The Sad Ghost Club Wants to Help People With Mental Illnesses Feel Less Alone
When Lize Meddings drew her first ghost, she had no idea her creations would turn into a community for people living with mental illnesses. Now, Sad Ghost Club, run by Meddings and her business partner, Laura Cox, brings a sense of belonging to thousands of people living with mental illness.
“The first Sad Ghost Club comics were made just after I graduated from university, and they were about feeling lost and out of place. I was struggling with my place in the world and what I was going to do with myself, so I made some comics about it and I thought it’d be really neat to make this online club for people who felt similar,” Meddings told The Mighty.
“The ghost character is from a comic I’d previously made about a halloween party. It’s a person under a sheet and I just loved how vague it was as a character. It could be anyone under there, and that’s something that’s really helped so many people identify with [Sad Ghost Club]… A ghost is like the epitome of feeling lost and out of place, so it’s really works for us. ”
The Sad Ghost Club bills itself as a club for anyone who has ever felt sad, lost or like they don’t fit in. While the club chooses to use the word sad – which does not necessarily mean depression – its mission is to support those living with mental illnesses.
“I’ve experienced various difficulties with my mental health, and I’m just now reaching a point where I feel content and comfortable with how my brain works,” Meddings said. “When I made those first comics I had no idea the club would reach the size it has, my business partner Laura Cox joined nearly two years ago now and even then we didn’t anticipate this kind of following. It was her idea to tailor it more towards the mental health basis, as opposed to my generalized worry and angst that’s in the earlier comics.”
In addition to selling Sad Ghost Club illustrations and themed accessories, the duo works with mental health organizations in Bristol, U.K. where they are from. They have partnered with Off The Record, an organization that provides free, confidential mental health support for younger people, to offer a weekly sketchbook club. “It’s just a safe space to sketch and chat and it’s become a really important part of Sad Ghost Club,” Meddings said. The pair also spent the last year hosting Mind Over Matter workshops with PAPERarts, pairing projects designed to promote creativity with discussions about mental health.
When it comes to advocating mental illness awareness, Meddings takes an approach similar to that of the Sad Ghost Club – letting people know that they’re understood and not alone. “At Sad Ghost HQ we’re all very open and honest about our feelings and emotions,” Meddings explained. “How you’re feeling is real, and can have a large impact on the rest of your life.”
Meddings says of all the Sad Ghost comics, she enjoys the ones where she gets to express her feelings, like the illustrations featured in “Thoughts From a Sad Ghost.” “I loved being able to pour out my feelings, and put part of myself in the comic. The response was great and we’ve sort of stuck to that formula now and people really enjoy it, ” she added. “It was a bit scary, writing down how I felt and putting it out like that, especially under the Sad Ghost Club because I’d tried to make it less about myself than my other work. We quickly realized that people enjoyed us expressing our thoughts and feelings, because a lot of people felt the same. That’s magical to be honest.”