Thursday, January 28, 2016

Depression: A Letter to Those Who Have Never Felt It

Imagine you're in an enclosed football stadium. All's well until everyone leaves and the lights slowly dim until you're in total darkness.

Now you're alone. It's pitch black. You're trapped.

But all hope's not lost. You were told when you came into this place that there's a door to the outside. You must find that door. Crawling in the complete and utter blackness, you search for that door connecting you to everyone you love and everything you know. After months of searching, you finally find it. You're weak from exhaustion, hunger, and thirst. The supplies in your backpack are dwindling, but you find hope again. You have finally found the way out! With a firm twist of your wrist, you turn the door handle.

It's locked.

Full of anger and frustration, you throw yourself against the door, trying to force your way out. It doesn't work. You only bruise your already-weakened body in the process. You try harder and harder to break down the door, but you're only more hurt and frustrated by doing so. You slump to the ground with your back to the closed portal that separates you from the world as you knew it. Despair sets in. Then a thought comes to comfort you.

If the door is locked, there must be a key.

Wearily, you crawl around in the murkiness of the stadium once again, this time searching for something unbelievably smaller. And now, after years of searching, something happens.

You give up.

It's an impossible task. Not only do you have to find this tiny piece of metal alone in a place as big as a football stadium, but now you must again search for the door. It's too much. So you lie there, waiting for your exhausted body to finally stop fighting. And you don't care anymore. Even if you found the key and opened the door, it might just be a black hole on the other side.

This is what depression feels like.

Imagine, for a second, what you can do to help that person who's lost all hope of escaping the darkness.

Friends. You're the ones equipped with flashlights, night vision goggles, and metal detectors. You're the ones who carry your friend when he or she doesn't have the energy to move on anymore.

Parents. You're the leaders in the hunt for the key. You organize search strategies, give hope, and communicate with people on the outside to get out of that stadium. You're experience in overcoming your own struggles is so valuable in this situation. You hold your child's hand in the dark and never leave his or her side.

Therapists and medication.  You hear this dynamic duo on the loudspeaker giving advice. They search for the controls to turn on the lights and find the key that opens the door to break out of this prison.

By drawing a comparison between not having any help to escape and having the necessary tools, the difference is shocking. This is what you can do you to help the teens around you. This is the power you hold in your hearts.

You can be that instrument of hope.

You can help someone escape that darkness.

You can save a life.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sacred Heart Youth Group, You are Now #silencefree!

I had a great time speaking to the youth group of Sacred Heart Church! Thank you for bringing me out and supporting my mission. Your teens are now #silencefree!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Hey everyone,

If you sent me an email in the last week, and I didn't respond, it's because I'm having problems with my email right now. Could you please email me and let me know I never responded? I value everyone's messages and love talking to you all.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Thank You, Take 2 with Jerry & Debbie!

I had a great time on the "Take 2 with Jerry & Debbie" radio show yesterday! I love being associated with people dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those around them. And just in case you missed it, click here to listen to the podcast. We had some really good discussions with callers.

We're making the world unashamed and silence free.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Be a Difference-Maker in 2016

In the more than two years of running this ministry, I'm always thinking about how I can better reach those at risk for depression and suicide. And a year and a half ago, I stepped up my game to make an even bigger impact.

I started speaking.

Being there in person to give a personal touch to teens and parents, reassure doubts, and of course, answer the many questions I'm asked. There's nothing like it. And maybe one day I'll discover a new and better way of saving lives, but I highly doubt it.

If you're one of my awesome email readers, click here to watch the video.

You might think it's great I'm doing this, but you don't need to bring me to speak to your community. So I've compiled a little checklist for you to assess whether or not I can help.

There we go. If you checked any of the above, you can book me to speak by simply sending me an email at My goal is to reach as many people as possible in 2016 so all areas of our nation (and maybe even the world) will be silence free and unashamed of depression and mental illness!

We can do this.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015--We've Come So Far

As 2015 comes to a close, I find it's time to step back, examine the year, and see what's been accomplished. I can't believe how far we've come.

54 blog posts. I love writing. And I'm so happy to have this opportunity to share useful info on topics ranging from movies and mental health to more serious ones, like anxiety and OCD. I've also shared my struggles and dreams with you. I earned my permit and driver license, became an affiliate with Covenant Eyes, started speaking on chastity, suffered through a relapse, and received a community hero award. I hope to write more often next year and blog about relevant news and how it applies to our health: mental, physical, and spiritual. And if you want to be 100% certain of not missing a blog post, subscribe below!

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Huge social media growth. One of my greatest joys is interacting with all of you. But since I haven't met many of you in person, social media is how I get to know you. Thank you for praying for a certain intention with me every week on Facebook and Google+, having some fun with me on Twitter, watching my Youtube videos, and of course, forming an awesome and vibrant community on Instagram. I know social media has its pros and cons and isn't right for everyone, but it's a great tool for making change in this world, if used responsibly and correctly.

34 talks! I did some calculations. That averages to almost three talks every single month. Whoa. How did that happen? It's a pretty simple answer. You. You are the difference-makers bringing me to speak to high schools, youth groups, parent nights, and more. You are life-savers, and I can't express my gratitude enough. I know that lives have literally been saved as a result of you bringing me to speak at your events. And I can't even imagine the impact that I don't know about. Thank you so much. To make your community aware and unashamed of depression and suicide, book me to speak by emailing me at You can help the world be silence free about mental illness.


This has been my 2015, and I'd love to hear about yours! Thank you for walking with me this year, whether you've been with me from the start or just found out about my mission. Know that by following my ministry, you are making a difference in this world.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'm No Hero

Last Friday, December 11, I had the honor of receiving the Community Hero of the Year award from the Riverside County District Attorney, the office in charge of prosecuting me three years ago. It's a truly amazing recognition, considering the fact it's from the same entity that threatened to throw me in jail.

Me? A hero? What?

Yeah, I don't believe it either.

Because I'm not the not the one who saved a baby from a burning building. Or the one fighting for our freedom overseas. Or someone who stood up for the weak and defenseless. Heck, if not for a miracle, I'd have a prison record right now for attempted murder or assault with a deadly weapon.

But I didn't do this alone. Not by a long shot. I had so many miracles surrounding me in the form of amazing people.

My parents, who are heroes for sticking with me through it all, supporting me, loving me, and doing whatever it takes to help me spread my message while maintaining my mental health. They help me keep my faith and be spiritually strong for this battle. If they had been ashamed of what happened or didn't support me because of what I did, I wouldn't be writing this right now.

Lenny Ross, my victim. If you don't know how awesome of a guy he is, check out my story video. If he had been angry with me and asked the judge to punish me out of a sense of revenge because of the horrible thing I did to him, we wouldn't be working as friends to save precious lives.

And to the one person who literally saved my future. Without Jeanne Roy, Chief Deputy District Attorney, I doubt I'd be anywhere near mentally healthy right now. This is a woman who saw an opportunity for restorative justice and took it. This is the woman who stood in front of the court and staked her well-known reputation on the fact that I wouldn't re-offend. This action is what kept me out of jail so I could continue my lifesaving work. If not for her, teenagers who are alive right now might not be. I've said this before, and I'll say it again because it's true--she's my guardian angel.

Of course, I would be remiss to neglect all of you! My family, friends, and online community who've been laughing and crying with me as I experienced a relapse, expressed concern for teens at risk for suicide, and achieved accomplishments like this one and many others. You've been with me through the ups and downs of life. You're the ones who've been there for me to rely on.

So, you see? I'm no hero. You're the real heroes, And so are the teens who suffer with depression, other mental illnesses, and suicidal thoughts, but trudge through each day carrying a million-pound weight on their backs. I've talked to many of them and admire them so much.

I share this award with all of you because you're the ones who really deserve it.