The Story Behind The Video:
By Alison Hall
I met Ken and Tasha Irving six years ago during a difficult time in my life. I was a journalism student from Winnipeg, struggling to put myself through Ryerson University. Midway through my studies, while juggling part-time jobs, I signed up for an babysitting service that was advertised online.
Enter Kenneth, Tasha and their four daughters. From the moment I was welcomed into their home, I was struck by their warmth and strong sense of family values. While I spent countless hours with the Irvings (mostly with their daughters), at first, I wasn’t aware of the full significance of the name “Irving,” and more importantly, the collective struggle they were all facing. I only knew the Irvings as the family, who included me in their birthday dinners and taught me, among several other important life lessons, the best way to throw a ball for their chocolate Lab. After I graduated from university and started my career as a journalist in New York, we kept in touch over e-mail for a few years.
Last spring, Kenneth approached me, asking for help. Kenneth was ready to tell his story for the first time, with Tasha at his side. Initially, he was focused on his new business; but after several conversations, it became clear to me that the story was about Kenneth’s own path to independence. I also knew that if someone of Kenneth’s stature could share his story publicly, it might have a profound impact on the lives of other families grappling with mental-health issues. Throughout the process, Kenneth told me that he was willing to bare all if even one person could relate to any part of his story and find strength in their family and friends, but most importantly within themselves.
We decided to work together last summer to create a short documentary. I sought to tell Kenneth’s story in its most natural form — as a conversation with a friend. We filmed in an environment that he felt most comfortable — at his cottage in Maine, with a small production crew. Kenneth provided a small budget to cover expenses, but I received no payment and maintained full control of editing. He and Tasha did not see the video until it was completed, and made no changes to its content.
I hope that, after watching our video, someone will feel inspired to reach out to a friend, either to offer support or to speak honestly about their own experiences, just as Ken did.
Read more at: The Globe and Mail
Originally published at medium.com