Transcript: Jada's Brave

[fade in “I Will”]


[“Can you hold me in your arms, will you cover up the scars, just comfort me once more, till I find my way upward..}


ANASTASIA: This is the stunning voice of today’s guest, Jada Bromberg.



[Fade up song]


[“I will break from here, I will cover up my fears”]


[Fade down]


ANASTASIA: It’s a song she wrote, called ‘I Will’


[Fade up]


[“I won’t hide away, it’s my chance for me to stay”]



[Fade down]


ANASTASIA: Music has been a part of Jada’s life for as long as she can remember.


JADA: I've been singing my entire life and I joined chorus when I was in fourth grade and I've been doing it ever since


ANASTASIA: As much as Jada embraced music growing up, it wasn’t always harmonious.


JADA: When I was really depressed, I would play piano and sing and I'd be like, wow, I just sound terrible. Um, and, and that just happened when I was, uh, feeling really depressed and I went and I would sing. I would feel like I had a terrible voice because just everything felt negative in that moment. And I stopped singing for months because I thought I wasn't good at it.


ANASTASIA: This negativity seeped into other parts of her life.


JADA: And that was just with a lot of things, I stopped hanging out with friends. I didn't really participate in anything…kind of just isolated myself and was in my room all the time. Just feeling sad.



ANASTASIA: And although music wasn’t lifting her spirits at that moment, Jada found it to be a powerful form of therapy. And as we will learn, music helped in her search for identity, something that’s still a bit of a mystery to her



[fade up for a beat,


JADA SINGS: I come from a line of black and white pictures and photographs…


song ends]


THEME


ANASTASIA: This is Our Turn to Talk. A place for young people to talk about mental health… and how we’re the generation to finally put our wellbeing first.


I’m Anastasia Vlasova. I’m 19, and a freshman at NYU.



THEME OUT


ANASTASIA: Jada Bromberg is 18-years-old and lives in Fairfax, Virginia. And, as she tells it, she grew up a happy, adventurous kid.


JADA: … I was always looking for something new to do. I would get so excited about like seeing friends and play dates and all that. And I love to dress up in costumes all year not just Halloween. Yeah, I was just very cheerful and energetic.


ANASTASIA: Do you have a specific memory that kind of encapsulates your whole personality as a kid?


JADA: Well, in my elementary school, we had a carnival every year and I remember doing a cakewalk and I baked, I baked something for it. Um, And I know every year I did the cakewalk, but I never won because it was really hard to win a cakewalk. And I remember one year I won and I was just super excited and I got to go up to the table and pick whatever dessert I wanted.


And it was just a very exciting, uh, event, I guess, because, you know, food. [laughs]


ANASTASIA: Ah, yes. Food. I also love baking, and, basically ALL desserts. But things started to change as Jada entered middle school.


JADA: … I was really excited to go into middle school. I was excited just to be in a different school and different environment than I was in before, but I got very unmotivated to do things. And so that changed over time…. I started to just get very, just very exhausted from anything….and I just lacked the motivation to do things, go out with friends, um, continue doing any extracurricular activities and stuff.


ANASTASIA: How did others around you react during that time? Did they also notice a difference?


JADA: I remember my mom saying that I was in my room a lot. …I just spent a lot of time in my room by myself. I'm not even sure what I did, but…both my parents kind of wanted to give me space because like, Oh, teen years. And that's what I thought. I was just like, I guess this is what it's like to be a teenager.


I just get bored of things. This is, this is life. Like you're excited as a kid. And as you grow up, it kind of just gets old is kind of what my mindset was at the time.


[beat]


ANASTASIA: Exhausted, unmotivated, bored and uninspired…. these are all normal things to feel sometimes – we all do. But when these feelings persist day after day, sometimes there’s something deeper happening. Jada finally saw a therapist, and understood what she was up against: depression and anxiety.


JADA: I didn't, I didn't know at first that I was experiencing things with my mental health. Um, but now that I look back, I can see that I was struggling for a few months before I started to realize that something was going on and, and go get help.


ANASTASIA: But Jada’s story is a bit more complicated.


JADA: …My parents are Caucasian and kind of just looking around, especially as I get older, when parents are at school…I just remember, last year I, I had this rehearsal for a show I was doing for chorus and I was kind of sitting in the hallway and parents were roaming around, you know, and there were a few people in my group and…their parents were there, uh, their mothers specifically. And I would look over and I would just be like, Oh my God, they look just like each other. And to me, I, I just felt like, wow, I don't have that.


ANASTASIA: Jada’s parents adopted her from China when she was a little over a year old.


Jada: I was told I was left under a tree in China.


ANASTASIA: And of course, she has questions.


Jada: The fact that I have to think about that, it's just, it's an adoption just as it is, like all the things that I think about that other people don't even have to begin to think about because they just are born with that.


ANASTASIA: Basic things, that many of us take for granted.


Jada: I don't know what time I was born. I, I believe that I was born on the birthday I was told, but you don't know for sure. And, and so I guess that's just upsetting sometimes, because it's just hard feeling like you don't have pretty much like your own rights of, of what you learn when you're a child.


Jada: I feel like a lot of different parts are missing just where I came from. The way I look. Where I get my traits from. And, and I guess it's just because I don't have the biological factors. I don’t have any like information…I started to question my identity, Which is when I started to want to know more about where I came from and who my birth parents are.


ANASTASIA: The fact that Jada was an orphan was no secret.

JADA: I always knew I was adopted, my parents told me since the moment they held me, it was nothing they wanted to keep from me. And I'm very glad for that.


ANASTASIA: But what wasn’t clear was how the questions around her identity were connected to her mental health struggles.


JADA: For the longest time I just thought like it had nothing to do with it. And, uh, so I'm connecting pieces now I'm realizing that there's definitely a lot of parts that do go together with that and, and just connect to early trauma that all adoptees have even if it's not conscious, but I think it's becoming conscious to me now


And I'm starting to realize it and like put those pieces together. I definitely have a lot of highs and lows with processing all this stuff that has to do with my adoption.


And yeah, there were times that I get really depressed or I just get very anxious. I mean, I'm anxious all the time, but, um, makes me more anxious, I guess.


[beat]


ANASTASIA: While she didn’t really know it was happening at first, Jada was beginning to unravel the early trauma that many adopted kids experience. That trauma can come from being separated from birth parents, and also from the events that caused them to be put up for adoption or put in the foster system. Oftentimes events that children can’t remember but are still part of them…. can cause behavioral and mental health problems.



ANASTASIA: So what prompted your decision to actually pursue this and trying to find more about your past, because i know you said you kind of had thoughts about it every now and then throughout the past few years, but why this year this spring did you decide to go through with it?


JADA: I started searching in the spring because that’s around when I started thinking about my adoption all together, I mean I always thought about it here and there but it wasn’t really on my mind because I always felt content with who I am am and my life and I felt like I didn't really think I need to know anything else.


ANASTASIA: I know you were saying that there was a lot of tears and it was a lot to handle, but do you think you could try to identify which emotions you were feeling?


JADA: I would say I mostly felt sad. As glad as I was to find out something new, my first thoughts had kind of like, why didn't I know this before? Like, why am I being told this now, rather than knowing this17 years ago? Um, so I guess that was, that's just the biggest thought that goes around overall it's just sad.


Getting information, even like little, little parts, like it just takes time to process all of it. And. And getting a lot at once will take even longer to process. So I just remember going through, all of the papers and kind of just reading, like what, what they were saying and trying to let that soak into my brain and thinking while I'm being told like little parts of my life right now

[beat]


ANASTASIA: So Jada might not have known how to cope with these emotions right away. But she did find coping mechanisms, like her incredible music, which you heard at the beginning of this episode.


JADA: When I was really struggling the hardest when I was 13, I sat down at my piano and I wrote a song about how I was feeling. I had looked up kind of a basic structure of songwriting, but I kind of just naturally like grew into doing it. And so, you know, the more and more I kept writing and creating songs, the better I was getting at it. And being able to pour my emotion out onto paper and then write chords. I've been playing piano since I was five. And so I accompany myself with just my voice and the piano. And the more that I kept writing, the deeper I got into writing about how I feel or different experiences I've had.



ANASTASIA: After a quick break, we’ll talk more about the healing power of music for mental health.



—---


BRAVE MIDROLL


Hi, Erin Gallagher from This Is My Brave again.


Whenever I meet young people who are sharing their stories, I feel even more empowered to do the work that I do.


If this inspires you, too, I want to tell you how you can get involved with us at This is My Brave.


Are you a college student? Our Brave Ambassador program is a student-led movement to create a safe space for yourself and your peers to talk about mental health and to break down barriers on your campus.


Are teens, if you’re feeling like this is your turn to talk, check out our website for opportunities to share your story… including how to participate in our next National Teen Show: Go to Thisismybrave.org for more information.



—----





MUSIC: DRUMS - from music therapy technique



JOANNE: (18:44) Since the beginning of time, various cultures have used drumming to release pain, to release anger. It's an appropriate, if you will, means of expressing anger and better yet, it can be placed or framed in a context where a therapist can join.


ANASTASIA: That’s Joanne Loewy, an associate professor and director of the Louis (Lou-ee) Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York


JOANNE: (12:28) Music is a part of how we express ourselves. When we speak there's tone, there's timbre, there's mood, there's expression of who we are.


ANASTASIA: Joanne’s team of music therapists help their patients cope with lots of mental health conditions… Depression, anxiety, and even other things like pain management, all through the power of playing music. Dr. Loewy specifically works with depression in people our age.


JOANNE: (14:00) In studies of neurology and music therapy, we're looking at depression. Yes, it is a diagnosis. And we're looking to see how music and music therapy can reduce anxiety and enhance communal mechanisms of shared experience that can grow teenagers’ self-esteem, which is critical… to function in adulthood. …

(13:17) And when I express those feelings in a nontypical way, not talking, but in singing in drumming where others can join, awareness increases, responsiveness increases, shared experience, brings meaningful associations.


JOANNE: (19:59)

So, what's different about music also is that songs can be metaphoric to something that's too private to share in words. That it's a critical component of music.


MUSIC IN: I’m Still Here (opening chords or instr passage)


VERSE JADA: [‘I wish that I could be someone that I recognize, it’s just so easy to believe I shouldn’t cry”]



ANASTASIA: We all have songs we sing along with. And, as listeners, we have our own understanding of what those words mean.


VERSE JADA: [Lying to myself, should probably get some help]


ANASTASIA: This is a song Jada wrote about something she’s had trouble sharing…outside of music.


ANASTASIA: She actually performed this song for the This is My Brave National Teen show last year.


VERSE JADA: [“My identity is lost in the fog, when it clears I’m still here. I’m still here.”]


[Fade down]


ANASTASIA: “My identity is lost in the fog, when it clears, I’m still here.” This is just one of the many songs Jada has written. In fact, songwriting has become a form of therapy, helping her work through the complexity of emotions and questions around her identity.

JADA: I kept all of my original songs in a notebook and I now have three notebooks full of original songs. And last year I decided to go to a studio and record some of them. And initially I was just going to record this song that was about like, you know, random nonsense.


I tried recording this song at the studio, but it just didn't feel right. So I started recording some of my deeper stuff and, and the ones that were really about my mental health journey and I created an album out of that - At the Edge. And, and so I have these eight songs in the album that are really meant to just, you know, let the listener hear what I have to say and even feel how I felt, {I”M STILL HERE OUT} because I would turn to songwriting when I was feeling the worst sometimes.


[START Coming At You Now]


JADA: I write about good times too. But for coping reasons, I wrote even during the toughest times, even sometimes when I didn't want to write, because I didn't have motivation, but I would channel all of that emotion into my songs. …Being able to share my story through the album has been really special because I kind of start the album off with like one place that I'm in, which is more of the darker place that I was in.


And then as you get through to the end of the album, the last song is “Coming At You Now.” And it's like coming out in my depression and, you know, tackling it and overcoming it. And so people who listen to my songs are able to hopefully resonate with some of what I'm saying.


VERSE JADA: [“I can’t keep hiding from you now, from you now, sparks fly don’t want to start a fire, I will take the punch but I’m coming at you now”]



ANASTASIA: What is the one thing that you want to know? Is it who your birth parents are, how you were left, or why maybe what is that one piece of information that you really are looking for?


JADA: I guess my end goal is to know who my birth parents are. To know who my birth mother is specifically, but I can say as my end goal, but at the same time, like it's like everything that you learn - and this is for a lot of adoptees

but it's almost like you always want more. So you find out a little piece of information, but that's not enough, like you want more. And even if you do find your birth parents, you may or may not, uh, feel fulfilled by that because there's just a whole other process to go with through with that.


[fade up Coming At You Now]


JADA: I think that my generation is teaching everyone that mental health is a problem, and that it’s something that needs to be focused on and not, not just in the back of people's minds, but in the front of people's minds. And that people need to be constantly aware of how they speak to other people or aware of their surroundings and how other people might feel on the inside.


You know, all of my experiences that were negative have, have really turned me into something positive. And so I want, I want people to be able to see my whole story and, and I just want to share with them, you know, my unique story and how everyone's mental health story is different and how the journey I'm on has helped me, you know, have a more positive outlook on life and help me learn more about myself and help the world.


[fade music up, then out]


JADA: When I think of myself as an adoptee, I feel like what I'm going through now is something I'm going to experience for the rest of my life, but it doesn't have to impact me as much as it has in the past or as much as it does now. But I, I do think I'm always going to be looking for more and I'm going to always have that part missing. And, I think that the most important thing is, is now I'm learning to accept that. And that's really what I'm working on currently is… acceptance.


[UP Coming At You Now]


Jada Sings: [“Please don’t stay away I won’t give in, no not to you”]


[song ends] Anastasia: Thank you all for tuning in to this episode of Our Turn to Talk. And thank you so much to Jada for sharing her story. You can check out her mental health advocacy on her instagram, @jadareese.

You can also listen to more of her beautiful music! Which is out on all streaming platforms.

Her entire performance for the This is My Brave National teen show, as well as the other incredible teens sharing their art, is on Youtube. Just search for This is My Brave National Teen show.

Next week, we hear from another Brave teen on her experience with depression after the sudden loss of her younger brother, and how performance and poetry helped her move through the grief.


Aliyah: No one is ever truly gone And I truly believe that no one is ever truly gone. And I just want that reminder every day that even though it seems like he’s not here, he’s still here.


[quick fade in credits music]



Anastasia: If you’re a young person, we’d love to hear from you. What’s your story? You can go to ourturntotalk.com to share.


Ok, so maybe you're not ready to share your story, but maybe you have a question for us. We will be answering your questions in an upcoming Our Turn to Talk episode. No filters, no shame here. Submit your question on our website ourturntotalk.com


Our Turn to Talk is a production of Principle Pictures. We believe in the power and impact of storytelling through podcasts and films to build empathy and inspire change. Season One is a partnership with This is My Brave, an organization using performing arts to fight the stigma around mental health challenges and addiction. I’ve been very proud to intern there for the past two years. A very special thanks to Executive Director Erin Gallagher and Program Manager Katie Grana. Check out This Is My Brave at thisismybrave.org.

This episode includes content courtesy of the WETA WellBeings Youth Mental Health Project. Learn more at WellBeings.org and join the conversation with #WellBeings.

This episode of Our Turn to Talk was produced and edited by Patrice Howard, Megan Botel and Mitch Hanley.

Beth Murphy and Jennifer Marshall are our Executive Producers. Additional support in the field and in the studio from Hannah McEachern, Ed Kashi and Ben Kolak.

Support for Our Turn to Talk is provided by The Hollister Confidence FUND, The Hershey Company, Rose-Marie van Otterloo and the Risa Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Washington.



I’m Anastasia Vlasova and I’m so excited to be on this journey with you. And don’t forget to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.