Inside a house in Culver City, there’s a rehearsal taking place that puts mental health front and center.

“You’re uncomfortable and you can’t leave because everyone is looking at you,” said Reba Buhr, performing a monologue.

What You Need To Know

  • "This Is My Brave" started in 2014 and has produced over 80 shows throughout the U.S. and Australia, featuring over 1,000 performers

  • They all share their own stories of struggling with mental health conditions

  • The local show will take place on September 25 @ 2pm on the Broad Stage in Santa Monica

  • Tickets are $15-$20

She started getting panic attacks in college and used her talents as a local voice actress to share her story about an episode she had once while working a marathon at Disneyland.

“I know now that I’ve always dealt with anxiety but didn’t realize that’s what I was dealing with. I thought that was just normal life until I was finally diagnosed,” Buhr said.

She is one of 10 performers who will take part in “This Is My Brave,” a show at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica looking to help erase the stigma surrounding mental health.

“If you tell somebody that you have diabetes or you have asthma, it pulls compassion. If you tell somebody that you’re suffering from a mental health condition, like you’re sad or you’re depressed or you’re anxious, you get skepticism,” said John Tsilimparis, a local psychotherapist and one of the show’s producers.

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness.

“Everybody’s fighting a battle that you don’t see. You can’t assume you know what a person’s been through just by looking at them,” Buhr said.

She knows plenty of people are uncomfortable openly discussing their personal struggles, which is why she feels those who don’t mind, like her, have an important role to play.

“If you relate to that, it can make you feel like I thought I was the only one dealing with that and that it is some of the most important medicine when it comes to mental health,” Buhr said.

As a licensed clinical social worker, Amanda Eldabh isn’t as comfortable in the spotlight, but through her performance poetry, she warns about the dangers of labeling people.

“This piece in particular would come at me in my dreams and I would have to wake up in the middle of the night and write it down,” she said. “Regardless of what [people] want to say, if you’re high functioning/low functioning, that doesn’t take away from your own experiences.”

One message the producers hope to communicate is that it’s okay not to be okay, and that storytelling can be a powerful tool in raising awareness.

“It’s much easier to prevent a mental health crisis than it is to repair one and that kind of pre-emptive strike, that kind of pre-emptive awareness saves lives,” Tsilimparis said.

As for Buhr, she still gets panic attacks, but she’s learned how to manage them.

“They are still uncomfortable and they are still embarrassing, but they don’t run my life anymore,” she said.

And no matter the medium, these performers hope to inspire audience members to bravely tell their own stories.

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