Coping, with Comics

An article by, Kaila Streichert

Increased heartbeat, sweaty palms, shortness of breath. That was me trying to work out a topic for this article. The menagerie of metaphors! The verbs and adverbs alone were dizzying.

Frankly, it gave me anxiety.

Which is when I saw the sign like an Ace of Bass song; how have graphic novels helped me with my mental illness? Now, I don't mean how they helped me view my situation from a different perspective, nor how they provided a much needed distraction. I'm talking about the specific way certain writers and artists have melded storylines, artistry, speech bubbles, and panels to make me feel less alone and truly understood.

As you may have surmised, either by perusing through my social media accounts,hearing me on the podcast, or by knowing me personally, I struggle. Regularly. What you also may have noticed is my usage of song lyrics, manga panels, and snippets of words by authors long dead to describe my mood. That is no coincidence. I've always loved to read and I grew up surrounded by music. What made me fall deeply and truly in love with graphic novels was the melding of art, vocabulary, and a kind of visual lyricism. Instead of seeking each on it's own, I was able to see it all in front of me, in one drawing, in one panel. It was akin to being held in an embrace, being told "you're not alone in how you feel." That, for anyone, let alone someone with mental illness, can sometimes be the separating factor between drinking the proverbial hemlock and getting out of bed.

Comics and graphic novels aren't a cure all, not by any means. But finding anything that can make you feel validated is no small feat. So, go out, find those books, and tell me which ones have made you feel understood and safe. I can't wait to read them.

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