I’m really surprising myself these days. I’m truly invested in becoming a better version of myself. That includes overcoming my fears by checking off some of the things I have on my “bucket list”. These, however extreme, aren’t really things I want to do before I die, but more like things I have always wanted to do and will if ever given the opportunity. A few things on my list are skydiving, zip-lining, doing a stage play, and singing on a (gospel) album ( I know, but I’ve always been a big dreamer).
Well, I’m excited to announce that I have been blessed with the opportunity to act in my first stage play. I found my love for the stage while on a sixth-grade field trip to the Bama Theatre to see a production of Earnest Hemmingway’s Scrooge. I loved it. I loved each character, the way they stepped out of themselves to become this new person. I loved their interaction with the audience and the audience’s reaction to them. I loved being swept away into their world of characters, imagery, detail, storyline, and fairytale. But after getting sick so early in life, I never got a chance to fulfill that dream.
Luckily, I have an amazing cousin, Sheila Furr, who’s friends with a wonderful, gifted playwright. She writes and produces her plays right here in our small town. I wanted to attend one of her brilliant- message based plays with my cousin but I never got a chance to go. I made Sheila promise to tell her friend that I wanted to be in her very next production.
I friended the writer on FaceBook and a few weeks later saw where she was looking for actors to be in her next play. I was much too scared to actually say something to her or even leave any type of comment. There reared fear’s ugly head again. So I made baby steps. I summoned up enough courage to like the comment. I know right? Blew my big chance!
That night, I actually heard from the esteemed play write Shawna D. Moore of Mor-Shy Productions! When I got off the phone with her, I screamed with excitement! I couldn’t believe it! I was going to be able to finally grace the stage. By the way, she hadn’t even heard from my cousin yet. Thanks Shiela😉! Of all those who liked her post, she chose to call me. Look at God. She came by, gave me a copy of the script and here we are weeks into rehearsals and set to hit the stage on March 9, 2019. I am very blessed and humbled to be a part of this wonderful play.
Coming home from rehearsal tonight, I just had to think about the topic of the play, mental illness. No one wants to admit they need help, especially in the black community. To most of us, a person is considered ” crazy” once they’ve seen a shrink or had to be hospitalized. What we don’t realize is that this negative stigma is what keeps people from reaching out and getting the help they need.
We need to change the face of mental illness into that of support and completeness instead of shame and ridicule. One way to begin to achieve that is to try to reach our community through venues such as this production. Shawna Moore touches on real-life causes of mental illness, the effects of delaying diagnoses and treatment, and how the world can be a scary but wonderful place once you take the necessary steps to achieve mental wellness.
At the risk of sounding “crazy”, no pun intended, I saw how that stigma made me afraid to speak up tonight. I wouldn’t dare tell anyone that I had two nervous breakdowns in my twenties. I had to see a psychiatrist for a few years afterward and was hospitalized around the same time. If anyone knew just a tenth of all I’ve been through!
You can understand now why this play means so much to me! Among other things, this has been a bit of therapy for me. Due to depression and stress, I struggled with social anxiety. I thought I had overcome it. But as recently as last year, I was re-diagnosed with agoraphobia or the fear of leaving my home. It made me realize just how much power your mind has over your body.
I learned that I wasn’t afraid to actually get in my car and drive, that I could do. I was afraid of being around other people that I knew I’d encounter once at the store, the doctor’s office, and etc. I’m determined to regain everything I lost. I owe it to myself to overcome all my fears for good!
Being a part of this production is helping with that. It doesn’t hurt that this is the coolest group of people on the planet. Everyone vibes with and encourages and supports one another. The night before my second rehearsal, I had a seizure which means I’m medically restricted from driving for six months. Willingly, cast member(s) take me to and from rehearsal. These people inspire me to be a better person.
Even though I have issues with my memory, they make me want to not only learn my lines but feel them because they’re so good already. Our leading lady is amazing!! She had me in tears the first night. My mom is the best too. She’s really helping me to become my character.
I’m really looking forward to opening night. It’s so beautiful and enlightening to see this play come to life with each rehearsal. Everybody brought their ‘A’ game from day one!
By the way, the play entitled ” A Quiet Storm” is about a daughters journey through mental illness after losing her mother. If that were to happen to me, I don’t think I would ever be able to be okay again. But Shawna Moore’s script helps me see that, although I don’t ever want to think about it, help is available.
I never knew this number below existed until I researched it for this blog just now. But I know when going through tough times, looking for or googling anything is the furthest thing from your mind. Of all the blog posts I have written, this is the one post that I hope people will read. Let’s be kind to one another and pray for one another. You never know what someone else is going through. I’m praying for us all and saying a special prayer for our Veterans and soldiers tonight.
The Mental Health Help hotline is: 1-866-299-4987
The website is: http://www.mentalhelp.net
Or for immediate help go to http://www.mentalhealth.gov