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“I must fight in the open.”

What does this mean to you?


This past year has been a whirlwind for me.  I’ve toured Gutless & Grateful to eight different state in the last six months, and have been able to reach everyone from theatre critics, college students, ostomy patients, and survivors of sexual abuse.

I couldn’t be happy to end up (for now) this June in Alexandria, where I’ll be presenting Gutless & Grateful MHA’s 2016 Annual Conference: Media, Messaging and Mental Health.


This year, the conference will take an in-depth look at the impact and influence of media and the entertainment industry on the complex issues of mental health and mental illness.

2016 Conference Banner for Web - Internal Page

Fighting In The Open

The question they are asking presenters this year, is how we fight in the open?


I fight in the open to claim my voice, speak my truth, and allow myself to move forward with nothing to regret or redo, and everything to look forward to in the future.

What is Mental Health America?

Mental Health America is the country’s leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives.

Clifford Beers, who established MHA in 1909, said “I must fight in the open” to respond to those critics who suggested he start his consumer movement anonymously. Over 100 years later, his legacy still guides the way as MHA strives to eliminate the stigma related to mental health, provide the advocacy to ensure the rights of people with mental conditions are protected, and  needed services are available to everyone.


How I express myself through art

So why do you fight?

I fight to tell my story.  What good is it to keep things in?

For years, the energy created by shame, anger, hurt and confusion was locked up in my throat.  It took years to be able to speak my truth aloud.  But once I did, I was finally able to heal.

me in studio

Through telling stories, we restructure and create our lives.  We can find control where there is none.  We can speak emotions that we’ve sensed intuitively, but cannot bring to light without the power of words.

I turned my detour into the best trip ever.

I fight because I refuse to wait for “life” to happen.  I make it happen.

Why I don’t wait for things to happen now

wedding dress
“Waiting” has been a big theme in my life.  Waiting to be discharged from the hospital, waiting to be able to eat and drink again, waiting until I was “healthy” enough – if I had listened to the voices that told me to “wait until I was healthy,” I would still be waiting at home in bed.
What I realized in time, was that you can’t “wait” to live.  You have to start now – just start where you’re at, fake it till you make it, and with a little dedication, you will.

I’ve learned that you can’t “wait” for things to be perfect.  I thought the day I was first discharged from the ICU in August 2005 life would be perfect again.  But I was still covered in bags and adhesives, hooked up to IVs, and could barely walk.

My parents thought I was crazy when I asked them to drive me to a local theatre’s open call for the musical Oliver!  My face was sickly yellow, I was thin as a rail, and I still wasn’t’ able to eat or drink.  But I sang from my gutless gut, somehow I ended up with the lead, and coming back to what I loved – performing – brought me closer to myself.  I felt alive by acting like it.


There is a difference between “waiting” and “patience.”  I think that patience is a trait of understanding, that you need to keep close to your heart in order to ground and center you.  Patience is the quiet, compassionate knowledge that time moves no matter what, and as long as you keep moving forward, life will too – even if it doesn’t move in the exact way you’d like it to.

In my head, “waiting” means “stalling” – it’s taking a “time out” from life and deciding to “jump back in” when things are how you’d “like” them to be.


Do you wait for life to happen?

How do you feel “patience” differs from “waiting”?

It’s a tricky question – how much do we have the power to change and initiate ourselves, and how do we know when it’s the right time to take a back seat, be patient, and “allow” things to happen?

 Coming out of my coma in 2005, my biggest fear was that I’d spend the rest of my life “waiting.”

How do you fight in the open?

(Be sure to tweet me @amyoes or comment here.)

I will not wait to be out in the open.

I”m putting myself out there NOW.  And I couldn’t be happier to be putting myself out there performing Gutless & Grateful at al heMental Health America on June 8th!


You can also follow the Mental Health America Conference on Twitter (@mentalhealtham) with the hashtags#fightintheopen and #MHAconf16.

  In 140 characters or less…How do YOU fight in the open?

See you at the conference…


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