My name is Andrea Beça. I’m a filmmaker, photographer, and storyteller. I’ve been writing my whole life, and I became a producer/director when I was 19—over a decade ago. I’ve got two degrees, multiple awards, distinctions, and honours under my belt, and I am both proud and grateful to say that I’ve turned doing what I love into my full-time career.
Photo by Jillian Schecher.
I also live with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and body dysmorphia. A lot of the time, I feel really good and you'd never know. Sometimes this means I feel short of breath in social situations. Other times it means that before I can even get to a social situation, I am on the floor of my bedroom in the fetal position, hyperventilating and feeling absolutely hopeless. Sometimes this lasts for a while, until I am numb and feel like I am living outside of my own body. Sometimes the darkness feels like it’s going to last forever. But the light always creeps back in, and I'm grateful to say that love and hope have always won.
I’ve been a fan of Blake Loates’ photography for some time. I got involved with We All Believe In You (WABIY) when I volunteered to transcribe a portion of the interviews that were going to accompany Blake’s portraits at the official launch of the initiative. I signed myself up because mental health and opening up conversations about mental health has always been very important to me. At the time, I also happened to be in a deep depression as the result of losing a loved one. And about a week into my volunteer gig, one of my friends became suicidal. I spent my days keeping tabs on them, talking them through some of their darkest times, and making multiple emergency calls, both to the police, and to my therapist.
The entire experience made it so clear to me that WABIY needs to exist, and if there ever was a time to make a documentary about WABIY, it’s now, with the help of Telus STORYHIVE's newest documentary edition. Mental illness affects everyone—whether you suffer from it yourself of you love someone who does—and it doesn’t discriminate. We’ve lost some very public figures over the years, making it clear that having your dream job or a lot of money isn’t a cure for mental illness. The number of people dying by suicide is on the rise, and—in the words of WABIY founder Blake Loates—suicide is starting to feel like an epidemic.
More and more people are talking about mental health and mental illness, but conversation isn’t everything—what we need is community. We need to support one another, advocate for one another, and do our best to educate those who don’t understand mental illness and perpetuate the dangerous stigma that surrounds it.
Photo by Andrea Beça.
And that’s what this documentary is all about: giving people living with mental illness a voice, normalizing the conversation about mental health, and growing the community of support. I want to highlight the work WABIY and Blake are doing so that we can spread the love and help people across Canada—and all around the world—feel less alone. I also want to do anything I can to support WABIY in creating systemic change so that there’s more support and resources for folks suffering from mental illness. Many people don’t know what to do when someone in their life becomes suicidal, or how to navigate the system to get the help they or their loved ones need when they’re sick. Blake’s work with WABIY is quite literally changing that. The more people learn about WABIY and join the community, the more people learn what assistance and resources are available, and how to support someone who is mentally ill or suicidal. She’s spoken at numerous schools and events, educating thousands on mental health. Every day, by sharing her story, by advocating, and by being open to having the conversation, she’s helping people understand, navigate, and live with mental illness.
Photos by Blake Loates.
The main subjects of this documentary are folks who have been involved in the WABIY community, as well as professionals and leaders in the city who are ready to speak up about their own experiences. From school teachers to psychologists, city councillors, stand-up comedians, youth workers, and family members of those who have died by suicide, we’re showcasing a diverse group of people affected by mental illness, and my hope is that the audience of this piece is as varied and diverse as the people featured in it. My dream for the WABIY documentary is that anyone watching it can identify with it—that they can see themselves represented on screen and feel seen and heard and less alone in their struggles. My dream is that anyone watching the documentary who hasn’t spoken up about their issues will have the courage to reach out—either to a friend, a family member, a professional, or to the WABIY community—and get the support they need. And if they’re not struggling themselves, my dream is that they’ll walk away from a screening of We All Believe in You knowing how to support someone who is. That, in my eyes and heart, would be a huge success.
Photos by Blake Loates.
In order to make this documentary a reality, Blake and I need YOUR help. From today, July 30, until Thursday August 2 at 1pm Mountain Time, you can go to our STORYHIVE page and vote for our project to be made. STORYHIVE will be awarding funding to 15 projects here in Alberta, and another 15 projects in BC. We're hopeful that with the support of our amazing communities, we will be one of those projects!
The nitty gritty - a summary:
- You can vote for We All Believe in You right here on the project's STORYHIVE page.
- You don't need to sign up for anything to vote - simply click "VOTE" and you are set!
- You get 5 votes per day, and can vote for any given project once per day. We encourage you to check out as many projects as you can and vote for all the ones you'd like to see made! 30 projects will be funded! (Here are a couple you might dig: Queer Scouts, MSed With the Wrong Girl, Go Girl...)
- You can vote every day from RIGHT NOW until 1pm Mountain Time (Edmonton time) on Thursday, August 2! Please vote every day to give us the best chance possible of winning the funding we need to make this documentary real!