“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

When I was a kid, my mom showed me how to dissect owl pellets and make art out of foraged bird nests and pebbles.

Transforming nature, she was a magician of sorts – or so it seemed to me at the time.

But as I grew up, I came to learn that much of what made my mother sparkle also pulled her into darkness: bipolar disorder depression.

She’d spent years misdiagnosed and overmedicated. Her nearly lethal dose of lithium improved her symptoms only by detaching her from reality. I almost lost her many times. I was scared, confused, and profoundly aware of how medicine failed her.

This awareness shaped my fundamental belief about people – if everyone could choose, they’d wake up and choose to be their best. But not everyone gets that choice, often because of their mental health.

Propelled by this belief, I’m building a company helping people access better treatments for serious mental illness. But more importantly, no matter how my career evolves, I’ll be chronically pursuing ways for people to wake up each day, collect pebbles, and get lost in the beauty of nature, if they so choose.

— Emma Beck