We're so proud to introduce you to our Des Moines, Iowa cast of storytellers! The show is on Friday, March 31st at the Temple Theater in Des Moines. Tickets are on sale now! Let's get to know Des Moines storyteller, Lindsey Mabe.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from Des Moines, Iowa, and studied Spanish at the University of Iowa. I work with nonprofit organizations on social justice issues and improving access to services like health care, English classes, and legal assistance. I've had many formative experiences assisting immigrants, Spanish speakers, homeless individuals, and mental health advocacy groups. I’m also a mental health and intellectual disability instructor for adults. During my free time, I love traveling adventures, gardening and plants, cooking with friends, music, and learning about almost anything.
How has mental illness affected your life?
My father took his life when I was three years old. He had struggled for many years with depression, mood swings, and misdiagnoses. For years, that was my story of mental health. In high school, several friends of mine had experiences with depression, psychosis, and/or hospitalization. When I was seventeen, I was diagnosed with Bipolar I after an intense sequence of events that ended in a mental health unit. That was really just the start of my story, though. Now, after years of personal experience, I’ve gained invaluable tools and understanding for my own journey. I have compassion for others - for what it’s like to be over medicated and need an advocate to help, for how hard it can be to find the right therapist, for our genius brains that can create realities not even our wildest imagination could have fabricated - and how scary that can be.
I’m so fortunate for the life I have now and the things I get to enjoy every day. My gratitude exists in great part because I’ve been stable for years, thanks to persistence in finding medications that work, willingness to ask for help, and most of all, an amazing support system. I’ve learned about mental health at the individual, familial, and professional levels, and now have become an advocate for others who are impacted by adverse mental health experiences.
“Mental illness” is a difficult term to define and it can easily be misunderstood because of stigma. I believe we are all on a spectrum of “health” at all times. I’m hoping to have a healthy balance and am also able to recognize the intense struggle that can happen at the other end. Mental health, though, is not the goal. Living my life the way I want to is the goal. Mental health is one part of my life (and it happens to affect all the other ones).
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
It’s easy to get in a pattern of telling our stories the same way over and over, or not telling them because we don’t want to recount the details. I wanted to use This Is My Brave as a catalyst for starting to tell my story in a new way, which interests me both for public awareness of what it’s like to have mental health experiences like I’ve had, and for myself, to remember where I’m from and how much my story matters.
I also wanted to face the fear that stigma creates: the response from people after announcing a diagnosis and story that many people don’t know about me. We have the choice to talk about mental health or not talk about it. Experience tells me the response from talking about it is powerful, so by taking part in This Is My Brave I’ll be breaking down the fear and starting conversations that can impact so much more than one person's story. Hopefully, it’ll be the inspiration for other people to face that same fear, embrace each other with love instead of stigma, and open the doors to bigger conversations about policy and positive changes in the mental health system.
What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?
My family and friends inspire me through their belief in me and love without boundaries or conditions. I’m inspired by the feeling of having a job I’m passionate about, being able to travel and meet people, and constantly grow in what makes my life healthy. It’s refreshing to get to a point where I still have mood swings…they just aren’t catastrophic.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
I hope the audience can recognize themselves in the stories. I hope they are reminded that stigma is everywhere, and we can be bigger than stigma. We have control over how we treat people, how we love people, and how publicly we speak about mental health. That is powerful and can gain great momentum when hundreds of people are in one room becoming inspired, desiring change, and getting over stigma together.