We all know how hard it is to put mental illness into words. All the thoughts and emotions going through our heads are hard enough for us to process and feel, let alone assign meaning through words. Then think, even further, about how difficult it must be to put the feelings into pictures that tell a story. But this kind of emotional expression has been done in the world of comic books. Comic books aren’t just about people in costumes, running around and fighting crime to save the day, there are some deeper stories in there that can tell us something about ourselves. Among the supervillains and the plots to conquer the world, are characters who are human. Even if we don’t see it very often, that humanity is sometimes touched upon to tell us a story that is pertinent and meaningful about mental illness. In our efforts to give you a wider amount of things you can connect with and find a story in, we have looked for some of the best comic books and graphic novels that deal with mental illness. We hope to help continue bringing you pieces of art that can help you process and understand yourself, that you can find the things that we have that have helped us so much in our journey through recovery.
Depresso, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace Being Bonkers! by Brick
This comic is an honest story about how it feels to live with depression. But that doesn’t mean that it is a hard story to get through. In fact, the book is very entertaining and that is largely due to the author’s ability to make fun of himself and humorous illustrations. But yet, underneath that humor and light-hearted self-deprecation is a story about what it’s like to live under the weight of depression. Having such an easily accessible story to connect with makes living with the burden much easier. And doing so in an authentic way is the most important part.
Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller
This one isn’t a graphic novel, but rather, a series of comics about the popular Marvel hero. Daredevil is a character born from tragedy. First, losing his eyesight as a young boy and then the unexpected death of his father leaves him orphaned. It is only natural for the character to deal with depression and other mental illnesses. But this story stands out as a truly harrowing look into living with depression. Having his life ruined at the hands of the villain, Kingpin, Matt Murdock descends into mental instability, homelessness, and anger. His descent into depression is tough to watch and it doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to showing depression. Daredevil is truly a man at his bottom and his mental state is taking a toll on every aspect of his life. His eventual climb out of the hole and his redemption is truly satisfying to read.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
This story is regarded as one of the best forays into the world of mental illness by a graphic novel. This story tells the story of a young, queer girl and explores her relationship with her father. It also goes into looking at her obsessive-compulsive disorder and how that affects her life. It’s a touching look into a family struggling with their own issues and a dual look at life. Bechdel’s father also struggled with homosexual tendencies, and the story looks at how his own struggles caused him to react to her decisions in life.
There is plenty of good literature out there for you to find and indulge in. As we have said about reading a book, reading can give you a sense of calm and peace that you are looking for. Coping with mental illness is a stressful thing, one of the most stressful things we can think of, and having an outlet to help is paramount. And when those pieces of work can be about what you are going through, it can be so helpful.
Don’t be afraid about it sparking thoughts and emotions to come back up; instead, look at it as someone trying to connect with you and find the ways in which you can be made better by it. We don’t have to be afraid of our mental illness and we can engage in things that make us think about it; doing so can make us so much more powerful. Reading comics is the ultimate escape for a lot of us, but it doesn’t have to be just about escapism, it can speak to something greater as well. Explore these stories and you may find something new about yourself that you never thought of before. Sometimes we need something else to help us understand our own complexities.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528.