Tell us about yourself.
I'm originally from Atlanta, Georgia. (I don't have the accent to prove it. But you should meet my father!) College brought me to TN and then a masters degree in KY. Then a 4-year stint in MA working in college ministry and then in mental health. At the mental health agency, I recognized I shared similar feelings and thoughts as my clients on paranoia, depression and suicide. So I took the plunge and started to investigate my illness thus my mental health journey began.
In 2007, when I lost my favorite gloves on the coldest day of the year, I decided "enough" of these harsh New England winters, and came to live in Denver, Colorado. I now live with my wife of 2 years and have one furry child, Riley the cat.
I've been a deep listener and participant of music since I can remember daydreaming at age 4. I imagined myself going on tour with my dad when I was older. Although the father/daughter tour never came to fruition, I have become an accomplished singer/songwriter in my own right. I have one 90's rock album released on iTunes called Paper and the Queen and 2 more unreleased B side albums.
Mental illness for me comes in the form of PTSD and generalized anxiety and depression. I've used writing, recording and performing as a means of strengthening myself to face each day.
How has mental illness affected your life?
It slowed me down; I'm not as far along in my career as my colleagues and I've had to make up for all those lost days. But I have a richer understanding of myself, emotional maturity that comes from years of self examination. I don't take things for granted as much. Also, I have to be very selective of what stressors I let into my life because a seemly small activity might momentarily overwhelm me causing a chain reaction that could set off an explosion of emotions; makes me very aware of my limits and boundaries.
Why do you want to be a part of This is My Brave?
Wanting my story to bring hope to people's lives; To help people understand that it's not just a scary thing to have a mental illness; Making it real and approachable, a true representation, not what people see in the movies. People can live out a full productive life and over come the challenges that mental illness brings.
What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
My own will to live; the freedom that health brings me to achieve and live out my dreams.
What do you hope the audience takes away from this show?
A deeper understanding of mental illness that makes people have more compassion for those that suffer with it. To come to an understanding that those with mental illness are regular people.
I've noticed through being involved with "This Is My Brave" that it's difficult for me to acknowledge when I'm being brave. There is a voice in my head shooting me down saying "You're not that brave because you aren't that sick. Just pull yourself up by your boot straps and stop drawing attention to yourself."
I'm realizing the step for me to become brave is in the acknowledgment of the action and not the action itself. For example, me taking the time to say to myself "woe, that was brave" and standing up to that demeaning voice inside.