Introducing Daria Akers from This Is My Brave Northern VA

My name is Daria Akers. I am a 44 year mother of 2. I have a special needs 16 year old daughter named Lesley and a 6 year old son named Clark. When I not busy testing websites for work, I enjoy crafting, playing board games, and hanging with my friends and family.

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I also have bipolar. I was first officially diagnosed in 2007 after a manic episode. I was acting really weird and my family convinced me to go to the hospital. They were worried that I had a brain tumor or was having a stroke. But after 14 hours in the emergency room, the doctors ruled out all possible medical conditions and I voluntarily checked myself into the psychiatric ward. 10 days later I was released with a diagnosis of bipolar, some meds, and was told to find a psychiatrist.

At my first psychiatrist appointment I tried to convince the doctor that there was  NO WAY I was bipolar. That it was just stress and it would never happen again. “Nope”, she said “You’ve got bipolar”. She explained that I had had a manic episode and I would need to be monitored and take meds for the rest of my life. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I had a serious mental illness.

At that point I wanted nothing to do with the diagnosis. I did absolutely no research on my condition. But my family had no problem accepting it. My dad started sending me books on people successfully living with bipolar and my husband (now my ex) started reading about living with someone with serious mental illness.

All I could think of was the stereotypes of mentally ill people that are pervasive in our news and culture; homeless people talking to themselves on the street, drug addicts, and people who conduct mass shootings. I saw no one successfully living with mental illness. I thought that this diagnosis would be the end of everything I had worked so hard to achieve.

Luckily it hasn’t been. My life isn’t the same as it was before my diagnosis but in many ways it is better. My anxiety is significantly better. I am more grateful for what I have. I feel powerful and more in control of my life. I still have bad days but I try to remember that I have a 100% success rate of surviving all of the other hard situations I’ve faced.

I decided I wanted to be in This is My Brave to be a positive example of successfully living with mental illness. I want people to know that serious mental illness can affect anyone at any time. I could be your mother, your sister, your neighbor, or your child. But with the right treatment and support it is possible to live a happy and productive life.

Tickets are on sale NOW! Click the button below to order your tickets to meet Daria and more brave storytellers. This is one mental health performance you won't want to miss!

Please share this post with friends and family in the Northern Virginia area. We're all affected by mental health and addiction issues, and the more we can support each other, the easier it will be for people to seek help. This Is My Brave is proof that Storytelling Saves Lives.