Me too

The first time I tried to kill myself, I basically went on a hunger strike. I woke up one morning and couldn’t get out of bed. I simply decided I wasn’t ever going to get out of bed ever again. I was going to just wait there and die.

The next time I tried to kill myself, I tried to slit my wrists. I have read somewhere the best way to go about doing it. As I laid there bleeding, I wasn’t afraid. I remember feeling the deepest sense of relief of my life.

I had been diagnosed as manic depressive (bi-polar) in my teens. I had lived with it under various forms of treatment my whole life. A series of events had led me to the point where I felt defeated by mental illness. I was in so much pain and loss that I thought dying was the only way out.

Today, I’m OK. Many days, it’s a lot of work just to be OK. Recently, it’s taken even more work than normal. And, that’s OK. I’ve spent a long time learning how to do the work I need to keep me alive. I don’t mind doing it because I have a lot to live for. I’m a survivor.

I bet you’ve been there or know someone who has. Odds are you’ve been touched in some way, shape, or form by mental illness at some point in your life. If you have, and you’re still with the living, you too are a survivor.

This past weekend, at Camp CoCo, I told a room of about 100 smart people the story of my life with mental illness and my son’s long and much more difficult fight with it. I had an outpouring of compassion and folks looking for ways to help do more.

This has me inspired and committed to take it to the next level. For me, for my son, for the too many friends I have lost to this fucking thing. Today is World Mental Health Day and I refuse to let the next one pass without seeing this through.

I’m brainstorming creating a non-profit around this. I’m not sure what it will look like yet (and am very open to ideas) but, basically, just like the language, compassion, and understanding around Cancer has changed from something one suffers to something one bravely and boldly faces with courage and support — I want that for Mental Illness. I want those of us who live with it daily, directly and indirectly, to be able to tell our stories with pride. I want us to OWN IT!

I’m looking for any help, suggestions, ideas, etc. on turning this idea into a movement. E-mail me if you’d like to contribute in any way.

But, the first and easiest way you can help is to share your story. Tell the world you’re a Mental Health Survivor. When you see and hear the stories of others say, “Me too”. Let us know you’re OK.


Birthday’s are hard when you’re hardly in a celebratory mood. I’m not much of a “big day” person anyway. I’m a bit uncomfortable when people make a fuss over me. It feels undeserving. I’m never quite sure how to react. Is a simple thank you enough for the well wishes and presents? It never quite seems so. So then I’m left unsure.

People who love to help others are often the worst at allowing themselves to be helped. I certainly fit that bill.

Thank you. Hundreds of thank you’s to the to the hundreds of little wings that have been providing us lift and supporting us through this. If you sent a note on Twitter or Facebook or email or did something concrete over the past week or so, this includes you. Even those who just thought about it and help us in their hearts and minds for a second. Thank you. I am humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, sympathy, and support we’ve received through this.

One of the most surprising things about sharing this ordeal with others is the many people who have come forward with some form of a “me too” story. Whether is was a “crazy uncle” or a sibling or a parent or themselves. It seems everyone has been touched in some way by mental illness at some point in their lives — large or small. It certainly has helped me feel less alone, less ashamed, and given me more peace and comfort than I thought would be possible in a time like this.

But, it also tells me we have a health crisis. Just as everyone I know has been touched in some way by cancer, mental illness is equally pervasive and worthy of our fucks.

The best way I can think of for folks to help, especially those not local to me, is to give money, volunteer, and support local mental health organizations in your area. Especially those who lobby and advocate directly at the state legislative level. Locally, Mental Health Association of Minnesota is a great choice. There are others, too. And I’m sure there’s a few where you are. Find them, donate, volunteer, etc.

Mental health resources and care are extremely lacking in this country and all over the world. I can say with confidence and knowledge that my son would not be where he is if he’d gotten the help he so desperately needed and that we begged the system for. Our goal and hope now is that this leads to Maxim getting some semblance of the help he needs. I don’t know that I have enough faith in our system to rest on that hope but we will certainly do all that we can to try. Part of that, is doing what we can to fix the system. Maybe if we all did our part we can prevent more suffering and death.

We’ll get through this — because in life what alternative is there? One is either dying to live or living to die so the only reasonable choice is to survive and thrive. Your support is very much appreciated.

I can’t talk about it…

I can’t talk about this. Not in public, at least. If you’re a really close friend, and you’re local, and we’re face-to-face, and we have the time, maybe. But then, it’s still hard. It’s too much. Too fresh. Too painful. I’m too sad. I’m heartbroken. I’m ashamed. I’m racked with guilt and suffering and loss. For my son. For a system that’s broken. For lives lost.

I’m not sure how much more I could say even if I could. The investigation is still ongoing. The charges still yet to be filed. The preliminary hearing, still yet to be scheduled. I know as much as anyone else who happened to catch the local news does. Really. This isn’t like in the movies. The system is opaque and slow and confusing. They don’t tell anyone much unless they need to know.

I don’t know what really happened or how or why. Likely, no one else outside of those directly involved with the case do either. And even they likely will never get a complete picture because the only person who was there and is still alive has long had an illness that distorts the very meaning and understanding of reality. He may not even remember anything at all about it or it may have been a voice that told him or it may have been something he thought he was watching on television.

What I can say is that I’m barely holding on. This is testing the limits of my own struggles with mental illness. That which I have worked most of my life to manage. Through mindfulness practice I’ve been mostly above water for over a decade. But, I feel like I’m just treading water right now and I’m getting tired. If not for my wife and my daughter and my other son and his mother and all of of the other people I need to focus on and be "there for"… Well sometimes the best support one can receive is having others to give support to.

So, I’m not sure what more to say. He’s my son and I hope this leads to him getting the help he’s long needed. That we’ve long hoped he would. Before it came to something like this.

I need to be silent for a while. There’s not much I can talk about besides this and since I can’t talk about this that means I likely should avoid talking about anything in a public space.

If you want to reach out via email or message just to say hello or check in, that’d be great. I’ll try to reply.

home/ now/ books/ dash/plus/ archives/ info/ rss