Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Holly, I'm 34. Originally from New Jersey but moved to Mauldin, SC when I was 6 so I guess you could say I'm a southerner :) I have a wonderful husband named Jerry and we have 2 children Ariana who can't wait to be 6 since 5 is just too young (her words) & Paxton who turns 3 this month. We love making fires in the backyard and having family karaoke dance parties. I enjoy music of all kinds and especially love to sing and dance. Crafting and thrifting are two of my favorite hobbies...I've even started a little side business because of my love for vintage and thrifting which has helped with extra money since hospital bills have really gotten out of control this year.
How has mental illness affected your life?
Speaking of hospital bills, that's probably the #1 thing that my mental health has affected is our finances. This year we have had to sell our house and move because of my four stays in the hospital and all the treatment and therapy costs...it can get expensive, even with insurance and last year our deductible was $12,000. Thankfully we were able to raise a large amount of money but we are still struggling to catch up. My mental health has also taken a toll on many of my relationships...family, friends, our marriage...it's been really tough for many years for me but this past year has been hell.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I wanted to do this show for several reasons one being the fact that I used to perform and be on stage a lot and I just quit over the years as my anxiety grew so I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it again.
Secondly, I feel very strongly that the church has a very negative view of mental illness...like it's not a real illness and for so many years I suffered in silence and I really want to break down those barriers and I feel like this is a great platform.
And thirdly, I want people to know that mentally ill people are fighting a sickness just like any other person who is sick...it just happens to be in our brain rather than somewhere else in our body. It doesn't mean we are crazy or less capable people...we are mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, teachers, etc who are doing the best we can with what we can and are trying to stay well by either taking our meds or going to therapy or both and we deserve to be treated like anyone else who is sick not like some criminal or subhuman.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
I hope people walk away from the show feeling touched and seeing each of our hearts and think "wow, they are totally normal, and they have feelings and are mostly just hurting. And mentally ill people shouldn't be judged so harshly or portrayed the way they have been for so long." I don't want anyone to feel bad...I just want their eyes to be opened to the reality that we are no different from anyone else, we just have different baggage.
Join us in Greenville, SC on May 5th @ 8pm at the Kroc Center as we shine a light on true stories told by brave individuals - Holly and her castmates - who are overcoming mental illness to end stigma. Tickets on sale now!