Telling the stories that save lives

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Seen as an inferiority, mental illness is something people don’t generally talk about. I suffer from mental illness, and though it is quite debilitating, I find it to be a great motivation and key component on my life journey — bringing people together as a community, and standing up to the mockery, put-downs, and limitations culture set upon those with mental illness.

This is My Brave The Show is a national organization that shares the struggles, hardships, and hopes of people suffering with or know someone suffering with mental illness. I was a part of this wonderful show last year, and am again partaking in the show on April 22 at Kirkwood Community College.

Last year, I performed a personal musical composition titled “Only Through Love”. Through this song I showed that love is the answer to helping those who struggle. Helping those who have the illness, being there for them when they are vulnerable, and showing that you care makes all the difference in their battle. Mental illness is something that is not rational or logical. You cannot reason with it. Many people exclaim “oh it’s all in your head” or “just snap out of it”, and through the wonderful and dedicated people at This is My Brave we’ve shown that this is simply the incorrect approach to dealing with the problem, and contributes to the stigma.

Having the opportunity to again perform in the show brings me much joy in knowing that I can help bring mental illness into the spotlight and show the community that we are people as well. We all have our struggles and limitations, but through our acknowledgment of them, and our ability to recognize them and not let them define us, we show how our struggles can shape us into better people. This is My Brave The Show sets the stage for our voices to be heard.

What we need now are more voices. More brave souls to share the stage with me in April. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, suicide attempts, anorexia or bulimia, schizophrenia or PTSD, we want to hear your story. Like me you can use music, or if you feel more comfortable with poetry, essay, art or even a skit, the vehicle for your story is up to you. Caregivers are also encouraged to share their side of the story.

This is My Brave is a wonderful organization, and has helped myself and many others in our fight for freedom and opportunity with mental illness. Together, let’s show the world that we are all people, we all have our struggles, and we will be there for one another!

Submission deadline is Feb. 14. To submit your story email Brook@ThisismyBrave.org

• Aaron Eckley, of Marion, is a student at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. More information: www.thisismybrave.org or on Twitter @ThisIsMyBrave.

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