Greetings my dahling punks and punkettes. I hope this May day finds you in good health and spirits.
Now, as you know, I normally would have a new article of some outrage rants and raves but I'm putting that on the back burner for now because this month I really need to let readers focus on something close to my little black heart and to many others as well. But trust me, next month, I promise to be as scathing and outrageous as usual, k?
One of the very first articles I did for Punk Globe, when the divine Ms. Ginger Coyote asked me to join her group of creative creatures, was about Nick Traina, his life, his struggles, and how we lost such a talented young man way too soon in life.
For any possible first time readers who don't know what I'm talking about, Nick Traina was the gorgeous, talented, punk rocker son of famed author, Danielle Steele. Now a lot of people would automatically think, "wow, son of rich and famous mom...must be rough, eh?". Actually, for Nick, it was, as you see, Nick suffered from an affliction that I share with him, that eventually cost him his life. Nick was manic depressive or as commonly referred to today, bipolar.
Ms. Steele, after her son's death, wrote a beautiful book about Nick and trials and tribulations called, "His Bright Life". Filled with wonderful memories, stories and photos, she details how Nick came blasting into the world and from the time he could crawl, she knew he was special and he was going to make his mark in the world.
REMEMBERS NICK TRAINA AND ERIC ZENTNER
As a youngster, he spoke two languages, he adored music, loved to play on his mother's typewriter, and did all the little things that made his mother adore him and also made her want to pull her hair out. But along with typical rug rat antics, early on, she noticed things that sent up red flags about his ability to relate to others, how he responded to authority figures, obsessions, compulsions, and insecurities.
It took Nick's mother many years, many doctors and many tests to find out eventually that her darling son had a mental illness; he was bipolar. Countless attempts at medical inpatient help, and overwhelming rotations of medications became a 24/7 job. Some days he could function and enjoy fleeting moments of "normality" and then there were long periods of crisis, fear, anger, confusion, and feelings of hopelessness for all involved.
Throughout all of this, the one thing that kept Nick striving and growing was his love for music. From grade school talent shows where he'd dress and perform as a rock and roller, to eventually performing with his punk band, Link 80, music was the blood that kept Nick's heart beating. He lived to perform and sing and wanted to be the best at it.
Unfortunately, people with bipolar disease are hindered in so many ways that even the simplest acts or tasks can be overwhelming and impossible to achieve. Stressful situations can send the bipolar person into anxiety attacks, depressions, severe mood swings, isolation and confusion. Therefore, touring with band took every ounce of energy and determination NIck had and he kept it going as long as he could. His band mates were as compassionate and understanding as they could be but for many friends and loved ones of the bipolar person, it's a hard and tiring journey.
As much as Nick wanted to live a long life, make great music, and accomplish goals like every person alive seeks to do, he made the mistake that many people with a mental illness tend to make. He had periods where he'd go off his medication and it lead to ugly results.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that if the medication works for a while and they start to feel good and out of the funk, that they must be well and therefore they quit their meds. That is the worse mistake you can make. Medications are imperative to functioning and surviving! Being bipolar is an illness which needs medications and they must be taken daily, just the same way a diabetic has to take their insulin. Without the treatment, the risk of death hovers over you.
And so it was with Nick. At age 19, when most young people are just beginning to grab life by the tail and take off running full steam ahead, Nick reached a place of dispare and took an overdose of morphine, knowing from past experience he would have an anaphylactic reaction to it. This time he made sure he took five times the normal amount he had tried in the past...he was going to make sure there was no turning back this time. In result, the world lost a "bright light".
For me, I do believe that life does not end with death. I believe there is a spiritual world where those who have crossed over still play a part in our lives and I'll tell ya why.
I have given numerous copies of "His Bright Light" to people I know and have met who suffer from depression or feel they might have a manic illness. Everytime I do so, those people will remark how they felt that Nick's life was exactly what they were experiencing in regards to depression, treatment options, medication struggles, and the such.
Now, I get copies of the book from my favorite little thrift store down the road and everytime I need one for someone, Nick's bright light leads me directly to a copy and makes it available. Case en point, I was telling my dear friend, drag queen, Ima Goodenbed, about the book and she said she'd love to read it cuz she's going through funk. So, I wander over to the thrift store, hoping and praying I can score a copy, and lo and behold, I go to the book section of the store, and not on the shelf amongst other books, but laying on the edge, in plain sight, is a hard covered, mint condition copy of "His Bright Light". I KNOW Nick is helping me spread his story and perhaps help someone else in need. And, I always give a loving, "thanx, Nick" out loud when I find my treasure.
Since my first Nick Traina article, people are becoming more and more open about having bipolar illness and stepping forward to share their stories. This last month, Catherine Zeta Jone and Demi Lovato both have revealed they are "bipolar bears" like me and Nick. It's nothing to be ashamed of and we're just letting people know that being bipolar doesn't mean we're homicidal maniacs or a threat to society. Weird, outrageous, colorful, humorous, talented, yes, we are but we aren't going "postal" every day. With treatment and the right meds, bipolar folks CAN live a full and active life. But it takes work, dedication and patience.
Today is Nick's birthday, so I am taking this time to send a very special "happy birthday" to my personal angel and close friend to Ginger Coyote. Your bright light is still leading the way to hope for others, Nick. Rawk on, my friend.
A couple weeks ago, I got a tearful early morning call from a very upset Ms. Ginger C. A friend of hers, a beautiful young man by the name of Eric Zentner, had been on his way to visit his mother when he ran out of gas on the freeway, and when he got out of his vehicle to try and get help, he was struck and killed by someone in a van. The driver did not even stop...he left Eric at the side of the road and his injuries were fatal.
Some of you might remember when Ginger interviewed him for Punk Globe a couple years ago. He was beginning a career in modeling, and had previously been a rock and rolling band member and skateboard enthusiast. Not only was Eric extremely gorgeous, but, as Ginger told me, he was someone who loved life, adored his family, had a great sense of humor and adventure, and was looking at his future with hope and gusto. Having recent campaigns with Versace and Louis Vuitton, Eric was on his way to making waves in the fashion world.
It was heartbreaking to hear that this young man's life was cut short and even more disheartening to hear that the person who was responsible for Eric's death, did not have the decency to stop the vehicle and get out and try and help him. As Eric's brother, Aaron told me, he has faith in that karma will come full circle and justice for Eric will be served. For now, his friends, family and those who loved him spent time after the accident celebrating the person Eric was and how his memory and his essence will live on. Even I made it a point to light a candle in his memory the day of his memorial service. I did not know Eric personally, but through the stories from Ginger, his family and others who knew and loved him, I know I would have adored him as well and he was worthy of remembrance and love.
I, as well as all of us at Punk Globe Magazine, send our love, prayers, and support to the family of Eric Zentner and pledge to keep his memory alive and pray for justice for Eric. Punk Globe has a new, beautiful angel in our corner. Fly with the angels, Eric. Keep that lovely smile shining down on us all.
Dee Dee S | Create Your Badge