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  • Writer's pictureTara Pohlkotte

Continuation: Kathryn 'Voices of our Mental Health Community'

We've been sharing 'Motherhood' stories this week, and honoring Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing our community mental health stories - so I could think of no better way to tie those themes together than Kathryn's brave and honest story of her daughter's filicide and the aftermath of loving and learning through it all. Read on to hear from Kathryn her thoughts after telling her story publicly for the first time and listen to a live recording of her story.


Why did you decide to tell your mental health story?

To educate, to tell the truth, the whole awful scary truth.

To move beyond grief and shame and guilt.

To honor my daughter and pay homage to my grandson.

To shape social justice after criminal justice failed.

Was getting up in front of a packed audience scary, exciting . . . both?

Terrifying! This was due to the evening’s content and the first time

I ‘went public.’

How did you calm yourself?

I wrote and rewrote a complicated story, stretching point-of-view to be the most objective I could be. Then, I rehearsed and rehearsed. For two days prior to the evening, I became dizzy. Literally. Went to the chiropractor on the first day. Helped a little, adjusting C2, but the muscle tension in my neck tugged and pulled, and to walk, I used the wall, counter, desk, etc. as a crutch of sorts. Strange experience. Wasn’t sure I’d be able to walk to the stage.

But I summoned my little love Leo. And together, we did it.

Explain how you felt while you were telling your story.

Numb. An out-of-body experience. Afterward, when I saw the video, it stunned me, I could not believe it was me . . . that I stood there and spoke. I was surprised when I teared up—not at parts I thought I might.

And after you heard all the stories, how did you feel?

Affirmed. Welcomed.

What surprised you most about sharing your story?

I’m an inveterate performer and public speaker, but that night, looking out at a sea of tears with so many faces making eye contact with me, well, I had to force myself to keep going. It was a metaphysical experience.

Since you’ve told your story, what has changed?

A widening circle of friends and associates.

Since you’ve told your story, what has stayed the same?

My daughter is still in prison.

Has telling your story opened any new doors/possibilities for you?

It strengthened my resolve and resilience. It also provided determination to not be typecast by one story, one event. I am large, I contain multitudes, like Whitman wrote.

Would you tell your story again?

Yes. A thousand times, YES.

What advice would you give to someone else who is considering sharing their story?

a. Remember that stories have a beginning, middle, and end.

b. Stories can be comedic, dramatic, moving, shocking.

c. Be true to your own story: don’t force it to be something when it wants to be its own thing.

d. Read/listen to other stories to see what makes them effective.

e. Practice telling your story in five minutes—time it at home.

f. Celebrate your uniqueness; you have a story unlike anyone else.

What do you think telling your story matters?

Because the pressure on parents today creates havoc at many levels, including competition, abuse, abandonment, separation, isolation, divorce, and financial constraints that can cause someone to lose their mind.


You can listen to Kathryn's breathtaking and brave story HERE

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