It turns out it takes money to make a docuseries. Lots of it. The layers run deep and honestly, it’s overwhelming. It’s different than writing a book. When I sit down to write a novel, I lose myself in a world of my creation. Just me and my characters. We spend a lot of time there alone.
In fact, this process of making a visual story almost finds itself in the null set with writing a novel. Yes, there is still a story, but there are all sorts of layers involved which makes it very different. First, when you write a book, you just need time. You don’t need to raise oodles of cash before you can do that part. Maybe just an angel whispering in your ear while you wistfully await your next word. In the beginning of the writing process, you also don’t need to build a platform, assemble a tribe of people who will feel the same passion you do about your project, and so many more differences. Film, however, is ENORMOUSLY collaborative.
So much for time alone in my head in my big red chair, just me and my imagination, Kai’s head on my thigh.
But the beautiful part of this medium called film, aside from the enormous reach factor, is just that: the collaboration. Today, my head is swimming after two very long calls with my crowdfunding guru, Leah, and my docuseries co-director, KTEE. Half the time I have no idea what they’re saying. They have to rewind, reword, and break it down, which they are so kind to do. Thanks, guys.
There are also a gazillion portals. There’s Basecamp, and Seed & Spark, and email, and…okay, maybe only three. But it FEELS like a gazillion. I’m probably going to dream about Basecamp. Like I’m stuck there. In the campfire. Trying to figure out who is doing what. (Not even kidding. There’s totally a campfire.)
Today, my main assignment (from my list of 200) was to write the story of why I’m even doing this and not in Bali right now, meditating. As I stepped into different versions of it, and danced across the floor of my why, I found myself losing my voice to this authoritarian disconnected person that doesn’t even resonate with me. I did the same thing when we were making videos for the crowdfunding. Maybe I do it because I’m terrified or maybe it’s my law firm voice from days gone by. Whatever it is, it’s weird how it pops up to take over. Leah reminded me about my blog I’d written a few months ago. THAT’s your voice, she said.
Ah yes. The infamous nebulus voice they talk about at all writers’ conferences and drive writers nuts because they just aren’t sure what that even means. I think today I had an epiphany: your voice is your heart and your authoritarian voice pops up when your heart is feeling vulnerable and wants to hide in its big red chair.
This project is my heart. But in writing it, I also want to protect the ones who are so deep inside my heart: my children. I find myself worried about saying anything that might hurt them. I know this is the same feelings parents have when their child first starts showing signs of mental illness, whether mild or severe. They worry for their children. They worry how the world will treat them. They worry about how their lives will unfold.
And that’s the whole point of me stepping into this world–to create a massive empowerment for worried parents and teachers, young people trying to navigate their own path, and all those that stand by wondering how to help. This project is for those heroes and I will spend time in all these arenas to get this done, including crowdFUNding. Here’s my story I came up with today.
If you know me at all, you know my world changed when my oldest child started showing signs he was in great pain during elementary school, the same school in Manhattan Beach where I was teaching second grade. We drove to school together every day, but somehow he was able to hide just how much pain he was experiencing and I missed it. I still don’t understand how, exactly, except that I was quite distracted and overwhelmed by all the responsibilities I felt at the time.
You’re Not Alone
Eventually the walls gave way, and a tsunami of symptoms flooded our world. It was in that riptide I made a choice: I would do all that I could to encourage all other parents, and especially single parents, going through this journey that there is hope and that they are not alone. I would attempt to let any young person I intuited was struggling know how important and unique they were. I would learn to lean on others who had gone before me and offered me wisdom and courage to advocate fiercely for my child, not hide in a dark closet where no one could see me.
Live Out Loud
If no one could see me, nobody could help us. We needed to live out loud, both so we could help ourselves and others. I would dive deep into my creative self during my time on this planet to find a new conversation that was different than the one I was being told. It wasn’t to Pollyanna the Truth. God knows, the teen years were a challenge and we wrote about that in detail in our side-by-side accounting of that gut-wrenching time in Voices of Bipolar Disorder. The story I was being told then was, “You really need to adjust your expectations. Recovery isn’t really a thing. There’s really nothing you can do for your child.”
Nothing we could do? Just so you know, that’s a bold-faced lie. And it’s not helpful. It discourages both parents and young people who are facing a mental health hurdle that they are likely not going to be able to jump over it. People blame the system (which admittedly is like the monster in the upside down in Stranger Things–except for less connected), they see the lack (of doctors, of support, of psych ERS, of money, of allies, of etc. etc. etc.)…and, yes, all those things are true. Nearly every California sheriff will tell you his prison is a psych facility. Twin Towers, in Downtown Los Angeles, is the largest mental health facility in the country at last check, with one tower being solely dedicated to yellow shirts, the ones they give out when they determine an inmate has a brain illness. What looks like societal issues of suicide, crime, and homelessness, is really a result of our paralysis as a society to talk openly and honestly about mental health. Until we learn to do this, to treat it like the biological illness it is and not like some shameful stigma, will we be able to significantly shift the landscape of brain illness in a meaningful way.
Mission: Call to Change
My vision for this project came in the form of a calling just before attending a retreat last year at the Esalen Institute. The calling was to start a new conversation around youth mental health to give people hope, inspiration, and resources, all in one easy-to-navigate place. The calling was to empower people with hope and help so that the next generation is not facing the epidemic we are facing now.
A Crazy Thought, the docuseries, will do just that. Beyond the docuseries, a portal of resources to help parents, teachers, and young people quickly see their next steps after first signs of brain illness, and be able to move on that quickly. The vision is to take this series to schools at all levels for both teacher in-service and University speaker series.
I have a dream that nobody will weather this storm alone again.
That’s it. That’s why I’m here. And can I just say how much I love you for being here with me and letting me share my heart.