Sophie Eliza has always been open about living with mental illness, but to her, hearing about someone’s experience is different than witnessing it. To help her family and friends understand her illness, Sophie decided to share a video on Facebook of herself after what she called a “psychotic event.”
“The first photo is of the Sophie that everyone knows. Happy and smiley,” Sophie, who lives with bipolar disorder and anxiety, wrote in her Facebook post. “The next photo and video is of me is during a psychotic episode after I had calmed down a bit to where I could talk and I was seeing things other than visions of people screaming covered in blood.”
“The video is really about the realization of what had been happening to me,” Sophie told The Mighty. “But amongst the self-hate and despair and continued fight to stop the visions, I realized very few people had ever seen me in that state. I realized I could count all the people one one hand who had ever seen me ill.”
Another part of her decision to share, she said, was based other Facebook posts she’d seen where people claim to be “a little bipolar” or “OCD about something.” “It makes light of a very serious thing, and I doubt the people who wrote them, or shared them, have any idea what those things look like,” she said.
In the week since posting her video, Sophie’s post has been shared more than 33,000 times. Most of the feedback, she said, has been overwhelmingly positive, including hundreds of messages she’s received from old friends to strangers thanking her for sharing her experience as well as sharing their own.
There has also been negative feedback, including the loss of her part-time job working with kids, but Sophie said that hasn’t deterred her. “Comparatively I’ve had job offers from people saying I’m exactly the kind of person they want their kids to meet.”
Adding to her original post, Sophie has included several edits, and a blog post, to address some of the comments and feedback she’s received. Mainly, she wants others to know that it is OK to have a mental illness. “The point is I’m ill, but that’s OK, and if you are, then that’s OK too,” she writes. “You’re not alone, we just need help from doctors, just like any other unwell person. We are shaped by our experiences, take courage from the fact that you are still here and you’re still okay even though you battle your own brain every day.”