Bringing Mental Illness into the Light


Rejection hurts. It stings my heart and crushes my soul. When it happens more than I can count on one hand in a matter of three days, well, it makes for a shitty week. Makes me wonder if it’s worth all the effort.

This morning I unconsciously pulled a teeshirt out of my dresser drawer. I was immediately reminded of what drives me as I pulled the shirt over my head, stared¬†at my reflection in the mirror. What pushes me to continue on through the no’s, the unreturned phone calls, the doubts in my mind.

I’ve heard these doubts whispering in my head before. They were gossiping amongst themselves, loud enough for me to overhear, when we launched our Kickstarter in 2013. Even when we surpassed our goal, they still kept on chattering through our auditions, rehearsals, right up until I walked on stage with my cast for our debut show. Once our cast took to the podium, one by one, we finally silenced those doubts.

So they’ve returned, and I’m not surprised. I have to once again focus on our mission, why we came together to raise our voices for the greater good.

The gray tee with maroon block letters I was wearing today is one of my biggest reminders. VIRGINIA TECH. We will never forget.

I often wonder what would have happened if one person would have been courageous enough to have been the net that could have prevented the awful tragedy of April 16, 2007. One person reaching out. One person noticing. One person providing help.

I know it’s so much more complicated than that, believe me.

I remember when the news broke, where I was, what I was doing. Shaking. On the phone with my brother, a VT alum. Then my husband,  also an alum. Staring at the TV in disbelief.

The power of This Is My Brave lies in the vulnerability of the people who decide to stand up on stage and tell their story through a microphone, or publish their words to our community’s blog. We’ve been through the unthinkable. But we’ve made it to the other side. We’re stronger, better equipped to continue the fight. Ready to make a difference.

We all have our struggles in life. What if, instead of pushing those issues and problems and fear of being judged down deep inside of us, we made a bold move and opened up?

I used to be afraid of people finding out that I have bipolar disorder. But ever since I stopped hiding, I’ve noticed something huge. The vast majority of the time, the person on the other end of the conversation says, “me too.” Or, “someone close to me is suffering from depression,” or “my mom/dad/brother/sister/aunt/cousin/etc./etc./etc. has a mental illness.”

It’s everywhere.

Which is why I won’t give up. I won’t stop talking about mental illness because we’re all affected by it. And I want to change lives by continuing to bring true stories into the light. If just one person is helped by this work, it’s all worth it.

Move over insecurity, I have important work to do.


  1. Diana Abiraad says:

    What a great post Jennifer!! Thank you, I know for me resonates a lot, and thank you for your vulnerability that has brightened my day with improved hope and inspiration … esp after a rough start to my day.

  2. Linda killi says:

    that’s my girl! I remember hen you were 3 or 4 and was frustrated over learning to tie your shoes or when you were trying to learn how o ride a two wheeler, or how to drive the first car with stick shift. you’ve never given up on anything. Frustrated, yes! Disappointed, yes! But you kept at it and you did it. Keep going my brave one!

  3. Yes you do! never, ever give up! XO

  4. Paula Cayer says:

    Me too. Thank you for being the voice i am not totally capable of being yet. Some days I can stand on both feet head high and say yes I’m bipolar! Lately its been much tougher my feet and head are wobbly. So ty for saying it for me!
    :(: Paula

  5. Talking about my mental illness has helped me tremendously.

  6. Thanks for being open about this. I wonder how much I want to share at times too, but it’s worth it if it makes a difference to one person.

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