Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m first and foremost, a father. I have three adult children and they’re my life. I’ve been a minister for the last thirty one years as well as a public school teacher. I’ve served people in Texas, Missouri, Arizona, and presently, Oklahoma. I have a BS in Education from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma; a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
My hobbies include restoring cars and writing. I currently live and teach in Bixby, Oklahoma and pastor a small Baptist church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
How has mental illness affected your life?
Mental illness changed my life forever. My then twenty year old son, Matt, suffered a psychotic break on October 5, 2012, due to undiagnosed Bipolar 1 Disorder. On that day, he took his mother’s life. He would spend the next three and one half years in jail awaiting trial for first degree murder charges.
I knew that he suffered some type of psychosis that day as he would never harm the mother he loved so dearly. I have loved and supported my son since the beginning, visiting him twice a week, encouraging and loving him.
In June, 2015, Matt was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sent to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita, Oklahoma. He’s doing great and has been symptom free for over a year due to medication and therapy.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I want to share my story and help people understand that mental illness is real and there are many people who struggle with it. I was married for twenty three years and knew my wife for twenty seven. Even as a teenager, she struggled with depression. Unfortunately, it was passed to my son who had to live with it as well as Bipolar 1 Disorder.
What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
While I don’t have the daily struggles others face, I still live with the pain and grief of knowing that my son killed his mother. I have friends and family who love and support my children and me.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
There are several things I hope people take away from my part. First, I hope that my story will encourage those living with mental illness. I want them to know that they are not alone in their daily struggles. There are people who love and support them and will stand beside them no matter what.
Next, I hope people will develop a better understanding of the struggles people like my late wife faced and our son currently faces. Veronica suffered from depression and that mental illness had a negative impact on her for her entire life. Unfortunately, it was passed on to our son, Matthew.
Last, I hope to encourage people to become more aware of the signs and symptoms of mental illness. I believe that awareness is critical to the diagnosis of any form of mental illness. I often wish I had known the warning signs and the severity of my son’s illness.
Tickets are now on sale for our October 6th Oklahoma City show where you can hear Michael's story as well as 14 additional brave voices as they shine a light on mental illness to end stigma.
Proceeds from this performance will allow This Is My Brave to continue to produce our storytelling events throughout the country, as well as develop new programs to reach more people as we work to raise awareness for mental health issues. Hope to see you at the show!