Manhood and Disability Part 1

I’ve never been one to feel sorry for myself, going after things I want has always been part of what made me who I am. It was ingrained in me by my parents, to not let anything stop me and not take no as an answer.

As a child, I felt as though nothing could touch me or wound me. But as you get a little older in life, you suddenly discover that you aren’t invisible as you once thought. You find that the world isn’t as nice as you once thought, and not everyone will give you a chance or think that you will ever amount too much.

Some where along the way, we lose that since of healthy confidence in our selves, and we allow other voices to influence us. There have been quite a bit of times in my life, where I have felt like less of a man, because I can’t drive or do all the typical things that a man is supposed to do.

Never learned to change a light bulb, change the oil in a car none of the typical things that a man is called to do. Growing up, my mom beat into my mind that the man does everything, provides for the woman, so on a so forth. Now I know that some might insert right away, that there is a very old traditional view. And to a degree I would acknowledge that disagreement.

But I do think, that to a a degree a man is supposed to be a warrior poet, much like William Wallace. One who knows how to capture a women’s heart. And vend off evil man if they ever had to. Inwardly and in the back of my mind, I have always felt like I am that.

The deeper reality is though, there a days and moments when I don’t feel like a measure up at all. That is why, my heart often goes out in a deep way to young boys/men with cerebral palsy. Who like me, don’t feel like they measure up, or never be seen as a real man.

In mays I am blessed to have a very mild form of CP, I can do a lot of things for myself. But what about those young men, or fully grown men, that don’t feel like a women could ever love them? Those of us, who is not what the worlds deems to be a man? It’s very easy to turn inward into shame, regret, isolation and even blame shifting.

So my hope, is to speak into that darkness and bring about some hope, bravery and encouragement.

YOU ARE A MAN.

Regardless of what severity of cerebral palsy or other physical condition you may have. You are a man, endowed in the holy image of God. An author who I once frequented, wrote that:

IF you have a penis, you have what it takes to get the job done.. You may not be able to do any sort of physical task, involving a car, kitchen or whatever. But that doesn’t mean, that you couldn’t make the simple phone call to get it fixed.

You  might not be able to spin your wife or girlfriend in circles, or even cook for them.  But you can love and protect them mentally, emotionally and spirituality. So much of my life I was blind to this reality, because I was so fixated on the physical.

When there is so much more to it, than physical aspects. I didn’t think that I would ever meet a women that loved me, until I met my girlfriend. I wasn’t finding relationships that worked out. And the more that happened the more alone I felt.

This only pushed me to cling to God more, finding peace in his love and being made in his image. Which is where all my worth and dignity as a human stems from. When I met my girlfriend, I was so shocked and overjoyed, because  I never thought I’d find another human that loved me in all the ways my heart desired.

I was blown away that even doubted Gods goodness and ability.

I do all I can to help my girlfriend when we are together, but the reality is, is that we have learned to take turns helping each other. There are times, in this current season of our relationship. Where I can’t help her with every little thing, and sometimes the greatest thing I can offer her is encouragement, love and my support.

I believe that us men, buy into the lie that we have nothing to offer, that we have no purpose and that we are not worthy of love. It’s all a lie that we accept when the depression sets in.

But the truth is, is that you have much to offer, you have purpose and you are worthy of love. It’s all abut finding out who you are, what makes you come alive and being comfortable in your own skin.

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My Thoughts Regarding Keto!

So,

I had a request for my thoughts on the Keto diet. Before we go any further, I’d like to state that I do not follow the Keto diet. Primarily I am focused on a higher protein/carnivore-like approach to my personal nutrition. That being said, I do like the idea behind Keto.

Primarily, when you lower the amount of sugar and carbs in your daily intake, and make healthy fats as a source of energy. Your body then how no choice to burn fat, which for many has equated to dramatic weight loss. Keto consists of Fats, protein and low carb:

Fats: Avocado, nuts, flax seed etc

Protein: lean meats, fish, chicken etc

Carbs : Veggies

There are other types of Keto, which focus on higher proteins, or dirty keto, which can  be viewed as a fast food version, but just taking off the bread (haha). In the world of diets and nutrition, something new pops up all the time. Some, I have heard take a firm stance against it, saying that it is hard to maintain and something that you can’t be on long term.

Having not been on a keto diet myself, I can only go off of what I’ve read and heard.  My girlfriend has been on the diet for a while, and it has help her with her arthritis and joint pain.

I truly do believe that it can help reduce inflammation in the body, helps with autoimmune disorders and those who suffer from seizure disorders as well. However I don’t believe that one has to be on a keto diet however to start seeing changes in their health. Once you eliminate the processed carbs, sugars and fats amazing things start to happen in your body.

That is truly universal, whatever “diet” you subscribe to.  Here is a link listing the benefits of being on the Keto diet.  Here!   Typically as Americans  most of us have been so focused on processed carbs and sugars, largely because it’s easy and tastes good. Yet, so many people are dramatically overweight, have diabetes, have digestive issues and lack of energy.

I think the American diet has been wrong for a long time, and people are quickly realizing and to maximize health and longevity. In closing, I want to say again, that I do not practice the Keto approach. Nor do I think that it is for everyone, I think that, regardless of the foods that you like, if you make the disciplined choice to eliminate processed foods, increase water and exercise, you will become healthier regardless of “diet” you choose to subscribe to.

Find what works for you! If you like fruits and greens over steak, okay! Work with it, if you see results fantastic. If you don’t change it up! But I think we have clearly seen how a Keto or low cab form of eating is changing peoples lives for the better. Everything has its time frame in life, but what will always remain true, is that eating like crap, will always make you feel like crap! And eating healthy, will only leave you feeling for energized and happy.

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My Thoughts On “Trans Abled”

I can remember being in college, in hearing all the craze, about a woman who wanted to become paralyzed from the waist down. Link Here I remember scratching my head and thinking to myself this can’t be real, right? But I was truly wrong, it was real. I was made aware of the Psychological disorder called BIID, or body integrity identity disorder. 

B.I.I.D. according to the NCBI, is defined as: Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) is a rare, infrequently studied and highly secretive condition in which there is a mismatch between the mental body image and the physical body. Subjects suffering fromBIID have an intense desire to amputate a major limb or severe the spinal cord in order to become paralyzed.

Now, as a person who has lived with an actually disability (cerebral palsy) for 34 years. It is extremely difficult for me not to take a stand against this. For the simple reason that I didn’t have a say in the matter of being born in the matter that I was. There was no psychological imbalance or trauma that caused me to be born with such a condition. But rather complications in the birthing process and actually trauma to my brain.

Cerebral Palsy is not the worst thing in the world, but it does have its taxing days, both on my mind and emotions. And yes, some days I wish I could walk, run, and live like everyone else. Somedays I wish that I could have a new body, but never could I ever have imagined the new momentum of wanting to be “Trans-Abled”

Where people actually want to not have use of their eyes, legs or even arms. And the torture in which they put themselves through. In the name of achieving such goals is down right disgusting and frankly demonic. Forever, there are doctors and seemingly “medical professionals” who are willing to aid their patients in the process! And if not done by a medical professional, then physical harm is done by the person seeking those results.

As a society, what is happening to us? And are we actually willing to accept this as the new social norm? Furthermore, if we are willing to accept this as a new social norm, provided more and more people actually want to move into this supposed “life style” are we actually fighting for human flourishing? No, we are are not fighting for human flourishing, rather we are accepting a deep form of human denigration.

As human beings we should be pushing people with mental illness and various disorders, to thrive and be at peace with themselves at some level. This also goes for medical professionals as well, as most already are, but there’re also quacks everywhere you go. I don’t meant to sound in-compassionate to these people that have this mental disorder, because they’re people too.

But no, you don’t and shouldn’t have the right just to cut your own arm off, simply because you want to be called “One arm Jack” which is a real story too. This is heart breaking, these people need deep compassionate mental care. For no real human being should set out to accomplish the goal of becoming disabled in various ways just to feel whole.

That in my estimation is the very definition of Ab-normal. I get that a lot of people feel trapped in their own bodies, but the answer is not harming yourself to accomplish a sense of people or even taking ones life, no way no how. Finding a sense of inner peace within oneself can be an extremely daunting journey, I know it has for me.

And I mentioned earlier, having CP is not the worst thing in the world, but there are days when it sucks and my body is in great pain. And yes, the days where I would like to experience what it is like to be like every other person, they come too. But I have done the hard work to have a sense of peace with myself and my maker.

I dealt with the shame of my right hand, the scars on my body and so on. And though my struggle is not the same of one that suffers from BIID. I can honestly tell you that I am at peace with myself, I still struggle, but I’m very okay with the body that I have been blessed with.

The same, I believe can be found for someone that suffers with BIID, to find true mental healing and restoration. It may be a long process, but it is possible, it takes the care and compassion of mental health professionals to help them work through a lot of layers and change the way we think.

Though I profoundly and disagree with the desire for one to become disabled, in any sense. Does not mean that I love or care for them any less. These people still have the image of God on them, and  whether they know that or not. That is their truest self of identity. And from that everything else follows.

They have such worth and value, and they need people who will show them that, not just cave to their desires.

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Arguing Toward Peace (Why Jordan Peterson is Right).

Some days ago, I watched a video of Dr. Jordan Peterson on the Dr. Oz show, Dr. Peterson was talking to a married couple who were on the brink of divorce. The wife had the papers all ready to go, but she had not signed them yet.

Link here: Dr. Jodan Peterson saves a marriage 

The wife had said that she didn’t go through wife signing the papers yet, for the soul purpose of there being hope still. Which I applaud and even find admirable. Dr. Peterson said a lot of good things in the three minute clip, but the one thing I found to be absolute gold was when he uttered the words:

Argue Toward Peace

Argue toward peace… Which is something we don’t do as Americans, why? Because we all want to be right, we all want to hold onto grudges and resent and not forgive and move for the better. Now most certainly, there’re times when it is right to walk away from a relationship and even family, if it is completely toxic and no parties want to meet in the middle.

Arguing toward peace, requires a few things

One: Letting go of your ego, meaning that one stops thinking about only about what they want. And why their right, actually hearing the other side. This can even be said in light of our political climate as well!  Who would have thunk? Once again I know it can be difficult to control our emotions when we are bitter, frustrated and angry. Lord knows, that I suck at this myself.

Its easy for me to blow and raise my voice, and even harder for me to step away and breath for a moment. Yet, that is what we must learn to do more and better. Scripture informs us that fruit of the spirit is:

Love

Joy

Peace

Forbearance

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

And-self control.

Furthermore, scripture says Blessed are the peacemakers  (Matthew 5:9). The reality is, we could all do a lot better at being peace makers, that doesn’t mean holding firm to our own convictions, or stepping into battle when the time is right. But it does mean, that we learn to make peace with those we love. For example, my girlfriend and I have made an agreement not to go to bed angry, This is partly a biblical approach and partly logical.

I hate going to bad with any sort of anger or frustration it literally robs me of all joy, makes me toss and turn and takes me away from my true self. That usually leads me to call my girlfriend to apologies, which of course leads us both to feel at peace. Arguing toward peace, means sitting down, and calming talking through things, not screaming and holding onto how they hurt you or vise versa.

It’s about knowing that things are with fighting for, even when the world tells us to give up and start afresh. Not doing the relational hard work to reconcile our differences with one another. Arguing toward peace, in my opinion must become the new norm for us as a society.

And only when we have exhausted every option, is it worth giving up. In closing, I’d like to say also, that arguing toward peace Does NOT Mean allowing someone to walk all over you, cheat on you and even be physically abusive with you.  Arguing toward peace is a methodology,  that is to be used to facilitate healing in the lives of two people or even a group of people. But never under violent relational circumstances.

Blessings

-Brandon

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The Gift of Your Child

The following entry is a topic that has long weighed upon my heart, I do not wish for anyone to feel condemned or even shamed in the process of reading this. If anything, it is my hope and prayer that your heart and mind might see things in a fresh perspective and that you may sense a jolt in your spirit, and even a fresh perspective on the life your leading.

I can’t imagine what is was like, for my parents to hear from the doctor that I would be born with cerebral palsy (CP). The doctor gave my parents a lot of double speak, in that, one hand I would probably grow out of the condition, which never ever happens. If I didn’t grow out of it, then, according to the doctor, I would be dependent on others to help me live my life and I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything on my own.

You don’t have to be a pattern in the present moment, to get an idea of how that made my parents feel. My mom always tells me this story, that she grabbed this doctor by his lab coat and gave this doctor a piece of her mind. Apparently, in doing this, that caused this very small hospital on lock down. Furthermore, my mom would tell me about how, she would walk in the snow, to the hospital to make sure I was fed and gained the weight that was needed to be discharged from the hospital.

There is only one word to describe this: Love. Was it stressful and nerve racking? Yes, without question. I can only imagine that there were times where my parents felt frustrated and just needed a moment to breath and gather themselves back up. God knows, that we are only human and have our breaking points. Yet is was love, for my dad to take me to each physical therapy session and doctors appointment. It’s love, for my dad to teach me martial arts and how to be strong as a man.

Now, I have always tried to be as sufficient as possible,  but there’re a few things in life which have always got in the way. 1) driving and 2) cooking, I have attempted to learn to drive before, and will try again. The problem becomes, in having a bad startle reflex and taking a bit of time for my body to wake up and regulate its self in the morning. As of now, wisdom tells me that it’s easier to air on the side of caution. I would hate to be behind the wheel, and get startled by a loud noise, gun through the intersection and either being badly hurt myself or injuring someone else.

Cooking, it’s something I can do for myself, however the kitchen in my home is not the best set up for me. But I know that this arrangement is only temporary. The point being, is I know that things get stressful for my parents. Because, as I said earlier, their human too.  Yet, knowing that I am dependent in some ways and as a person with CP (or any other disability one wants to fill in the blank with).

The idea of being a gift or blessing, gets replaced with the word burden or thinking that we are dead weight. Now, let me lay before you that, parents that vocalize any sort of frustration. They don’t actually mean it, does it feel good? No, it doesn’t, in fact it hurts and cuts down to the bone if we don’t learn how detach ourselves from the moment, and cling to truth.

The truth is, our parents just might be having a bad day, should parents vocalize such frustration in front of their sons or daughters? Probably not. The reality is, it’s not good for anyone. I think that there should be times for parents with special needs children to vent, but in a healthier context. Not directly in front of your son or daughter.

Once again, to those of us who have CP or any other disability. Remember the truth, you’re not a burden, but a joy. Who has unique gifts and talents to offer the world. It’s important that we have a forgiving and grace filled spirit. Because the people around us, who love of the most will have bad days. And it’s important to know who we really are, to smile and forgive.

Parents, again, God knows you will have bad days. God knows that you will say things that you don’t mean. I think is key to remember, that if your son or daughter could actually drive, cook or do X, Y or Z for themselves they actually would. I m deeply thankful, for all my parents and family has done to help me get to where I am in life.

And if I could drive and do a few other things for myself, I would gladly do so. But in this current moment, things are as they are. Yet that does not mean, that I stop trying to improve myself to be as sufficient as possible. Lastly, and I don’t mean to pull at your heart strings, but always remember what it was like to see and hold your child for the fist time. The love and joy you felt for them in that moment, is still there even when you have a bad day.

Sons and daughters, the same goes for us, the love our parents does not change, simply because of one day. Always be kind, loving and gracious.

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Two Realities of CP: Adapting and Stillness

Having lived with Cerebral Palsy for 34 years now, I have come to a few conclusions, however painfully obvious they may be. Allow me to elaborate more in the following paragraphs:

One: I am not “normal” I get it, no one is. But I use crutches to walk around, sometimes a wheel-chair, I scoot down steps (at times) and sometimes I still crawl around. Furthermore, crawling around for me, is sometimes easier, yes others can and do help me and I’m grateful for it. But the reality is, if I can’t carry something in my mouth while walking, well, crawling on the ground while moving something works just great. Again, I know it’s not ideal, or however else one would describe it. But it works for me. I’m not ashamed of it, and it honestly saves my legs some strength and even prevents me for slipping and bonking my face on things.. Which has happened before.  I have come to terms that, some things in life need various levels of adaptation.

When it comes to be a father some day, I might not be able to carry my child in my arms in the middle of the night. Walking them around as most good fathers (and mothers) do, but I can find ways to hold them and other ways of doing things for them. I’m not normal, and I parent or raise my children normal either.  I’m actually very open to this reality and am very excited about discovering what works and what doesn’t in all aspects of my life.   The world most become more open to the realm of possibility, rather than being stuck in the world of impossibility.

My faith in God also plays a huge role in this, because I know that he is faithful and good. Providing all that I need and working everything out for my good (Romans 8:28). It’s learning to trust him, even when I cannot see how things are going to happen, or even understand what God is doing.

Two: I’ve come to terms with the amount of pain that my body is in everyday. Much of the pain, I believe anyway, has much to do with A) getting older and B) the amount of stress I put my body through while in the gym . Both in strength training and Jiujutsu. Again, I’m ok with this, I do the very best I can to combat the daily aches, pains and stiffness . Yet no matter, what anyone does it’s going to be there in some degree. In many respects, I’ve come to a place where I am at peace with the pain. Meaning, I know it’s there, but it will not be the defining factor of my life.  I will not allow it to stop me from being the person that God has destined me to be. This is not to say, that I don’t have days where the darkness sets in, in much thicker shades. They do, yet I have the greatest light in times of darkness, and the deepest anchor in times of trouble.

In conclusion: Not one of us is “normal” whatever that means anyway. Each of us, how are only problems, worries and battles we fight on a daily basis. Life is hard, but that is no reason to quit, we keep an open mind to how we can greater adapt with the circumstances that life throws at us. Lastly, we learn to make peace with the contexts that we find ourselves in, but that doesn’t mean that we become complacent in the fight. No, we keep fighting and moving forward. We teach ourselves to become more resilient and adaptable in the fight. We find joy, hope, wonder in the bleakest of circumstances. If not, we will die a quicker death emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Which is reality that is all too often easily accepted.

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How To Endure Suffering and Embrace All of Life.

 

Life is a series of moments, moments that are quickly escaping us. Whether we are aware of it or not. Which is breath, each month, each year, with every word and with every thought. And what we do in these moments is up to us. What we believe in these moments is up to us.

We can choose to be a pessimist or we can choose to be optimist. Sure, each day brings trials and worries of its own, yet the choice is still ours. Even in the darkest of times, we don’t have to be completely swallowed up by suffering.

Suffering does not have to crush or destroy us. One of the ways I have found to endure the hard times of life, is to condition myself in the midst of suffering. The same way I condition my body in the gym and on the matts. I condition my mind to be strong and stable in the harshest of conditions.

Am I always successful at it? No, I am not. I fail at it a lot, but if I/we do not condition ur minds to endure suffering. Life will in fact crush us. How do I condition my mind, you ask?

two ways:

  1. Patience’s in suffering- this is something we humans do not want to hear, but it is true none the less. Wishing the pain away, really does nothing for us. But being calm and as steady as rock, thus allows us to pray, ask, seek and knock. It allows us to endure and learn optimal lessons about ourselves. Consider the words in James 5:7-8 (NIV)  Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.    When we know that the Lord is near, nothing can shake us. When we truly know his character and his love for us. The suffering and adversity is momentary compared to his steadfast love.

2. Learn the art of Joy: Psalm 30:

 will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.[a]

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.[b]
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.[c]
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

 

The poet David knows suffering all too well, and even he has endured much difficulty and despair. And yet he has learned the secret of rejoicing in the Lord, for he understands that God will not let the darkness triumph over him. Yes, I know that others may not share my same belief and faith in the Christian world view- but I believe that it is the only world way, that has anything to say about suffering. And it is the only world view that confronts suffering head on. Some say that faith in God is a “crutch” per- say, and yet most of us, that have been put the ringer of life, understand what it’s like to walk with a limp.  And so yes, Jesus comes along side us in our suffering and gives us himself to trust and lean on.

After all, he was plunged into the deepest sea of darkness for us, to show us his mad love for us and that we are not alone in suffering. He knows our suffering, temptations and weakness very deeply. The blessing of life then, as I said in the beginning, is a bundle of minutes and precious moments, passing us by whether we like it or not, believe it or not. As such, it is up to us to embrace the moments, darkness in all. We all have a choice in how we handle and view the suffering.

I say embrace it, head on, knowing that God is the great shepherd. Who can lead you beside still waters, regardless of where you have been, what you have done or have scared you may be about the future.

You are loved, it is never too late to accept the hand with the most amazing love and grace.

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When You Feel Like A Failure

Feeling like a failure is probably one of the worst feelings in the world, wouldn’t you agree? There are days when I myself feel like a failure, where I wished that I would have done things differently in life.

I think to some degree everyone has felt like that, but what are the roots of such a paralyzing feeling?

  1. We lack a core identity or truth about ourselves,  as a Christian and follower of Jesus. My core identity comes from him and him alone, nothing else. And when I know who I am in his eyes and what I am in his sight. Nothing else truly matters in the end. Nothing can separate me/us from his love:

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, NLT)

2) You are not your past mistakes: No matter what you have done in your past, it does not mean that the past has to dictate your future. Yes, there may be consequences for a past action, but the good news is, is that we can take extreme ownership of our actions, and decide to be a different person here and now. Furthermore, there is forgiveness in Christ and He can make you a new creation:

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

3) Persevere: Life is hard yes, people will doubt you, they won’t believe you can change, they will want to see you fail. But you can’t let that stop you. You have to tell yourself, that you will choose to keep moving forward, every second of everyday. You will even have moments where you want to give up, you may even have  moments of break down. And I’d argue, that that’s okay, but then get up, dust off and keep moving forward.images

 

Do What You Were Meant To Do.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

― Howard Thurman

Finding your soul purpose, is not a exploration through outer space. I repeat:

Finding your soul purpose, is not a exploration through outer space.

What does this mean?

It means that God has endowed us all with things that we are passionate about, and talented out. What ever those things are for you, are the things that I truly believe that you should be pursuing.

It doesn’t matter if its painting, web design, clothing, public speaking, mentoring, coaching or something else. If we are not doing the things we love in some fashion. We are living a horrible existence.

As a society, we are caught in the 9-5 trap, working for our bank accounts. Now, if you like what you’re doing, good. Keep doing it. But I feel that most people hate what their doing and as such they are dying on the inside. Living for the Fridays and drinking some beer… Not that that’s bad at all.

But I just think that we could be living a more meaningful existence… You have to work an odd job to make ends meet. But to not do something that makes you come alive, is utter foolishness.

Write down what makes you come alive, make a plan and go do it.

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Remembering Chester Bennington

I’ll never forget being a teenager, lying there in my bed watching MTV, when MTV was actually MTV. Meaning that they actually played good music videos. It must have been early morning I remember seeing Linkin’s Parks video for the song One Step Closer.  I was hooked from the first sound of the guitar, the break down and the perfect hybrid rap Rock vocals. The lyrics hooked me as an angsty teen. The lyrics were speaking to me in a way nothing else could.

I was a fan and will always will be. There was not a LP album that I was not a fan of. To be quite honest though, it was the lyrical depth that drew me in. The fact that the band was armed with a great live show was even better. I had never gotten the chance to see the band live, but I remember seeing them live on a show called Reverb Nation. There was so much emotional connectivity with the crowd, it was all so intriguing and inspiring to me.

To think that someone like Chester, or any member of the band could command such attention. When ever I was sad, depressed or angry it would be linkin park that I went to the most. The interesting thing is though, even through Chesters heavy, dark and even hopeful lyrics. I never truly connected that fact that he struggled with depression or mental illness. In my young mind at the time, I thought he was only telling stories of people that he knew.

There was no way he could be depressed right? I mean he was a world wide celebrity and had everything it seemed. That the was the younger, less wise part of myself. Now that I am bit older, I realize that it is truly possible to have everything and feel like you have nothing at the same time.

In my own journey with depression and anxiety, it was the lyrics of Chester B that gave me the room I needed to give voice to what I was feeling on the inside. I was never blessed with the chance to meet Chester, and tell him thank you for his words. And that I in some ways considered him a friend.

On a personal level, I often feel so up and down. Happy one moment and either want to scream or cry the next. I have had a handful of psych professors tell me that life, for most is very up and down or much like scribbling on a piece of paper. But thats never been a soothing or satisfying response for me.

The more I listen to the lyrics of Chester, the more I sense that he was truly crying out. Duh right? As a psychology major though, I have learned to pay more attention and see more deeply into a person. Are they truly happy when they smile or is there more going on below the surface?

Better yet, are we happy in a public setting and then fall apart behind closed doors? It’s almost been a year since his passing, and I honestly cannot believe that he is gone. I keep waiting for some FB article to pop up saying that he is alive and well, much like 2 pac. ..

But I guess that a big part of me is still in denial, that he is truly gone. All I know is that, we cannot afford to keep losing people this way. Regardless of what we believe about life. We must be willing to ask and have uncomfortable conversations, about how and where we are at in life.

We have to be willing to say **** the stigma behind talking about depression and suicide, for it is the only way to break free. We have to be willing to say enough is enough.

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