Remember Jason Russell? The creator of the viral video campaign KONY 2012? And remember his very public mental meltdown that seemed to halt all of that hype as quickly as it started? Well now, for the first time since his bizarre naked ranting incident, Russell is explaining what really happened.
Kony 2012 became a household name earlier this year after Russell launched a worldwide campaign calling for the arrest of Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony for his role in child abuse and slavery. It was a bold and memorable video that shocked millions of viewers over the course of a few days and inspired them to take action through donations and/or demonstrations in their local communities.
But just as the campaign was at its peak, Russell had what appeared to be a mental breakdown. A video of him naked and on the streets of San Diego showed him pacing nervously, shouting, hitting the street and acting completely confused. After that he was hospitalized where his wife and supporters blamed exhaustion for his strange behavior that they called “reactive psychosis.”
Now, Russell opens up to Oprah on her next Oprah’s Next Chapter saying that the person in that video was not really him, according to previews by USA Today.
Again, it’s really hard to explain if people who have never had an out-of-body experience, but it really wasn’t me. That wasn’t me, that person on the street corner ranting and raving and naked is not me, that’s not who I am.
Russell goes on to say that while he remembers some of what happened that day–and even shows how he dented his wedding ring from hitting the pavement so hard–he was clearly not himself:
…walking around snapping my fingers up and down…slapping my hands on the ground as hard as I can. Just slapping them on the ground. Talking to myself. Ranting. Raving. Talking about good versus evil, God and the devil. I mean it was just very out of control.
While no one can–or should–judge him for this, what’s scary here is the effects that stress can have on our bodies. No one can deny that Russell was obviously under a tremendous amount of pressure during that time with so much media and public attention–and criticism. Given the amount of stress many people in our society deal with daily, a mental meltdown could happen to anyone. According to one report, one-third of Americans claim they have felt close to a mental breakdown or suffered from a mental illness. It may not always be quite so public, but mental breakdowns do happen.
The full interview airs on OWN this Sunday at 9pm ET.
Will you watch it? Will you still support his efforts?