Dylan filmed most of the festival in his role as videographer, but also had his very own workshop being part of the festival. In the following he is answering some questions: Why and how is mental health important to you?
We are in the midst of a mental health crisis. I think the causes are many – we have social health crises, capitalist greed, oppression (internalized, interpersonal, ideological, institutional), the surprise pandemic, new technologies bringing constant electronic speed to our waking hours, a severe lack of community. We need to organize to get power so we can change things for the better. In order to organize well, we need to be healthy in mind-body-spirit. This is why mental health is important to me. On the personal level, my family and I have also suffered from trauma responses in the body and mind, which have been labeled as various mental illnesses. I lost my father to suicide.
What makes you interested in BMHF? The topic, the festival, the format?
The topic of the festival is mental health and the format is multi-day, mixed workshops and performances. I think this is a great idea. Comedy and storytelling, making space for vulnerability, space for listening—these are wonderful medicines we all need more of.
My workshop integrated a sound-walk, with performance in public space, followed by conversation and a vegan meal. The purpose was to come together, ask questions, reflect, and connect. With the components of the workshop, I tried to answer the question: how can we respond, in the here and now, to this mental health crisis?
Currently, all of my creative projects offer what I see as a key answer: we need to take better care of ourselves and each other and to foster connection, with the body, with each other, with the eco-system. I’m interested in holding spaces like these every week throughout the year.
How did you deal with mental health during last year's lockdown?
I suffered through it. I moved to Berlin the day be pandemic began. I didn’t have friends, family, any kind of support system here. It was hard. But it also gave me the time to clarify what exactly I want to do with my time and energy. I want to combine my creativity and my compassion, in ways that are generative and medicinal.
How are you preparing for this year's winter/lockdown?
Very good question. One that not enough people are asking themselves. I’m organizing some online gatherings—virutal spaces were we can come together, with a shared purpose, and to connect. You can learn more by signing up my heals_pace newsletter at my website: dylanleelowry.com
What are your tools/ways to regulate your own mental health?
I prioritize getting enough sleep, eating five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, and walking or riding my bike while the sky is still illuminated. I also take audio-diary walks – I record myself talking about my life, current struggles, creative ideas, whatever comes up! I find it very helpful to put my experience into words and to stay it out loud. Interview: Wiebke Hörmann Text: Dylan Lee Lowry https://www.dylanleelowry.com/