Our Denver show (with two nights of performances!) is only ONE month away! We hope you'll join us as we shine a light on these brave individuals and their true stories of overcoming mental illness to end stigma.
Time to meet another of our Denver mental health storytellers. Today we get to know Amanda Gold!
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Amanda Gold, and I am really happy because I just turned 35. I didn't think I'd make it through my twenties, let alone have gotten this far. Not only am I happily aging, but I've come to realize that life is beautiful. No matter what happens, I'm committed to life - in all its messy, chaotic, unpredictable, lovely glory. And that was not always the case.
How has mental illness affected your life?
Mental health issues started early for me. I didn't know what was so wrong with me, but I remember standing at the edge of a busy street in the 5th grade, trying to get myself to jump into traffic. I wanted to die. And I felt depressed and suicidal all the way into my teens, all the way into adulthood, all the way up until I finally was given the grace to make a change.
I believe my depression and other mental health symptoms were the result of early child hood trauma. I experienced physical abuse and neglect, and I look back now and see that most likely my main caregiver was struggling with her own mental health issues. We didn't talk about it in my family, or if we did it was in angry or mocking tones. I was eventually shuttled around to different doctors, who all seemed to find something to diagnose after talking with me for just one hour. They all had different opinions, and the few times I was medicated it was wildly ineffective. Through out this "fix-it" mission, I was experiencing new trauma from a new abuser. I started to cut myself, and have darker and darker moments.
There was an escape, when I left home. But then I jumped into drugs and alcohol, with a fervor. Here was a way I could kill myself slowly without blame, here was a way I could numb, distract, shut down. And many days I thought I was self-medicating and fixing my self. I was a mess, but at least I felt better about being in the world. With drugs and alcohol I found belonging, community, protection. It was a problem-solver that created a whole new set of problems, but I grabbed on with both hands, and then I couldn't stop.
How do you stay mentally healthy?
It's been a long, tough road, but I'm over two years sober today, and I feel alive and free for the first time ever. I am a new woman, a brand new glittery thing, and I'm regularly moved to tears of gratitude and joy that I did not miss out on this chance at a new life. I am so grateful that I didn't give up, that something carried me through all the shit. Because first it got better, then it got great, and now every day is a miracle, and I mean that in earnest. And that's what keeps me going when things get rocky. I know I'm healing and getting real for the first time in my life, and even when the growth is painful (and it is) the rewards are immeasurable. I am worth fighting for! So are you! And when I practice staying healthy, maybe I can help someone else. And that feels amazing.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I'm part of This is My Brave because I want to lend my voice to a bigger story of hope. Although the majority of my life was spent battling despair and addiction, I did eventually make it out, and the future looks exciting. I'm not here to say I know what works for everyone, but I do want to say that if you are hurting, or know someone who is, just hold on tight and don't give up. Because if I can turn a corner and find myself in this shiny happy place, then absolutely anyone can. And it's so important that we keep creating these kinds of places to have open, honest discussions and come together without fear, without judgement. Misery thrives in silent, closed spaces. Hope grows when we shine lights into the darkest corners. Today I choose hope, and today I want everyone to have the opportunity to hold it as their own.