me-and-clark

Stigma Fighters : Dan Evans

As many of you surely know, being visitors of this webpage, fighting the stigma of mental illness is the top priority of both Stigma Fighters, and of a little video I directed and produced on YouTube titled “It’s Real”.

The founder of Stigma Fighters, Sarah Fader, approached me on writing a piece for you guys on my experiences with mental illness as well as talk about the video. As you can probably guess, I agreed to do so.

I suffered through some very debilitating depression and anxiety through the later half of high school and through most all my freshman year of college. It’s partially why I’m taking a year off before continuing with my sophomore year. And while I’ve certainly gotten better, and the majority of my struggle seems to be behind me now, I still have trouble talking about it to both myself and others. I’m not exactly sure if that’s a reflection of my own inadequacies or more a reflection of how mental health is treated in our society. Either way we all know how this story goes. If I were to tell anyone other than my few close confidantes about my struggles, more times than none they’d brush it off as me being the “dramatic” person I most certainly am, but this is different.

I’ve done a lot of things for attention. In the second grade I drew on my desk in marker because I wanted to be the kid with the colorful desk. In 7th grade I made it a point to wear an oversized sweatshirt with bright yellow letters that read “JUST DO IT.” And despite all the “your mom jokes” I received because of that sweatshirt, I still wore it because I loved being noticed. These are just two examples of many, but not once have I ever considered using mental Illness as a ploy for attention. Because not only is that ethically repugnant, but mental illness isn’t something that grabs people’s attention.

After I had my confidence crushed by an ex, I began to REALLY see depression eye to eye. I had always had anxieties, and looking back at it, a few depressive tendencies, but I had never suffered like this. I wanted to be LESS noticed. For the first time in my life I wanted to disappear. I thought it would be difficult to stay under the radar while suffering from depression, because every school seminar I attended made it seem like everyone would immediately see my change in attitude and then bombard me with help. But that help never came. I slid under the radar with more ease than I could have imagined. I stopped hanging out with my friends. I stopped raising my hand in class, I stopped eating around other people at lunch, and no one noticed. I went from the talkative extrovert that always had something to say to a recluse that barely spoke a word in a matter of weeks. And no one noticed. Why is that? Well this brings us to the video I made. Mental health, has a serious set of stigmas. The largest being that It’s invisible in our culture. So those who suffer are often invisible themselves. Kids will say things like “Oh my God Phillis, you’re so bipolar” but yet they don’t seem to know the definition of Bipolar. It is a serious mental illness, not a synonym for “mood swing.” The illness is invisible to our culture.

If someone were to say they suffer from schizophrenia, people would treat them like a crazed horror movie villain instead of someone who suffers from a disease just as debilitating and draining as cancer. Because to society, schizophrenia is invisible outside of how movies have depicted it. People treat mental illness like it doesn’t exist outside of someone’s imagination and that they’re just making it all up, when you would never hear someone say “oh come off it Meredith, your Leukemia can’t be so bad you can’t go to school.” People assume our diseases don’t exist and that we are therefore weak for suffering from them.  I’m here to tell you we’re not.

We’re just as strong, just as capable, just as fierce as any other human who suffers from a disease.

We take as many precautions to avoid triggers as those with an allergy do to avoid peanuts. Some of us have to keep track of the same number of pills as a cancer patient. We all have medical bills that can pile to the ceiling. It’s safe to say we’re all in the same boat in the same ocean of suffering. But those with mental illnesses are confined below deck. And that not ok. Through use of humor our video seeks to educate, and put mental illness into perspective for those who may not understand this fight. So please, share the video, like the video, heck you could even make your own video! So long as we get the word out and spread it around. Because despite it’s humor and silly nature, this video has a serious message, and it’s one a lot of people need to see. Thanks for reading, and I hope you all enjoy the video.

– Dan Evans

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me-and-clarkDan Evans is a 19 year old Television writing and productions student from Virginia. He aspires to one day write and run his own television series. He currently owns and operates his own freelance production business “Dan Evans Productions.” He is a Thespian, Improv comedian, and musician, with plans to one day incorporate these passions into his work in television and internet media. If you would like to inquire of his production services check out his Facebook page www.facebook.com/danmakemeavideo.

Dan can be found on his blog, and Facebook

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