Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Ryann Tanap, though some know me as Real Talk. I started writing poetry way back before I can remember. Starting my junior year of college, I wrote a poem every single day for over a year and completed my project on the day I graduated. I now write less frequently, but have learned how to channel my thoughts into poetry in a productive and healthy way. Paulo Coelho once wrote: "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I firmly believe this, as my closest friends and mentors have guided me in my path to become a better writer, spoken word poet, mental wellness warrior, and human being. Today, I am a Virginia Beach native, working at a mental health non-profit in the DMV. I love creating art, spending time outdoors, and traveling solely to try new food. I also write a blog, where I discuss mental health topics we see in the news, media, and everyday life.
How has mental illness affected your life?
Several friends of mine have lived with mental health conditions, often times without my knowledge. When I was in college, I started going to therapy. Once I started telling my peers about my experience and the benefits of therapy, some even revealed to me that they too were in therapy or seeking treatment. I have also lost friends to suicide, which is a heartbreaking reality. As of this year, the suicide rate in America is the highest it's been in 30 years. I really wish more people talked about mental illness openly; people wouldn't find shame in seeking help and would be getting the support they need.
Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I am a poet and performer by nature. I have always been hesitant to talk about my personal experience with mental illness and mental health. I think I've spent these past few years focusing on others' health and I realize it's time to be honest about my own health. When I learned about This Is My Brave last year, I knew it was an organization I wanted to be part of. I am truly excited to be part of the DC show this Fall.
What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
I want to be an example for others, especially my family and friends. In order to love and share our love with others, we must love ourselves. I think so often, we forget to show compassion to ourselves. Over the years, I've realized that the stress and anxiety I experience truly affects other parts of my health. The more I learn about mental health, the more I try to put what I learn into practice. Recently, I completed a fellowship program in Pittsburgh. One of the fellows in my cohort sent me an article talking about "mental wellness warriors" in today's society, including people like Demi Lovato. I strive to be a mental wellness warrior for others, and most importantly, for myself. If I don't look after my mental health, who else will?
What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
You are not alone in the struggles you face. For so long, I have felt like what I experience is only something that I should endure in silence. Poetry became a safe medium for me to express myself. Art is a vessel that can take you to places where you can discover so much of yourself. I hope that those who come to our show, and other shows this Fall, will give art a chance. Whether it's music, dance, writing, painting, sculpting or throwing pots, the act of creating is a beautiful thing.