depression comix #332

No matter what happens — whether it be success or failure, luck or bad fortune, nothing can shake that awful feeling about yourself. Bad things are deserved, good things are explained away thanks to impostor syndrome. It’s like a filter that only allows the awful things to be internalized while letting the good things seem like temporary distractions.

It’s taken me a while and I’ve been a little better about trying to own my successes but it’s been difficult. It’s very easy to make failure seem like a personality characteristic while letting successes feel like temporary aberrations. This is important to try to get over because it does lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where failure is accepted and becomes the norm while chipping away at the ambition and motivation to aim for greater things.

The strip:

depression comix #331

I had this idea for a comic in my sketchbook for several years, but it wasn’t focused enough and I never ended up drawing it. I knew it was something important, because we end up ascribing negative attributes because of race when the race is not our own but when the race is our own we tend to make the perpetrator a “special case”. Hence, white perpetrators of violence are often described in the media as having a troubled past, a lone wolf, or something else that isolates the person but is not indicative of being white. Perpetrators of other races do not get this treatment so much. It’s bad because it shows our racism for one, and it also shows how quickly we jump to mental illness as a reason people do bad things. In this way, we demonise both other races and those with mental illness at the same time.

I got some hate for this, and a number of arguments on Facebook as well. I knew it was coming. Strangely, I got very little hate from Tumblr, where I have the largest number of followers by far.

This week, we got to see this strip in action. More anti-Muslim rhetoric. But a white nationalist who killed two people didn’t get the terrorist label, with the media instead focusing on his previous abnormal behaviour than his racist beliefs. And when Kathy Griffin did a rather tasteless photo shoot with a bloody Trump mask, Melania Trump tried to pin Kathy’s behavior on mental illness — “a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it,” furthering the stigma against people suffering from mental illness.

In this strip, this is a new character, although I don’t know if he’ll show up again. He was fun to draw because I was trying to draw him in a more American way than my other characters.

See the comic here ->

depression comix #330

This is going back to a riff on how appearance matters too much in forming people’s view of suffering. If you appearance is good you can’t be suffering, but if it’s not you’re not trying hard enough, and none of this really helps the underlying illness. I’ve done similar strips before, but I think this one says it the most directly and efficiently. Sometimes this comic feels a bit repetitive, and a lot of that has to do with me finding a better way of saying something than I did before. This is one of those times I believe. But instead of using the same character as I have for previous strips on appearance vs. therapy, I changed it to this character, because she has a more interesting dynamic and appears more natural in both situations. It was fun to draw the differences between the two panels.

See here:


depression comix #329

This was probably not the best strip to put out before Valentine’s Day, but there are going to be a lot of people suffering because it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re supposed to be with someone. What if you think with your illness you shouldn’t be with anyone?

It kind of freaks people out when you talk along these lines. Depression can rob you of interest in meeting people, doing the mating dance, putting the necessary effort into a relationship … and in the back of your mind, you feel that in your condition it wouldn’t work anyways, a combination of knowing yourself and past experience. Explaining this to other people, they can’t figure it out.  (Then they’ll turn around and give the “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself speech” as if they’ve figured out the magic ingredient in your lack of love life).

What it comes right down to is this: depression can make you a difficult person to love and make it difficult to love. It’s not impossible, but it takes a lot more patience, a lot more work, and an understanding of what makes depressed people do and think as they do.

And let’s not forget how amazingly awful it feels when things fall apart. Relationships that dissolve are no fun for anyone, but when you suffer from depression, it can hurt a lot worse, and the aftereffects last a long time. Getting involved can seem like a gamble, one that may just not be worth it.

However, research does say that relationships provide support and motivation. But as a sufferer, you know that it’s not right to get involved for those self-serving reasons. You’re going through hell, and you don’t want to take anyone along to benefit yourself.

There is no good answer to this one, maybe.

You can read the comic here ->

depression comix #328

Music has helped me deal with a lot of problems in my life. I listen to what a lot of people call “depressing” music, but that so-called “depressing” music is often a similar voice that I can relate to during those times. The singer feels the same way I do. I’m not alone.

For this strip, I wanted to do something different. I added an extra “fifth” panel which I did a year before. I like these fifth panels because they allow me to stretch out a bit and draw a panel on a single piece of paper, and add a little depth to the story. I liked the image of these two singing together, two friends sharing their pain in a positive way. It took a few sketches to get it right, and a few tries to get which Leonard Cohen lyric to use, but it came out OK (I first used lyrics from “Chelsea Hotel #2” – “We are ugly but we have the music.”, which is what apparently Janis Joplin said to Leonard Cohen, but didn’t work without context so I switched to lyrics from “Joan of Arc”)

Another idea I had was a playlist with which readers could vote to make a playlist of depressing music that they liked. When this went live, I realized that readers could not enter their own songs to vote on, making it kind of useless. So for the first hour of the comic strip going up, I scrambled to find a replacement, which I did — Spotify. This ended up being a better idea because readers could actually listen to the songs people suggest, and it would be a comminity thing. Unfortunately, with some solutions, more problems pop up — I had to enter the songs into Spotify manually, and many songs were not licensed for use in Japan, and people ended up sending me long lists. It took me a long time to search for and enter all the songs, and people are STILL sending me suggestions though I closed that off long ago.

It was a great thing to do for the comic, and something that made the one comic a little more special. I should do these kind of things more often, they really add to the experience of reading all these monochromatic comics.

Read here ->

depression comix #327

This strip is about panic attacks. It was on my to-do list for a very long time, but I was never sure about how to go about doing it. A few weeks before doing this, I received a mail on tumblr asking me for such a strip, and I thought it was time to set myself to work on trying to depict it.

I’ve had a couple of panic attacks, and I can tell you they are terrifying experiences. I don’t think I can properly communicate the terror in a comic, but I can try. My first one happened over twenty years ago and I can still remember those feelings, as well as afterwards when I had my breathing back to normal and I was moving, but it took me a long time to talk after that. I don’t know how it compares to PTSD but panic attacks do mess you up.

I’m hoping this comic will start some conversation about panic attacks. I am still weary of them and it took me a long time to get over the circumstances that brought them about.

I’ll do more strips on this in the future if I can find a way to say something new about it. But like bipolar (which I still haven’t gotten around to doing) it’s really difficult to do strips about something like this in the confined space of 4 panels. But it’s worth doing and I hope to make a comic about the subject that is worth the time.

The strip can be seen here ->