Perspectives: Alyssa Jane, Storyteller and Photographer
A creative entrepreneur gets real about her struggles with anxiety in STUCK, an uplifting film about mental health that we can all relate to.
Creative director and photographer Alyssa Jane is a dreamer, creative and storyteller that pours major heart and personality into her art. Her latest project, STUCK, is a short film inspired by her own mental health journey. It’s lighthearted, whimsical and relatable—all while tackling some seriously heavy and important issues. We’re connecting with Alyssa to get the download on the inspiration behind STUCK and the messages that we can all take from it.
How did the idea for STUCK come to you? Share with us a little bit about the mission behind the short film.
STUCK quite literally got me out of bed. The idea came to me during a bout of sadness and anxiety that kept me in my bed for about four days straight. Being a creative entrepreneur is tough for so many different reasons, and the affect it can have on your mental health, self-confidence and relationships is intense. Being so passionately connected to your art, trying to make money off of it to live, and constantly working to make others care about your soul’s work even an ounce of the level that you do, is exhausting to say the least.
This, along with the myriad struggles that coincide with being a woman in her early 20’s, weighs on me every once in a while, thus getting “stuck” in bed isn’t an anomaly in my world. But with mental health stigmas and the era of social influencers, you start to think you’re alone in that. You start to feel guilty and shameful for being “lazy” and sad, which only perpetuates the depression and anxiety. But what if more people showed that side of themselves? And instead of it being this weird and shameful thing to tell people, it became something everyone felt comfortable admitting to feeling? What if it was almost fun and lighthearted to talk about?
Those thoughts are what inspired me to direct and write STUCK. Really, I just wanted to create a film that pretty much anyone can relate to, no matter their level of familiarity with mental health issues, and say “Hey, I’ve done that before,” and be able to take that with them next time they find themselves doing those things and recognize, “This may be a sign that I’m getting into a bad state of mind, maybe I should reach out to someone or do something that makes me feel better.” And, also, it was just a really cool and therapeutic project for me to work on and use as a tool in my new brand to show the type of creative work I can do and want to be involved in.
That’s beautiful. Let’s dive into the perspective behind your passion for mental health awareness. Can you tell us about that?
I feel like, with mental health issues, the only thing that makes you the “right” spokesperson is the willingness to be the spokesperson. That’s it. If you’re willing to open up and be truthful about your experiences, then that’s really all you need.
For me, I just felt that I have the ability as an artist to turn feelings into visuals and, as somewhat of an empath, I can carry out a project that others can relate to, so I ran with it. At this time in particular, I really wanted to create art that was inspired solely by things going on in my mind and life, and after staying in bed for four days, I was like, well…this could be a visual and story to tell.
So, that lit a fire under my butt to get up off the mattress and go again. And that whole idea of taking my power back only pushed me further to want to do this project to show people that you also have the power to get yourself out of a rut. Support from loved ones is crucial, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to put in the work to get better.
What’s the most valuable lesson you took away from the experience of directing and producing STUCK?
I am capable of doing whatever the hell I want. No, but really, I learned to not let my fears—of people not understanding or caring—keep me from creating work that I feel strongly about. I was so worried people wouldn’t understand the film or think it was crappy or weird or whatever, but that wasn’t the case, and instead I have had so many people reach out to me to tell me the positive affect the film had on them. If I had let me fears get in my way, people never would have seen it and I wouldn’t be able to say, I’m a film director now!
What do you want other women to know when it comes to mental health?
Number one, you’re allowed to feel sad, angry, anxious, annoyed or unhappy, but know that it’s just like weather passing through; it doesn’t have to last forever. Feel it…then work on letting go of it until next time. No one feels happy all of the time, and forcing yourself to meet that standard only perpetuates depression and anxiety. Ask for help, whether that’s in a project, work, relationships or when you’re feeling sad. You’d be surprised who’s willing to give you a hand and how many resources there are out there for you.
Katarina Kovacevic is founder and editor of RUBY. Follow her on Instagram @Little_K_Kata.