ORLANDO, Fla. – Saving lives through storytelling, that's the purpose of a new performance coming to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
The performance, titled "This Is My Brave," produced by Traci Powell, a neonatal nurse practitioner, is dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Powell said she found support for PTSD and childhood sexual abuse by sharing her experience with mental illness with others.
"It's everywhere, it's your doctors and your nurses and your teachers and the kid down the street, it's your neighbor," Powell said. "I had attempted suicide, and it was after I had struggled a long time and, as I look back now, I realize the struggle didn't need to be that bad, if I felt safe enough to come forward and say, 'I need help,'" Powell said.
Powell said mental illness affects one in five Americans, but talking about a struggle can feel like a setback.
"Being in medicine, you worry that people are going to look at you as incompetent or you can't take care of your patients well," Powell said.
Ultimately, Powell found the help that saved her life.
"Once you understand what's going on in your body, it helps you to move forward," Powell said. "As a group, we'll bond, we'll laugh, we'll cry, and it'll be a life-changing experience."
A therapist will also be part of the production team.
The show is part of a national nonprofit organization that began in 2014. Performers include members of the community living with mental illness, including depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia and PTSD.
Spoken word essay, original poetry or original songs can be part of the performance.
Caregivers and loved ones are also encouraged to audition.
Audition location: Total Life Counseling East Orlando Office, 13013 Founders Square, Orlando, FL 32828
Dates: June 3 from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Pieces should be limited to five minutes.
Learn more about auditions: This Is My Brave
Performance: September 22 at 3 p.m. at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL 32801