Emerging from the Dark: Bob Larsted reflects on his daughter’s troubled times.

I am doing two things this year to recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month. The first is signing up for the Massachusetts NAMI Walk, which is taking place on May 18 on the Boston Common. I’m looking forward to taking the train from my home in Worcester. Donations are always appreciated: https://www.namiwalks.org/participant/boblarsted

The second is to make this video available here. I’ve never done this before. We’ll see how it goes. Typically, you need to show up to experience one of my talks.

Here Goes:

Prepare to experience a rollercoaster of emotions as Bob Larsted fearlessly shares his journey of navigating his daughter’s tumultuous adolescence. In this powerful and candid video, Bob delves into the raw realities of parenting a suicidal teenager, confronting the challenges posed by medical professionals and educational institutions along the way. Laugh, cry, and feel the surge of anger alongside Bob as he sheds light on the resilience and unwavering love that guided his family through the darkest of times. Experience this poignant narrative of hope, resilience, and the unbreakable bond between a father and his daughter.


NAMI Walk 2024

I wanted you to know that my friend Ben and I will be out walking on Saturday, May 18, at Boston Common for the 2024 NAMI Walk. This will be our 11th year participating in this incredible fundraising event.

Anything you can do to spread the word would be greatly appreciated.

Donations to this important cause are easy to make at: www.namiwalks.org/participant/boblarsted

At NAMIWalks, we don’t just walk the walk. We are the walk.
I am hope. I am inclusion. I am empowerment. I am compassion. I am NAMIWalks.

The annual NAMIWalks event connects our community to the life-changing mental health programs and resources that NAMI offers.

Won’t you be NAMIWalks, too, by donating generously to this effort? You can do it right here on my personal walk page.

“Mental Health for All” is the event’s rallying call, and it will take all of us to reach our goal.

Thank you!


Anthony Rapp is Back in Massachusetts Again with “Without You”

I cried through the entire performance as Anthony Rapp returned to Boston to perform his most-personal musical, Without You. It was just as spectacular as it was 2015, and in 2012 before that.

Without You is Anthony’s story of playing the role of Mark in Rent, the Broadway musical and film, his relationship with Rent’s writer, Johnathan Larson, his own mother, and coming to terms with both their deaths. I wrote about Rent and Mark in my book. Excerpts here:

I went to see Rent. Again. It’s a Broadway musical that had started touring around the country. Kate, Patricia, Beth and I had seen it in New York during its original run. I’m not really sure what it’s about. Those who know more than I say it is a modern retelling of La Bohème, whatever that is (It’s an opera by Puccini, whoever he is). But this version has something to do with love and AIDS and living and dying in New York. The music is haunting. And popular. When Patricia was in fifth grade, her school chorus included some of its songs in their holiday concert. I was always surprised the music director overlooked the words and the themes when she selected music for an elementary school performance. Or had she?

For the last couple of years, every time the show came to Boston or Providence, I found myself drawn to it. Kate and I managed to get to the movies together regularly; we could pull this off because Patricia was medicated at 7 p.m. and asleep for the night by 9. And Patricia slept so soundly, we knew she would be safe if we went to a 9:30 movie that was playing 10 minutes from home. Driving more than an hour to go to an 8:00 show wasn’t something we could do together very often, so again, I ended up going alone.

As I sat there, dead-center in the eighth row, (because you can buy a single ticket dead-center in the eighth row on the day before the performance even if it’s been sold out of the two-seats-next-to-each-other seats for months), I realized the story playing out in front of me was actually my life. I was Mark, the filmmaker character in the play. He spends his entire existence lurking on the sidelines, documenting what’s going on around him, as the rest of the characters, including Angel, the drag queen who succumbs to AIDS in the third act, all live incredibly full and deeply satisfying days. Mark’s only contribution is to get in the way while he tries to film everything.

My favorite song in the show is sung by one of the bit-part characters, Gordon. It’s less than a minute long. He sings it as he introduces himself to today’s group at the Life Support meeting at the local community center. These meetings are a chance for men and women who are living with the inevitability of death by AIDS to get together and talk—to talk about whatever they want. About how they are feeling. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mark, of course, bullies his way into the meeting.

This day, at this performance, for the first time, I heard and really comprehended the words of Gordon’s song. He sings about how he is surprised to be alive. How logic and reason no longer work for him. How he should have died three years ago.

We were just passing the three-year mark on Patricia’s journey.

She was still alive.

I’m supposed to be the engineer. And on that day, I was having trouble with logic and reason, too.

—Pages 173-174, Witness to the Dark by Bob Larsted

… and later near the end of the book:

I saw Rent again tonight—the movie this time. I wanted to take a second look at Mark to see if he really is the loser I made him out to be in the Parent Support Group chapter. Maybe he’s not. During the first few seconds of the movie, he tells us he’s thrown out the script and instead of trying to direct everything, he is just going to experience real life—something far more interesting than he could come up with on his own. And so Mark gets to live, too.

—Page 245, Witness to the Dark by Bob Larsted

Patricia’s New Book

My daughter Patricia Larsted published her third book on March 15, 2024. This one is called Living Through the Dark.

The back cover says:

Life is difficult when you’re a young person. Add neurodivergence, OCD, and a touch of schizoaffective disorder, and you get a cocktail of unbearableness to the point of unaliving. 14 year old Patricia Larsted tried to do just that. But life had other plans for her, including graduating college, learning to drive, and now becoming a “world famous” author. Follow Patricia as she works through the first 31 years of her life in a free form poem that has been in the works since her father, Bob, published a book about her in 2013.

It captures the essence of what she was going through as I watched her try to survive.

I’m very proud of her. It’s a great book.


NAMI Walk 2022

I will be out walking on Saturday, May 21, at Artesani Park near Boston for the 2022 NAMI Walk. This will be our 10th year participating in this incredible fundraising event.

Anything you can do to spread the word would be greatly appreciated.

Donations to this important cause are easy to make at:

We are looking forward to this live event after two years of COVID shutdowns.


NAMI Virtual Walk 2020

This is the weekend I would normally be walking with my friends from NAMI North Central Massachusetts at Artesani Park near Boston as part of our annual 2020 NAMI Walk. This whole global pandemic has put the kibosh on that idea, but the need still exists, so we will be walking virtually this year.

I’ve spent the last couple of months cooped up at home, but to keep occupied, I have participated the the Worldwide Teddy Bear Scavenger Hunt, the opportunity for all of us to distract ourselves when we are out and about, searching for teddy bears at the window.

This weekend, to celebrate the Walk, I will be seeing how many miles I can rack up with my Zoom Meeting account and other methods. I’ll let you know how it goes. To follow along, watch the comments below.

Donations to this important cause are greatly appreciated: https://www.namiwalks.org/participant/boblarsted

It’s only noon and I have already put 71 miles on my Zoom account with a meeting with my friend in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Between my neighborhood walk and bike ride, I put in more than 3 miles. That makes 74.

And another 8 miles on the stationary bike. Up to 82.

Just had a Zoom call with my friend’s wife. That makes another 0.00757 miles. Total is now 82.00757.

9 more. Zoom call with one of my top ten favorite family members. Up to 91.00757.

Bike ride. 4 miles. 95.00757.

FaceTime call to Glendale, Arizona. (It’s hot there now.) 2,604 miles. Broke 100. Yeah! Total is 2,699.00757.

There was another person on the Glendale event, so 9 more. Sorry about that, top-ten family member. 2,708.00757.

Walk to the post office. 2,709.00757.

One last walk. Another mile. Then 11 more on the stationary bike. Grand total is 3,041.00757 miles. Thank you all for your support for this important cause. It’s not too late to make a donation.

20th Anniversary of Worcester Cold Storage Fire

The 20th anniversary of the Worcester, Massachusetts Cold Storage fire is coming up. I wrote about it in my book. Today, I live just down the street from the site of the fire. I park my car in what used to be the abandoned lot I parked in that day when I stopped by to pay my respects. I share the story here:

Worcester, Massachusetts is famous for just a few things: Triple-deckers. Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry. And the guy who invented the smiley face.

On December 3, 1999, Worcester became famous for a horrific building fire that killed six firefighters. It took days to put it out and recover their bodies. Our community was devastated.

When it came time for a memorial service, everyone came. Even the president. I took a couple of hours off work and walked downtown to watch the funeral procession. What struck me most were the 30,000 firefighters from around the world who came to pay their respects. Some were dressed in their best uniforms—polished buttons and crisp pleats. But most just showed up in the only thing they had—their turnout gear. The sight was incredible.

When it was over, as I walked back to work, I passed by the city’s main fire station. Hanging on a chain-link fence were several hand-drawn posters. Messages from local school children to the lost firefighters. I slowed to read them.

I was struck by one:

“May your house be safe from tigers.”

I burst into tears.

A few days later, I made my way down to the fire site. A makeshift memorial had sprung up nearby. A fire truck, parked by the side of the road, was festooned with mementos left by people coming to pay their respects. Flowers. More of those notes. Flags. T-shirts.

I collect things. I’ve been doing it for years. I call it “Real World Stuff™.” It started with sand from some of the beaches I’ve visited. It has grown into trying to collect some little something from the places I’ve been that will remind me of that special day. Some of the things are straightforward: Confetti from the millennium in Times Square. Water from The Great Salt Lake. A dining room table. Others are more esoteric: Light from a Leonid Meteor Shower. Fog from the Sargasso Sea. I keep some of the stranger stuff in little glass bottles I have for just this purpose.

As I walked up to the fire truck, I kept wondering how I could collect something that would remind me of this solemn place and time. I certainly wasn’t going to take something someone else had left—that’s not how I do it. Maybe I’d find some soot. Or maybe just a smell would be enough. As I came around the truck, in the back, amid all the flowers and the other stuff, was a baseball hat. With four letters embroidered on the front. FEMA.

It took my breath away. I burst into tears again.

I went back to my car, opened the glove compartment, took out two of my little bottles, and walked back to the fire truck. One by one, I opened each, filled it with my breath, and sealed it up again. I left one on the truck’s bumper. The other went into my pocket.

Some things are bigger than one person, or one family, or one community can handle. For Worcester, it was that fire. We needed the whole country to support us. And they came.

Mental illness, like fires, strikes at unexpected times and in unexpected places. The victims and those trying to support them aren’t always in the best position to be able to handle it themselves. And even if they don’t always know the right thing to do, sometimes, we need our government to throw its hat into the ring, too. To help us make our houses safe from tigers.

—Pages 220-221, Witness to the Dark by Bob Larsted

Much has changed in 20 years. But just as much remains the same: Mental health is still bigger than one person.


NAMI Walk 2019

I will be walking again this year with my friends from NAMI North Central at the 2019 NAMI Walk on Saturday, May 11, at Artesani Park near Boston, Massachusetts.

This is our 8th year participating in this incredible event.

Join us.

Donations to this important cause are greatly appreciated: http://www.namiwalks.org/participant/boblarsted