A Flood of Mail Reveals Secret Toll of Depression

(PR.co.nz) A Brisbane-based filmmaker who is releasing a reality docuseries about his struggles with depression and the challenges of caring for his mother, who has paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, has been astonished by the heart-wrenching messages he’s received from viewers confessing – for the first time – the depths of their own depression and mental health struggles.

“I made the series with the aim of connecting with other people who were suffering in silence, but I was not expecting this deluge of direct responses – I’ve been inundated with incredibly personal messages from friends and total strangers alike, most of whom have never told anyone how desperate they feel,” says Epiha. “It’s been incredibly sad and confronting to realise how many people are struggling on their own, but it feels like a huge positive that they’ve taken that step to reach out to me.”

Epiha says he tries to acknowledge the bravery of these messages and encourage the writers to continue taking steps towards getting help, knowing he’s not a trained psychologist or counsellor and can’t save anyone on his own. “I’m humbled that people feel that connection to me and my story, and that what I’ve created has made such a difference already; just the other day one young man who’d contacted me about his depression sent me another note saying he’d been to his first therapy session that morning. It felt like the best thing I’d ever achieved in my life; the response to the series already has been beyond what I could have hoped for.”

His series, ‘Where’s Jonny?’ features 14 short episodes (13-15 minutes long), each dealing with a different pivotal movement in Epiha’s life. “I wanted to create something beautiful, positive and useful from something so negative and debilitating,” says Epiha.” You could say I created this series as an act of revenge – depression isolated me, making me want to hide in shame and suffer alone. I’m trying to the do the exact opposite with this film – turning outward, hoping my story will connect with people, and inspire, educate and provide hope for those who need it.”

The first five episodes have received more than 27,000 views in the series’ first two weeks, and have already been noticed by Hollywood stars like Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario, who tweeted her support for the series, and The Amity Affliction lead singer Joel Birch, who wrote an Instagram post urging his fans to watch. Even The Bachelor star Abbie Chatfield has lent her support.

Epiha, who before Where’s Johnny was best known as a musician and producer with Brisbane bands Antiheros and No Filter, has now come to expect his phone buzzing with intimate and revealing messages at all hours of the day and night – not knowing if the person reaching out is from Australia, New Zealand, the USA or even Argentina. “It feels like, now I’ve started this, I have a responsibility to keep telling my story,” Epiha says, “because I know now that for some of the people watching, it’s literally a lifeline.”

“I think all the messages prove that whatever is already out there, it’s not good enough. Why has it taken one message writer 12 years to admit to me, or to anyone, that he needs help? Because that first step is literally the beginning of a new life,” Epiha says.


Media Release on 25 October 2019

Media Contact
Jonathan Epiha, Where’s Jonny
Email: contact@wheresjonny.com.au
Phone: 0422611338
Website: https://wheresjonny.com.au/
Video: https://youtu.be/pmvdNc-t8PY