Jacob Short Interview
Interviewer : Tell me about your piece, what is it about?
Jake : I’ve done my piece about mental awareness and stigma and the importance of family involvement.
And why did you choose that topic?
Um, it’s very important, or the topic is very important because there is so much stigma around mental illness, if you have mental illness, your known as crazy you should be locked up, and that case isn’t true. So I kinda wanted to get that message out there and just for family to be involved, it’s very important for the family to be involved with it.
You chose to shoot a lot of that in the church, would you explain to the viewers cuz when you go into the piece you don’t say we’re in a church, would you explain that and then why you decided to do that?
Uh, the reason I had it in a church for one is I was able to get Dr. Ferre and Vicki and King Hawes and one of the church leaders is a psychiatrist at Valley Mental Health, so and then we also had some suicides in our church area so the reason I had it at the church is for one to explain to those people what mental illness is and why some one would um commit suicide um and it was more of a setting where you know these people so you can talk freely and openly about it more than you would with just like a general public because they are your friends and neighbors and so they they wouldn’t like judge you as much as someone that didn’t know you. Um, and I also had to do it for I also had to do it foran Eagle Project, so I thought that would be a good idea to do it, and the church setting was the closest building that was free that I could use to do it.
So do you, I’m just curious though, because it is in a church setting, do you think that religion can play a role, or does it play a role?
Religion plays a huge role, it played a big role in my my life. Ya know, it doesn’t really matter what religion you are as long as you have a higher being or whatever than you that you could pray to it’s a very important to know that you have someone that might understand what your going through because at the time you know, I thought that I was the only one with bi-polar in the world so, to know that there was some one else that could probably understand what your going through and it’s just someone ya know everybody needs someone to pray to, ya know you want someone higher being and immortal person that you can communicate with in some way.
And then you mentioned your family, and it comes across in your piece that families are really important to you. Can you tell me in your perspective then what kind of a role can family play to either help or hinder a person that’s going through a bad time?
Well family is very important because they’re very close to you, um I know I can understand that there’s some people that don’t really have families and that’s why it’s important to have really really good friends that you can always communicate openly with, someone that you can hug, that’s what the family is very important because you feel so alone when your going through mental illness periods, that you need someone to cling to and the family is your closest person that you have to be able to cling to and they can hold you and try to help you in any way they can so family is very important, like ya know some people don’t have family or if their not open with their family about it, that’s one of the causes of mental illness of committing suicide, because they’re not open and they don’t have the friendship, because people the stigma that people say if I’m open with someone and tell them about it they’re not gonna be friends with me, or my families gonna leave me. In some cases that could be true, more with friends than family, but it’s definitely worth a try to have a family or some one really close to you to have to be able to hold on to. Because with out it your just alone, more alone than you would be if you had family.
So tell me just briefly about your history of mental illness, because I don’t ya know, I know your mom narrates and explains a lot in the beginning but just to kind of set up your piece just briefly about it, and some of the challenges that you faced because of it.
Um, I first started noticing that I had mental illness was first grade, it was kinda weird because it was one day I went to school and I was sitting in the back of class and I couldn’t see the board, my eye site went bad the same day that I started feeling mental illness coming on, so I started to freak out more than normal and have really bad anxiety, I would start moving my chair and I’d raise my hand, and if the teacher wasn’t calling me real quick I would get really upset and I tell myself I mean this isn’t like before, before I could just sit there and wait for the future, but now I can’t, and so that’s kinda when I started to notice, it started getting really bad when I was about 8, that’s when I started to talk about death, and um other things like that, and that’s when we started to see doctors, and I was diagnosed with a whole bunch of stuff, social phobias, attention deficit, hyperactive disorder, I mean everything, and ya know, I started getting on medications that weren’t that I was being treated for each individual thing and the medicines would not work together and they would drive me up the wall and even more. And then I overdosed a couple times, um I tried drowning myself, cutting myself, until my mom decided I she got me into Wasatch Canyons at Primary Children’s out patient center, and that’s where I met Dr. Ferre and he diagnosed me as Bi-Polar, got me off all my old medicines and started me on and started treating me with Bi-Polar and that’s what I had because I started to get better and then it wasn’t easy right after that, once I got out I went back to middle school and it was all the way til my junior year of high school that I didn’t have have any problems, like I didn’t have to see the school psychiatrist, I didn’t have to I didn’t call home, I didn’t come home, so junior year was probably the starting of the best.
So in talking about the fact that you went through wanting to commit suicide yourself, is there a way you could explain or a perspective that you have about why kids want to do that, what are they feeling inside?
Ya know, sometimes now, like in school teachers are telling parents to put kids on ritalin because they’re hyper-active, and that’s not necessary because, just because they’re hyper, it could be because they are just young kids and they just needed to be disciplined a little bit, putting people on medicine is not the best idea, no one ya know I had to have medicine because I had a chemical imbalance, some people are just life trauma situations that they just need therapy, but the kids in elementary school they don’t, they just need some discipline, maybe some therapy, more ways to calm themselves down, unless it is a chemical imbalance they don’t need medicine, and that’s one of the big things going on right now, is too many kids are putting on ritalin, and ritalin was one of the pills that didn’t work for me, so I think just when you see other kids suffering from mental illness, I can relate to them some people see them as whoa this kids psycho out of control, the parents are bad parents, my parents are the greatest parents in the world and it wasn’t it wasn’t their fault at all, besides I tell them it is their fault because it’s in the jeans and they made me so it isn’t their fault, but otherwise, it wasn’t their fault, it wasn’t bad parenting or anything, they had 7 kids that turned out great until my sister after me, after I was diagnosed, she got bi-polar, but she was more of the manic out going getting into trouble kind of way, but it’s not necessarily bad parenting, so when I see other kids going through the same problems or committing suicide I can just, I feel terrible for them and their family because I know what it’s like, I’ve never gone all the way, but I’ve come very very close to have to go get my ya know get my stomach pumped and I was very close to death and so I can understand their feelings and um that’s why I’m involved with NAMI, to try to reduce the stigma because people don’t talk about it and that’s not okay because not talking about is just making people commit suicide, and teen, the reason the risk is so high for 15 to 20 or whatever committing suicide is they don’t want to tell their friends. They tell their friends, their friends are gonna leave them and if their friends do leave them then their not friends their just people that use you for some reason, ya know my sister had that, she had friends that she thought were friends, but they used her for drugs and all that other kind of stuff. Um, so ya have to be open about it, it’s more common than you think, it’s like 1 in every 4, I don’t know if that’s correct, but I have a lot of information that I forgot to bring, but it’s more common even in adults and in children, that finally people are starting to come out and talk about it. And the more people talk about it it reduces the stigma.
What would you say to those kids out there that are really having a hard time and maybe even contemplating suicide?
To talk to their parents, oh um, Kids that are thinking about committing suicide they need to talk to their parents, talk to ya know kids that are in school so then you talk to a school psychologist, or um, I know pediatricians are getting more aware of it now, but my pediatrician he was great but he uh ya know back then since there was so much stigma he didn’t know much about it, but now you might be able just to talk to the doctor and he can send you to um a psychiatrist or whatever, recommend you to some places to get help. Communication and talking, and some people are just doing it because they’re sad not because they’re chemically imbalanced, so they just need somebody to talk to. I had a friend that just told me that he started suffering from depression and I know that mental illness runs in his family so I’m very glad that he came out and told me about it. He’s ya know I’m not sure, I talked to him, ya know I’m not sure that he might of needed medication that he’s on, but maybe he to try talking to psychiatrist and stuff and so ya know it’s really all around, everybody has some kind of ya know the work force that America lives in is always trying to do better and their overloading themselves and that’s causing natural anxiety, but sometimes that natural anxiety that you can get when you get so much anxiety you could push it into a chemical imbalance, I know that’s happened for a few people. That are totally fine, ya know the soldiers go to Iraq they were perfect before and then they go to war and they come back and they’ve gone crazy, ya know just stuff like that is natural, ya know things that they see can cause them to do it, but also it can cause you to have a chemical imbalance, it could trigger that that um ya what do you call it, the gene that your family could carry that it doesn’t just happen like mine did, it could to cause to come out by stress.
What then would be your main message that you would want to get out to the viewers that will see your piece?
To talk about problems even if they’re the people um The main thing that I want people to learn from this is to talk about their feelings, ya know a lot of people bottle it up inside until they explode, even natural anxiety, if you don’t have a chemical imbalance, or you don’t go to ward if you just feel stressed at work, come home and talk about it with your family, tell them your feelings and communicate ya know at the dinner table explain how your day was, I know that’s how they used to do it in old movies and how America used to be, but now it’s you have to hide everything because it’ll be a sign of weakness and it’s not. I think the weakness is not being able to be brave enough to share it.
So I know that you’re working to speak out about mental illness, tell me a little bit about that and why you think it’s important.
Speaking out on mental illness because I’ve, I’ve overcome that barrier that I wasn’t aloud to speak in front of people because I was too scared, I had too much anxiety, we all know that everybody is scared to get up in front of people but the can do it sometimes, like if you put me in front of a podium I would probably knock it over, run away, be ya know make it kinda a worse situation. What was the question again? Speaking out on mental illness is very important to me because I want to help people that have are going or have gone through situations such as mine, or my sisters is, it’s very ya know people feel alone and this way they can know that there are other people out there that have it, and just for the general public to understand mental illness because it used to be ya know they’d be locked up in a mental institution when we could they could when they could be treated for less money than they are detained for the rest of their life. Just to help them and their family just to help people understand mental illness and explain it to them a little bit ya know the brain is still very unpredictable that from what we know it just needs to be talked about.
Jake, where are you in your life right now and what do you see in your future?
Um, I’m hoping, in the future I am hoping to continue to talk about mental illness and work with NAMI, and I’m hoping to go into this field because I can I feel comfortable about it. And maybe do some more public speaking on mental illness and ya know I was thinking about going to college, but I don’t think that’s the best idea right now because that could push me overload, but um, I’m just working to get a job, hopefully at NAMI, and just to keep doing what I’m doing.
I’m going to back track just one second, and I wonder about what were some of your coping mechanisms when you were having a hard time, I wonder if that would help others maybe to talk about if you talked about some of your coping mechanisms.
Um, coping mechanisms that I liked is ya know deep breaths, relaxations uh I had a psychiatrist in middle school she was she was awesome. She um I don’t know she had a lot of Buddhist stuff, so it was like very relaxing stuff, she would have little scents and soft music and she would tell you relaxations about your body, ya know relax your arms, and certainly like that, um that worked really well for me after I was on my medication, before, it was well it’s not gonna work because as soon as I get up it’s back to normal life, but to be able to relax enough to tell myself okay, your building up the courage to get moving, so um I think like Yoga and meditation a whole bunch of stuff like that um ya know a lot of people like exercise and that’s proven to help so um exercise and those are among some of the most basic things that we know about that I did to um help calm myself down enough to get myself prepared to start again.