Today I found out something rather special. The word fap made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, a word introduced with its current meaning in a comic I drew 16 years ago. However, the comic it appeared in faded because of depression.
Drawing funny comics was something I enjoyed doing. I drew them ever since I was a little kid, continuing through school and including University, where I drew a dark humor strip called “no name comix” which the editor just hated. When depression kicked in again in 1997 I started drawing another comic called “A Heart Made of Glass”, an autobiographical comic about my failure at life and love. Halfway through the second issue, my depression receded and the comic became irrelevant, and I started drawing funny comics again.
But depression ebbs and tides. The self-confidence problem, all my self-doubt and self-hatred remained unchecked, and soon the grey cloud enveloped me again. It drained me of motivation and energy, and my weekly schedule became impossible. I had an idea book and during these times all the ideas I had seemed no longer worth pursuing, not good enough to finish. Occasionally I’d find a way out of the mist and draw a series of comics before falling back in. The cycle continued for over a decade, long periods of inactivity with brief spurts of activity.
At first, people asked me what was happening with the updates. I suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome, something that still affects me when I use laptops for too long. It seemed like a reasonable excuse, a physical injury preventing me from drawing. I wouldn’t have to talk about the real reasons, and become another “sad artist” who complained about an illness that many questioned was real. I didn’t want to be that. I didn’t want people’s sympathy or mocking. Blaming my inactive spells on carpal tunnel just seemed the way to make everything go away.
That was the big lie. I lied to so many people, complaining about my hand when it was really my mind that was in pain. It allowed me to not confront my real problems. It became more dangerous because I was also trying to convince myself too. And this allowed depression to run amok until I was actively planning my destruction, safe in the knowledge my depression was secret and no one could stop me from carrying it out.
So I guess what I want to say is beware the little white lies we tell ourselves. Depression is real and we need to get help. We can’t make excuses for our behavior, burying our true problem so that it can manifest itself in the dark unhindered by the light of truth.
Now, I see that the work I did has some small impact. That’s amazing and I’m glad to be here to see it. Maybe it’s a good time to shed the light on the lie that made me end my dream of being a comic artist.
If anyone questions why I still do a comic on depression, it’s because I’m still continuously in awe at how it can destroy you. It starts with the lies that we tell so that we don’t seem weak to ourselves and others. Please be careful.