Last week I wrote about the piece that I was going to be performing around my local town centre on Friday- if you want to know what I was doing I wrote a post about it last week that you can read here.
In short, I got the complete opposite reaction to what I was expecting.
I was expecting to be ignored, perhaps to even get some abuse from members of the public- instead they seemed to warmly welcome me. My home town is fairly ‘stiff upper lip’ and very middle class, so for them to react how they did was completely unexpected. I had people coming up to me and starting conversations, telling me about their mental health problems and asking about mine. I had employees coming out of shops to ask for a leaflet and people stopping and smiling encouragingly.
I feel really strange about the whole experience- I think what I’m feeling mainly is an odd sense of hope. Hope that this world isn’t as bleak as it’s sometimes painted- and hope that one day we can beat the stigma surrounding mental illness.
All you need to do is be brave. Looking back I’m amazed at what I did- and whilst I’m sure that the reactions weren’t all positive (there was a fair amount of people just ignoring me) the public were more receptive than I ever could have imagined.
I’m planning to roll out my performance, get the support of a mental health charity and hopefully take it up to Edinburgh in time for the Fringe this year.
We can fight stigma- all we need to do is be brave.
’til next time,