Meet DC cast member Kiran Ferrandino

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm a down to earth girl from Jersey who went to the University of Virginia when I was 18 and I have since not left the state.  I never expected to become a Virginian, but to date, I have spent more of my life here than anywhere else. I was raised in an Indian immigrant family and spent many of my summers and vacations in the villages of India where my family is from. In many ways, I am an open book. Perhaps a slightly complicated one, but one which reflects my devotion to truth telling which I channel into writing or songwriting to allow the creative in me to breathe.

How has mental illness affected your life?414797_10150822555223562_1398502007_o

When I was growing up, my mother was a very volatile person. I spent most of my childhood living in fear of her moods, her reactions and how her anger might surface. It was clear she had a mental disorder, but nobody in my family would acknowledge it and get her the help she and we all collectively needed. Now, as an adult, I also suffer from depression and have been diagnosed with more labels than I care to admit as I have sought treatment and have grappled with finding the strong woman I had always previously been in the past.

Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?

Mental health advocacy and breaking down the stigma associated to mental illness matter a great deal to me. In 2011, my niece died by suicide the night before New Year's Eve. This will always haunt me along with the fact that my own family and personal struggles were always such cause for shame. I lived in fear, but I lived alone with that fear as a child, not understanding what normal meant, but knowing that I could not share what was happening with anybody. Even then, I was wary of judgement and I learned too late how to wield my voice. I may still carry some scars, but I am also relieved that I had some resiliency.

What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?

My husband and my children. As a child of someone who was mentally ill, I felt that I carried the burden of that weight on my frail shoulders for way too long. No child should ever have to do that. I know that I will have to be honest about my journey with my children when the time is right, but I endeavor to stay as well as I can, doing whatever lies within my control. I pray that they will never carry the weight of my mental illness on their shoulders.
Kiran Ferrandino This Is My Brave cast member

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?

We are all in this world together, doing the best we can with the tools we have. A better understanding of mental health and illness throughout society paves the way for more empathetic treatment of people across all walks of life who are living with a very real disease and need help. This extends from someone who might be living on the streets to your own spouse or children. None of us lives in a bubble and we each have so much more influence and reach than we realize. Let's crush that stigma together. It's archaic and holds no place in an intelligent society.
Thank you so much, Kiran! You can follow Kiran's writing on her blog, Masala Chica, and on Facebook and Twitter.

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Eventbrite - This Is My Brave - The Show (Washington, DC)