Snap out of it!' is a production, premiering in Cambridge this March, that tackles the ideas and stereotypes that have attached themselves to mental health issues. It will almost wholly be constructed from the words and thoughts of real people who have had personal experience of mental illness.
There are so many ideas at the moment about what ‘mental illness’ means, the restrictions it does and doesn’t place on a person’s life, if and how it should be ‘treated’ and just how many people it effects. The misconceptions and contradictions that you hear on almost a daily basis caught our attention.
So we met up in a cafe one morning and, what was initially meant to be a quick chat, turned into a whole day of talking, (drinking lots of coffee!) and brainstorming ideas. We decided that we wanted to create a piece that was not just about people who have experienced mental health issues, but is written in their own words so that their voice can be heard.
We both believe strongly in the power of telling a story
We both believe strongly in the power of telling a story. With mental health issues, so many people don’t feel able to talk about their experiences because they’re worried that they won’t be taken seriously or people won’t understand. Obviously that’s not true of everyone, but we think it is a part of the stigma of talking about mental health.
The attitude often seems to be that, by talking about your experiences, you’re drawing unnecessary attention to yourself and you’re making other people feel uncomfortable. It gets to the point where people will drop their voice when they say ‘depression’. There’s a reluctance to even vocalise it. We feel it’s vitally important that these silence barriers are broken down, that people are given a platform to talk about their OCD, their eating disorder, their manic depression and that they can do so in a way that is true to their individual experience.
We want to recognise the complexities, contradictions and disagreements
We are not trying to create ‘the definitive guide to mental health’. This isn’t about tying everything up in a nice little bundle and presenting it to the audience. We want to recognise the complexities, contradictions, confusions and disagreements that exist, as well as the intricacies, similarities and moments of harmony with other people.
We have already had a diverse range of responses - the most interesting moment for us have been when two people have faced similar situations and yet had completely different experiences. It reminds us that each person has their own story to tell and their own way to articulate it. We have even had some responses that suggest that you can and should ‘Snap Out Of It’ and we are interested to hear as many viewpoints as possible.
Get in touch if you'd like to have your voice heard
If you too, would like to have your opinions and voice heard and have input in to this project then please get in contact. We would be really grateful for any more responses or comments:
- what you too feel about how mental health issues are presented
- your reaction to the phrase ‘Snap Out Of It!’
- any personal or second hand accounts that you are willing to share.
All your responses will be kept completely anonymous (unless you prefer otherwise) but do also email us with questions and comments or if you would like to know more about the project.
Our e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can share you story through an anonymous survey.