Nate Crawford

@nate-crawford | contributor
Nate Crawford is the Executive Director of Here/Hear (herehear.org), an organization supporting the mentally ill and their families. He holds a Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago and lives with his family in northern Indiana.
Nate Crawford

8 Ways to Keep Your Mental Health in Check at Summer Music Festivals

We’re in summer music festival season. This can be a great thing for those of us who love music. There are great festivals with a variety of bands and artists doing unique things. These festivals also offer the opportunity to see, hear and discover musicians and groups one may have never come into contact with or may not have known about. It’s a real time of discovery and being able to have a very unique and unprecedented experience. With that in mind, I just returned from  Summer Camp Music Festival  in Chillicothe, IL. It was a great time with the opportunity to see a lot of the bands I really love, as well as discover some new ones. However, as I was there, I realized there were some things I needed to do in order to keep my mental health in good shape. You see, I struggle with bipolar 2 disorder and anxiety. This means that my everyday life can be difficult at times, let alone my life at a music festival. But, after being home a few days and reflecting, I think there are a few things that people with mental illness can do to ensure they have a great music festival, as well as keep their mental health as intact as possible. 1. Prepare. One of the most important things you can do for a music festival is prepare. Being prepared means you have the stuff you are going to need while you are there, as well as understanding how the festival works. For example, at Summer Camp Music Festival you do not camp near your car. Instead, you have to haul all of your stuff into the camping area while you leave your car out in the parking lot. This means it is imperative to pack as light as possible while also having some means for transporting your materials into the park. It’s important to prepare and know what the policies of the festival are. I think it is important to get the lay of the land and understand the way that the festival works, at least as much as possible. This comes with the caveat, though, that you can never really “know” the festival until you experience it. But, being as prepared as possible is important for keeping your mental health in such an environment. 2. Try to stick to your routine. Many people, like myself, have routines at home that help them manage their mental illness. This includes when I take my medication, when I sleep, when I eat, etc. There are also things I do at home, like meditation and/or quiet times, that are necessary for me to maintain my mental health. It’s important to maintain these things as much as possible while at the music festival. I understand you’ll probably be staying up later than usual and your food might not be quite what it is at home. But, try to maintain your routine and practices as much as possible. 3. Sleep. No, really, you have to sleep! One of the things that can cost someone their mental health incredibly quickly is to mess up one’s sleep. Now, I say this knowing full well that there are late night concerts and shows that people want to see and hear. I did the same thing. But, it’s really important that you get sleep, and get enough of it. And, this might mean making difficult choices. For example, at Summer Camp, I knew that I needed to get good sleep. I was working a booth for my organization  Here/Hear  during the day. Because of that, I could not sleep all day, so I needed to make a few tough decisions on late night music. This actually cost me the opportunity to see a band that I really like called Turkuaz. I wanted to catch their set, but they started at 2 a.m. and were not ending until 4 a.m. I just could not catch them and then work the booth. So, I had to skip their set. It was a tough decision, but was important for maintaining my overall mental health at the festival. 4. Find safe spaces. It seems that there are places of quiet and safe spaces at every music festival. It is important to find those spaces, or create them, so that you can have moments where you allow your brain to be quiet and slow down. My safe space at Summer Camp was at our campsite. We had our tents up and a canopy tent that allowed us to simply sit and be quiet. We would even go back after different concerts we had attended just to catch our breathe and recharge a bit before going to the next concert. It was a great way for me to allow my brain some quiet moments in the midst of what was an overstimulating four days. 5. Make a daily plan. One of the things my compatriot and I did every morning was make a plan for the day. We had to work the Here/Hear booth, so we knew what we were doing most of the time during the day. But, when the booth closed and we started to hit the music, we needed to have an idea of what we were doing. So, we made a daily plan. This gave us an outline to the day. We did not always follow it to the letter (we like to improvise at times), but it gave us an overall flow to the day so that we did not get stuck making decisions in the middle of a concert or a throng of people. By making a daily plan, we had a strong idea of what we were doing while not being completely tied down to that plan. 6. Respect yourself if doing drugs is not for you. This sounds simple, but music festivals are grounds for a lot of drugs. It’s easy to get caught up in the vibe of the festival and begin trying mild-altering chemicals, including drinking too much. I don’t want to sound like a killjoy, but it’s important to remember that your mental health is a delicate balance and it’s important to not imbibe things that are going to upset that balance. This means that even drinking too much alcohol can mess up your mental health. So, it is very important to be quite mindful of what you put in your system and not do anything that that can mess up the delicate balance that is one’s mental health, especially if you have a mental illness. 7. Do your (prescribed) drugs. When we get outside of our comfort zone, one of the easiest things for me is to stop taking my medications. This happens a lot when I am on vacation because I am out of routine. So, make sure that you continue taking the medications that you have been prescribed. It is necessary for you to continue doing as your doctor has told you so that you maintain your fight against your mental illness. It’s easy to simply put aside your meds and do other things over the course of a music festival. However, you have to continue taking your meds and doing what is necessary for your mental health. 8. Have fun. Last, but most important, have a good time. Actually, have a great time. Embrace the festival and enjoy every minute of it. Be a part of what is going on and embrace all that goes along with it. This is important because you have probably spent a lot of money to be there and you want to enjoy it. As well, it is important because your mental health will be better if you are having fun and enjoying what the festival has to offer. So, these are my tips for navigating music festivals. What are your thoughts? Anything you would add? We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via  m-gucci

Nate Crawford

Tips for Seeing a Psychiatrist for the First Time

One of the most difficult things about having a mental illness is actually getting help. I remember when I was very sick and my wife told me I needed help, it really hit me hard. And when I went to my counselor and he said I needed more help in the form of a psychiatrist, I was reeling. It was really hard to hear I was that sick. I did not know what to expect or even what to do. I was lost. In light of this, I want to offer a few tips for someone who has not yet gone to see a psychiatrist and may be questioning whether they should or not. I’m going to try and give you some insider information for how to approach the entire process. Here’s my list: 1. It’s a doctor’s office, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I like to sit in my psychiatrist’s office and watch people come in the door. I can always tell someone who is new or has not been there very much. They have a sheepish look and do not look comfortable. It is like they are ashamed. And I know this look because I had this look too. The look of being totally unsure and not wanting anyone to judge me. It was like I was ashamed I had to be there. However, it’s important to remember this is just another doctor’s office and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. When I had two herniated discs in my back, I went to a specialist and was never ashamed or even thought twice about it. I simply wanted to get better and was doing what I had to in order to accomplish that goal. This is the same thing that occurs with a psychiatrist. You want to get better and you are going to a doctor. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Own the fact you are actually trying to get better and be proud of it. 2. Make sure you get along with your psychiatrist. One essential thing to keep in mind is you should get along with your psychiatrist. I like to establish a good rapport with my psychiatrist. It does not mean we are best friends or we are a perfect match, because we’re not. But the best psychiatrists are ones who build a relationship and have a vested interest in you. You have to have some mutuality to the relationship. I have had the unfortunate experience of having three different psychiatrists due to issues with my insurance. Of those three, the one I had the hardest time with and really had no relationship with was the one who made my recovery most difficult. 3. Make sure your psychiatrist listens to you. One of the important things about developing a rapport with your psychiatrist is making sure they are listening to you. You are a patient and need to make your concerns and issues heard. You also need to detail how you feel and make sure your psychiatrist understands what you mean. They are there to offer diagnoses and then prescribe medicine. The best way a psychiatrist can do this is to listen to and hear what a patient says. So when you are voicing your concerns, make sure your psychiatrist is hearing you. One of the ways this really comes into play is when you discuss medication. Oftentimes a psychiatrist will prescribe a medication they believe will help you. But it may not. You may be having a rough time with the side effects of the medication and it can be easy to think it’s not worth taking at all. Voice this to your doctor. Similarly, make sure your doctor hears you when something is working. Make sure you feel able to tell your psychiatrist what needs to be said. 4. Listen to your psychiatrist. In a different vein, it is important you listen to your psychiatrist and actually try what they say. Be patient and listen to what you are being told. It is important you hear why you are taking certain medications or doing certain things. Psychiatrists generally know what they are doing. It is imperative to have trust in them and listen to what treatment plan they have you on. You should follow their directions. 5. Don’t expect to get all the answers right away. One of the most frustrating aspects of having a mental illness is there are no “answers” right away. Things take time. It takes time to get a diagnosis. It takes time for many medications, especially antidepressants, to work. It takes time for talk therapy to begin taking effect. You cannot go into your psychiatrist’s office expecting to walk out with the perfect resolution to your mental illness. This just is not the reality. Rather, you walk into the psychiatrist’s office deciding to listen and then walk out with the beginning of a plan. Let me share a brief example. My first appointment with my first psychiatrist was simply a chance to get to know one another and begin outlining what a treatment plan would look like. She decided the antidepressant I was on was not helping and we began to wean me off it and onto another one. That was it. There was no diagnosis and not really a lot we were planning to fix. We were simply going to take one step at a time and work a process to recovery. Eventually, I got a diagnosis (bipolar disorder II and anxiety) and a good set of meds to help control my illness. But it took a lot of time. And you have to be patient and realize it takes time. 6. Be committed to your treatment. Oftentimes, people go into a psychiatrist with an attitude that says, “I don’t think this will help” or “I’m not sure about this.” They also walk into the office with the attitude they are ashamed or embarrassed to be there. This causes people to not really commit to their treatment. Instead, you have to be actively committed to the treatment and if it does not work out, change things with the help of your doctor. This means more than simply taking your meds. Rather, it means making the necessary lifestyle changes to ensure your recovery. Other people cannot recover for you, you have to perform the recovery yourself. And at times, it sucks. But being committed to your treatment with a psychiatrist from your first day is an absolutely imperative starting point. There are a number of other things I could say. Honestly, there’s probably a book to be written. These are just some good tips to get you into the door and through your first session with a psychiatrist. It requires a lot of work on your part, which is really hard when in the throes of a mental illness, but it will be worth it in the long run. Good luck on your journey! We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Image via Thinkstock

Nate Crawford

I Don't Feel Courageous for Being Open About My Mental Illness

On Saturday, I went with my two brothers-in-law and my father to a beer fest. This was a place where there was a large number of craft breweries letting people sample their beers 2 ounces at a time. And while I was there, I was wearing my Here/Hear t-shirt, mainly because it is one of my comfiest shirts. As I walked around, one of the guys pouring beer looked at me and said, “Here/Hear? I love those guys.” I was a bit taken aback as I did not expect anyone to recognize the shirt as we are still a rather small nonprofit trying to do big things. And then he said, “I love what they do. Do you know what they do?” I said I was familiar. And he went back to pouring beer, and I was left dumbfounded. Now, for those that do not know, which is probably most of you, I am the founder and Executive Director of Here/Hear. I run it out of my house as we have no need for a building at the moment. I do the work while I watch my youngest son, a 4-year old little boy that we inappropriately named Ryder — because he is never just the “rider” but usually the driver. My dog is currently sitting on my feet as I type. It’s a small set-up, but we are able to accomplish our goals. So, yes, I am familiar with what Here/Hear does. I do almost everything, but I did not want to tell the brewer that. This surprise from the brewer struck me because I was not expecting it and I still feel like what we do is somewhat small. It has not lived into my ideas yet… which is probably a good thing. But this brewer’s mention of our good work came after I had recently talked to some people who said I was “inspirational” and “courageous” for talking about my story and starting Here/Hear. Their thought was it is hard to talk about things like mental illness and it must have taken much courage for me to begin speaking up and talking about my own struggle with bipolar disorder and anxiety. And they found this courage to speak up inspirational; maybe they would share their own story and do something about what they cared about in their lives. Can I tell you a secret though? Nothing I have done has been courageous. I’m not courageous for telling my story. I am glad it has inspired people, but, really, I feel like kind of a coward. You see, I had a job where I was told I would be fired if I talked about my mental illness, that people did not need to know about it and that I would be judged for it. The fact that I could not tell people, especially some of my friends I worked with closely, really ate me up. It hurt me and caused me pain to live with such a large part of my life in a private closet. It was not fair or right, but that’s what I did: I just kept things private. I was afraid and let what my boss told me drive a decision to stay quiet. Eventually, I came to the place where I was writing and working online and people were going to find out I had a mental illness. So, I told my boss I was going to tell and I started to tell people. And my boss was wrong. He was very, very wrong. People accepted me, they cared about me, they embraced me, they asked why I had not told them sooner. You see, with the right people around, it is not courageous to share your story: it is simply what you do. You share life together. I found this quite empowering, and if I am honest, I got a little prideful and “puffy-chested” about sharing my story. It made me feel really good. So, it was never courage that resulted in me sharing my story. It was other people’s courage to accept me despite not understanding what it means to live with bipolar. I’m not courageous because it makes me feel good to tell my story, to allow other people into my life. I’m glad that might inspire people, but this is therapeutic for me and gives me purpose to my life, something I might not have otherwise. And, honestly I loved the fact that people love and embrace me in this story. It’s not altruistic: I speak and share because it helps me too. I will never go back to the place where I was forced to live where my story had to remain silent. No, I share my story and I talk about my illness for me. It’s not courageous, but it is necessary. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by leszek glasner

Nate Crawford

6 Tips for Getting Gifts for a Person With Bipolar

So, yeah, I have bipolar disorder. To be exact, I have bipolar 2, which means I am on the depression side of the mood pendulum more often than the hypomanic side. I don’t get manic. This can mean buying gifts for me, especially for Christmas, can be a real bear. It’s no fun. I’m sorry to the people who feel the need to. In fact, I often tell them not to because when the impulse strikes, I’ll just get what I want when I want. Now, buying presents for me is difficult because, well, I’m all over the place. The act of going to someone’s house and the expectations of Christmas weigh on me tremendously. I feel the need to please people and make them happy, even when I’m miserable. I try to do this when people get me presents. I act like I love them even when I do not. Even if I do love them, the gifts are often associated with the anxiety, pressure and subsequent depression I feel when in the throes of Christmas. Thus, when you buy me that shirt, put it in a box and give it to me, know all the emotions I am struggling with just to maintain throughout the day are there, and I’ll probably never wear that shirt again. But you want to get me a gift that speaks to our relationship and the fact that you “know” me. Let me give you some tips on picking out that gift. 1. Show you know me and care about me. Too often people’s gifts are a reflection of them instead of the one the gift is being given to. I do not give all my friends “Grateful Dead” CDs, and I do not expect to get “Journey” from you. (Just so anyone knows, a gift of anything related to “Journey” is a declaration that our friendship is over.) 2. Understand where I go and do not go. Having bipolar disorder means I have a host of triggers. I avoid places, and I avoid them like the plague because they trigger emotions or anxiety. They do not give me the “feels.” So, buying me gift cards to places where they throw food at you is not my idea of a gift. It’s an exercise in hand-eye coordination. If I wanted to do that, then I’d play baseball with my son. 3. Keep me in mind when you buy a gift for my child or spouse. This goes along with the previous point. If you buy my children $300 worth of gift cards to Chuck E. Cheese, I most likely will not be able to take them there. It stresses me out and causes all sorts of thoughts to go through my head that end up with me hurt. 4. Understand what helps me. Managing my bipolar is often a 24-hour job. Little mess ups here and there can lead to big consequences later. When you’re thinking about a gift for me, think about getting me things that are helpful or can be helpful to me in managing my illness. Find out what I do to keep my illness under control and be thoughtful enough to contribute there. 5. Take my gift I give to you. One of the biggest things for me is that I do not give gifts just to give them. They mean something. I take a lot of time, effort and thought to pick out gifts, and they reflect my understanding of who you are. To reject them or to be ambivalent about them is a rejection of me and how well I know you. It hurts my feelings. 6. Take the pressure out of the holidays. This is perhaps the greatest gift you can give me for Christmas. I do not mean to sound preachy, but the holidays have never been about presents or about the pressure for the perfect meal. The more pressure you put on it, the more I cannot handle it. You exclude me off the bat because it’s too much for me. I can’t be part of it because it makes me feel depressed, terrible and awful. The greatest gift is to simply be simple and give up the pretense. Those are the starting guidelines for buying gifts for me, the person with bipolar disorder. The people in my life find me somewhat impossible to buy for. Reading this list, I get their predicament. Yet, know if you buy a gift with these in mind, then maybe the person with bipolar disorder in your life will get a better gift and will be a little happier. At least, if my family is reading this, I will. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Image via Thinkstock.

Nate Crawford

Is It Normal to Have Suicidal Thoughts?

To 16-year-old me, Can I just say, this is weird? It’s weird, mostly, because if this letter somehow got to you, then I would be different and writing a different letter which would cause you to be different and then me to be different and so on and so on. So, luckily, time travel does not exist, and we’re all good. This is really just a letter to other 16-year-olds using myself as an example. Good times. There’s so much to say. I could tell you who you marry (you know her), how many kids you have (yes, you have kids), or where you live (you’d never guess), or even what you do as a career (again, you’d never guess). But, these are not why I’m writing to you. No, I’m writing to you to implore something else from the younger me. First, though, can I just get a little something off my chest that will help you out in the long run? Don’t listen to the motivational speakers they bring in – they’re full of crap. There’s no way, with your lack of size and build, you can be an NBA basketball player. Similarly, you are not going to discover the cure for cancer. You’re not going to change the entire world with some thought or action. But you can change the world for people you encounter day in and day out. That makes the difference and makes the world a better place. Leave the other stuff to other people. OK, I got that off my chest. It’s been bugging me for 20 years. Back to the topic at hand, which I haven’t even told you yet. It’s really pretty simple: you’re sick. You have a mental illness. Now, now, don’t delete this or wad up the paper and throw it away or stop reading. I know this is hard to hear, and it will be even harder to deal with. I know you are a smart kid. You are one of the good kids who never really gets into trouble. No one would suspect you of having a mental illness. No one would believe you if you told them, probably. But you do. And the sooner you understand that, the sooner you’re life will take a truly good trajectory. I know you have a mental illness because I’m you. I know the thoughts that plague you. I know you have what we call “suicidal ideation.” This means you sit around and dwell on ways to hurt yourself or to even kill yourself. It dominates your thinking at times, even if you believe you would never act on it. I know one of the things you tell yourself is this is just what normal teenagers do – they think these thoughts. I’m here to tell you that, no, they do not. It’s not normal. It is not normal to sit in a class and feel like you are literally going to explode, that you have to dig your nails into your forearm, that you must bite your fingernails off, that you must bite a finger, that you look for every escape, even if it is an ultimate one. This is not normal. I think you understand this is not normal because you won’t talk to anyone else about it. You don’t talk to your friends, your pastors, your teacher, your parents, your guidance counselors. You don’t talk about these feelings, and it’s because you are ashamed. Deep down you know they are not normal. And you’re right. They’re not. But you have them, and you should not feel shame because of that. You should start to look for places to get help. First, talk to your parents, Mom and Dad. They know something is a little off about you. They know you have a hard time, but they don’t understand. You still need to talk to them because they care deeply about you. Eventually they are going to send you to a counselor, and he’s going to give you a free pass. Don’t go to that counselor – he doesn’t get it. Mom and Dad want you to go somewhere else, and you should go. Listen to them. They know what they are talking about. Second, your high school is not a place to get help. For whatever reason, they don’t get it (they still don’t). Most people in the school are not qualified to notice or help students with a mental illness. That’s a sad state and one that will put you at risk and in danger now and in the future. So, be sure to find the help you need and to press for it from people who are qualified to get you that help. Third, I know you are involved heavily in church. I still am as well. It can be a great source of encouragement and hope. However, oftentimes, it will also be a source of disappointment and hurt for you. It’s good to know the church does not have all the answers in regards to these issues. And, if someone questions your spirituality or tells you to simply pray, they have no idea what is really happening. Your mental illness is a lot like diabetes in that it requires constant care. The church would probably not tell someone to pray away diabetes or question a diabetic’s spirituality. In the same way, they should not question your mental illness. Fourth, continue to be creative. Writing. Playing music. Acting. Improvising. All of these help you tremendously. Continue that creativity, and do all you can to cultivate the creativity in yourself. It’s something that allows you to release tension, to be less anxious, and to put your energy in a place that is not dwelling on some of your more internal demons. Last, you need to talk about your mental illness and give people hope. This is what you do now. You are open and honest about the thoughts you have, the feelings that both help and destroy you, and you help people by talking about these things. Your honesty gives people hope. And that helps you – it’s somewhat selfish, but your ability to help people is a way to help yourself as well. You have survived and “made” it through some really rough and terrible places – talk about that, and be open about how that makes you feel and about how others can also get through those times. That’s the way you can actually and honestly change the world. So, that’s my letter. There’s so much more to say. But, this is a good start. I’ll write again at other times. Just know as you sit there and listen and feel nothing but a desire to end it all, there is better to come for you. And you can begin to cultivate that better now by being open and honest with the people who love you, by seeking help from licensed counselors, and by putting together a whole program of recovery that includes spirituality, eating well, exercise, counseling, and meds. Developing this at 16 will help you tremendously 20 years later. I promise! Peace, ​Your older self If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Image via Thinkstock

Nate Crawford

13 Songs That Make Life With Bipolar Disorder a Little Less Scary

I live with bipolar disorder, which means my life is all over the place. However, one of the great places of refuge I have is music. When my anxiety rises, I turn to music. When I start to feel manic, I turn to music. When I’m depressed, I immerse myself in music. Not only do I listen to music, but I play music. The creativity and immersion in the musical world gives my mind enough release that I am able to function and focus on something else other than the pain, the anxiety and the euphoria I feel. Now, to be totally honest, not all of these songs function the same way or have the same effect all of the time. There are some I can always turn to, but when I’m depressed, certain songs just don’t speak to me. Similarly, when I’m anxious, I can’t listen to other songs. My mental state does dictate certain things to me and that’s OK. The following are songs I consistently come back to as sources of hope, inspiration, commiseration or a combination of them all. So, without further ado, here are 13 songs that make my life a little less scary. 1. “Beyond the Gray Sky” by 311 311 is a band that has been with me since they first landed on everyone’s radar with their song, “Down.” My best friend and I used to hang out at his pool and listen to their “Blue” album. It was a summertime event. So, 311 has good memories for me. Then, they came out with “Beyond the Gray Sky” after I had been (mis)diagnosed with depression. The song is really about a lot of things, but the middle verse talks about finding anything you can to stay alive, to stay beyond the gray sky. For me, in the midst of my deepest depression, it is a clarion call to hold onto whatever is there to keep my grip on reality and not let myself slip into the suicidal ideation that is so dominant at those times. 2. “For Me This Is Heaven” by Jimmy Eat World Jimmy Eat World is a band I have loved since high school. Their album “Clarity” still gets regular play on my iPod. My favorite song from that album is “For Me This Is Heaven.” This song is important to me because it is my wife and I’s song. In fact, she had some lyrics from the chorus engraved on my wedding ring . (“Can you still feel the butterflies?”) It’s become a song, for me, about being in love and allowing that love to be something that carries me on from day to day. 3. “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” is just a fun song that I love. I remember watching the music video when I was younger and just loving it. This song opened me up to The Cure. Their music continues to inspire me because it struggles so much with themes that are prevalent in my life, like acceptance, isolation and feeling through where you belong. 4. “Over The Walls” by Earphorik Earphorik is an up-and-coming prog/funk/jam band from Fort Wayne, Indiana that I have had the opportunity to get to know a little bit. They don’t have a music video. So the link above is to their entire album. Lately, their song, “Over the Walls” has been a real source of good vibes for me. I’ve written before on my love and feeling of belonging in the jam band community. Earphorik continues to give me a sense of belonging as I can get lost in the music. The lyrics speak of an attempt to reconcile and fix a broken relationship, something I often need help with after a bipolar episode. 5. “Tweezer” by Phish “Tweezer” functions in no way for me other than that it is Phish’s “signature” jam song and I love Phish. It is a song that just brings a smile to my face. Since it is a “jam” song, it can take many twists and turns, going into dark territory or staying with a fresh, light atmosphere. In all, it’s just a song that gives me a good feeling. 6. “Prince Caspian” by Phish “Prince Caspian” is one of Phish’s more interesting songs. It’s a little more low-key, and they do not often “jam” on it. Yet, it is a crowd favorite. I often feel like Prince Caspian, though, as I just float upon the waves and return to the demons in my cave (as Phish interprets the story). It’s a song that can often function as the yin to Tweezer’s yang, although the two are not really played together (except here). In all, “Prince Caspian” is a song that offers the kind of vibes necessary to express my feelings while also offering a way out when I am depressed. 7. “Hajimemashite” by Umphrey’s McGee “Hajimemashite” is another song in the jam band world that is not a happy-go-lucky tune. In all honesty, I’ve been following Umphrey’s McGee since about their beginning in South Bend, Indiana, and this song is one that has always stuck out to me. I don’t know what it is, but it speaks to me. It speaks to me, especially as a song that gets what it is to deal with problems that come from having a mental illness. (Their original drummer had an undiagnosed mental illness at the time this song was written, and I wonder how much that played a part in their thought process). The singer, Brendan, really brings out the lyrics, “It’s all right was all I heard. It will blow away, away.” This is often what I’m told. Yet, Brendan and the music behind his voice know this is not true and that he’s been lied to. 8. “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie “Under Pressure” is the first bass line I ever learned. (It’s the sample used in Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”) It’s also a song about being under pressure. It talks about being kicked when you are down and not being able to get back up. The song ends by saying, “This is our last dance.” It’s not a “happy” song, but it reminds me of the brilliance of both Queen and David Bowie, along with their ability to put their finger on the pulse of a feeling. It’s not a feeling of depression or anxiety, but of a world crushing in on you. 9. “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” by U2 U2 is always an uplifting band to me. Even when they are pointing out the injustices of the world, they do so in a way that points to the possibility of good in the world. This song is one of my favorite U2 songs. It shows the struggle of life while the music makes us want to be better, to strive for more than just being mired in the world that we find ourselves in. 10. “Dear Prudence” by The Beatles This version of “Dear Prudence” is from the movie “Across the Universe” because I could not seem to find an acceptable version of the song. I love this song. I mean, love. It’s positive, and it’s a beautiful Beatles song. It asks us to set aside the problems we face, look into the big beautiful sky and just embrace our world. It asks us to open our eyes and see, see the world that we have before us with all of its good, its bad, its flaws and its grace. 11. “Mr. Wilmington” by Lucky Boys Confusion “Mr. Wilmington” is by the Chicago pop-punk band Lucky Boys Confusion. This song is tough for me. It’s a guy telling the father of a suicide victim that it’s not fair and he’s sorry. We hear the story of a son that got into drugs, couldn’t get clean and eventually takes his own life. It’s a sobering song that almost makes me cry every time I hear it. However, it’s also a reminder the pain I feel is real and others have experienced it. It reminds me that I need not give into it. I can’t make my parents Mr. Wilmington. 12. “Scenario” by A Tribe Called Quest I love A Tribe Called Quest and “Scenario” is probably my favorite song by them. It’s just a song that gets my juices going. Their use of jazz, rap and other beats just make me feel good, as does the way that Q Tip, Phife Dawg and Busta Rhymes let loose on the song. It’s just a good song that makes me feel good. Sometimes, we just need those in our lives. 13. “Scarlet Begonias” by The Grateful Dead The last song I am going to talk of is The Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias.” I think this is one of the deeper songs that Robert Hunter penned for the Dead. The lyrics don’t get me as much as the music and the way that the band explores the song. There are untold numbers of the song out there, all doing something different. This makes the song a great one for me because it always contains an element of the unexpected. In my opinion, it is also one of the most beautiful songs the Dead has. So I love listening to it because the jam is always interesting and spontaneous, and it also explores the beautiful themes already present therein. Again, it’s a song that just makes me feel good, and I often need those. So, that’s it. That’s my list of 13 songs that make life a little less scary. I’d be interested in hearing what songs you find making your life a little less scary. Image via Thinkstock. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Nate Crawford

Going to Disney World With Bipolar Disorder

In a month, I will get on an airplane and head to Orlando, Florida, and the “happiest place on Earth,” Disney World. My family of five will be going along with my wife’s family, making a grand total of 18 of us. This fact should make anyone who has gone to Disney tremble a bit, as getting 18 people in for dining reservations and on rides and working together is very, very difficult. But, to exacerbate this situation, I’m going to Disney World with my bipolar disorder and anxiety issues. So, this should be fun. A quick caveat. I both loathe and love Disney World. I have been to “the world” a large number of times, both as a kid and now as an adult. It is often not my decision to go, but I go and put on my best face. It can be difficult. And the crowds and the fantasy and all the stuff that goes into Disney make it very difficult for me personally. But I love the way my wife and kids love this place. And so, I go. And I try to love it for them, and I put my loathing aside for them. Maybe then I don’t love Disney as much as I love my family? Anyway, as someone with bipolar and anxiety, traveling in general and being at Disney in particular can cause me some serious problems. Disney is a large trigger for me. So, let me detail some of that and then how I deal with the triggers. 1. The first trigger I have is the airport. Trying to get through an airport sucks because there’s a large crowd, usually pushing in and around me, and, when I travel with my family, I have three boys (ages 10, 6, and 4) to navigate through security and a busy airport. It is stressful and can really start my vacation out on a very, very bad note. 2. Another trigger I have is the creation of the false reality that Disney tries to get you to play by while you are there. This is the “magic” of Disney World. They’ve actually created an alternative reality of fantasy and whimsy. However, this alternative reality is just one big reminder that I am mentally ill and that I have pain and live in pain. It actually reminds me of the fact that my life is not a fantasy and that I have to work hard to live a lot of the time. 3. The crowds are another trigger. I have a problem when I get pushed into a large crowd and can’t get out. Honestly, I feel trapped, and feeling trapped is a huge trigger for me and my anxiety. I can feel my heart start beating faster, my chest tighten, my breathing get shallower, etc. I don’t usually go into a full blown panic attack, but I start, and everything becomes magnified. And, due to the nature of Disney World, even when it is “not crowded” you still find yourself in the midst of large crowds. It creates chaos in me. 4. One thing I have a really hard time with, and that sends me over the edge, are people who are what I consider rude. My counselor and I have talked at length at my need to get over people I consider to fall into this category. And I’ve gotten better. However, Disney World can bring out the rude in people. I’ve had people push my stroller carrying my kids, knock me over trying to get into a line, cut in front of me for food, stand in front of my kids at a parade, etc. For all its emphasis on being a sort of “Prince Charming,” Disney brings out the “Wicked Witch” in a lot of people. And this just makes me irritable and angry and is a strong trigger. 5. The fifth trigger I have is the fact that you spend all of this money and time to get there, and so there is a real felt need to have a good time. The problem is, I don’t always have a good time. But I feel like I have to have a good time and that I have to show my family a good time and that I have to show my in-laws and everyone else a good time. And to do that I have to have a good time, even though I’m usually stressed out and on the verge of breaking down. This need to have a good time, thus, brings to the fore more and more of the cognitive dissonance that is a trip to Disney for me. 6. Last, or at least the last I’ll talk about, is that my suicidal ideation runs wild. All of the above create a lot of tension in me while I am on a Disney “vacation.” This stress leads me to “natural” thoughts, which are suicidal thoughts. And, so, everything becomes a way to die by suicide. I won’t go into the details, but I think of jumping off rides, of diving into a bus, of swimming in a lake, and other means. Suicidal thoughts become prominent, and it’s hard to deal with them. So, now the question becomes how do I combat these triggers? Well, I have learned to do the following things. 1. I have a ritual for the airport. My wife and I talk about it beforehand, and we have a plan. This reduces the stress of having to get through the airport and through security with our three boys. 2. I rent a car. Having a car gives me an escape. I can go to the grocery store or get out of a park or just go take a drive. The car gives me an out, if I need it. And, with the car, if I had to go to the hospital or emergency room, we have the ability to do that quickly. 3. I take advantage of a great Disney program. It’s not really advertised and I’m not sure of the name*, but every time I walk into a park, I go to “Guest Services.” There, I tell the people that I have a disability, and they don’t question me (which would be illegal) and they give me a little card. This card allows me and my immediate family to go up to any ride and hand it to the workers there (Disney calls them “Cast Members”), and they give me a time to come back to get on the ride. No standing in line and feeling stuck. It’s a real win for me, as I am not standing in lines and feeling that anxiety and pressure that comes from feeling trapped. And, because I am not “skipping” the line, I’m not really making anyone upset. 4. I go back to the hotel every afternoon and either watch TV or, usually, take a nap. Disney exhausts me, and I need all the energy I can muster. Going back in the afternoon allows me to recharge my batteries while also avoiding the busiest times of day in the parks. And, sometimes in the afternoon, my oldest son and I will go explore something outside the parks, like the ESPN Zone or Downtown Disney or something else. It allows us to get out of the “bubble” for a bit. In all, though, getting out of the parks for a few hours every afternoon and resting up allows me to keep my sanity. 5. I avoid certain places. Due to my suicidal ideation, I try to avoid the places I know could bring that out even more or that could offer real temptation. So, I don’t do high balconies, for example. It is just too much for me. 6. Last, I really try and talk to my kids and wife. If they are having a good time, then it is easier on me. Their joy brings me joy. While I might be struggling, knowing they are having fun and enjoying themselves and that we get to spend time together can make the struggle worth it, at least in my eyes. And that is only if I do the other things necessary, like what I listed above. In all, traveling to Disney World with my bipolar and anxiety is not easy and, really, it’s not fun. But, if I keep up with my recovery and do the things listed above, as well as take my meds and meditate and keep with my day-to-day, then it is a good trip where I am able to build memories with my family. It’s not easy, but we make it work. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 . * Editor’s note: The blogger is most likely referring to Fast Pass. For more information on Disney’s services for guests with disabilities, head here. Image via WikiCommons

Nate Crawford

Advice for Going to College With Bipolar Disorder

Navigating college can, well, be awesome. And for some it can suck. When you have bipolar disorder, it can be both simultaneously. When I went to college, I had not yet been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In fact, I had not been diagnosed with anything, even though I should have (but that’s a rant for another day). However, as someone who now can look back at my college years and see both the mania and depression at work in different times, I think I have some helpful advice. And, as a caveat, I also offer the following as someone with a Ph.D. in the humanities who has taught both online and in the traditional classroom. I have watched students with mental illness struggle and watched others with the same illness thrive. I have tried to help students and have let others refuse my help. But the following comes from being both a student who had bipolar and a professor with bipolar watching my students struggle. So, here are the top 12 things I’d say to someone with bipolar (or, really, any mental illness) about attending college. (As a side note, I believe much of this applies to both traditional and online colleges, but I am focusing on more traditional campuses right now). 1. Find a counselor on campus. It can be particularly challenging to find is a good counselor in general. Trying to find a counselor or therapist in a foreign environment who can work within the confines of our budget is even more difficult. But there are a few things I recommend. First, see if your school has a counseling center and make sure, if they do, this is not an “academic counseling” center. Academic counselors are not therapists and may not be equipped to do the heavy-lifting a person with bipolar needs. Instead, find someone who specializes in mental health counseling at the counseling center. If the counseling center does not have anyone specializing in such (which, while incredibly unfortunate, is somewhat common), go to the university health center. There is usually a number of nurses and a nurse practitioner, at least, there. They can point you to the right place for finding quality therapy. You can also email the professors in the counseling or psychology department on campus and see if they may have suggestions. Who knows? Maybe one will offer to see you? 2. Meditate. One of the things I have found the most helpful in dealing with my bipolar is meditation, or what is commonly referred to as the practice of mindfulness. The idea is to simply be present in the moment you are in right then. And to try and take the presentness into the next parts of your day. I practice meditation in the following way. First, I set my timer for about five minutes. I do this after I have woken up a little bit, had coffee, whatever. But, it’s before I start my day seriously, like going to class and the like. I spend the five minutes just being present, listening to what is going on, feeling the air, smelling in smells, and letting my thoughts wash over me. I don’t try to control them, just let them come and go. When the ringer goes off, I start my day. I feel better and it helps me stay present in the different moments of the day while also keep racing thoughts at bay. Lastly, if I need to do it one or two or even eight more times during the day, I can. 3. Find a support group. It is imperative you find support on campus. You have to have people who know what you are going through and what it means to check up on you. This is what a support group does. It’s a place where you are valued and can be yourself and reveal your truest feelings. The organization I run, Here/Hear, organizes peer-to-peer support groups on college campuses. Our groups use meditation/mindfulness, discussion, and engaged reflection to help each other live lives to the fullest. And if you do not have a group on campus, contact us and we’ll help get one set up. We do this because we know the power of groups to effect positive change and growth in people’s lives. We also know they are places you can land when the world is falling apart. 4. Figure out where to get your meds. If you have been diagnosed bipolar, you are probably on meds. And you need those meds so you can survive. With that in mind, you need to find a place where you can easily get your medication. This matters if you have a car, where your insurance is accepted (if you have it), if you can do mail-order medications at the school, etc. And, figure out what you need to do when your medications inevitably run out. Having plans in place for all of this is important. 5. Exercise. The one thing you can do to naturally boost your mood and maintain your mood is regular exercise. This does not have to be anything great or over-the-top (no need to train for an ultra marathon or becoming a professional body builder), but some exercise every day can help maintain a good mood. This is also a really important habit for you to get into for the rest of your life as it becomes even more imperative for your mood to exercise when you are older. 6. Have a bedtime and wake up time. I know. This sucks. You are in college and staying up late and getting up late or just staying out all night are part of the allure. I get it. But I can tell you from personal experience, this is a bad idea. I made my worst mistakes in college when I deprived myself of sleep for days (when I was not manic). Staying on a schedule, at least a schedule where you sleep seven or eight hours a night, will help you maintain some steadiness in your life. It’s also important because studies have shown sleeplessness can lead to both mania and depression in the bipolar person: neither one is good or fun and both are quite dangerous. So, sorry, get some sleep. 7. Eat well… or as well as you can. For as much as you pay for your dining plan as part of your room and board, you’d think colleges would offer much healthier and better alternatives, but they often don’t. So, you are going to be tempted beyond tempted to eat crap quite a bit of the time. And if you live off campus, that is going be a much bigger temptation because crappy food is often much cheaper. But you need to eat at least somewhat well and mindfully. And the reason is that processed, fried, canned foods can have an effect on your mood. They also are unhealthy and you probably are already dealing with enough medical issues so why tack on one more? 8. Find the right friends. Now I sound like your high school guidance counselor. I apologize. But finding the right friends is really important. One of the biggest issues I had my first year or two of school was I had a group of friends  I thought I was supposed to be friends with – mostly because they were from the same hometown – who ultimately exacerbated my mental illness. It was not that they were bad people. They weren’t. Instead, they just did things that raised my anxiety, they encouraged my hypomanic episodes (who doesn’t want a friend who can break every social barrier in a quick second?), and they didn’t “get” my depression — or worse, they wanted me to wallow in my depression because it made them feel a little better. I’d encourage finding friends who have similar interests, believe in similar things, and who don’t give you crap for going to bed at midnight every night and waking at 8 a.m. Even on Saturday. 9. Figure out what you can handle. One of the most difficult things college can bring is an abundance of opportunity. That, as well as the perceived need to finish certain things in a certain amount of time (everyone nowadays thinks college will take four years when the average person spends almost five years there). The real issue for the person with bipolar disorder is you can only handle so much. When we start to push against that limit, bad things can happen. We may become manic and do all this work and more work and beyond and end up in some sort of psychotic state or we may become incredibly depressed because our brain shuts down and can’t handle it. Or both. Find what you can handle and evaluate that every year. Your first year you might be able to handle a larger class load because the courses are simply meeting general education requirements and do not require the time that, say, an advanced biology class and lab require or calculus II does or an advanced writing seminar. The thing is, you know you and you need to figure out what you can handle. Doing so now will help tremendously as you go throughout your life. 10. Screw other people’s expectations. If your parents think you should get all A’s while managing a maxed course load and doing band, and having bipolar disorder, well invite them to come down to campus and try. If your boyfriend thinks you should travel every weekend to come see him because you’ve got less to do than he does or whatever, tell him it is a two way street. Here’s the thing. Only you know what it is like to live with your mental illness. I know at times I was the most productive person in the world because that’s how my hypomanic states worked. I was laser focused. Others’ hypomania makes them ADHD-like, so they can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes. You have to have your own expectations and live up to those. Other people’s expectations are merely going to cause you stress and, if like me, anxiety. You can’t meet them. You can only do what you can do. Screw everyone else. 11. Avoid alcohol and drugs. This is a tough one. On most college campuses, going out to Ladies Night Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Friday Night Bombs, Saturday Night Shots, and Sunday Morning Hangover Cures is part of the college experience. Going to other campus parties that have alcohol and drugs is also a major part of the “college experience.” But let me let you in on a little secret: you are probably already on a cocktail of mind-altering drugs and adding more to the mix is not safe. And it can also throw you off by messing with your other meds. The other thing to remember about illicit drugs is they are never the same. One strand of marijuana is different than another, one batch of heroin or cocaine can be cut or made differently than the next, etc. And the way that drugs act with you and your brain can change so the first time you may have a great time but the second one may result in a terrible trip. You just never know how something may affect your brain. 12. Have fun. My last piece of advice I’d tell myself is to have fun and don’t take college too seriously. You need to find friends who do what you think is important. Your grades are not the be-all end-all of life. Hanging out, seeing a concert, watching a movie, playing frisbee, or whatever else needs to be part of your college experience. If you don’t have fun, none of the above will matter anyway. Just make sure it is fun that lends itself to helping your mood. Image via Thinkstock.

Nate Crawford

Mental Illness, Bipolar Disorder and the Jam Band Community

“Music has always been my protection against the world, from a very young age. I feel safe inside of a jam.” —  Trey Anastasio , Guitarist and Vocalist for  Phish Like many people, I love Trey. Trey is a hero. I feel like Trey and I could be friends. However, I feel it for a different reason than many. You see, both of us hold something a little strange in common: we are in recovery.  He, famously, is in recovery from addiction to painkillers and alcohol ; I, much less famously, am in recovery from my mental illness, bipolar 2 disorder. And, like Trey, it is inside music, inside the “jam” that I feel the most safe. This essay has no purpose other than my reflection on that recovery inside the very interesting world that is the  “jam band”  community. From what I can find, there have been no academic studies done on mental illness among jam band fans; as well, there isn’t really any supporting evidence for the jam band world being a boon to one’s recovery. So, I’m going to write about my experience and how the jam band community contributes to my recovery, or how I have found peace in and from the jam band world. First, what does it mean to have bipolar 2 disorder? Bipolar disorder is a mental illness where the ill person experiences two distinct moods. The first is mania, a time that can contain things like high energy, racing thoughts, feelings of invincibility, sleeplessness, hypersexuality, extreme spending, etc. The second is a deep, dark depression that usually leads to suicidal thoughts or ideation. Bipolar 2 disorder is a form of bipolar that does not have moments of pure mania but experiences of hypomania (or, what I like to call,“not-quite-mania”) and contains much more time stuck in the pits of depression. For the jam band community, Mikey Mirro, the original drummer of Umphrey’s McGee died of bipolar disorder. Like I imagine it did with Mikey (and from accounts I’ve read, it seems quite likely), death haunts me. The depression I experience with my bipolar causes me to come  untethered to life , to relationships. I distance myself from family, from my wife and kids, from my friends. But, since I’ve usually bought a ticket beforehand, I still make it to shows (you can’t waste that money, am I right?). And I still listen to the music. And the music, both live and recorded, have kept me sane more than once. As someone with bipolar (and my condition “rapid cycles,” meaning I experience more than four major hypomanic or depressive episodes a year), my mind betrays me. In hypomania, I cannot keep my mind on anything for very long. I have ideas upon ideas and move to each with great earnestness. In depression, my mind stays stuck, like a scratched record. I simply ruminate on my pain, and this leads to thoughts of death, which leads to further thoughts of pain and the cycle goes on and on. In both of these instances, music, especially “jam” music, is a saving grace. In hypomania, my mind races. I have thoughts upon thoughts, and I have to act on each one at that moment. But nothing gets done or happens because each thought is interrupted by another and another and another. In this cycle, I can’t stop. My mind never shuts down. It never focuses. But, I can still get lost in a jam. Recently, a favorite is  Phish’s Tweezerfest (a show at Dallas’ Bomb Factory on May 7, 1994).  For about the last year I have found myself immersed in the second set of this show. It starts off innocently enough. Then Tweezer erupts as the third song, and we’re off as Trey and the boys move and weave Tweezer around a number of different songs by artists like Aerosmith, the Breeders and Prince. In my racing mind, I can get lost in this. My thoughts do not have to fly by because the jam never gets stale and teases me. Phish never simply settles into a groove and plays, but they keep it moving forward. My manic mind needs that. They surprise by bringing in stuff that should not be there. It works, just like my hypomania. It seems random but makes sense. And it’s beautiful. The physical community has also been a real benefit in these moments. The social media imprint of the community leads to avenues and places to discover and explore that are further and further out there. The ideas are endless. But the community also helps you stay focused on the task at hand, which is enjoying and living in the jam. When I’m hypomanic, I’m moving to the next thing all the time. The now is not enough. The community brings me back to the now. This has happened at shows multiple times, as I’m running from thing to thing and a head grabs me and just says, “Isn’t this unreal?” or “Can you believe they’re doing this?” And I have to stop, take a moment, listen and usually end up lost in the jam. The community, by sharing life, brings me back to the now. The community is also there when I am the opposite of hypomanic. When my depression sets in, there is a lot that happens. My anxiety kicks in, and being around people is tough, if not painful. As the depression continues to set in deeper and deeper, my suicidal thoughts grip me and can paralyze me. But the community never lets me rest there. And I can give two such instances. First, there was an  Umphrey’s McGee  “hometown” show in  South Bend on October 23, 2011 . I didn’t feel up to going and offered my friend the tickets. He said he wasn’t going without me because I was a huge UM fan. And this is true as I’ve followed the band since their beginning days in South Bend and Notre Dame. He basically just said I had to go. When we got to the venue, the doors were not open yet and so we got some food, chilled outside and embraced the scene, not a huge scene but a good scene. Positivity, joy, good vibes. People were talking about what they expected, what they hoped for. It was like the prodigal son returning and we were all wondering what (t)he(y) would look like. Umphrey’s didn’t disappoint and played two songs I love for the encore in “Hajimemashite” and “Front Porch.” Did it erase my depression? No. But it gave my mind somewhere to go, an out, for a few hours. It eased the pain. Umphrey’s McGee. This image was originally posted to Flickr by flyin’ dutchman. via Wiki Commons Similarly, I was at the infamous Phish “rain” show in Chicago; no, not the one they cancelled, but the one on  July 21, 2013 , the Sunday night show (with the divisive “Second City Harpua”). I wasn’t super stoked to head up to the show because I was depressed. Even worse, I was by myself because, well, my friends just are not into this stuff. And, as the rain started, I could see the show getting cancelled. In fact, as “Run Like an Antelope” was cut short, I started to wander around, found no real place to go and decided to jet. I was walking through the attendance gates and couldn’t move because so many people found cover there. It was there I met some dude from Madison who talked me into staying because, hell, it was Phish and a Sunday show. And you never miss a Sunday show. And I stayed and it was good and weird and now I’ve been to one of “those” shows. But it was a community that helped one another (there was a lot of helping under that tent) and leaned on each other. We stand each other up… because we gotta dance and feel the joy. It’s ultimately the music that brings me back and gives me life in the midst of terrible depression. Two shows right now are places I keep coming back to. The first is the  Umphrey’s “Improv” show in Madison, Wisconsin, with Joshua Redman (January 28, 2016) . In the second set the band simply steps up to their instruments, asks for a key, and begins playing. They don’t stop until the end of their set. And what Umphrey’s does so well is to take you on a journey, with highs and lows, fast and slow, mixing genres, etc. Listening brings me into a space where I don’t have to focus on my pain, my hurt, my incredibly dark thoughts. I can simply follow the band. And this is what I really appreciate about the last show, which is the famous, newly (officially) released  Grateful Dead   July 8, 1978 show at Red Rocks.  The Dead do something different for me on a whole. They are always there, steady. They don’t let anyone drop out, even when someone takes risks. Jerry would come out and do something crazy and the band would be there and catch him. And it’s probably because I just got the show, but I feel safe here. In my depression, the band catches me and keeps me steady; their groove becomes my groove. Their musicianship is beautiful and space-y and takes me in and gives me the safe place that I need. It all works together to allow my mind a place to go when it hits its darkest moments. Follow this journey on Here/Hear. If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.