Although it’s a sad subject, I cant let this date go by, without paying some kind of homage to my late son Nick. He died 14 years ago tomorrow, and it’s hard to believe it’s been that long, when he committed suicide at the age of 19. He had suffered from bi-polar disease all his life. I had first noticed it when he was 18 months old, standing in front of me in a yellow bunny suit/sleeper with feet. It was totally obvious by the time he was 4. Undeniable at 7, and finally, finally diagnosed at 15, and medicated at 16. In those days, psychiatrists refused to diagnose bi-polar until people were in their twenties, and wouldn’t medicate it until then. Getting him medication for it, and a diagnosis, at 15 and 16 was practically a miracle then. Today, children are diagnosed at 4 and 5 and medicated for it immediately. Thank God, times have changed. And maybe my voice has helped a little. I wrote a book about his life, and illness, called “His Bright Light”, it came out a year after he died.
There is no denying that Nick’s brief 19 years were a rocky road. Anyone who lives with someone who is mentally ill can tell you it’s not easy. But to be fair, it’s not unlivable every day. Like any other illness, it goes in fits and spurts. There are good days and bad days, good periods and bad ones, moments that rip your heart out, or you want to tear your hair out, and other times when things are calm. There were a lot of great, great moments with Nick, and aside from the illness, he was an extraordinary person, had a brilliant mind, a huge writing and musical talent, and a sense of humor that could knock you flat on your ass laughing. And during his good times, he was one of the most loving people I have ever known. He was a singer, musician, composer, lyricist, song writer, and he played in a band (Link 80) that was just starting to become successful shortly before he died. (And started another band called ‘Knowledge” right before he died. The CD’s of both those bands he played with are still around). He packed a lot into his 19 years, and led a full and rewarding life. He got more in than some people who live to be 90. And I am grateful for every moment we had with him.
September 20th is the anniversary of the day he died. it was an unforgettably awful day, and a day I have a hard time with every year. Anniversaries of the day we lose people are hard for everyone. Some years are worse than others. And however brief, his life was a bright shining light, a beacon to all those who knew him, and even those who read about him now. He didn’t survive his illness, but he put up a hell of a good fight, and I cant blame him for giving up. He just couldn’t stand the pain anymore. Suicide is never the right solution, it is always the wrong way out. But it is the one he chose, and those of us who loved him have to live with it. It will be a quiet day of reflection for me, of missing him as I always do, and a little more on that day, as I inevitably remember what an awful day that was. But in counterpoint to that, there were so many wonderful days with him, so many happy times, so many joys, so many gifts of having him in our lives. I am grateful for every moment that we shared with him. And somewhere out there in the Heavens, there is the brightest star, the boy who was my son Nick…..thank you for sharing the memories with me. I know you would have loved him, and had a great time with him, we all did. He was such a special boy, and always will be to me…..my bright shining Nick…..I hope he is happy where he is.
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I AM SORRY DANIELLE….I KNOW IT WILL BE HARD…BUT YOU REALLY TOLD NICKS STORY…IN YOUR BOOK…HE WAS A FABULOUS KID…HOW ODD…MY DAUGHTER JUST GAVE ME BACK THE BOOK, SO SHECOULD READ IT…AND HAS HAD IT FOR A YEAR…IT IS ACTUALLY SITTING IN PLAIN SITE ON MY DINING ROOM TABLE…ON THIS DATE…WOW…DESJAVU….TAKE CARE….CAROL IN SOUTHERN CAL…
I happened to find your book on the book exchange shelf at my gym last week. I have read it twice from cover to cover. I have a sixteen year old daughter who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder/bipolar type after two extremely challenging years. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciated reading your honest/heartfelt tribute to Nick. I must say that I felt less isolated after reading your book and more confident with some of the decisions I have made regarding her care. I, too, painfully realize that I may lose my daughter to suicide someday, but like you I will love her endlessly/unconditionally. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful son, Nick, with us.
Sending you and your family prayers of love and peace in memory of your son today.
In honor of your gift that God bestowed on you, I always feel your pain and joy from God when I read your books. It was the book Fine Things that i am reading now. Your son, Nick paints a vivid picture of my mother and myself, tales are reverse she is gone and i am still here. Oh my life is a story to be told and i beg that you reach out to me and hear my passion for writing my life with many novels, Just like all of your books. Writing and story helps us deal with the storms of life. When storms arise I keep my faith in God and read one of your books. Please email for i will forever be indebted. I buried my mother, grandmother and motherin law all in one year and had a child missing twice in a prostitute ring. And then bring back my grandson…I thank you so much for your books…Andrea Frazier
I love your books and I always read your blog. I’m very sorry for you. I lost my father three years ago and I’m always sad on the anniversary of his death so I understand you.
I send you a lot of courage.
i have read your book about your son (actually i have read all your books), and i would like to thank you for sharing this story with us. I think it was one of your best books. sometimes sharing your feelings with others makes you fee a little bit better and not isolated. i also wonder to whatever happened to Nick’s beloved friend and carer Julie??
Dear Ms. Steel,
I, too have Bipolar Disorder and started medication at 15.
It has it’s good and bad days. Sometimes I feel different and sometimes I feel special because of it.
I am so sorry for your loss.
I managed to finish my BA in Psychology and am currently writing a novel based on my experiences.
Your books have been an escape for me since 1987.
I thank God that you exist and your talent.
I read your and was so moved to read of his life cut so short. I can understand your grief my own dear sister Nicky passed away completely unexpecedly in her sleep 6 years ago at the age of 36 even to this day I miss her I miss her voice her laugh even her sense of humour. My sister Nicky was handicapped she was blind and mentally handicapped but in her short life she brought joy and happiness into the lives of all who knew and loved her. Her laughter was infectious she was a happy soul despite her limitations but she was always happy always smiling and laughing sure she had her off days we all do but her off days were infrequent. I think she made the most of her life. And I like to think of her and remember the happiness she brought to the lives of all who knew and loved her. Thank you for your book Danielle I believe somewhere out there both your son and my sister Nicky are watching us and keeping us close til we meet again one day.
I read your book and was so moved to read of his life cut so short. I can understand your grief my own dear sister Nicky passed away completely unexpecedly in her sleep 6 years ago at the age of 36 even to this day I miss her I miss her voice her laugh even her sense of humour. My sister Nicky was handicapped she was blind and mentally handicapped but in her short life she brought joy and happiness into the lives of all who knew and loved her. Her laughter was infectious she was a happy soul despite her limitations but she was always happy always smiling and laughing sure she had her off days we all do but her off days were infrequent. I think she made the most of her life. And I like to think of her and remember the happiness she brought to the lives of all who knew and loved her. Thank you for your book Danielle I believe somewhere out there both your son and my sister Nicky are watching us and keeping us close til we meet again one day.
There are Angels among us and we don’t it until they are gone.I have dealt with depressionsevere panic attacks, and OCD for over half my life in the past two years I have been taking Lithium At night and Celexa during the day.On a normal day,I take at least 10 different types of pills to be “normal”.I am 36 years old with no family left and my partnerSays it’s all in my head,duh,where else would it be.I just wanted to say how truly sorry I am about Nick.I found so much of me in Nick’s book that I’m starting to pay closer attention to my moods.Thank you for sharing his story with me,now I don’t feel so all alone.May the Lord be your beacon of Hope,Faith,and Light when things seem dim….Jennifer
His Bright Light will always be one of my favorite books. I think it’s amazing that you were able to find the strength to tell the tale of Nick’s struggle with the disease. I’ve had friends who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder and only one is still alive and fighting. Your story as well as that of my friends has inspired me to pursue a career in clinical psychology.
First of all I am sorry for my mistakes in English writing. Daniell Yours books helped me to survive so many times. I am 41, I live in Poland.This book about Nicki is absolutely my number one because I also lost my son, in another way but I lost him. Forever.
There is so many things I’d like to tell You. I realize that You receive thousands such a messages like this one from me but steel I need to write to You. Today is my birthday. I feel empty. Empty like Sara from “jewels”, empty like Serena, empty like Deanna. But Yours books gave me the most important thing in the word. HOPE.I pray for You and I thank you for so many wonderfull feelings during reading Yours books. . There is a big possibility That I meet Nicky in a very short time in this better place. And I hope I ‘ll sing with him one of his most beautifull songs. Thank You for hope, hope that somebody loves me, thank You for all this wonderfull moments i had reading Yours books. Than You for everything. I hope we will meet in this better word
Dear Danielle, it is my pleasure to write u. I am really sorry about your son, nick. You are really a very strong mother, passing through this hurtful thing but still doing so great… Honey, may God rest him in peace and bless the rest of your children!!!
With all love always, Danait,
When I read Nick’s story, I cried. It reminded me so much of my own son, in alot of ways.
May God give you peace on that day..and May you also remember his life and all the wonderful memories that you each shared. Be proud of yourself, because as a “Mom”, you gave all you had and then some…
In My thoughts and Prayers,
Hi Danielle..read your book last night about Nick..you helped me more than any counseling session or medication. I lost my son,Tony,@ 29 ,on July 28,1996.He left home on July 26,1996.had been to a detox..had plans to relocate..had started using heroin by injection.We didn’t report him missing..later that was a blessing..2 yrs later we learned that he had caught his leg on a railroad track,and was electrocuted by the third rail..he died 2 days after he left home and was buried in a nearby town in a potter grave..We brought him home..finally and buried him near our house..it was a blessing we didn’t have to identify his body because he was burned on his beautiful face and cut in half by a train..We did everything we could to save him..We now know that he was bipolar..with the hypersexuality..he was smart, handsome ,charming,sensitive and funny..My husband was diagnosed with bipolar disease around this time and died almost to the day..10years from Tony’s death..He never was the same…
Your book validated EVERYTHING I felt about my son, the run around,knowing something was wrong at an early age..good in school,grouchy at home,risk taker , accident prone..with a monkey on his back called mental illness.THANK YOU ..FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART..BARBARA RABAGLIA..BURLINGTON, MA.
I hope he is happy where he is…
Just red the book..
I’m reading now ypur book about your son Nick. I’m from Portugal and our books arrive here with many years after you write them. As a mother that I am of a one year old child, I can’t imagine the pain of loosing a son. I want to believe that he is an angel that watchs always for you and your family. I read all your books (those who arrive here), I have 43 books and read them all. I wish you the best and please continue to write. Beste wishes
I remembering reading your book shortly after it came out and thinking – “this could be one of my boys”. I had to restart the book several times because I had such a hard time reading it. I guess my boys were 10 at the time. Little did I know that I would also lose one of my twin sons to suicide at the age of 18 years and 11 months – exactly one month before he turned 19 and 5 days before Christmas. Neither he nor his brother were diagnosed as bipolar – ; just depression, and the son I lost – ADD. And you’re so right -suicide is never the right choice, but I know they feel they have no other choice….It will be 4 years since we lost Jeff in a month…..I so dread that day. I am still filled with guilt – which I know is normal but still am unable to fight it. My breaks for all of us who have lost our children, particularly in this way.
I have read all of your books and have the hardbacks of all but a couple of the early ones. I always look forward to a new release…; Thanks for sharing your Nick with all of us.