Meet Denver cast member Mickey Axtell-Mauck

Tell us a little about yourself.

Mickey is a passionate, upbeat woman, working as a Peer Specialist with Aurora Mental Health Center to assist kinship families be successful in raising their non-biological children. 

She successfully negotiated a childhood which included abject poverty, in small-town Kansas, early abandonment by her mom, left with her grandparents, due to the kidnap and rape of her young mother, the mental illness and emotional instability of her mom, which resulted in several suicide attempts by her mom, when Mickey had to get her mom the medical care needed to save her life. Mickey’s own pregnancy was at 15, marriage at 16, and divorce at 17. She has lived with chronic depression most of her life, and tried suicide attempts twice herself.

Mickey married a second time to a Bible-based fundamentalist and had 3 more children before she relinquished custody of them to her ex-husband, when they divorced after 10 years. The relationship was very stilted and rigid, a lot of emotional abuse which nearly destroyed her spirit. Once she left that relationship, she was free to pursue her own interests, went to college at age 27, entered therapy, and found science of mind, a spiritual philosophy that accepts everyone as perfect, whole and complete, just as they are. She flourished in that environment and began to develop into a person she liked, with her own strong voice, as a woman in her own right.

She is married now to an amazing man that “gets her” and allows her the freedom to be who she is and desires to be. She grew strong enough to take on the task of raising her granddaughter for the past 7 years and enjoys being a grandma much more so than she ever did as a mother.

How had mental illness affected your life? 

It has colored every relationship I’ve ever had with storm clouds, heavy thunderstorms and sometimes, even a tornado of destruction. My father was an alcoholic and was never in my life but, I saw him around town with his girlfriends but, wasn’t able to approach him, because I was the illegitimate child he’d rather forget. My mom and dad were never married while I was alive. They were divorced before she became pregnant with me. Both of them have serious mental illness issues, that have never really been addressed in a positive, healthy way.

Why did you want to be part of This Is My Brave? 

It sounds like a very moving account of what it’s like to live with mental illness and telling the stories frees us from the stigma that society tries to put on us. I’m very honored to be a part of this amazing venture.

What inspires you to get (or stay) mentally healthy? 

My science-of-minded philosophy that reminds me of who I really am, a child of God in whom he/she/they are well pleased. There is no one just like me, I’m an original and my skills and desires are like no one else! I have an amazing therapist who encourages me to be my best self, I surround myself with like-minded, positive, upbeat people.

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?

A new look at the issue of mental illness and wellness, we are your next-door neighbors, we are your co-workers, there is nothing to be afraid of. 

Join us on May 19th at the Oriental Theater in Denver as we shine a light on mental illness to end stigma. Mickey will be sharing her story, along with her fellow cast members performing original music, personal essays and poetry.

We hope to see you there!