Collected Layers Blog Editor


When was the first time you heard the term 'mental illness?'

 I couldn’t tell you exactly when I first heard the term "mental illness” or became familiar with the concept, though I grew up harboring plenty of the usual misconceptions. But I’d identify one particular lesson in my eighth grade health class, taught by Ms. Reichel, as the beginning of my proper understanding of what mental illness actually is, and that it shouldn’t be demonized or treated with disgust or flippancy.  

Describe a time a medical diagnosis changed your perspective on a situation.

 As a teenager, learning that other people also suffered from depression and had been diagnosed as such did wonders to make me feel less alone. One particular instance, back in my junior year of high school, of learning a new friend was dealing with similar pains that I was also helped me to realize how valuable the activity of talking about our feelings and sharing our stories really is.  

If you could replace the term 'mental illness' with another word or set of words, what would it be?

 I don’t know that I have much of a personal problem with the term “mental illness,” as I think the identification of our struggles as legitimate mental diseases goes a long way in helping to assuage the blame that so many of us feel over them and how they make us feel.  

Who is John Kelly to you?

 I’m a newer inductee to the Foundation, and as such am still learning new things about John Kelly every day. That he was a vibrant enough presence in the lives of so many of our founding parties makes me eager to hear everything I can about him, his goals, and his personal highs and lows.  

What projects have you worked on at the Foundation?

 I’m grateful to have been enlisted as an editor for Collected Layers, where I’m working with contributors to broadcast the kinds of personal stories that so many people out there would really benefit to hear.  

All-time favorite breakfast?

 I don’t like food of any kind and eagerly await the day when we can derive all the nutrients we need from flavorless compact capsules.  

Describe a daily struggle you haven't found a good solution to.

 My anxiety gets the best of me when I need to make decisions, clouding my judgment and stirring up insecurity at points when poise and clarity of thought would be most valuable.  

What are you listening to right now?

 The answer to that is usually the Bye Bye Birdie soundtrack, Joanna Newsom, or 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” on loop.  

What's your dream for the mental health movement?

 I probably have the same grand aspirations as anyone else—the dissolution of prevalent stigmas that hurt people with mental illness, and greater funding and availability of mental health resources for those who need them—but more than anything else, I wish that as many people as who need to hear can be assured that they are not alone.  

Who's your hero?

 I worry that labels like “hero” turn people into concepts and estrange them from their humanity. Recognizing the propensity for any of us to make mistakes, fail, and make bad decisions, and recognizing that we’re allowed to do so, is an important part of cultivating empathy. (That said, big Kristen Stewart fan.)  

Any hidden talents?

 I once did a very good Bobcat Goldthwait impression. I am afraid to try it again.  

Best tools we have to bridge the knowledge gap between those who suffer from a mental health disorder and those who don't?

 Human stories. Just because you haven’t personally experienced mental illness doesn’t mean you’re a stranger to pain and fear altogether, and I believe that the greater broadcast of personal human stories is the best way to undermine the widespread misunderstanding of what mental illness is.  

What would you tell someone struggling right now looking at this page?

 I don't expect you to believe me that things will definitely get better, or that you deserve and have the ability to overcome what you're going through. But I would ask you to believe in the simple, conceptual possibility that you don't have to feel this way, and that you're allowed to feel better than this. It may not sound like much, but it's so much more than nothing.