In January of this year I was sent an e-mail about a groundbreaking documentary for BBC Three, exploring young people's experiences of living with a mental health disorder.
Did I want to be put forward, the e-mail said. I stared long and hard at the description, wondering whether this would be the right thing to do.
Could I go on television and talk about my agoraphobia, anxiety and depression?
Could I go on television and talk about my agoraphobia, anxiety and depression? What if it was edited to make me look silly? How would I cope with people talking about what they had seen of me on TV? What would my boyfriend think, and my friends and family? I typed in 'Go for it' and hit reply.
Within an hour I was on the phone to Sarah from Firecracker Films, who wanted to ask me a couple of questions about my mental health disorder, and why I wanted to take part. It didn't feel like an interview, it felt like a chat with a friend who I had known for years.
I was told to use my phone's camera to answer some questions
She instantly put me at ease and I knew this was the right thing to do. I was told to use my phone's camera to answer some interview questions that they would send me, to possibly be included in the programme. I never thought in a million years that my answers would impress or excite, but Sarah called me back practically as soon as I sent the interview over. “Please do some more filming for us, we'd love to see the rest of your story.”
I was given the support of the whole production team (Emily, Sam and Sarah), as well as a psychologist named Howie, who is a star! He made sure I knew what I was getting myself into and gave me some tips to protect myself whilst the show was aired. I felt good and I instantly started filming whenever and wherever I could. All of my friends, family and my boyfriend, Jake, were really supportive. They offered to help me film, even during my worst moments.
I turned the camera into my own personal therapy sessions
I turned the camera into my own personal therapy sessions, picking it up whenever I felt extremely low or even when I was happy about something that had happened. It felt good to talk to someone, even though there technically wasn't anyone watching (yet).
The videos were sent to Firecracker Films on memory sticks or via the internet, whenever I had built up enough filming to send over. It was about 3 months in total before I had some tough times at home and decided that I would have to take a break from filming. The team were extremely understanding and assured me that I had done a great job. Sam and Emily came over around a month after that, to show me the film.
Everyones' stories were different, yet similar at the same time
From practically the first scene I felt tears welling up in my eyes. All of these men and women were the same as me, talking about their experiences and trying to help break down the stigmas of mental health. Everyones' stories were completely different, yet similar at the same time. We had all suffered, we were all trying to do something about it and we all wanted to get the word out that it is 'okay to talk'.
The adverts started airing last Wednesday (10th July) and then it began to sink in what I was doing. I was going to be on national television, talking about my problems and being seen at my worst. Suddenly, I got a friend request from another one of the participants on Facebook, then another and another. We formed our own little community, where we could talk about our worries and our excitement. Jessica, Kiera-Rose, Abby, Sophie, Tilly and myself. I asked some of them what they thought about filming the programme and was pleased to know that we all had the same thoughts.
I did wonder if I was doing the right thing
“At several points, I did wonder if I was doing the right thing by letting the world see my personal life - but I knew I had to - spreading the awareness of this disorder and of mental health was so important to me.” Jessica, told me. I felt the same, this was so important. What we were doing was important!
“It's scary putting myself and my story out there, the real me in probably my most vulnerable state, but I want people to understand what it's REALLY like to suffer with the illness.” said Tilly. I was glad that we were all in it for the same reason. We all knew that now is the time to talk.
I'm so glad that we had this opportunity
I'm so glad that we had this opportunity to film our lives and to talk about our mental health disorders, and that I got the opportunity to become friends with some of the other contributors who are all beautiful, inside and out. I hope that people will watch the programme and get something from it; whether that be hope, understanding or something even more. I hope that more people will take this as an opportunity to stand up and talk about mental health, without being afraid.
You can catch Diaries of a Broken Mind Wednesday 17th July, 9pm on BBC 3. We hope this helps you, as much as it as helped us.