The Issues of Life Podcast With Deron “Malibu” McBee
Deron McBee, the actor, and former American Gladiator hosts a weekly podcast. On his show, Deron discusses current events and topics related to recovery and faith with his guests. On January 29th, his guest was D’Amore Healthcare’s founder and CEO, Britten Devereux. Deron and Britten discussed what it was like living a double life, the pressure of keeping up appearances, and how they’ve used past hardships to help others.
What It Was Like
Deron McBee: [00:10:44] I want you to kind of share your testimony and where you are at and kind of like where you started. [00:10:52]
Britten Devereux: [00:10:52] Sure, that cauldron of pain, I think really can be one of God’s greatest instruments of peace. And thinking about pain as a teacher, it’s unfortunate. But in a fallen world, in a decayed world, that’s gonna be one of our teachers. And I was just so thankful that there came a time where I could really hear him and tune in rather than to keep running my own show. And running from rest. So that persona you talk about, there was no rest in keeping up a persona. That’s a lot of work. There was a lot of chasing. And there was a lot of just spinning inside, just constantly spinning.
And so for me, the spinning looked like: I need to be productive. I need to be an achiever. And I need to be approved of by others. I wanted it from my family. I wanted it from this very important person in my life growing up. I wanted to be trusted and approved of by them. And so I worked really hard on good grades and sports and athleticism and entrepreneurial skills. And at some level, it worked. Because on the outside, it looked like it was working well. And over time, I just never paid attention to talking through feelings, which is a thing that I avoided at all costs. [00:12:22]
Keeping The Plates Spinning
Deron McBee: [00:12:25] Have you ever seen that thing, in the variety shows, you’d have a guy and he’d have a bunch of sticks and he starts spinning plates on the sticks? He’s got 12 and that one’s about ready to break. That’s kind of like what I felt. I feel like your life was like that. And mine, too. We’re trying to keep all these plates spinning. And that’s the inside of us. And the outside of us is this persona of like, “Hey, I’ve got it going on”. [00:12:56]
Britten Devereux: [00:12:57] To keep those plates spinning, we had to have outside help. There has to be some supportive measures in there. And for years I thought those supported measures would be alcohol, that keeps it quiet. Opiates. Stimulants, you name it. Something to keep these feelings quiet. I thought that those tools were absolutely indispensable. And so I used those tools after some hard things happened in life and I continued to rely on them.
I worked really hard to keep up appearances. And where I’d say the plates started to break is when I was working in three different positions, very public, my very public life, one that I never would have sought after because I’m an introvert. So many of us, because we learned to have these skills so that we can go out in the marketplace and help serve others. And to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto others. And at some level, it’s advantageous to the marketplace and to others. And in another way, it’s completely deceptive.
Now I’ve learned in sobriety, how to recharge on my own because I am an introvert. But the planning, the spinning plates, things started to kind of break and drop when I just added one thing after another, after another after another. And I thought the fuel to keep those things going was substances. [00:14:58]
Faith and Mental Health
Britten Devereux: [00:18:10] Only once I unified this adult achiever and this little girl that was scared, could I be at peace within myself and become whole and give away to others these ideas of redemption, hope. And kindness and love.
Because none of that can come from me out of my own measures. It has to be Him. His power flowing through weak me. His power through us. With that, the story looks like somebody that gave up trying to do it on her own.
It’s ironic because I was the director of women’s ministries for a large church. I was in an elected position. I was in a nonprofit. And all of those positions, it was not acceptable to have the depression and addiction that I did. No, it was not comfortable for those around me or for me to have those problems. [00:19:02]
Deron McBee: [00:19:08] A lot of times, unfortunately, in Christendom, a lot of Christians don’t know what to do with depression. They will go: “Pray some more,” and it’s like, no, no, no, I’m really dealing with some stuff. [00:19:19]
Britten Devereux: [00:19:19] Yeah. I remember people telling me, are you in the word every day? Are you praying? And I remember, I had to be in the word, not just because I knew that that’s what the Lord had commanded us to do, but because of my positions. I knew that I needed His wisdom, but I was not willing to surrender my feelings to Him.
So there was some judgment that would come from being in those communities. And it took me creating some space away from those people for me to actually decipher the truth of God. And how that has a role in our life. If we’re in the marketplace or in our private world view in our home, we want those to align. So it took rest. It took setting down my persona and just letting Him draw the picture and write the map.
Now, today, I would say it’s my hope to change the landscape of psychiatry because I think that there’s so much of that judgment and stigma suffering in psychiatry. And it takes some of your story and some of my story. How we can pray for one another and be there for one another when we’re broken and messy. [00:20:34]
Fear and Addiction
Britten Devereux: [00:27:48] Anxiety. We talk about it all the time, running our lives and how it affects Americans. The reality is, fear affects everybody. There is not one human being that isn’t affected or impacted by fear. It’s just what we do with that fear. I wanted to cover the fear. I didn’t want fear. So I wanted to cover it up with substances that I thought I could engineer a better outcome than feeling those things. [00:28:12]
Deron McBee: [00:31:30] A lot of people think if you’re a Christian, you got it all going on all the time. You know what I mean? I was the same way when I got into my addiction. You could still love God and wipe out big time. [00:31:45]
Britten Devereux: [00:33:29] When I got sober, I started to face those things. But it takes time to be able to face those things. Everybody’s healing is a little bit different. There’s the physical part, the spiritual part, the emotional, the mental, social, the financial, the professional, the academic.
We can go through all those fears. But in each sphere, there has to be this dependence on somebody’s wisdom that’s greater than mine. It was in my third year of sobriety that I started getting support and seeking therapy. And that’s where things started to change. As far as fear not being the driver, that took time.
For me, once I started to reveal the greater story, this trembling person, to another soul that would listen. And doing so in an environment of somebody that I could trust. That’s where, one, my career started to change. And I could be a container of mercy and hope for others. And also where my personal life started to change and where that introvert was. I’m not saying she’s fearless, right? She’s still fearful. Now she is able to surrender the fear to a perfect, holy, loving, just God. [00:35:53]
Britten Devereux: [00:37:14] Through the interaction between a patient and a physician. Through one sober person to another sober person or the person that has the desire to stop drinking in an anonymous meeting. Any of that, that social component is so important.
And that’s another part of where that redemptive story started to take on more hope and more joy for me. Because there was no more isolating. There was no more the public world view in the private world view. And the two are separate. It’s the only way to have that peace is to integrate. [00:37:46]
Deron McBee: [00:37:47] Right. Exactly. I wasn’t the Deron that people saw. In private, when I was in my own head, it was a different Deron. Insecure. [00:38:07]
Britten Devereux: [00:42:04] Today, my life looks so much different in the sense that it’s integrated. I’m a whole person. I’m a whole person in a fallen world that wants to see addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill, all of us, treated with mercy.
And I remember the look in some physicians’ eyes during those years when I was going through all of that. And I was not unified within myself. I was divided within myself and seeing the look in their eyes of disgust and disdain and judgment. And it’s helped shape my career today. [00:42:45]
Deron McBee: [00:39:12] So let’s talk about that. What exactly do you do now? I mean, what’s your position now? [00:39:17]
Britten Devereux: [00:42:49] Some partners and I put together an organization called D’Amore Healthcare here in Southern California, and we treat primary mental illness. So subacute psychiatric illness and subacute dual diagnosis.
And a lot of how my vision was shaped with these guys is around my personal experience with addiction and mental illness. With appearances and with authenticity. With vulnerability versus somebody that has to be tough and strong. If you want to help others that are hurting you have to be willing to get hurt.
And so that’s really what it looks like for me, just going into the arena today and letting a stronger, better, smarter, wiser person run things. And that’s the Lord. The creator of all things and the best counselor. And so it’s my hope today that he would use me in little ways. I don’t think it’s about big ways [00:43:51]
Britten Devereux: [00:48:01] Patients will ask me, why do you do what you do? And. And I’ve said this to patients, but I’ve also said it to professionals in other fields. When they know that I’m in psychiatric services. And yet, I had a career in so many other areas in the marketplace. And my answer is always because I get to work with the dying. Because if you think about it, we have a 100 percent mortality rate. Last time I checked, we were all dying.
And you have the individual that will die with some dignity. Having heard the Gospel. Having understood the Gospel. Having their mental illness treated, their substance use disorder treated. I truly believe that it would be wonderful to see anybody that’s healed from addiction and mental illness to also know the Lord. That’s my hope. That’s the way I see the world. That’s how my life operates.
And over here, you can have that 100 percent mortality rate. Where they’re suffering. And there’s pain and there’s stigma and there’s isolation and there’s homelessness. And there’s no dignity in that death. None. So you have these two sides of the spectrum. And where are we going to fit in there? And I believe the gospel right is over here. Restoring it doesn’t mean that the homeless individual that’s still mentally ill can’t know the Lord.
This is just my hope and prayer for what I do in the marketplace every day. And that’s what I’m doing today is praying towards the landscape of psychiatry changing that we would see through eyes of love and through eyes of dignity, that we would restore individuals to a place of self-efficacy and independence in the marketplace. To go and be who the Lord created them to be. Because there’s no human being that wasn’t created with talents, and purpose, and skill. Because God is so much smarter than us. So in his ability, I believe that this is the redemptive story of healing. It’s that story of God’s grace. [00:50:10]