I’ve mentioned in posts that I’ve been working on a project related to my experiences with SZA. For those unfamiliar with me, I tend toward long posts relating my experiences, insights and thoughts and feelings to caregivers to help them better understand people under their care and their diseases. It’s a unique viewpoint that I don’t mind sharing, but doesn’t always translate well to this forum. I’m more of a long form essayist, so I was thinking of starting a blog or a YouTube video essay channel as a more effective way to advocate.
When I start projects, I’m usually overly ambitious and get carried away in the planning stages. I’ve explained my ideas to a few friends and family, but before I develop things further, I could use feedback from people who don’t know me directly, yet know my work.
Like most of you, when SMI entered my life, I was bewildered, confused and unsure what it meant and what was going to happen. At first as a sibling when my brother was first hospitalized, then as a junior caregiver, drafted at 17 when my parents were on vacation, and finally, I experienced it firsthand years later. Knowing a little bit about the process beforehand helped me, but also kept me in denial longer because I didn’t want to burden my parents or end up like my brother. And through some amazing luck, I fared much better than most.
I think we all wish we were better prepared before we were thrust into this role, and that people had a better appreciation for what we go through. And although supporting one another within this forum and NAMI and the like is important, I feel sometimes it’s like preaching to the choir. Sure new choir members come along and we do our best to show them the ropes and support them, but I’m interested in better educating some of the public at large before it happens to them.
So I’ve been working on a series of media criticism essays from what I call a schizoperspective. So far most are on movies, plays and books that aren’t normally thought of as being mental illness related, but when I present them from a schizoperspective, I show how they relate to my experiences, and thoughts and feelings of people with SMI and their caregivers. This concept may be a bit abstract, so here’s an example of the first essay I worked on: it’s about Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, and the TV show, play and movie based on it. The hope is to raise awareness of mental illnesses, treatment and attitudes toward the SMI and caregivers in people in general, but especially in writers and TV and film makers in an accessible way. The hope being that it may motivate writers and producers to create better informed and relevant content.
Aside from finishing the essays, I have several questions and challenges I could use your input on. First, would content like this interest you? To start a YouTube channel, you need people to watch and hopefully subscribe to it. Initially you need about a thousand subscribers for the algorithm to take you seriously and start recommending videos to others. Do you presently watch YouTube and subscribe to channels there? What about Facebook or other social media. I presently don’t do social media at all.
Second, I’d likely devote more time to this project and post less here, would that disappoint you? I likely would start a site or blog or a Patreon where you could continue to contact me. The upside would be that stuff I post would be better curated wherever it ends up and I’d repeat myself less here.
Third, I have concerns about anonymity and the possibility of being ‘doxed’. I’m considering going to somewhat absurd lengths to be as anonymous as possible, and making it a feature of the channel. Some people advocate openness, transparency and being ‘out’ to end stigma, but my thinking is it may make a stronger statement to demonstrate that inaccurate and uninformed and unfair portrayals make it difficult for most people with any ‘schizo’ related illness to be ‘out’. The idea is to speak through an avatar and either alter my voice, or synthesize or get a voice actor to voice it. Not that I’m ashamed of my illness, but I talk sometimes about my brother and family who may prefer to remain anonymous, and a public persona may cause me employment issues. I’ve looked into the technical aspects of this, and it seems feasible and actually has a few advantages as far as video production is concerned.
Finally are there any subjects you’d like covered? So far I touch on Anosognosia, Stigma, Hallucinations, Delusions, interactions with Law Enforcement, committal and hospitalization.
Thanks for your help and support.