*This is one of the featured films from the 2021 Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Festival.
“What Did You Do Today?” is about a young girl who recounts memories and stories through the entries of her four journals, which were written over the course of ten years. These authentic journals follow her transition to adolescence and entail the struggles of self-love, mental illness, and overcoming trauma.
My inspiration came from my own childhood. During the months of quarantine in my bedroom, I came across five journals that I have written from the age of 10 to 19 years old. Looking back at these journals, I noticed that as I got older, the subjects of each journal entry eventually became more than just what I did that day. They entailed the battle with my mental health, my traumatic childhood experiences, and increasing acts of self-hatred. I created this film as a form of self-reflection, and to track my treacherous- yet relatable- journey into adolescence.
Ultimately, I hope that young children find themselves resonating with this film. Throughout the story, I explore my mental health journey with a sense of rawness and transparency in order to encourage others to do the same. I want to emphasize that the issues presented in the film are completely normal and do not define who I am. One’s trauma and mental illness only make someone a stronger person. Additionally, I wanted to point out that mental health isn’t always a clear, upwards journey; it’s something that I still struggle with today, and that’s perfectly okay.
I think it’s important to continue to start the conversation about mental health because it is a topic that is normally avoided or seen as taboo. However, 1 in 5 teenagers have a mental health disorder in the United States. I believe people should take more action to destigmatize mental illness in order to prevent others from suppressing or hiding it. We should encourage our friends and family to have open discussions about mental health so that they have the ability to seek help through therapy, mental institutions, etc. Actively changing one mind at a time can potentially save lives.