Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Justin Tokarski. I just turned 30 years old and grew up in Clawson, MI before moving to East Lansing for school. I graduated from MSU with a B.S. is Psychology and a B.A. in Philosophy, and later received an M.A. in HCI from MSU as well. I’ve been living in Lansing for the past 7 years and recently bought a house where I live with my wife, our two cats and a dog, and very soon foster children as well.
How has mental illness affected your life?
I was diagnosed with Cyclothymia after a particularly difficult time in my life at 19. The diagnosis was later amended to Bi-Polar Disorder and Primary O Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I also struggled for many years with undiagnosed ADHD. I identified as a very good student for most of my life, but college became very difficult for me due to my illnesses and I failed numerous courses. I considered dropping out, but didn’t know where else to go. Thankfully I developed a strong support network over several years including friends and family, my then girlfriend (now wife), the Resource Center for Person’s with Disabilities at MSU, and faculty members I became close with.
I became more confident in my treatment plan and more consistent with my medication and behavioral therapy. I eventually graduated and was able to enroll in, and graduate from, a Master’s program through the help of supportive faculty. I have been stable for many years now, and though I still face daily struggles I am looking to toward the future with confidence and optimism.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
For many years I was ashamed of my diagnoses and felt like they were in control of my life. Over the years I have largely moved past that feeling of shame and see my diagnoses as just another part of my life, but I know that there are many out there who are still struggling the way I do. I hope that by sharing my experiences, and in particular the doubts and struggles that I still have, that I can be an example that things can get better and that just because you have a mentl illness it doesn’t define your life.
What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?
My relationship with my wife has been the most inspiring and supportive part of my life. She believed in me and supported me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I want to make her proud and continue to be the kind of person that she knew I could be.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
That having a mental illness is something that may be a part of your life, and you may face daily struggles, but your illness doesn’t define you and doesn’t get to control your life.
Tickets are on sale NOW! Click the button below to order your tickets to meet Justin 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 Lansing 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.