In Alice in Wonderland, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into a world of intrigue and wonder and total madness.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

This is one of those lines that stuck with me. It’s almost a jovial look at the idea of madness, but it also holds something really important in it. We’re all mad, in some way or another; we all feel things, we all go through things, but what we don’t always do is talk about them.

One Under, a solo performance that’s part of Vault Festival (which has some amazing shows on), was an open, accessible and funny conversation about mental health and the way that we perceive it as individuals and in relation to each other, rather than the big medical term that gets thrown around.

Here we meet Amy Fleming; she’s just like you and me but Amy has been through some things, personal things, a lot of it so personal that only she feels it about herself. She’s looked at her brain and the way in which you can change how you think, and now she wants us to do the same. And we do this by playing some games.

One Under was an interactive discussion that encouraged as much audience participation to decide the fate of one person and justify the answers. Amy bounced effortlessly between guiding the debate and structuring the discussion, so that you were at all times focused on what she was trying to get across and how that influenced what you thought, and what that meant. There was also a beautifully broken moment when she had to take a minute off stage and we were all left with the empty room feeling that highlights another side of discussing mental health.

By talking about certain themes you’re able to relate elements of your own feelings to a situation; with One Under you could see how you felt about something compared to a room of strangers. There were lots of funny moments, but there were also moments of sadness, of wanting to be able to do more…do something that says, “ok, this is me but it doesn’t have to define me”. As Amy said, you are your DNA but it doesn’t have to define you.

Let’s not just talk about this, lets do something. Thank you Amy for getting the ball rolling.

★★★★★

Read about one person’s personal experience of living and fighting with depression here.

Pledge the change here.

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