We are proud to introduce you to another storyteller from our Napa Valley cast, Michele Farhat. The show will take place on Saturday, May 6th at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am the third of four children giving me middle child syndrome which I am sure is what fed my need, interest and passion for comedy. Always the class clown, I was seeking to be seen and funny was my way. Having a quick witted mom and a dad who was known for telling a good joke, I was destined to do a 5 minute comedy bit at some point on stage…….I just didn’t know it would be about my struggle with anxiety and depression.
How has mental illness affected your life?
I came from a family where issues with mental health weren’t discussed or really understood. We were taught that smart people figure out their own problems. So suffering in silence becomes a way of life. When I was hospitalized for clinical depression and anxiety in high school it was a shock to my family. How do you explain to people what is wrong with Michele? All the stigma of feeling that you are weak because you aren’t able to “keep it together” and the shame makes it difficult to heal. Also for my family receiving the shame from society etc. about what did you do to cause this situation. I have dealt with my issues with anxiety and depression all of my life and at times have tried to deny that these issues still exist because of my own stigma to my own detriment. Once I accepted that I required medications to help manage my depression and anxiety along with other coping techniques I found myself in a better and happier place.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I came to realize a few years ago that the person I was fighting the most about stigma was me. I had empathy for others who struggled with mental health issues but not for myself. By participating in This Is My Brave it encourages me to keep embracing who I am, all of me, and to share with others that struggle is not to be avoided but to be understood, addressed and accepted.
What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
Seeing how others have dealt with their mental health challenges inspires me as well as the support from family and friends who accept me without conditions.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
For a long time I did not believe there was much to fight for, to live for and to heal for in this life. The constant judgement of myself as not being worthy really took a toll. But I learned there are people who can handle your dark secrets and be there for you without expectations. If you can get connected to one person, one therapist, one friend, it will be the strength and courage you need to wait out the dark times and for the sunlight to return. It will return.