“I am a mental health advocate, activist, author, spoken word poet, motivational speaker, actor, and artist.
As a child, I was diagnosed with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD: NOS), an Autism Spectrum disorder, which manifested as my emotional state maturing at a slower rate than my mental state. This meant that I could not emotionally comprehend my own thoughts.
In adulthood, though this gap has narrowed, I struggle with significant anxiety, as my mind is constantly making connections and perceiving the world with enamoring intensity.
As an adolescent, I learned to cope with and communicate my experiences through visual art, moving on to creative writing and poetry. I am now a prominent spoken word poet and performer, presenting my work several times per week throughout New York and abroad to various at-risk populations, including those in mental health treatment. Putting my thoughts and feelings on the page, and performing them on stage, is how I make sense of my reality and transform my experiences. It is my hope that my words and my presence can inspire others to tell their story.
Not to romanticize mental illness, but I believe that there are powers and a gift in being given a particular way of interpreting the world around us. Emergent research has found that mental illness is the result of an increasingly complex brain in humans as we evolved. I find this utterly fascinating. The truth is, none of us is broken. We have each been given a mind that perceives a different, unique reality. The prize is learning how to live within and loves that reality.
My message for those who struggle is this: No matter what you have gone through, what you have done, what battle you are fighting, your story is worth being told and has the power to inspire others to change their reality. Creativity and expression illustrate to us that there is a different way of navigating this beautiful, absurd life of ours. I challenge each and every one of you to take your mental health seriously and to discover what empowers you to transform your experience into a tool for changing the world.
All of the pain you have endured has contributed to a message you have yet to deliver to the universe. What will yours say?
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