Continue the Conversation: Shane Koyczan

The goal of this set of series of posts was to showcase videos of people talking on public platforms about mental illness, and their personal accounts of an illness or informational video meant to raise awareness and erase the stigma. The video featured in this post is a tad different than what we have posted in the past, though it doesn’t lack the powerful message relating to mental health.

At a Tedtalks in in February of 2013, Canadian poet and writer, Shane Koyczan stood up and shared his spoken-word poem “To This Day.”

Shane’s powerful message touches at the core of what it means to be young and different, and attempting to dealing with the bullying that you are a victim to for being different in the eyes of your peers. It speaks about depression in young people, and the inability to forget the words of your tormentors even when you are grown.

Also in this video, it features a bit of back story that Shane shares with viewers. He explains his own tortures at the hands of bullies as a child, and the names that he was given. Among the stories he tells, he mentions what he went through when he was told to pick a career. His choices were belittled, and he was told not to be things that he wanted to be. Instead, he was told to accept the identity that others would give him.

I find this video powerful not only for the poetry, but Shane’s ability to fully explain the emotions of a bullied child still being affected years later. His simple words paint the portrait of someone hurt, and the agony of others not understanding their hurt or simply brushing it off because they simply don’t know.

To this date, Shane’s Youtube video of ‘To This Day’ has 16,000,000+ views since it was posted in February of 2013. The To This Day Project was where people really first took notice of Shane, and he since his successful TEDtalk viewed above he has collaborated with TED education to to help create a classroom tool to that assists teachers with discussing bullying with their students. He has written a total of three books, his newest book Our Deathbeds will be Thirsty including ‘To The Day’ poem, and his spoken word performances are sold out repeatedly.

As I mentioned previously, this video is a little different than the ones normally shared. Shane doesn’t speak directly about mental illness, though his message is still an important one to share. The affects you have on someone may affect their mental health, and will stick with them long after they’ve closed their school books and got their grades.

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