Mental Health Does Not Define Me!
This is a biopic of a student attending California State University San Marcos, Olivia DePaul who lives with mental health issues like stress and anxiety. This only a small part of her story, as she shares the importance of reaching out for help.
Content heads up: mention of depression and anxietyViewHide Film Transcript
FADE IN: A young woman is sitting on a couch speaking into the camera.
I’ve dealt with severe depression and anxiety for almost 6 years now.
And it all kind of started after my first year of college which was up in San Francisco.
CUT TO: Olivia narrating while there the camera focuses on a woman walking into a building.
I did deal with psychological and emotional abuse in my childhood, But it wasn’t until I left to kind of start my own life and I got out of that circumstance that all of these really unhealthy defense mechanisms just learned behaviours that were really maladaptive started to surface.
OLIVIA (ON THE COUCH)
So I came home, I came back to San Diego after my first year in San Francisco. And it literally all started as this little knot in the pit in my stomach And I didn’t know what it was, and it was a couple of days. And it still wasn’t going away, and in fact it was getting bigger and it felt like it was twisting. And I had no idea what was going on, I felt like it was maybe anxiety but I’d never experienced anything like that before.
That anxiety, that knot, led to this whole cascade of questions.
Why is this happening to me?
What is happening?
How long is this gonna last?
Is there something wrong with me?
CUT TO: Someone hiking and walking through a fence.
OLIVIA (ON COUCH)
And before I even had a chance to respond to those questions, Depression chimed right in, with all of the answers that I never wanted to hear.
‘Yes, you’re going to be dealing with this forever.’
‘There’s absolutely something wrong with you.’
‘There’s nothing you can do to deal with this.’
FADE TO: A white screen with an animated / drawn character lying on the floor in a white room.
And so in that weird way, my conditions – depression and anxiety Fed off each other in this terrible, terrible vicious cycle that was – felt like it would be never ending. It was so debilitating that I had to get help right away. It came on like a tidal wave and I was just drowning from the start.
OLIVIA (ON COUCH)
But if you meet with somebody and you don’t get the right feel, or they’re not approaching you in the that way you feel you need to be approached, feel free to try somebody else and kind of move around until you find that person that can work well with you. I’ve done that plenty myself.
Til I found somebody who I just felt like I connected with on a very personal level. For whatever reason I don’t even know if I can put my finger on it. When you’re going into therapy you’re kind of like looking for a handhold, something to reach out and grab on to. And just know that they will lead the discussion, that there’s a lot less pressure on you than you might expect.
CUT TO: Still photo of a woman in a therapy setting.
I did not have any resistance going therapy, like I mentioned before it was something that I had done before. I was familiar with it and at that point I was so desperate I knew I had to do something, like it was not a choice in the matter.
I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to go back to school because it had gotten to the point where literally all I could do was sit on the couch and cry and just hold myself. So in that way it kind of made my choice easy because there was no other choice.
And I think that just in general going to therapy has strengthened me as a person because it gives you an opportunity to put words to your experience.
And that can be something that’s really hard to do when you’re talking to a friend or anybody where you’re very aware of their perception of you.
With a therapist it’s this neutral third party that you can kind of just talk at, and then they take your words and they make sense of it and they give it back to you in a way that’s really helpful.
And that’s the same reason that I really like journaling, and that’s something that’s helped me a lot over the past 6 years.
Not only because you have a chance to think and put words to your experience but you also have a record of how far you’ve come. And sometimes you forget how bad things were and when you go back and you read a journal entry it’s like, ‘oh my gosh I was really feeling that way?’
And then you have a little bit of a better appreciation for where you are now.
Stigma is something that I am very aware of but I’m really fortunate in that I really haven’t dealt with it at all.
CUT TO: A woman standing on a cliff, looking down at waves, then walking through a forest.
OLIVIA (NARRATING, then on couch)
I had the opportunity to talk to students who had never really talked about their experiences before. And that was the one thing that always came up that people did not understand.
And I’m a pretty open person so I think that maybe that’s why I’ve dealt with it a little bit less. I don’t have an issue with talking about who I am, where I come from, what I struggle with.
CUT TO: Black and white filming of a tree lined street.
But especially in certain communities, like minority communities. That was one thing I was really not aware of, that the stigma can be a lot stronger.
OLIVIA (ON COUCH)
And also for certain genders, I know that for men it can be sometimes a lot worse than for women especially when it comes to going to therapy or attending talk therapy regularly.
CUT TO: A picture of a classroom with words on the screen.
OLIVIA (NARRATING, AND THEN ON COUCH)
We are not this group of ‘others.’ And I always kind of think of it when I’m sitting in a classroom, and I look around and I just think ‘oh my gosh, people are suffering everywhere around me.’ Struggling, and a lot of them are struggling in silence. You are more than what you are struggling with. Mental health does not define me.