Today I’m speaking with Rick from  Fifty_11 media. Rick is a former paramedic turned graphic artist. He founded 50 11 after his retirement from the EMS world. Fifty_11’s mission statement is as follows….

“Fifty_11 is a brand that stands up and stands out for those who suffer from PTSD every day. We see you and we’re here to let you know, you are not alone. Our goal is to bring the conversations about PTSD to the light and show that you don’t have to suffer in silence. Too many of us are lost because of the stigma and shame that society is attached to mental health in this country. And it’s time to end it. ……”


Stack: Welcome to episode 53 of the things we all carry today. I’m speaking with Rick from 50 11 media. Rick is a former paramedic turned graphic artist. He founded 50 11 after his retirement from the EMS world. 50 Eleven’s mission statement is as follows.

50 11 is a brand that stands up and stands out for those who suffer from PTSD every day. We see you and we’re here to let you know, you are not alone. Our goal is to bring the conversations about PTSD to the light and show that you don’t have to suffer in silence. Too many of us are lost because of the stigma and shame that society is attached to mental health in this country. And it’s time to end it.

50 11 is meant to be more than a brand or a cool design. It’s meant to help start hard conversations and build a community around supporting each other. Being the example of the world needs. 50 11 is for everyone. If you live through something traumatic than we are for you, I’ve heard too many times. I can’t have PTSD. I was never in the military, which is not true. PTSD can and does affect anyone.

PTSD knows no age, sex, race, or profession. And it’s time we talked about it.

A quick reminder to help us build a community which not only recognizes, but support each other through the struggles and recovery. Reach out through Instagram at the things we all carry. Or email my story@thethingsweallcarry.com offer support and share your story. Please remember to leave a review on iTunes and give a shout out to any first responder, you know, love or care about y’all enjoy the show.

Welcome to the show, Rick.

Rick: Hey lemme just, I just wanna start off by saying thank you so much for having me.

I was referenced, I was told to send you my story and I’m glad that I did, and thank you for having

Stack: me. Oh, thanks for reaching out. And we spoke the, I don’t know, what was it about a week ago now when we spoke and I got the, the bare bones version of your story. And so what I’m gonna do is just give you your chance to expand on that for the audience.

So if you want to tell us a little bit about where you are now and where do we find you today and what was childhood like for. .

Rick: So just a little bit about me. Currently I was a re, I’m a retired paramedic. I retired in 2019. After breaking both of my legs, as well as ruptured both of my MCLs. And with that, it just never, it never healed back to a place where I felt comfortable, like I would be able to fully do the job. So I didn’t, I felt like I, there, there was a possibility that I had limitations that could ultimately result in somebody.

because of those limitations. So I made, I took it upon myself to, to not return to e m s after that, which was a really hard decision, but it was one that I was really grateful for because it has led to just an unimaginable quality of life for me.

Stack: Where

Rick: did you grow up?

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, but I’ve lived quite a few different places. But growing up I was diagnosed with ADHD in 1991. and at that time it was basically like you have a D H D, just put ’em with the slow kids, .

Stack: So what, they just didn’t know what to do with you?

Yeah. They just didn’t, and they didn’t have the resources to handle that.

Rick: Yeah and I, it was. If I’m understanding, it was very early on cuz it was my, I think it was my first grade teacher. I went to a Catholic school for the first couple of years of school and she had said something to my mom and my mom went out and just researched it and was like, oh my God.

Absolutely got me into therapy. Got me on medication. But all of those components didn’t matter when it came to. How I was being taught or how I was being forced to learn so hold on.

Stack: So what did they ultimately you say you, you ended up in, as you said, quote unquote slow class. So how does that resolve itself? Do you stay there or do they find a way to, to deal with what you brought to the table and was it through medication?

Was it through some sort of therapies? What was it?

Rick: So I, like I said, I went to counseling and that was more so it was initiated through me having adhd, but then it was continued on due to different events that I experienced throughout life. Just aside from the d h D, my home life, my father was, also mentally ill, and this is a lot of things that I didn’t come to the understanding of until here recently, in the past two years after, digging into who I was and why I was that way.

I can see the similarities between me and my father now without feeling that anxiety or that fear of turning into him because. His mother passed away when I was four, so 1990, and he just was off the rails from then on and took me and my mom along the way because he was never, he never took care of himself.

He always had to have somebody else take care of him and that. Where like he had a family before he met my mother, and he started one after my mother was, had left him because she had ended up leaving him. I wanna say probably in 1994 after I had approached her and was like, Hey, why are you still, with my father, and then as soon as she was like, oh, you don’t.

This is not something you want. She was like, God, divorce him. But that didn’t get rid of him because he knew how to work us. He knew what to say, what to do to trigger us to get his way or to give into him. So he was very manipulative in that. For example, He would he would tell me like, he, like I would see him and he’d be I’m dying of a terminal illness, this, that, or the other, but it was just a lie to gain my sympathy. So I would put my guard down and forgive him for whatever he perceived as the last thing that. He had done against me or whatever, and that was my entire life, pretty much with like he would lie about what we were gonna go do and then come to find out we’re, we’re committing a crime.

Like he’s taking me to go, I’m eight years old and he’s taking me to go steal a boat at 11 o’clock with his pregnant girlfriend. Like saying it out loud. Sounds absolutely insane, but it’s, that’s my reality. That’s something that, that’s a story that I have that I can, that I live through.

Not to mention the fact that. due to his mental illness and not seeking, or I don’t even know if there was appropriate treatments like the kind that I’m on now, like my SSRIs and I know the ketamine wasn’t a thing unless you were getting it on the street, but that’s not in any kind of therapeutic way.

So I just, I don’t think that he knew. What was wrong with him or if he just knew that something was, and these were the things that he had access to that could make them feel better. And by feeling better, that meant removing him from reality as much as possible and understanding that that trait in myself and.

how I also, I ran from the un not so much the uncomfortable, but I ran from the things that I didn’t understand. I didn’t know how to fix, so I would just keep, just covering them up. Covering them up, and then that in and of itself would be an entire mangled. Mess of shit to deal with.

And then you multiply that by 20 other things that I’m trying to deal with on top of living life day to day. It’s just like the clutter adds up and there’s only so much space. So you got, it’s, I’ve, I’m slowly learning.

How to declutter the negative by dealing with it and feeling it and allowing it to register with me so I can set it aside and move past it.

Stack: So does your dad stay present in your life throughout school, in, in this manner, in kind of a dysfunctional manner, like you’re talking about

Rick: Oh yeah. It, yeah, there was, because, so we had moved into his mom’s house after she had passed away, and we just piled all of our stuff into the front room and then just moved in and lived.

which was I guess weird, but I don’t have a lot of recollection of that time. I know that I was probably about four or five, so a little bit younger than my son’s age, and that was, I remember my mom was at work and it was me, my dad, and one of his friends, and another one of his friends. Kicked in the back door while he was intoxicated.

He was drunk or something and he was just wielding a big knife and he was yelling something about, a deal or something that my dad had done with him or somehow that my dad had fucked him over and he was just waving this big knife after just kicking in our door. And I, like I said, I’m probably four or five, so I’m sitting on the couch.

About as far away from him as I could be, which is probably about 12 feet away at the end of the couch. And then my dad’s friend is between us, between me and the guy swinging the knife around. And so at some point, my dad’s friend gets up and then runs across the room behind my dad, into the room behind him, and then I go to move.

and the guy with the knife looks at me. There’s no barrier between me and him. And he looks at me and he yells if you fucking move, I will gut you. And

I remember just being so unbelievably. Afraid

and I wasn’t able to do anything about it. Like I could not run, I couldn’t fight. I just had to endure. I just had to

live through the situation and. The best way that I could just had to make it through.

Stack: So in that’s in that situation there where the guy breaks in, he kicks in the door, he is got a knife, and you’re a you’re a child and you’ve got these people around you who’re supposed to be protecting you.

What are they doing to protect you or are they protecting you? And or do you have to take it upon yourself to protect yourself the best you can?

Rick: The the friend of my father that was there with us, left me cuz he was on the couch with me when the guy came in and it was the guy was another one of my dad’s friends.

And so after he, yelled at me not to. My dad had taken one of his rifles off of the the gun rack in his house, all right, and like close to him and swung it like a baseball bat, and connected with the knife wielding friend, and just sprayed blood everywhere and fell down. It was over.

Cops were called. , everything was, just went back to normal.

Stack: You say went back to normal, but went back to your normal I imagine.

Rick: Yeah. So for me, like after I didn’t, that’s just, that was just something that

thinking about now and doing a lot of. inner work with for my own mental health and trying to trace back where things started. And for me, I think that’s probably where, or the very, the first traumatic experience that I remember. And I don’t think that from that time after that I had ever really lived without P T S D, because that was in somewhere between 90 91.

After that we moved to our. Fourth place of Li of Living since then. So I’m probably eight years old at this time. And so with my father being depressed, his, one of his friends had committed suicide. His mother had passed away and he just didn’t know how to deal with it. So he attempted to kill him, kill himself a couple of times while I was present.

Not present in the room, but while I was in the house. Tried to hang himself. My mom had to kick in the door or break down the door and cut him down from the shower curtain, like the shower rod. The, and if he wasn’t doing that, then he was in jail. And if he wasn’t in jail, then he was like, scheming up some kind of petty crime to commit to, to get drugs.

Like he would shoot himself in the leg to go to the hospital and so he could get painkillers. Real bad about that. But that’s where, I just setting the stage for entering into E M S I, I’d already had a lot of significant event, like traumatic events in my life already. So having that leading up into.

going into even before even getting to that, just as an adolescent and then and as a teenager trying to understand the world and where I fit into it, but also having to constantly worry about the next, like just outrageous. Fire that I’m not to put out and dealing with that I dealt with it through humor,

through trying to make myself laugh and trying to make other people laugh.

Stack: Yeah. It’s a way of, I, I imagine I’m, and I’m thinking from my own experience, I think it’s a way of minimizing that negative impact and taking taking some control back.

Rick: Yeah, absolutely. I think it, it takes away that, that power, so to speak, that whatever it is that has causes your, causing you to emotionally revert back to whatever.

Trauma that you were experiencing? I think so. Is

Stack: that your pattern? Through all the way through high school, just some chaos, some humor to to get past the chaos and to deal with the chaos and just trying to find your way in the world.

Rick: Another fact about my life.

So just having. The experience and the knowledge of just having, a father that you know is in and outta my life and when he is in, he’s emotionally and mentally manipulative. Having that going on, my mom has to work to support us. So it, I’m as latchkey kit could be with every opportunity to fuck up to get into and anything.

and I didn’t, but the one thing that I did that did happen was my academic or academically I was failing and I had been failing for some time because I would just, I wouldn’t go to school because it was always. A S A negative experience. Cause I was getting in trouble because, or, for I was either getting into fights or arguments, I had no kind of support system at home.

So I, and I didn’t know how to deal with that, so I just left, which ultimately I didn’t even make it to high school. I think so. I was looking at repeating, I think it was the seventh grade again, I had to go to court, stand in front of a judge, sign something that said that I would attend school every day, this, that, and the other, and that, that year I had turned 16 at night.

My mom had signed me out. She was just stand or sign the paper that allowed me to drop out, which. At the time, I understand how that could be viewed and how that could be felt, because that was something that weighed really heavy on me and a lot of the decisions that I made moving forward because I di I just, I gave up on myself, and I gave up on being anything more than what the environment around me was.

Stack: So she allows you to drop out at 16? Yeah. What

Rick: do you do then? I just, I bounce around. I work a few different odd jobs. I think I worked at a haunted house for a couple of years. I worked at a thrift store selling furniture. Ended up, getting, as I got into my late teens, , know, 18.

I ended up moving out, got a job above the restaurant that I worked at or lived above the re, the restaurant that I worked at, and that’s how I paid my rent and just general debon drugs, drinking, and it just, It Got it, got old.

Stack: What timeframe was this?

Rick: So this was

probably 2002 to 2006.

Stack: Because cuz 2006 is when you fi when you joined the army. Correct?

Rick: Yeah. And and that was also by. Just happened.

Stack: I was gonna say what made you decide to join the Army? What was the mechanics behind that decision?

Rick: Ultimately what it came down to is I needed to get my shit together and I knew that I would never get my shit together where I was at, not just in that particular moment, but, In life, like where I was at in life, what I didn’t have any direction.

I didn’t really honestly know what it meant to be a man or to even be a functioning member of society because I’d never had that example set for me. And now here I am an adult trying to figure it out and I just can’t, and I call it, I’m just like, I can’t.

it started cuz I had seen a recruiter for the army in the parking lot of a liquor store. I was driving through and one of the guys that I was with yelled out, stopped and had a talk and one thing led to another and I joined the army.

Stack: And what do you what’s your MOS when you joined the Army?


Rick: And I figured if I was gonna go, I might as well go all in, huh? Yeah, and

I I ended up getting

medically discharged on honorable, discharged under. Because I had a lot of that trauma from my childhood coming back and creating a lot of problems with me that I still, I didn’t know how to deal with, but I was able, through joining the military, I had to get my G e D.

So I was able to, I went and.

I took G e D test. I had no issues with that and I had, the army had given me a lot of, even though I wasn’t in for a long time. There was a lot of fundamentals that I was missing as a human being. The Army was able to give me the parts that I needed to fill in those parts and to help me make more sense of the world.

So whenever I got out I was like, I was upset and I was, I was down on myself because I had felt like I, I had failed at that and I didn’t know. Fighting with that kind of not having a sense of direction or a purpose to work towards. So I’m just floating out existing and end up dating started dating this girl and she lived.

about two hours away and I ended up moving down there and we dated for probably about a year and everything started getting

fucked up and it was looking back on it now, like at the time, there was no way that I was gonna be able to say it’s my fault. Like I am the reason why that. , whatever it is that I, that is, that I’m in, whatever’s happening right now is directly related to me and my issues and my inability to see those issues.

So in a, an attempt to save this failing relationship, I get into an EMT class. Cause I think Okay, I’ll be an E em. , that’s respectable. That’s a career. That’s like something that, that, will, is something that I think I can do. And I, and the relationship never recovered. But I think that was probably because she was way more into women than she was men.

And she had she had found that out throughout. Tailing of our relationship Rich is good. I’m glad that, so there’s., there’s that, that I’m dealing with. And then I get into Mt. EMT class and it’s a six week course put on through the city. I go in and I just, I take to it. That’s my jam. I think I graduated, I had a 94 95 average coming outta the. and then I work as an E M T at a private, mostly in a facility place At first, just getting experience.

I applied at the city, never hired me, but I worked at a private service place, but they also did emergency contracts with nursing homes and backup for the city. But it just, After three years I was trying, I tried to apply to a couple of different places, and that’s still, there are places that they were saying I didn’t have enough experience or for one thing or another.

And I didn’t know what to do because I was, I felt like I was getting stuck in that in that cycle again of. Of self-destruction where I’ve reached a dead end and then rather than deal with it and figure out a way around it, I just self-destruct and bounce out. And that’s, that’s what I did because I tried to get into a couple of paramedic classes and they were either way too expensive.

or too far away. So I had a contact who could get me hired on for a company that contracted in Afghanistan. And this was, so I got my E M T certification in 2009 and this is middle of 2011. And I get my OSHA certification. I get my OSHA health and safety certification. Fill out all the application, get my passport and everything, and off to Afghanistan for about six months.

Stack: So where do you go in Afghanistan?

Rick: I flew into Bogram and then from there I flew to Kandahar. And Kandahar was my base of operations and as an os. Specialist. I would fly out to the different bases in my area and do a healthy or an OSHA inspection fly by turn in my report.

Stack: And so there was a lot of, when you say osha, when you say OSHA inspection, what do you mean by that? Just cuz I’m not familiar with that and maybe I should be, but I’m not. So I’m curious. So what does. .

Rick: So with the private contract companies that work over there they have to have regular OSHA certifications or so somebody has to come out and inspect their entire compound or their job site, work site, wherever it.

And certify. Go through the list, check everything and make sure that they’re in compliance with all of their, everything that they’re doing. And the company that I was doing it for was mainly worked on the wheeled vehicles. So your N wraps, your home bees, max Pros, stuff like that. So it would just be.

I would make sure that they’re wearing their safety glasses storage stuff, everything is being safe.

But I had to fly there, so I would usually have to get up with, so I would operate outta can hard. I would wake up about five in the morning, go down to the tar. Get on a chinook fly anywhere between two or three hours. Stay. I’d land in small little base. I would be there for three or four days to do three hours worth of inspection.

And the rest of the time I just sat around.

Stack: So that’s a six month contract. That’s what you spend a six month doing that.

Rick: I left, I ended up leaving out early after a close call in Kandahar.

Stack: What was the close call?

Rick: So in Kandahar there we were usually hit with motor attacks twice a day, seven, usually around seven in the morning, and se 7, 7 30, and then around the same time at night. So around breakfast and dinnertime, they would usually fire in mortars. And it got to the point where I think one of landed probably 50, 50, 60 feet from where I was.

And I don’t know, I just, I realized, I was like, just,

I felt that, that fear again, that inescapable fear again.

And so I I decided to come back to the states, get back into e ems.

Stack: So when you come back, do you come back to what you were doing before you left for Afghanistan? Or do you find something?

Rick: Actually I come back and the company that I was working for, they don’t have any full-time positions, so I ended up working as a server for a little bit and working part-time EMS for probably about four or five months whenever I came back.

And that was actually, so I did, I eventually, I ended up getting back in a full-time position. I got a 24 hour shift on an ALS truck with a paramedic. He, I think he had been a paramedic maybe six months, and me and him had become best. , he reinvigorated my passion and my love for e m s.

We did everything together. Like we would hang out, out, shift our families. We’d get together for the holidays. We would go out and his wife and my, at the time, like my now wife she was my girlfriend at the time, we would all get together and go out and do things.

Things started to feel like they were getting more stable. I had started dating somebody that was unlike what I had experienced. Prior to that. I started doing standup comedy too. That was another thing that where I got back, I I went to an open mic night and did standup comedy and it. amazing.

I I ended up doing that for about a year or two after getting back from Afghanistan and kind of start, I started building this life for myself. Had, this girlfriend that was going well, had the job. In a position where I felt that

I was learning a and growing as a provider, as an E M T, got into a paramedic class, thanks to my partner, everything was going great and then, Through a series of events and political moves. My partner was fired from the company and then I was reprimanded for a run that we had made to a nursing home.

That, and they had complained about out. But all of it turned out to be pretty much. made up or made to look worse than it was at, which was all found out after the fact through my partner and the he ended up getting, back pay for wrongful termination and all this. But he had gotten another job as a paramedic that he really.

So this is, so I started paramedic class in December of 2012, and now it’s September of 2013. I’m having my birthday celebration. Me and a bunch of my friends would go out to the. And I invite my partner, invite him out. He comes out for about 45 minutes, says he’s tired, goes home. I don’t think anything of it.

And then two days later was a, that was a Friday. So Sunday his boss calls me and asks if I’d seen him, and I told him that was the last time that I had. , his wife calls and asks the same thing. Now I’m even worried.

He, we just disappeared after my after my birthday party, after he left there, nobody had seen him. So that was party was my party was Friday. I get the calls. He’s, nobody’s seeing him on Sunday, Tuesday. , his wife calls and tells me that she found his car and she tells me where it is.

So I, me and my girlfriend immediately go over there. They find his car, and it’s probably two or three blocks from where we had, where my the bar we were at the last time I’d seen him. And Police were there, they had everything cautioned off. And you could see there was, he was leaking out of the car.

You could tell that he was and had been in the car since for some time, cuz it was September, it was hot. So it I was talking to his wife and she was telling me about the last number that he had contacted, and I made the statement, I wish I, I wish I knew who that was or wish she had a picture. She did. She had her friend had back traced the number or something and came up with a picture and I had no I knew that person.

It. Somebody that I had known through mutual friends for a long time, and it turned out that he had went over to her house and was doing heroin, which I had never I knew nothing about.

Stack: And you mean you knew nothing about him using.

Rick: Nothing. And like I said, we were close, like we talk every day and that was never nothing he had ever said to me.

And he had gone over there, he had overdosed and then they put his body in his car and then just parked it and left.

Stack: So you identified this person he was last seen with, correct?

Rick: , yeah. They were able to get over, they were able to get to her house within I think, two hours of finding him and what happens from there. So they ended up arresting her and I had to go to court. I had to go to trial, and I had to testify on the.

You know about my knowledge of who she was and all that. And

the between that we had a, I basically did a lot of the legwork to get his, to get him a, an e m s burial kind of put together.

I worked with, and that’s how I became friends with a lady named Angie, who runs code e m s Peer support, which I’ll send you a link to all that. That does a lot of local work in my area with services that have, they do a lot of mental health awareness work and go out and allow people to talk to ’em if they want just to be.

and offer that if people search it out. So that’s, but we sorry to get off track.

Stack: No, you’re good. So what comes of that, of the trial?

Rick: They ended up, she got I think they gave, it was her and another person and another person. Had just was let go with time served, but I think she got, she ended up getting five years for abuse of the corpse tampering with physical evidence and then theft by unlawful taking or something like that.

But she ended up serving that and again, I think it was maybe a year or two ago she ended up, I heard she ended up. Dying from an overdose herself.

Stack: , And so following this, following the discovery of your partner’s death and the trial you stay in e m s as a paramedic, correct?

Rick: Yeah.

I hadn’t even, that was in September and I didn’t graduate paramedic class until November.

Stack: Okay. So you graduate in November. And how does that go for you? How does a paramedic career go? .

Rick: I ended up going, my first paramedic job was at the service that my partner. Was working at, after he had, we had gotten broken up, he had gotten fired from the company we were at, and I had, they had given me I had replayed, he was medic four, and then that’s, whenever I came in, I took over medic four.

So it was it was really an emotional moment for me. Something that, that I had a lot of. , pride and I wanted to be the best paramedic that I could be. And that’s what I, that’s the mentality that I had. And I was scared shitless for like the first year and a half and time that the tones went off.

Stack: Describe that. Why shitless? Why scared shitless?

Rick: So I went from, like I said, pretty much working as an E M T. I was working on an ALS truck, but I was still working at a private service that was mostly, therefore inner facility transfers. So I’d not a lot of, if any, 9 1 1 experience and then not go to working.

A county service as a paramedic with a scope of practice that is just feels like a mountain because there’s no, I think the only drug that I know of or protocol that we had where we had to do, we had to call medical control was for a drug called. that was, it’s years to help with benzo, like benzo overdoses, but you never give it because you don’t know, and it’s just a drug that you’re not gonna give.

But other than that, there was like 44 different drugs I think, that I had access to, which included Dilaudid fentanyl, morphine, vers. , I think we had Valium, Ativan, and then we also had rsi and that was a standing protocol as well. So we carried ketamine for ac, ketamine and ACC to for induction. And then sucks and VEC for, paralytics.

So there’s just, there were, it was a lot of stuff that.

I really like looking back on it. I was scared, but I still look back on it favorably because that was, I enjoyed that, that kind of environment of problem solving and using what I know to figure out and just, it was just mainly about me building. those experiences and just experiencing them. So I had that.

So I had those them to turn to whenever I felt like I needed, when I needed a confidence boost, I could turn and be like, I had this experience and this is it was about just doing it and getting comfortable with doing it. And because once that happened it just became second nature and.

I, it’s, it, I would say that was to that, up to, up until that point in my life, that was the one thing that I knew without a doubt that I would bet anything on that I, I knew that I was good at, was being a paramedic.

Stack: So how long does it take you to ease into it and feel comfortable as a paramedic?

Rick: It took me the better part of a year, 14 months before I personally, I felt comfortable where I would, I was going out, I was making, I was going out on calls and I was, and they were very intense runs, and I’m not I’m not feeling that I’m in control over my emotions that, that fear that I would, that would have, or the sudden spike of adrenaline.

Now I was able to, I was able to control that and stay calm and deal with it, and

I felt. For once I felt like I had found my purpose, what I was supposed to be doing. Cause it was, there was, it was just n it never felt as far as like performing the job and that it was just, it never felt difficult to me. So

Stack: you introduced yourself at the beginning of the show as a retired paramedic?

Yeah. So how many years do you serve as a paramedic?

Rick: From 2014 to 2019, by the end of 2019.

Stack: And the reason I asked that is because I know that one of the things you and I really wanted to talk about, and I wanna make sure that we give enough credence to it in the episode is what you do after you retire from being a paramedic.

Yes. So you spend six years basically as a Yes. As an active paramedic. And then what happened that, that caused you to step away from it? I know you briefly mentioned it, but if you want to go ahead and cover it a little bit more in depth here, then we can talk about how you find your way out.

Rick: So it, it was not anything that, it wasn’t by choice. It was 2019. I was out skateboarding. I love skateboarding, used to skateboard all the time. Didn’t take into consideration that I was 33 years old and

had a fall. Wasn’t anything that I had fallen way worse. and, but this time it, the way that I had fallen, it had broken both of my legs. I had ruptured both of my MCLs and due to the tension from my fall that tho the MCLs put on my, the inside of my knees actually gave me hairline fractures in the bone.

So luckily it was not anything that I had to get surgery on. It wasn’t something that, that healed all the way back to 100%. So I made the decision to step away and I talked to my wife and we had come up with that I would be transitioned into a stay-at-home dad. Dad, which, like I said, had previously, I’ve not had a really good.

Experience bank to pull from for being a dad, and a lot of that was triggering for me on top of losing one. The one thing that I had pinned my entire self-worth to of being a paramedic create, it was just a recipe for a really bad spiral that I, I. I wasn’t able to see. ,

Stack: do you want to describe what the spiral was?

Rick: It’s increasingly risky and destructive behavior to fill that void of chaos that I wasn’t getting from EMS anymore. And. it, and I had nothing. I was, in this particular moment, I had nothing to pull me out. There was nothing that at that time that I could see that could save me because I didn’t, I couldn’t even, I didn’t even realize that I was spiraling the way that I was.

It was more like a mania to try to salvage.

Anything and the only thing that led to was me just being more and more destructive to my own, to myself and my own environment that ultimately came to a head where I was looking at total destruction. I was going to lose everything like my family. , everything that I have worked towards in the past 10 years, I was looking at losing

and I didn’t want, I didn’t want, if that was like, I didn’t want to live anymore. I wasn’t necessarily in the mindset that I wanted to make that. , but I knew, like at that moment, I was completely blank as for why I should continue living.

Stack: So what do you find that pulls you out of that spiral?

Rick: I just knowing that.

being that close, the closest that I’ve ever been to, to, being, what I would say is suicidal. Like having that thought of I don’t want to live anymore is not a far place to. Away from acting on that.

So I looked up, I was like, I just let me commit myself, let me find somewhere that’s some kind of inpatient place that can help me because I don’t feel safe anymore. I I don’t feel safe. And while doing that, I remember. that I had read something or I had heard something about ketamine being used to help treat with ptsd, TS D and that’s like I knew that I had ptsd, but not necessarily how large of a portion of my life that actually.

because to me that was just, oh, yeah, no, that’s just, I wasn’t I work ems, like of course I have ptsd. T like that’s, to me that was okay. Yeah. It’s not anything that I put a lot of thought into, but doing this, like I searching up ketamine infusions for that. Just because I’ve heard of the trial.

I had no idea that they had entire clinic. completely dedicated to ketamine infusions, and there was one that was 30 minutes from my house.

Stack: So you let’s talk about that. What’s in, what’s that entail? How do you get started and what is the process? What is what’s a session like?

Rick: They.

individual private rooms with a medical recliner, you can have lights turned down. They have projectors, C, b D, infusers a lot of different just things to help accent the ketamine and that your experience with it and it’s down. There’s a medical staff that monitor you’re on a blood pressure.

Pulse ox and Kodiak monitor the entire time. And then based on they take whatever your recommended doses and mix that with, I believe it’s a hundred ml syringe and. Give it to you through a IV pump over 45 minutes.

But the process of actually getting there, it’s, so for me it was very simple. I found the place that the ketamine clinic that was closest to me and called up, they set, I set up a consultation, which is basically, I go in, , go through all the paperwork, talk to ’em, and they go through my medical records, which I have an extensive history of trying to find different SSRIs that work and medications for insomnia.

So I have a pretty decent record of, medications with, for mental health. I did have to do vitamin, I think it was vitamin B shots. I had to give it for myself for a week because I was deficient. And there’s something about how it works for you if you’re deficient. I’m not really sure about the sign, so I don’t wanna talk on it, but it’s a it’s overall it’s a very comfortable experience and I did.

with a sleep mask and big noise canceling headphones and play playlist that I have.

Stack: So when you’re in there and you start this treatment, explain that. What’s the feeling, what’s the experience?

Rick: So it’s it’s so difficult to explain because it, everything is Clear and neutral while you’re getting your treatment.

And that’s a lot of times what I would like to do is just, I would listen to the music and there are visualizations that you see, like I could see, different scenes capes, or there would be times where. I would have a certain perspective. So for instance, like I would have the perspective of looking up at the ceiling, but at the same time I felt like I was on the ceiling as well.

It’s really weird to explain, like during it, it’s a, it’s like nothing. that I’ve ever experienced, even with I’ve done L s D and I’ve also done mushrooms, and it’s way different than either of those

Stack: as well.

and because it’s given over a certain amount of time, there’s a slow lead up to it, and there’s a, and there’s a time a descent, , you come down slowly as well,

Rick: right? Yeah. So it’s, you can, so you’re laying there and you start from and you’re also getting a, they’ve got a bag, I’ve said like a, I think it’s a liter bag of saline that’s also flowing.

So you just start with, Just saline and then the pump starts, you can feel the gradual lead up to the peak, and then the gradual come back down. And so it’s only, it’s usually about 45 minutes, but I’ve experienced where it’s felt like hours for me. And then I’ve had times where I’ve felt like it was, 15 minutes.

So there’s a weird, and I don’t know, these are all just like my own personal experiences with it, but it, I always, I really look forward to ’em because after, so once you get everything all your paperwork and your consult and you set up your treatment schedule, which the first six treatments have to be done within three weeks.

So two, two a week for the first three weeks. And I think for me they were just under 400 bucks, I think, per infusion. And then after you do that, then you get work called boosters and mine like, booster was set to, I I got one a month, so I had enough in the health savings to pay for the first six and then two boosters, fortunately and then that after that I was tapped and February of, so this was, I think I started October of 2020.

Ketamine. and then I made it to February of 2021 and I just, we couldn’t afford it. Pandemic had created like this, the inflation from that and with me not, working and still trying to figure out where my knee, like what my knees are capable. after being healed I picked up my tablet and started to just draw on it as a way to occupy my mind when I couldn’t afford a treatment.

Stack: And so what comes from the art then? That you just start doing as a as a way to occupy your. .

Rick: So that’s whenever I was in elementary school, that was the last time that I had the ability to devote any time or focus on drawing. And I really enjoyed drawing as a kid. But I I hadn’t done anything with it as an adult, especially.

Nothing as far as like drawing on a tablet or digitally. . So I just pick it up and I just started, having ideas and I would sketch an idea. And so I did that for, I was doing that for about a month and I posted three or four pieces on a local subreddit and within 30 minutes I had somebody offering to, pay me to lease.

My art turned into enamel pins

and I was like there’s something to this.

Stack: And so where do you take it from there?

Rick: I’m still trying to figure that out. Okay. But

Stack: I know I, I’ve looked at your stuff on Instagram and look in your store and maybe you want to explain what your style is.

Rick: I have

I’m not sure. It’s definitely I have a very unique style, but I’m not sure how I would describe it. It’s very like bright and

contextually I think is where. is what helps my art stand out. The subject matter that I am in the pool of experience experiences that I’ve had throughout my life. I think that’s what makes my art as good as it is because there’s, there’s a million other artists out there. There’s countless, that are, they’re better artists than I am.

I got into it because I wanted to heal, and it turned out that was an excellent tool to help me heal. And now I’m using it as a tool to help others heal as.

Stack: And so what do you hear? What’s your feedback from people about what you’re doing?

Rick: I’ve gotten so, so much positive feedback and just messages that have they’ve really helped me. Continue to do this and to continue to create art and not to get frustrated with this or that and give up because this is some, this is a tool that, that I have, that I’m, and a skill that I’m developing that has, I’ve re I’ve had people reach out and let me know.

Me posting my art has inspired them to start using art to help cope with their mental health and to help, find their path to healing. And that’s the most important aspect of my art is how I can use it to, to help others to stand up and to speak out for those. Suffer from ptsd, T S D and show them that

It’s not a limitation to their greatness, but it can be the reason for

Stack: it. On that note let me ask you a couple of questions about your art. . Okay. One that you posted just recently, it was called Take a Look, and I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Yeah.

It’s a viewmaster and for some of you don’t know what a viewmaster is. It’s probably easiest to Google it if you don’t know what a viewmaster is, but it it allows you to just of click through images and it’s you look through it like binoculars and it has a wheel with some images on it, and you click through and it brings up a new image every time you.

but you call this one, take a look and it’s obviously, it’s got a darker tone to it. So what was that inspired by

Rick: that? That is absolutely inspired by just the things that I’ve, that are just burned into, to my mind, thinks that scenes I’ll never forget they’re. A part of who I am as a person, and I have to learn how to deal with those.

But it’s one of those kind of what it’s like living with ptsd. S it’s like my stories and my experiences are an oral view master. , P T S D and it’s, I’m offering

anyone to, to take a look through the lens that I’ve lived if that makes

Stack: sense. It does make sense. Yeah it definitely makes sense. Like I said, it’s a darker image and obviously it’s the things that are playing through your head quite a bit. What about Never grow up, you remember, that piece that I’m speaking about that’s the giraffe with a noose around its neck, it appears.

Rick: Oh yeah. That was,

Oh man. There’s a couple of different things that are going on with that, but the

The noose around the neck, I think for me is a representation of a and the humor behind, a giraffe trying to hang itself. because it’s, it’s just, it has such a long neck that it would like that image for me is just

hope. It’s the serendipitous events, like the, just because the way that you are you’re made that.

I just lost my train of thought. Let me

Stack: So with the giraffe, you say it, it represents hope, correct?

Rick: Yeah. So the giraffe, it represents that design. For me it was, it’s more even though it’s a dark subject matter, a lot of. . Just my experiences come from a dark place, but the, there’s always, I’ve always had hope that was, that’s always just a hope for just a, sometimes a way to get to the next day.

So with the giraffe and the noose around his neck, it’s. I just don’t know. And this is one of those things that I’m still trying to figure out. Cause a lot of times, like my art, whenever I like I’ll, like a lot of my designs are a way of me expressing a feeling that I might not be able to put into words.

Okay. So sometimes it should, I would never grow up. That’s more of a. I just it’s just, it’s

always finding a way to, to enjoy life.

Stack: Kind of along that, that lines the line of thought where once you become an adult you lose the enjoyment in life. Is. , is that similar to what you’re thinking or once you Yeah. Once you experience a few things in life that aren’t as positive as you would like them to be, do you still wanna maintain the fun in life?

Rick: Yeah and and more of, because I, hon honestly, I, there’s a lot of a lot about how I made it through some of the things that, that I made it through. I just, I don’t know. Sometimes, like sometimes I, when I think about ’em, I don’t understand how I was able to, make it to the other side of those things and not only just make it to the other side, but still have a positive perspective on life and to understand how much that I have to be grateful even grateful.

For the negative things that, that have happened. For instance, when I tell people I broke my legs, the first instance is oh my God, you broke your legs. Yeah, and it sucked. But I would do it every time. I would break my legs there because of everything that it’s led. .

Stack: So with that, let’s talk about where you are today.

Where do you hope this arc takes you?

What’s the goal Of 50 11?

Rick: I’m glad you asked that. Fifty11. It’s a brand that stands up and stands out for those who suffer from P T S D every day. I just wanna let people know that we see you, and we’re here to let you know that you’re not alone.

Our goal is to bring the conversation about P T S D out into the light and let people know that, that you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore because too many I’ve, I know personally that I’ve lost more than. A handful of friends who didn’t feel that they could talk. So I want to be able to set an example and stand up and be an advocate for those people.

And help inspire them to find their healing and to start their journey to a better, mental health because, This is something that can affect anybody. Everyone, everyone’s lived through something traumatic and I just want people to know that you don’t have to have gone to war, you don’t have to have worked on an ambulance or, be a first responder to suffer from ptsd, T S D.

And the first step to healing is just talking. and I want to create a community that, shows that, that shows that it not only just shows, but it’s almost taking a bit of pride because p ts d it’s seen as something that. It is negative, but I want to, I wanna try to reframe that because I know that my success and a lot of who I am as a person is because of my P s D and I.

I cannot, I feel like in order to be able to love myself, I have to be able to accept. That part of me as well. And accepting that doesn’t, it doesn’t have to necessarily always be seen as a negative.

Stack: That’s perfect. That’s a perfect way of putting it. And that’s a very admirable goal for the company to, to strive toward.

So now let’s go ahead and wrap this show up with the last two questions I’d like to ask everybody. And I give you a little bit of a heads up on this that it would be coming. . When we get to the end here, I’d like to talk about the things that people carry. I’d like to find out from everybody.

What’s an everyday carry? Something you carry with you that you can’t leave home without, and if you do, you feel naked without it. So what’s an everyday carry for you?

Rick: Let’s see. usually. So as a stay-at-home dad, I usually don’t usually my domain is in the house, but most of the time I have my tablet,

Stack: which makes sense because that’s how you’re creating your

Rick: art, right? Yeah. So if I’m coming upstairs, tablet’s coming up, I’m going downstairs, tablet’s coming down.

But if I’m leaving the house, then it’ll probably, I’m using a vape to, to quit smoking. So that’s like a pacifier for me. , what

Stack: about a book? Is there a book that you would like to suggest to the audience, and if there’s not a book, is there a person or is there a podcast? Is there I don’t know.

Is there music that you’d want to introduce people to? Something that would bring some value to the listeners’ lives?

Rick: Oh, man. All the above. Yes. A book that I actually found that’s really good is the Memoir by Danny Trejo.

Stack: Okay. So is It’s his autobiography. Yeah. And he’s, he had a checkered pass that’s for certain, I he spent, he was in prison for a while before he broke. Broke out as a, as

Rick: an actor. Yeah. He, and he is one of the one of the people that I actually, I look up to just because of, how he was able to overcome the environment his.

Preconceived understanding of who he was or what he could be. And it’s just, it’s a very inspirational story that I would suggest. Also anything the Hunter s Thompson.

Stack: Yep. Yeah. And I was asked this question when I went on James Gearings behind the Shield podcast. He asked me the same question about a book and Hunter s Thompson was one of my answers, so I appreciate.

Rick: Oh, yeah. Just, I’m a, that’s, he’s from in Louisville, Kentucky. He’s like a hometown person. And I grew up and, walked the streets at same streets he did. And so it’s more so though just his whole attitude on life and the way that he had viewed like the lens is that’s what really always captivated me with.

How he told a story because it the marriage between absurdity and fact I is so well that you just it’s just handled so well that.

I I find a lot and I find a lot of like identifying with is, being yourself.

Stack: Awesome. Those are perfect and I will, I’m gonna link to that, tell everybody where they can find you.

Rick: You can find me on Instagram and TikTok at 50 11 underscore media. .

Stack: And when you say 50 11 it’s spelled out 50, correct.

F i

Rick: and then the number 11 y, yeah, and then 11 underscore media. Okay.

Stack: So they can find you there, and then you have spots where they can purchase and they can actually talk to you about a commission as well, right?

Rick: Yeah, absolutely. Just me, you can message me through Instagram. I have the link to my shop there in my bio.

You can message me. 50 eleven.media fi ft y 11 media gmail.com. I think there, but the best way to get ahold of me is through Instagram.

Stack: All right. So I will link those and I will link to your sites, a link to the book, link to a couple of things we talked about in the show. And I appreciate the time that that you spent with me today.

I’m gonna, I’m gonna let you go. I know you gotta go pick up your son in a few minutes. Yep.

Rick: Absolutely. But thank you. No, I appreciate you taking the time to to talk to me. I know I probably rambled on hopefully that you can edit it to where I don’t sound so like too incoherent. Oh, we’ll get it

Stack: done.

We’re good. We’ll get it done. No, I,

Rick: I, I agree. Greatly appreciated that. And let me know if you ever need anything, I’m. Would love to help out with whatever you have going on with any way


Stack: I can. Awesome. I appreciate it, man. Enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll let you know when this is gonna come out.

Okay? You too. All right, man. Take care. All right, bye. All right, we’re out.

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