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 ->

depression comix #326

This week’s strip is about bullying. It’s amazing how people, through the miracle of cognitive dissonance, conveniently forget the horrible things they’ve said or done or see them in a way that highlights a perceived weakness of the victim. And if you’re the victim, who had been in these threatening situations loathing every moment of it, who suffered through it all, there is simply no justice in it. We live in an era where you can deny your own faults and actions, dismiss them as jokes or locker room talk.

Regardless, these things can cause real and long-lasting harm. They cause victims to live a life that has a baseline level of paranoia, a lack of trust, and an active avoidance of situations that remind them of the original event. What makes this even worse is the denial of  cupability when these things are brought up. They try to gaslight the victim by making those past frightening events into something less threatening, and then blame the victim for exaggerating the situation. This is a double-victimization.

All of this applies especially so to survivors of sexual assault. Originally the strip was going to be specifically about that but in the writing stage the dialogue got more generalized so it became about bullying in general. That’s why this particular character appears in the strip, but I still want to talk about the connections between sexual assault and mental health in future strips.

Read it here:

depression comix #325

This is what it was like for me nearly every day back when I was doing Sexy Losers from 2003 on.  Despite having thousands of readers at the time there was no way to convince me that what I was doing was any good, and all the jokes I had I came to believe were just not funny enough to commit to paper.  Even though I was still generating ideas here and there, I was always thinking to myself they weren’t worth doing, no one will laugh and I’m just continuing a big joke that was on me. Soon I wasn’t even bothering to generate ideas, because what was the point. Everything I did sucked, and the only thing I was doing by continuing was proving to the world that I indeed sucked.

These feelings of inadequacy still haunt me and I was feeling it a lot late last year.  Although I’m not making jokes like I used to, I still get the feeling that no one understands and that I’m missing the point when I do particular strips or that I’m saying something terribly wrong and offensive. Depression undercuts your confidence in your ideas and work and convinces you that they’re no good.

Maybe for some people these awful feelings that come with depression help them be more creative. It’s definitely something that doesn’t happen with me. Depression makes me too critical with myself and what I do to even let me begin a lot of the time.

Now that I do depression comix, it is a bit easier for me to generate new stuff because I don’t have to worry about being funny, just be on topic. That goal is a lot easier to reach than to have to think about how to make a joke funny enough to minimize “that wasn’t funny” remarks. Critics of humour can be quite harsh and that’s one of the reasons why Sexy Losers has stalled so much.

See the strip here:

depression comix #324

This strip was inspired by a question I get occasionally about the first characters in the strip eventually getting together. That was never a plan; I doubt with her inability to understand depression coupled with his inability to “get over it” that any romantic spark would flourish, and if it did, it would probably not last long. I believe this is what she feels, that if she says the correct string of words he’ll wake up. And we of course, know this isn’t going happen.

There’s also the idea that depression isn’t normal, which, to be fair,  isn’t the norm. But to the sufferer, who has had depression creep up on them over a long time and take over most of the facilities, it does feel like their own version of normal. It’s normal to wake up dreading the day. It’s normal to spend the day with thoughts of despair. It’s normal to spend the night wishing you weren’t alive to feel this way. There is nothing to snap out of, this is The New Normal. For those that don’t suffer this is difficult to grasp, that you life can fundamentally change in a way and still seem superficially the same. What goes on in your head and body is different, even though we’re still similar in our routines and appearance.

View here: