• Holly Chisholm

Why I Make Sad Comics about Depression and Anxiety

I was diagnosed with depression in December of 2016.

The unusual cold and rain in southern California seemed fitting.

I began taking medication. Buproprion. 10mg.

I couldn’t stay up past 9pm. I felt sleepy all day. I broke out in hives.

I stopped taking Buproprion.

I cried for three days straight.

It was a new year.

I began seeing a therapist.

She said to journal. She said I probably had ADHD too. She referenced me to a psychiatrist.

The piece of paper he told me to fill out had ten questions on it, but I only filled out 9 because I missed one. I was distracted.

The psychiatrist said I had ADHD, depression and probably anxiety.

He prescribed me prozac 10mg.

He prescribed me the lowest dose of ritalin.

He prescribed me Lamotrozine in case I had an anxiety attack.

To balance, I quit smoking my occasional cigarette and started nicotine patches to wean off.

I could focus at work now.

I could focus on how my teeth felt too tight.

I could focus on the dark shadows in my room when I couldn’t sleep at 3 am.

I could focus on the walls crawling when I took the Lamotrozine to calm down.

I could focus on the new and peculiar thought of wanting to die.

When I had my third anxiety attack in a month, silently crying on the bathroom floor at work, I stopped taking Ritalin.

Of course, I kept a few, just in case.

The psychiatrist said that people with ADHD drink lots of coffee as a way to self-medicate.

I have loved coffee most of my adult life.

I love coffee a little less now.

My therapist told me to journal again.

I tried. My writing sounded whiney.

My teeth still felt too tight. My chest still felt full of gravity and bad fluorescent lighting.

“I went to school for art. Maybe I will draw comics instead.”

So I did.

Sometimes it helped. Sometimes I had to force myself to do it. Sometimes it was the only thing I could think of to do when my breaths were too short and my eyes were too wet. I drew almost every day.

Spring turned to summer and my depression seemed less fitting than it had in December.

It was hot. I felt like I was squeezing into a dress two sizes too small. My job was trying to forcibly zip up the back of it.

Fit. Fit. Fit!

I quit.

My psychiatrist prescribed me Lamictyl. “It treats bipolar disorder and seizures, but it should help with your mood swings. There can be really bad side effects on your skin, but they usually show up within 24 hours.”

I looked up pictures of people’s skin sloughing off like bark peeling off a tree.

I was terrified.

I took two tablets.

25 and 25 for a total of 50mg.

“It will take about 6 weeks to start working.”

One green, two white. One green, two white. One green, two white.

I got a new (less stressful) job.

I got a new boyfriend; the good kind that don’t scream at you in public.

I went to the gym for the first time in six months.

I drew.

Things started to feel even.

I was diagnosed with depression in December 2016.

Now I take no greens, three whites and a variety of vitamins. I drastically reduced drinking alcohol. I meditate more.

(As of now in 2019, I drink NO alcohol, and am off of all medications. I meditate and practice mindfulness much more now.)

I am able to sit in the window seat of a plane without crying. (Sometimes)

Some days are bad, but never as bad as they were.

And I still draw. And I feel better when people tell me they have bad days too, and on my bad days they remind me it will get better.

Because it will get better. Even if its only 10% better. Even if the drawing isn’t very good. Even if the page gets tears on it and you have to start over. Even if some days I still feel like a small melon baller is slowly scooping out parts of my chest.

At least I hope it will.

There’s only one way to find out.

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