For Allan, drawing provides a way of coping with her mental illnesses. The Washington-based illustrator creates brightly colored images featuring motivational quotes that contrast the negative thoughts that come with anxiety and depression. “When I was struggling through a particularly bad depressive episode, drawing cute animals saying nice things like ‘you will survive this’ and ‘speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward’ helped me cope,” she said.
To create new quotes, Allan looks within and writes down the words she needs to hear to get through the day. “I feel like I always having difficulty managing something, and so the text nearly always comes from what I need to tell myself that day to get through,” Allan told The Mighty. “I’ve been really anxious lately, so nearly all my captions have been about anxiety.”
Not all of her comics focus on anxiety, other captions preach self-love or provide encouragement through periods of depression like Allan’s favorite illustration – a bird with the caption, “Today is a brand new day, and you are a brand new you. Good luck!”
“I tend to get stuck in a really negative mindset, and thinking this way — like every day is a new start — helps break me out of it. It’s something that’s continually stayed relevant for me.”
Now Allan, is sharing her illustrations to help others. “I didn’t think drawing things to cheer myself on would be of help to anyone else,” Allan said. “It’s been really nice to connect with people who struggle with the same things.”
Beyond helping people living with anxiety, Allan hopes to help others understand how debilitating anxiety can be. “I just wish for more awareness, that people understood anxiety disorders better,” she said. “An anxiety disorder may not be something that everyone experiences, but I think people can understand what it’s like to feel uneasy about a situation or too afraid to move forward when they can’t predict the outcome. With [generalized anxiety disorder] it’s just that, but all the time and about pretty much everything. What we feel and perceive forms our reality, same as everyone else. Our perceptions are just, unfortunately, a lot more threatening.”
To view more illustrations, check out Kate Allan’s website.