For years, I've been sick. For years, I've dealt with gastrointestinal and pancreatic issues, autoimmune diseases, harmful gut bacteria, Bipolar Disorder and depression and PTSD. For over six years, I never thought I'd get better. I felt helpless and stuck; I felt like my life was going nowhere. It has taken going to mental health treatment three times, fifteen years of therapy and countless doctors to get to where I am today.
But, in reality, there's one thing I'm leaving out. My one woman show, I Found That The Sun Will Rise Tomorrow. I had been writing it for over two years, and finally, this past month, it debuted in Silver Spring, Maryland. With a standing ovation both nights and endless praise, I finally felt proud of myself; I felt capable; I felt strong. But it wasn't just the performances that healed me. It was the process: writing and rehearsing. I worked with a childhood mentor, director and friend on this piece, and although he knows me so well, he had enough distance from the material to help ME get distance from the material. And that's what my therapy has been all about -- finding distance when you feel so attached and so trapped by your disorders and illnesses. He helped me find the humor in the darkness, and I can't thank him enough.
I recently found out that my show has been accepted to the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C. and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Two amazing festivals that I can't wait to perform in. If you had asked me even just six months ago if the show was going to go on, I would have denied it. If you had asked me if I thought the show was even "good," I would have probably denied it too. But people surprised me. They told me it was moving and powerful -- that I was brave and courageous for putting it on.
To be honest, I never felt like it was brave thing to do -- share my life story about physical and mental illness; it just felt right. My only outlet was theater, and it felt like the only way I could express the angst, anger and sadness I had been feeling about my life. I never thought I'd get better, but this show healed me in so many ways. It made me believe in myself as a performer, artist and most importantly, as a human being. Now, my dreams are coming true. I plan to perform it as many times as possible. I hope to perform it for NAMI, the National Association of Mental Illness, and at medical conferences and theaters around the country. I want this to be a movement, because, well, it is. People don't talk about what I talk about in my show. They shy away from it, because the material is scary and people don't know how to react to someone who's depressed or sick. There is such stigma around these illnesses, and I want to open up the discussion, educate people who know nothing about mental illness and share my story over and over again.
It took a huge portion of my life to believe that I was capable. It took me over six years to believe that the sun, indeed, will rise tomorrow. But now, I'm ready to take on the world, one step at a time, one theater at a time.