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Interview with SMH Comic Filomena Black
December got away from us, between all of the snowstorms, and Omicron. So it’s time for the January installment of our monthly blog post talking to comics who have been through the SMH program, and talking to them about mental health, why they love SMH, and how it impacted their lives.
Welcome, Filomena Black
Filomena joined SMH in 2004. She read about SMH in her local paper in Delta. “I was interested in the idea of standup comedy together with the issue of being able to speak about mental health issues.”
SMH is a place to connect and grow
Filomena had been a part of public speaking class before, but there they didn’t actually get up in front of everyone until the last class. Filomena remembers being surprised that with SMH they got up on the microphone right away. “David was just like, ‘here’s the mic’, and that was it.” Right from the beginning, it was a safe environment to be yourself.
Even though SMH isn’t presented as a support group, Filomena immediately found it helpful because everyone automatically supported each other. “It was a bonus that I didn’t expect; people were very open.” Filomena appreciated the way the class brainstormed to help each other build their sets. You could still feel involved even if you didn’t have anything prepared when you came to class. Other times, she would go just to get a few laughs. “No matter how bad I felt, if I made the effort to go to class, I would always feel better.”
SMH helps teach people about mental illness
SMH is a great platform to educate people. A lot of people can be afraid to ask for more information about mental illness, because they’re afraid of being outed. “SMH opens the space to say, ‘hey let’s laugh about this’, and then people will open up.”
Filomena likes knowing that what she’s doing is making a difference. “Initially, you go into it for yourself, and then you realize that it’s bigger than just you.”
SMH helps with self-acceptance
It can be difficult to live with mental illness. There’s a lot of judgment from society at large. Filomena recalls her mother saying that, “you don’t want people to know about it,” like it’s this horrible experience. But being a part of SMH helped her with self-acceptance. “I got to meet people from all different walks of life that I wouldn’t have normally met. Through SMH, you see that there’s a lot more to people than the diagnosis.”
Filomena also found it helpful that David discloses that he too lives with mental illness. Him being open with his journey helped her to feel more open about hers. “I think that the main thing is that we talk about life experiences and we talk about them openly and unashamedly. And a lot of things that happened to us bring up pain and shame. We take back control of the situation so we can heal from what’s happened. And we can look at it in a funny way that doesn’t have any power over you anymore. It’s just something you can say without it hurting you. It’s really neat when you say “this is who I am” and people are laughing with you.”Back to blog