Letter to a Friend, Jennie Gibbs

7176240410_26e26557dePhoto Credit: silvia sani via Compfight cc

Dear Friend,

I know you want to give up. I know you look around, and all you see is pain, or shame, or self-hatred…just stop. Let it go. You are SO beautiful, and you have an amazing life ahead of you. You have so much to give, and you have so much love to receive.

I am so sorry that you have had to suffer so horribly. I’m sorry for the stinging words, the barbed insults, the ignorant judgments, the acts of violence, everything. It is not okay that you went through all of that. Even if the people who hurt you never apologize, I am here to say, on their behalf, and on behalf of humanity, I am so sorry. If I could meet you right now, I would give you the most gigantic hug, and hug you until all the pain was gone. You are never alone. You are a part of humanity. If people knew what was going on in your mind, I guarantee you would have TONS of people begging you not to go. You are human, you are important, and you are loved.

I understand exactly how you feel, because I have tried to commit suicide. I felt alone. Angry. Miserable. Like nobody loved or wanted me. I felt like there was this beautiful world all around me, full of happy, laughing people who belonged somewhere. And I felt like I was completely shut off from this world, not allowed to bask in the love and joy like other people.

I felt like this horrible, unlovable thing. I felt like I had to end it, and like there was only one way to end it. Thankfully, my friends were alerted to what was going on, and I was saved because of them. I had so many people who were concerned and reached out to me. I had no idea that people cared so much about me, or maybe I just couldn’t understand it at the time. I tried to take myself out of this world, and I had people reach out and keep me alive.

It took a long time to fix me and pull me out of that dark, horrible place I had sunk into, a lot of professional help, and a lot of work on my behalf. But a year and a half later, I am so glad that my attempt was unsuccessful.

I moved from my home in Massachusetts when I was twelve, and I felt like I had lost everything- my home, my friends, my identity. I got bullied horribly on and off from ages 12-18. I was made fun of for everything, even the way I walked and talked. I had people go on Facebook and write statuses about how I was an ogre, and my classmates commented about how funny that was. My self-esteem took a nose dive.

I had a lot of family problems going on, including my father getting cancer and my mother having a stroke, all while I was in high school. My friends all got boyfriends and were moving forward with their lives, and I felt like I was just on my own, with the horrible sinking feeling in my heart as my only company. By the time I got to college, I had no energy, and I was on the verge on going into a horrible clinical depression. I got to the point where it was too hard to get up and move from my bed. I almost dropped out of college. I was crying constantly. I started cutting my wrists. I was upset, and miserable, and ashamed, and embarrassed. I felt completely vulnerable and like nobody cared. A lot of people didn’t understand.

However, a lot of people did actually care, and a lot of people helped me through it. I have gotten out of my depression, and I have graduated college. I’m going to grad school in the fall. I have a lot of friends and family that love me, and I have so much potential and hope for the future. I felt like there was no hope for me when I was in the middle of it all, but I got through it, and the storms have calmed. I’m in a much better place, and I am much stronger for all I have gone through. I’m sharing all of this because I really want you to know that you can get through it too.

The message I want you to take in is this: You can heal. You are more powerful than you could ever imagine. You can persevere, and be this amazing person that you already are deep inside of you. You are stronger than all your demons, no matter what they tell you, no matter what awful words and self-judgments are within your head.

I know you don’t feel strong right now, but you have, deep inside you, a little voice that is saying, “No, I will not do this. I will hang on.” You just have to listen for it, believe in it, and believe in yourself. I know you may have gotten to a point where you feel like you can’t feel anymore. But deep within you, you want to live. You DESERVE to live. I believe in you, and know you can get through this. I know I don’t know you in person, but believe me when I say I would do ANYTHING to stop you from ending it all.

One day, things in your life are going to be beautiful. You are going to laugh so hard that tears run down your face. You are going to hear kind words, or have a friend throw their arm around you lovingly. You are going to have the most amazing kiss. You are going to learn so much. Sometimes it is going to be hard and painful again. But you will get through it, just like you are going to get through this. You are going to cherish life and be able to see the beauty in things. You just have to hang on until you get there.

If you ever need a friend, please send me a message on Facebook. If you know someone who needs a friend, have them send me a message. I will understand, and I will not judge. Find me on Facebook and pour your heart out to me, I promise I will read it and write back to you. Just remember that you are never alone. You are loved, and you have so many wonderful things to experience. Just please hang on. Please hang on.

Love,

Jennie Gibbs

IMAG0232Jennie was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 20 and is now eager to use her experience to help others. She works as a nanny in Parkton, MD, and lives outside Washington, DC in Westminster, MD. She loves painting, writing, and playing her violin in her free time. She is very excited that she will be attending graduate school at the University of Maryland School of Social Work this upcoming fall.

Your Brave Notes

Ever since the debut of This Is My Brave the show, folks have been asking us, “Will you put on another show?” and “What else will you do in the future?”

The answers to those questions are most definitely YES and we’re working on it. Big time. We can’t make any official announcements at this moment, but let’s just say we’re super excited about what lies ahead for This Is My Brave.

In the meantime, we wanted to share with you something that came out of our initial performance, which, unless you attended the live show, you haven’t seen until now. In the lobby of the theater, we had two large cork bulletin boards on easels. We had printed up what we called “Brave Notes” on yellow paper to resemble Post-It notes, and an array of Sharpies was available for our guests to share with us what they felt brave about.

The result was beautiful and heartfelt and exactly what we had hoped for.

photo photo 1 photo 2

photo 3 photo 4

photo 5

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 1

These Brave Notes represent the greatest fears, the most significant triumphs, and the deepest, most sincere ambitions shared by those of us who live with mental illness. We want others to understand where we’ve been, how hard we fought {and continue to fight} to make it through this thing called life, and how desperately we want to change the way the world views mental illness.

We can’t do it alone. This Is My Brave was founded on the concept of sharing personal stories. People who believed in us shared their stories here before we found our inaugural cast. Supporters jumped into our #BraveChat conversations on Twitter because they wanted to be heard. You can join us. You don’t have to get up on stage in front of a live audience to share your story. Our blog is a virtual stage where you are encouraged to add your voice and show the world the power of your brave.

If This Is My Brave has encouraged you to be more open about your journey with mental illness, we’d love to hear from you. Send us your essays, your poems, your songs. Tell us about your recovery journey in your own creative way. Not a complete start-to-finish book, but a peek into your life with mental illness and how it’s affected you. Share with us how you found hope. How you found your brave so that others can find theirs.

We’ll be posting new messages from our tribe each week. Feel free to submit videos if you’d like {a YouTube link is the preferred format} or written pieces under 800 words. We’d love for you to include a photo with your submission, if you’d like. Send your piece to: submissions@thisismybrave.com.

Your-Brave-Notes

Raise your voice with us. Be brave. Share your story to inspire change.

Enter to Win a “be brave” Bravelets™ bracelet!

We’ll always have a place in our hearts for our original, Limited Edition BRAVE bracelets. They were handmade by Anne Marie and I, and we were proud of the fact that our hands touched each and every bracelet that went out to our supporters who put their faith in us and our movement.

BraveCollage

With the debut show behind us, Anne Marie and I are now focusing our efforts on the future. We realize that our time now should be spent more strategically; developing future programs for our community, expanding the show for next year, and applying for grants. Therefore, a few weeks ago we partnered with Bravelets™ to add their “be brave” jewelry to our BRAVE Gear collection! With this partnership, $10 from each item purchased on our Brave Page will be donated back to support This Is My Brave in our mission to continue raising awareness for mental health.

We’re super excited about them, and now for our public launch, we thought it would be fun to do a giveaway. There are several ways to enter, so check them out below, tell your friends, and GOOD LUCK! {Winner will be announced a week from tomorrow, July 3rd, so enter today!}

Check out our Bravelets™ BRAVE Page to see all the styles and colors available!

ThisisMyBrave

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Is My Brave has launched on YouTube!

Corporate Photography, Political Photography, PR Photography

We are ecstatic to announce that the debut performance of This Is My Brave is now available on YouTube! We hope you’ll watch, appreciate, and share our message of sharing personal stories of living with mental illness to end the stigma.

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay informed of new show announcements and videos. Thank you so much for your support!

If our show’s message and mission inspired you, please click below to sign our PLEDGE and share your story in the comments! Let’s keep the conversation going.

TODAY!

Hi Sign this

[signature]

61 signatures

Please SHARE this with your friends:

   

Gabbi performed her poem, Below the Surface

Corporate Photography, Political Photography, PR Photography

“This Is My Brave helped me find strength and courage I didn’t know I had. Every time I read my piece as I practiced and then finally when I performed it, it freed me more and more. After my final performance I felt like a new person and that I could conquer anything in the world. I am forever grateful that I had this opportunity because it changed my life and helped me see that I had the power to overcome my mental illness and face my past and that no one can ever tell me differently.” – Gabbi Sulzer

Please remember to Sign the PLEDGE! And help us spread the word by sharing with your friends and family via Facebook and Twitter!

Kevin performed his original rap, BRAVE

Corporate Photography, Political Photography, PR Photography

“I almost cried, I was able to hold back the tears, but the energy in the room was amazing. Jennifer told me that it was the best she had seen me perform my song, and I didn’t tell her that I purposefully hold back during the rehearsals, but I could really feel the energy looking at the crowd and seeing everyone look back, she even noticed my hand started to shake a bit because it is such a powerful message and movement we are a part of. Thankfully, I didn’t mess up any words and was able to perform, but I was really overwhelmed by the reception, the love, the standing ovation at the end, the applause and the support of all my cast mates. I really had an awesome day and it was great to share with everyone there.” – Kevin Earley

Please remember to Sign the PLEDGE! And help us spread the word by sharing with your friends and family via Facebook and Twitter!

Mary performed the song, “Out of My Head”

Corporate Photography, Political Photography, PR Photography

“I am so truly humbled to say that I was a part of this debut cast of This is My Brave. Each cast member left a mark on my heart and made me a better person than I was before I started this journey. And I also learned that while telling my own individual story is important,and I will continue to do so, there is TREMENDOUS POWER in a unified group of individuals standing together, DETERMINED to be heard and to make a difference in this world.” – Mary Leaphart

Please remember to Sign the PLEDGE! And help us spread the word by sharing with your friends and family via Facebook and Twitter!

Elaina read her essay, Anything is Possible

Corporate Photography, Political Photography, PR Photography

“In a way, it is kind of sad that we need to be brave to talk about mental illness. The stigma is just that great, though. I hope that my getting up and telling my story will inspire someone else to tell her’s. If we all stood up and told our stories we wouldn’t need bravery any longer. It would just be someone sharing with another. It would just be human kindness.” – Elaina J. Martin 

Please remember to Sign the PLEDGE! And help us spread the word by sharing with your friends and family via Facebook and Twitter!

Heather read her essay entitled: Naked

Corporate Photography, Political Photography, PR Photography

“I started on an incredible journey when I decided to audition for This Is My Brave. I wasn’t quite sure where it would lead, but I was willing to take a chance and share my story in hopes that it would help others. Last Sunday, that journey came to fruition when I joined 13 other brave individuals on stage to talk about mental illness in a very profound way, through sharing personal experiences. I was blown away by the honesty and vulnerability shown by my fellow cast mates and am very proud that I got to be a part of that moment in time. To top it all off, I got to meet numerous audience members, who were full of praise and willingness to share their own personal stories of how mental illness has played a part in their lives. I’m honored and deeply humbled to have been a debut cast member for This Is My Brave – the show! It is an experience I will never forget.” – Heather Coleman

Please remember to Sign the PLEDGE! And help us spread the word by sharing with your friends and family via Facebook and Twitter!

Meagan read her essay, Putting a Name to My Pain

Corporate Photography, Political Photography, PR Photography

“During my deepest darkest times 5-6 years ago, my mom would say, ‘Meagan, I’m telling you, you are being used. You will get through this and You are going to share your story and help so many others.’ There I stood, 6 years later, and shared my story as a debut cast member of This Is My Brave.  Something that I will cherish forever.” – Meagan Barnes 

Please remember to Sign the PLEDGE! And help us spread the word by sharing with your friends and family via Facebook and Twitter!