Name: Rudy Caseres
City: Los Angeles, CA
Fav thing about your city: I never run out of meeting interesting characters
Tell us a fun fact about yourself! I used to perform in plays and musicals
What is your connection to mental illness?
I have bipolar disorder but have lived with depression and anxiety issues my entire life. I was bullied as a child because of my weight and almost always felt like I was failing in life. Performing in theatre in high school saved me because it allowed me to break out of my shell and express my creativity in a way that was productive. However, after a few years of trying to make it as an actor in LA I decided I needed a drastic change in my life. That change was joining the US Army when I was 21. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't the best fit for my fragile mental health and it led to a major breakdown and subsequent medical discharge. Although I struggled terribly for several years afterwards to find meaning in my life I'm thankful I'm at where I am at this moment. Sharing my story both online and in front of audiences has been the biggest reason. It's what helps me make the best of my situation.
What does your everyday look like?
My schedule fluctuates because I can give a presentation one day, or just lay in bed checking Facebook. I still struggle everyday so it's important for me take time off if I get overwhelmed. In addition, I occasionally travel across the country for various mental health events and conferences. Although travel can take a toll I've found it helps expand my social skills and break out of my comfort zone. Hardly a typical day any day!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I'd tell myself, “Start sharing your story right now. The more you share the less alone you will be.” I've connected with so many beautiful people who feel as deeply as myself and it wouldn't have happened if I had continued to bottle up my emotions. Once I stopped trying to be the most popular guy or the life of the party and actually surrounded myself around people who just get me it made all the difference in my outlook on life. Also, I would tell myself to do my homework!
Who is a Role Model to you?
Dr. Elyn Saks, without hesitation. She is a human rights activist and is most famous for her memoir The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. Although she still has her struggles she doesn't let that get in the way of achieving her life goals. She's one of the few people with lived experience who is actually fighting for my human rights. I've had the pleasure to meet her several times and I always walk away being more impressed. I really seek to emulate her passion and drive. She is a major reason I call myself a human rights activist.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sunday?
I used to take my car for long drives through scenic routes but lately I've been riding my bike instead. I'm not the biggest fan of exercise but I do feel good knowing that I'm taking care of myself as well as the environment. Taking a break halfway along the coast helps ease the discomfort. I also started doing more reading and writing because I insist on unplugging from the internet at least once a day. I'm surprised by how much I've been able to get done by doing so. Finally, I like to take myself out to brunch on the LA waterfront and take in the scenery. It's not for everyone but this is how I Self-Care Sunday.
Photos by Jersain Medina