John Cadigan is both the director and subject of People Think I’m Crazy. He began recording his battle with schizophrenia shortly after he was diagnosed at the age of 21 while attending art school.
John provides his personal insights on why he decided to film his life, while coping with schizophrenia, and how he hoped his film would help others.
My name is John Cadigan. I am an artist, and I also
When I first got sick, I asked my sister to help me
make a film about what was happening to me. For the first 3 years doctors were confused whether I had paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or psychotic depression.
All I knew is that I was getting sicker and sicker, and no medication worked. I figured that even if I didn’t get better, making the film would help other people.
Luckily, I did get better. And my film tells that story.
The project became therapeutic. At first it helped me understand my symptoms. Bringing the camera into all parts of my life also helped me understand the impact of my illness on my family.
People don’t talk about mental illness. Schizophrenia is the most hidden of all, and there’s lots of misinformation out there. Even some doctors, social workers and therapists are ill-informed. A psychology professor once asked my sister how many personalities I had.
Media portrayals rarely reflect reality and typically depict us as either violent or wandering on the streets speaking to phantom voices – something that is not true for the vast majority. When People Say I’m Crazy came out we were turned down from an appearance on a national talk show because they said I wasn’t “schizophrenic enough.”
In fact, most of us have been blessed with some recovery: more than half of us live on our own, are never arrested, and pursue our dreams.
Our society needs more empathy and understanding. I hope my film can help.
We are not alone. There is hope!