Stigmaphrenia: a play about mental health stigma

_Chloe_'s picture

Stigmaphrenia poster | Time to ChangeMy mum and dad were diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia, respectively, in their early twenties, spending time in and out of psychiatric wards, which is where they met.

After they had had their second child, my younger sister, they were deemed ‘unsuitable and incapable’ of looking after two children under two-years-old by the courts and we were sent to live with our grandparents. As we grew up my sister and I were asked continuously by social workers to repeat to them the reason for our living in care: we had to explain that our parents had mental illnesses and as such could not look after us.

We saw our parents regularly, sometimes staying weekends, depending on their adherence to medication and their state of mind. We grew up believing it is scary to have ‘mental illnesses’, with no-one explaining (perhaps because they were not educated enough to) as to why dad sat talking to himself and why mum thought aliens were coming to take her to a better place.

I had depression myself in 2000. I know my abilities. I am both strong and insecure at the same time, but so too are other people un-diagnosed with mental health issues. I am not ill, I am capable, I am different: I am me and I am happy with that, depression and all.

I have seen the stigma surrounding mental health

My family’s history of mental health issues have had a strong influence on my own life and the decisions I have made. I have seen the surrounding stigma my parents have suffered as a result of been diagnosed mentally ill. My childhood confrontation with mental health stigma prompted me to learn why these mental differences exist and to what end.

Canterbury Christ Church Students Union Presents Stigmaphrenia | Time to ChangeStudying psychology and undertaking my own research, I have embarked on a campaign to re-consider the term mental health and have adopted the little-known term ‘neuro-diversity’. It is my hope that this will replace the negative connotations of mental illness and mental health, which both imply disorder and having something wrong with you. Upon starting my first year at university, the organisation Time to Change (who themselves campaign to end the stigma surrounding the neurologically diverse) appealed to universities, asking students to get more involved.

I began a project to put on a play

After considering smaller scale and lower-impacting ventures, I began a project to put on a play concerning the positive aspects of neuro-diversity. The idea was to look at the other side of mental illness, as there are plenty of plays, films, documentaries, books etc. depicting the stereotypical negative aspects of being mentally “different”. When each performance finishes the audience will be invited to have their say on the themes portrayed and to re-consider their own beliefs about the 1-in-4 people who will experience mental illness.

I want to put an end to defining a person exclusively according to their mental health. Neuro-diversity has produced some of the greatest minds of humanity: Dickens, Tolstoy, and Hemingway, to name a few. We should not continue to discriminate against neuro-diverse individuals.

Book tickets to see Stigmaphrenia

Stigmaphrenia is showing on the 1st and 2nd of Feb 2013 at 8pm (doors open at 7.40pm)

Tickets: £4 | Book tickets online or call 01227 782817

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Comments

GREAT IDEA

<p>i'd love to go see that, i hope you get a good audience, sounds like a good night out, take care.</p>

the play

Hello Chloe Well done on getting your story out there. I am looking forward to seeing your play on Saturday. Hope you get a good turn out so we can have a useful discussion after wards. Will be meeting you: look forward to that too All the best Belinda ( from CCCU)

Thank you so much for coming

Thank you so much for coming and thank you to your brother for his contribution to the discussion. I think we've started something with the play and hope that as a production we can continue this somehow....i'd like to hear from anyone who can help us do that. Thank you again, and I hope we've given you and your brother a little grain of something to build on, Chloe.x

Interested in the play and project

Hi Chloe, I just found your blog post after googling 'plays with mental health themes'. Its great to hear you put a play on exploring mental health and stigma, how did it go? I'm also a psychology student and have experience with mental illness, having been put in a psychiatric unit as a child. I've been thinking about writing a play based on some of my experiences and that world, to raise some awareness and look at the issues surrounding it. So am interested in finding out more about your play. Do you have a blog or facebook page for it? Would be great to get in touch with you and find out more. Thanks! Katharine

further contact

Hi Katherine, Thanks so much for your interest! We will be filming a version very soon, so the play will be available online. Until then there is a Facebook page you are welcome to add, just type stigmaphrenia into facebook and it's the one with the poster picture. You are also welcome to speak to me more directly on there. Thak you again, Chloe

Hi Chloe I really found your

Hi Chloe I really found your story touching. I have bipolar, ADHD and schizophrenia....I don't normally tell people because all but me person I know has called me a freak and didn't want to deal with me. my parents don't believe that it is a real problem, and that I am just making it p for attention. I found this site and it has helped to know what I'm not the only one with these problems. keep going strong Chloe, and I know you will help and inspire others

Thank you

I'm sorry that you haven't had good experiences when telling people about your neuro-diversity. I would like to think that you just need to find the right people to surround yourself with, so that you can be proud that you have an amazing brain that thinks differently to some. If life has taught me anything it is that you are not alone. There are many wonderful people who have diverse minds and who have done amazing things with their lives, I would suggest you find a good group in your local area who embrace people with diverse minds, my small production helped a few people look at their labels more positively: there's every reason why you should too. Thank you for your comment and I hope you come to love your own diversity, Chloe

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