During Covid-19 pandemic, my attention fell into the “mood swings”.
I saw it following me during the day affecting my normal actions and emotions. More and more as I was digging into these sensations I discovered how much this not only affects my day and thoughts, but also people close to me. How powerful the mind is able to determine our day and relationships. By the way, this is part of our daily life, something that we have to deal with, it is considered normal.
Soon, I reflected on a similar subject who is not considered normal by most of the people and society.
Five years ago, I had a chance to work in a mental health care house dealing everyday with people affected by mental disorders. Something that really broke my heart was hanging out after work and hearing comments like <<be careful to work with “weirdos” so you don’t become weird too>>. This was really painful to hear, most of all to acknowledge that this is the common sense of people regarding individuals affected by mental disorders.
Coming back to my primary thought, while I was thinking what could be associated to my interpretation of “mood swings”, I reconnected my memories to some people I worked with affected by Bipolar Mental Disorder, a disease characterized by periods of depression and periods of abnormally elevated mood that last from days to weeks each. Of course, I’m aware that for many reasons these two elements cannot be associated, like the length of these extreme emotional states: mood swings are characterized by quick change of mood, while bipolar disorder defines a mental condition for a long period of time.
But something I felt wrong in this was “why are people allowed to have mood swings and not be judged, while someone affected by long periods of depression and elevated mood are?”.
In both cases, we are speaking about a condition that affects our daily actions and thoughts, but this does not change the status of humanity and social cohesion. We are still speaking about people with a life, dreams, work, relationships.
Starting from it, I recovered my old notes and journal of patients affected by bipolar disease who I work with. Few sentences I found interesting that were agreeing with my thoughts were:
<<it is like having a nail in my brain that I cannot take it out>>
<<having bipolar disorder is not painful, more painful is the label that people put on us>>
<<I’m just sadder and happier than you>>.
This was my starting point for my research. I decided to make a dance movie using quick transitions, music and movement to be able to make people feel a different range of emotions in a few minutes to underline the density of each emotion and how they can change drastically during the day. Rawness of the camera work to elevate the private contest of life and daily life. In this, I wanted to honor the words and people that inspired me, including some elements that patients shared with me.
I used the t-shirt as a metaphor of the label that society places in situations of unknown without being aware of the consequences and the actual “normality” of some behaviors.
The nails highlight how a mental state or condition can affect each individual and how even after many tries, we can just deal with it.
All the work with shadow and dissociation of frames are made to emphasize that all of this defines us as individuals, and we have to deal every day with ourselves to understand who we want to be at the end of the day.
Mental condition or state are not defining our value and personality, being in conflict with emotions and unknown is not the correct way to interpret acceptance and solidarity.
Openness, listening and acceptance of yourself and others are going to make this path easier for everyone.