We are excited to introduce our first two Jacksonville cast members, Leigha and Rachel. Their show is coming up in just a few weeks on May 20 at 7:30pm at Friday Musicale, Inc. Get your tickets now at bit.ly/JAXBRAVE.
Meet Leigha Krivacek
In 2012, I was diagnosed with severe chronic depression. From there, I suffered 2 serious bouts, entered inpatient hospitals 4 times in 2 years, and even attempted to take my own life. Finally, in 2015, I was correctly diagnosed with Bi-Polar depressive disorder. In that same fall, I lost my mobility and motor skills through conversion disorder, due to the internal and external stresses I was experiencing. For the following 6-7 months, I worked my way successfully through vigorous physical and mental treatments, along with the support of my family . As a former collegiate athlete, this time was especially hard for me. I believe in my hashtag, #nevergiveup, because that has been my focus in everything I do, whether it was sports, school/academics, or struggling through these bouts in my disease.
I firmly believe that there needs to be more support groups and overall awareness regarding these illnesses. I am pleased to see that more people, even celebrities, are sharing their voices regarding their journey and struggles with their diseases. Our main starting point is to spread awareness, as many do not understand the disease and respond, “How could you be upset” or “they are selfish for ending their life.” People need to realize that the ‘dark tunnel vision’ is real and you truly cannot believe nor comprehend any other thought than those you feel; you truly believe in those saddened thoughts. I am hoping to see more outreach programs offered as the awareness continues, as these diseases not only affect that one person, it affects close loved ones as well. My parents and friends did not understand the depth of my illness until it was too late.
I enjoy sharing my journey to recovery as I am passionately driven to minimize the stigma surround mental illness. I share my voice as an Ending the Silence presenter and member with NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness). I have completed a few news segments for local stations as well: Here's a link to my news segment on TV and the article. Being an advocate for recovery, means to seek guidance, seek help; it is okay to raise my hand and say, I need help. In the summer of 2015, I noticed the movement, “The Semicolon Project” which is represented by a semicolon. I got a tattoo of a semicolon on my wrist to represent those “pauses” in my life and that it is okay to take a breath or pause. It also symbolizes that whenever an author decides to write a sentence, instead of ending it, they insert a pause, a semicolon. This is symbolic to the fact that even though I thought the world was a better place without me and that suicide was my only option, I decided not to end it. I love having this reminder on my wrist to help me pause. I enjoy sharing my journey because it makes those who are currently suffering feel that they are not alone; something that this invisible illness makes you believe.
Meet Rachel Potts
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Jacksonville. I've been married for five years to my husband, Michael, and we have a four year old daughter, Amelia. My favorite hobby is reading. I am slowly collecting my own library.
How has mental illness affected your life?
I have been struggling with mental illness since I was a very little girl. And I had a lot of family members living with mental illnesses as well so it's been a big theme in my life. My struggles and triumphs with mental illness have been a large part of shaping me into who I am.
Why did you want to be a part of This is My Brave?
I love the idea of opening up the conversation about mental illness. So many people suffer in silence and think they are alone. Anything we can do to help people feel less alone or encourage people to get the help they need is important.
What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?
A big inspiration for me is my daughter. I've seen and felt the effects of a parent with an untreated mental illness and I want to be the best mother for her and teach her how to take care of your health INCLUDING mental health. And I also want to show other people that you can be a great parent with a mental illness and break the stigma!
What do you hope the audiences takes away from the Show?
I hope people walk away feeling less alone, more informed, inspired, and encouraged. And I hope they bring that back into their families and the community. Everyone benefits from the open discussion of mental health.