217: Overcoming Suicide Ideation and Bridging the Gap in Mental Health Support with Dylan Sessler author of “Defy the Darkness

He is a veteran of the US Army, as well as an author, mental health advocate, speaker, and survivor. He has survived various adverse life events in his life and is now trying to help people overcome their own adversity.

Dylan wrote a book entitled “Defy the Darkness: A Story of Suicide, Mental Health, and Overcoming Your Hardest Battles,” which mainly tackles the things he had to go through in life and how he was able to survive them. Aside from a book, he also has a podcast and a TikTok account. 

At such a young age, Dylan had a traumatic event with his dad, who passed away by suicide. That event left him filled with guilt and regret.

Growing up, he experienced physical and emotional trauma at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend. He suffered silently, bearing all the pain on his own. When his mother found out about how he got hit, they immediately left the house. Aside from that, he also suffered from bullying in school. 

Episode 217 of the Beyond Adversity Podcast is for those people who are in need of help due to their adversities in life. This could inspire and help them overcome their challenges in life. 

All the traumatic events that happened in Dylan’s life led to his choice to enter the military. He had developed principles which contributed to the choices he made in life. 

Dylan experienced more challenges in life as he got older. He eventually realized that he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Little by little, he tried his best to overcome the challenges in his life. 

In this episode, Dylan discusses the trauma, challenges, and choices he made in his life and how he was able to change his life for the better. He also talks about some important points that he included in his book.

“The Beyond Adversity Podcast with Dr. Brad Miller is published weekly with the mission of helping people “Grow Through What They Go Through” as they navigate adversity and discover their promised life of peace, prosperity, and purpose. 

https://dylansessler.com/

Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098R5FG5S  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dylansessler 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dylan_J_Sessler 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dylan_sessler/ 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9GMn6dTsu4eRScuoSbSMgg 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dylan-sessler-69a29b19a/ 

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@dylan_sessler?lang=en 

Transcript
Dr. Brad Miller:

We have an awesome guest with us today. His name is Dylan Sessler.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And he comes to us with an incredible story to tell about his own life

Dr. Brad Miller:

experiences. Some of the very, very, very dramatic, and we'll get into

Dr. Brad Miller:

those details, we'll let him share those with you. I will share with you

Dr. Brad Miller:

that he's an active duty military serving in the National Guard, and

Dr. Brad Miller:

he is the author of the book, Defy the Darkness: A story of Suicide,

Dr. Brad Miller:

Mental Health, and Overcoming your Hardest Battles. Dylan Sessler,

Dr. Brad Miller:

welcome to Beyond Adversity.

Dylan Sessler:

Thank you very much, Brad, I'm glad to be here.

Dr. Brad Miller:

It is a awesome to have you with us. And I do thank you for

Dr. Brad Miller:

your continued service to our country in the National Guard.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And that's a part of your story. I know that it is, and here on

Dr. Brad Miller:

Beyond Adversity, we are all about helping people to navigate,

Dr. Brad Miller:

bad things have happened to them. And some really challenging

Dr. Brad Miller:

things have happened to you in your life, and then you found a way

Dr. Brad Miller:

through them. So if you don't mind just sharing with us a little bit

Dr. Brad Miller:

about your story, about some of the challenges that you have faced

Dr. Brad Miller:

that you particularly are addressing your book and so on.

Dylan Sessler:

Certainly. Well, one of the one of the first parts of my book

Dylan Sessler:

really discusses one of the most profound pieces of my adverse

Dylan Sessler:

story, I would say, and that was the suicide of my father. I lost my

Dylan Sessler:old. So I was six years old,:Dylan Sessler:

father was around 36 years old. And I just remember coming

Dylan Sessler:

downstairs one morning, young kid, just not not really, you know,

Dylan Sessler:

quite naive at the time. And I saw him and he looks at our family.

Dylan Sessler:

And just I remember him talking about leaving and not being home

Dylan Sessler:

that night, you know. And as he was speaking, I just, I felt this

Dylan Sessler:

overwhelming sensation that pit in your stomach, you know that

Dylan Sessler:

the feeling that bad feeling you get when something's just isn't right,

Dylan Sessler:

you know, the words just weren't coming out, right? Or I just felt

Dylan Sessler:

all sorts of wrong and as a six year old child, right? What do you

Dylan Sessler:

do about that? Well, for me, I cried, and I grabbed him. And I told

Dylan Sessler:

them not to leave. And I, you know, begged and pleaded as much

Dylan Sessler:

as I could. But he was a large man, six foot seven, I'm you know,

Dylan Sessler:

three foot, whatever, at six years old, I was tiny. So he just kind

Dylan Sessler:

of picks me up and sets me side. And I remember that cliche

Dylan Sessler:

moment of him walking out the door and taking that left to go

Dylan Sessler:

to the car. And that was the last time I saw him. And the next

Dylan Sessler:

morning, that's when we found out or at least I found out that

Dylan Sessler:

we were going to my grandma's house. And when we got there

Dylan Sessler:

is when I think my mom told me and this is all kind of, you know,

Dylan Sessler:

fairly recalled kind of knowledge. It's not necessarily confirmed.

Dylan Sessler:

You know, because I was so young, and it felt so traumatic at the

Dylan Sessler:

time. But when that moment happened, that I found out that he

Dylan Sessler:

was gone, that he had, unfortunately passed and my mom was

Dylan Sessler:

honest with me, she told me it was suicide. The guilt, and the

Dylan Sessler:

regret, hit me first. Right? It was the it was that moment where

Dylan Sessler:

I felt responsible. You know, I didn't say that to anybody.

Dylan Sessler:

Because at six years old, I didn't know how to express that.

Dylan Sessler:

I certainly didn't understand how that would be received.

Dylan Sessler:

And you know, I was focused on the judgment. Certainly but

Dylan Sessler:

later, it became a shame, you know, because at the time in the 90s.

Dylan Sessler:

And even after that people looked at suicide very religiously, and

Dylan Sessler:

certainly in my family, it was looked at religiously as a sin and a sin

Dylan Sessler:

that would automatically send you to hell. And so I was told at a

Dylan Sessler:

young age that my father was going to hell. And so not only was my

Dylan Sessler:

guilt and my regret, not enough, but it was also compounded by

Dylan Sessler:

this shameful kind of decision that my father made. And so I was

Dylan Sessler:

very lost, you know, at 6, 7, 8 years old, I was just absolutely, you know,

Dylan Sessler:

heartbroken, destroyed, you know, all the things. And not only that, but

Dylan Sessler:

I placed so much of my father's decisions on my shoulder as my burden

Dylan Sessler:

to bury, or burden to bear and that clearly just, you know, held me underwater

Dylan Sessler:

for many years as as I moved through my life, I found myself,

Dylan Sessler:

you know, my mom kind of moved on and found a new man. And

Dylan Sessler:

he was a man that was that was quite disciplined. He was

Dylan Sessler:

calculated, you know, calculating. He would hit me with a three

Dylan Sessler:

quarter inch leather belt, a western style belt, we lived on a horse

Dylan Sessler:

ranch at that point. For anything I did wrong, it didn't really matter

Dylan Sessler:

how how good or bad it was, you know, wasn't, you know, a minor

Dylan Sessler:

infraction would still receive the same kind of punishment, it just would

Dylan Sessler:

not be as many hits, right? She didn't know, she never knew. And so that

Dylan Sessler:

was that was one of the interesting things is I never picked that up until

Dylan Sessler:

well into my adulthood when me and my mom actually had the

Dylan Sessler:

conversation about it. She never knew and what I remember and

Dylan Sessler:

what I recall, is, whenever this would happen, I would go straight to

Dylan Sessler:

my bed, my bedroom and my crying my bed. And no one would be

Dylan Sessler:

there. Right? It was always, you know, as I recall, it was always those

Dylan Sessler:

moments where nobody was there, right. And my mom wasn't like that.

Dylan Sessler:

And so they're very much it very much fits the narrative of if my mom

Dylan Sessler:

had known, she would have changed that response you. She wouldn't

Dylan Sessler:

have allowed that. Because when she recognized that it was happening, she left.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Oh, my God, okay,

Dylan Sessler:

it wasn't until many years later.

Dylan Sessler:

And so when, you know, when that started to happen,

Dylan Sessler:

it really, I think, solidified my inability to speak. You know,

Dylan Sessler:

at the time when my dad died, I just stopped talking altogether

Dylan Sessler:

became very introverted, very reclusive, to a point where, when

Dylan Sessler:

I started getting hit and abused, I started to internalize pain, out

Dylan Sessler:

of spite, right. Out of out of anger for him, and I remember the first

Dylan Sessler:

time looking back at him and just thinking to myself, hit me again,

Dylan Sessler:

right, I remember that so vividly.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Some far away embracing the pain,

Dylan Sessler:

it almost to a point of, you know, what would later come as, it's my

Dylan Sessler:

responsibility to take pain, right. And so I did that I internalized it at

Dylan Sessler:

that point. And then I spent more years kind of dealing with it. And by

Dylan Sessler:

the time I was 13, 14, we had moved out. My mom had left that

Dylan Sessler:

relationship, recognizing how bad it was for us as children. And that's

Dylan Sessler:

when you know, high school comes around, and I was bullied for for

Dylan Sessler:

being thin. Basically, I was a twig. And obviously, that wasn't going

Dylan Sessler:

to change with all the trauma that had forced me into this reclusive

Dylan Sessler:

personality that I was, and I kind of became a chameleon of sorts in

Dylan Sessler:

high school to just survive and get by, right, emotionally. And that's

Dylan Sessler:

when I decided to join the military. And the reason I joined the

Dylan Sessler:

military was very simply because as my dad had committed suicide,

Dylan Sessler:

I brought myself to make rules, you know, simple rules for life of,

Dylan Sessler:

I'm not going to do alcohol, I'm not going to do tobacco, I'm not

Dylan Sessler:

going to do drugs, all things that led to my dad's suicide as what

Dylan Sessler:

I thought. But then the last one was very simple. I'm not going to

Dylan Sessler:

commit suicide. And so that led me automatically to joining,

Dr. Brad Miller:

Did you write these down and do anything along that line journal

Dr. Brad Miller:

or something?

Dylan Sessler:

No, but they were always in my head. You know, these, these were

Dr. Brad Miller:

So clear of what I'm getting as a clarification for you isn't just

Dr. Brad Miller:

some sort of a fleeting thought. These were cleric, clear.

Dylan Sessler:

These were my guiding principles through childhood, you know,

Dylan Sessler:

and so I've, I'm 32 years old, had been in the military for 14 years,

Dylan Sessler:

I've never touched alcohol. I even as a kid, I was like, my mom

Dylan Sessler:

would offer rum cake. And I was so fervently against the idea of

Dylan Sessler:

alcohol that I looked at rum cake and was like, "Absolutely not."

Dylan Sessler:

Right. You know, I've never, I've never touched drugs, I've never

Dylan Sessler:

touched tobacco, which is absolutely against the norm, not only

Dylan Sessler:

in the infantry, in the military, but also in the state of Wisconsin,

Dylan Sessler:

which I'm from. So it's, they were so powerful in my life that when

Dylan Sessler:

it came to making a decision to join the military, it was 100%.

Dylan Sessler:

Because this shame and this guilt that I had conjured up after my

Dylan Sessler:

father's death was powerful enough to say, well, you're still thinking

Dylan Sessler:

about suicide. So why don't you find somewhere to kill yourself with

Dylan Sessler:

honor or to have someone do it for you? And that's what I did.

Dylan Sessler:

Okay, you know, I joined the military during

Dr. Brad Miller:

kind of, without putting a kind of a frame. Some people call

Dr. Brad Miller:

something like it assisted suicide, or I forgot the terminology here.

Dr. Brad Miller:

It Miller in the police, you know, somebody's suicide by cop and

Dr. Brad Miller:

things like it was sort of a form of that.

Dylan Sessler:I joined the infantry during:Dylan Sessler:

which was, you know, right at the, the height of the war in Afghanistan,

Dylan Sessler:

and right after the height of the war in Iraq, and so, I was ready

Dylan Sessler:

and willing. I spent the next three or four years trying to get on

Dylan Sessler:

any deployment that would go anywhere else to a country that

Dylan Sessler:

was dangerous. And I finally joined an Agribusiness Development

Dylan Sessler:team that went to Afghanistan:Dylan Sessler:

place that taught me more about life and death than I had

Dylan Sessler:

ever learned through my father, through anything else. You

Dylan Sessler:

know, it was a, it was a difficult place, it was a dark place,

Dylan Sessler:

it was a simple place yet, you know, and you learn so much,

Dylan Sessler:

and you see so much in that time, and you feel so much, but

Dylan Sessler:

nothing about it is allowed to be expressed because of war.

Dylan Sessler:

Because the nature of wars, you can't cause problems to

Dylan Sessler:

other people in order. That's what it feels like. And so, you

Dylan Sessler:

know, I learned again, you know, only a confirmation of what

Dylan Sessler:

I had been through before I learned to bottle it up, I learned

Dylan Sessler:

to keep it behind walls and keep it held under the pressure

Dylan Sessler:

of, you know, of remaining silent. And so,

Dr. Brad Miller:

So suppression was just a part of your life was it? It's a part

Dr. Brad Miller:

of your everyday, like, No, you'll if you go,

Dylan Sessler:

Yep. And it came to a point of coming home, I started learning

Dylan Sessler:

about PTSD. And it was almost laughable because I found out

Dylan Sessler:

about this diagnosis. I didn't, I was never diagnosed with it.

Dylan Sessler:

But I didn't have to be to know what I had been struggling

Dylan Sessler:

through all my life, of recognizing the trauma that was my

Dylan Sessler:

father's death, recognizing the abuse that I had been through,

Dylan Sessler:

recognizing the bullying and recognizing the war that I had

Dylan Sessler:

just, you know, fought in. All of these things said, I almost

Dylan Sessler:

laughed when I recognized it the first time that I was dealing with,

Dr. Brad Miller:

and I'm just curious your diagnosis of PTSD. Just for clarification,

Dr. Brad Miller:

for folks who may not know post traumatic stress, was that done

Dr. Brad Miller:

through military circles, military doctors that you get to seek

Dr. Brad Miller:

out help you on your own? Or how did that manifest itself.

Dylan Sessler:

So I've never officially been diagnosed, and I don't think I will,

Dylan Sessler:

I don't think I need to. Because when I started learning about it,

Dylan Sessler:

I didn't respect it at all. You know, I was taught that in

Dylan Sessler:

demobilization for my deployment. And so I started learning

Dylan Sessler:But I didn't respect it until:Dylan Sessler:

my own life. I got to that point of extremely, you know, just so

Dylan Sessler:

much emotion was bottled up and suppressed at that point

Dylan Sessler:

that it all kind of filtered, you know, the filter stuff, holding it

Dylan Sessler:

all in, the dam just broke. And that's when I started actually

Dylan Sessler:

looking at my life and understanding what was actually

Dylan Sessler:

happening. I had to ask myself, when I'm when I'm sitting

Dylan Sessler:

there with a gun in my hand. Why are you the way that you

Dylan Sessler:

are? And when I started asking that question, I started seeing

Dylan Sessler:

answers in my head, and through my own conversations with

Dylan Sessler:

myself, that I was really uncomfortable with, you know, and I

Dylan Sessler:

started looking at this, this concept of PTSD, this concept of

Dylan Sessler:

trauma, this concept of all of these choices, not only made by

Dylan Sessler:

myself, but by other people that kind of affected me, and

Dylan Sessler:

brought me to where I was then. And that's when I first

Dylan Sessler:

started kind of giving credit to this understanding of trauma,

Dylan Sessler:

this understanding of what what is PTSD, and how has it

Dylan Sessler:

affected me. But more so I gave credit to the understanding

Dylan Sessler:

that I brought myself here. And I brought myself to this

Dylan Sessler:

point, and I allowed myself to continue to walk down this

Dylan Sessler:

path of silence. And that's really where, you know, my, I think

Dylan Sessler:

my book kind of dives into into this idea of what it means to

Dylan Sessler:

be silent and what it means to hold all of this stuff in. Because

Dylan Sessler:

how I look at it realistically, is that, you know, suicide isn't the

Dylan Sessler:

problem, right? And I don't think it's the thing that people need

Dylan Sessler:

to address as the problem. It's the result of all of the problems, you know,

Dr. Brad Miller:

well, it's the it's you're taking action, Destructive action against

Dr. Brad Miller:

the problem that's been built up over time and suppressed and

Dr. Brad Miller:

so on. And so, here's my question for you when you were was this

Dr. Brad Miller:

key question you sit you asked yourself, why why am I am the way

Dr. Brad Miller:

that I am? Was that the question that helped you decide to not

Dr. Brad Miller:

take your own life? or were there other factors were there other

Dr. Brad Miller:

people involved? Were you with like, I don't know, suicide

Dr. Brad Miller:

hotline, any other factors that came into play that kept you

Dr. Brad Miller:

from making the destructive decision.

Dylan Sessler:

That was it. That

Dr. Brad Miller:

just making use of the good the good question that are

Dr. Brad Miller:

the question,

Dylan Sessler:

You know, I've always been, I've always been a thinker.

Dylan Sessler:

Right? You know, obviously it's it makes sense with my history

Dylan Sessler:

and what I've been through. And that that step in that

Dylan Sessler:

direction of recognizing just the reality of the moment I was in.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Yeah, well, what a profound story about your own family.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And there's, you know, I'm sure there's layer upon layer upon

Dr. Brad Miller:

layer upon layer of all this. And yet, here's the the profound

Dr. Brad Miller:

reality is that you were a product of suicide, and you considered

Dr. Brad Miller:

it yourself, and you had this introspective, life going on, that was

Dr. Brad Miller:

being suppressed. And then you decide, so many people, though

Dr. Brad Miller:

Dylan, as you know, do get stuck, whether they take their own

Dr. Brad Miller:

life, or they do something destructive, that ends their life, or

Dr. Brad Miller:

they do something else, that messes things up, they get stuck,

Dr. Brad Miller:

and you, you've chosen to share your story with other people.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Through this format, you have a book, you have your own

Dr. Brad Miller:

podcast, you have a TikTok channel, you have various ways

Dr. Brad Miller:

that you are sharing. So my question to you now is that

Dr. Brad Miller:

you asked yourself this important question, why am I I am,

Dr. Brad Miller:

why I am? Why I am the way I am, that I said it correctly.

Dr. Brad Miller:

But the Yeah, you asked yourself that question. So that's

Dr. Brad Miller:

one important thing you did. What do you think were some

Dr. Brad Miller:

of the key actions that you did took from that question?

Dr. Brad Miller:

What do you do, then? What did you do about it? After you

Dr. Brad Miller:

asked yourself that question, it puts you on this track now,

Dr. Brad Miller:

of being productive and helpful to others.

Dylan Sessler:

While I answered it, that was, you know, those first step

Dylan Sessler:

number one is, when you ask yourself a question like that,

Dylan Sessler:

you've, you've got to have the willingness to be honest with

Dylan Sessler:

yourself about it. You know, and that, that doesn't come with

Dylan Sessler:

without its own set of, you know, realities. Like, that's a hard

Dylan Sessler:

question to answer. And I almost think my, I thank my life, for

Dylan Sessler:

building up the courage or maybe more appropriately, the

Dylan Sessler:

stubbornness to answer that question, honestly, because it

Dylan Sessler:

was painful. You know, that's, that's a remarkably painful

Dylan Sessler:

question to answer. You know, when you really look at it,

Dylan Sessler:

and you start to recognize your the realities of your own

Dylan Sessler:

choice to bring yourself to that point. You know, because

Dylan Sessler:

at some point, it stops being someone else's fault, and

Dylan Sessler:

starts being your own, you know, and that's a, that's a

Dylan Sessler:

painful situation to sit with. And, ultimately, it came,

Dr. Brad Miller:

I love what you said, I think my life

Dylan Sessler:

Exactly, and

Dr. Brad Miller:

even your life was pretty, pretty bad. Many would argue

Dr. Brad Miller:

pretty bad. And you still thanked your life.

Dylan Sessler:

And it comes down to it came down for me to the the very,

Dylan Sessler:

the glaring weakness throughout my life. And that was my

Dylan Sessler:

inability to express myself, you know. And so, what's, what's

Dylan Sessler:

interesting, and I don't think I really realized it until quite

Dylan Sessler:

recently, actually, is that I've put myself in direct contradiction

Dylan Sessler:

to who I've always lived my life as you know, I've done everything

Dylan Sessler:

I can to work on that weakness to face that weakness. I've written

Dylan Sessler:

a book, I've put out a podcast, I've stepped out onto a platform

Dylan Sessler:

that requires you to literally express yourself, that's TikTok. I go

Dylan Sessler:

on podcast, and I talk about this subject. I even feel this subject,

Dylan Sessler:

right, sometimes. It's not all it's not all episodes that I come on,

Dylan Sessler:

where I'm just eloquently expressing the stuff simply

Dylan Sessler:

sometimes I'm actually feeling it right. Just depends on

Dylan Sessler:

the day, sometimes. It depends on the question or the

Dylan Sessler:

how deep I dive into this subject. And

Dr. Brad Miller:

when we sometimes we really don't know what triggers

Dr. Brad Miller:

that emotional response up a song on the radio or something

Dr. Brad Miller:

somebody says, or, you know, a picture on the wall, any

Dr. Brad Miller:

number of things can trigger that. And and say here, at

Dr. Brad Miller:

least, at least a couple of things I'm hearing here that

Dr. Brad Miller:

you did you. You recognized it, you claimed it, you claimed

Dr. Brad Miller:

the pain. And that's so huge right here. That is enormous,

Dr. Brad Miller:

as you know, because it seems to me just getting to know

Dr. Brad Miller:

you just a little bit here today, they'll know that you were

Dr. Brad Miller:

this quite introspective, maybe people maybe even

Dr. Brad Miller:

described you perhaps as brooding or I don't know

Dr. Brad Miller:

any number of things like that could have been done.

Dr. Brad Miller:

I don't know if I'm correct or not. I don't want to be too

Dr. Brad Miller:

presumptuous to assume here, but I'm assuming that you

Dr. Brad Miller:

were you were not as expressive growing up or even the

Dr. Brad Miller:

military. As you are now. You probably kind of the quiet

Dr. Brad Miller:

guy in the corner. Is that fair? To say? Most of time? Yeah.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And so. So that's the other action that you took, you know,

Dr. Brad Miller:

you the second thing I saw you, I thanked my life. And this is

Dr. Brad Miller:

so important about when we think about when adverse things

Dr. Brad Miller:

happen to us. So if people get stuck, and they stay stuck,

Dr. Brad Miller:

I call it the malaise and we theocracy, you stay there, and you

Dr. Brad Miller:

get unstuck, you really have to take action, you recognize it.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And then you think your life which means a adversity is to your

Dr. Brad Miller:

advantage, if you choose to do it, I call it sometimes call it the

Dr. Brad Miller:

University of adversity, you could learn from it, and still take

Dr. Brad Miller:

action. And then you didn't you kind of went against, you know,

Dr. Brad Miller:

against your nature, to express yourself. And so let's,

Dr. Brad Miller:

I want to go there on the introspective sign in one more

Dr. Brad Miller:

layer with you, then I want to go to what you how you

Dr. Brad Miller:

then express yourself and the layer want to go with you.

Dr. Brad Miller:

You mentioned a little bit ago how you had some really

Dr. Brad Miller:

bad experiences with some people who were laying kind

Dr. Brad Miller:

of their religious guilt thing on you about your father, and

Dr. Brad Miller:

I'm sure some of that free emerged when you had your

Dr. Brad Miller:

own considerations about suicide, and that I apologize

Dr. Brad Miller:

to you for, you know, I'm a pastor of a church and I

Dr. Brad Miller:

apologize for anything. Because I hate it when I hear

Dr. Brad Miller:

stories like that, that the church is laid on you or whatever.

Dr. Brad Miller:

But I do wonder, I do think that people still have to have a

Dr. Brad Miller:

sense of connection to something bigger than itself. You know,

Dr. Brad Miller:

when we're introspective, sometimes we can go to this place

Dr. Brad Miller:

of kind of like, it's all about me or poor me or whatever, that

Dr. Brad Miller:

kind of thing. But did you have any connection deal into

Dr. Brad Miller:

anything bigger than self a connection to a higher power,

Dr. Brad Miller:

spirituality, meditation, I don't know anything along this line,

Dr. Brad Miller:

it was just a part of the process for you prayer, anything along

Dr. Brad Miller:

that line?

Dylan Sessler:

This is an interesting conversation now. Because what, what I

Dylan Sessler:

think might be labeled as traditional faith, did not really exist

Dylan Sessler:

in my in my life throughout, even to this point. But I put so much

Dylan Sessler:

emphasis on the idea of faith, the value of faith. Which is

Dylan Sessler:

interesting, because I'm not religious, I don't I don't have I'm

Dylan Sessler:

an atheist, if you want to call it that. I don't have a belief in

Dylan Sessler:

God, I don't, I don't feel I need a belief in God, but yet, I have

Dylan Sessler:

a such a profound respect for faith itself. And so do I look to a

Dylan Sessler:

higher power? Not necessarily. But I do look to the world, as that

Dylan Sessler:

higher authority, you know, of, I look at nature, in its in its entirety,

Dylan Sessler:

as that higher authority, as you know, because I come from war, right?

Dylan Sessler:

I come from many different kinds of war. And I understand that

Dylan Sessler:

when you walk out into nature, without, you know, you, you disarm

Dylan Sessler:

yourself with the technology of mankind, what we've created, you

Dylan Sessler:

are very much an animal, when you step out into that realm. And

Dylan Sessler:

so I have a profound respect for nature, I have a profound respect

Dylan Sessler:

for humanity itself. I, I will never be the center of my universe, nor

Dylan Sessler:

will I necessarily put faith in, you know, and not necessarily, I'm

Dylan Sessler:

not gonna say, I won't, but I don't know if I'll ever put put God

Dylan Sessler:

at the center of that, of that faith, but I do have faith. And

Dylan Sessler:

I love to, I love to look at other people's faith and be proud

Dylan Sessler:

of it. Right? I'm proud of your faith, I'm happy that you have

Dylan Sessler:

faith, whether it's in God or yourself or other people, I don't

Dylan Sessler:

care. Right, as long as you have, and that's so, so important.

Dylan Sessler:

And throughout my life, I've I've contemplated this, these this

Dylan Sessler:

question, because it's, it's for everyone to determine on their

Dylan Sessler:

own. I think, you know, if you want to believe in God, that's

Dylan Sessler:

your that's your that's your right. Some would call it a God

Dylan Sessler:

given right, if you want to. Others would. Not, right. It's

Dylan Sessler:

your belief. And I want, I think what people need to understand

Dylan Sessler:

is that you can't live a life without faith. But it's understanding

Dylan Sessler:

the value of faith, not understanding the religious idea of faith,

Dylan Sessler:

I think is the more important understanding here.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Yeah, very fascinating, where you're putting this you can't live a

Dr. Brad Miller:

life without faith. And yet, some of those aspects of the

Dr. Brad Miller:

framework of faith has been abusive to you. And, again, I

Dr. Brad Miller:

apologize for that. But I also sense that you are on you are

Dr. Brad Miller:

seeking meaningful pneus in your life, and parts of that come

Dr. Brad Miller:

from connecting with something beyond that meaning,

Dr. Brad Miller:

whether its nature, or a sense of, of total humanity, all that kind

Dr. Brad Miller:

of thing. And because so many people, I believe Dylan have a

Dr. Brad Miller:

sense of meaning less than us in life. And that's what leads to

Dr. Brad Miller:

people being destructive, either to themselves or to other

Dr. Brad Miller:

people or, you know, to nature. You know, some people

Dr. Brad Miller:

wanted to knock down all the trees or whatever or blow it

Dr. Brad Miller:

up or whatever. You know, that's what meaninglessness kind.

Dr. Brad Miller:

When you people just hate themselves and hate others so much.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And sense of meaningfulness means you put the values I love that

Dr. Brad Miller:

you said about the values. But you've part of this process

Dr. Brad Miller:

then I love what you're sharing here today. You really are

Dr. Brad Miller:

introspective guy, man, you are fine, you just fascinating so

Dr. Brad Miller:

many levels. And then then you chose to write this book, Defy

Dr. Brad Miller:

the Darkness: A story of Suicide, Mental Health, and Overcoming

Dr. Brad Miller:

your Hardest Battles. And you've certainly I've shared what some

Dr. Brad Miller:

of those hard battles are. But now I want to talk to you about what

Dr. Brad Miller:

are the lessons learned that then are transferable principles to other

Dr. Brad Miller:

people, I'm thinking about you in the military, for instance, you learn a

Dr. Brad Miller:

certain way of doing things with discipline and with, with order, and so

Dr. Brad Miller:

on, that you have, I'm not a military veteran myself, but I have my own

Dr. Brad Miller:

sets of disciplines. And I wonder what you have learned out of your

Dr. Brad Miller:

own experience, then that you have applied to your own life.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And then you can apply to others, perhaps some lessons that

Dr. Brad Miller:

you put in your book, disrupt think about disciplines, habits,

Dr. Brad Miller:

routines, application, these type of things.

Dylan Sessler:

I think it all starts with values. You know, and I think, you know,

Dylan Sessler:

I'm a big, I'm a big follower of Jordan Peterson doesn't necessarily

Dylan Sessler:

mean I support everything he does, but I follow what he discusses.

Dylan Sessler:

And he refers to this as ethics. I refer to it as values, I think it's

Dylan Sessler:

very similar in definition. But that was the first thing I really found.

Dylan Sessler:

I think I really developed anything, I developed it unconsciously

Dylan Sessler:

without with starting those rules, right? When I, when I first kind

Dylan Sessler:

of lost my father, I found myself making a rule system, right. And

Dylan Sessler:

so values undeniably became a piece of my life. When I joined the

Dylan Sessler:

military, I started to learn that the military had its values, right?

Dylan Sessler:

Companies have their values. All sorts of people have core values.

Dylan Sessler:

But it's, it's easy to put core values on, you know, a piece of paper

Dylan Sessler:

and say, These are my core values, it's incredibly difficult to

Dylan Sessler:

define those values that function for you. Right, not just out

Dylan Sessler:

of the dictionary, but actually how you apply them. And

Dylan Sessler:

then it's really difficult to apply, what is too much use of this value,

Dylan Sessler:

and what is too little use of this value, okay? And to understand

Dylan Sessler:

those boundaries of each value itself, defines how you actually

Dylan Sessler:

start to make decisions in your life. Right. And so when I, when

Dylan Sessler:

I really started to dig into this, and I really started to develop

Dylan Sessler:

the idea, it's actually not even in my book, which I talked about

Dylan Sessler:

values in my book, but it's not in my book, how I'm talking

Dylan Sessler:

about it now. And this is how new it is to me. But one, I think

Dylan Sessler:

faith is a foundation, right? And so when you have the ability to

Dylan Sessler:

look at your values that you create, you must have faith in them

Dylan Sessler:

that they are good for you. Right? I can't just look at, you know,

Dylan Sessler:

Brad, you have the value of love. I can't just look at your value

Dylan Sessler:

and say, I like that I'm going to use that. Right? It has to be

Dylan Sessler:

why does love matter to me? How do I define love? How do

Dylan Sessler:

I define the action of love? And how do I define overusing and

Dylan Sessler:

under using it, because if I overused love, it's a bad thing. If I

Dylan Sessler:

under use love, it's a bad thing. Right? So anything, then

Dylan Sessler:

becomes a good or bad thing based on it's used. And so if

Dylan Sessler:

you have faith in it, right, you understand that you must

Dylan Sessler:

determine how to use it correctly, right? Because a lot of

Dr. Brad Miller:

your learning has to do with a proper or measured

Dr. Brad Miller:

application of your values, right? Making your values

Dr. Brad Miller:

your own, not just taking someone else's values and just

Dr. Brad Miller:

saying, Okay, I buy into that, but you're actually making it your own.

Dylan Sessler:

Awesome. And you have to you have to do the work, right,

Dylan Sessler:

that's the hard part is like, you can't just go to a class that

Dylan Sessler:

says, here's a bunch of values, go ahead and pick which

Dylan Sessler:

ones which one's the best one, you have to do the work to

Dylan Sessler:

understand how to define it for yourself, and do all the work that goes with it.

Dr. Brad Miller:

So that's what you add just this kind of the search for

Dr. Brad Miller:

meaningfulness through values is one of the things you

Dr. Brad Miller:

advocate, the people that you're sharing with each

Dr. Brad Miller:

absolutely do. How can you so you share this in your

Dr. Brad Miller:

podcast and in your TikTok channel and, and, and in

Dr. Brad Miller:

your book. So how important is it for you to share this

Dr. Brad Miller:

message and you get to you to have an influence to have

Dr. Brad Miller:

an impact on others who may be going through something

Dr. Brad Miller:

akin to what you went through? How important is you get that message out there?

Dylan Sessler:

You know, I've I've asked myself that a lot throughout this

Dylan Sessler:

journey of two years. And I find myself kind of wondering it, right?

Dylan Sessler:

I don't I don't place my value as a person in the In the response to

Dylan Sessler:

my message, right? It's, it's looking at that, that conceptualization

Dylan Sessler:

of faith and understanding that I'm trying to do better for when

Dylan Sessler:

I for for the people that didn't have that don't have what I had, right?

Dylan Sessler:

Or do you have access to something that I didn't have? Right? And

Dylan Sessler:

so I'm trying to offer, not necessarily what I believe is right. But what

Dylan Sessler:

I believe can start the conversation within someone where they can

Dylan Sessler:

determine what's right. You know, I think that was that was one of

Dylan Sessler:

my struggles with religion early on, is that I was forced into a religion

Dylan Sessler:

that forced me to accept that what they believed was right.

Dylan Sessler:

You know, and so, you know, not to say religion is a bad thing,

Dylan Sessler:

it's just that religion has historically probably been taught in a way

Dylan Sessler:

that is not where we kind of look at things now of like, you get the

Dylan Sessler:

freedom to determine how you interpreted things were have kind

Dylan Sessler:

of historically been interpreted for us, and fed to us. And I've never

Dylan Sessler:

enjoyed that. I've never liked that. And I want people to have a

Dylan Sessler:

different experience. And that's what I try and give, I don't try

Dylan Sessler:

and tell people what, that I'm right or wrong, I try and help people

Dylan Sessler:

understand that I have a voice, I have something to share with

Dylan Sessler:

them. And I want them to take what I offer and make their own

Dylan Sessler:

decisions with it, I want you to create something that's maybe an

Dylan Sessler:

opposition to me. And I respect that, I want that I desire that.

Dylan Sessler:

Because then you might actually end up teaching me something.

Dylan Sessler:

So it's not necessarily about getting the message out there.

Dylan Sessler:

It's about transitioning, more people to understand how to

Dylan Sessler:

think freely and open themselves up to meaning, to open

Dylan Sessler:

themselves up to truth, to honesty, to expression to all of

Dylan Sessler:

these things that I really struggled with in my early life, that

Dylan Sessler:

I wish someone had offered me even a glimpse of what I'm talking about.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Yeah. So what I'm hearing you say here is just to interject

Dr. Brad Miller:

just a tiny bit of theology here. And that is simply that there's

Dr. Brad Miller:

kind of a history of dogma, which is kind of dictated to you

Dr. Brad Miller:

what is right and what's wrong. And freewill which is offer

Dr. Brad Miller:

which is what grace is all about. freewill is choosing then to

Dr. Brad Miller:

understand you're loved and accepted, regardless where

Dr. Brad Miller:

you choose to choose that and, but it sounds like this is

Dr. Brad Miller:

part of the process and the struggle and the conversation

Dr. Brad Miller:

you're having with yourself and with others. And apparently,

Dr. Brad Miller:

Dylan, you're touching a nerve. So people are responding.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And I just like you to speak for just a second about the impact

Dr. Brad Miller:

that is going on with your TikTok channel. I'm fascinated

Dr. Brad Miller:

by that. It's a it's a medium that I'm just not that familiar with.

Dr. Brad Miller:

I'll be honest, I've been in podcasting for 10 years. I know

Dr. Brad Miller:

you have a podcast, but tell me I'm interested responses

Dr. Brad Miller:

people have made to you in through your book, through

Dr. Brad Miller:

your through your TikTok through your podcast, what are

Dr. Brad Miller:

people saying to you? How are they responding to you?

Dr. Brad Miller:

What's your message?

Dylan Sessler:

Oh, man, I, I feel heard. I feel understood. I feel like I want

Dylan Sessler:

to talk to you, I feel you know, I've I've been told I've saved

Dylan Sessler:

people's lives with videos, you know, like, I, I just make content

Dylan Sessler:

and I try to speak to people in a way that I wish I would have

Dylan Sessler:

been spoken to. You know, and it's, it's a remarkable thing to

Dylan Sessler:

just treat people with respect without knowing them, without

Dylan Sessler:

understanding them without having them earn it. Right. And to

Dylan Sessler:

see that within people that maybe historically have never been

Dylan Sessler:

given a voice, you know, have never been given a platform to

Dylan Sessler:

speak. I, I think all people, you know, are created equal. I very

Dylan Sessler:

much agree with that. Regardless of you know, physical outcome

Dylan Sessler:

or physical ability, I you know, I think people come out into this

Dylan Sessler:

world having the ability to offer something, right you have, if you

Dylan Sessler:

have the ability to offer something, you are equal to anyone, right?

Dylan Sessler:

And, you know, I don't care if your special needs, I don't care if you're

Dylan Sessler:

white, I don't care if you're black, I don't care if you're male, female,

Dylan Sessler:

I just don't care. You have something to teach people, you have

Dylan Sessler:

something to offer people. And we're one of the only species that

Dylan Sessler:

desperately take care of things that probably won't survive. And

Dylan Sessler:

that's a really interesting thought when we when we think about

Dylan Sessler:

societies. And I think sometimes people think we need to build a

Dylan Sessler:

society that isn't like that. When we just don't have that capacity.

Dylan Sessler:

We don't want that. Right. We we take care of people no matter

Dylan Sessler:

what. And how we do that now is is in desperate need of overhaul

Dylan Sessler:

I think because we're trying to leave people behind in some regard,

Dylan Sessler:

you know, in certain situations where We don't have to, you know,

Dylan Sessler:

if we have the conversation if we learn how to speak, we learn how

Dylan Sessler:

to respect and love and appreciate. We wouldn't have to have

Dylan Sessler:

conversations that are so diametrically in opposition to each

Dylan Sessler:

other and so painful.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Oh, yeah, right. So much polarization is going on. It's just crazy.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Yeah. I, you've said a couple of things here, I just just think are so

Dr. Brad Miller:

important that the people who you are communicating with, and

Dr. Brad Miller:

just for context, tell me how many TikTok views if you got down to

Dr. Brad Miller:

the whole bunch here, right? Father,

Dylan Sessler:

I've got, like 582,000, I think, as of this morning, and then like, over

Dylan Sessler:

3.8 million likes. And so that's about 10%, of how many views I might have.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Yeah, so a lot of people have responded through that medium alone,

Dr. Brad Miller:

let alone your podcasts and your books and so on. But you said

Dr. Brad Miller:

something about I am heard or that people are sent to you by him or

Dr. Brad Miller:

heard. And it's reflected with you, I did a little bit of a research myself

Dr. Brad Miller:

about the every year at the end of the year, Google does a little video, a

Dr. Brad Miller:

little synopsis of the search terms that people have searched for in the

Dr. Brad Miller:year:Dr. Brad Miller:

So this just tells me that there's people really, really hurting, if people are

Dr. Brad Miller:

searching, how do I heal, that means somewhere, I'm broken, or I'm hurt,

Dr. Brad Miller:

or I'm wounded, I need to heal. And that might have been COVID, it might

Dr. Brad Miller:

have been any number of things. But they have that search. And you are

Dr. Brad Miller:

obviously coming to a place where people have a need that you were

Dr. Brad Miller:

speaking to. And I want to commend you for having the courage to

Dr. Brad Miller:

do that. And it's just an awesome word that you have to share. So,

Dr. Brad Miller:

Dylan, how can people if they want to, if they want to get connected

Dr. Brad Miller:

to you if they want to get your book they want to your website,

Dr. Brad Miller:

your Tiktok? How can people learn more about you and be connected

Dr. Brad Miller:

to you? Because I know there's people on our Beyond Adversity

Dr. Brad Miller:

audience who are saying, Okay, this is a guy I need to find out more

Dr. Brad Miller:

about, because when he said, You know that I'm heard, I want to

Dr. Brad Miller:

be heard as well.

Dylan Sessler:

Well, I mean, you can go to my website, dylansessler.com. And

Dylan Sessler:

pretty much find anything you want to know about me. I think the

Dylan Sessler:

best way to consume my book is through audible, because I gave

Dylan Sessler:

a little bit of extra kind of off script stuff when I read the script

Dylan Sessler:

for the book. I've got a podcast, I'm obviously on Tik Tok. But if

Dylan Sessler:

you want to meet me, you know best way to schedule a schedule

Dylan Sessler:

session with me and let's go. Let's talk about it.

Dr. Brad Miller:

Awesome. So he's dylansessler.com. That's d y l a n s e s s l e r.com.

Dr. Brad Miller:

He's got lots of things on his website to help you get connected.

Dr. Brad Miller:

We will also put connections to your resources at our website, drbradmiller.com.

Dr. Brad Miller:

And you can find those on our show notes there. What a fascinating conversation

Dr. Brad Miller:

and I just want to thank you again for sharing with our audience here today,

Dr. Brad Miller:

Dylan, and wish you well, and I just got a feeling that that just beginning for

Dr. Brad Miller:

you that there is just a world of opportunity, because the need is so great for

Dr. Brad Miller:

exactly what you're speaking to. And I thank you. And I really, really look

Dr. Brad Miller:

forward to seeing what happens next. So very good.

Dylan Sessler:

Thank you, Brad.

Dr. Brad Miller:

All right.

Dylan Sessler:

Appreciate it

Dr. Brad Miller:

Our guest today on Beyond Adversity Dylan Sessler,

Dr. Brad Miller:

the author of Defy the Darkness. Thank you for being

Dr. Brad Miller:

our guest today on the Beyond Adversity podcast with Dr. Brad Miller.