News from Active Minds / News from the Field

Meg Hutchinson Debuts Mental Health Documentary

PuYS_Poster-FINAL_qrtr-1Meg Hutchinson is a singer/songwriter and a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau. Bring Meg to your campus to speak about mental health. 

When I was 9 years old my parents gave me a pink Walkman for Christmas and a cassette tape of Richard and Mimi Farina. There was a song on that tape called “Pack Up Your Sorrows.”

“But if somehow you could pack up your sorrows and give them all to me/You would lose them, I know how to use them/Give them all to me”

I piled into the car with my two sisters and our parents drove us to Darien, CT to our grandparent’s house for the holiday weekend.

When we arrived we began to notice the grownups whispering about something and looking anxiously at the neighbor’s house. That evening I finally asked my mom what they were all talking about. My mom said that the neighbor had died by suicide that week. I had never heard of suicide. It had never occurred to me that that could ever happen.

For the rest of that weekend I listened to that song over and over and stared out the window at the neighbor’s house. I wished that I could have taken her sadness away. Listening to the song made me feel comforted. I decided that I wanted to be a singer when I grew up.

That’s exactly what I became. What I didn’t know, however, was that I would also grow up to have bipolar disorder. What I didn’t know is that I would struggle privately for nine years before having a breakdown and finally being properly diagnosed. What I didn’t know is that 28 years after that weekend in CT I would release a film about my journey and call it “Pack Up Your Sorrows.

Told through the lens of my own story, the film is an exploration of many of the topics nearest and dearest to my heart: creativity, healing, mindfulness in education, mental health advocacy, wellness, and how these elements converge in making the world a better place.

Over the course of 20 months of filming I travelled around the country to interview groundbreaking psychologists, neuroscientists, authors, historians, geneticists and spiritual teachers.

When the credits rolled after Thursday night‘s screening, the filmmakers and I walked to the stage for Q & A. Everyone in that theater rose to their feet.

I stood there looking out at the audience and marveled at the journey. What amazed me the most was how entirely loved and accepted I felt in that moment. I had hidden my illness for so many years out of fear of being unlovable and yet I had reached this moment where I could share the whole story and stand there basking in the love.

I am so excited to bring this film to more campuses in the year ahead. Our biggest hope for the film is that it will inspire more conversation and continue to change the story about mental health.

For more about the film, listen to an interview on Boston’s NPR station or follow us on Facebook.