We are so excited to begin introducing you to our Kansas City team! The show is Sunday, May 7th at the H&R Block City Stage at Union Station at 2:00 p.m.
Today we introduce you to co-producer Blake Friis!
Tell us your story.
Three days after my thirteenth birthday, I lost my mother to suicide. In the 20 years that followed I graduated from college, started a career, married the love of my life, and we had two amazing little boys. I had a great life, but wasn’t comfortable in it. I didn’t believe I deserved any of it, and was sure it would all go away, one way or another.
I never processed losing my mother in a healthy way. I buried it because where I come from, that’s called being tough, and it’s how men deal with things that hurt. I realized I’d been handling my own depression the same way.
One night I was sitting in my house, alone, thinking, and suddenly feared I could do something that would force my kids to grow up with the same unanswerable questions I’ve had to live with. I couldn’t bear the thought of that any longer, so I opened up to my wife about how I was feeling. She helped me get the help I needed. I truly believe she saved my life.
Last summer, I channeled all my feelings into art and told my story of depression and loss in a one-man show for the Kansas City Fringe Festival. Speaking with audience members after the show was an experience that will stay with me forever. After hearing my story, people I’d never met were inspired to tell me their personal stories of mental illness; some voicing their struggles out loud for the first time. I’ve never felt more connected to my community.
The people of Kansas City are strong and supportive. We are loyal and accepting. We are connected through our struggles and our resiliency. And on May 7th we will take another step in ending the stigma around mental illness because, above all else, we are brave.