Meet Ann Wroth (Brave storyteller)
I wanted to participate in This Is My Brave because fighting stigma is my passion. I grew up in Portland, ME and moved to Arlington after graduating from college in 1981, where I met my life partner, who is also named Ann! Mental illness has affected my life in some way for as long as I can remember. I live with major depression, anxiety, PTSD -- I'm a full-service customer for my mental health professionals! It's been a patchwork quilt. It's important to put a face on mental illness. All our faces. And our spirits, accomplishments, survival stories!
Meet Alli Hoffman (Brave storyteller)
Hi. I'm Alli Hoffman. I'm a mom to an incredibly joyful 9-mth-old, Penelope, whom we call Poppy, and a wife to an incredibly supportive husband, Mark. We have lived in Arlington, VA for 9 years, and we both work for the government - like everyone else around here. I love yoga, but barely have time for it anymore. I love walking to the parks in our neighborhood with our baby girl. I love loving my family and friends, and I think I'm pretty good at it. In fact, I think that's the thing I'm best at in life. Loving.
I've never felt so confident in myself as I do now as a mom, which I was really scared about before having Poppy. She makes everything that I used to stress about seem small and unimportant. She smiles and it lights up my world and calms my soul.
I've dealt with anxiety my whole life - always being the "scared" and "freaked out" one in the group and in my family. I didn't know then that it was called anxiety, of course, I just thought everything was scary all the time. About 5 years ago, I started going to a therapist. Mark and I knew we wanted to have kids someday, and I knew I wanted to make my body and mind as healthy as possible before I got pregnant. I wanted my body to be a serene place to live for my future baby's 10 month stay. I didn't even know this future baby, boy or girl, but more than anything, I wanted to try to get my anxiety under control before they showed up. I wanted to be able to help them through any scary feelings they would undoubtedly have as a kid. I worked (and still work) really hard in therapy, diving deep to dig through and replace the defense mechanisms I learned at a young age with healthy habits.
I heard about This Is My Brave through a friend who had been in the first DC show, but didn't think about it seriously until last year when she playfully whispered to me during church. "I think you should auditttiioonnnn." That stuck in my head, and all the sudden there was this strong force pushing me to share my story. I did everything possible to get in to the show. I hope the words I share today help people in the audience feel like they're not alone. I hope they help someone who is struggling to know that they don't have to be scared all the time. That they don't have to feel like this. That it's possible to feel better.
Meet Sam Hilario (playing "Lola" in STIGMA)
I was interested in being a part of the production “Stigma” because it’s a topic that people are often times leery or too afraid to talk about openly. I feel that This Is My Brave gives people with mental illness a time to open up and talk freely about themselves in a safe and welcoming environment and help raise awareness within the community. I hope the audience can learn that it’s okay to ask a person suffering from mental illness about their struggles, so that it starts a pathway to actually understanding what that person is going through. I feel that often times people shy away thinking that it’s rude, but feel it’s actually the first starting point. The more people talk about it, the more people can understand and accept.