1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am currently living in Alexandria, Virginia, though I've lived around the DC Metro area for the past five years. I hail from the Twin Cities in Minnesota prior to coming to this area, which is probably why I love snow and freezing cold weather. My girlfriend and I are both super nerds so many date nights are spent going to lectures on physics and space! I stay pretty busy between working and volunteering, so my self-care is a lot of journaling and running. I'm a marathoner and have done eight so far. I try to run one or two each year, and yes, for me, running marathons is a lot of fun.
2. How has mental illness affected your life?
All too often, my mental illness feels like a cloud that surrounds me and makes doing things more exhausting than they ever need to be. My coping strategy for dealing with my depression and anxiety in the past has been to shut down on everyone, including those who are close to me. A huge part of my recovery has been learning to open up to people, especially when I feel like I'm hitting rock bottom. I spent many years hitting the bottom and not wanting to talk about it. Although it was hard to come to a place where I could start having these conversations with my support system about my own suicidal ideation and depression, it has been the turning point in actually being able to take care of myself in a helpful way.
3. Why did you want to be a part of This Is My Brave?
I wanted to be a part of This Is My Brave because I believe that storytelling can save lives. There's still too much stigma that prevents people from speaking out about suicidal ideation. I hear all too often the general "I could never do/think about that. That's just not possible. I don't understand why anyone would go there." or the response when I tell people about my own issues "You do so much. You totally have your life together. There's no way you could be struggling like that!" and it reminds me that these stories need to be told, that people need to be able to connect a face with a story and understand that you can overcome a struggle. I hope that my story can inspire someone else who is struggling to find hope.
4. What inspires you to get or stay mentally healthy?
The thing that inspires me most to stay mentally healthy is my support system. Ever since starting to open up to them, they've been there for me in a way I never thought people would. They give me the space to have these awkward and uncomfortable conversations, and I am beyond grateful for that. They make me feel inspired to continue doing the work I do and to know that they have my back all the way.
5. What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
I really hope the folks who come to the show leave knowing that it's okay to struggle, and it's okay to not be okay. Despite what our society might tell us, there's no shame in not being able to do everything on your own and being willing to ask for support from others.
Tickets are on sale NOW! Click the button below to order your tickets to meet Leah 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 DC 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.