Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 32 years old and moved to DC in 2008 after graduating from Ohio Northern University. I am a proud descendant of fiesty instigators who instilled in me the desire to constantly push the envelope, be strong, independent and have all the answers. I was raised not to take any guff from anyone and to always help those who are the most vulnerable. For the last 32 years my hobbies have included doing, saying and participating in activities that made everyone around me happy. I am nervous, scared, excited and relieved to be OUT about my struggles with mental health and anxiety as a young professional and as a mother.
How has mental illness affected your life?
It's hard to answer this question because when I read about "mental illness" I have often, and continue, to "other" myself from the term and those who fall into it. I see it and think "I'm not mentally ill...I'm just depressed." I know this is a lie I have told myself to avoid the stigma and shame attached to the term. What if people find out? What if they think I'm crazy? What if I AM crazy? Who ISN'T crazy? So in many ways, mental illness hasn't affected my life at all, because it has always been with me pushed back into the darkest parts of my mind, like where I shove old shoes in the back of my closet I can't throw away.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
Because I am tired of Pintrest, Facebook and Instagram deciding how I should parent. Because I am tired of people seeing my life via social media and thinking that I have it so together and feeling shame themselves because they don't see the REAL me and how life really is. I was tired of having the same secretive conversations with every mother I know--we feel guilty when we don't buy the organic milk because clearly our babies will wake up the next morning with beards if we don't feed it to them but we do it because "everyone" is doing it. We don't talk about the nights when we come home from work where we achieved measurable goals and we walk into chaos and it just feels like we're losing constantly and watching the clock until bedtime. Because everyone who sees your pregnant belly touches you without your permission and then reminds you to buck up because you should enjoy EVERY moment and you feel terrible when you don't.
I'm tired of being brave for everyone around me without admitting and showing that it's OK when you aren't brave. It's ok to feel like you're failing. It's ok to feel like an imposter. It's ok to feel like you have no power. It's ok to feel overwhelmed. And it's ok to say "enough" and ask for help. It's ok to not want to feel that way and it's ok to get on the path to recovery.
What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?
My children. My husband. My work. My mom. My desire to never feel like I deserve to sit alone in the dark holding my baby thinking he deserves a better mother than the one he has. Because I don't deserve that. And I can't snap out of it and that's ok and that's why help exists.
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
That they're not alone but more importantly to NEVER look at a new mother and tell her to enjoy every moment ever again. To NEVER tell a new mom that she's just hormonal or just blue. Sometimes that's true, but nobody ever wants or needs to hear that. We need to get back to the mentality that it takes a village to raise a child. Not only because it's good for the child, but because it's good for the village when a mother has support!