Houston We Have A Podcast – Mental Health with Shinedown May 17, 2019



you we have good afternoon everybody thank you for joining us today we are gathered here for a special live recording of Houston we have a podcast for a few reasons one is it is Mental Health Awareness Month so we're here to talk about mental health it's something we don't normally talk about I think especially when it comes to astronauts we usually talk about the physical health the the fluid shifts the bone and muscle loss that happens on the International Space Station we don't really get a chance to talk about the mental health the second reason we're gathered here today is because to really help fully tell this story we can you know talk about the astronaut stuff and the stuff going on in space all day but really to help us relate it to stuff here on the ground which is again one of my favorite sayings on the ground you have to specify that it's on the planet Earth one of the one of the things that you that we can relate it to is a touring rock band so with us today is the band shinedown connecting with us from left to right let's see we have Zach Myers there we go Eric bass and then Barry Kirsch on the right there guys thank you so much for joining us today we're fantastic I'm so glad you can actually take the time to to join us all the way from Norfolk Virginia and the reason Shinedown is connecting with us today is for a few reasons one of them is as they have actually written about mental health is something that's very important to them so they have thought about it very recently and I'm excited to hear would you guys your guys thoughts on mental health especially the isolation and the fact that you guys are a touring rock band and then also to my right is the the whole space element immediately to my right we have mark van hi mark thank you for joining me today mark you spent 168 days in space from September 2017 – I believe February 2018 you worked on a number experiments did a lot of spacewalk you a very busy man on the international space station so I'm excited to hear your perspective on mental health during your stay in space and of course over here we have dr. Jim pecan Oh Jim you are a senior operational psychologist with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and behavioral health and performance group at NASA three decades of psychology experience including in the Army which is perfect Sabo you were in the army as well and contributing author to the paper called risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions and psychiatric disorders which I would summarize to say how mental health and behavioral performance can be affected in space Jim thank you for being here thank you great to be here all right so of course mental health can be stressors from all different sources not just the isolation of being in space and and touring as a rock band on the road so we're really going to explore this here today thank you for joining us on Facebook live and on NASA TV Sean down I'm going to throw it to you guys first I really want to understand so to draw this comparison to really get this full story of what it's like really I mean we've we've talked about the isolation on the international space station but what it's like for you guys as a touring rock band what are you guys going through we all really appreciate you guys allowing us to do this hear that everybody masters have been really awesome so thank you I've been a NASA fan since I was a little kid this is really cool but you know for us it's it's hours of boredom and moments of excitement I think that's probably the same thing astronauts going through I would imagine maybe but you know it's kind of what was kind of what you make it out here you know we're very fortunate in that and then we have a really good family unit on tour we all still ride the same bus we love each other we're brothers you know I think sometimes other some other bands might think we have mental problems because we like each other so much but you know for us it's about being a support system for each other and then that's something that's really huge for a for a touring band there's a reason why so many musicians following drugs alcohol abuse and deal with depression it's a lifestyle that on the outside seems super exciting and it is in some aspects but there's nothing that can really hair.you for for doing it I remember that with it when I I joined the band just after the band had gotten done touring their second record so I was kind of late to the game I wasn't an original member of the band and I remember you know coming into this and just really just thinking about how exciting it's all going to be and then pretty quickly getting a dose of reality which is the immense amount of idle time that you end up without here and how are you going to spend that it's probably I end up me personally I ended up just making work for myself a lot now I mean I went through the period of alcohol and and we all did except for exact sex about the only one that held fast through everything but you know becoming more sober and really having to find a way to deal with the mental side of being on the road all the time you know I find work for myself I made myself busy which is something that IIIi know that the astronauts on the space station their mark they are constantly looking after experiments and doing things and and and there's always something it's always a task to be done and that that's something that I long for I'm a very structured person I grew up on a military family so did Barry I thought it was a naval commander Barry's father's an Air Force colonel so you're used to sort of us a great structure in your house and and then when you get out here it's anything but that or it can be anything like that so so really it's finding a way to to create structure where there is none and that and you know like I said outside of just having each other that's that's probably the second most important thing I can think of for us personally structure but it sounds like that that element of connection especially because you guys are so close having that sort of family aspect as something that's very important to maintain throughout the entire tour is it true for just the band too or even even your own families I think it's a little bit of both definitely with the band because we spend more time with each other than we do with their own families at home three out of the four of us are married and three out of the four of us have kids so we have a great home structure at home that we long and that we missed because I think last year we were on him 31 days out of the whole year so we are gone long stretches at a time but having a support system out here and then having supportive wives and and that kind of thing and we're a lot luckier in some respect that we're not way up in space and we can actually get off the bus and go under or bring our families out occasionally when they have the opportunity so you know those times help but it like Eric said it's though we have a support group to the monotony the backstage of any venue looks exactly the same as any other venue so you kind of it turns into a Groundhog Day okay today we're in a hotel okay tomorrow is the show same thing here's your Showtime here's your meeting three times and it becomes really mundane and if you don't find something to do I think along with creating work for ourselves biggest thing is that our health aspect and taking care of ourselves we all make it an effort now to work out together every single show day we work out on days off and having that exercise that's probably kept a lot of those older demons at bay I think that's huge mark I'm hearing a lot of parallels when it comes to spaceflight now how does how does that compare from what you're hearing about what Shawn downs going through has a touring rock band what are you doing on the space station well there's a lot of parallels and there's a lot of differences to what struck me is dealing with boredom for me on the space station that six month roughly period I assumed was the only six months I would ever be in space and it felt like I couldn't possibly like I had all these personal goals I want to do pictures of places I want to take four people pictures of things they gave me to take of things that were gifts for them later in space and in addition to that every single day was a list of tasks that at least at first were all new I might have been trained on them but if you get trained on one thing for an hour and two years later you have to do it and it's kind of hard to remember exactly what it was your show my things might look familiar but it's an environment for us where you have to do everything in exacting detail otherwise you're going to break something that maybe some scientists spent their whole life trying to get to the space station so there's a lot of pressure on every I'm sure when you're making music to this it's about you've got so many my new details but for me it was this kind of grind where couldn't relax I couldn't find a time to slow down I felt like even when I had free time I had to make as good use of it as possible or I was gonna regret it making contact with family was huge the relationships on my crew certainly a very good parallel with what you have I was with five other people that I would call very very good campers to spend time with so it was nice being off the planet with them we got along great and when one of us was having a hard time we could tell and we just took good care of each other and exercise – another thing I was a very important parallel with what you just talked about thankfully part of that busy schedule for us involves time that NASA sets aside for us to exercise every day even though there was some times when I felt really sorry for myself running on a treadmill that was mounted on a wall running towards the ground with bungee cords on my hips and shoulders to put me on the treadmill but yeah that that was really important time for me to keep saying yes I can see a lot of the differences especially with you having to find free time and then you guys having a lot of free time and trying to find ways to fill it but what really struck me is when I heard about the length of time and that was something that I think can be taxing in and of itself when you're touring for so long that you're you don't have I mean it seems like you're trying to find time to fill but you're still busy you're still isolated you're still working you're still on tour what's it like the the length of time how was that taxing we try to take more breaks now but I mean something like last year was really hard because last year like you said we started in March of last year with rehearsals and we were literally gone all year other than 32 days and it wasn't like 32 days at one time it was like five days here six days here so that that length of time gets long but like I said it having those relationships of us actually getting along and at this point we could have different buses and stuff we don't we actually enjoy being together so it makes it a little easier like you said we're down here we can FaceTime we can do things like that and it's not you don't have to be at a certain time of day or we get in connection like I can't imagine up there for six months at a time and I think you know there's only certain times a day you know where you can call and things like that and we have a certain amount of time I can call my wife and FaceTime with my kids at any time so like you said the parallels are similar but very different on different planes you know as far as that goes it's like you know the ease of things like that but what you describe is like you know being up there and having a task to do that's him that's he makes tasks I have to do a very unusual I own you know very interesting parallel what you were talking about about not feeling like you had enough time I feel like you've had to always be on go with certain things I do that to myself and it it started as a way for me to deal with the depression and it's kind of become a I was a hindrance but it becomes sort of a OCD thing with me where I feel like I have a certain amount of time finite amount of time to accomplish things I want to accomplish and if I'm not doing those things all the time then I'm somehow being slack or lacks or something it's hard to relax sometimes of those things and I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who said she had the same thing and she been diagnosed with something called hyper mania and I'm sure the doctor could fill me in on that um but it sounded very familiar what she was saying where it is really and I don't know if that just comes with being away you know away from home something but always feeling like that I need to be moving forward and accomplishing things you know rather than letting the Pacific we have a saying idea it's uh it's just it's just a saying but it's and you stop you die you know we can't we can't put on the brakes we can't pump the brakes you know we have to keep moving in order to keep for me to keep the depression at bay that sort of things so I did identify with what you said about about feeling like you you know you have to be going all the time and doing your experiments and that sort of thing and staying on top of it the work I'm doing maybe isn't as scientifically important but but definitely that I had that thing where I feel like I after move-move-move and mr. Smith mr. Smith no worries at all we're happy to have you all right so so Eric what you were talking about has to deal with sort of you know filling the time keeping yourself busy mark when you were on station did you feel that the busyness the the rapid pace of everything on station did keep you distracted or was it mentally taxing to have all of those things it depended a lot on how successful I felt about keeping up with the plan so the way it works on the space station is we have a schedule that the ground very carefully coordinates deconflict so that even little things like making sure that the one place where we can simulate lifting weights that only one crew member is scheduled for that at a time for example that schedule shows up as a graph where everybody's got a line on it and the current time of day shows up as a red line and that red line just keeps marching across the day and you've got chunks that are activities and you can click on your activity at any of those Space Station computers and it'll tell you hey that activity means you do these things it's got step-by-step it's kind of like Christmas morning putting together toys all day every day of the week and then the good news is at first well the challenge is at first when you look at that like I don't even Wow I don't not even sure what that sentence means much like sometimes when you're putting together a toy but as time goes on you get more and more of those activities that are something you're familiar with and you can look at the whole plan like oh I got that this is all familiar yeah but at the beginning it's the unknown part and when you realize that this was only scheduled for an hour it took me an hour and a half to get done with it now I'm working on the next thing and you keep falling farther and farther behind so at first that happens more frequently it's challenging as time goes on you start getting ahead further and further and you're able to death it feels really good when you're a little bit ahead of the timeline and you can look at your other crewmates to say hey how you doing can you use any help on this and that I have my best days when I was able to help other people with their stuff instead of needing help from other people Jim I think this is a good time to bring you in because you are a senior operational psychologist and I think that means you're involved in the day-to-day stuff you're involved with what's happening with this with the crew onboard the station now so what so what's your job what are you doing to help the crew yeah that may be a term that's probably unfamiliar to a lot of people operational psychologists actually it's a just a general framework what we do is work with personnel who are conducting real-world high-risk missions like astronauts our background comes from the DoD ways there are a number of operational psychologists who support soldiers who also conduct these harsh and they're dangerous missions and our role is to in a sense keep high functioning people functioning and healthy so we really try to optimize and enhance their health and well-being their behavioral health and well-being in our business is much easier to prevent a problem than to have to intervene with the problem as you can imagine it would be very difficult for us to intervene with a behavioral health problem on the station we're not there and there are certain limitations in what we can do so we have a whole spectrum of things that we do to help support astronauts once they're deployed on station but our work really begins well before then in the life cycle of an astronaut so we will get involved in the evaluations of their suitability an applicant's the ability to become an astronaut because one of the best ways for us to prevent a problem is to make sure that we have only folks who are psychologically suitable to do the work of an astronaut or a special operation soldier or one of the other kinds of special jobs that are out there than in that involve high risk and high stress so our work begins very early on in trying to find the right person for the job once that part is done we get involved in the training of astronauts from a behavioral health perspective and here at NASA we train in aspects of what we call expeditionary skills which really take the many competencies that people like Marc have and try to develop those in areas that are important to living and working in space for prolonged periods of time and so we will work on some of the very things that you guys were talking about and we train and educate in those areas like for example the importance of self-care taking care of yourself when you're on the road the same as an astronaut providing that self-care it's very important in order to maintain the reserves that you need to perform effectively on the job as Mark have said and as you probably have figured out the space environment is a very depleting environment it takes a lot of your physical and mental energy and so you have to work really hard to do that so we have another part of our job where we will be involved with astronauts once they are deployed on station through a series of countermeasures that are deployed on station as well as time that we get to talk with them and something we call a private psychological conference and that is part of a spectrum of services that we provide to try to optimize the behavioral health folks yeah just one one of the many things to sort of keep them going one of the things I picked out was was you know in the terms of astronaut selection you're talking about these guys Marc included we're selected for a purpose they already they already for Space Flight they are not only physically and they have the knowledge but they're mentally ready for that shinedown when it comes to you guys going on the road you know I think creating music might be one thing but then touring and performing music is another thing you got to be mentally ready for how do they how do those things compare for you well we don't we really don't cross-pollinate those two things actually we don't write very much on the road we we tend to take time off to write it's way easier for us to be creative when we're not touring meet the story so grueling and regimented but you know it parallels just what you guys were saying we have we have a saying that is either you're built for this or you're not you know and and what we mean is your theory they're built to do this in a healthy way or you're not I mean we see plenty people fall apart you can't handle it and we're just actually we didn't have a psychological program we could go through to see if we were or not I think our psychological programs a lot of trial and error and very helpful it would have been very helpful actually but you know we which I would never go to bed angry yeah basically I mean it is it is definitely like a marriage we've also been doing it for two decades we were lucky enough in the beginning in the very early 20s of our career we kind of got some of the chaos out of the way and as we got older and as the craft of songwriting and then building the performance started to grow because we wanted to go the extra mile on that we started just keeping each other and check even more we're very lucky because we have four of us on the road the other thing too is we're in a position in our career where if we wanted to ride in separate buses we could if we wanted separate dressing rooms we could we choose not to do that because we actually genuinely respect and love one another and we're also on the road 280 days out of year if not more so for us we have to kind of keep each other in check yeah yeah I'm hearing I'm hearing a lot of elements when it comes to when you guys started you just sort of had to hit the ground running you know you start at music and you were touring and you were just going and I think there's sort of a parallel that America when it comes to training because you're not necessarily it's not like you get selected and you get launched up to this station you are you are preparing very much for for your trip to space and I think it's important not only from the aspect of actually getting prepared for the systems part for the science part for all of those parts but for the relationship part because who you're training with are the people I think you would ultimately fly with there's there's parts of that or true and parts of that are not so the interesting thing is when we train as for example I was initially going to be one crew member from the United States on a Russian spacecraft with two Russians and so my my crewmates lived in Russia they would train I would show up for a limited amount of time and train with them but when I was back in the United States I was on a separate schedule from other astronauts sometimes I would cross paths with somebody but it wasn't like I had a shuttle crew of six people in addition to me that was going to train everything together at least always do like spacewalk training would be four people all working together maybe a couple people coaching the people in the water training while people actually gonna do the spacewalk or underwater so as a Space Station crew member it's much more isolating in that regard in fact someone I was working in Washington DC recently and someone said it must must be much more exciting working in the astronaut office than working in NASA headquarters and I was so engaged with real getting things done making decisions lots of people contact much more like when I was in the military nice you know actually work on a national office is much more like being a student where I'm working all day in the library and then every now and then I go to a club meeting type of thing so there's lots of studying lots of trying to trying to make sure that your individual skills are really good certainly I can also relate to when I was in Russia training we'd have a limited number of people from the United States we were all we would live together we had options to live in one of six colleges and those colleges could have three people living in each one of them it was always better for me when I was living with somebody else because you know I'd wake up have that casual conversation I'll get a cup of coffee if I was trying to study something and the other person had the class recently or was in the class with me if I had a question I could say hey what does this mean and I ended up being a much more effective student and person when it had the kind of casual real easy contact that's just associated with having people in a proximity mm-hmm we're talking we're talking a lot about relationships I do want to shift gears a little bit go back to mental health and kind of read some stuff about mental illnesses overall one in six Americans have a mental illness in 4.2 percent of adults identify as having a severe mental illness that significantly impairs functioning a lot of these are 18 to 25 year olds we're talking about the younger generation when it comes to anxiety disorders it has three point one percent but these are 2016 numbers these numbers are keeping to increase it's it seems like it's a topic that is is very much present but it's not something that we normally talk about so guys you guys have written about music written in your music about mental health shared it with the world tell me about what the what you think about that about the fact that we're not sharing mental health and how it is important to bring this up and to talk about it I think it's sad that you can you break your legs go to the doctor get fixed and you walk around on crutches and the whole world can see these you're on crutches and everybody is sympathetic to your plight and and you know offering you you know goodwill and and hope you get well soon and everything Elson and it's much more difficult with having a depression the least for me – this was the first time I've ever I've ever talked about it really was on when we did this record our most current record because Brent you know Brent I were writing a song together and he brought the song in and it was about he'd written lyrics about me and what I go through and and it was very personal so you know I had always chosen to keep those things between my wife and myself and my mind my friends and and that was really it because I quite frankly I was embarrassed about it to an extent I you know I you you don't want to show that the chink in the armor you know the the scars and the imperfections in your mind and because it's such a personal thing and I think that's where that's where the stigma comes from is nobody wants to show any mental weakness we're not a society that really smiles on that sort of thing it's not a weakness but you just don't want to show any any sort of imperfections let's say and it's you know I really think it's time to start viewing these things as as what they are just just another you know physical chemical makeup of your brain that causes you to test our feelings would be a certain way there there are tools and and help available to fix it just like putting a cast on your way you know and I think that the the I think social media has a lot to do with the wood look the way the numbers are going through kids having anxiety young people and anxiety because everything is so hyper microscope yeah you don't know Mike everything seems so so you know when I was younger I wasn't aware of what was going on a thousand miles away from me right now you know it's there in an instant and and you know I don't think there any more problems in the world and there were you know 40 years ago I just think that they're more present they're more available so you feel like the sky is falling and and they can believe me I've had times when I just I sign off of all social media because I have to i find myself starting to fall into moods because of things that I see or the way people are talking to me or or the week if we're talking about friends of mine or whatever and and and also people are more apt to be braver on lines and they're good and they're going to be impersonal everyday encounters I think I like a lot of that feeds into the nuts of the numbers were seeing and and you know the anxiety especially that people feel I can't imagine being a young person and coming up now and and everybody everybody as everybody and it's got a pain the broad stroke but people seem to be so judgmental online then you're gonna go out public and and you put yourself out there and it makes it could make you very much want to to just stay inside yeah I think there's another bigger picture too that he's touching on which is the fact that there is there's a difference between being depressed and there may be a chemical imbalance or there might be a physical issue going on and then having the case of the Mondays you know and I mean like there's a big difference in that I'll give an example for me something about two and a half years ago I had to do personally for me in regards to social media like Eric was saying zach is a really really good quote that he kind of keeps us in check with just looking at the big picture he's always said it's not about the pain there it's about the payment so you have to look at everything from all angles sometimes that's difficult to do but something I started doing about I guess there's about a year and a half ago I have two alarms when I wake up whether I'm on the road I'm touring or I'm just out in my life the first alarm wakes me up and then the second alarm is an hour after that the very first hour that I'm up in the morning that's mine I don't look at my phone I don't really talk to anybody and they know when I kind of come in they're not they know that I'm not being rude they're like he just woke up he's got it out cuz that's my meditation you know what I mean that's a way for me to Center myself because guess what this the phone isn't gonna go away you know it makes I'm gonna be gone tomorrow and neither is any one's comments or opinions you have to try to find I think especially for the younger generation – it's such a different you know this instant gratification it takes a little bit of adjusting and you're always going to be adjusting but you got to do it for you and I mean like and what I mean by it is you have to live your life you know in the way that's gonna make you happy first before you'll ever make anybody else happy I think sometimes people forget that but it's something you got to keep in check you know and on the other side with Eric and you know all that we were doing really putting ourselves out there in the last year and a half with what we do I learned more about him you know I mean I've learned so many wonderful beautiful artistic you know interesting things about him I learned a ton more about bear I learned a ton more about Zach and we learned a ton more about each other because once again we talked to one another he he pinpointed some of them that a lot of people are having an issue with whether you're younger middle aged or you're a little bit older people do not need to they don't need to feel ashamed because they feel a little off you know what I mean there's nothing wrong with you and you should be feeling Barracks if you need to talk to somebody they'll talk to them and here's the other thing if you notice somebody out in your own life even if it's a total stranger and you can tell there's something off maybe go up to that person and ask them how they're doing well we don't want people to lose in the big picture don't lose your humanity don't lose your empathy for each other build each other to bring each other down empathy is a big word that comes up a lot when we're talking about these things I that's such a huge thing is you know you never forget you know as I quote you know be kind everyone because you don't know what they're going through or what battle they might be fighting and you know that's something that seems to kind of get lost in this age of like he says hyper hyper technology hyper speed and everything else is just being apathetic to other people and and and what they could be going through you know it's just such a it means a lot I'll tell you that I mean look when these guys come to me and they can tell when I'm down it really does help just them asking hey okay you know and I might be okay I might be having them you know time and I know I'm okay I'll tell them I'm okay if I'm not okay I'm not okay we have that kind of relationship and that's really really important to us you know as a bands is being able to be open like that I'll have some sometimes when I go at the end of the last European run that we did and it was it was getting his cold it was it was wintertime in rush remark so there you go you can you know you know exactly what I'm talking about so it's not the best landscape for depression either but you know I was being a lot of time by myself and and with without a lot to do because we were over in Europe and and I didn't have all the creature comforts with me that sort of thing and I was going pretty dark you know I was having a really tough time I'm sort of there's almost a self-imposed isolation an inside in some ways I didn't feel like seeing people in that sort of thing and they really kept me in check they could see something was wrong you know and and it's just it's just so important to have to have people around like that and and once yeah I think that kind of leads us back to what you know some of the problems with the space travel and being isolated for for you know vast amounts of time or you can be isolated like how am I going to Mars or whatever that's right now with the current propulsion that's what like six months or something just to get there by you know and I am in a spaceship with you and a few other people that would be that could be really don't mind numbing if you're not mentally prepared even if you are he said I'm built to do this job I'm built to be out here on tour and it still becomes you know something that the internal battle sometimes is can be pretty daunting I think I think a major theme what you're talking about Eric and Brent is is the fact that you're you're identifying these things here you're recognizing these problems and you're and you're thinking about them and I think that's something that's very important to make human spaceflight successful is to recognize it to identify what could be the problem how could how could these things be affected and Jim that's you're doing a lot of that work you that that paper you wrote was identifying these are the risks that could of behavioral performance is it was that was the main thing mental health and behavior performance for human spaceflight what are those risks what are the what have you identified as risks too that could affect human spaceflight well first let me just say thank you guys for the courage to share your stories and to share what you are doing because that goes a long way to helping others come forward and getting the help they need with folks like you and other celebrities and athletes actually doing that role models for kids for example we're really struggling it's really great that you're willing to put yourselves out there and do that so that others can see you and know that you can be successful you can be popular and get help and and we really thank you for for that so when it comes to the kind of psychological aspects of spaceflight you know it we've talked about how harsh the environment can be physically and typically as we think about even the current ISS and future missions the environment is one of you know microgravity high carbon dioxide levels social isolation and isolation say from loved ones and friends family and even happenings here on the planet our culture what's going on in the world confinement the idea that you can't step outside and catch a breath of air if you really just want to clear your head it's hard to get away in a small environment like that and even though the ISS is a well-developed habitat for its place in in in it in its development it's not like being here and there are just certain things that aren't available to our astronauts for coping and so the other piece of that I think is you know the stress of performance that that we're talking about that mark was talking about having to be you know having to work with the precision and with the intensity and and take for example the threats that are you know to performance say in a spacewalk Mark's done you know four spacewalks the intensity of concentration in that really dangerous environment where you really have this feeling like you have to pay attention to what you're doing always and there's not much there's almost no room for error and so all of those are kinds of psychological stressors and the ones that we get most concerned about that because our astronauts are technically highly skilled and very well trained are the kinds of things that have to do with the environment itself in the condition psychologically one of the things that was impressive to hear you guys talk about was sort of how a crew gets along the cohesion that you feel the attention you have to others morale and taking care of one another that's very much what we are hoping our crews will develop on orbit to have that kind of connectedness to one another to watch each other to take care of one another and to develop that sort of bond and that's that's a very important feature of being able to cope and adapt in space but it's a bit of a double-edged sword because mark is there with four or five of his very best friends and that's it there's something we call social monotony so you know can imagine having that sort of like you described on your tour bus you are there day and night together and while you know each other very well sometimes you just want to break right and you want to kind of to have that alone time or maybe to talk to other people and so there are some things on station that help with that for example private crew quarters the ability to kind of get away get into your phone booth sighs mark I guess crew quarters I don't know if people even know where the phone booth is anymore but small and but to get away and have some quiet time to recharge to you know just be a little bit by yourself that's important in sort of taking care of yourself when you're in that kind of environment so despite the isolation that we talk about in a in a vehicle that's orbiting the Earth or on its way to the Moon or Mars you actually need private time even though you are quote isolated so that's that's another example of how these stressors play out now we have things that we have our astronauts have available to them to cope with these and if you think about isolation and confinement for us it's sort of think about the opposite how do you normalize that kind of environment so that it feels a little bit more like home and so we're fortunate to have a bunch of countermeasures available to our astronauts to be able to counteract some of those stressors involved like for example the opportunity to call home that that you guys mentioned you know yes it's not the same as taking your cell phone and you know calling anytime but it's pretty good as long as we have the communications available we also are able to connect our astronauts with their families it's only once a week but they get a video call with their families and it's an opportunity to you know be in the family be with the kids be with the spouse and you know see what's going on at home you know it's it's a way to maintain that connection we you know pipe up current events movies music the things that astronauts can use to stake acted here with events down on on the earth so they don't get that sense of isolation and confinement yeah it's like that free time is not just you know here's some time it's it's actually important to have that sort of time for that mental relief when you're so busy on the space station mark what do you remember from your expedition about the the Team Dynamics and and the free time and alone time that you needed during your your stay so one of the team dynamics that kinda makes me smile was so I ended up launching with Joe acaba another US astronaut and Sasha mazurka and the commander for the spacecraft and I I love both Joe and Sasha a ton but because I spent more time with Joe Joe and I worked out a thing I know I can be really goofy or overly serious and I told him hey if I'm ever being if I'm being too goofy if it started looks like I'm being unprofessional or I'm kind of getting too grumpy just look at me and say midrange and he didn't do it very often but when he said midrange to me i'd be like really really so I needed that feedback mechanism and that and I cracks me up because he would definitely be the guy that would do that and the other thing was the sense that we had a lot of fun just giving each other a hard time about stuff and I knew if I did a minor thing that was irritating instead of going to bed angry about it he would make a joke about it and then I would just open it up it would be we'd get it out there I'd know that that was an issue I wouldn't do it anymore I probably got some funny stories I shouldn't share here about exactly the details that but yeah that was really helpful to me somebody somebody who give me feedback that I knew was feedback from a good place where I knew they were on my side and the reason they were telling me these things that might not be comfortable for me to hear was in my best interest to hear so what about what about the idea of a lone time or free time for you what did you did you need that or where was it you get enough space where it wasn't really I definitely needed it we we kind of had a rule we're so on a weekend we have a lot of time off basically there's three hours of housecleaning at any given weekend and then ideally it's just your time and if somebody we imagine the four bedrooms the four crew quarters the really little it's but you've got one person on the ceiling one person on each wall and one person on the floor and it's basically phone booths like you mentioned mounted in each of those locations the direction doesn't really matter but they're all in close proximity each other and if you're an energetic person like I am in the morning and you want to get moving and you'll want to have a conversation right next to those crew quarters where you got another crew mate that's next door if somebody had their door shut we knew that that meant they needed quiet time so we should try to stay quiet outside there that's just a little little cultural thing we had on the space station but there was times when I on a Saturday morning I might be feeling a little worn out and I would just be there it had a laptop in there it started watching a movie and that was a nice way to just decompress just time by yourself but you but you had the weekends guys I don't think you have weekends when you're when you're touring we generally have two shows on Monday off three shows on the one day off two shows on one day off occasional them too we just got done two days off in a row it never happens which we really enjoyed but we didn't go get a hamburger we can go get not up there I have a question for both mark and I think for both mark and doctor Jim they're both by China on this so for me one of the issues that I had being on tour is my hobbies so my hobbies that I love to do the things I want to do really aren't conducive to being on tour and I had to kind of find creative ways to to occupy my time when I can't do those things is it something where where mark did you have to did you have any hobbies that you can take with you up there or Jim do you guys give the astronauts is that something goes in the psychological training if you maybe cultivating new hobbies that maybe they can get into in a in a space environment or something like that to wear because honestly I think Brent likes to quote Dwayne Johnson The Rock a lot and he has a thing I find your anchor you know find that thing in your life that you can anchor yourself to and that's a hard thing to do for me on towards having my anchor and I just didn't know if that was something that was you know like I said once and once again the doctor dr. James you guys would would suggest to them to find something they can do and I got a space station environment or heart was that something that you you already have something other than maybe watching movies that you well so there's one thing I brought forward with me to the space station reading I'd like reading and it turned out that if I was spending too much time on a screen just before going to bed I wouldn't be able to fall asleep very well so I managed to find a little we call him cargo transfer bags full of books that other people have left behind or someone had sent up on a care package so I I started reading a real book before going to sleep that helped me out a ton but a hobby that was great on the space station to learn about was photography because we had a lot of really really good cameras I mean with lenses that were so big I probably couldn't lift them on the ground but they were of course they just float in space and a lot of good advice on how to use the cameras an incredibly good subject matter to take pictures of so that was a new hobby that I picked up in space and then finally I guess a hobby that I missed I couldn't possibly be doing I really love water sports I'm a very fledgling surfer I'm just still trying to learn but I like I like windsurfing and I couldn't do any of that certainly in space I miss being outside and kind of the feel of the water and the wind and and sand so one thing that is part of our countermeasures and that is something that we call a crew care package and it's a little bit like exactly what it sounds like like when parents might send care packages to their children a camper in college and you know mark gives you a sense of these bags they're not very big and so there's not much you can put in in them but to the to the point of supporting hobbies as you can imagine is quite limited because of the environment it's you know and the constraints on things that you can fly in space because of the danger it might present to our astronauts but one of the things that we have sent up in these crew care packages and you guys will appreciate this for musical instruments and so there are instruments onboard the station and you know astronauts never cease to amaze me with how talented they are you know they are folks who can do multiple different things really well and I'm not one of those people I always am impressed by how how talented they are and we've had some really talented musicians on station and of course you know we've had French astronaut play the saxophone on station we have guitars on station and so folks who have music as a hobby and play music as a hobby there's actually a NASA astronaut band I believe mark that I noticed you I don't know if it's still active but we've had so there are instruments on the space station believe it or not so Jim when you're when you're thinking about these these mental health ways to relax think focusing on this especially with the space station which has been in orbit for more than 20 years and continuously habited for I think it's coming up on 19 now you're straight things are think are going to change when we go forward to the moon we're talking about going back to the moon 20 24 boots on the moon what can we take from Space Station to the moon and what's what's different well fortunately we we've learned a lot about what keeps folks healthy in space and we we basically use a couple of parameters that we sort of figure these things into and we decide how to provide those kind of countermeasures the first is habitable volume the larger the space obviously the better and the the other is the austerity of that environment how mature that environment is for what it can provide and so you know the says you point out the station is a fairly large habitable volume and it has a lot of in its maturity has a lot of creature comforts and I say that really in quotes because it's not a truly comfortable place but there are some things there and so we're going to give up some of those creature comforts for sure as we look at you know the upcoming lunar missions for example and maybe future Mars missions because the vehicles will be smaller and that will be more austere so we won't be able to have musical instruments for example onboard as some of the other the robustness of the exercise equipment and all that sort of stuff that we that we rely on now fortunately much of the stuff that that we rely on are effective in the short term for us because we rely on communications bandwidth and the ability load data files and so the ability to keep music going up to the station for their enjoyment videos and movies and to have real-time communications back home so that mark can make a phone call to his family to see his family on a video screen and you know have a conversation with them and so fortunately those will be available to us in the upcoming missions to the moon because we'll have real-time communication and hopefully the engineers will give us the bandwidth that we that we asked for to do that things will change dramatically as we think about going to Mars we will lose real-time communication at some point and there'll be a communication delay so we're going to need to rethink how we provide some of these things for the future and how we manage those expectations you know you guys mentioned earlier the ability to sort of tune out from social media because of the overload of just having immediate communication all the time but we're raising future generations to be kind of communicate that way you know to send it a brief text message and to communicate in that kind of way instead of say picking up the phone and having a conversation or seeing somebody face-to-face and having a conversation and so I worry a little bit about future generations that are used to communicating in instant time and that not being available you know not having the ability to you know have a Skype session because of comm delay or have a phone call or send a text message or an email and so we're going to have to think about some other ways to keep people connected to manage the expectations around communication and try to maximize the technology that we have available to support folks in space yeah the moon have gives you those constraints of stuff you can bring but at least you have a little bit more communication that gets a whole lot harder when you go further to Mars right I did want to get to some social media questions we're nearing the end here but we got one actually directed to you guys shine down this one comes from Gale she's asking I'd be interested in your perspective about how depression and other mental health issues can have an impact on touring musicians while at the same time music can be therapeutic for others struggling with similar issues I feel like we've talked about a lot about this but this is a good question do you find that music can offer you solace in trying times and I guess you can kind of broaden that to to playing music and listening to music especially while you're on tour I think one common theme that we run into a lot in our meet and greets on a daily basis with our fans is you know thank you so much you have no idea what your fans done for us with what you've helped us through and I like to turn them and say I absolutely do know and you know they'll say something to effect I don't think you know what it means with which advancement appeared and I like to say if we absolutely do know we're all fans of music and we're all fans of the other bands and other artists and we we absolutely find solace and therapy it's I think it's the best kind of therapy you can you can listen to the right song and discover things about yourself that you were maybe you didn't realize you never knew about or maybe you're trying to flush out a fleshed-out a problem that you're having in your head about yourself or something in your life and a song can just click on a lightbulb like that and and it's one of the many blessings of our art form is that you know music is is so objective not subjective you can find whatever you want to find it and pull meaning out of a song that written either they've been talking about this a lot lately where where a movie is something that is presented to you in its finished form and there's really not much you can grab outside of what's presented to you same thing with I won't say so much for the painting people can find everything campaigns musics one of those really rare art forms where you're painting on air you know they're it's purely an oral you know sensation and you're taking it in through your ears and your your you can turn it into whatever you want to turn it into you can find meaning that you need in it and that's what makes it so beautiful and that that's what helps me with it anyway is that I can I can I can hear songs and you know they might mean one thing to me that it's so helpful and so therapeutic and that's not at all what the artist intended for it to be about it's it's a pretty pretty amazing pretty amazing wand that we wave being musicians and songwriters and and to put it back on the audience too I mean at the end of that we have a saying in this band it's very real we only have one boss it just happens to be everybody in the audience and they've given us a platform ultimately to be ourselves and bringing it back to music you know I've said this quote for many many years because I think it's a beautiful quote but you know there was a philosopher that once said that without music life would be a mistake yeah and and that was Frederick Nietzsche and so inside of that too you know it's a we were doing an interview the other day being him and he touched on in a second ago you know why is music so much different than other art forms like a film or a book and those stories are presented they're finished they're done in the raw but finished form a song no matter where it came from when it was recorded you know for that individual can take you to the place you need to be to build you back up if you're down if you're heartbroken music always has a way and songs especially to kind of come on at the right moments and kill your heart you know what I mean I mean we've seen we witnessed it with our own eyes we've watched music cure cancer I mean it's it's a powerful it's just a wonderful powerful I don't know what to call it it's on its own level you know and the thing is that's great about that is that it continuously evolves you know and it means something different to everybody the album's that we listen to the genres we listen to it's always there for you it's never going to turn its back on you guys what an awesome discussion this was an absolute pleasure to have you here especially mark VandeHei and Jim pacano thank you so much for coming on and a very special thanks to you Shinedown for taking the time all the way from Norfolk Virginia for coming on today this was a fascinating discussion I really appreciate your time all right that will do it for us we are recording this is obviously live but we're recording in we'll send it out as a podcast you can find us houston we have a podcast on nasa.gov thanks for tuning in and while we sign off I think I'm going to get a selfie of this moment because it is just awesome thanks again guys you

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