Turning 25: A reflection on my journey with mental illness (Guest Blog)

PsoHoward illustration
Illustration by Lydia Chang

 As Father’s day approaches I can’t believe our oldest, Lydia, is turning 25. She shares her story from the heart here on her journey growing up with bipolar disorder.

For my perspective as a father on coming to better understand her bipolar condition see I Picked up My Daughter from the Psychiatric Hospital for the First Time on Father’s Day.


This year happens to be one of major milestones. I will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree after seven long years of undergraduate work that has been riddled with health setbacks. I will also be turning 25. It feels like a prime opportunity to reflect on my life journey and how it’s been shaped by living with bipolar disorder. While it certainly hasn’t been easy, I’ve grown in ways I likely never would have otherwise.

A developing diagnosis

When I began experiencing mood swings as a young teenager in high school, I would have never guessed their implications for the rest of my life. I was certainly moody in ways many teenagers experience, but it was when I began self harming and daydreaming about suicide that I knew something was very wrong.

I remember a fellow classmate pointing out the scabbed over cuts on my wrist and asking what happened. I quickly pulled my sleeve over the evidence of my tumultuous mind and blamed the cat. They didn’t seem convinced but didn’t push the issue further. That moment of fear, guilt, and shame at my actions was a clear sign to me that I was ill. However, it wasn’t until much later that I finally asked for help.

That moment was one of the scariest of my life. I knew once I told my parents about my cutting and suicidal thoughts that I couldn’t go back to normalcy. But at that point, normalcy was locking myself in my room anytime I wasn’t at school. It was sitting in the dark with sharp blades, crying for reasons unknown to me, trying to push out the intrusive thoughts that constantly berated me. Although I wasn’t fully conscious of it, I had reached the point where I couldn’t live that way any longer.

As I predicted, life changed drastically. I began seeing a therapist weekly and started medications. The initial diagnosis of depression didn’t seem to quite fit, but having a name for all of these unwelcome thoughts and feelings seemed to help. While this time of my life is extremely blurry, I know I struggled desperately to regain a foothold but the ground seemed to keep slipping out from under me.

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Lori’s Story: Watching “Dear Evan Hansen” Inspired Me to Consider My Own Mental Health

In this guest post my wife Lori discusses how seeing a musical on our trip to NYC led her to reflect on her own parenting and mental health journey.


Warning: Spoilers for the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” and sensitive content are included in this blog post. Please read at your own discretion. 

Howard and I had an opportunity to see the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” on Broadway in New York just a couple of weeks ago. Our youngest daughter highly recommended it to us—having seen it herself at the Music Box Theater the previous year. It was an incredible choice. 

I was drawn in from the first minute until the very end. I want to talk about the musical through the lens of a parent as well as my personal experience with depression/suicide as a young person many years ago. 

I Need a Parenting Map

The musical opens with Evan and his mom. It’s the first day of senior year of high school. Evan is nervous about it, but so is Mom. She chatters on, gives him a rousing pep talk, asks about his homework assignment from his psychiatrist, and anxiously hovers over him. Meanwhile we get a peek into Connor Murphy’s morning with his family. Mom is trying to push him to attend the first day of school while Dad and sister Zoe make snide remarks about Connor at the breakfast table.


I was drawn in from the first minute until the very end. I want to talk about the musical through the lens of a parent as well as my personal experience with depression/suicide as a young person many years ago. 


I could relate to the poor moms in this first scene and the opening song, “Anybody Have A Map?” They are trying so hard to keep their sons going—really pushing them through life even though the boys are both struggling with deep emotional issues. It is scary and confusing. They are trying, but at a loss as to how to truly connect with their children. I can relate. Both my daughters have struggled with depression and anxiety. 

As a mother, I desperately rooted around and grasped onto the familiar and found comfort in a daily routine. If my girls could just make it through school that day, then they could build on that day after day and everything would be okay, right? Life works itself out and my kids are gonna be part of that. They are gonna love high school and even thrive there. They are going to overcome personal obstacles and soar above it all. 

Even though I didn’t. 


To hear Lori share her mental health journey listen to the Brainsick podcast “The Lori Special”


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