I should’ve been writing about this from the get go when I found out New Year’s Day that I will be part of In Full Color 2017. It’s a Women of Color production where the actresses perform monologues and poetry. Last year, my first monologue ever “Aswang Presidente” was printed in their anthology. From tonight at 8 til Sunday afternoon, I will be performing for four days with such a talented cast at Transmission in Jersey City, NJ. And now here I am nearly a year later, anxiously awaiting to perform for the first time a memorized monologue.
“Psychotic Break” is on my mental illness and the stigma. The director and founder Summer Hortillosa asked me to submit again and I obliged.
I didn’t think I’d actually get in though lol. But I did knew that this new monologue is a lot better than last year’s. More focused and streamlined. More raw and honest. A lot more human in some ways. It’s been so cathartic to perform it. My voice sometimes cracks or I even cry at certain parts. I never thought it would hit me hard, but it has, every single fucking time since three rehearsals ago.
I began with wanting to get it over it, half-ass memorizing it, and just rote recitation. And now I feel like I’ve been really performing it. I am telling a story with my voice and my gestures. I’m word painting. I never thought I could grow so much in such a short amount of time. But I am.
And it’s terrifying. For one thing, I think performing has been more cathartic and even more fulfilling than writing. And writing is my passion and what I hope to do for the rest of my life and as a career. That blew my mind. I never expected to believe that. But it’s so satisfying and thrilling and intimate and just wow to be onstage. I really enjoy it. I don’t know if I’ll ever act beyond this but part of me really wants to. Maybe this is another passion I should follow? I’ve wanted to try new things, and maybe this will take me even further into myself.
I’m a totally different person when I perform. I’m even more vulnerable and open than usual. I’m loud. I’m fierce and bold and strong. Strangers have told me how strong I look and how beautiful as well. It’s very strange to believe them but I do.
This monologue tells my story of the past decade. A decade where I’ve lived with mental illness, though actually, I’ve lived with it for much longer. It’s just when I was 19 when I started to having psychoses.
I’m so anxious that I’ll mess up, but Summer has been telling me that I get better with every rehearsal. I just hope I do even better tonight.
My immediate family will be there and that makes me nervous. I reference them, but I want them to be there because is the work I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be a mental health advocate and sharing my story with the public is how I start. It’s not enough just to blog about it. If I really want to break the stigma, I need to tell my story aloud to strangers. They need to see that they can get through it. I made a lot of good connections, heart to heart ones, when I shared my story. It was so nice to know that I’m alone. I really appreciate when people open their hearts to me like that.
The Uber driver from last night was right, people appreciate it when people are open with them. But I will take it further and share the story with those in a crowded room. If there’s one thing I want them to take away from my performance, it’s that they can recover and that they shouldn’t ignore their pain. People don’t get help sometimes cuz they’re scared to reach out and be vulnerable. To admit that something is wrong, that they need to be fixed. No one wants to be seen as weak or weak-willed.
But let me tell you that I never felt stronger than when I knew that my family and friends were there right behind me every fucking step of the way. To know that they still love me and still care about me and would listen to me no matter what was going on helped me so much. I know that I’m lucky to have such a strong support system and there are those that don’t have that blessing. But I don’t want people to think they deserve isolation, to wither away, to never feel a true connection.
I know there are those who have had psychoses, severe depression, and other symptoms that I have. I put myself out there like this so people know that they aren’t alone. Never alone. I don’t believe for one second that my experiences are that unique. It’s kind of depressing to think that someone had delusions just like mine, but my God, when I found out there was a word for what I have, what I was going through. I just trembled and was so ecstatic to know that there’s a definition and there was enough people out there where we shared a name.
Like I belonged.
There’s a community out there waiting for you.
I swear it