Today we get to know another This Is My Brave DC cast member. Say hello to Marie Avilez!
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Marie Avilez. I was born and raised in Arizona. I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Ethics, History and Public Policy and a minor in Psychology. Now I am a special education teacher. The most important thing to me is my family, including my dog. I am the youngest of five and have been an aunt since I was four years old. I love my nieces and nephews with all my heart and do my best to be a role model for them every day.
How has Mental illness affected your life?
Anxiety has always been in my life but it became debilitating in high school. At the time I was misdiagnosed with Epilepsy and was not treated for anxiety and depression until my Junior year in college. My mental illness simultaneously breaks and strengthens me. It breaks me when I am unable to function. Yet it strengthens me when I do what feels impossible, and make it through the day. Tragically, I have also lost a friend to mental illness. I’ve felt the heartbreak, guilt, and anger that comes with such a loss. I’ve felt the pain that comes from knowing I never told him how much I admired him.
Why did you want to be a part of This is My Brave?
I chose to be a part of This Is My Brave for two reasons. The first being that I’m ready to make a difference. The stigma surrounding mental illness is dangerous. I want to help build a world that not only makes it “okay” to have a mental illness but creates a cultural norm that supports those who are fighting a mental illness. My second reason is that I have never talked openly about my mental health to anyone (other than my therapist and my amazing mother) and I think it’s about time to share my story.
What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
What inspires me to stay mentally healthy seems to change based on exactly how “mentally healthy” I am. If you ask me on a good day, I would say myself. One might say I’ve “hit rock bottom” a few times, from not being able to physically get out of bed for days, to nights when my best friend had to stay with me because I knew I wasn’t safe alone. When I am healthy, I operate under this assumption that I have the power to never feel this way again. The reality is mental illness is still an illness that I may never have real control over. When my preventative measures fail, and I am at my worst, I keep fighting because others are depending on my fight. In particular, my dog Livy, whose name was chosen to remind me to “live.”
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
I hope that after seeing the show, the audience will have a greater compassion for those who suffer from mental illness. I hope that those who have not received treatment have courage to ask for help. Ultimately I hope that those who suffer from mental illness will feel supported and loved.
Marie will be performing her essay as part of Our Door's presentation of "This Is My Brave The Show" on Monday, October 10th & Tuesday, October 11th at the Keegan Theatre.
Tickets are on sale now! Click the link below to reserve yours today.
We hope to see you there as we shine a light on true, personal stories of overcoming mental illness through poetry, original music, and personal essays, live on stage. This is one event you won't want to miss!