At the age of 18, I went to film school and became a filmmaker.
At 30, I had a nervous breakdown, a psychosis. And then again, and again. I became chronically ill.
After seven years with the illness I began to film myself and also asked my family and friends for videoletters. Eight years later, the film is finished: the long-term observation accompanied my journey back to a "normal" life.
By exposing myself to the film as a process, I allow a direct insight into the struggles that I have experienced due to the diagnoses and resultant stigmatization. The subjective approach to the topic seems necessary to me, even if it was initially very difficult for me to "out" myself. The position that I take is that of both how I live with and how I have come to terms with the illness.
People with the illness are branded and tossed aside. They usually live a highly marginalized life on early retirement pensions or social benefits, and only in the rarest of cases can they pursue regular employment — or make a film about their fate.
Life is torn apart by long periods of hospitalization and convalescence. The self-esteem is battered and the eternal conflicts with the required medications and the given side-effects—which substantially reduce the quality of life—are grueling.
When I look at the self-interviews, I discover something remarkable: The patient attempt, over years, to truly convey what it means to endure and live this difficult illness. That which I demanded from myself was worth it. It is an unsparing gaze lacking all voyeurism, a unique testament offering an inside view of this taboo issue of psychological illness.