Interviewer: I want you to tell me about your video piece, and in specific I want to give the viewers an idea of what they are going to see and what the central theme is.
Jeff : My piece it’s about teens and just the stigma that’s put on them, and I kinda focus in on why there’s that stigma and through all the people I’ve talked to that knows something about mental illness it just all seems to come down to like a lack of knowledge about about mental illness and about where it comes from, and what causes it and all the different factors.
Why did you choose this specific topic?
I just kinda landed on it, I didn’t really just pick a topic and go, I just kinda it just kinda became as it went on and people talked. So I just based, based my my pieces structure around what the interviews were saying
I had thought maybe it was something you encountered personally
No, it was just out of the blue.
So, tell me a little bit about that then, were you surprised about that, or did it not surprise you.
It didn’t really surprise me that much, I just I was actually kind of worried that nothing would really come out of it and it would just kind of be a waste, but then it turned into something right towards the end. It made me happy at least to an extent.
What did you learn then about, about the whole thing about stigma?
Well, I’d known a lot about stigma, it’s just a massive misunderstanding, sorta is why there’s the stigma and I, I don’t know, it effects everybody with a mental illness in someway, whether their aware of it or not, even even people with mental illnesses hold a huge stigma towards other types of mental illness, which really frustrates me. But, there’s not a lot you can do.
Well do you think your piece may help a little bit with that?
I hope at least it atleast touches, changes someone, makes them open their eyes.
You talk with people, it seemed like sometimes you were talking sometimes with friends and you were at school, can you talk a little bit about how that, why you did that, why you decided to do that, and how it plays into this whole thing about stigma, the stigmatization of mental illness?
Well, it’s really just a there were people at school so it wasn’t like planned that oh I’m gonna have these kids at school talk about this, it was just they were around and I was trying to find people, and so they were willing to do it, ya know because every kids likes to be on camera. And but I guess school is probably one of the, for me, it’s one of the worst things having a mental illness and having to go to school because kids are just so ruthless, an and ya know it frustrates me, but then I just look at it and say, well they’ll grow up maybe one day and realize that they were narrow minded about it, and I mean we’re all narrow minded about things, so just one of the things that frustrates me about school and the kids.
So um, if you were, if this video is shown at a school, what would be the main thing that you would want your viewers to walk away with?
An acceptance of those who are mentally ill because…what was the question again? What I’d want the viewers to walk away with is just like an acceptance of those who are mentally ill, because they’re no really no different that any other person with any other sort of disease or disorder that they’re coping with in their lives.
So about you personally you talk about it in your piece, but briefly, can you talk about some of the challenges that you had and how they relate to the film.
Well, some of the challenges are the stigma, that’s a big thing, I ya know I deal with it even it’s an every day battle, ya learn to deal with it in different ways. My, I just ignore it pretty much and figure, oh well, they’re probably, ya know I’d hope that they’d change, but the people who are usually the most put the most stigma on you are are the people who are probably aren’t going to change I’ve noticed, and so it’s frustrating and it’s still a day to day battle, there’s always something, somebody not liking me because I’m not stable here ya know they’d and really it just comes down to either not knowing me or no knowing anything about the illness.
For a brief background for the interview, talk a little bit about what your main challenge was then as far as mental illness.
My main challenge was just depression and a lot of social stuff, I had a lot of like social anxiety problems that there were certain I, I used to not be able to get out of my comfort zone and be around new people very easily and that’s changed, but it that was a big thing that I struggled with, but now it’s just the depression, and just the long bouts of sadness and hopelessness, but ya just have to tell yourself there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it and there always is, there never hasn’t been and there never hasn’t been a problem that’s been worked through in time, patience is another thing, ya learn a lot of patience. It just doesn’t fix its self over night so.
Why did you decide that it was important for you to do the project, because I know in doing a project like this you are putting yourself on the line, so I’m wondering why you decided it was important for you to do a piece like this.
The main reason I guess for me doing the piece is just to give back to NAMI because they helped me so much through my first bout when I was hospitalized and everything at school, I don’t think if it were for NAMI and the hope for tomorrow program that I’d still be kicking around. I think I would have been gone a while back, but just they educated people at my school and my x-girlfriend, like listened to it, and it really effected everything, and so I guess I just have this sense that I have to give back to them because they helped me, even though they weren’t aware they helped me, but that the program it really did work for me, and I’m sure it has worked for others.
Would you just like to explain for the viewers what NAMI and the Hope for Tomorrow is?
Well, NAMI is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and it’s an organization that’s they’re nonprofit, and they try, their like the voice of mental health in the in the country and and they just teach and they are there for they have help lines and they’re just there for the people who are mentally ill as well as trying to just get the word out in the community and stopping stigma, they’re huge on that. And then hope for tomorrow is a program that was started in Utah, I can’t remember how long, I don’t know how long ago, but it’s, it’s in the schools, and it’s just a program that they go in and they educate kids about different topics that are relevant to mental illness, like eating disorders is one, and substance abuse and then depression is another.
You mentioned you felt like that you wouldn’t been around today if they hadn’t helped you, what message would you then return want to give to other teens who suffer from mental illness and maybe contemplating suicide themselves?
Contemplating suicides a difficult issue, ya know cuz you can look at it from either side, you can look at it from the never being there in those shoes and looking at it as a selfish way out, or you can look at it in the person who’s in the suicide shoes and contemplating and that’s a very hard place to be and nobody ever likes being there but either, either side I really think it’s just hope, ya know you just gotta view it with a ounce of hope, that it will be okay, and it will it just its time, time is of the essence when you’re sad and depressed and suicidal, and ya just need to stick it out, even though it’s hard it’s just stick it out and be patient.
So what were some of the ways that you used to cope?
I wouldn’t cope so I just got worse, and then after all my treatment the things I do to cope are art, I do a lot of art, and just the mountains being outside, I love to be outside, those are the two big things, and and animals, animals help a lot. We have dogs, reptiles are my favorite though.
So where are you in your life now and what do you see for your future?
People ask me what I see for my future all the time, and I realy have no idea, I want to go to college ya know, I don’t know if I want to jump right into that right after highschool, or if I want to take a few months off and just relax and travel, I really want to travel, and I don’t really know what I want to do in school yet after high school because I don’t know, it’s just kinda comp, I haven’t really sat down and thought about it, I really don’t like planning ahead so I kinda do a lot of things on a whim.
What about the advocacy you’ve been doing? Because you’ve been speaking out, and helping NAMI out.
Yeah, that that’s just something I going back I just feel I need to do to give back to them ya know they help so many people and I think a lot of people just kinda brush it off or take it for granted what they’re really doing, so I don’t want to be one of those people.
Just to get a little more specific in your piece you have what I think is a really compelling part that talks about what is your disease, would you want to say anything about that?
I don’t really know what you want me to say, it’s just kids saying what their disease is, and I guess the point I’m trying to get across is that it’s all a disease, no matter what issue mentally or physically you’re struggling with it’s a disease whether it’s cancer, or it’s schizophrenia, they’re they’re both I guess you could say they’re just both diseases and they deserve the same amount of respect and research even though it’s not out there. There’s much needed research in all the areas.
You don’t really talk about your family, do you want to say anything about your family? Because I know your parents were in the piece.
Yeah my parents are in the piece cuz I guess I just kinda use them because they were there and they were willing to do it so and and I guess they gave a perspective of being a parent of a youth who having to go through all the treatment and all the stresses of parent I can’t even imagine what it’d be like when you your kid is thinking about killing himself, I mean it’s one thing for him to get hurt in like a car accident, but when it’s him wanting to hurt himself, that and then them having no previous knowledge of really mental illness at all, that I guess I really respect them for keeping semi level head through it all.
Is there anything else you want to add?
No not really, I guess just just be open to a lot of things and keep a place in your heart for everyone, ya know they all, everybody has their story and their struggle so I just think that everybody needs to be accepted for who they are, so just pretty much acceptance for what people are, that’s about it.