Thursday, 19 July 2018

Mental Health @ The Fringe: Bebe Sanders @ Edfringe 2018

First of all, how do you define mental health? What does the term mean to you - do you have a social model of sanity, for example, or is it concerned with neural atypical conditions?

Mental health is so personal, and means different things to different people. There might be one person who flies through something that would induce a panic attack in another. For me personally, it’s about knowing oneself. Knowing what the triggers are, knowing what works in managing the difficulties. I think the best example of sanity is someone who has become self aware enough to know what is and isn’t good for them. Ironically, some of the most well balanced people I know are those who live with mental illness, because it has forced them to become self aware and adopt habits and lifestyles that help them stay well.  

What areas of mental health are you looking at in the performance?

In ‘Violet’ we explore themes of loneliness, and depression – which I believe, often come hand in hand. It is primarily a show about friendship, and human connection across generations, and how by opening our minds and letting a lot of the insignificant ‘stuff’ go, we can begin to feel more whole. Our character Bertie starts off in London, which she finds totally overwhelming, and by moving down to the beach and letting go of the pressures she thought were inescapable, she begins to feel more sturdy, mentally. 

In what ways do you hope that  your play can help the audience to move forward in their understanding and actions towards a greater sense of mental good health?

I hope it reminds people of what really matters to them. That it reminds them to take the pressure off when it comes to the stressful, little things that ultimately are not serving them well. And hopefully it will inspire people to reach out and connect with people they may not usually speak to or interact with. It's a reminder of the importance of human connection. 

And given the high pressure nature of the Fringe, do you have any ideas about positive self-care during August in Edinburgh.

If you are feeling anxious or mentally unstable, it is a categorically terrible idea to drink a lot of alcohol! So hard to do in the environment of the fringe, but truly something I have learnt the hard way. Also, all the basics we all know; try and get enough sleep, eat good food, not just chips from a van. And also try to connect with other people who might be experiencing similar things to you. There are some wonderful ways to connect with people – just reach out. If you’re struggling, don’t feel like you have to do it alone. 

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