Going Round In Circles

This post isn’t about my progress with the film project- it’s a personal post; a reflection with how I’m feeling; but it still links, I guess, because it’s the main inspiration for the film.

The film is based on my on-going battle with Depression and Anxiety. The film’s antagonist; Alison is a metaphor for the manipulative way that the mind can trap you, and prevent you from going forwards.

So anyway- going back to my reflection:

I’m not okay. I’ve been up and down. Mostly down, but occasionally up. And the rare instances that I’ve felt happy have been hijacked by the negative thoughts which warn me not to get too happy, or I’ll crash and burn. (Like I’ve done many times).

Lately, I’ve been quite progressive: I’ve been doing all of the self-care things I’m supposed to like meeting up with my mentor on a weekly basis, going to the gym, and eating healthily. I’ve been proactive- I interned for a month, and I’ve been in and out of the edit suite, trying to piece together the film.

I quickly scribbled a poster in large font titled ‘How to Manage the Highs and Lows’: I made this when I felt stable, as a reminder that I’m going to feel low again, really low like I do right now- and the purpose of it is to give me some basic, easy things to do when I feel at breaking point. But I’m looking at it right now- it says things like “Don’t overthink, but when I do- I can CHOOSE how I react; I choose to focus on something else”. It’s so much easier said than done. When I look at the poster now, the words are meaningless, they are empty.

When I feel like this, the warning signs are there: unwashed dishes piling up, basic hygiene practices are thrown out the window, and I’m physically and mentally exhausted, but my brain won’t switch off and I know I’ll have trouble falling asleep.

Everything right now seems pointless. University. The graduation film. My career goals. My personal goals. Something tells me that I’ll make it through, but right now I can’t be positive, even if I tried with all my might.

This is the reality of this horrible, chronic illness. Yes, it’s an illness. There’s a taboo around calling it that- but that is what it is. If I could help it, I would not be this way. You know, sometimes I am stable, and I try and hold onto that as much as possible. But sometimes there are triggers- this overwhelming sadness and numbness feels random, but I know it’s triggered by reminders of the past. And there was a trigger this morning, where I knew that it would hit me really hard, and well…now it’s hit me. I am drained, tired, and feel really, really numb and low.

That’s all I can say. It will get better. Well I hope so.

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Constant Mood Monitering

Recovery for Depression and Anxiety is continuous. For me, I need to stay busy, so that I don’t start over thinking and over analysing.

It’s hard to tell which thoughts and feelings are based on reality, or whether I’m just over reacting.

I have to keep checking on my mood, and it’s incredibly monotonous.

When I’m sad, like really sad, then I’m often lethargic so I won’t have the energy to keep track of my mood. But that’s usually the onset for a low point. When I’m at the lowest of lows, I won’t do anything. Everything will be pointless.

On the contrary, when I’m happy, I still have to check my mood. Because I can’t trust myself. I’m inconsistent. So if I’m happy, I just think “what’s the catch?”. So I have to catch myself before I fall.

Interactive Video Planning

Today, me Diana and Dominika met up to discuss the planning of our interactive video idea. We came up with a couple of ideas around creating an awareness around High-Functioning Depression. The first idea, which we thought of a couple of months ago would be the player taking part in Andie’s monotonous routine- from her perspective. The player would begin in Andie’s workplace, and then there would be external or internal triggers which would enable the player to direct the story. Eventually the final video which the player would eventually reach to would be Andie hesitating whether to purchase a ticket to Southend. If the player selects the option of going to Southend, then the player would be directed to a trailer of our film. But we’ve still yet to decide what the outcome would be if we decide not to purchase the ticket.

Moreover, the idea I came up with was inspired by a session I had with my counsellor yesterday regarding coping strategies for my anxiety and depression. The counsellor introduced mindfulness to me. We were on the topic of harmful thoughts, and she told me to imagine myself as if I was at a bus stop and I was watching buses go past. Each bus that went passed would be a thought I might have (like how buses have adverts on the side, but instead it would be a thought such as ‘You are worthless’). She said that I can choose to acknowledge the thought by getting on the bus, thus drawing myself into a negative spiral where my thoughts become more vicious…OR I choose to let the thought, or in this case the bus, to go passed. Sometimes there will be thoughts that I have to face, such as ‘I’m overwhelmed by work’, and in which case I could step on the bus, and deal with that thought head-on, but in a constructive way, or again, I could stay at the bus stop and acknowledge that the thoughts I’m having are just that- they’re thoughts, and by waiting at the bus stop I can buy myself some thinking time to calm down.

So, with this in mind, I thought of a simple idea for an interactive video which would be uncomplicated in terms of structure, and is more about the message, than creating an overcomplicated user experience. So the interactive video will be what I just described, and there will be a tendency to keep going back to the bus stop, which shows the monotonous cycle of depression, and the provocation to become more panicked.

Below is the sketched idea which I’m still working on:

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TV Research

For this project I wanted to be mindful of Mental illness portrayal on TV, which meant being sensitive so as not to portray Depression as the horror movie trope. My research shows that on the whole there is a a wide ranging spectrum of depressed characters on TV. I watched a wide range of shows from dark comedies, to more serious dramas where mental illness is the main focus. I wanted to consider the fact that many people that are afflicted with illness will be watching, so I wanted to show how you can cope and live with depression, rather than making it something that can cripple you for life. But I also wanted to point out that depression is not a joke, it’s something to be taken very seriously and does in fact impact your whole life. I wanted to get the balance right. I also wanted to portray it those who don’t have it, and illustrate it in a way that people might understand what it feels like to have it.