The comic’s latest story arc is unabashedly based on my own life experience. (If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to start at #29 and read through #33 first for some context. Otherwise, spoilers and some serious talk ahoy!)
I lived in New York City for about 18 months. During that time, I experienced something that looked a heck of a lot like depression. I have no official diagnosis for that, but I did have a hard time being my chipper, wacky self. Much as I like to lay all blame for that unhappiness on the Big Apple – which is a bigger, nastier version of my first love, Chicago – it really was the result of many factors. But they were all snarled up in one giant mess of awfulness in my head that it seemed like I would never be able to untangle.
Then my partner got offered a job in Los Angeles and we moved. It changed everything.
Los Angeles has been a huge motivator to start pursuing my own projects. Trying new things. Being adventurous. Rediscovering the creativity that I thought had been stamped out of me. And it has been really flippin’ awesome.
Even though my time in New York was a low point, in many ways, I was lucky. It was a situational sadness. Changing my environment was enough to make the big mess of bad things seem more manageable, to help me get back in charge. I was also lucky because my brain and my body don’t actively work against me most days. What I experienced was enough to realize just how hard things can be for people who do live with that regular struggle thanks to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and the many other conditions under the mental health umbrella.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to say two things.
First, if someone you know is living the fight for their own mental health, then give them a hug, a chocolate bar, a gold star, something. If they’re making it through the day, they’ve probably earned it.
Second, change is scary. But change can also be good. Obviously, moving to L.A. will not magically solve your problems. (In fact, it’d probably further exacerbate the whole drought thing.) But even a smaller, less drastic change can shift your thinking or boost your spirits.
Make a change when you need it. Ask for help when you need it. You got this.