My experience taking part in BBC Three's Diaries of a Broken Mind

People taking part in Diaries of a Broken MindIn 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.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?

Share your views with us on Twitter and follow the debate on #DiariesOfABrokenMind

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Comments

Thank you!!!

I'm currently watching this on TV. I think you are all so seriously brave and fantastic for doing this documentary film!!! You will be helping so many people who have a mental health need and the level of honesty you are all sharing will help to support a real raising of awareness and understanding. What a huge contribution to society!!!!! Thank you!!!!!! : )

BBC3's 'Diary of a broken mind'

Rebecca- I wanted to say how incredibly brave you all are- I am 30 and I was only diagnosed with Bipolar Type 2 last year. It pretty much wrecked my life until then, because mental health disorders were not as recognised back when I was a teenager- It is because of people like you that the stigma is FINALLY lifting and people are FINALLY being diagnosed earlier and getting the treatment they need..................well done xx

Thank you!!

Thank you so much for sharing!!

Feel more at ease

Thank you for sharing your experience on the program. I watched it with my partner and i felt more at ease after watching it knowing i am not the only person out there who suffers. I have wanted people to know for a long time what life is like for me as i have had people telling me to "get over it and get a job" have even been called a benefit scrounger for being unable to work due to my depression, anxiety and acrophobia. I even have separation anxiety from my daughter who is 4 years old and some days it it very difficult to have her out of my sight. So again THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! and i may even start up my own blog about being a mummy who is going through it and how it can affect children xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wonderful courage from all of you

Socierty owes you all a huge congratulations for your bravery and honesty in helping "normalise" mental health, and people who suffer mental health challenges. With commissioning and production of ideas and programmed like this, we will all learn a lot more about what it is to have mental health challenges, and how sufferers and their nearest and dearest can help themselves and one another. Many many thanks. You are all champions in my eyes.

Amazing!!

To be perfectly honest I didn't no what a "mental illness" was and what was involved with one until watching this the other day at work. you are all very very brave sharing your illness with the world. this will hopefully encourage others to seek help and get the medication they need after watching this. I found the program really interesting, in fact I watched it twice. :) the program as also encouraged myself to seek medical advice, as I think I may have a eating disorder, skipping meals and frightened to eat- that sort of thing. totally incredible people! xx

Hope

As someone who was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression, earlier in the year I have found a sense of comfort in watching some of these programmes. I find it hard to talk about what I have been experiencing and this gave me an opportunity to see that I am not alone in this whirlwind of depression. I felt ashamed and embarrased, particularly that I needed medication to help me get by. But it was clear from watching some of these people that this is a common thing and that I am not weird and crazy and there are actually other people experiencing the same things that I am. I felt inspired, and still do. And I am working up the courage to ask my dr refer me again to CBT, because this time I might go. Thank you x

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