Telling Her Story

Everyone has a story. Experiences shape and change our lives. Olivia, at the age of 20, has told her story numerous times over the past few years but she wanted to share it through song and words at a place near and dear to her heart. Her story has been told through performances with The Same Sky Project and when she was a panelist at Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill .

Each of these had a format to follow and she wanted to tell her story her way. She has been working with a music therapist at a wonderful organization (A Place To Be) since 2014 and performed in numerous recitals and shows but wanted an individual recital. A date was selected and she worked towards the content of the show. She and her therapists decided to include words, music, and music improvisation. Originally, the recital was going to include one other young adult but unfortunately he was ill so Olivia was the sole performer. An Art Show was scheduled immediately following showcasing work by clients of A Place To Be.

Olivia answering audience questions following her show.

Mike and I sent out a few emails to family and friends who have been an important piece of Olivia’s recovery and the event was advertised on social media. As expected, Olivia was very nervous but thrilled when the day finally arrived. We were pleasantly surprised and relieved to see a packed room prior to the show. As we sat down to support her, I turned to Mike and told him my stomach was in knots and I felt as if I was getting up there. If I was feeling this way I couldn’t imagine what she felt. Whenever my children get on stage I have a nervous excitement running through my veins but this time it was magnified.

Olivia did not share anything about her recital with us. We didn’t know what songs or stories she would tell. This is typical for Olivia; she likes the element of surprise. As much as I love surprises there is also a bit of trepidation. My family knows I cry at almost anything sentimental. Anytime there is a dog in a commercial I will most likely tear up. I wasn’t sure I would be able to hold it together for her. I am tearing up thinking about it as I write this now.

She rocked it! The stories she told included laughter, tears, truth, and inspiration. She broke down at one point which took her by surprise but she regained her composure quickly. This unplanned show of emotion was felt throughout the room. I have been told there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I felt myself tear up numerous times but didn’t want to fall apart in front of her. Her expression of emotion in front of a group of people was a new experience for her. She usually holds all her emotions inside until they come tumbling out at home. This is not always a pretty scene. So the fact she was able to feel such strong emotions in public and not hide them was huge.


The impact of her show is still being felt almost a month later. A friend we invited wrote a beautiful piece on Facebook saying how inspired she was by Olivia’s show. She learned it is okay to share our stories especially those regarding mental illness. Olivia worried her story wouldn’t be positive or inspirational but I think she achieved every emotion on the scale.

My heart is still huge thinking how magnificent this moment was for her. One young man walked into the audience prior to her performance and I was surprised to see him in attendance. He and Olivia know each other but I didn’t think they were very close. He commented to another friend that he was there to support Olivia. My heart! This one comment meant more to me than I can ever articulate.

We are all here to support Olivia no matter what life brings her way.