Mental Health Journey || Vicky, California

Vicky, California. Film photo taken by Birralee Hassen.

Vicky, California. Film photo taken by Birralee Hassen.

I’m trying to make it more ok to talk about mental issues.  Because everyone has down days and everyone has sad things happen to him or her, but there is such a stigma attached with talking about it.


And you’re not talking mental disabilities you’re talking just everyday mental states?


Just the ups and downs of life. It’s a journey; it’s a process, we’re always learning.


You should be. Most people are whether they know it or not, whether they are learning good or bad, well that’s a whole other thing.


The whole thing is a journey. You’re maturing your whole life. You can never know it all. You’re always learning, that’s the big thing to learn in life. People think they have it all down, but you can never have it down, it’s always going to be changing. You’re changing and so are your surroundings


Everyday. I think people who think they have it all figured out may be lying to themselves a little bit.


Well I think they’re honest about it. I think they’re hoping to be at that place where they know it all; they think that’s the good spot. That’s not the good spot. We need to learn that change is good. People want to be at the point where they’re not changing any more, people get rigid, and that’s a big downfall. You never want to think you know it all, you don’t want to be in that place. You want to always be looking forward, and the only way you can look forward is if they’re changes out there.


Not stagnant.


Yeah, it would be so boring, to think you did know it all. As humans, we are supposed to have intelligence, but I don’t know if we use it very well. I guess we just need to keep learning.


How did coming out at 28 affect your mental health?


A lot of teenagers are committing suicide, and I think a lot of them are gay. It’s a horrible place, to be where you don’t think you’re accepted. You don’t think you’re as good as anyone, and you’re told that. Not even personally, the message is so overt by the silence, you never hear about it. Where I came from, it was never spoken of, and that made it a worse thing than it would have been if people were talking about it.


It haunts you physiologically, you stay inside, inside your head, you know.


Was it a release, for you mentally, when you shared that part of yourself?


Oh yeah, and there wasn’t the guilt there, which I thought there would be. It released the guilt. It’s voluntary to carry that, you don’t have to. You do have a choice there. You may lose your family, some people do, and I fortunately did not. I had a very understanding family, apparently they knew before I did, ha. They were fine with it; they were more worried about how I would be, if I would be safe out there in the world


So by talking about it, it released so much, rather than holding it inside.


Yeah, just living it. We are constantly learning. I’ll tell you this – Life, it aint over ‘til it’s over baby. 

Birralee Hassen