Stigma & Mental Illness: Do you see what I see?

This is a post about firsts and lasts. This is the first time that I’ve publicly spoken about any of the struggles that my family has had with mental illness. And, hello, the internet is probably about as public as it gets.

It’s not that mental illness runs rampant in my family or anything, but it’s present now and it has been present for a long time. This is my last assignment for IST 646 and it showcases my uncle. When I was little, I remember thinking that he was WAY smart. As I got older, I started thinking he was a bit strange. Even so, he was kind. He did his best to remember birthdays and scrape together christmas presents. It wasn’t until he died when I was in high school that I really understood that he was struggling with mental illness. He was schizophrenic. I’d seen A Beautiful Mind. I remember thinking (and excuse my language), “that shit’s scary.” Then I learned that it was genetic- um, yeah, a little more scary. Since then, I’ve learned more about the illness. So sure, my odds of being schizophrenic are likely a little worse than yours but in reality, they are still pretty minuscule.

Many other members of my family have struggled with mental illness. As a family we’ve wrestled through depression, eating disorders, and ADHD, to name a few. And I know for a fact that pretty much everyone’s either faced some form of mental illness in their lives whether it was head on or it was them supporting someone else who was struggling. As you’ll learn in my video, one in five Canadians struggles with mental illness every year– you do the math.

It’s still a topic that is hard to talk about, and I’m sure there are many other ways I could have approached it. For now,  I’m darn tooting proud that I managed to pull this one off in the face of Murphy’s Law (where everything that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong). It’s not the story I had planned on originally, but it still gets the point across. I’m tired of the stigmas associated with mental illness, and even more importantly, I’m tired of them preventing people who are struggling with mental illness to lead the lives they deserve to. So, to all of my family and friends that I love and cherish, here’s my way of trying to inspire the world to see the person instead of the illness.

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4 responses to “Stigma & Mental Illness: Do you see what I see?

  1. Powerful! Your transitions were awesome and I really loved the writing. And I can relate. My uncle has bi-polar disorder. And his son had it as well and committed suicide from it. We were very close and I miss him every day. Thanks for choosing this topic. Great work!

  2. Danielle, this is an absolutely incredible project. I know exactly where you’re coming from. Both of my Dad’s brothers have a combination of paranoid schizophrenia and manic depressive, and one has a severe case of OCD. Your project was beautiful and it brought tears to my eyes. You should definitely be proud of all the hard work you’ve done, it’s really paid off.

  3. Beautifully executed, Danielle. Your writing and your message was powerful. I hope many people get to view this. Your voice was clear and strong, like the message. On the credits, I saw that you created all your own graphics using Paper for iPad. Very nice. Thanks for sharing this amazing story.

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