As soon as the final credits were rolling upon my first viewing of IDA’S DIARY, there was so much more I longed to know about this remarkable woman. Luckily, Ida was willing to answer a few of my questions, shedding even more light on her journey and offering her thoughts on what it means to live a life battling with and rising above mental illness.
Tell us about your life since filming the last footage for the film.
After the filming wrapped in 2014, a lot of different stuff has happened in my life. I’ve enrolled in a two-year activity course, I feel that I master my life better and I attend regular sessions with a very good therapist. The therapy supplies insights that help me on a daily basis. I also attend meaningful activities and take some spare jobs when I have the time.
How do you think the film can help others suffering from a mental illness?
I think it can help showing people that they are not alone. I knew absolutely nothing about psychiatric illness before I was admitted to a psychiatric ward when I was 18. If I had known more before that happened, I might have sought out help at a much earlier stage. At the time I associated people who suffer from psychiatric illnesses with axe murderers and other horror movie clichés. I really didn’t know that people have a mental health and that I was mentally ill. Borderline is maybe one of the most stigmatizing diagnoses you can have. And there has been talk about changing the name of the diagnose to something that better reflects what the illness represents – sometimes Borderline gets nicknamed “Good Girl Syndrome”. I wish I saw a film like this when I was 15. It would’ve shown me that I was not alone and helped me gain insight, seek out help and guidance.
Do you still keep a video diary?
I still film a little, but far from as much as before. I film maybe every other week to document how I feel and what I’ve been up to. It helps me locating patterns in myself and makes me more able to handle bad periods. Every now and then I also get ideas about making my own film; I might dress out, play different characters and make parodies. That provides me with a lot to film. I have my own channel on youtube.
What have you learned from sharing your story with others? Do you feel more connected to the world having told your story through film?
I’ve learned a lot about both others and myself by sharing my experiences in the film. I’ve crossed many borders and surrendered to the process (to me the act of surrendering is positively charged). I accept life the way it is. I also feel that I’ve gained more trust from the people around me. People I talk to feel relieved that they’re not alone, and they really appreciate it when I commend them for the great effort they put into reworking their lives. It’s not only about pulling yourself together. Psychiatric illness can be so complex. So, yes, I feel more connected to the world after having told my story.
In your darkest times, what kept you going?
What kept me going was family and friends. I’ve thought a lot about whether I would’ve been easier on them if I were dead. Sadly, I’m not alone in thinking this way. Feeling like a worthless strain on society that also represents a huge economic cost when you are hurting inside also added to the death wish. Sometimes there was no hope, but I had to hang in there for my family. The worst thing for me when it comes to self-harm has been the shame and guilt I’ve felt for my family. It feels so bad to be the reason for their pain. But it is a disease. I really can’t help it. But you need guidance on how to handle your disease without cutting. At present I’ve only cut myself twice the last 5 years. I’ve gained a lot of experience on how to deal with adversities in alternative ways and that gives me hope for the future. And if I slip and have a relapse, I both hope and know that I can get back on the horse again.
What advice would you give to someone suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder?
There is hope for everybody. Have faith in your betterment. Have faith in the fact that your symptoms can be less intense over time. Know that help and guidance are available.
What are your hopes for the film?
My hopes for the film are that it will create more openness around psychiatric illness and show that people with Borderline are not diagnoses, but people. People with psychiatric illnesses are so much more than just their illness, but still they are being stamped as if the diagnose was an identity. I’m still sick, but that’s only one part of me. I have good periods and bad periods. I handle the bad periods better now. I’m not Borderline – I’m Ida. This has been one of my main goals for the film; showing that a person with a psychiatric illness is so much more than simply the illness. Then there’s the need for openness and understanding. I really wish there would be a mandatory class in school about mental health – as an integrated part of a focus on health in general.
Would you be interested in working in film – having gone through the process of IDA’S DIARY?
The process of making the film has been very exciting and interesting, and I’d like to work with something that has a value for other people. I really hope this film will mean something for other people out there. Other than that I have a small job as a helper aid and I’ve enrolled in a program to become a voluntary social helper for people of all ages who for some reason are lonely or lack social interaction. In the future I would like to work more actively with mental health awareness – at schools for example. There is so much ignorance. How are students supposed to learn about these things when algebra trumps are teaching about how the body and mind work. I really would like to make a difference in that department.
Where do you picture yourself in five years?
Well, 5 years ago I had absolutely no idea or even a fantasy that there would be a film called IDA’S DIARY, so I honestly don’t know. But I imagine I will be even better – that the sick side of me will be even smaller and the healthy side bigger. Other than that I envision a house with a view of the sea, a cat, a sailing boat and someone to love.
Do you feel that mental illness is being accepted and embraced more by society than it was 10 years ago? What additional steps can be taken to bring the issue into the light and normalize it?
Absolutely. When I was introduced to the world of psychiatry 10 years ago, I knew nothing. Now there are blogs, more and more people are open about psychiatric illness and there is an increased media focus. But we are not quite there yet. There’s still a lot of taboos and ignorance surrounding the issue. We’re on our way, but we still have some way to go.
Interview by: Sarah Snavely