This #IAMSTIGMAFREE music video is a symbolic and artistic expression of our message as fighters of mental illness who are seeking to break free from the negative stigmas. At the beginning of the video, everyone is dis-activated and frozen in their solitude. But one person reaches out to another symbolically by placing her hand on her back, setting into motion a domino effect that spreads through the entire group until all are activated and united. This represents the power of one person to touch many lives. You may be "like a small boat" or "only have one match," but that small boat can send out big waves and that one match can make an explosion. You can change and even save someone's life who is battling mental illness by reaching out them in kindness and in love.
"Living with a mental illness is like a tarring of the soul. It's dark. It's scary. It's heavy. But we are not afraid to get up and fight every day." That symbolic representation of the 'tarring of the soul' is found in the black hand-print on the back of each fighter's baseball tee. The individuality of each fighter is highlighted through her movements and facial expressions, showing that we all have a unique contribution to make in this conversation about mental illness. The energy, vitality, and power you see in each of these fighters is evidence of their passion to end the stigma and be seen as they truly are.
"We are fighting to break free from the negative stigmas placed on those of us with mental illness. We are fighters. We are not our labels. We have each others back. And we are breaking the silence." A symbolic portrayal of breaking the silence and stigma is literally created as boards are broken over the fighter's leg and tossed to the floor, leaving the fighter victorious and free. Once all of the boards are broken, the fighters form a circle around the broken stigmas with their arms around each other. The one who initially set the waves into motion lights a match and drops it on the boards resulting in an explosion of light and freedom.
All fighters join together in unity of movement and song like an army marching into battle. All hands go into the air with the declaration, "I've still got a lotta fight left in me!" The closing shot shows one fighter reaching out and dedicating the project to Delia -- a friend and fellow fighter who was the inspiration for the creation of #IAMSTIGMAFREE.
My hope in releasing this project to the world is that those of us who are living with mental illness -- no matter our age, gender, ethnicity, or social status -- will be seen as the fighters that we truly are and that one day we will be free from the negative stigmas that are so prevalent in our society. It’s time to break the silence. It’s time to break the stigma. It’s time to tell our stories without shame and without fear of judgment. This is our fight song. Please share this message with those who are fighting mental illness and help us end the stigma.