How it all started

In August of 2011, more than six years after Jennifer Marshall's bipolar disorder first surfaced, she decided to start a blog. It became a place where she turned to write about her life as a wife and young mom to two small kids, and writing helped her begin to heal. She titled it: Bipolar Mom Life.

Jennifer wrote anonymously at first, because she was afraid of being judged. She also worried that disclosing her mental illness may make future employment opportunities difficult. For eighteen months, Jennifer wrote and found community online. Other writers who were openly sharing their stories of overcoming mental illness inspired her, and when she landed her first paid writing job, Jennifer decided to stop hiding behind a pen name. 

When WhatToExpect.com published her first article with Jennifer's byline, it was also picked up by AOL.com (the parent company). The outpouring of support and gratitude when that piece hit the Internet with her real name was overwhelming. She knew immediately that disclosing was the right decision. She could finally talk about all parts of her life, and not just the shiny, fun moments.

About six months later, Jennifer had the idea to launch a theater show. She wanted to give others the same opportunity she had - a stage on which to share their story of living a successful life despite mental illness. Jennifer met her Co-Founder, Anne Marie Ames, at a mutual friend's party and recruited her to help put the project out to the world.

Jennifer and Anne Marie launched This Is My Brave on Kickstarter in October of 2013 and the excitement surrounding the project grew and grew. They offered tickets to the first show and handmade "BRAVE" bracelets, among other items, as rewards for financial pledges of support. Within 31 days, the campaign had surpassed their goal of $6500 to fund the first show, ending up with over $10,000 in contributions. It was clear that the community wanted to help bring this show to life - they believed in the vision and Jennifer and Anne Marie were dedicated to delivering an exceptional production.

Co-founders Jennifer Marshall and Anne marie ames, backstage at the inaugural this is my brave show, may 18, 2014

Co-founders Jennifer Marshall and Anne marie ames, backstage at the inaugural this is my brave show, may 18, 2014

In May of 2014, This Is My Brave debuted our first ever show in Arlington, Virginia at the Spectrum Theatre to a sold-out crowd of nearly 400. We became a 501c3 nonprofit and went on to create more shows in cities across our country. In 2015, volunteer producers joined our team to produce shows in Harrisburg, Boston, Iowa City, New York City and Los Angeles, along with a second annual show in Arlington. By 2016, we had doubled again, with volunteers again contributing their time and energy to create shows for their communities. 2016 we featured shows in Greenville SC, Valparaiso IN (Chicagoland), Denver (spring), Iowa City (year 2), Arlington (year 3), Denver (fall), Washington DC, and Baltimore.  

2017 has been a monumental year for This Is My Brave. Not only have we held more shows than ever before, by the end of this year, nearly 500 individuals will have shared their story on our stages. This year our dedicated volunteers and nonprofit partner organizations have held This Is My Brave shows in Los Angeles, Boise, Des Moines, Kansas City, Bentonville, Jacksonville, Cedar Rapids, Germantown MD (our first high school performance), Napa Valley, Valparaiso (year 2), Washington DC, and Sedona. We also created our first Women's Mental Health Summit through a grant from the hope & grace fund. PLUS, 2017 found us joining forces with Tim Daly in Australia, a passionate mental health activist who is leading our This Is My Brave Australia expansion efforts - he hosted our first international show in Canberra in May, and has produced a show in Perth in October. Also this fall we featured shows in Boston, Lewiston (Maine), Wheeling WV and our first ever comedy focused show in Los Angeles.

Coming to peace with my mental illness was one of the best things I got out of This Is My Brave. Other than respect for myself and from others, I also gained power over my mental illness; I no longer let it define who I was or how I lived my life.
— Gabbi S.
 
This Is My Brave’s mission to “be brave” through the sharing of personal stories gives a voice and a face to mental illness, thereby releasing the stigma that goes along with it.
— April P.
 
I just wanted to let you know that I got to watch most of “This is My Brave” yesterday, and I was absolutely blown away.  I laughed, I cried (both tears of joy that people were sharing, and also tears of sadness at some of the stories), and I thoroughly enjoyed.  Your hard work on this really paid off! Bravo!
— Emily G.
 
First being in the audience, then being in the cast, brought my daughter and my husband into a community of acceptance. Opening up and speaking about their struggles, and more importantly their successes, has been cathartic. The actual performance was just a first step. This Is My Brave has opened doors to have honest, open conversations with people they meet who might not otherwise felt safe sharing their story. It has opened doors for deep listening, heartfelt acceptance and great pride…and the building of community support for all who may suffer from a mental illness.
— Jenny L.
 
Just want to say thank you to all who have put this together. After suffering, pretty much in silence, with the mental illness of Bipolar disorder for nearly 30 of my 50 years,  it it so refreshing to see so many fighting the stigma of mental illness. You are making it a much more supportive environment to seek help for those who suffer. I fought the diagnosis, and help offered for so long because of how it was looked upon. I am glad that my daughter, and others like her are no longer as likely to avoid treatment, and help offered. You, and others like you, are making it so much better than it was. Thank you.
— Elyse B.
 
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Your tax-deductible donation directly empowers individuals living with mental illness and addiction issues to re-write their story, find their voice, and use creative expression to heal. With your support, we can use true, personal stories to educate, empower and change the conversation surrounding mental illness and addiction. You can be a part of our movement to celebrate bravery and storytelling by making a gift today.

You can also support This Is My Brave, Inc. each time you shop on Amazon, by using our Amazon Smile link --->>>>

 


We also LOVE good old fashioned snail mail.

To donate by mail, send a check to This Is My Brave:

21750 Red Rum Drive, Suite 102

Ashburn, VA 20147

This Is My Brave, Inc. is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. Our Tax ID # is: 20-8944419