The stigma around mental illness is strong, but our stories are stronger.
The majority of people who live with mental illness do not seek treatment. That may surprise some people, but not me. I used to be part of that majority.
I believed clinical depression meant some pale, dead-eyed drone rocking back and forth in a padded room. A body on autopilot, clearly off their meds. I wasn’t one of Those People. I had a good job, a beautiful family, and a safe home and a big ass TV. I was living the life I always believed could be achieved with hard work and a little luck.
Yet still, I occasionally sat in the dark by myself for hours at a time, imagining the life my wife and children would be free to live if I killed myself. But I’d never actually go through with it. That would be crazy…right?
I took an online depression screen. When I answered “Yes” to suicidal thoughts, the test paused and a helpline number popped up. I scaled back my answer, because who needs that shit? The results of my almost-honest version were “Moderate to Severe Depression.” I got a second opinion from someone who had no business giving medical advice — myself.
Dr. Me delivered the same old treatment Plan:
Appreciate how good your life is and stop being such a little bitch all the time.
Amy detailed her eventual breakdown honestly and unapologetically, and vowed to handle her depression with the same openness and candor.
One month after reading her article, feeling like I was on the verge of a similar breakdown, I finally opened up to my wife about how I’d been feeling, and got treatment.
Amy’s story changed my life, and I vow to use my story to do the same for others.
This Is My Brave
Last year, I wrote and performed a one-man show about my experience with suicide loss and depression. After hearing about it, a friend asked if I would perform on a show she was producing, aimed at breaking down the stigma around mental illness. The show was called This Is My Brave.
I liked the idea so much I decided to take it a step further. I contacted This Is My Brave and got permission to produce a show right here in Kansas City.
This Is My Brave — Kansas City will take place Sunday, May 7 at H&R Block City Stage in Union Station.
Now, I am looking for more people willing to be brave and share a piece of their experience living with mental illness.
We are holding auditions this Saturday (February 25) and next Saturday (March 4). Both will be held at the Johnson County Public Library in Overland Park, Kansas from 2–4pm (sign up at this link).
If you have a story and are brave enough to share it, I want to help you tell it. You never know whose life you might save.