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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 11, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Commentary: Continuing the fight against mental illness

I’m taking my fourth medical leave of absence from Ithaca College.

I’m depressed… again.

At times I can barely function.

However, I want to channel this challenge for good to be a vessel of love and hope.

The purpose for my pain is to help others who suffer in similar ways, and so I’ll do everything in my power to do just that.

Hope is like the sunshine. Even on a torrentially rainy day, you know the sun is still present despite not being visible. Sometimes hope is masked by clouds, but know there are always reasons to remember it’s still there. There are many circumstances where hope is hidden from us, and that’s why we need loved ones to remind us of the plentiful aspects of hope that should keep us determined to go on. As a society, we don’t engage in active conversation about this topic. All too often, such as in the recent suicide of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, the discussion only starts after an irreversible tragedy takes place and it is too late to help the person that was afflicted with a mental illness. We need to address mental illness for what it is; an illness that is prevalent across all races, societies and cultures.

This is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to start a conversation.

My battle with bipolar disorder has been a critical experience for me to focus on hope. This article and video provide a perfect opportunity to address and fight this stigma that plagues our society and leaves the mentally ill only feeling more alone and misunderstood.

I have always used the analogy when depressed the world seems to change from color to black and white. Back in high school, I was told by a leading expert that I had one of the nastiest cases of bipolar disorder he’d ever seen. I don’t let my illness define me, but my bouts with depression have had a big impact on my life. I’m thankful that my faith has given me a constant sense of hope and has been my anchor through the trials and tribulations.

Depression makes you wither like a green plant sprayed with a powerful poison. Depression makes you feel like there’s a relentless and constant winter in your heart. While enduring suffering, I’ve wanted to find a creative outlet to express myself.

I decided to release a cover music video of the Twenty Øne Piløts song “Car Radio” to express a visual and artistic representation of depression.

To sugarcoat this video would’ve done this project a huge disservice. The band chose provocative and powerful lyrics for this song. It’s dark, it’s intense, but it’s also authentic.

I’ve found “Car Radio” to be remarkably relatable at times like now when the storm within me rages on.

The mask in the video is a parallel to the mask Tyler Joseph, the band’s singer, wore in the original music video, and to me, it symbolizes the numbness of living with dark mood swings, the question of personal identity in the episode and just a profound statement about how, often times, depressed people have to wear a metaphorical mask to blend in and act in ways that hide the agony they’re feeling inside. I want to promote honesty, vulnerability, empathy and being genuine. Throw away all of your masks and put on your soul. There’s other symbolism that you can find in the YouTube description.

I guarantee this music video resonates with you or someone you love, so I encourage you to share it. Don’t be silent with your struggles. Instead, cast them out in the open to a support system where you can unpack the challenges together. Persevere. When you face challenges, you’ve got to equip yourself for the journey and rise up. The storms will come. The obstacles may seem insurmountable. The pain will rip right through. But trust that the pain is temporary. Fight the good fight. Know that light and goodness will prevail. Cling to the anchor of hope as your driving force. Fight on, friends.

Special thanks to Sam Mitchell for doing an incredible job creating this video.