How it all started
In August of 2011, more than six years after my bipolar disorder first surfaced, I decided to start a blog. It became a place I turned to write about my life as a wife and young mom to two small kids, and writing helped me to heal.
I wrote anonymously at first, because I was afraid of being judged and worried that disclosing my mental illness may make future employment opportunities difficult. For eighteen months, I wrote and found community online. Other writers who were sharing their stories openly inspired me, and when I landed my first paid writing job, I decided to stop hiding behind a pen name.
When WhatToExpect.com published my first article with my byline, it was also picked up by AOL.com (the parent company). The outpouring of support and gratitude when that piece hit the Internet with my real name was overwhelming. I knew immediately that I had made the right decision. I could finally talk about all parts of my life, and not just the shiny, fun moments.
It was around the same time that I had the idea to launch a theater show. I wanted to give others the same opportunity I had - a platform on which to share their story of living a successful life despite mental illness. I met my Co-Founder, Anne Marie Ames, at a mutual friend's party and recruited her to help me put the project out to the world.
We launched This Is My Brave on Kickstarter in October of 2013 and the excitement surrounding the project grew and grew. We offered tickets to the first show and handmade "BRAVE" bracelets, among other items, as rewards for financial pledges of support. Within 31 days we had surpassed our goal of $6500 to fund the first show to end up with over $10,000 in contributions. It was clear that the community wanted to help bring this show to life - they believed in us and we weren't going to let them down.
In May of 2014, This Is My Brave debuted our first ever show in Arlington, Virginia at the Spectrum Theatre to a sold-out crowd of nearly 400. We became a 501c3 nonprofit and went on to create more shows in cities across our country. In 2015, volunteer producers joined our team to produce shows in Harrisburg, Boston, Iowa City, New York City and Los Angeles, along with a second annual show in Arlington. By 2016, we had doubled again, with volunteers again contributing their time and energy to create shows for their communities. 2016 we featured shows in Greenville SC, Valparaiso IN (Chicagoland), Denver (spring), Iowa City (year 2), Arlington (year 3), Denver (fall), Washington DC, and Baltimore.