“BRAVE” Mom Chronicles Her Illness; Uses Kickstarter to Produce Stigma Fighting Play


 Jennifer Killi  Marshall used a pen name when she began writing about her experiences as a thirty-four year mother who’d been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, type 1. She was scared of the repercussions that she feared would happen if she outed herself, her husband and their two small children.
Jennifer, who has been hospitalized four times in the past five years, eventually reached a point where she “discovered her brave.” She began writing under her own name and was shocked when she was greeted — not by sneers and being shunned — but with support and encouragement.
It takes guts, humor and insight to write about life with a mental disorder and Jennifer shows all three in her blog:  Bipolar Mom Life: Writing My Way Through Living With Mental Illness 
After finding her BRAVE, Jennifer decided to do more as an advocate. She wanted to help others who had found their BRAVE and give courage to those who were not yet at that moment.  She decided to produce a show entitled This Is My Brave that would be performed by individuals with mental illnesses and those who love them. This would not be a show put on by actors. It would be a show put on by those who have and are living with mental illnesses.

“We  named the show This Is My Brave because it captured the essence of what it feels like at the moment in life when you are ready to stand up and share your whole self,” Jennifer explained.

I first heard about her project when my son, Kevin, met Jennifer at a community support meeting and she described her project to him. He was excited and I absolutely loved Jenifer’s “bravery” and moxie. Unfortunately, my elderly parent’s continuing failing health and entry into hospice kept me from writing earlier about Jennifer and her project until now. Thankfully her idea was so good that she didn’t really need my help promoting it.

Using Kickstarter, Jennifer set out to raise the $6,500 that she knew she would need to rent the Spectrum Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, and pay for publicity and other necessities. She and her associate producer would donate their time. She soon had a team of supporters. Not only did she meet her Kickstarter deadline last weekend by earning the $6,500, she surpassed the goal — raising $10,170 from 169 supporters.

 Jennifer will begin holding audtions for performers early next year. This Is My Brave: The Show will be performed May 18th.  I will publish more information about ways to contribute to the production and how to buy tickets in the Washington D.C. area when more details become available.

Jennifer hopes what she is doing here in the Washington D.C. suburbs will spread to other communities. How about your’s? I often get emails from individuals who ask me what they can do to fight stigma. Here is a wonderful example worth following.

I believe in the power of one person to change another person’s life and also change an entire community.

Jennifer Marshall is a wonderful example of the power of one!

What are you doing to change and save someone’s life? Are you BRAVE enough to follow Jennifer’s lead?

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.