The mental health writing of Andrew Lawes has saved lives.
Now, he takes things to the next level.
My first article for the Good Men Project was The Scandal of Male Suicide, which highlighted the rising epidemic of suicide and the alarming rate at which men, in particular, are dying as a result of it. Last week, the Calm Zone emailed me with some statistics. In England and Wales, the highest number of deaths through suicide were recorder since 2000, with the highest number of male suicides in 15 years. Despite all the progress in breaking down mental health stigma, the problem is getting worse. This year, more people in my world have either attempted or died through suicide than the rest of my years combined. It’s too much. Something has to change.
How To Love Someone With Depression has made a difference to thousands of people. The person it made the biggest impact upon was me. The first of my essays to be published online was my story of facing depression. It was meant to be a one-shot deal, but when Duff McKagan from Guns ‘n’ Roses wrote about it, my mate encouraged me to use the spotlight to help people. My advice to someone close to me became something that is still shared today, two years on. What the experience taught me was that, although depression was devastating, sharing my thoughts and experiences about it so that others could see they weren’t alone gave my darkness meaning. The problem is that it isn’t enough. Too many people are dying at their own hand. My fear is that my life will end the same way.
Over the next few months, every idea, thought and emotion contained within my heart, mind and soul will be recorded; undiluted and uncensored. The full extent of my mental health issues; my theory that Autism, far from being a disorder, holds the answers to the human mind; as well as my thoughts on religion, drugs and alcohol, the Penrith Prancer, the lessons learned from heartbreak and tragedy and whatever else needs to be verbalised. The aim is to understand how my mind works, then translate that into guidelines to help others understand themselves; to show that mental differences and learning disabilities, with the right support, can be turned into strengths; and to showcase the small-town heroes that have supported me through my darkest times.
My battles with my mind have had successes, but those achievements are meaningless when the demons surface. The happiness of love, the safety of financial security and completion of career ambitions were meant to silence the sound of madness; instead, the bell tolled louder and longer. My dilemma is this: my younger self swore that, should control of the mind be lost, the Lawes Disorder would be eradicated to prevent collateral damage. However, a few years ago a promise was made, a vow that the experiment would never be surrendered because of fear. The only way to keep my word is to turn my mental weaknesses into my greatest strengths. This is the only way to prove that the fear of mental differences is based on nothing more than lack of understanding.
For thirty years, people have studied and examined my mind and my actions in an attempt to solve the puzzle. Experts with years of studies and experience have been unable to crack the code. Maybe one day they will, but time is running out, and maybes won’t keep me alive. Abiding by the concept of order pushed me to the pits of hell. Millennia of history and thirty years of trying to understand the actions of mankind led to breakdown. The Lawes Report: The Lawes Disorder is my attempt to turn a mental breakdown into a breakthrough.
Mental illness plagues my life, and years of treatment and therapy has failed to manage my condition. My mental breakdowns are increasing in both frequency and severity; my personal relationships are breaking down as a result, and the mental health support available in my area is poor. The only option available is to fix myself before my disorder destroys me; the only way for me to do that is to produce The Lawes Report: The Lawes Disorder – my attempt to psychoanalyse my mind, thoughts, actions and experiences to find a way to understand and manage my condition, whilst also relating it to others so that they can begin to understand their own mental illnesses. If, one day, my disorder does break me, this film is my attempt to create some light from that darkness. Exposing the full extent of my disorder, whatever the consequences, and trying to attach meaning to my madness may not save me, but maybe the experts can use this film to save others. If it saves just one life, it will be worth it.
People have contacted me to say their writing has played a part in keeping them alive. The Lawes Report: The Lawes Disorder takes that writing to the next level. Video is a far more accessible format of communication than writing, so logic dictates that this film will make a real difference on a bigger scale to more people. Your support of this film, based on the evidence available, will save lives.
In my world, a sizeable amount of people believe that my mental illness has already broke me. This film is my attempt to prove them wrong; not only for me, but for the millions of other people who struggle with mental illness and who face similar problems. For me, there are two main challenges: self-doubt that this film matters and will make a difference; and fear that the filming process will cause me to break down again.
After receiving a message explaining my worries, WWE legend Mick Foley took the time to contact me. He offered reassurance that emotional venting on-camera is therapeutic, and that the build-up is the most difficult part. To me, Mick Foley is the master of the emotionally-intense interview; his message eased that fear of mine.
As for the self-doubt, my inner circle knows how to manage me to achieve my greatest potential. My friends have supported me through the darkest times of my life; they have inspired my successes and they have rebuilt me after my failures. For a long time, there was no light at the end of my tunnel. Mental illness affects, on average, one in four people at some point in their lifetime. It affects people indiscriminately; it cares not for social status, wealth, race, sexuality or gender. It thrives on fear – that of the person afflicted, and that of the society around them.
For two years, my writing has offered support to those struggling with mental health issues. For this film to have the most impact, I need your support. You can read about ways to get involved HERE. Please help me remove some of the fear that surrounds mental illness by supporting The Lawes Report: The Lawes Disorder.
For further information, please contact Andrew direct at: [email protected]