There was a time where I was so scared to say anything that my mouth just simply wouldn’t move. My lips wouldn’t separate, my teeth would clench, and my jaw would stay firmly in place.
I was traumatized.
But that day is not today. Today, I finally released a project that I have been working on for years where I do the exact opposite the entire time. This project was a huge component in my healing and it finally came together when I was ready.
#MentalHealth is more than a hashtag.
#MentalHealth symbolizes the very frequent trend to use the hashtag in an attempt to appear “woke”. A lot falls under the umbrella of #MentalHealth, and that includes the archaic, abusive, and tortuous mental healthcare system.
Institutionalization and confinement is disruptive and often exceptionally inhumane. Clear manipulation tactics (including dehumanization) are used in facilities that are supposed to be about healing… They are not.
When I began this documentary process I was not sure as to what direction the film was going to go in, but as with most art and media, I had faith in the creative process. I had faith that I would find the words to tell my story and then figure out which part of my story was most important to be told first through video format. Audiovisual art is a very strong storytelling medium, and while I love sharing stories through writing, music, and painting… I also take pride in being a strong public speaker.
There were many things I could have said, and many directions I could have taken this documentary in, but I decided to make the film that I did because this is the film that was on my heart to make.
It took so much out of me to be able to put this together. Just the process of even re-watching all the footage, and facing my trauma, demons and life experiences head-on was an emotionally arduous process but with growth benefits that far outweigh the emotional labor.
I had to troubleshoot for over 48 hours just to export a strong enough copy of the film, which included many calls to Apple, tutorials and articles read, and a lot of talking to God.
I never anticipated myself becoming a filmmaker, but after creating this film, I feel comfortable adding that label to my resume.
#Mental Health: A Documentary is a truncated version of my experiences with mental health in general. Now that I know that I am capable of creating a project of this nature, I know that I am capable of so much more.
I feel a certain responsibility to speak on mental health but specifically about psychiatric facilities because of the abusive nature of what is going on inside. The truth is that before I saw the inside of a psychiatric hospital I had no idea that you could literally lose all of your rights based on zero evidence within the healthcare system. All it took in my case was a false claim that I was a danger to myself and my life would be changed forever.
Tonight I watched the documentary from start to finish after uploading it to YouTube and it was as if I was watching it with fresh eyes. (Or as fresh eyes as the star, director, camerawoman, editor, and music director possibly can have.) But, I experienced the ebbs and flows of the documentary and I felt the energy that my story exuded.
I saw a lot of beauty and pain.
I am unwilling to compromise myself for any individual on this planet. I fought for my freedom, but who would I be if I didn’t also fight for the freedom of those who are still confined?
Now that I know what I do about the mental healthcare system I can’t unknow it. And the bottom line is, part of my purpose is making sure that you can’t unknow it either.
Of all of my projects that I have put out in a long time I am particularly proud of this one. In fact, I am particularly proud of me.
And, it was only fitting that I release this documentary on March 19, 2022 to represent Article 19, my favorite right from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to freedom of expression.
Watch #MentalHealth: A Documentary today and share the film with anyone you believe it can help.
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