Mental Health and The Mystic Effect
Stacy-Ann Buchanan talks sinking into depression, to living life divine.
There’s a mysticism in this world that is elusive for most of us. This energy that exists, that is constantly present all around us, acts as a force that only few are able to harness. For actress, producer, filmmaker, entrepreneur, and boisterous mental health advocate Stacy-Ann Buchanan, that energy is the source of her success.
Ever since she was 12 years old growing up in Jamaica, she felt that energy. There was no doubt in her mind that what we call God exists, and she had began to craft a relationship with this being early on in her lifetime.
“We’re all a part of this big universe. You’re more than just a physical being. Once we realize that, we won’t get so caught up in this illusion that we’re living in.”
For a while, Stacy-Ann was under the illusion that acting was her only calling. She chased this dream across the entire country, moving from Toronto to Vancouver in hopes of becoming the famous actress she felt destined to be.
But something else was waiting for Buchanan as she tested the waters in B.C. And though she landed a few parts here and there, including a role on the Twilight sauga, her vision of fame wasn’t manifesting itself in the way that she had hoped.
And now the pressure she put on herself to succeed, mixed with the let down of what she saw as failure, lead Stacy to anxiety and panic attacks that put her in the hospital. Very quickly, that anxiety descended into depression. Now here is Stacy, in a new world, away from her family, and spiralling out of control more quickly than she could comprehend.
“My depression came in two stages. First, the typical stay at home, close the blinds, don’t talk to anybody, don’t eat for days, don’t shower, all of that. The next part was make sure you get expensive hair done, expensive nails; I had to be head to toe name brand out. I tried to mask my inner pain with outer happiness. I was going out, dancing. Trying to mask this inner war every single day.”
Stacy had to move back home to get well. She needed to be around her family and the people she loved and so Vancouver became her past. But despite her physically leaving the city that she admits almost took her life, Stacy-Ann held on to those emotions and transformed it into something masterful.
The Mystic Effect
“The Mystic Effect was produced out of pain,” Stacy-Ann says. “I was turning 30 years old and I didn’t have the things a 30 year old should have. I was pressuring myself to live up to society’s standard. So after I got the help I needed, I decided I was going to create a show that showcases all the elements of art. Vancouver was the city that almost took my life. It was also the city that saved me, so I named it after Vancouver.”
The success of the inaugural Mystic Effect multidisciplinary showcase pushed Buchanan to start her own production company. Stacy-Ann Productions was developed to be the banner under which Buchanan could go on to do more shows and plays and whatever else her creativity desired.
This was in 2012–2013, and now there’ a buzz in the air about exactly who was Stacy-Ann Buchanan. Stacy wanted to capitalize on this moment and thought writing a book would be the answer. But that would put the focus squarely on Stacy-Ann and her journey and that’s not what she wanted. Buchanan felt that her struggle with depression was only part of a larger story that hadn’t been told. That was the story of mental health specifically within the black community, and the best way to tell that story would be through film.
Stacy-Ann hit the floor and started doing the research. She ignored the fact that she’d never produced a documentary in her life. She ignored the director that refused to be part of her film because he thought focusing strictly on black people was a mistake and that black people don’t support each other anyways, so no one would come out to see it.
On a cold, snowy day in early February of 2015, after a year of putting the film together, over 400 people came out to watch Blind Stigma, what HuffPost called the first documentary in Canada to focus squarely on mental health within the black community. Stacy-Ann Buchanan made history.
True to her nature, Stacy-Ann thanks the people she’s surrounded herself with for her success. She says that it’s not all about finding accomplished individuals to work with. Instead, Buchanan chooses to work with who she calls the hidden gems.
“The underdogs are the best people. They’re the secret gems. Those people are so smart, so underrated, because they’re the ones that are studying the big dogs, they’re studying your mistakes.”
The next six months will be quiet for Stacy-Ann. She’s staying low-key and focusing on keeping herself healthy. She’s always out advocating for mental health through the school system or other groups, and plans to rekindle the Mystic Effect for 2020.
“I saw a quote that said the best years of your life haven’t even happened yet. I’m like what are you talking about, I’ve had some amazing years. [But] I love this quote because it’s about having that hope that no one can take from you. Just relax. In 20 years, I’ll say “you did that.”