My schedule involves the bright, loud, neon pink of “Legally Blonde the musical in the evenings, and what I’ve very affectionately named “depression camp” during the days. That maybe seems odd to be stating, but I do think it’s pretty important to say. I say it because mental illness looks like absolutely anything. To some, at some times, it is debilitating and steals all energy, but those same people also have times when they’re the person dancing beside you in a musical. My schedule includes a lot of acting, but that doesn’t mean any happiness is faked. I think we often hear sayings similar to the one I just wrote, about the fact that those suffering are all around us. For me, I think I’ve actually found those statements to be off-putting at times. I felt it might make it seem like those with mental illnesses are hiding away, and they truly are someone completely different to the friend you know. I think it’s really important that those with mental illness are never framed to be manipulating emotions in a way similar to lying. It is a tricky distinction, because when I think of the tone “others” was said in, in response to explanations of group therapy, I do think it’s integral that we understand mental illness even in severe forms, doesn’t mean the stereotyped bed-ridden image of despair. Though I also think it’s important we never portray those with mental illness as purposefully deceptive. As a tangible thing we can all do, I guess this can just remind us all that when you reach out to someone who is struggling, and help to plan fun things, or ask what you can do, there can be real and very genuine happiness in that. I think that’s a pretty powerful thing to keep hopeful about.