Promise Productions, “No Visible Scars” True Story, IV

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When this team was put together, we had no idea how connected we all were to the subject matter of the play. I don’t know if we were all subconsciously drawn to it, or if it really is just a testament to how many people go through these sorts of things, but it’s only been through our late-night chats that we’ve come to realize that all of us connect with No Visible Scars on a very personal level. Here’s the fourth installment of our Real Life stories.

I’ve struggled with depression most of my life. Since the age of 10 there had been a steady decline, and it was around age 14 that I really started to feel I had nothing to live for, and made a few meager attempts at ending my life. There were, of course, ups and downs. And it’s difficult to explain to someone how, literally, one day you can be out with friends, fully functional and full of energy, and the next night be sobbing in your closet with a razor in your hand. It’s easy to get labelled a “drama queen” or “emo”, and so those of us with actual problems, not looking for attention, tend to keep things hidden. We push the pain down.

While I had struggled for a long time, it was about a year ago that I felt I had finally reached my limit. I felt abandoned by everyone who was supposed to love me. Once a straight-A-student, I was now barely passing my classes because I could not get over my anxiety about leaving the house; I spent most days lying in bed, trying to sleep because whenever I was awake I so desperately wanted to go out, but couldn’t. I felt immense guilt about skipping classes, skipping work, and there were the practical fears as well; how was I going to pay rent? Why was I throwing away thousands on classes I couldn’t attend? After a violently emotional breakup, I thought things had finally hit rock bottom.

I don’t remember very clearly what exactly happened. I do recall shoving a handful of various pills into my mouth, and, according to my roommate, I did this again sometime later in the day. The entire thing is a blur and I remember most glimpses of hallucinations, the sound of my roommate’s voice (but being totally unaware of what he was saying), and lying on my back (I later learned, in an ambulance), staring up at a bright light and shivering. When I woke up hours later in the hospital, I was greeted by an IV in my arm and a callous ER doctor who asked, “Are you going to kill yourself?” while shoving a piece of paper in my hand and sending me home. I slept through the next day.

Once I had my senses back, I still felt awful, but the pressure had subsided a bit. It was like a valve, letting off a bit of steam; I knew things would build again quickly. The piece of paper was a referral to a psychiatrist at the hospital. I don’t like psychiatrists. I always thought I’d like to be one but I never had any interest in seeing one, and my few past experiences with them had never yielded any positive results. But my roommate insisted. He saved me again. And so I made an appointment and a week later met with a very young, very understanding doctor who was the first to talk to me like a person, and not a mental patient.

She was ok with the fact that I rejected some forms of therapy (“too wishy washy”). And she was ok with me requesting medication because I knew I needed to get on track, fast. Basically, she was ok with all the (reasonable) things I said, and so I felt like I could talk to her and started actually looking forward to sessions. I left feeling better, which had never happened before. While this was considered a “crisis clinic” and so had a limited number of sessions available, it still helped. Depression can’t be cured in a matter of weeks or months, but with the right person that’s all the time you need to realize that things can get better. I got over some of my major anxiety issues and started putting myself out there again, finding new friends, new jobs and starting a new life. Now I’m writing from New York, where I’m working on a play. I have a fiancé I love, a house, and two baby birds. I am far from ok – I still get depressed, I still have anxiety, and I will likely need my medication for years to come. But I’m here. And things have gotten better. And they will continue to get better for me; they can for you too.

Promise Productions, “No Visible Scars” True Story III

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Tonight was the opening of No Visible Scars  at the Connelly Theatre. It went great and we were thrilled to have a few strangers in the audience! However, we always want more. So here’s our third true story that we hope will help connect the show to some of you. Again, stigmas hurt, and mental illness is closer than you think. Here’s another story from a part of our team:

Hi, I am part of this wonderful team putting on No Visible Scars. This show has a personal connection for me. I was Myranda Otter many years ago; I was a very unhappy 12 year old girl living life day by day. I was consumed by depression and the only option I saw was death. I had no hope, no plan, no friends and I thought, no family.
Growing up was not a particularly happy time for me. I’m not sure what caused it, perhaps it was all of my health problems, which prevented me from being outside and bonding with the other students during the winter months, but since the age of 6, I was ridiculed and bullied. I went through this right up until my graduation day from my elementary school; seven years of torture at the hands of all my classmates. Seven years of feeling worthless and less than a speck on this earth. Seven years of feeling unwanted, completely alone and always unhappy. Not even my sister would play with me. Those four walls were all I knew and they were closing in on me.

I remember one day in grade seven like it was yesterday. The confrontation began in the school yard and ended in the hallways of the school; me being surrounded by a bunch of girls pushing, punching, spitting, kicking and screaming at me. The teachers did nothing, my parents couldn’t do anything, so much was going on in my head and I just shut down. I came home, found the first bottle of pills, ran to my room and just shoved them all into my mouth. There was no future, there was just pain, just so much indescribable pain. I felt broken, not just physically, but mentally as well. There was a dark gloomy cloud over my head and I just wanted it all to end. Tears streaming down my face, I passed out. I woke up the next morning so unhappy. I was pissed that I had to face another day. That all my efforts were in vain and all I had to show for it was a very bad stomach ache. I felt betrayed, but something different happened that day.

At school we started our unit on the “art of speech making”. I poured my heart out in my speech about Martin Luther King Jr. His dream inspired my dream of a new life. From that speech, my teacher took me aside and said ” you should audition for the school musical, Robin Hood”. That was what saved me. God saved me. I was falling and he grabbed my hand and said, ” go on girl, sing!”  I found happiness on stage. Perhaps it’s the idea that I get to be someone else and leave this crappy life I was given for a moment. Or perhaps it’s the fact that once I got the lead in the musical, the bullying decreased. I believe that everything happens for a reason, that God never gives you more then you can handle.

When you feel like you have no hope, when you feel that you have no future, remember there is a new day ahead. You don’t know when it’s coming, but change will happen. You will leave those four walls, and I promise you it will get better. It did for me, and it will for you. Find your Robin Hood the musical. Be your Maid Marion and tomorrow will be a brighter day. Hang in there and remember someone loves you. If you think not, know that I do. God Bless and may the sun come up for you tomorrow.

Another story of hope. To see more, check out No Visible Scars. Remember, you’re not alone.

Promise Productions, “No Visible Scars” True Story, II

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The other day I posted Craig A. Nelson’s true story of addiction and hope in an effort to share awareness and help break down some of the stigma’s surrounding these issues. Now I’m going to share one written by our lead actress, Tea Nguyen.
     My name is Tea Nguyen. I want to share a story with you. My good friend called me to come over. He had mental health problems and suffered with depression and attempts of suicide. I came over and there was something not right about the situation. He wasn’t making much sense in what he was saying. I was very worried about his mental state. He would go off on a tangent and not comprehending anything I was saying. I tried to get him to eat and drink water but he physically couldn’t. As the night went by, he seemed like a completely different person. Eventually he ran to the bathroom and started becoming violently ill just from something he had thought about. He decided to go to bed, so I left not too long after that.
     I got a call from his roommates saying the police just showed up and took him away. We realized that he went to his room and was having suicidal thoughts. He called his mother to talk about it and she got him talking to the crisis hotline while police were sent to his home. He was entered into a hospital. He experienced psychosis that night. I visited him in the hospital twice that week to make sure he was doing well. His medication helped him and I stuck right by him.
     Sometimes, we can’t see an illness. Sometimes, it’s not visible to the naked eye. He was so close to suicide that night and he was on the edge. I encourage anyone going through anything related to this to seek professional help. Your friends can only do so much other than be there for you. If you need help, there are resources you can reach out to. My friend and I are still very close and he still calls me when he is unwell or going through anything more than he can handle. Please reach out. I couldn’t imagine life if he had decided to go through with suicide that night. People care about you and will be there for you. Just ask for help.
As Tea said, there is help.
For Ontario, Canada resources, check out this link.
My new, New York friends can look here.
And be sure to check out No Visible Scars, we open Saturday at the Connelly Theatre!

Spoken.ly – The Easiest Way To Create Pretty Quote Graphics, Fast

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I came across an awesome new site the other day, spoken.ly. It’s a very simple concept; type out a quote, choose a pretty background and a font style/layout, and ta-da! Pretty little quote graphic, like so:

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53d2a4aee3e3349607ae90e153d1cd8fe3e3349607ae9012

53d31331e3e3349607ae91b0A lot of people are using them for song lyrics, inspirational quotes etc., but I think it’s a great way to throw out some show quotes when trying to advertise a play. So far I’ve made a couple for “No Visible Scars” and one for the upcoming Bygone Theatre production of “Rope”. Many more to come I’m sure.

So check it out if you want to make something pretty for your show (or anything else) but don’t have the time/patience/talent for trying it in photoshop.

-E.

Suicide: A Global Epidemic

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Working on “No Visible Scars” has got me thinking about mental health issues and in particular, suicide statistics globally and here in Canada. When I started researching them I was shocked at how high some of the numbers were, check it out:

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For more information on suicide prevention and awareness, check out the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and be sure to check out the Promise Productions performance of “No Visible Scars” that deals with the subject in an open, honest way.