The Speech

“Successfully Mad: Accepting Yourself and Your Mental Illness”

Depression is the monster under our beds. For some of us, it’s been there our whole lives; for others, it showed up in our teen years or later. Either way, the monster hides in the daylight and comes out at night. We try to hide it. We try to keep it a secret, but our monster has a way of sneaking out, no matter how good life seems to be going.

It’s time we dragged our monsters into the light. It’s time we talked about mental illness with honesty, courage, and no shame.

“Successfully Mad” is a speech not from a medical expert but from me: a lifetime writer and artist who’s lived the nightmare and found a way to be happy, channeling illness into artistic expression. Learn how I’ve integrated physical fitness, therapy, laughter, and even horror movies in an effort to feed the monster under my bed. I can’t kill him, but I can keep him healthy.

It is possible to be sad and even scared while succeeding in life. It’s time to survive, thrive, and move beyond the labels that define us.

Learning outcomes

  • The audience will understand that depression is real.
  • The audience will laugh.
  • The audience will realize it’s not only okay to talk about mental illness issues, it is encouraged.
  • The audience will hear that cutting and suicide are not treatment options.
  • The audience will possibly walk away with some great horror movie suggestions and a sudden urge to watch Rocky Horror Picture Show.

About Sara

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, mental health speaker, LGBTQ advocate, and Ohio University grad. Although mental illness runs in her family, she was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of fourteen following her grandmother’s death. After a lengthy phase of black hair, black lipstick, self-abuse, cutting, and Rocky Horror Picture Show, she found the healing balm of creativity. She treats her illness through art, therapy, yoga, and healthy lifestyle choices when not writing romantic comedies, usually featuring fictional monsters.

Time frame

30 minutes – speech, including PowerPoint presentation

10-15 minute Q&A


“Sara Dobie Bauer speaks about mental health in a way that resonates with a campus community—student, staff, faculty; those who have known of their own diagnosis for years, those who are struggling, those who are thriving, those who seek to be allies. Dobie Bauer’s courage and vulnerability to share her story captivated the audience and not only created an evening of education, but also created an atmosphere where students felt liberated to share of their own experience with mental health and care for one another. Her lecture served as a catalyst within the campus community to continue creation of innovative and student-driven services for mental health and wellness.” – Rev. Chris McCreight, Chaplain of Hiram College

“I didn’t believe in depression until your speech.” – Attendee

“Our organization had the pleasure of having Sara Dobie Bauer speak in our speaker series several time, in both the Arizona women’s prison and at one of the juvenile facilities we serve. Our audiences loved her. She has a painful yet powerful story about her own mental health issues that she readily shares. Her willingness to be vulnerable and honest empowers the audience to realize, ‘If Sara can do it, maybe I can, too.’ If she was back in Arizona, we would be booking her all the time. She is brilliant, charming, very honest, and very talented. We have a large pool of speakers to invite to speak to these vulnerable populations, and Sara is always number one on our list.” – Sue Ellen Allen, founder of Reinventing ReEntry

“You’re a great inspiration of hope for recovery.” – Attendee

“I wanted you to know how wonderful your speech was. You showed us, in an entertaining format, that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of! You certainly do more than survive: you do thrive! I wish everyone could hear your presentation and hope more will be given the opportunity in the future.” – Attendee

Speaking experience:

  • Keynote speaker at University of Arizona’s Mental Health Awareness Week
  • Featured mental health awareness guest at Hiram College, Ohio
  • Motivational speaker / book club moderator at Perryville Prison in Phoenix, AZ
  • Motivational speaker at Mingus Mountain Academy in Prescott, AZ
  • Presenter at several libraries throughout Geauga County, Ohio
  • Panelist at several book conventions, including Imaginarium (Louisville, KY), ConFusion (Detroit, MI), Rust City Book Con (Detroit, MI), and Cleveland ConCoction (Cleveland, OH)

To book Sara, please visit the Contact page.