What if you were diagnosed with a severe illness? What if you had never met anyone who shared your illness? What if it made people afraid of you? The voices of people with mental illnesses are mostly unheard. Our ideas about them come from the media and from professionals, seldom from the people themselves. I Think About That Sometimes lets one woman share her story about living with mental illness, for ultimately the ability to tell one’s own story shapes what others understand, revealing truths and dispelling myths. And only when we are able to hear the stories of others like us do we know that we are not alone—that we are, after all, normal.

Donna Kay Smith has a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Penn State University, an M.Div. from Duke, and is a certified rehabilitation counselor. She worked in the mental health field for over thirty years, was executive director of several nonprofit agencies, was an ordained clergy, and a crisis worker with the Chapel Hill Police Department. In 2003, her son was diagnosed with a severe mental illness, which introduced her to the reality of living with these types of diseases—a reality far removed from that depicted by the media and professionals. She is founder of Accessible Minds, LLC, which provides multimedia resources for people with mental illnesses and their family and friends. Her aim is to change the perception and status of people living with mental illness by giving them an authoritative voice on their disorders and the experience of living with them.

This was the final project for the Certificate in Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. See more Spring 2013 final projects at cdsporch.org/archives/18602.

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