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Monday, October 27, 2014

I Want to Be an Astronaut

Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to be an astronaut. I read everything I could about how to be one, what it's like, and of course, all the sci-fi I could get my hands on. That was my dream. And when I was little, that was my plan. 

As I got older, I slowly began to realize how almost impossible my dream was, and I started to explore other options. But that love for outer space, aliens, and the whole shebang never left me. I still have that love today. And that's why dreams are so important.

Because whether or not you pursue them, they will stay with you, nagging you, giving you hope for the next day, month, or year. They're so powerful, and most of the time, we don't even realize it.

That's one of the main reasons depression is so debilitating. It takes all your dreams and tells you they're impossible to achieve. You'll never amount to anything. Your life is worthless and has no point.

And after hearing this for years from my own mind, I began to believe it.

An astronaut? Ha. I couldn't even see myself as running a business or writing, much more realistic goals. I thought I'd be flipping burgers for the rest of my life (though once in a while, I thought I could be a giant crime boss, but for many reasons I realized that would never happen). It was only after a great deal of time, healing, and recovery that I was able to once more see how big of a future I had in front of me. 

I know now that I can be anything I want. Nothing is holding me back. That's one reason I love going to junior college. I can explore everything I want to, without bankrupting me in the process.

I want to know how to work Photoshop? Take an Adobe class. What to get more exercise? Take a gymnastics class. I'm in no hurry to have a career and attend college to major in something I'm not even certain I want to do. But once I know what I'm being called to do (I'm sure this blog will have something to do with it), watch out. Because I'm going to live a joyful life fulfilling God's plan for me.

If you're feeling like you don't have a future ahead of you, telling yourself that you do have a bright future probably won't radically change your life. So I won't give you platitudes (or memes with ridiculous sayings), but rather one goal.

Hold on.

Focus on one day at a time. I know how bad the hurt and pain is. How hard it is to hold on. Heck, I failed big-time in that category, but no one ever knew how I was suffering, so I didn't have anyone telling me this. That's why I'm telling you now. 

Hold on.

It was only after a while that I was able to see a future ahead of me, and every day I made the decision to live another day. But with that knowledge of my future, came the realization that we all have a path ahead of us. Even if we can't see it. Now I can think clearly. 

My past does not define me.

My future is what gives me hope.

Hope in a future you cannot see.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Depression and Porn

In the almost two years since my suicide attempt, I've opened up about most aspects of my life as a depressed teen to help others in similar situations.

But I've never shared this before.

I feel ready now, especially since I have a platform to reach out to today's youth. I touch on this subject when I speak to audiences about self-medicating or participating in risky behavior as it relates to depression. But until now, I haven't explained the personal side to it.

There are some great resources that support chastity in our over-sexed culture. Perhaps one of the best is the Chastity Project, founded by two people who have worked for many years speaking to hundreds of thousands of youth (and others)--Jason and Crystalina Evert. I want to thank them for giving me the opportunity to broach this subject with their wide readership. And the personal feedback I've received tells me that there are so many young people who relate to my story.

If you're interested in having me come out to your area to speak to teens and/or parents on the subject of chastity and depression, please complete the contact form to the right.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

18 Seconds to Save a Life--Final Score

Whoa. That was some 18 days, wasn't it?

Today is the feast of St. Luke. If you remember, this day also marks the end of my 18 Seconds to Save a Life Campaign. I've been using my 18 seconds a day to pray for someone, greet a person, or share my website and Facebook page.

I know many of you have done the same, and I can't thank you enough for caring about others and helping me celebrate my 18th birthday is such a special way. 

Since October 1st, I've had at least 650 shares over all of social media--possibly significantly more. The likes on my Facebook page increased by about 140, and the post reached over 5,000 people. Also, I was contacted by many who shared their stories about their own struggles or that of their teen. 

Please continue to reach out and touch the lives of those in need.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Subtle Signs of Teen Depression

One of top questions parents ask me is, "How do I know if my child's depressed?"

It's a difficult one  because many teens, including myself, aren't vocal about how they're feeling, especially the guys. In the past month, two boys I know of in San Diego (one 12 and the other 16) showed no symptoms before dying by suicide.

You can find a symptom list here, but let me go a bit deeper and elaborate about the small things that can tip you off. I had most of these signs:
  • your teen becomes obsessed with something that isolates him or her from the family, such as video games, being on the computer, chatting online, or even reading (like me)
  • school grades uncharacteristically drop
  • inability to concentrate or do homework
  • sleeps too little or too much (staying up late and not being able to fall asleep)
  • eats considerably less or more
  • hangs out with a completely different group of friends
  • changes appearance drastically
  • spends more time alone
But, overall, be aware and also bring awareness to your child. Let him or her know exactly what depression is and that it's a real issue in our world today. And even if they'll never experience depression, maybe they can help someone who does.

As always, you can drop me a message by filling out that contact form to the left if you have any more questions. 

Awareness leads to prevention.

Friday, October 10, 2014

From Another: A Father's Perspective

(This story is an example of how prayers are so powerful--please use your 18 Seconds today to remember someone who needs your prayers. #my18seconds)

Twelve years ago our son at age 16 took an overdose of pills. We knew for some time that he was suffering. He had been in the hospital a year before. This day was exceptionally bad for him. It is so heartbreaking when your 16 year old son cries in your arms  the whole day. He told me that he knew that to kill himself was a sin, but hell could not be as bad as the pain he was feeling. At about 6:00 that evening we were all totally exhausted. He wanted to lay down for a bit and rest. About a half hour later my mother and my grandmother showed up unexpectedly for an impromptu visit. I told my son he should come out and visit his grandmas. He came out and within minutes he began to throw up the pills. If they had not showed up, we would have let him sleep and he would have died.

We rushed him to the ER. The doctor, by coincidence or by divine intervention, knew the antidote for the drugs he took. He was then taken by life flight to the major medical center. My wife and I sat with him most of the night. When we left for a hotel the next evening, the doctors told us that he could still die and that the best we could hope for is that the liver damage would minimal to the point that he could survive until he was 40 or so before he would require a liver transplant. We prayed all night long. My wife is very demanding in her prayer. She would settle for nothing less than a complete recovery. We went back to the hospital early the next morning. We arrived before the doctors got there. The nurse look at the chart with a bit of shock. His liver testes were all normal. He recovered completely with no residual effects.

Now he is 28 years old. He has had many struggles over the years. Many so intense that we thought we might lose him again. We fought with him tooth and nail to overcome his demons. Many times we cried together, but we held on tight. The last year has been the best year so far. But we still worry from time to time. He lives on his own about an hour away. He is successful in his job and has some good friends. He calls his mother almost at least once every day and she still worries if he misses a day. I’m sure that his struggle is not over.

--Deacon Nick

Sunday, October 5, 2014

18 Seconds to Save a Life--Update

In case you happened to miss it, I started a campaign called "18 Seconds to Save a Life" as a way to commemorate my 18th birthday. I had an ambitious goal of reaching 1000 shares of the the post and my blog. I thought it was a bit too ambitious, but I asked for that special birthday present anyway. 

On the morning of October 1st, my birthday, I was on the Son Rise Morning Show AND the Setting Things Right radio show. On October 3rd, Laura Rathbun from the Valley News wrote an article about my campaign to continue the momentum.

Now, it's only five days into the 18-day campaign, and we've roared passed the half-way point of my goal with over 500 shares!

Yeah, I'm in a state of shock and amazement. The love and joy people have shown in spreading the word of hope to those who have none makes me check reality. Especially when I saw that someone shared it to another page (or Facebook wall). THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!

Also, my three videos have over 700 views combined, and the original video of my story has over 12,500 views! Just one more reason I feel abundantly blessed to have so many help me on my mission of awareness.

I can't wait to see what the next five days will bring.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

18 Seconds to Save a Life

Two years ago, when I was in the depth of depression, I couldn't imagine surviving until I was 18. That seemed impossible. Yet here I am today, 18 years old and glad to be alive. Impossible, yes, but true.

I want to ask you to help me celebrate my birthday in a very special way. Will you join my "18 Seconds to Save a Life" campaign?

If you have 18 seconds a day to spare for 18 days, then this is for you. All I ask is that you take 18 seconds each day from October 1st (my birthday) to October 18th (the feast of St. Luke, my namesake) and do one--just one each day--of the following:

1. Pray for someone—by name, if you can—who is depressed or suicidal, even if it's yourself.
2. Greet someone who seems lonely or out of place around others.
3. Share my campaign through social media, email, or in person. You can use the image above to link to this post.

It really takes only 18 seconds. These videos prove it:

I'm also asking you to change your banner on your social media to spread this campaign and explode the stigma of depression: 

My goal is to reach 1,000 shares to know that we're touching lives and saving teens (and maybe not-teens, too). Your network is powerful, so use it for something good. Very good.

I'd love to hear how you spend your 18 seconds each day by leaving a comment here, on Facebook, or Google+. And add the hashtag #my18seconds so others can see how many people are sharing!

I want all teens to celebrate their 18th birthday . . . and beyond.