You Must Watch Demi Lovato’s Documentary "Be Vocal"
Be Vocal is a documentary produced by Demi Lovato, about how people with mental illness are breaking the stigma and talking about their experiences.
Now before I start the actual review, two disclaimers.
One, I admit my bias, I am a sucker for celebrities who talk about their mental illness, so I’m a big fan of Demi Lovato, so I was going to love it coming in.
Secondly, although I am open about my mental illness, I do not expect others to do the same. Your mental wellbeing is an incredibly personal thing, and I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they’re “forced” to share.
That being said, this is a documentary encouraging people to speak up about their mental illness, so if you do feel comfortable doing so, please join the crowd.
Write a blog, tell your friends; breaking the stigma doesn’t mean making a documentary, it can only be broken by us regular people deciding that we’ll treat mental illness the same way we do every other kind of illness.
The choice to share is yours, but there is no reason to feel shame if you do.
I’m going to start off with my main criticism of the documentary. There’s a lot of cliché slow music, "camera pans down moments". It’s an attempt to add drama where it’s not necessary, because all of that is being taken care of by the people being interviewed. But if you can get past that, there’s a great documentary underneath.
Be Vocal features three people with mental illness. Jeff who has depression and anxiety; Lauren who has Bipolar II disorder; and Lloyd (my personal favorite) who has schizophrenia paranoia disorder. There are two things this documentary did that I wanted to talk about specifically.
They walked the fine line that is talking about your experience and “recovery” without making claims that there is a cure, or universal aid.
Each of the three have something that have helped them become better functioning members of society. For Lauren it was her cats, yoga, and the dependence her non-profit has on her; for Jeff it was his dog; while for Lloyd it was helping others.
Each go through their routine, what they do, and how it helps them, while both saying and showing that the solution may not be for everyone.
Also, on the idea that “Everyone else feels the way I do.”
Over 55% of Americans have struggled with depression. This statistic is both a boost and a bane. On the one hand, so many other people have felt the way I feel.
On the other hand, so many people feel the way I feel, yet somehow manage to be functional. This paradox exists because of the lack of communication.
Not all depression is the same, but since none of us talk about our varying levels of depression, we believe that we’re just weaker than those around us who have conquered their depression.
Even in a case as extreme as Lloyd’s: he heard voices, but because people weren’t open and honest about mental illness, he thought it was perfectly normal. If we discussed these things more openly, his life may have turned out very differently.
I won’t sum up the whole documentary, because I believe it’s important to watch and see these people, normal people, who just struggle or have struggled to go through their day.
Maybe you’ll say, hey that’s me, and get some help. Or maybe you’ll say hey that’s me, I don’t have to be afraid of speaking out anymore.
For those interested, here a link to the documentary.