His Bright Light, by Danielle Steel

This is the story of an extraordinary boy with a brilliant mind, a heart of gold, and a tortured soul. It is the story of an illness, a fight to live, and a race against death. – See more at: http://daniellesteel.com/blog/his-bright-light-the-story-of-nick-traina/#sthash.mUMtK3Vo.dpuf

Sometimes people who love bipolar people are quite bipolar in describing the experience. Adoration and pain, it’s perfectly logical. It took me roughly a quarter of the book to sidle guiltily past that and into Nick Traina’s life.

I gotta say, Danielle Steel sounds like a good mother.

As usual, there’s a whole lot of chaos to relate and a protagonist who didn’t understand himself any more than anyone else did, let alone being able to understand and fit into society. It’s sore to see and the end is already known, yet another bipolar suicide.

The thing that elevates the book beyond (sorry) being purely the account of a grieving mother, is excerpts from Nick’s adolescent journals. And the way his mother engages with them in the book endeared her to me a lot.

Normal is bad, balance is shit. I want to be angry and fierce and shirtless and sweating, screaming at the top of my lungs and clawing at my own skin for the rest of my life.

He wasn’t just another angry teen. His mother worried for years, took him to see numerous psychiatrists and therapists – and he still fell through the cracks. Everyone talking about Robin Williams needs to talk about Nick too.

… the issues that plagued Nick were mental ones, there were vast psychiatric holes in him, which we struggled desperately to fill, just the three of us, John, Julie, and I, with no one else to help us. It was like trying to stop Nick from bleeding to death. He had cut an artery somewhere, deep in his soul, and all we knew was that we had to find it, and sew it up again. Quickly. Before it killed him.

By the time he got some treatment at age 15, the poor kid was already losing insight.

All I can say is, given what I know now, if you believe that someone in your care is suffering from manic depression, or a similar illness, and you feel you’re not getting the help you need for them, don’t wait, don’t screw around, don’t be patient, try someone else. Try every route you can lay your hands on to help them.

In 1993, Nick was diagnosed with depression and medicated. At 15, he was finally correctly diagnosed and the hunt began to find that magical medical cocktail.

He died in 1997.


I found myself being glad that he seems to have got laid a lot, had fun, dyed his hair every possible colour, fallen in love and that he was a punk rocker before his suicide at age 19. I liked the way Ms Steel acknowledged her conservatism and embraced her son’s outrageousness. It’s hard work loving a manic depressive – I think she did a damn fine job.

Nick Traina Foundation


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

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