(So this post my be a bit all over the place, so sorry in advance.)
The last time I went to get comic books on my trip into my local comic store the always affordable and brilliant comicsetc I got into a brief chat with the owner about how great the medium of comics is. A comic like Four Eyes, by Joe Kelly, about a depression era world in which people bet on dragon fights is some thing that would be incredible difficult to pull off in the realm of TV and it would be a harder sell for a 2 hour movie. But comics is perfect because you don’t need to worry about acting against a CGI dragon or the sets. It’s all done on paper, which makes things a far easier sell and cheaper over the long run. In fact ideas that would be hard sells are perfect for the world of comics. And comics sort are the perfect analogy for depression. Allow me to explain.
See comic books to those in the know, are more powerful then people think. They can teach kids to read, give them positive role models and can often challenge preconceived notions. Not only that but they teach right from wrong and in the best cases, your actions have consequences. But to those who don’t read them they can often be dismissed as childish, dumbed down literature and not “real books” despite being a valid medium.
Depression is a tricky beast. There is no physical symptoms except perhaps a change in attitudes and temperament and asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness. Much like comics there is a lot working underneath the surface. Some dismiss it as it being all in a persons head, and they should walk it off. The fact is, if people could stop feeling like they are the worst person in the world, do you think they would? Do you think people enjoy having thoughts of suicide fill their heads as they fall sleep? No person in their right minds would. And if you do, then go get help please.
See depression manifests itself differently in everyone and not every can adequately explain their symptoms to anyone who asks “what’s wrong?”. Don’t get me wrong, the sentiment is nice and it is better than nothing, but some times explaining why you’re upset is just met with “well get over it?” Again, if it was that simple they would. Some times the stresses of life wear a person down, and they don’t know who to turn to for help. The fact is, any friends a person may have all seem so far away, and some times aren’t really the best company. Even getting out of the house can be a chore, whether or not you’re going to a place you want to go to.
When you have depression, it’s hard to see things for what they are. Feelings of isolation and loneliness just wash over you and you can feel like your drowning in a sea of despair, and suicidal thoughts can attack from the shadows with no warning. At work is particularly bad, because there is no where you can go, and you’re expected to perform at the top of your game, and if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. You can’t win, you show up, feel lonely and then you leave feeling like crap.
If you take some thing away from this please be mindful of your fellow people. Even a simple greeting and the basic level of communication can and will go along way in helping a person not feel so alone. For me comic books is a chance to escape for a few hours of my life and dive into a kick arse world. Comics will always hold a special place in my heart as they are the sword and shield in which I use to fight the beast of depression. Like people who dismiss comics as childish, people who dismiss depression as real are missing the point. Just because you don’t understand some thing doesn’t mean it’s not valid to the person. In the end, people need the strength and friendship from others if they’re to get through whatever is holding them down. Getting over depression, in what ever form it takes isn’t as easy as shouting “Avengers Assemble” although truth be told, I wish it was.