I was born in Western Massachusetts and moved to Boston when I was young while my Dad attended Law School. In Middle School I moved to Florida. I lived in Scotland for ten years, and came back to Florida ten years ago. I have three amazing children, one living in Scotland, one in college, and a little bundle of 4yr old energy! I enjoy chess, video games, and golf when I’m not working.
In retrospect, mental illness has permeated all areas of my life from an early age, though it remained undiagnosed for many years. My illness became especially acute in my high school years. I have made many life choices based on my illness that had I been diagnosed and medicated I may well have not. However, these choices have led me to where I am now so I cannot view them negatively. Instead I view it as my journey, unique to me. I have learned so much these last few years about the impact my illness has on me, and more importantly, those around me. Each day can still be a struggle, but I now know the battle I face, and the war I fight.
I felt it very important to audition as a middle age man. I felt my demographic has a particular stigma attached to any show of weakness, and a particular phobia about discussing mental health issues. I, and many of my age have almost been conditioned to be strong silent providers pushing health challenges both physical and mental down so that remain untreated. The repercussion of this is being felt silently in untold numbers of people. The impetus for me to get engaged came directly from learning about the statistics showing that the highest rates of suicide are among those 45 to 64 and that men are both particularly vulnerable, and particularly successful in completing suicide.
When shortly thereafter a friend posted some info on This Is My Brave it seemed serendipitous and the push I needed to get engaged for both myself and my family. And hopefully by my speaking publicly I can make a small positive impact to lowering the stigma surrounding mental health.
The inspiration for myself staying mentally healthy is my family, and my memories of the bad days, and bad times. Looking back, there were many years where my normal was a place I work hard to not return to. It is a battle, with wins, losses, and many many draws. I am grateful to now know my enemy though.
I truly hope the audience will take away the reinforcement that to live with mental illness is not a dark and private thing. That it is better for all if the light is shown on it. That by working together across all societal boundaries--because mental health affects all areas of society--we can break down the stigma of mental illness.
Tickets are on sale NOW! Click the button below to order your tickets to meet Aaron and more brave storytellers. This is one mental health performance you won't want to miss!
Please share this post with friends and family in the Orlando, FL area. We're all affected by mental health and addiction issues, and the more we can support each other, the easier it will be for people to seek help. This Is My Brave is proof that Storytelling Saves Lives.