Outside the House, simply stated, is my attempt to burn down the house where our secrets are kept.
A Black man once told me mental illness doesn’t exist in Black folks. Using that moment as a learning and teaching opportunity, I asked him to explain his thoughts to me, then to the family of my Black friends who’ve killed themselves, to my best friend who’s battling depression and anxiety that once stayed with her for four months, then to the members of his family living in a closet because living their truths out loud is too painful around this non-believer.
The work on Outside the House began. How do I tell stories that need to be told, I asked myself. I gathered the people with a facebook status: Black Folks who have sought mental health assistance, why did you do it?
The people began responding and my Facebook wall turned into a therapy session. This was where I needed to begin. I contacted friends, family, friends of family, and random doctors and counselors around the US and traveled to where they were. I needed their stories. I needed them to rip off the door of that house outside of which their mothers told them to never share their issues. I needed their stories to help others do the same.
This film is not about statistics, or science, or theories, or practices. It’s about mental health and courageously sharing our stories so others will know they are not alone. It’s about what’s happened to us, what will happen to our children, and breaking cycles that are killing us in dark places.