Depression has always been something difficult to talk about. It’s really something you need to have experienced to really understand and even then it effects everyone differently. Person A and Person B could both have depression but have completely separate stories and feelings than one another. Depression isn’t the only mental illness that is like this either.
This semester in class we were introduced to two graphic novels that heavily focused on mental health. Both Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki included characters that were suffering from mental illnesses. Fun home in particular showed this first hand as the comic was a biographic look at Alison’s own life.
Writing/Drawing out the emotions and problems she experienced could be seen as therapeutic. People often find solace in sharing their experiences. Comics are a great way of doing this as they allow the author to not only express themselves through words but images too. They’re able to really show the viewer a clearer picture of their ordeals.
There have been more and more short autobiographical style comics where the focus on mental illness and it’s affect on the author is shown center stage.
A good example is Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half.
Usually a silly webcomic about the author’s life, she took a moment to express her struggles with depression. Her story is split into two parts/posts. By the time she’d made this depression centered segment, Allie had already gained a pretty decent sized audience.
This was beneficial as it really helped open up the dialogue on mental health and depression more. You can just check out the comments for proof.
Some fans/readers who suffered from depression themselves found comfort in knowing they weren’t alone.
While others were taught more about the illness and how it affects some.
Another comic example I want to use is Crybaby by Shauna J Grant. It’s a short standalone comic done by the creator of Princess Love Pon (you can read about that comic in my article about magical girls here).
It describes the author’s struggle with depression and anxiety. This was another case of starting a conversation about mental illness with an already established fanbase. Shauna’s comic has been circulated around twitter as well as tumblr many times spreading the conversation further.
The internet has made creating and publishing comics so much easier than it once was and people are taking full advantage of this to tell their stories/experiences. This is not only beneficial to getting the conversation about mental health started but also spreading it. I think it’s safe to assume this will continue and people will become more open about mental health and depression in general as time goes on.