1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was a lifelong Texan up until two years when I took a leap of faith and relocated to New Jersey to pursue new opportunities. Since my family still lives in Texas, I've learned how to be a long-distance daughter, sister and aunt in ways that keep me connected. When I'm not working on various projects or writing stories for my memoir, "Disorderly Life," which is about living with and recovering from PTSD, I'm sight-seeing or looking for art or nature to photograph. Whenever possible, my Pomeranian, Lina, is by my side or in my arms.
2) How has mental illness affected your life?
My life turned upside down, inside out after I was raped and began developing what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Up until that point I had been a happy, active, and overachieving sixteen year old who loved life and had a promising future. Within just a few months, I began to withdraw from everything and everyone that I loved and started down a destructive path that lasted for over a decade until I found effective treatment.
3) Why did you want to be part of This is My Brave?
After my life started falling apart, I felt so alone and scared. I didn't understand what was happening to me. The thoughts, feelings and reactions were foreign to me. I felt like a stranger in my own skin. I didn't always feel connected to those around me or even myself. It wasn’t until I started reading stories other people wrote about their own experiences with mental illness that I felt connected. I felt connected to their experiences, their stories, which helped me make sense of a world that no longer made sense to me and gave me hope. By sharing mental health stories, that's what this organization does for so many and I wanted to be a part of that by sharing my own story.
4) What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
I spent so many years living destructively and unhealthy that I won't go back. It's that simple for me. Once I recovered and learned how to cope with stress, I can't imagine living any other way. It was one thing for me to suffer, but what I had a hard time with was seeing the effect I was having on my family and friends. For a long time, there was nothing I could do to protect them from what I was going through since I couldn't even help myself. Now that I know there's a better way and how to do it, I won't put myself or my loved ones through the suffering that I once did. There's times I still become a bit overwhelmed and anxious, but I'm mindful of what is
happening and I have the coping skills that work for me to handle situations I once would've never been able to deal with. Even with its ups and downs, there is so much joy and beauty in this life and I want to soak up as much of it as I can.
5) What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
My hope for anyone watching this that may be struggling with mental illness is to know that YOU'RE NOT ALONE and that you can get through whatever you're going through. No matter what you're experiencing or feeling it doesn't define who you are and what you're capable of. I hope that you keep looking for the light even on the darkest of days, because it's there even when you can't see or feel it.
Tickets are on sale NOW! Click the button below to order your tickets to meet Denita 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 Philadelphia 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.