My sisters and I made a short film for mental health awareness

For over a year my sister and I have wanted to collaborate on a project towards the de-stigmatisation of mental illness.

On a short visit she made to me few months ago, we had fun taking photographs, and experimenting with what it would be like to actually work together. The result was exactly what we had envisioned, and incidentally, even got a recommend from Medium Staff.

But we knew that would only be the beginning.

Since then, I started working on a mental health series for aKomanet. And the morning after publishing a particularly hard piece for me to write, I woke up feeling vulnerable.

As I lay in bed awaiting the strength to actually get up and begin my day, the idea came to me to write a piece to encourage myself. A piece that would highlight how silence is used as a defensive mechanism, but can turn toxic when it inhibits the sufferer from seeking much-needed help.

Also as I lay under my duvet, scrolling through my twitter feed, I came across Akwaeke Emezi’s powerful short film: ‘Ududeagu.’ This powerful piece of work packs a punch in just under two minutes. I won’t spoil it for you.

There were so many messages delivered that moved me deeply. Of course having been raised in a culture with many parables and riddles, her story (being told in the format of Nigerian folktale) appealed to me.

I kept staring at one of the focal images from her short film, and felt it perfectly captured my feelings of being stifled by silence. I decided this should be the cover image for what I would publish on medium that day.

Some hours after publishing, the ever-supportive j.s.lamb gave me the brilliant idea of turning my short story into a film. Truthfully, this wouldn’t have occurred to me without his suggestion, and I am grateful:

So that is exactly what I did!

And using my android phone, my beautiful sister, some smart video editing software, and the blessed lullabic voice of Liz Chima (our childhood friend,) we made a short film.

It was a joy to make ❤

We hope that this marks the continuation of a few things that are important to us:

  1. The perpetual de-stigmatisation of mental illness, along with openness about treatment strategies (YES! MEDICATION! and therapies too.)
  2. This, especially amongst black, Nigerian, and African women (and people.)We are by no means the first to begin this conversation. We have seen first-hand, and heard through stories, how difficult openness about mental health can be within these demographics- which we identify as. We want to lend our voices to this cause, and hope to learn as we go along.
  3. The resilience to continue making art out of our personal stories.

We hope you enjoy our short film. We hope you find your courage. And we hope you find a healthy balance with all the silences in your life.

Also, we still plan to write a collaborative book on our experiences with mental health, so keep an eye out and fingers crossed for us on our journeys as individuals, and together.

Here is our project:

Migrant. Postdoctoral researcher. Teacher. Mental Health Advocate. Writer. Professional in the streets, loud on the sheets of paper.

Migrant. Postdoctoral researcher. Teacher. Mental Health Advocate. Writer. Professional in the streets, loud on the sheets of paper.