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Like most people, for many years Yashi Brown was silent and secretive about having bipolar disorder. Coming to terms with her mental illness was complicated in and of itself, but when you’re from one of entertainment’s most prominent musical families, the Jacksons, the fear of being judged and having to hold it together can weigh on a person like a ton of bricks

“I know there’s somebody out there. I might be able to save somebody and give them hope who is about to kill themselves. I will definitely say something before that happens,” says Brown, who is the daughter of Rebbie Jackson, the eldest of the Jackson dynasty. “If I can save one individual it’s worth it, because I know what it’s like to get to the point where you don’t want to live anymore. I knew if I could find a way to beat this, I had to tell individuals like myself.”

“You get to see the journey of somebody that’s gone through a lot of pain, a lot of heartache but then laughter,” says Brown, who along with her mother travel the country raising awareness about mental illness. “Poetry helped me to release these emotions. I knew it was going to be a catalyst for me to be able to be healthy. Then I also write music. The creative outlets helped. I knew these would be ways to reach individuals and help others like myself.”

Brown also serves as a spokesperson for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Kristen Brooks Hope Center, and Project Return Peer Support Network, an organization ran by people with a mental illness for people with mental illness who have recovered and want to give back.

She encourages others who are dealing with mental illness to seek treatment. There is life after diagnosis.

“This is very humbling because I knew where I could possibly be if it wasn’t for my mother and family. People need to realize sometimes you can be a heart beat away from the individual that is on the street talking to himself. I want to reach the people who might have taken the path of self medicating through drugs or alcohol and maybe don’t want to. Give the medicines a try. There is a way through this. And I’m an advocate for that route.”