Tracy Campbell plays Trevor, a recent high school graduate who gets diagnosed with bipolar disorder, in the film Bricked. This mental illness takes him in a new direction with life. Campbell tells his view and a connection to the subject of the film.
ATM: When you hear of the mental illness “bipolar disorder” as a black person, what comes to mind?
TC: it’s interesting because I do not normally hear these words in the black community. I know it plagues the black community. This is the contrast. When this word is used in the black community it means “unstable,” “irrational,” “erratic,” or anything that deals with a mental incapacity that is extreme. It is undiscussed in the black community. It is always a whisper and never a resounding noise in the black community with the term bipolar.
ATM: It is a mental illness that is taboo to talk about. If you are a black person living in this community, then it is like “We will pray to get it away.” “You do not have this.” “You can find a remedy or start with going back to church on Sundays.” A black person in this situation would say “I have a bipolar issue. Why can I not just get medicine?” Some would respond, “Why do you need to see a therapist? You are not crazy.”
TC: Right. Or you need to step out of it.
ATM: Or you are thinking too hard on it and you do not have bipolar. From my experience, white people and other races, they take it more carefully and seriously. It is not taboo. They have the necessary care. They have therapy and medicine. This is probably why the black community has a high issue with mental illness.
TC: I agree with this. It is not really taken seriously. It is not treated at all. This is disheartening because there are so many people that are dealing with something of this degree and caliber. The response is “Hey, you are just being overly emotional. You need to snap out of it. Maybe you need to go on a vacation or take a break?” We are addressing the symptom but not the root. The symptom is just how someone is responding, reacting, exhibiting certain characteristics of the root. There is something on the inside that we need to talk, address, and make sure this person gets the proper help they need.
ATM: People in this community are afraid to come out. Especially as a young person. You already have the “black” stereotype. If you come out staying you are bipolar, then you are outcasted within your own community. Often in the black community this term is treated as sarcasm. You are in an argument, it is sarcastically said you have bipolar. Some people say they have bipolar but have never been medically diagnosed. Bricked focuses on this issue universally and how it is dealt with.
TC: The film is not a “black film,” but it does have an all-black cast. It is dealing with an issue that is plaguing a lot of people throughout the world. I am a faith-based person. My relationship with God and Jesus is fundamental and crucial to how I generally function in life. I had a friend who committed suicide in March. He was clinically diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. It had been an atrocious journey for him. It is an interesting thing when you lose someone to this element. It gives you a lot of perspectives. A pastor said, “The need is always spiritual before it is physical.”
We focus on the spiritual aspect, but we also need the physical need. The physical need is potentially therapy or medicine. We look at the spiritual as well, this is crucial because we are spirit beings. This is from my point. This is just coming from a faith-based point of view. This film is not faith-based at all. It was cool to be in the position of my friend and see his lens of life. Also, to see how he turned to live in general with dealing with this element and this mental illness. It is an interesting idea overall. It is not talked about or focused on in T.V or film. There are few films that really tackle this issue. This was not even a big budget picture, but it was an indie film. It does a good job with shedding light on something most people are conscious and aware of in society, but we are not depicting it properly. We are giving people the tools or assistance to people who deal with something of this magnitude.
ATM: There are not a lot of true depicted television or films that we know of that touches on this subject. It is a touchy subject. It comes down to how do you talk about it without offending someone. I would assume a person with bipolar feels alone. They are manic depressive for a certain amount of time. Then also they are depressed for another amount of time. People know themselves and when their bodies are changing. A lot of times we do not want to face reality or face bodily changes. This creates the feeling of “Am I normal or am I abnormal?” Mentally they have to fight their own internal demons. It is worst when keeping this to yourself because you are suppressing it. People need to know they are not deemed crazy or psychotic, but you just need help to guide you.
TC: Yes, you need to be open. In the black community, we do not typically talk about issues. While growing up there was no transparency. The vulnerability was not a key component in my household. I know this for tons of my friends who grew up the same way I did. When it comes to dealing with things of what might plague any community, but especially the black community, there needs to be a level of transparency and vulnerability so we all can speak openly about what is happening on the inside. We all can speak openly about what we might be facing or what our light might be. Trevor’s reality is different, and he is living in a broken reality. It is a tough journey to communicate and express this for him. There are different elements to the film. Especially in the ending where there is a twist. He comes to the essential being of living with bipolar. He comes to grips with this being a broken reality for such a long time. How do I get back to living life as a young man in society with this plague of brokenness and separation of life? How do I get back from this? How do I maneuver my way to where I know I am supposed to be?
ATM: In the trailer where T.C Carson’s character diagnoses your character, he says, “So am I crazy?” This alone supports the negative stereotype that is given to people living with this. There are people hiding behind whether they are this or that because they refuse to fall in the lines of this stereotype. If you openly express you have bipolar disorder, then you might not get hired, people will not associate with you, or your family might disown you. This is likely in the black community. This makes their loneliness worse because now they feel as if they are outside of this world. They might move to things that result to suicide or ending their lives.
TC: The whole topic at hand is such an interesting topic. I hope the film serves this topic justice. I hope it clears the conversation in all communities. Parents should talk to their children and kids should feel comfortable sharing this with them. Especially if things are happening on the inside and they do not understand. It will be seen around the nation. I hope the conversation will be more about this topic of bipolar disorder and what this looks like for people. How we treat people.
ATM: From the embodiment of your character, what does the real and mental status of being depressed encompass, which is one of the stages of a bipolar disorder?
TC: When it comes to science, the brain, and certain serotonins that are not mashing with the other parts of the brain. It is a chemical imbalance that makes you feel a certain way and you just do not know why. I was guilty of this before doing my research and understanding that people are struggling. “Just snap out of it.” “Change your thinking.” It does not work like this in science or biology when it comes to different levels in their actual physical. It is a huge thing for me to empathize with people like this for me. It was not a snap out of it situation with this character because it was all clinical. We need to get you balanced. We need to put you on medication to help you get balanced. If not, then you are going to live in this state for a while. This is what it looks like from my perspective.
ATM: Typically, a person who is suffering from a bipolar disorder has a chemical imbalance of dopamine and serotonin and a lot of other things. Dopamine refers to the emotional response a person has. Serotonin refers to the self-esteem level in a person.