Today’s Brave & Bright Spotlight star wrote me a few weeks ago to share her story, and I thought it was one filled with a straight on sense of bravery, honesty, and an excellent vision for the future. As the conversation around mental illness increases, these personal stories of life with a mental illness are so important – to increase awareness, understanding and compassion. You are not alone. Meet Jacqueline R. Hunsicker.
My father was in and out of mental hospitals during my early childhood, checking himself out as he pleased until he committed suicide on August 18, 1993. I had so much misinformation about hospitals and what they actually did, partially because of Dad, partially because of being forced in a class to watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest during my first depressive episode in college, that checking myself in was amazingly brave. Lots of it didn’t really appeal to me at first, like group therapy, but when I decided to get down to work for real, it was gratifying to see how happy the staff was for me. My most recent act of bravery was to tell everyone I know that I have mental illness, which is a big step given the taboo nature of the thing. (By the way, I’m flourishing at the moment.)
While you were going through your moment of bravery, when were you afraid?
I was terrified each time there was a new moment of diagnosis or decision. My thought is that it’s hard to commit to things so often in our society, but once we do, it is much easier to do the work that needs to be done.
How did you overcome that fear?
I overcame my fear because I had anti-inspiration: I did not want to end up like my father. This isn’t to say I don’t love the man dearly and wish he were still with us, but his solution was disastrous for me and my already troubled family.
Who has been your inspiration to be brave?
Music has always helped. My advice is to pick whatever inspires you, calms you, centers you, or makes you your best self, and just listen on repeat before you go to sleep. I did this for years, and it worked like gangbusters. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Hoiliday,” the theme music the actor Jack Black composes is an example of this (go see the movie!): have your own theme music, and when it stops working, pick something new. Write me with questions on this.
What’s next for you? (Please use this spot to tell us about what you have going on right now, including but not limited to personal projects, exciting career breakthroughs, etc)
My first real adult goal was to get my PhD in political philosophy, which I did in 2012. I decided not to continue in the academic world of “publish or perish,” so I am now trying to use my rather impressive skills in teaching and learning to become an educational professional of another kind. My goal right now is to get out of the Houston heat and into the glory of Portland, where my wonderful, caring, understanding boyfriend is up for a job. Fingers crossed! I will also keep writing on my blog, and hopefully in other places, about mental illness from an insider’s perspective. I love finding new venues.
Our Saturday Series, the Brave & Bright Spotlight, was created to highlight the stories of universe denting women who are changing the world and their lives by facing adversity head on, with bravery and vulnerability and truth. Want to nominate yourself, or someone you know, for the Brave & Bright Spotlight? Click here and tell us your story!
I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.
When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.
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