My Day at the Workshop

I promised you a series of short videos on my journey through mental health and so far I have yet to deliver. Be assured I have not abandoned this project; in fact I am still working on it and hope to have the next episode posted in a few weeks. As I told you all before technology and I are not the best of friends so there is a little (I really mean a lot) of work for me to do.

In this post however I will like to tell you all about one of the other projects I have been involved in over the last few weeks.

About two weeks ago I had the privilege of being invited up to the city to take part in a workshop for a new TV short movie. This particular movie was looking at the life of one man who had OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and how it affected his relationships, life style and his own behaviours. I don’t want to spoil it for you by giving too much away although I will say that the whole thing got me very excited.

The production team involved had invited me along with four other OCD suffers to come and share our experiences about the condition. We were joined by a small troop of actors who brought the characters to life while we guided them in getting the personalities of OCD right.

The idea of the event was to really get behind what the mental illness was so that the public opinion on the condition would shift from the typical stereotype (of checking doors, washing hands, always doing things in threes) to a more rounded representation on what life is really like. For those of you that have the condition you would agree that about 10% of it is what people see and the remainder is the internal, and constant, mental battle we face that exhausts us to no end.

We started off the day by getting to know each other. That may sound a bit cheesy but in fact it was a really emotional and eye opening experience. We all know that even though we may have similar life events or illnesses we all experience them in different ways. With mental illness there is never one exact form so for each person it changes shape to suit the individual. All five volunteers (OCD suffers) had a different story to tell about how their lives had been affected. At times it was all I could do to hold back tears or prevent myself from giving my fellows a big hug. I have to commend them for their bravery in speaking up to a room full of strangers about something so intimate.

After sharing we were then set in groups to act out scenes. This was interesting as we could really relate to the story being told which meant that guiding the actors was easy (especially as they were so responsive to our instructions). Watching another person almost become us while we acted as the voice inside their head was surreal.

I must thank everyone involved that day for the level of respect, understanding and empathy showed. This was not an easy topic to bring to life, especially if you have not experienced it yourself. As I understand the production team are now working on adjustments to the script based on the things they learnt from the event and will keep all the volunteers posted on how it develops. It is great to know that the media is looking to tell accurate stories on what real life is like for people with mental illness, bringing awareness and understanding rather than just creating inaccurate entertainment. The name of this film is ‘For Want of a Nail,’ so when you see it hit your TV screens make sure you give it a watch. I will of course give you all a heads up for when to look out for it.

In the meantime let’s keep talking about mental health and not stop until we really break free from all the stigmas attached.

P.s. The picture above includes the director (lady on the far left) and all the volunteers.

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