Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a wife, mom and photographer who loves the mountains, Indian food and Twining’s Earl Grey Tea. I have called Upstate SC home since age 3, and I love the area. I have had the privilege of studying photography at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, SC, Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, SC, and I spent the summer after college traveling across Europe and taking a photography class based in London.
I put in my time as an assistant, producer and rep at small commercial photography studios and eventually worked my way into a full time photography position with a large ad agency. I loved being surrounded by creative minds, and I had the opportunity to travel and shoot in places like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. I built a portfolio I was proud of, which came in handy when I was laid off unexpectedly. I started my own business in January 2015 and have truly enjoyed being my own boss.
While photography is my craft, my biggest loves are my husband and daughter. Chris and I were married on October 2,1999 and welcomed our daughter Maggie into the world in 2010. Chris is a talented artist, so we connect on a creative level, yet his greatest work is as a caretaker for Maggie. Our daughter is funny, adorable and quite possibly the most photographed child in South Carolina!
How has mental illness affected your life?
My bipolar disorder has taken me from extreme highs to extreme lows—from manic visions of grandeur and hallucinations to lows that have been suicidal. I have gone on crazy spending sprees, quit my job for all the wrong reasons, and treated some of the people who love me most horribly. Through a combination of love, therapy, and medicine I have learned how to keep the crazy extremes mostly at bay. My mental illness has made me more grateful and a stronger person.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
Rebecca Shafer asked me to photograph the event in Greenville and after learning more about This is My Brave I decided that this event was one where I wanted to be more than a spectator/photographer. I wanted to participate and tell my story.
What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?
My daughter, my husband and my business inspire me to be the best mom, wife and photographer I can be. In order to be my best I need to talk through my thoughts, stay medicated, eat when I’m hungry & sleep when I’m tired.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
Don’t suffer in silence. Know that people all around you struggle too. My hope is that anyone in the audience who suffers from mental illness will feel less alone and less afraid to share their story.
Tickets on sale now! This is one event you won't want to miss. Join us on Thursday, May 5th at the Kroc Center in Greenville at 8pm as we kick off Mental Health Awareness Month by shining a light on true stories of overcoming mental illness.