The music video is out! Hope in dark times. There are so many of us with mental health problems. We can support each other in this struggle.
WATCH THIS! [CW: depression, self harm]
Hope you like it. No shame in scars. I’m just glad they could be useful, turning the signs of self-destruction into creative vision.
This video was so fun to make, despite the serious subject matter. Massive respect to JD, Sire and Self Taught for making this song, and Evil Unicorn for the amazing video. Thank you for letting me be a part of something amazing.
DOWNLOAD THE EP HERE, NAME YOUR PRICE! Five excellent tracks, well worth it. All proceeds go towards setting up a youth group providing mental health support. Young peoples’ mental health treatment is horribly underfunded, and although the majority of mental illnesses begin during adolescence, 50% receive no treatment whatsoever. (I recommend you read this report, there are some shocking statistics in there.)
I was lucky to be seen by CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) as a teenager, which was about enough to keep me alive. I consider myself lucky even for that, because I know plenty of people whose teen years were blighted by undiagnosed or clinically neglected psychological issues. I wonder sometimes how my life would be different if I’d been diagnosed earlier. Maybe my young adulthood would have been a lot easier. Maybe I’d have a few less scars, and would never have been able to be in this video. Which is just one of many reasons that I don’t want to change the past. I’m thankful to be where I am right now. I just acknowledge that it is much more difficult, now I’m finally in treatment, to break habits and thought patterns that have been part of my being for over a decade. I don’t want any other kid to have to suffer so much.
No, not that kind of video. A music video for the song No Surrender, by Derby hip-hop artist JD.with Darren Graffman and Self Taught. Check out JD’s Bandcamp or Youtube for some hard hitting tunes . His lyrics are conscious and real, bringing higher ideals than the objectifying money-worship of too much music of all genres (not to mention the rest of our culture). This video has a point and a story, raising awareness about mental health, the pressures we face to hide our problems and put on a happy face to satisfy the world. You just don’t know who is wearing a mask to hide their suffering…
I got this gig after being recommended, because I fit the bill for the character. Sunday was my first shoot, ever. I’ve never done any acting before (or at least not since Year 9 drama) and definitely never on camera. The guys making the video are hella cool though. They are Evil Unicorn, and they know what they’re doing. The whole reason I agreed straight away to be in this video, was because I’d seen what they made for Simon aka …pr@xis? The Road Less Travelled is a fucking moving video, again with a serious message as well as a raw expression of grief. So I trust this crew to present mental illness and distress with dignity and avoid prurience or cliche.
Shooting a video is fun but hard work. I had no idea what was going to go off when we went to Ryan’s Bar in Derby. The precision of framing shots, the fact that for each shot you are confined to a really tiny space, the sheer work… and then each few-second scene being shot over and over from different angles, different styles, trying to get that perfect emotional gesture down perfectly. I can’t even comprehend the work of editing, especially considering that this video features 3 artists with their stories, as well as my storyline. I’m working with some insanely skilled people, just out of luck, and I am grateful, and so hyped for this video. Also I’m sorry (not very sorry) for spilling a pint over Brent. It was in the pursuit of art, OK? Hopefully it’ll end up in the final cut. Otherwise, I wasted a pint for nothing. (I didn’t even mean to do it. But hey, the camera was rolling.)
Bonus round: Look out for Chris in the video. You can’t see his face. He drove me there, and was a good extra, and sat around while we did multiple takes of everything, and didn’t complain at all. And it was Valentine’s Day. Don’t ever say I’m not a true romantic.
On Saturday we’ll be shooting the denouement, the final emotional crescendo and revelation. I gotta act. I can do that. Heck, I’m hyped for that. Working with a chill, friendly, creative group of people is amazing. I think I’d forgotten that, it’s been so long since I last collaborated with anyone, or even discussed creative work in any real sense. I realise now that’s something I need in my life, and I need to make a serious effort to do it more.
Watch this space: the video for No Surrender should be released at the end of March. It will probably be shown at Five Lamps, Derby. I’m already so excited to see it. Bit nervous; it’s always hard to see the end results of your work, and have it put out there for other folk to judge. But I got faith in this.
Til the release date, listen to some on Soundcloud.
I am pretty out and proud about the fact I have a mental illness diagnosis. The validity of that diagnosis, I could debate for days, but as things stand, I have Borderline and Depressive Personality Disorders. I also have hella social anxiety or you could call it Avoidant Personality Disorder, I don’t know. The whole diagnosis thing is fuzzy and vague and controversial.
What I do know though, is that I fucking struggle. I’m guessing/hoping that most people don’t have all the fucked up thought processes, bad habits, and maladaptive coping mechanisms I do. If you do though, props to you for making it this far while putting up with this bullshit.
I used to self harm. In my teen years, I made a good mess. It was the only way I could figure out to calm the overwhelming negative emotions that overtook me.
I stopped self harming. I had some therapy, but mostly I did it by myself. Because I found that starving was better.
When it came to the eating disorder, the therapy was more important. I had weekly appointments with a mental health nurse who seemed real cool. It seemed like she actually understood me. She was pretty young and generally nice. Though she told me the real disgusting truths about eating disorders. About the horrible results you can get from fucking with your body so hard. I thought I was doing OK, but one week I fucked up and lost too much weight. This nurse who I thought was my ally, threatened to send me to hospital, get me sectioned where ‘they could do what they wanted to me’, and I caved. I ate and ate and never looked back. I ate myself into an amazing bulimia. The cure was worse than the disease. But I quit that as well, with no help from anyone. Except maybe my mum. My mum is the unsung hero in all this bullshit.
I don’t cut or burn or poison myself anymore. I don’t starve or purge. I don’t attempt suicide.
I still think about this shit, but… I don’t do it. I just make myself not do it. Every single day for years I have thought about hurting myself and I haven’t done it. Suicidal thoughts haunt me against my will. The reason I can’t think clearly is probably because I am suffering decision fatigue after 90 times a day deciding to not die.
I know that people wonder why I haven’t done better with my life, why I haven’t achieved more. Well, sometimes just fighting myself for the right to stay alive is a full time job. I know nobody will pay me, but that’s the harsh truth. Mental illness has a real impact on my life, and it isn’t something that can be cured by exercise and healthy eating.
Believe me, I tried. Vodka works better. My official therapy starts at the beginning of next year, and a large part of it is teaching coping mechanisms that aren’t massively self destructive. I’ve written about it before, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, and I do have real hope that this will give me a real chance.
Until then, leave me the fuck alone.
(This post prompted by my dad deciding that we need to have a talk tomorrow about my ‘future career’ and my ‘habits and lifestyle’. My career is writing this blog, and my habits and lifestyle are ‘not committing suicide’. Is that not sufficient? Can I not even have peace until January?)