Meet Napa Valley Cast Members Russ, Indigo and Xulio

Meet three more of our Napa Valley Brave cast members - Russ, Indigo and Xulio. They will take the stage this coming Saturday, May 6 at 4pm at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center. Join us to hear their inspiring stories live and in person!

As this is a health-minded event, it will also be a Fragrance-Free event. We ask that all in attendance adhere to this policy. Thank you for your understanding. If you have questions regarding our Fragrance-Free policy for this show, please contact: beth@thisismybrave.org.

Russ Melgar

Russ Melgar

Meet Russ Melgar

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a California native, born in San Diego and spent most of my growing up in the Bay Area. I’ve been involved in sports and fitness since high school. Although I made a career in television news production after college I always spent time in the gym or karate dojo because of the positive vibes I got there. Eventually fitness became my career.

How have mental health issues affected your life?

Depression affected me even when I was young, though I didn’t know what to call it then. As I grew up and life got more complex, depression always seemed to find a way take me from my usual sunny disposition and pull me into the darkness. After my brush with suicide and subsequent struggle to recover after hitting bottom, I decided to take my depression head on by changing my thinking and coping mechanisms. This was accomplished through therapy, study, and the support of family and friends.

What inspires you to be mentally healthy?

I keep mentally healthy by embracing my own spirituality, practicing daily gratitude, helping others and – no surprise- through staying fit.

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

Because I know how suffering from depression can make one feel isolated, I wanted to be part of MY BRAVE to let others know they are NOT alone and to make others aware of the enormity of both mental health issues, and the important need for health and healing resources.

Meet Indigo Liz Logan

Indigo Liz Logan

Indigo Liz Logan

Tell us a little about yourself.

I've been very fortunate to be able to work on healing as my primary job for the last decade, and as this work draws to a close, I'm looking at the future with a new sense of self. It's scary and exciting.

I hope I can tell my story and share some of what I have learned in ways that give people an experience of what it’s like to have DID, so that the audience can gain understanding and insight into the human condition. I am current writing at least one memoir, starting a vlog and thinking about hypertext publishing.

How have mental health issues affected your life?

I've had happy moments filled with love as long as I can remember-- but also dark moments filled with something else. Though I grew up in a loving family, something has always been wrong. At 12, I was diagnosed with depression, at 35 with manic depression (bipolar depression). Then came the labels of borderline personality disorder, general anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress syndrome, attention deficit disorder, and then finally, at 47, dissociative identity disorder. I've read that the average number of diagnoses a person with DID receives is seven. So, at least in that, I'm average. The rest of my life, not so much. :)

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

With each diagnosis, I went through a "grief cycle." I also went through a process of working through the shame, the internalized stigma, the ignorance, and what was worse, the misinformation. I did a ton of research when I got the bipolar diagnosis. It seemed to explain so much! 

DID was different. I didn't believe I had it. I didn't believe "In it." I was scared some rogue therapist was going to convince me something had happened in my childhood that had not. I refused to see the specialist that my psychiatrist recommended. But I did agree to see a therapist. 

I found one, with no experience with DID. But I really liked her, and that was enough. We learned together. There was not much in the way of training or guidance available to her. It turned out my own healing practices worked well.

The scare tactics that certain people did to try and deny the reality of DID had a HUGE impact on the development of the field-- it as like a bomb went off and everyone had to hunker down in hiding. The upside is that as lot of people worked independently, and many of us discovered the same principles. And the field continued to develop in other countries besides the US. 

The way to protect ourselves from this extreme form of stigmatization is to speak out, share our stories, share our knowledge, let people know about the existence of the trauma that causes DID in the first place. I appreciate the opportunity that This Is My Brave offers me to begin this conversation.

What inspires you to be mentally healthy?

I identify primarily as a healer, working to heal myself and the planet. This core sense, of having not only a purpose, but also a means to work towards this, and the ability to work towards this has kept me going.

I believe that mental health, which for me includes emotional, physical and spiritual health, is the foundation for healthy families, healthy communities, and healthy nations. I believe that every living thing on the planet has the right to live trauma-free. And I believe this is possible-- even necessary-- to achieve.

I "know" things will get worse before they get better-- I know there will be a healing crisis. I know what that is like, and I know it is possible to get through it and come out the other side more whole, more capable. So, I hope I can pass on the love and support that was so generously given to me.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the show?

As I listened to the other stories, one thing that struck me was how often mental illness has trauma at its root. We have been violated, in one way or another, and left to hold the shame of this by not only our perpetrators, but also by society as a whole. But it is not our shame! It does not belong to us. We did nothing shameful. We survived, in amazing, creative ways.

Our perpetrators do not want us to speak up. Sometimes others don't want us to speak up as well. The good news is I do not need anyone else's permission to release this shame.  And neither do you. :)

Meet Xulio Soriano

Xulio Soriano

Xulio Soriano

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am from conquest and the clashing and mixing of cultures. I was birthed beauty but also birthed pain. I am from the Mixteca people from what is presently called Oaxaca, Mexico. I have lived in Napa since late 1999. I am a poet and activist. I am non-hetero. Soy aproximadamente cisgender and Two Spirit.

How have mental health issues affected your life?

Immigration, indigeneity, and poverty are the socio-cultural determinants of my mental health. Dislocation from my childhood land, climate, geography, ancestors, culture, food, and time was isolating, induced depression, and often drove me to question whether I should keep on living -- thus, in several direct and indirect ways, colonization and migration made me suicidal. Rather than feeling transplanted, I felt unjustly uprooted.

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

I want to remind us that intergenerational trauma is a public health issue. That genocide and ecocide, or incomplete attempts to carry out such, can deeply scar a people and the land we grow in. These wounds carry 7 generations down, or more.

What inspires you to be mentally healthy?

Honoring the ancestors and honoring who I presently am. Participating in our indigenous culture(s) without fear of repression. (Re)connecting to nature, time, and place. Invoking ceremony, art, and protest to resist what would erase us.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the show?

I hope they consider this idea: Nature is healing. Decolonization is healing. That while a real health matter, some find depression to be a uniquely Western diagnosis. Some cultures don't have this concept. For example, they see depression as the calling of our spirit.

I hope that anyone who experiences a similar situation as me are validated and properly aided. I hope that our efforts to de-stigmatize mental health are also met with a willingness to decolonize our understanding and solutions of pain and trauma.

Every culture has the capacity to unearth their indigenous roots. If we heal and value indigenous people and practices, we heal and value ourselves, and in doing so we can heal our biosphere and its ecosystems. I hope we can imagine this possibility.

Tickets are on sale now! This is one event you won't want to miss as our brave storytellers and artists take the stage to end the stigma surrounding mental illness one story at a time.