studio is a returning guest. He’s here to talk with us about his life and to share some details on his new memoir entitled ‘Bulletproof’. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Justin Peck.
Justin Peck: Thanks again Neal.
N: Thanks for returning. You are a championship off-road racer, you own a race team, and you’re also living with bipolar disease. Talk about when you were diagnosed with bipolar disease, what tipped you off that something may have been wrong? Is it something that you noticed, something that loved ones, friends noticed? How did it all come about when you finally were diagnosed?
J: Well, there was a moment in my life, roughly at 11:11 and half years ago, that I was kind at the moment of despair, no self-worth, just to having a really, really hard 6 months. In my book, I kind of detailed the story just a little bit more in-depth. I tried a suicide attempt and when the attempt failed, I kind of realized that it was that I had to change something. There was no way that I can actually physically live like I was living anymore and so I went to the doctor, did a lot of the blood works, and the testing and stuff like that, and found out that I suffered from class 1 Bipolar Disorder.
N: It is like class 2, 3, 4, 5? Is class 1 the most severe?
J: Well I guess it’s all perspective, right? There are 2 classes of bipolar disorder, 1 and 2. If you have a class 2 bipolar disorder, it’s based on kind of the length of time that you go through each cycle. Class 2 has a shorter cycle period where you can be in the depressive state for 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks. And then you can be in a mania cycle for roughly about the same time, between for a period of time. The class 1 bipolar has, it’s a length year process so you can be in the depressive state for 6 months and mania for 6 months, or even up to a year. I’ve been in the mania state for about a year and 3 months which I’m not going to lie is probably the best feeling ever. But typically the people around you can’t handle you any longer.
N: Would you say that you’re an adrenaline junkie as well as person with bipolar disorder? Or did the two go hand in hand? Or are they totally separate and never a part of each other?
J: I don’t necessarily know if they go hand in hand. But one thing about my disorder and just kind of the way that I live is I don’t asses risk and I don’t asses consequence very well. That can be related to several other things. But the adrenaline for me that’s where I thrive on it. The story that I try to explain to people it’s like “You go to your house, it’s late at night, it’s like midnight, it’s quiet, no one’s around, you’re walking to the door, all lights are off, it’s like and you have this eerie feeling about yourself. You walk out at one of the corners and like, one of your kids, or a friend, or someone yells and scares you to death, right?” It’s that feeling, it’s that like that huge adrenaline dump that people they get in those type of moments. That’s what I crave, I want that constantly.
N: You say you’ve been racing for upwards going on close to 30 years and you were diagnosed 11 ½ years ago. You’re in a community that thrives on adrenaline, on speed, on excitement on walking away from cheating death as it were. You’re an off-road racer that I think that from my experience and that being a racer, that my post some unique challenges as oppose to a close track environment. What has the racing community said to you in response to finding out about your life and some revelations in your book ‘Bulletproof’, the true story of you as a racing champion both battling and celebrating your everyday life with Bipolar?
J: Honestly, it’s a little bit of the mix. There are some people that think, “Okay, he may be too crazy to go out and drive.” But for the most part, I would say probably 80% of the people kind of celebrate it. Because to be able to this sport that we do, you have to be kind of a nut anyway. To put it into a little bit of perspective, we do a 140 miles an hour across the dirt, that were going across bumps that are sized of cars. We have super high-speeds, there’s boulders and trees, and you’re jumping these trucks 200 feet, and it’s like … 1000 times stuff from you’re doing 14 and 100 miles, you’re in a race car for 36 hours straight. It’s fun though, it’s crazy. When you get out of the race car, you’re absolutely smoked but it’s an amazing sport. I love it.
N: How do you manage your life as a race car champion and someone who’s living with bipolar? How do you juggle the two especially if you can be in one state or another for upwards of a year and a half?
J: The one thing about the racing for me is on my normal day to day life, I do take medication. I’m kind of forced to because if I don’t, I do have a tendency of kind of losing my mind. But the one thing that is a constant in my life and has been a constant for as long as I’ve been racing, is my helmet. The second that I may be able to put that helmet, as soon as it crosses my eyes and I put it on, and do the chin strap, all the chaos from the outside world, all of the struggle, all of the depression, or the mania, or all out any of the crazy stuff that goes on, it disappears. It completely goes away and I’m focused on one task and one task only, and that is of course to win the race. While I have my helmet on, that’s my peace, that’s my serenity, that’s my safe space. How I kind of go from one point to the other is living a normal life, I can do that. But it’s always looking forward to the next race because I know that once I can put the helmet on, I’m good.
N: Now you’re occupying a couple of circuits now, the race car circuit obviously, but the speaking circuit as well. Are most of your fans for lack of a better term, race fans or fans of addiction recovery, or fans of folks living with Bipolar? Who is your base on the speaking circuit?
J: The base right now is, it has a mix of course. You’re going to get a lot of different walks of life. I do promote some mental health advocacy in most of everything that I do. But I also like to promote kind of life coaching and understanding that people need to be able to relate the stories in a way that can help them. I talk a lot about my experiences in life, whether it be through driving a race car, or owning businesses, or writing a book, just any of these things. But ultimately for me, I can talk about how my mental struggles have been and it’s a pretty cool thing to have people come up after and say, ‘You know what, I’ve felt the same way’ or ‘I know someone that kind of acts the same way that you’ve acted in the past.’ That’s always been kind of the goal for me is writing a book, publishing the book, and then being able to speak in a way that can help people understand that mental health, it’s not about thing. I mean, it’s all different than cancer, diabetes. Cancer and diabetes is a physical thing, doctors can see it and they can have certain treatment for it. Mental disorder, brain disorder, you can’t see it.
N: Now in wrapping up, I’ve got one final question, your book ‘Bulletproof’, it’s the story of you? It’s the story of how you’re continuing to overcome some struggles. In your experience, what would you say was the most difficult addressing the Bipolar or the addiction? Or was it a pretty much the same as across the board as far as learning to cope and manage?
J: I don’t necessarily know if I can say that any of it was harder than the other. And I think the reason why I say that is because looking back now, I don’t think any of it was hard and I know that sounds odd. But I’ve always had this idea and this concept in my mind of, ‘Let’s take today, March 19th of 2017’, alright? If you take today’s date and go 365 days to next year of 2018, are the same struggles that you’re going through now, going to be as important to you as they are today? And so I look at that as whatever I was going through last year was really, really hard at that time but it’s different than the struggles that I’m going through today. I solved the problems that I went through last year, I fixed them and we all know that when you have a struggle and you fixed it, and you feel like that it’s solved, you look back at it and say, ‘You know what, it wasn’t really that bad.’ And hindsight, exactly. That’s kind of the way that I look at my life now is ‘Yeah, I went through some horrible times man, I’m not going to lie.’ But it’s the hindsight that I was able to beat it. I was able to figure it out and it’s a sensible accomplishment.
N: Well a great accomplishment, your brand new memoir called, ‘Bulletproof’. Where can our listeners get a copy?
J: You can get it at the website at justinpeck.com and we’re also available on Amazon, and Kindle, and those type of outlets as well.
N: Well thank you for speaking with us today Justin.
J: Thank you.
N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard with Justin Peck, championship off-road racer and author of the brand new memoir entitled, ‘Bulletproof’. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at hpr.fm also at healthprofessionalradio.com.au. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, listen in and download on SoundCloud.