Crystal Lancaster

@crystallancaster | contributor
Crystal Lancaster is a writer and public speaker who was born in Long Beach, California in 1984. She lost her dad on the operating table when she was 15, and two and a half years later at age 17, within the confines of a psychiatric hospital, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Life can be unpredictable at times, doubly so for a person with a mental illness. She aims to raise awareness about mental disorders, and as for herself has had her share of relapses over a period of 19 years, but is holding on strong and intends to continue to beat this aggressive disease.

Grieving Not Being Able to Give Birth With Bipolar Disorder

I remember back in 2016, whenever Ms. Flo came to town a little late, I prayed to God I was pregnant. And then, it’d make its monthly appearance, and my heart would hit the bottom of my stomach with a loud thump. I knew getting pregnant while on my medication was highly irresponsible, and for the most part, very unlikely, as we always used protection … but a girl can hope. I knew if I did get pregnant while my organs had been swimming around in 2,500 mg of chemicals on a daily basis, there was a high chance the embryo would be affected — the drugs could cause malformations, heart defects, the baby could be born with a minutely short lifespan. But my desire to bear a child superseded any doubts or reservations. My heart was set on having a baby. Never mind if we weren’t financially secure. Never mind if we weren’t ready. I wanted it to happen accidentally because there was no way I would allow it to happen intentionally. It is a selfish desire, to wish for a baby even if it means they might be harmed by carelessness. I know that. But it is also an excruciating reality to accept, knowing the only way you can bear a child is if you abandon your medication you have been taking since you were 16 (20 years, in my case). The medication you’re scared to death to stop taking because you fear you may wake up and realize they are what keep you sane. To base your reality on your sanity, to never really know if it’s you talking, or the pills. And to not be willing to find the answers to questions you don’t want to ask. Hell, I skipped one dose of one of my meds, and I was off track for three weeks. I skipped doses for a month, and I lost my mind for nearly a year. It is humiliating to admit your sanity and your pills are critically linked. And though I may be able to wean myself off them, I’m scared to know who I am without them. What I might do. If I might crack. I wish I could stress what dire consequences I might face if I decided to taper off them… I don’t want to, but I will have to forfeit bearing children. My heart feels hollow knowing that. I feel almost barren, if that makes any sense. But to risk my sanity, simply put, may be a question of morality. I’ve seen my stability without pills, and I’ve never liked it. I don’t think I could handle it, and if you feel that makes me weak, well, you’ve probably never had a mental illness. Maybe if I was given a year to taper off, I could make it happen … but I don’t know if I have that much time, and it could even take longer. What happens if things go south, and I can never come back from it? It’s not an easy decision. Choosing to stay on meds and give up something I’ve wanted for many, many years. Something I’ve dreamed about. Maternity clothes I’ve fantasized about wearing. Seeing a little pooch and knowing it’s not a side effect of my medication. Carrying a child in this world. Bringing a child into this world. No one can tell me it can be compared to anything else. I’ve never experienced it, but I will bet everything I have on the assumption it can never be compared to anything else. And I have to live with that. I have to pass by expectant mothers and their protruding bellies and try my best not to cry or scream silently in my head, “That will never be me!” Lord knows I’ve experienced such envy in those cases. An envy I’d much rather not have. Man, did I hope those pregnancy tests would be positive. I guess you can say I’ve never really grieved never bearing a child. It saddens me every day. Surrogacy is an option, but an expensive one. I’ve passed the viable age for freezing my eggs. I have endometriosis, so having a baby is exponentially more difficult because of it. And no, I am not opposed to adoption, in fact, I probably will go that route. But as I said, I still haven’t grieved not having a baby. I blame my illness for this sadness. I blame my body for its necessity for pills. But nothing else, really. In all honesty, it’s hard to this day seeing people blessed with something I’m not sure I will have, but I realize babies are beautiful no matter what packaging they come in. And I know I will love the child I end up with. And though it may take a minute or two for me to remind myself, I am so grateful for what I do have, and I am certainly hopeful for who or what the future will bring.

Grieving Not Being Able to Give Birth With Bipolar Disorder

I remember back in 2016, whenever Ms. Flo came to town a little late, I prayed to God I was pregnant. And then, it’d make its monthly appearance, and my heart would hit the bottom of my stomach with a loud thump. I knew getting pregnant while on my medication was highly irresponsible, and for the most part, very unlikely, as we always used protection … but a girl can hope. I knew if I did get pregnant while my organs had been swimming around in 2,500 mg of chemicals on a daily basis, there was a high chance the embryo would be affected — the drugs could cause malformations, heart defects, the baby could be born with a minutely short lifespan. But my desire to bear a child superseded any doubts or reservations. My heart was set on having a baby. Never mind if we weren’t financially secure. Never mind if we weren’t ready. I wanted it to happen accidentally because there was no way I would allow it to happen intentionally. It is a selfish desire, to wish for a baby even if it means they might be harmed by carelessness. I know that. But it is also an excruciating reality to accept, knowing the only way you can bear a child is if you abandon your medication you have been taking since you were 16 (20 years, in my case). The medication you’re scared to death to stop taking because you fear you may wake up and realize they are what keep you sane. To base your reality on your sanity, to never really know if it’s you talking, or the pills. And to not be willing to find the answers to questions you don’t want to ask. Hell, I skipped one dose of one of my meds, and I was off track for three weeks. I skipped doses for a month, and I lost my mind for nearly a year. It is humiliating to admit your sanity and your pills are critically linked. And though I may be able to wean myself off them, I’m scared to know who I am without them. What I might do. If I might crack. I wish I could stress what dire consequences I might face if I decided to taper off them… I don’t want to, but I will have to forfeit bearing children. My heart feels hollow knowing that. I feel almost barren, if that makes any sense. But to risk my sanity, simply put, may be a question of morality. I’ve seen my stability without pills, and I’ve never liked it. I don’t think I could handle it, and if you feel that makes me weak, well, you’ve probably never had a mental illness. Maybe if I was given a year to taper off, I could make it happen … but I don’t know if I have that much time, and it could even take longer. What happens if things go south, and I can never come back from it? It’s not an easy decision. Choosing to stay on meds and give up something I’ve wanted for many, many years. Something I’ve dreamed about. Maternity clothes I’ve fantasized about wearing. Seeing a little pooch and knowing it’s not a side effect of my medication. Carrying a child in this world. Bringing a child into this world. No one can tell me it can be compared to anything else. I’ve never experienced it, but I will bet everything I have on the assumption it can never be compared to anything else. And I have to live with that. I have to pass by expectant mothers and their protruding bellies and try my best not to cry or scream silently in my head, “That will never be me!” Lord knows I’ve experienced such envy in those cases. An envy I’d much rather not have. Man, did I hope those pregnancy tests would be positive. I guess you can say I’ve never really grieved never bearing a child. It saddens me every day. Surrogacy is an option, but an expensive one. I’ve passed the viable age for freezing my eggs. I have endometriosis, so having a baby is exponentially more difficult because of it. And no, I am not opposed to adoption, in fact, I probably will go that route. But as I said, I still haven’t grieved not having a baby. I blame my illness for this sadness. I blame my body for its necessity for pills. But nothing else, really. In all honesty, it’s hard to this day seeing people blessed with something I’m not sure I will have, but I realize babies are beautiful no matter what packaging they come in. And I know I will love the child I end up with. And though it may take a minute or two for me to remind myself, I am so grateful for what I do have, and I am certainly hopeful for who or what the future will bring.

Grieving Not Being Able to Give Birth With Bipolar Disorder

I remember back in 2016, whenever Ms. Flo came to town a little late, I prayed to God I was pregnant. And then, it’d make its monthly appearance, and my heart would hit the bottom of my stomach with a loud thump. I knew getting pregnant while on my medication was highly irresponsible, and for the most part, very unlikely, as we always used protection … but a girl can hope. I knew if I did get pregnant while my organs had been swimming around in 2,500 mg of chemicals on a daily basis, there was a high chance the embryo would be affected — the drugs could cause malformations, heart defects, the baby could be born with a minutely short lifespan. But my desire to bear a child superseded any doubts or reservations. My heart was set on having a baby. Never mind if we weren’t financially secure. Never mind if we weren’t ready. I wanted it to happen accidentally because there was no way I would allow it to happen intentionally. It is a selfish desire, to wish for a baby even if it means they might be harmed by carelessness. I know that. But it is also an excruciating reality to accept, knowing the only way you can bear a child is if you abandon your medication you have been taking since you were 16 (20 years, in my case). The medication you’re scared to death to stop taking because you fear you may wake up and realize they are what keep you sane. To base your reality on your sanity, to never really know if it’s you talking, or the pills. And to not be willing to find the answers to questions you don’t want to ask. Hell, I skipped one dose of one of my meds, and I was off track for three weeks. I skipped doses for a month, and I lost my mind for nearly a year. It is humiliating to admit your sanity and your pills are critically linked. And though I may be able to wean myself off them, I’m scared to know who I am without them. What I might do. If I might crack. I wish I could stress what dire consequences I might face if I decided to taper off them… I don’t want to, but I will have to forfeit bearing children. My heart feels hollow knowing that. I feel almost barren, if that makes any sense. But to risk my sanity, simply put, may be a question of morality. I’ve seen my stability without pills, and I’ve never liked it. I don’t think I could handle it, and if you feel that makes me weak, well, you’ve probably never had a mental illness. Maybe if I was given a year to taper off, I could make it happen … but I don’t know if I have that much time, and it could even take longer. What happens if things go south, and I can never come back from it? It’s not an easy decision. Choosing to stay on meds and give up something I’ve wanted for many, many years. Something I’ve dreamed about. Maternity clothes I’ve fantasized about wearing. Seeing a little pooch and knowing it’s not a side effect of my medication. Carrying a child in this world. Bringing a child into this world. No one can tell me it can be compared to anything else. I’ve never experienced it, but I will bet everything I have on the assumption it can never be compared to anything else. And I have to live with that. I have to pass by expectant mothers and their protruding bellies and try my best not to cry or scream silently in my head, “That will never be me!” Lord knows I’ve experienced such envy in those cases. An envy I’d much rather not have. Man, did I hope those pregnancy tests would be positive. I guess you can say I’ve never really grieved never bearing a child. It saddens me every day. Surrogacy is an option, but an expensive one. I’ve passed the viable age for freezing my eggs. I have endometriosis, so having a baby is exponentially more difficult because of it. And no, I am not opposed to adoption, in fact, I probably will go that route. But as I said, I still haven’t grieved not having a baby. I blame my illness for this sadness. I blame my body for its necessity for pills. But nothing else, really. In all honesty, it’s hard to this day seeing people blessed with something I’m not sure I will have, but I realize babies are beautiful no matter what packaging they come in. And I know I will love the child I end up with. And though it may take a minute or two for me to remind myself, I am so grateful for what I do have, and I am certainly hopeful for who or what the future will bring.

Grieving Not Being Able to Give Birth With Bipolar Disorder

I remember back in 2016, whenever Ms. Flo came to town a little late, I prayed to God I was pregnant. And then, it’d make its monthly appearance, and my heart would hit the bottom of my stomach with a loud thump. I knew getting pregnant while on my medication was highly irresponsible, and for the most part, very unlikely, as we always used protection … but a girl can hope. I knew if I did get pregnant while my organs had been swimming around in 2,500 mg of chemicals on a daily basis, there was a high chance the embryo would be affected — the drugs could cause malformations, heart defects, the baby could be born with a minutely short lifespan. But my desire to bear a child superseded any doubts or reservations. My heart was set on having a baby. Never mind if we weren’t financially secure. Never mind if we weren’t ready. I wanted it to happen accidentally because there was no way I would allow it to happen intentionally. It is a selfish desire, to wish for a baby even if it means they might be harmed by carelessness. I know that. But it is also an excruciating reality to accept, knowing the only way you can bear a child is if you abandon your medication you have been taking since you were 16 (20 years, in my case). The medication you’re scared to death to stop taking because you fear you may wake up and realize they are what keep you sane. To base your reality on your sanity, to never really know if it’s you talking, or the pills. And to not be willing to find the answers to questions you don’t want to ask. Hell, I skipped one dose of one of my meds, and I was off track for three weeks. I skipped doses for a month, and I lost my mind for nearly a year. It is humiliating to admit your sanity and your pills are critically linked. And though I may be able to wean myself off them, I’m scared to know who I am without them. What I might do. If I might crack. I wish I could stress what dire consequences I might face if I decided to taper off them… I don’t want to, but I will have to forfeit bearing children. My heart feels hollow knowing that. I feel almost barren, if that makes any sense. But to risk my sanity, simply put, may be a question of morality. I’ve seen my stability without pills, and I’ve never liked it. I don’t think I could handle it, and if you feel that makes me weak, well, you’ve probably never had a mental illness. Maybe if I was given a year to taper off, I could make it happen … but I don’t know if I have that much time, and it could even take longer. What happens if things go south, and I can never come back from it? It’s not an easy decision. Choosing to stay on meds and give up something I’ve wanted for many, many years. Something I’ve dreamed about. Maternity clothes I’ve fantasized about wearing. Seeing a little pooch and knowing it’s not a side effect of my medication. Carrying a child in this world. Bringing a child into this world. No one can tell me it can be compared to anything else. I’ve never experienced it, but I will bet everything I have on the assumption it can never be compared to anything else. And I have to live with that. I have to pass by expectant mothers and their protruding bellies and try my best not to cry or scream silently in my head, “That will never be me!” Lord knows I’ve experienced such envy in those cases. An envy I’d much rather not have. Man, did I hope those pregnancy tests would be positive. I guess you can say I’ve never really grieved never bearing a child. It saddens me every day. Surrogacy is an option, but an expensive one. I’ve passed the viable age for freezing my eggs. I have endometriosis, so having a baby is exponentially more difficult because of it. And no, I am not opposed to adoption, in fact, I probably will go that route. But as I said, I still haven’t grieved not having a baby. I blame my illness for this sadness. I blame my body for its necessity for pills. But nothing else, really. In all honesty, it’s hard to this day seeing people blessed with something I’m not sure I will have, but I realize babies are beautiful no matter what packaging they come in. And I know I will love the child I end up with. And though it may take a minute or two for me to remind myself, I am so grateful for what I do have, and I am certainly hopeful for who or what the future will bring.

Grieving Not Being Able to Give Birth With Bipolar Disorder

I remember back in 2016, whenever Ms. Flo came to town a little late, I prayed to God I was pregnant. And then, it’d make its monthly appearance, and my heart would hit the bottom of my stomach with a loud thump. I knew getting pregnant while on my medication was highly irresponsible, and for the most part, very unlikely, as we always used protection … but a girl can hope. I knew if I did get pregnant while my organs had been swimming around in 2,500 mg of chemicals on a daily basis, there was a high chance the embryo would be affected — the drugs could cause malformations, heart defects, the baby could be born with a minutely short lifespan. But my desire to bear a child superseded any doubts or reservations. My heart was set on having a baby. Never mind if we weren’t financially secure. Never mind if we weren’t ready. I wanted it to happen accidentally because there was no way I would allow it to happen intentionally. It is a selfish desire, to wish for a baby even if it means they might be harmed by carelessness. I know that. But it is also an excruciating reality to accept, knowing the only way you can bear a child is if you abandon your medication you have been taking since you were 16 (20 years, in my case). The medication you’re scared to death to stop taking because you fear you may wake up and realize they are what keep you sane. To base your reality on your sanity, to never really know if it’s you talking, or the pills. And to not be willing to find the answers to questions you don’t want to ask. Hell, I skipped one dose of one of my meds, and I was off track for three weeks. I skipped doses for a month, and I lost my mind for nearly a year. It is humiliating to admit your sanity and your pills are critically linked. And though I may be able to wean myself off them, I’m scared to know who I am without them. What I might do. If I might crack. I wish I could stress what dire consequences I might face if I decided to taper off them… I don’t want to, but I will have to forfeit bearing children. My heart feels hollow knowing that. I feel almost barren, if that makes any sense. But to risk my sanity, simply put, may be a question of morality. I’ve seen my stability without pills, and I’ve never liked it. I don’t think I could handle it, and if you feel that makes me weak, well, you’ve probably never had a mental illness. Maybe if I was given a year to taper off, I could make it happen … but I don’t know if I have that much time, and it could even take longer. What happens if things go south, and I can never come back from it? It’s not an easy decision. Choosing to stay on meds and give up something I’ve wanted for many, many years. Something I’ve dreamed about. Maternity clothes I’ve fantasized about wearing. Seeing a little pooch and knowing it’s not a side effect of my medication. Carrying a child in this world. Bringing a child into this world. No one can tell me it can be compared to anything else. I’ve never experienced it, but I will bet everything I have on the assumption it can never be compared to anything else. And I have to live with that. I have to pass by expectant mothers and their protruding bellies and try my best not to cry or scream silently in my head, “That will never be me!” Lord knows I’ve experienced such envy in those cases. An envy I’d much rather not have. Man, did I hope those pregnancy tests would be positive. I guess you can say I’ve never really grieved never bearing a child. It saddens me every day. Surrogacy is an option, but an expensive one. I’ve passed the viable age for freezing my eggs. I have endometriosis, so having a baby is exponentially more difficult because of it. And no, I am not opposed to adoption, in fact, I probably will go that route. But as I said, I still haven’t grieved not having a baby. I blame my illness for this sadness. I blame my body for its necessity for pills. But nothing else, really. In all honesty, it’s hard to this day seeing people blessed with something I’m not sure I will have, but I realize babies are beautiful no matter what packaging they come in. And I know I will love the child I end up with. And though it may take a minute or two for me to remind myself, I am so grateful for what I do have, and I am certainly hopeful for who or what the future will bring.

Grieving Not Being Able to Give Birth With Bipolar Disorder

I remember back in 2016, whenever Ms. Flo came to town a little late, I prayed to God I was pregnant. And then, it’d make its monthly appearance, and my heart would hit the bottom of my stomach with a loud thump. I knew getting pregnant while on my medication was highly irresponsible, and for the most part, very unlikely, as we always used protection … but a girl can hope. I knew if I did get pregnant while my organs had been swimming around in 2,500 mg of chemicals on a daily basis, there was a high chance the embryo would be affected — the drugs could cause malformations, heart defects, the baby could be born with a minutely short lifespan. But my desire to bear a child superseded any doubts or reservations. My heart was set on having a baby. Never mind if we weren’t financially secure. Never mind if we weren’t ready. I wanted it to happen accidentally because there was no way I would allow it to happen intentionally. It is a selfish desire, to wish for a baby even if it means they might be harmed by carelessness. I know that. But it is also an excruciating reality to accept, knowing the only way you can bear a child is if you abandon your medication you have been taking since you were 16 (20 years, in my case). The medication you’re scared to death to stop taking because you fear you may wake up and realize they are what keep you sane. To base your reality on your sanity, to never really know if it’s you talking, or the pills. And to not be willing to find the answers to questions you don’t want to ask. Hell, I skipped one dose of one of my meds, and I was off track for three weeks. I skipped doses for a month, and I lost my mind for nearly a year. It is humiliating to admit your sanity and your pills are critically linked. And though I may be able to wean myself off them, I’m scared to know who I am without them. What I might do. If I might crack. I wish I could stress what dire consequences I might face if I decided to taper off them… I don’t want to, but I will have to forfeit bearing children. My heart feels hollow knowing that. I feel almost barren, if that makes any sense. But to risk my sanity, simply put, may be a question of morality. I’ve seen my stability without pills, and I’ve never liked it. I don’t think I could handle it, and if you feel that makes me weak, well, you’ve probably never had a mental illness. Maybe if I was given a year to taper off, I could make it happen … but I don’t know if I have that much time, and it could even take longer. What happens if things go south, and I can never come back from it? It’s not an easy decision. Choosing to stay on meds and give up something I’ve wanted for many, many years. Something I’ve dreamed about. Maternity clothes I’ve fantasized about wearing. Seeing a little pooch and knowing it’s not a side effect of my medication. Carrying a child in this world. Bringing a child into this world. No one can tell me it can be compared to anything else. I’ve never experienced it, but I will bet everything I have on the assumption it can never be compared to anything else. And I have to live with that. I have to pass by expectant mothers and their protruding bellies and try my best not to cry or scream silently in my head, “That will never be me!” Lord knows I’ve experienced such envy in those cases. An envy I’d much rather not have. Man, did I hope those pregnancy tests would be positive. I guess you can say I’ve never really grieved never bearing a child. It saddens me every day. Surrogacy is an option, but an expensive one. I’ve passed the viable age for freezing my eggs. I have endometriosis, so having a baby is exponentially more difficult because of it. And no, I am not opposed to adoption, in fact, I probably will go that route. But as I said, I still haven’t grieved not having a baby. I blame my illness for this sadness. I blame my body for its necessity for pills. But nothing else, really. In all honesty, it’s hard to this day seeing people blessed with something I’m not sure I will have, but I realize babies are beautiful no matter what packaging they come in. And I know I will love the child I end up with. And though it may take a minute or two for me to remind myself, I am so grateful for what I do have, and I am certainly hopeful for who or what the future will bring.

Grieving Not Being Able to Give Birth With Bipolar Disorder

I remember back in 2016, whenever Ms. Flo came to town a little late, I prayed to God I was pregnant. And then, it’d make its monthly appearance, and my heart would hit the bottom of my stomach with a loud thump. I knew getting pregnant while on my medication was highly irresponsible, and for the most part, very unlikely, as we always used protection … but a girl can hope. I knew if I did get pregnant while my organs had been swimming around in 2,500 mg of chemicals on a daily basis, there was a high chance the embryo would be affected — the drugs could cause malformations, heart defects, the baby could be born with a minutely short lifespan. But my desire to bear a child superseded any doubts or reservations. My heart was set on having a baby. Never mind if we weren’t financially secure. Never mind if we weren’t ready. I wanted it to happen accidentally because there was no way I would allow it to happen intentionally. It is a selfish desire, to wish for a baby even if it means they might be harmed by carelessness. I know that. But it is also an excruciating reality to accept, knowing the only way you can bear a child is if you abandon your medication you have been taking since you were 16 (20 years, in my case). The medication you’re scared to death to stop taking because you fear you may wake up and realize they are what keep you sane. To base your reality on your sanity, to never really know if it’s you talking, or the pills. And to not be willing to find the answers to questions you don’t want to ask. Hell, I skipped one dose of one of my meds, and I was off track for three weeks. I skipped doses for a month, and I lost my mind for nearly a year. It is humiliating to admit your sanity and your pills are critically linked. And though I may be able to wean myself off them, I’m scared to know who I am without them. What I might do. If I might crack. I wish I could stress what dire consequences I might face if I decided to taper off them… I don’t want to, but I will have to forfeit bearing children. My heart feels hollow knowing that. I feel almost barren, if that makes any sense. But to risk my sanity, simply put, may be a question of morality. I’ve seen my stability without pills, and I’ve never liked it. I don’t think I could handle it, and if you feel that makes me weak, well, you’ve probably never had a mental illness. Maybe if I was given a year to taper off, I could make it happen … but I don’t know if I have that much time, and it could even take longer. What happens if things go south, and I can never come back from it? It’s not an easy decision. Choosing to stay on meds and give up something I’ve wanted for many, many years. Something I’ve dreamed about. Maternity clothes I’ve fantasized about wearing. Seeing a little pooch and knowing it’s not a side effect of my medication. Carrying a child in this world. Bringing a child into this world. No one can tell me it can be compared to anything else. I’ve never experienced it, but I will bet everything I have on the assumption it can never be compared to anything else. And I have to live with that. I have to pass by expectant mothers and their protruding bellies and try my best not to cry or scream silently in my head, “That will never be me!” Lord knows I’ve experienced such envy in those cases. An envy I’d much rather not have. Man, did I hope those pregnancy tests would be positive. I guess you can say I’ve never really grieved never bearing a child. It saddens me every day. Surrogacy is an option, but an expensive one. I’ve passed the viable age for freezing my eggs. I have endometriosis, so having a baby is exponentially more difficult because of it. And no, I am not opposed to adoption, in fact, I probably will go that route. But as I said, I still haven’t grieved not having a baby. I blame my illness for this sadness. I blame my body for its necessity for pills. But nothing else, really. In all honesty, it’s hard to this day seeing people blessed with something I’m not sure I will have, but I realize babies are beautiful no matter what packaging they come in. And I know I will love the child I end up with. And though it may take a minute or two for me to remind myself, I am so grateful for what I do have, and I am certainly hopeful for who or what the future will bring.

'One More Light' by Linkin Park Sends Important Suicide Message

I can never let Suicide Prevention Awareness Month pass without playing the song “One More Light” by Linkin Park, sung by Chester Bennington. It presents such a beautiful message. You matter. You might feel like the loneliest person in the world right now, your heart breaking from hopelessness, a devastating desperation clawing at your insides, clamoring for one reason, simply one reason to stay. How can you continue to go on feeling this way? This crushing pain that won’t let go of you. You can’t breathe and all you want is to leave it all behind. And yet… This song begs you to stay. Asks you to remain. It orders you to ignore everyone who never had the brain to realize the incredible person that you are. It gracefully insinuates, you are good. You are needed. You matter. You matter. Maybe it feels like you’re a million light years away from happiness, and maybe that void in your stomach that only equates to emptiness causes you to feel like it will never be filled. But I dispute that statement. I’ve had your thoughts. I’ve been in your mind. Many times has my heart never seemed more connected to my head. I’ve plotted ways. I’ve mapped out dates. I’m telling you, I’ve been there. But I’m still here. Because miracles do exist. Because happiness belongs to everyone, and yet, there are those who seem to feel more entitled to it than others. Because I’ve been to the bottom of the defecated well, and climbed my way back up to the top. It wasn’t easy. It sure wasn’t pretty. But I did it. There is hope. You must believe it. You are not alone in your pain. You are not alone in your emotions. And those thoughts that might seem abnormal? You are not the first to think them. I was so saddened to learn of Chester Bennington’s suicide that occurred only a couple of months after the band released and performed such a provoking song, “One More Light.” Chester asks, “Who cares if one more light goes out? I do.” I know his friend Chris Cornell died by suicide only three months before Chester took his own life, so I’m sure that played a factor. However, we will never truly know the last thought that goes through someone’s mind the last millisecond of his or her life. It’s hard not to quantify the statement, “You matter.” To whom and how many? But perhaps we can start with one person. Because odds are, they aren’t the only ones. Odds are, you are loved more than you could imagine. I wish I could tell you I stayed because I was brave. I was courageous and decided I ain’t going down that easy. No. It wasn’t me being “strong.” I stayed because I was afraid to leave. Because honestly? I couldn’t deal. In that moment, in that space of angst and misery and an agony so unruly it rips you in two, you can only think of one way out. And when you don’t take it, you box the emotions back up. And save them for another day. But that box only gets heavier as time goes by. And you never lessen the load, you just keep adding more and more to it. As humans, this is what we do. This is how we deal. We store things away because we don’t know what to do with what we have, especially something new, whether it be an object, an emotion or a new stage in your life. And when we get to that point. When we are suddenly trucking those boxes of baggage up the hill, at no point throwing things out or working through what’s inside, we start to buckle. The legs bend forward and now find ourselves tumbling down that hill. I know not everyone is a fan of talking about their emotions, how they’re “feeling.” Some cultures even shun it and stigmatize the entire topic of “ mental health .” But we have to talk about how we feel. We have to address our issues. We have to try and find a way to mend what is broken. To fix what needs repairing. And we can’t do it alone. We aren’t meant to do it alone. I don’t want to generalize, so… let me be real here. When I considered suicide in the past, there was no one in the world who could make me feel better in that single moment. I never felt more alone. I couldn’t make myself happy, hence, no one else could. There was no solution in sight, and if there was no solution, how the hell was I supposed to be happy. Lucky for me, I decided to go to sleep instead of choosing the alternative. God saved me. But I’m not everyone. Living a life impacted by depression makes me realize two things: 1. We are human, and we are meant to talk about our problems. 2. When suicide seems like the perfect solution, that is the time to pick up the phone and call somebody. And I guarantee, that person will care.

'One More Light' by Linkin Park Sends Important Suicide Message

I can never let Suicide Prevention Awareness Month pass without playing the song “One More Light” by Linkin Park, sung by Chester Bennington. It presents such a beautiful message. You matter. You might feel like the loneliest person in the world right now, your heart breaking from hopelessness, a devastating desperation clawing at your insides, clamoring for one reason, simply one reason to stay. How can you continue to go on feeling this way? This crushing pain that won’t let go of you. You can’t breathe and all you want is to leave it all behind. And yet… This song begs you to stay. Asks you to remain. It orders you to ignore everyone who never had the brain to realize the incredible person that you are. It gracefully insinuates, you are good. You are needed. You matter. You matter. Maybe it feels like you’re a million light years away from happiness, and maybe that void in your stomach that only equates to emptiness causes you to feel like it will never be filled. But I dispute that statement. I’ve had your thoughts. I’ve been in your mind. Many times has my heart never seemed more connected to my head. I’ve plotted ways. I’ve mapped out dates. I’m telling you, I’ve been there. But I’m still here. Because miracles do exist. Because happiness belongs to everyone, and yet, there are those who seem to feel more entitled to it than others. Because I’ve been to the bottom of the defecated well, and climbed my way back up to the top. It wasn’t easy. It sure wasn’t pretty. But I did it. There is hope. You must believe it. You are not alone in your pain. You are not alone in your emotions. And those thoughts that might seem abnormal? You are not the first to think them. I was so saddened to learn of Chester Bennington’s suicide that occurred only a couple of months after the band released and performed such a provoking song, “One More Light.” Chester asks, “Who cares if one more light goes out? I do.” I know his friend Chris Cornell died by suicide only three months before Chester took his own life, so I’m sure that played a factor. However, we will never truly know the last thought that goes through someone’s mind the last millisecond of his or her life. It’s hard not to quantify the statement, “You matter.” To whom and how many? But perhaps we can start with one person. Because odds are, they aren’t the only ones. Odds are, you are loved more than you could imagine. I wish I could tell you I stayed because I was brave. I was courageous and decided I ain’t going down that easy. No. It wasn’t me being “strong.” I stayed because I was afraid to leave. Because honestly? I couldn’t deal. In that moment, in that space of angst and misery and an agony so unruly it rips you in two, you can only think of one way out. And when you don’t take it, you box the emotions back up. And save them for another day. But that box only gets heavier as time goes by. And you never lessen the load, you just keep adding more and more to it. As humans, this is what we do. This is how we deal. We store things away because we don’t know what to do with what we have, especially something new, whether it be an object, an emotion or a new stage in your life. And when we get to that point. When we are suddenly trucking those boxes of baggage up the hill, at no point throwing things out or working through what’s inside, we start to buckle. The legs bend forward and now find ourselves tumbling down that hill. I know not everyone is a fan of talking about their emotions, how they’re “feeling.” Some cultures even shun it and stigmatize the entire topic of “ mental health .” But we have to talk about how we feel. We have to address our issues. We have to try and find a way to mend what is broken. To fix what needs repairing. And we can’t do it alone. We aren’t meant to do it alone. I don’t want to generalize, so… let me be real here. When I considered suicide in the past, there was no one in the world who could make me feel better in that single moment. I never felt more alone. I couldn’t make myself happy, hence, no one else could. There was no solution in sight, and if there was no solution, how the hell was I supposed to be happy. Lucky for me, I decided to go to sleep instead of choosing the alternative. God saved me. But I’m not everyone. Living a life impacted by depression makes me realize two things: 1. We are human, and we are meant to talk about our problems. 2. When suicide seems like the perfect solution, that is the time to pick up the phone and call somebody. And I guarantee, that person will care.

A Letter to People Who Don't Feel Accomplished This New Year's

I see you. The new year is fast approaching. The start of a brand new decade. They’ll light it up with style. It seems everyone else is making lists of all the things they have accomplished these past 10 years. And all you can think about is how you barely survived. As great as past New Years’ resolutions resolved and boxes on bucket lists checked off are, I don’t want you to overlook the greatest thing of all: You’re alive. You made it. You have come this far. We are at the end of a decade, yes. And you’ve survived another year. That’s a win. I proudly raise a glass to you for every roadblock, every tear drop, every fumble along the way you have overcome. Who else can say that? Even if it wasn’t your intention, even if you feel like you barely tried, like you found yourself here by chance, you have still made it. I see you. We all our walking along our own timeline, each reaching milestones at our own pace. We needn’t measure our worth by the success of others, for we do things, we accomplish things, in our own time. It’s OK if your friends seem to be making strides daily while you can barely keep your head above water. It’s OK if you feel like you’re struggling to keep up. We all struggle at some time. You are enough. I want you to know being alive in any day and age, in the face of utmost adversity, is the greatest feat of all. And look at you. Still here. Raise your glass higher, dear. And let’s not forget the old saying, “All things in time.” We will achieve our goals when we are able. And you aren’t any less capable for achieving them at a rate that seems a bit more sluggish than others you know. I won’t ever let you think that about yourself. Speed is overrated anyway, don’t you think? Let’s take a moment, slow it down, take a breath. I wish you could see the good I see in you. If you could consider perhaps even the possibility that you are good and worthy of all things good. Understand that you may have been dealt a crappy hand but your life does not have to follow suit. It can be magnificent and grand. It can be contentment and peace of mind. I’m telling you just making it through this past decade is a phenomenal start. I really am proud of you. Lord knows life isn’t easy. And having a mental illness such as bipolar disorder validates that fact in ways I wish I never had to experience, ways I’m sure you wish you never had to experience either. But it does not invalidate your value as a human being nor the importance of your life. There is a reason you’re still living. Be it chance, luck or destiny. You’re here. That means something. I won’t beg for your happiness and plead for you to celebrate when the clock strikes midnight. But I will ask you to recognize one thing. You have made it. You are alive. You have made it. If anything matters at all, it is that you are alive today, reading this. And I thank God you have made it. Again, raise a glass to that. You matter. I see you.