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Nick Wingo: Fighting the Fires of PTSD - The Great Conquest
Episode 9420th October 2021 • The Becoming the Big Me Podcast • Djemilah Birnie
00:00:00 00:49:21

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On today's episode of the Becoming the Big Me Podcast your host Djemilah Birnie has another amazing guest for the Great Conquest project, Nick Wingo of Building Grit. Tune in to hear Nicks' story.

Nick Wingo is the founder of Building Grit, Best Selling Author, Podcaster, and former firefighter paramedic on a mission to face his PTSD and bring a voice to other first responders who are going through the same thing.

Nick spent the early part of his life as a firefighter paramedic where he saw things that most people could never even understand. After retiring as a firefighter Nick has put his passion into conquering his PTSD and helping others to do the same. He also gained a whole new perspective on the value of life after spending some time on a medical mission in Uganda.

Together with his beautiful bride Desiree Wingo he is building a business, raising their 2 amazing children Owen and Analise, helping couples strengthen their marriages, and giving a voice to those firefighters and first responders whose suffering goes unheard.

This is Nick’s story.

Connect:

If you would like to connect and learn more about Nick Wingo you can find him at www.nickwingo.com or www.buildinggrit.co 

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To get out her new book visit bit.ly/greatconquest

To Connect More with Djemilah Visit www.djemilah.com

>>Learn more about the Becoming the Big Me: The Great Conquest book visit www.thegreatconquest.com 

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Becoming the Big Me: The Great Conquest is a collection of empowering, motivating, and educational stories that will tug at your heart strings while empowering you to step into your own Big Me potential. From addiction, illness, lack of confidence, loss of loved ones, PTSD, and more the contributors of this book have walked through darkness and emerged victorious.

The Becoming the Big Me: The Great Conquest book has been brought to you by a collection of leaders paving the path of the future in their given fields. Within its pages you will find insight from Djemilah Birnie, Sharon Lechter, Nick Wingo, Dr. Frances Malone, Jenny Emerson, Russel Creed, Jennifer Aube, Valerie Fischer, Cory & JoJo Rankin, Peter Neilson, Kiki Rae, Tanya Milano-Snell, Dannah Macalinga-Pedrigal, and Kira Birnie.

This book was envisioned and brought together by Djemilah Birnie, the founder of Becoming the Big Me.

After overcoming many obstacles that could easily break a person, Djemilah has become passionate about helping others face their glass ceilings and break into the expansiveness of their potential.

Djemilah believes that we are all on a journey... There is never a point in which you have "Made It". Becoming the Big Me is about choosing to step into your greater potential each and every day. It is about learning and sometimes messing up but always getting back up.

This book has been compiled to showcase the journeys of overcoming. However, through this journey it becomes so much more. As each author told their story Djemilah noticed a common thread- something that made all of these amazing humans stand out even when faced with adversity.

Through the process of this book Djemilah discovered what she calls "the secret to overcoming obstacles and Becoming the Big Me." The greatest secret is the steps are simple and we have all heard them before.... the greatest secret is in the actual doing.

This book features; Djemilah Birnie the best selling author of Luna's Balloon: A Little Book About the Little Things, Sharon Lechter the author of Think and Grow Rich for Women, co author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, and an ambassador to the Napoleon Hill Foundation, Nick Wingo the founder behind building Grit, Dr. Frances Malone the founder of Malone Pediatrics and the Intuitive Parents Collective, Valerie Fischer the woman behind the trademark of Brain Science Selling, Peter Neilson the "Hybrid Guy", Jenny Emerson licensed therapist, Russell Creed the founder of Invictus Life, Tanya Milano-Snell who is on a mission to break generational trauma, Jennifer Aube best selling author of the book Naked Wealth, Kiki Rae the founder of Quantum Creatrix, Cory and JoJo Rankin founders of RFamilyStrong, Dannah Macolinga-Pedrigal VA and mother, and Kira Birnie the daughter of Djemilah Birnie and kid behind A Kid's Perspective.

To learn more about the book you can visit, www.thegreatconquest.com

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Hi! I am your host Djemilah Birnie the founder of Becoming the Big Me. I have been building businesses online since the age of 17. I am passionate about discovering the "secrets" of our world and what is the true difference maker. Why is it that some succeed and others do not? What is it that allows people to get back up and keep going even in the midst of hardships? What truly is the power of purpose? These are the questions that rattle my mind.

I love to write and have published some books, some of them have even hit some charts 😲 You can check them out here: http://bit.ly/djemilahbooks

Ready to start playing BIG and step into your Big Me potential by harnessing the power of your mind? Then make sure you join the free Rewire challenge to get all the tools you need! https://www.djemilah.com/rewirechallenge

Do you want to fall asleep faster, rest deeper, and release the stress of the day? Then it's time for you to experience your best nights rest with the Dreamland Meditation Pack! Over 200 minutes of bedtime meditations to quiet your mind, connect your mind to your body, and bring you to your sleepy time bliss.https://www.djemilah.com/dreammeditation

Don't forget to check out the little lady's podcast "A Kid's Perspective" where she answers your questions on all of life's most pressing issues, in her eyes, a kid! ‎https://akidsperspective.us/

In addition to my online offerings I am extremely passionate about giving back to the local community while cultivating community growth. I am the organizer and host of the Wimberley Women's Circle https://wimberleywomen.com/ , where we gather monthly to learn and heal from different community leaders.

I am also the visionary behind Wimberley Moonlight Farms, a small family owned farm and nursery located in Wimberley, Texas. This is a journey that will take many years as we continue to develop, follow along at https://wimberleymoonlightfarms.com/

My partner and I have also put together a local directory for our town in the Texas Hill Country in which I have been having so much joy going to all of the local hot spots to photograph! Learn more at https://www.wimberley.info/

Let's Connect! #allthelinks ⬇

Website: www.djemilah.com

Blog : www.becomingthebigme.com

Podcast : www.bigmepodcast.com

Books : http://bit.ly/djemilahbooks

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

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

New Book: Becoming the Big Me: The Great Conquest Book: | A Collection of Empowering Stories | By Djemilah Birnie, Sharon Lechter, and Contributing Authors https://www.thegreatconquest.com/

Transcripts

Unknown Speaker 0:05

Hello divine souls, Jamila, Bernie here with becoming the big me. I'm so excited for this special segment of the becoming the big me podcast. This section of the podcast is dedicated towards sharing the stories of conquest for some incredible individuals. They are also featured in my latest book, becoming the big, the great conquest. In this section of the podcast, we will dive deep into each of their stories and their journeys and their hardships from addiction, PTSD, loss of loved ones and children. This segment of the podcast is dedicated towards sharing their stories and in sharing their journeys not only of the hardships but sharing how they overcame. To learn more about the author's behind the stories that you are going to hear, go to the Great conquest.com. And if you would like to purchase a copy of the great conquest book, you can go to bit.li/greatconquestandwithoutfurtherado. Let's dive into the amazing journeys.

Unknown Speaker 1:34

Hello, hello, welcome back to the becoming the big me podcast. You guys, we have an another amazing guest here today for the great conquest section, Nick Wingo, he has spent the early part of his life as a firefighter paramedic, where he has seen things that most people could never understand. He's the best selling author of the book, building grit, how to fight the fires of PTSD and come out stronger. On the other side, Nick has a passion for people. And he loves to build relationships with the people around him, his family, his wife, and his children are his pride and joy. Nick is a man that wants to see those around him when. And for that reason. He's so passionate about sharing his battles with PTSD so that others can, can benefit from what he's gone through and from the struggles that he's had, and leave a positive ripple effect to others in the community. So thank you, Nick, for coming on. And I'm so excited to have this conversation.

Unknown Speaker 2:41

Thank you so much for the amazing introduction. You know, it's it's always mind blowing to get introduced by people, especially something on a podcast because it's just, it's interesting to see what people think of you and how they perceive you. So I really appreciate it. And I'm really excited to be here. I love it. I

Unknown Speaker 2:58

love it. I'm working on my you know, announcer introduction voice,

Unknown Speaker 3:02

you're doing a good job. Good, a really good job. I like it. I like good job.

Unknown Speaker 3:07

So So I let's just dive right into it. Man, I know you have so much to share with us. And I just want Can we just get to go back and just give a little bit of your backstory so our audience can kind of get the the synopsis of who is Nick Wingo?

Unknown Speaker 3:25

s and there's two or three or:

Unknown Speaker 6:13

I'm a medic now. And I've ran:

Unknown Speaker:

But it was bad. And then, to top it off, my dad died eight weeks after I got pulled off slide. And so here you are, I just got pulled offline. And then my dad dies. And when my dad died, that was when I realized how messed up I was, I was like, Man, my brain is not functioning correctly. So I started crying every day, every day from my dad died. And in fact, I cried every day, from when my dad died on October 31 of 2020, until I got about three days into treatment, where I went to treatment, and that was about February 10. So it months of not knowing how to handle my emotions. And while I was going through all of this, my emotions were getting worse because I was talking about all this stuff that I had shoved down for years, and not talked about and not worked through. So when you start to bring that stuff up, it will wreck you it will turn your world upside down. Because when you haven't talked about it, and now you're going to talk about like all of it, it is not good, it is not fun, nightmares got worse, the anger got worse. And then the suicidal ideations came on. So then I'm dealing with suicidal ideations in December of 2020. And I'm just I'm losing literally was losing my mind, I literally was losing my mind at data time. So I finally threw in the towel, and I said, You know what, I can't do this on my own, I'm not getting enough treatment. And so I decided that I was going to go get treatment. and Maryland at the Center of Excellence center that's designed specifically for firefighters is the only dually certified treatment facility in the United States of America, that's specifically for firefighters to deal with both post traumatic stress and substance abuse, which substance abuse, guess what comes from post traumatic stress, I saw it so many times, I have friends who lost her job throughout my career, on DUIs or whatnot. And I am convinced now that that was their post traumatic stress that was manifesting in their addictions. So I went to treatment. And when I was in treatment, I really was all in like, I was like, okay, you know, this treatments about $100,000 from your that treatment, and I was paying my deductible for it. So I was like, I'm all in, I paid for my own treatment, I paid for my own treatment, because I got denied to get that treatment. And I said, You know what, I don't care, I'm gonna kill myself. If I don't do it, I have to go. So it and it was what I needed. It was good. It was hard, though. You know, I had just, I left my family, my wife with my two kids. And my widowed mother, my dad had just died, I left them at the house by themselves for 35 days while I was in treatment. But I had to, because if I didn't, I wasn't going to be here, either. And when I got out, I had all these revelations, I had all these things that I realized and learned about myself. And I recognize like, I cannot go back to the fire department, because if I do, I'm going to end up in the same hole. And I'm going to end up dead because I my trauma bucket is full, I have so much stuff I need to work through and get through that is going to take me years and years and years and years of work to get to the point where you know, and it's just it's going to be you know, I'm recognized, it will be forever. Like I am going to have stuff I'm going to have to work through and deal with for the rest of my life. But that's okay. It's all right. It's just it is what it is right? Like you say it is what it is. And I recognize that I drew a line in the sand and I did something that was hard. I gave up my career at 37 years old. And the only thing that I ever knew the only thing that I knew who I was I identified myself as a firefighter, so much so that my whole left arm is sleeve with tattoos depicting my firefighter life like it was it's a piece of me. It's a huge piece of who I am. And so to separate from that and to leave that.

Unknown Speaker:

Especially something that was so hard to work for, and was so hard to get and was such an honor to have have to separate yourself from that was devastating, hardest decision I've made in my life. But I recognize that my life was more important than that job. And I realize that my, my purpose is to help people, so they don't end up in the spot that I was in. While we were there, there was a guy I went with. And when we got back, I got a phone call, he had killed himself seven days after we had gotten back from treatment. And I was like, I cannot sit back and not say something about this, because here's the problem. 100 firefighters a year die of what's considered a line of duty death. So they go on a call and they have a heart attack. They have an accident. There's 100. So when that happens, there's 1000s and 1000s of hours that goes into investigations training hours. Why did this happen? How did it happen? The NIOSH reports reports on it are generally the about 120 pages of detailed, like, why did this happen? Here's a sad in a sickening thing about that. Three to 500 firefighters are estimated to be killing themselves every year. Last year alone, there was 195 documented cases. So answer me this question. Excuse My French, but why in the fuck are we spending 1000s of hours on 100 firefighters and little to no hours on the three to 500 It's bullshit, it needs to change, and somebody needs to start talking about it and somebody needs to stand up. And that's why I wrote the book. Because I recognized that if not me, then who? Because it needs to happen. Here's another problem in the United States of America, there are very, very, very little of the states that recognize post traumatic stress as a workman's comp related issue for workers for workman's comp. Why? I don't understand it's wrong. We recognize the veterans get post traumatic stress, we recognize they go to war, they come back to it posttraumatic stress, I am telling you right now, the stuff I have seen, it is bad. The amount of death I have seen, it is bad, losing friends, it is bad. It is difficult, and it is not easy to maneuver through. And I learned I'm not the only one going through this stuff. I'm not the only one. I'm just the one that was willing to stand up and speak my mind. There's a lot of people that are not willing to speak their mind. And you want to know why. Because you lose your job. Because here I am, I'm speaking my mind. I'm speaking who I am. And guess what, I'm no longer a firefighter. So my fear was that if I said something that I would not be a firefighter anymore, and here we are. There's a problem there. There's an issue. Why is it that we can't maneuver through, we can work we can look at physical fitness and all the things yearly for firefighters. But we don't look at our minds. There's no yearly evaluations for mental health, there's nothing there. And then the help that you are supposed to be able to have access to is bullshit. And it does not help you. That's just the facts. And it's a hard fact. And it's a hard truth to accept. But I am not willing, all 230 pound tattooed bald head bearded man tummy is not willing to shut my mouth. And if anybody wants to get my way, I will run them over. Because I'm serious. I am on a mission to make sure number one that every state in the United States of America recognizes posttraumatic stress for first responders as a workman's comp related issue. And number two, that no first responders should ever have to pay for their mental health out of their pocket. It's wrong. And people need to know about it. And people need to understand what is really going on. Because guess what, these are the people that are coming into your world when you need them the most. When you call 911, you have had the worst day of your life, it is the worst that you have had. And you are in a dire situation where you have no other choice but to call for help. And we're the ones that show up on a consistent basis. That's just the truth. So where is our help? When are we going to start helping the people that help other people? I don't understand. And that's why I'm doing what I'm

Unknown Speaker:

doing. Man that is just so incredible. And you're right, I have it. I've never heard anyone else talking about this. And like this book, this book right here, like it shows how passionate you are about being a firefighter and how passionate you are about spreading that message because you went for 17 years you said it without without speaking of the struggle that you are going through. And how many of your colleagues are doing the same all of them pretty much right? Oh, well, seven

Unknown Speaker:

out of 10 firefighters walk around with undiagnosed spells hermetic stress. So it widely relates to number one, one of the big things is what age did you come into the fire service, because we know that frontal lobe development happens around the age of 26. So if you come into another job, you and childhood trauma, so childhood trauma and age when it comes to the fire service, so if you come in at a young age before the age of 26, you don't have frontal lobe development, you're much more likely to end up with post traumatic stress. And if you have childhood trauma, you're much more likely to end up with post traumatic stress. So not everyone will end up with post traumatic stress, and they will be able to maneuver through it. I'm taking a speaking on the vast majority, seven out of 10 is disturbing. That is a problem. If we say 70% If we go into a room and ruin 10 people, and we take out three, that I'll have it another seven do like and you want these people to be running emergency calls, and nobody's helping them like, man, no wonder people lose their minds and kill themselves. I know because I went through it.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, no one, no one is helping them because they can't even ask for help.

Unknown Speaker:

It like, yeah. And, and here's the other problem people don't understand. Like, I mean, I'm sure that you're an amazing person, I'm sure that you I can tell that you're passionate and that you are, you're bubbly and you're happy and you have joy and peace inside of you. And you're you're giving a great message out, I can feel that energy from you. But here's the problem is that how are you going to help me through my stuff, if you don't understand what I'm going through? Right? So you can be the best counselor in the room room, you could be the best counselor in the world and have the best intent and be a great person. But if you don't understand post traumatic stress when it relates to firefighters, or first responders, like get out of here, what do you what you are not equipped to talk to me? I can't tell you how many counselors I could see it in their eyes. I'm telling them stuff. And I can see that I'm causing them trauma, as I'm telling them about my trauma, right? And then you're gonna tell me how to process it and deal with it like, no, no, you're not. And I, I can't tell you how many times I've heard it from other people. I am in. I've been around like, I'm a crazy guy. I've been through a lot of crazy houses. And a lot of like, I've been through a lot of counseling and stuff. I mean, choking, you know, but what I'm saying is I've been a lot around, a lot of people are going through this. It's all the same story. It is all the same story. It's the same story over and over and over and over again. Oh, I had a counselor, one guy. He told me that his counselor told him to go sit in his closet and read think and say Tinkerbell and read Disney books when he was having having post traumatic stress episodes. And I'm like, What? Are you kidding me? Like, that's your advice. If you lost your damn mind, like, come on, you know, me to the stories I've had. It's just mind boggling. It is mind boggling. The stories I've heard from people. You'd be shocked.

Unknown Speaker:

I want to hear I want to hear from you. What are some of the things that have helped you and are helping you when you find yourselves in triggering moments? Because I know that my partner struggles with post traumatic stress as well. And some times I don't know how to help. So from your perspective, how does that?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, absolutely. So for me, the big things are routines. So, you know, what am I one of my values. So my values is gratitude, resilience, intuition and tenacity. I get a little bit more deep than that. But my first one, have gratitude every day. So when I wake up, the first thing I do is I look at my wife, I'm grateful for her or might remind myself how grateful I am for the house that I'm in for the bed that I have for my kids. And then I get right into right into the Bible. So I go right in and I read one chapter from the Bible to my wife. It just reminds me who I am as an individual, and where I've rooted myself. Then I get out of bed, and I go and I either go to my walk, outdoor walk or sit in the sauna. Those two will happen every morning. It doesn't matter which way but they do need to happen. From there. There'll be a cold shower, I only shower in cold water period. I do not take hot showers. Period. When I step into the shower, it is cold. Why? Because it grounds me. And when you get in a cold shower, guess what you're thinking about? That cold shower, you're not thinking about anything else, like it completely takes you away from anything else. You're just thinking about how cold you are. Right? So I'm learning to do grounding techniques like that in the morning. So the morning routine is crucial. It's super important. You listen to anybody who's successful, they have morning routines, it's no different with posttraumatic stress, you have got to have morning routines. Because routines, the monotony of it the way that you just do things over and over the same way, it keeps you from falling into the trap of getting into a trigger or something like that. Number two, what do I do with my day, I keep myself busy, I have to be doing things. I cannot that I went through a phase where I was laying in bed non stop, that is a dangerous place to be. So what does that look like? That means like, I fill my day with workouts, I own a teardrop rental business. I do mobile IVs. I'm pushing my book, I'm doing podcasts. I'm doing my own podcast. So I'm constantly pushing myself outside my comfort zone to do things that make me a little uncomfortable. Because it just reminds me who I am as an individual and helps me to keep pushing forward. The other thing, workouts, workouts are so important. Like there is study after study after study after study after study that shows when you work out, you release all the endorphins and you get rid of the anger and you just you're in such a better state. When you're working out on a regular basis. It's just the facts. If you don't like it, I'm sorry. Suck it up and get your ass in the gym. It's just the way it is. Then the other thing is like one of the other ones is meditation and yoga. Those are two huge pieces. I know it sounds hippie and you're like 230 pound dude. Bald tattooed dude with beer, doing yoga meditation, like Yeah, I'm all in. I'm all about I am all hippie all up in it. Like doing yoga. I mean, me too. But obviously. Well, yeah, but I'm not the typical type to be doing that type of stuff. Like, somebody's not gonna look at me and be like, Yeah, that guy meditates. Not so hard. But yeah, it's those are super important there. I've learned how important they are, and how much they helped me like, I the meditation, like doing the doing like chakra clearings, for me, has been huge. Because I part of that is learning, like how to feel your emotions, like how to actually feel where you're feeling your emotion. And I know that, like, that's one of the things where I was going in my whole life. Like, I don't want to feel my emotions. Motions are bullshit, like I am out on that. But once I've learned to like, okay, like, I'm getting mad, and I can feel it in my head, my head sort of the throb and I have this little vein that like starts to pop out or, you know, feeling I'm sad, I can feel it on my chest, like, understand, like, Oh, my chest is getting heavy now. Oh, man. So now I'm starting to recognize when I start to feel those things in my body, where I'm feeling that I know, like, okay, there comes a motion. And I know how to process it better, right? Like, I know, I understand it better understand what it is, how I'm gonna feel and how to work through it. I think it's,

Unknown Speaker:

I love that. I love that you bring that up. Because I think that that's something that everyone needs to spend some conscious time feeling how their emotions feel in our body, because there's, there's this, there's this highway between our bodies, actions and our emotions. And when we can understand how our, our emotions affect our body, we can change our body, and it'll have the actual effect of change our emotions, and as well. So I love that you brought that up, because that is something that I nerd out on.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, it's, it's, it's crazy. It's wild. In fact, I want to make up some now that you kind of triggered me to think about it was when I was when I first went to treatment. I was just starting to get treatment. The doctor looked at me and she said, Hey, do you get sick every time you go on vacation? And I was like, Yeah. And she goes, is it like, you know, like, one one day or two days in your vacation? You get some type of illness? When you when you stop? Yeah. How do you know that? She was watching posttraumatic stress manifesting itself. She goes, what's happened is that you have so much inflammation in your body. You're so tense, and you're so stressed out, that when you stop and stop moving, all that inflammation releases, and it causes you to get illness. And I was like, what I was like mind blown, because I was like, how does this lady know that I get sick every time I go on vacation. So if you're listening to this, and every time you go on vacation, you get sick, you probably got something going on. Well, you might want to think about like, you might want to look into that you might want to you know stop being like I just get sick. It's just it's just a thing. Well, there's something behind it. There's some reason why it's happening. Like our bodies are amazing. Our bodies are amazing temples and they can heal themselves and they can do all these things. It is wild If you really lean in and start to figure out, like, how and what you have going on and where your issues are, it's, it's crazy. It's super crazy.

Unknown Speaker:

I mean, it really is. So I really want to know, when you were actually still working as a firefighter, and and having to face these things day after day. How did like, how did you keep going? Like, how did you keep showing up?

Unknown Speaker:

You know, it's just, you just like, there's no other choice, right? When you when you're when you're there, it's like, that's my job of how I provide for my family, right? So you go there, and it's like, Hey, this is how I provide for my family. And it just becomes such a normal thing for you. That like the old normal is just not normal. I in fact, it gets to the point where you are more comfortable in stressful situations than you are at home. So I went from where I could not function at home with my kids, or anything like that. But when I get to work, it was like normal for me. It was like no problem. You know, I just clockwork I can do it. Now was I sad? There was stuff that for sure made me sad. But I trained myself really good how to cover that shit up. I didn't want to be to know like, because if you show it, you're weak, and you can't do the job. Right? And that's kind of what you're that's kind of what you're taught. And it's you know, it's getting better and whatever. But it's still like, there are people that will argue with you and tell you like, oh, the fire service is getting better. It's until you bullshit like No, it's not it. There's some stuff that there's more access to stop stuffs getting talked about more and more and more. But we still have those three or 500. They're committing suicide. I just did a podcast with a guy who's a Orlando firefighter. They have had six recently committed suicide. Like this is something that is happening, I would argue probably worldwide. It's probably happening worldwide anywhere. There's fire department anytime, anyplace they are responding to emergency calls like that. I guarantee you it's happening.

Unknown Speaker:

And no, I mean, I've never like no one thinks about about any of that we look at firefighters like we look at firefighters like are the heroes are going around on the trucks that all the kids look up to. But that's all that really comes to my mind that I've been programmed to think when I think firefighter I don't actually think of what it is that y'all are doing every single day.

Unknown Speaker:

For sure. You know what the first thing people think that we do is they think we fight fires. Fire, you know, much fire we fight. It's like, I mean, it's like the run the actual fire runs. In the average year, the Department I was working out was like 50 A year 50 A year. And I can tell you right now there are, there's a million firefighters in the United States of America, about 350,000 of them are actually full time firefighters, the other are volunteer firefighters. But of those, I can guarantee you, there are a ton that have never even been inside our fire. Like, just sit down and take that in for a second. Firefighters. There's lots of them that have not bought fires. It is not what we do. Is it something that we do? Yes, but it is not the majority. But we do what the majority of what we do is respond to medical emergency calls where somebody has been injured. That is what we do 70% of the time. That's what we do. And then stupid stuff. You know, water, you know, water earwax. And, you know kittens in the tree. It happens. It's stupid. kids cry, go up and get the damn cats they attached to you. But you've never seen a dead cat. It's CAT skeleton and tree. Right. Like, they'll come out eventually. But you know, that's that's just that's just the reality what we do we run medical costs. That's what we do as firefighters for sure.

Unknown Speaker:

Wow. Yeah. I mean, that's just I can't even believe that I'm like having this realization but it's just that it's so not talked about is not anything that you see when you're getting taught about the careers just like you kind of night naively went into the job thinking, Oh, I'm just gonna I'm going to be a hero. And not fully understanding what that actually met. What what that entail?

Unknown Speaker:

And that's why this is so important for me to stand up and say something like I have to I can't sit back anymore and allow for nobody to talk about this. Because so many people when I talked to him, they're like, I had no idea. I'm like, Yeah, I know. That's why it needs to be talked about so many news talk about it because people are dying. Like it's a real problem. What's our first steps? Our first step is making sure like I would say my goal is to make sure that every state in the United States of America recognize post traumatic stress as workman's comp related issue. Number two, it's important that no firefighter or first responder and general police officer paramedic, anybody who's a first responder pays for their medical, their mental health treatment, there needs to be more access to it, there's got to be more access to it. And then once Sophie, once the government recognizes that it says it's a problem, and they say, like, Oh, hey, this is an issue, then we need to push it into the fire stations across America, it there has got to be mandatory mental evaluations yearly. And guess what guys are gonna be pissed off that I'm saying this, and I do not give a shit what they think about me or what they have to say, because I almost killed myself. And I'm telling you right now, if you're listening to this, and you're a firefighter, you better man up, or woman up, or whatever you want to say, because there's brothers and sisters, and here's the deal, you may not like it. But the reality is, is you probably have stuff you need to talk about, and you need to work through and it's gonna save your life. Because I can tell you, for me, it almost took mine. And so you can sit there and say, I'm fine. I'm okay. Um, but you know, what, if you're not sleeping, that's not just part of the job. If you're sad, if you're mad, if you can't handle yourself in your home front, if you're drinking uncontrollably, you have something wrong, you better lean into it and get it fixed now, because number one, you're going to lose your job, you're gonna hurt somebody, you're gonna hurt yourself, or you're gonna kill yourself. That's just the facts.

Unknown Speaker:

How do we begin to make the government do this change? Like, how do we actually make legislative change? What are the steps there?

Unknown Speaker:

Open your mouth? Speak loud. Yeah, I mean, you do what I'm doing. Speak loud, and make sure that people hear me. You know, I, you know, I'm getting my book as many hands as I can government officials, I want them to know, I want them to see, I want them to see that this is what's going on. This is what the truth is, it's gonna take work. But you know, I'm resilient. And I have wide shoulders, and I'm ready to bear it. Like, a lot of people are gonna judge me and then be mad at me, a lot of people are gonna say that it's bullshit. And a lot of people are gonna say that it's wrong. There's not truth behind it. I really don't care. Because it's not about me, it's about everybody else about the firefighters who don't have a voice. It's about the ones that are suffering in silence.

Unknown Speaker:

How How has you facing, facing the reality that you do have PTSD, and actually beginning to do the work on on handling your trauma? How has that affected your family? Oh, man,

Unknown Speaker:

it was rough. Like, you know, I almost lost my marriage. My child is on medication. Now he's put five holes in a wall, he's ripped the door off the handles. He's got depression, he's got sleep issues. You know, it's it's done a number on my family. That's the truth. That's a hard truth. Like, hey, my kid is on antidepressants. My kid is punching holes in the wall. My kid can't sleep. Why? A lot of it is because of me leaving in 34 for 35 days, and feeling abandoned. That's my truth. That's my hard truth. You know, but it's who I am. It's part of me. And it is what it is. And I'll work through it. And so that's the thing right now that I'm struggling to work through the most is there are so many things that happened because of this. Because I stood up and said, like, Hey, I'm having a problem. But here's the deal. If I would have done that, I would have just killed myself, right. So like, if I wouldn't end up in the position that I was if I if I didn't go get the help if I didn't just like finally throw in the towel and say I can't do it anymore. I just would have been another statistic. I wouldn't have been another number.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah. Oh, man. And that aid like thank you for being so brave to open your mouth. Like, because I know that there's a lot on the line. I mean, it you showed that what you lost your job because you opened your mouth. And, and that sounds like that's so admirable, like so many people can't, can't do that. So thank you, because at you opening your voice paves the pathway and gives permission for other people to do the same thing, which I know is the entire reason why you know, you, you're doing everything that you're doing. Can you tell us a little bit about this book?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, so that book has got my heart and soul in it. I went through that book 29 Times front, but from cover to cover before I released it. I there's some there's a story about a female firefighter in there. I called and spoke to her and, like got the story. I went back I wrote it, I rewrote it. I call her and read it to her and she was like, Thank you for being a voice that I couldn't be. I wrote the book. I gave it to my wife. She hated it. I rewrote it. I rewrote it, I rewrote it and I finally was like okay, just let me go through this. Intel until it's done, and then I'll give it to you. And she read it when it was the final product. And she was she was happy with it. You know, cuz I share her story in there, I share her trauma there, she was molested by her father as a child. And that's something that was huge for me, because I hate that man. But part of my journey was learning how to forgive him and move on with my life. Because that was another piece of all my bitterness and anger. So I had all this other stuff on top of just the bush medic stress, like, I had all these other things that were factors for sure. You know, the majority factor was the posttraumatic stress, for sure. But there were other pieces of me that I really needed to fix. So that I could step in, in the man that I need to be. Right. And, you know, the funny thing is, and the interesting thing is, I know what's going to come and a lot of people are gonna say, well, there's no way I push back stress, you're you the way you speak, the way that you speak your mind, the way that you think the way that you do things is so much different. Yeah, I know. Because I'm different. I'm not like you. I'm not like everybody else. I'm very different. And I I have boundaries in my boundary is that I'm not going back to the fire department. Because guess what's going to happen to me, I'm going to lose my sharpness, I'm going to lose my ability to process through it. And I'm going to end up in a bad spot. Because the reality is, is I still have bad days, I still have bad days, for sure. That are hard.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah. And I mean, I like I struggled. I struggled to like people don't think that. Yeah, cuz we talked about it earlier. Now I have a bubbly personality. And I'm very happy. And everything that you see on social media is going to be like woo a certain type of way. The other day, we had people over and someone turned on their flashlight. And it gave me a complete, like flashback, I had to run away into the room. And like was having a whole situation just because I would turn on the flashlight. And I thought they were shining it at me. Like, you know, and so I really appreciate and value us stepping up and saying like, hey, look, this, I am showing up on podcast, I am a Amazon Best Selling Author. And you know, I have gone through all of this. And guess what? I still I still have my days, I still have, you know, these times where where I struggle? Did you ever did you ever think that you would write a book?

Unknown Speaker:

No, not a chance. I mean, my wife, but I thought there's something we have to go back to on a regular basis. So when I was in a counseling session, when I was at the center of Maryland, I was in an EMDR session, and one of my refreshed frames was that I'm a pretty cool fucking guy. And I have to constantly go back to that. And I have to tell myself, like, Okay, I'm a pretty cool fucking guy. Because 18 year old me would have been looking up to me, like, that's a pretty cool fucking guy like I do. It's pretty dope, you know, like, I'm way fitter and leaner than I ever was, as a young man, I, I have written a book, you know, I have a beautiful wife that I love. I have an amazing house, I have great cars, like I have all these things that I would have never imagined that I could have. And I'm so grateful for them. And I know that God is gonna bless me with so much more, because I'm going to bless other people as much as possible. And one thing I'm learning is, the more that you bless other people, the more you will be blessed. So stop thinking about yourself, stop worrying about yourself and start thinking about other people. And it's amazing how people will pour back into you. Like if, you know, if I show up, and I show you that if I if I like I talked about my birth book, if I show you that I hear you and I see you and I provide a safe environment and safe environment for you. You're going to want to be my friend, and you're going to want to help me right like, and that's just what I do. I just make a safe environment. And I sit there and I see people and I hear them for who they are right where they are and accept them. It's amazing how it's just given back to you, right? I don't make it about me. It's not about me. This book is not about me. I you know, I carry around a phone with us that phone number for the book is in the back of that book. You know what I just got? Just a couple weeks ago, my first phone calls back to that call to that phone. And I bought that phone with that phone number. And I said the reason I'm buying this is because people are going to call and I went weeks with nobody calling that phone, but guess what it's happened. And it's gonna happen more and it's going to happen more. It's going to happen more. And I believe that at some point, I'm going to have to give that phone to somebody right there. There it is. 720-472-4400 Call me anytime. Like and that's legit. That's who I am. I have a phone. I may not answer it. But I will either text message you back or if you have something that's a dire need, I will get back to you or someone will get back to you. It's just who I am as an individual. I'm not willing to compromise on that. I'm not willing to compromise on that.

Unknown Speaker:

Absolutely incredible Nick. Wow, this conversation has just been So awesome. I've been seeing you online and I've been seeing you know, all of the posts about just talking about mental health. And that's really what what drew me to you, I had no idea, the value and the stories that you would have to share his I just I love he I love hearing about people who have, you know, struggle because guess what we are living a human experience and part of the human experience is pain. And every single one of us goes through pain in our different ways. Some of us it's it's different but But what Nick is showing us is that even through some of the most horrendous pain, even through some of the most horrendous sites and things that he had to deal with, and things like sad to see, he's showing us that you can still take that by the horns and use it for something good. He's using that pain, his struggle to help other people to help uplift other people. And that's what you know, that's what the becoming the big me podcast is all about. That's what we are about, we are about choosing to step into your greater potential each and every day. And Nick, we go, you definitely exemplify that. And, and I really appreciate you for taking the time to talk with us today. Can you just give everyone like, what are you doing right now?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, so I am on a mission to get my book as many hands as possible. Right now. I'm currently starting 501 C three, that 501 C three will be to cover the costs, firefighters deductibles. So that's where I'm going to get back. And my biggest goal right now is just to get my message out to as many people as I can, so that I can get what I need to get and that those like I said the big things are making sure that every state in the United States of America recognizes posttraumatic stress, and that no firefighter first responder pays for their mental health. And that will happen, that will happen, I will make sure that that will happen.

Unknown Speaker:

Awesome. I love that. And how can how can people connect with you?

Unknown Speaker:

Oh, yeah. So we're actually in the process of getting a website up. So that'd be building grit.co. Or Nick wingo.com. And then the, my Instagram is at building underscore grits. And then Facebook is grit wins. So I'm pretty easy to appear easy to find. Or you can just call me 720472400.

Unknown Speaker:

I said, Yeah, we're working on getting that website up. So y'all can just type in his name into the Google bar and find him. But as always, you guys, I will leave all of the links in the description down below. So if you want to be lazy, don't worry, I already did the work for you. Go ahead and give me the follow up, hit and share his message, man, share this message tag someone who needs to hear this message and let people know what's going on with our first responders and our firefighters because this is so important. We need to support them. We need to show up for them. So let people know what's going on. And support Nick as well. Thank you guys. Until next time, bye.

Unknown Speaker:

Thank you so much. I appreciate you.

Unknown Speaker:

Thank you so much for tuning in to today's episode of The becoming the big me podcast. I know that you found value in hearing this story today. And I would love if you could show your support by going and grabbing a copy of our book and you can do so by going to bit.li/greatconquestyoucanalsogotowww.thegreatconquest.comformoreinformationabouteachoftheindividualsinvolvedinthisprocessthanksagainfortuningin

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