Mum’s insight into her daily challenge
SHARON Chisholm is a Coffs mother-of-two, loving wife and thriving businesswoman – a perfect picture of ‘success’.
But appearances are only skin-deep. Sharon has a complex history of mental illness, having been diagnosed with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.
Now, Sharon is the star of new SBS documentary How
‘Mad’ Are You?, which chips away at the stigma that pervades the topic of mental health.
The premise of the show asks a simple question: can we tell a person is mentally ill by looking at them?
After receiving an email about the documentary last year, the local business coach said she went through a stringent process of interviews before she was chosen from several hundred as one of 10 participants.
Five of the participants had been diagnosed with a mental illness, while the other five had not.
A panel of three mental health experts put their credentials on the line as they decided who has a diagnosis, and what, as the participants underwent a number of tests.
“The experience was phenomenal,” Sharon said.
“We did things like a standup comedy routine, we built a raft, underwent memory tests.
“All of us went into it with the idea of reducing stigma, hoping to help people not feel alone.
“All I can say is the experts didn’t get much right in the end – and that’s the point.”
When Sharon was four she began suffering from anxiety. In her teen years she was diagnosed with complex PTSD as a result of living with domestic violence.
It was after the birth of her daughter in 2003 when she was diagnosed with post-natal depression, and it was three years ago when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Today, Sharon runs her own online business where she coaches small business owners, particularly women, on issues including self-worth and imposter syndrome.
“I think it’s important that as a society we try to judge people a little less,” she said.
“None of us were in it for that 15 minutes of fame. We were all there with the hope of helping even just one person to bring meaning and purpose to everything we’ve been through.”
Watch How ‘Mad’ Are You? on SBS On Demand. If you or anyone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.
MENTAL HEALTH: Sharon Chisolm (far right) is a star of new SBS documentary How ‘Mad’ Are You?.