In September 2018, I wrote an article called Circus Saved My Life–Until It Ruined It. This article was an incredible outlet to share my mental health journey and its connection to circus. It was both cathartic and hard to write, but when I published it, I got an overwhelming outpouring of support. One of the most moving yet scary things that happened after publishing the article was the tremendous amount of comments and private messages from circus artists (under the promise of anonymity) letting me know that they felt exactly the same as me, as in they either experienced sexual assault or abuse in the circus community, or that they were dealing with mental health issues that they felt were exacerbated by their circus community.
These messages helped me feel supported and like I was not alone, but they also helped me realize that these issues run rampant in the circus world and are often not spoken about. We need to address mental health topics that are unique to our community so that they don’t continue to stay hidden and eat away at the health of our circus artists and the strength of our industry. We need to increase research, to start and fund programs and organizations that advocate for and protect the circus artist so that our community is safer for all of us. We need to talk. Why Care? Going Beyond Social Circus The mental health of the circus performer informs the work they make. The mind tells the body what to do and the mental game is such an important part of performance and skill. So why then is mental health such a taboo topic in the circus community? Perhaps it is because the community is just a mi...
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