Author of the memoir Bulletproof, Justin Peck, bravely shares with us the story of how he almost ended his life and the saving grace that woke him out of his depressive state. As someone who has gone through a lot battling with his inner demons, he embodies a person who has truly become bulletproof. Regarding his bipolar disorder as a blessing, it takes someone who has learned to appreciate his sense of being different to find his own voice, which he now uses to inspire many of those who are struggling with their inner selves. Justin opens up his story and breaks down the stigma around mental health for people to seek help and find their way out of their darkness.
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Justin Peck: The Inspiring Story Of Becoming Bulletproof
I have with me Justin Peck. He is an off-road driver for the Lucas Oil Racing Series. He has been living with bipolar disorder, battling addiction and now is the author of Bulletproof and its memoir. As a child, he knew he was different. He was extremely emotional, highly sensitive, overly thrill-seeking, and in many cases, death-defying. He tells the true story of a man who learned to rethink the life he wanted to end, master his inner dialogue, and create the mindset that has made him truly bulletproof.
Let me share why I’ve asked him to come. I’ve been a professional racecar driver racing Formula Dodge car, so I’m related to the racing. I also do relate to the bipolar disorder. I have a sister who has a bipolar disorder. I also know many friends and family members who have battled addiction for a long time. I also know with so many of my clients that one of the biggest difficulties they have in achieving what they want in their life is the difficulties they have with the exact words that I also use inner dialogues. I’m excited when I heard about him and I heard about his book. I said, “I got to have you in Heartrepreneur Radio.” Welcome, Justin.
How are you?
I am awesome. I’m truly delighted to have you. Your story’s intriguing and fascinating. I want to honor you for being so transparent and sharing your story because it’s serving so many people.
Thank you so very much. That does mean a lot to me.
Give us some of the high points and the low points so that we can be on the journey with you.
The journey began years ago. It was a typical midweek morning. I was getting ready for work. I got dressed, went over and kissed my wife goodbye. I went upstairs and kissed the children goodbye. Then I went outside, threw the dog at the back of the truck and we went to work like I had done for so many years before that. On this particular day, I was feeling a little bit more down, a little bit more of the depressive state than normal. I found myself at the top of the canyon that I had been to quite a few times in the past. It was then I parked on top of the canyon and looking over at the valley below watching my dog running around. I remembered thinking, “Look at all these people down there, all these families, all these couples and all these different types of social aspect groups.” I realized that I didn’t fit in with any of them.
At one brief irrational thought moment, I reached over, grabbed the pistol that was sitting in my center console, loaded it, put it into my head and I pulled the trigger. That was an experience. I’m sitting here now, so the gun didn’t go off by any means. The crazy thing about it is that I was upset with myself thinking, “How in the world could I screw this up?” I unchambered the bullet and the bullet flipped out of the gun. It landed on my lap, I picked it up and I could see where the firing pin had hit the bullet. Out of 10,000 or 20,000 rounds that I’ve shot through that gun, that is the only bullet that never went off. It so happened to be the one that was pointed next to my head.We all have a defining purpose. Click To Tweet
Hence, the name Bulletproof. What did you do then when you realized this had just occurred? What did you do at that moment?
The big thing that I realized at that moment was the adrenaline that was surging through my veins. It immediately took me out of this depressive state and put me into a manic elation state. Having gone through that emotion, I know people don’t understand this but it was probably one of the most incredible feelings I’ve ever felt in my life. What I ended up doing is I understood that there’s a defining purpose and I knew that that feeling wasn’t going to last very long.
I started driving back down the canyon and then I called my doctor at that time. We discussed the events that happened, and he asked me to come down to his office. We sat and talked for a bit, then I went on a three-month journey of trying to figure out what was going on in my head. A lot of medication, a lot of ups, a lot of downs, at the end of the day, I got a piece of paper that said, “Justin Peck is a Class-I Bipolar Disorder,” which is fine. For me, I don’t think of it as a disorder anymore. I’ve always called it a mental blessing because without the disorder, without having those struggles, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. There’s no way.
I love how you’ve got that, you’ve turned that around and you’ve seen that whatever’s written down as a disorder or a diagnosis or whatever that is, it’s just part of our journey and that’s all that it is. It certainly doesn’t change and limit us in any way. How did you move forward and what made you write the book?Life is really short and we're only here for a certain amount of time. Click To Tweet
Moving forward, it did take probably six to nine months before we could tune in to medication where I was balanced out. The word balance, I typically don’t use that word because what is balanced is my higher low type thing. My youngest brother, three days before his 21st birthday, overdosed on opiates and died. That sucked me into a little bit of a mindset that life is short and we’re only here for a certain amount of time. I owed it to my children to write a legacy about their dad and so that’s how this whole book started. It was just a written account of what I was feeling at the age that I was. Then, when they’ll be at my age, they could read it and maybe understand it a little bit better. We started with one chapter and eight years later ended up with 38, then handed it to someone who said that it was one of the most incredible stories they’ve ever read, and so here I am now. It’s an interesting path.
I believe this is going to help a lot of people. Were there signs like along the way that somebody could have noticed, or you could have noticed that might’ve even prevented you from firing that gun?
There were always signs, but for me, knowing the disorder was in play at that time, it reflected a lot back onto my earlier life. I was interested in understanding how long I’ve had it and how long my mind had been a little goofy and so it went back. I can remember the ages of seven and eight years old of having weird thoughts, thoughts that young of a child doesn’t have. Having it started way back then, what I understood and realized at a very young age is that if you opened your mouth, if you talked about it, you’re going to get beat up at school. I became a master of hiding all emotions and I was severely bullied, severely picked on all through high school, junior high and elementary school.
I was a weird kid and I get that. I’m totally fine with that because I’m not a weird kid anymore. It took me a long time to finally understand that I have a voice in this whole thing. Without my voice, without me having my tribe of people, my little group of people that love me more than anything, if I don’t convey to them with what’s going through my mind and how I’m feeling on a day-to-day basis, there’s no reason why they would even think anything is wrong. When I realized to have that voice and to be able to talk about it, that’s where a lot of the help came into play. That’s why I’m still kicking around now because I do have that support group. I do have a few close people like my mother and my ex-wife of all things, she’s one of my best friends and these people know me.
I love what you said about finding your voice and I also appreciate that you shared the sense of being different. I certainly know so many different people who had been bullied in many different aspects as they were growing up, who were different, who were unique or unusual. There’s all of this that goes on. It’s difficult when you’re a kid too. What is the thing that you want to do on the planet now? What’s your mission? What’s your legacy? I feel like there’s so much that you have to offer people. What are you about these days?
It’s racecar stuff. Mostly when I put my helmet on it’s the drug for me. I know that you understand once the helmet goes on, the chaos of the world stops and you’re super focused. There’s always that part of my life and I race quite a bit. However, life has changed for me over the last 365 days. My main focus in life now is to be that person in 40 years from now, to have a conference or have someone say, “40 years ago there was this guy, his name was Justin Peck. He was the guy who brought mental health into the limelight where it was not such a stigma.” I want to be able to sacrifice my mental state and my mental wellbeing for others so those people don’t find themselves at the top of the canyon with a gun in their hand. That’s all I want. I want to help, and I want to change the world in my way. I don’t want to change it in a small way. I want to change the entire world.
I experienced some family members who have attempted suicide and so far, he had not succeeded. Every day I wonder, “Are they going to at some point?” There’s such a stigma around whatever their diagnoses are and “mental issues.” People don’t talk about these things, so the fact that you’re bringing it to the forefront, the fact that you’re bringing this out in the open through your book, it’s amazing. It opens up the inner dialogue. It can also open up that outer dialogue and that support like you have from the people who love you in your life. What you’re doing, Justin, is valuable. How can folks who are resonating with any part of your message get the book? How can they connect with you? How can they get to interact with you?
The book is available on my website, JustinPeck.com. I also write blogs regarding mental wellness and mental wellbeing, why we do what we do sometimes. We do have a blog and information there. The book is also at Amazon. We hit the Amazon bestseller list. It was one of those high five moments. I’m all over social media.
I’m going to encourage my audience to connect. I’m going to suggest that you do get a copy of the book Bulletproof and pay attention to the show and think of who in your life needed to hear Justin’s message because it’s powerful. It’s a message that I believe can be shared. This is an episode I’d love to see you share on social media and I’d love to see you tell your friends and family about. I learned a lot. I expanded my thinking and I’m going to grab a copy of the book myself. Thank you so much for joining me.
Thank you for the opportunity.
To my audience, don’t forget to tune in each week. Every week, I have more phenomenal people like Justin Peck. Make sure that you subscribe to the show on iTunes. In that way, you won’t miss any episodes. Leave us some comments on the shows. We’d love your five-star reviews. We love when you share the show and this episode is worth sharing. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.
About Justin Peck
As an entrepreneur, off-road racer, public speaker, author, and mental health advocate, my goal is use my own life experiences and what I have learned from my hardships to provide a light for those struggling with their own difficulties in life. By sending the message that living with mental health is not something to be ashamed of or cover up, but rather to embrace and overcome, I hope to de-stigmatize the image and reality that encompasses so many people. If just one life is saved by my message, it will have been worth it.
“I hope that in sharing my story, I can inspire you to see the world in a more positive light, and I believe that if you and I both show a little more tolerance to those around us — who may be enduring unseen struggles we can’t even fathom — our lives will be so much richer.”