Chris Grady's 'Lunar Baboon' Comic Spreads Positivity While Depicting Mental Health Struggles

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Chris Grady, a teacher from Toronto and the artist behind the Instagram account “Lunar Baboon,” wants to bring small moments of happiness to people’s days with his creative family-centered comics.

Each comic follows a father and his wife and children, based on Grady and his own family, through their daily adventures, often offering a glimpse into the introspective, relatable monologue of Grady’s father character. While the comics are often sweet and lighthearted, they’re also powerful and honest in depicting a character’s struggle with mental illness.

young boy teaching father and son about planets in a comic

Wife comforting her husband who is depressed

When asked what inspired the account, Grady told The Mighty:

After the birth of my first son, I was going through a really hard time. I wasn’t sleeping and started getting really depressed and found myself in a dark place. I needed something different, I was having a lot of negative thoughts and I needed a place to put them so I started drawing in a moleskin notebook and it’s taken off from there.

Since Lunar Baboon launched, its Instagram account has garnered more than 219,000 followers, and you can often see Grady’s illustrations making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Each comic contains a moment of wholesome humor, sweetness, a lesson for kids or heartrending, relatable honesty about mental health. Grady manages to capture all these complexities in a few short panels through simple, iconic illustrations.

He says inspiration for his comics also comes from having been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). “I didn’t really know anything about it,” he said. “To me it was always being afraid of germs but it so much more than that. It’s getting caught on ideas and it bothers you so you’ll think about it over and over again.”

He applies this to his comics: “Whatever I’m obsessing about that day or week, I’ll say, ‘This is really bothering me, how can I turn this into something positive or funny?’”

Some of Grady’s most recognizable pieces feature his character and his son interacting in adorable moments that prove poignant and relatable. One of personal favorites is entitled “Powers.” The comic shows Grady and his son at a bus stop watching a superhero fight a monster. When the son wishes he had powers, Grady compliments a nearby man on his hat. When the man smiles, Grady explains to his son that in this way everyone has powers.

Lunar Baboon Comic "Powers" Father and son watch a superhero and when the son wishes he has powers, teh father compliments a nearby man on his hat. When the man smiles, the father explains that everyone has powers

“You may not have the amazing superpower to fight the monster,” Grady says, “but you do have the power to change someone’s day, and I try to be a good person as much as I can and be nice to everyone I meet.”

With feedback being hugely positive, Grady feels a sense of connectedness with his followers. He gets messages on a daily basis from people who truly relate. “The best thing that comes out of it,” he says, “is that you don’t feel so alone in your struggles.” Grady likes that Lunar Baboon has become a way for people to connect and share ideas. “While it wasn’t the original purpose, it’s great that something I created in a notebook is something that helps people positively,” he told The Mighty.

The Lunar Baboon comics, while short, are memorable. When people see it Grady hopes “for a brief moment it makes them happy or makes them think. Maybe they’re reading it and it’s improving their day. I want them to look and enjoy and to share it and for it to mean something.”

Grady is often asked how he has the time to balance a full-time job, spending time with family, a web comic and more. “I made the choice a few years ago that if I wanted to feel better, I couldn’t just sit around and watch TV,” he told The Mighty. His advice to anyone looking for ways of catharsis or creative expression is “you just have to do it, you have to try.” Grady says he often has to work on comics late at night and push himself to finish them. “If you want to do something, do it,” he says. “Don’t say you don’t have time, there’s always time.”

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My Footprints Next Yours: A Poem of Encouragement for When You Feel Defeated

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I was inspired to write the following poem when I reflected upon the life-changing quality of an encouraging message upon a heart in need. I know that when I feel overwhelmed and vulnerable because of my anxiety, a gentle and kind reminder that I am loved, accepted and appreciated comforts me and diminishes the rising tide of doubt washing over me. I dedicate this poem to you, my fellow Mighty warriors. I am wholeheartedly inspired by your respective journeys and the inner strength that you exemplify as you bravely face each day. May you always remember that you are never alone.

“My Footprints Next to Yours”

When an ocean stands within your eyes,

ready to pour like rain from cloudy skies,
let each tear fall down your face.

Your feelings aren’t something you should erase.

You’re not “less than.” You’re not “just.”
You are “more than.” In this, please trust.
When the darkness overwhelms you by its size
that you valiantly try to minimize,
making you wonder if the sun will ever rise.
I will shine a light as a guide
upon the path that the darkness made difficult to see.
So when you are unsure of where to start,

begin with me.

If you lose your footing
because of unsteady ground,
you don’t have to be ashamed.
I will always be around,
because you matter and have purpose
and are worthy of love.
So, if any doubt comes to mind,
I’ll help you see that you’re enough.
I see beauty in every part of you,
especially where you find it not,
because your inner strength is reflected there,
showing how you give life everything you’ve got.
The journey may not always be easy,
causing you to stumble from time to time,
but I know that if you fall,
you won’t give up on the climb,
because I’ll be right there beside you,
my footprints next to yours.
So amidst any uncertainties or fears,
know that my belief in you unconditionally endures.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via Dino Reichmuth

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How I Support Pride as a Queer Woman With Anxiety and Depression

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As a queer cis woman diagnosed with mood disorders, major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), I am so happy to see the increase in online support for both mental health and LGBTQA+ issues over the last few years. June is here and many folks posting statuses, images of support, pride flags and babadooks to capture the spirit of LGBTQA+ pride.

However, I can’t help but feel disheartened when I think about the intersection between my mental health and my ability to show support for my community. It makes sense to attend at least one pride parade as a person who is an “out and proud” part of the community, right? Or at the very least: an outreach group, club, protest or something that shows my true colors. Unfortunately, that can’t always be the case. This is especially true if you’re at the intersection of being queer and depressed, like me. It’s easy for me to feel like a bad activist and insecure about my true support or place in the community because of my mental health.

The idea of planning for a large event or being in a big crowd is intimidating, and I generally avoid unknown or uncertain situations if I can help it. While some people might make plans and change their decisions, adjust last-minute or go wherever they want that day — I can’t.

Because of my depression, I struggle to plan out a morning and follow a normal schedule. Because of my anxiety, I hate the idea of not knowing exactly where I’m going or what I’m doing.

I am usually “that person” on Facebook who replies as “attending” to fun events and doesn’t show up the day of. But the truth is, I fully intend to go — but last minute, I realize I physically and mentally can’t. Sometimes I plan to go somewhere with the best of intentions, only to have the sudden, extreme fear of something going wrong. Or I just can’t get myself out of bed because of my depression.

I often feel a knot in my stomach and a wave of nausea that continues until I decide to stay home — disappearing almost magically after I decide to stay. When I was younger, I thought that I had a cold or flu some mornings before school because I didn’t realize it was a physical manifestation of the anxiety I felt every morning.

So what can I, and others like me, do to show support?

There are a lot of ways online to help a cause: sharing articles, events, petitions or fundraisers for charity. Sometimes online support for a cause can be seen as “less than,” or “armchair activism.” This doesn’t take into consideration people struggling with mental illness, chronic pain and disabilities who are passionate but unable to follow the traditional means of activism.

It’s also possible to join a forum, a Facebook group or start a blog. Part of why I’m writing this today is to reach out and contribute to Pride month in my own way, and hopefully help anyone who feels lost because they can’t show support in a way that seems obvious. For years, I told myself I couldn’t participate in obvious ways or felt that my support was unwanted. Only now am I breaking through that mindset. Even small things like pride profile pictures, pride flags or rainbow accessories help.

I find that keeping up to date and being knowledgeable about current issues is also a great way to help. It presents opportunities for education and discussion among friends and relatives, even if it isn’t the most outgoing way to show support.

Another option is to join a pride event in a different way. Many events require volunteers, either before or during the event. You can do something more people-oriented, such as a greeter, or more independent, such as social media posting or office work.

In the past, I’ve contributed to causes by volunteering from home. Usually these events have flexible volunteer schedules and offer accommodation for people with disabilities, allowing you to choose what types of tasks you’re comfortable with. During this years Pride month, I am actively volunteering at a local pride event and joining the cause in whatever capacity I can. While it’s far from perfect, it’s a start at building my identity and place within the LGBTQA+ community.

Finally, I’m making sure to take care of myself, as “activist burnout” can hit me even stronger because of my depression — prompting feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. To everyone reading this, as a member or supporter of the LGBTQA+ community, your happiness and your comfort matters. You matter. And just because this is Pride month, doesn’t mean you should endure unnecessary stress or discomfort. You are not alone.

Happy Pride month to everyone and much love to the LGBTQA+ community.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Kosamtu

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I Am Not My Mental Illness

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I am not a mental illness.
I am a human being.
The words you use matter.

I am not a monster.
I am not freaky, evil, toxic, scary or dangerous.
I am not the deranged villain in a horror movie.
I am not the unhinged killer in your local news.
I am not the escapee of an insane asylum.
I am not your crazy ex.

I am not abnormal.
I am not embarrassing, unattractive, stubborn, weird or impossible to deal with.
I am not your wacky uncle.
I am not your testy child.
I am not your pesky neighbor.

 

I am not lazy.
I am not stupid, useless, selfish, needy or uncaring.
I am not your rowdy student.
I am not a “freeloader scamming the system.”
I am not your pessimistic friend.
I can’t just “move on” and “get over it.” It’s not that simple. You can’t see the effort that I’m making.

I am not pathetic.
I am not weak, broken, fragile, feeble or defeated.
I am not an advertising slogan.
I am not a campaign talking point.
I am not a hashtag.
I don’t need pity. I need understanding.

I am not your entertainment.
I am not a silly t-shirt.
I am not a Halloween costume.
My life is not a reality show.
And while I can be funny — my life isn’t a joke.

I will heal at my own pace.
I am not an example in a textbook.
I am not a lesson in class.
I am not a case file.
I am not a statistic.

Some things I deal with I may be able to completely heal from; others I may have to learn to manage and live with.

Some may resolve rather quickly; others can take years to work through.
My pace will be different from someone else’s.

I am not making it up.

Just because you can’t see some of my symptoms doesn’t mean they’re not real. They exist inside of me, and I am real.

And just because you can see some of my symptoms, that doesn’t mean I should be treated differently than anybody else.

I have my good days and my bad days, just like you.

Sometimes I need help, just like you.
Sometimes I screw up, just like you.

Sometimes I just need a break, just like you.
Sometimes I just want to be able to live my life, just like you.

I am not a mental illness. I am a human being.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about. For many of us it’s just part of being human.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead image via contributor

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17 TV Shows (Streaming Right Now) People With Mental Illness Relate To

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It’s no secret that art can imitate life. Perhaps this is why we often find movies and TV shows so relatable. When searching for a good TV show to watch, we sometimes find ourselves looking for characters who represent our experiences or have plot lines that speak to what we’ve gone through in our lives.

Because Netflix, Hulu and other online streaming services bring so many TV show options right to our fingertips, we sometimes need help figuring out what to watch. If you’ve ever found yourself asking what shows you might be able to relate to as someone with a mental illness, look no further!

We wanted to know what TV shows have important and relatable mental health content, so we asked people who live with mental illness in our mental health community to share what TV shows resonate with them.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Shameless”

“[This show is] such a realistic and true representation of bipolar… I was very emotional and in tears watching both characters struggle as it resonated very deeply with mine. To see it finally portrayed accurately just hit me hard. Loved it.” — Patricia L.

“The dysfunction that mental illness can cause within a family was very relatable. Especially when it stems from one of the parents. Seeing their mother struggle with bipolar disorder was heartbreaking.” — Christa M.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

2. “Scrubs”

“The narration of human behavior and interpersonal relationships is so real and raw, but there’s humor. It’s my happy place show.” — Jennifer S.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Hulu.

3. “Jessica Jones”

“It’s about a woman who’s dealing with the aftermath of an abusive relationship and who has PTSD symptoms. Also, she has to face her abuser and make sure he can’t hurt anyone anymore. She’s kick ass (with superpowers!) and watching her fight her demons made me feel empowered in some way.” — Fenna V.

“Seeing someone with superpowers struggling with PTSD makes it easier [for me] as a ‘regular’ person with mental illness.” — Mary M.

“[Her] addiction and her journey though what is real and what is not is really inspiring. Her sarcasm and her ability to disassociate from her reality is really relatable.” — Isobel T.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

4. “Please Like Me”

“I love that the show discusses mental health but at the same time doesn’t focus entirely on it. The opening credits specially make me really happy.” — Toshiba B.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Hulu.

5. “This is Us”

“The character Randall on ‘This Is Us’ resonates so deeply with me, as he tries desperately to manage his emotions and be strong for his family members and co-workers. His breakdown from overwhelming anxiety spoke to me.” — Shannon R.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Hulu.

6. “BoJack Horseman”

“It’s one of the most accurate depictions of depression and disassociation I’ve ever see.” — Ashley M.

“I somehow need to see BoJack be happy or at least get better because I see a lot of myself in him. I keep watching it, secretly hoping I’ll find some solution to my own problems.” — Riri W.

“This show both broke me and taught me a lot about myself.” — Chelsea V.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

7. “Gossip Girl”

“I always related my teenage years [to] Jenny Humphrey in ‘Gossip Girl’… minus the whole elite wealth thing. [I related to] her struggle to find herself amongst people who are two faced and having parents who didn’t understand her — being along but surrounded by people. I dunno. I just really related a lot of my struggles to hers throughout the seasons. (And of course now Taylor Momsen has a kick ass rock band, so that’s an added bonus!)” — Tiff K.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

8. “Lady Dynamite”

“Maria Bamford fuels her show with truths about mental illness. There’s mania, sadness, pretending and getting in touch with anger. It is a show that leaves you feeling like life can be exhilarating instead of unbearable.” — Andrea L.

“Even though I don’t have bipolar, the show also depicts depression and other issues in a deep, more than just funny way.” — Maria J.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

9. “13 Reasons Why”

Editor’s Note: Please note this show may be triggering for those who have attempted suicide, have experienced suicidal thoughts, have lost someone to suicide or have experienced sexual violence. The show depicts graphic scenes of suicide and rape.

“Hannah Baker is my person in real life. I was bullied, assaulted and other things. At the end of the show, I cried.” — Chris B.

“Heart-wrenching, sad, truthful, enlightening, sad again [because suicide is] preventable.” — Lori B.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

10. “United States of Tara”

“It’s about [dissociative identity disorder (DID)] which I don’t have, but I connected more to it because of the relationship between Tara and husband, and how mental illness affects relationships.” — Mary Grace B.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Hulu.

11. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

“This TV show has some in your face [PTSD moments], but many other subtle moments of PTSD [are] shown in Kimmy’s behavior. Even the fact that she was in a bunker for so many years reminds me of living with trauma for so long, without knowing it. And once you come out of the bunker, the world can feel like it stopped in time, and left you still acting like a little child in many forms.” — Anna C.

“This show helps me realize there is hope after bad things happen to you.” — Vanessa S.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

12. “Love”

“It addresses sex and love addiction, which the main character experiences [and] has to face. [She] seeks therapy and tries to better her relationships in both seasons. She also goes to AA and has done a lot of drugs in the past which she’s trying to quit.” — Kya P.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

13. “Sherlock”

“[I] massively identify with Sherlock. I see so much of my life with Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD in the way they’ve portrayed the character of Sherlock, and he calls himself a ‘sociopath’ just like I thought [I was] in high school. But he’s not emotionless, [he] just tries to suppress his emotions because they’re in some way ‘unacceptable,’ which was very much how I was for years until I met my own ‘John.’” — Katie T.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

14. “Misfits”

“I could always relate to Simon in ‘Misfits.’ I know what it’s like to be a sensitive person who’s mistreated just for being different, who’s marginalized to the point that he’s invisible, when all he wants is a friend.” — Shaun S.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Hulu.

15. One Day at a Time

“[I relate to] the ‘One Day at a Time’ reboot. [it’s about a] single mom struggling with depression [who] gets help but due to her cultural/racial background, [she] struggles with the fact she is seeking help through therapy and medication.” — Veronica F.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix.

16. “Breaking Bad”

“[I relate to] Jesse Pinkman from ‘Breaking Bad.’ It’s not very obvious, but as a fellow survivor I totally saw the signs of emotional abuse, not just from his home but also from Walter White and his reactions to his experiences [losing] himself in drugs and alcohol. Also what was really sweet was his love of kids and I related to that too, from all this pain wanting to protect and look after something as innocent as kids.” — Johanna R.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

17. “Supernatural”

“There’s a few people who know and understand my ‘way of life.’ But I have to keep it hidden from the world and keep battling my demons.” — Brianne O.

Where you can watch it: streaming on Netflix

What would you recommend?

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Images via BoJack Horseman and Jessica Jones Facebook pages.


17 TV Shows (Streaming Right Now) People With Mental Illness Relate To
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An illustration of a girl in a dark pit reaching up to the light

To the People Who Wake Up Feeling Everything

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I didn’t feel it unless it hurt. I needed it to hurt because I needed to feel it. This is how I had grown accustomed to living. Unless it stung and screeched and left its marks up and down my body, I didn’t really feel it. But I didn’t want to keep needing the pain; I didn’t want to need the fear.

It’s exhausting. The constant need to be saved from a pain that you’ve ultimately caused yourself. Who has time for that? Not us. So I started to ask: Can I save myself? Can I be my own emergency contact? Can I remove all the filters and just lean in to the fear?

So I did. I summoned the sadness. Because the thing is, when you give in to it, it no longer has a hold on you. I romanticized my pain for a long time. Drowned it in wine bottles and anxiety medication and the bed sheets of boys who didn’t love me.

I loved the sticky sweet pain of my dry mouth the next morning. I got so used to asking people to save me, that I forgot about my own two hands. My fists. My tiny, ineffectual fists. I forgot about their strength and what they could do if I let them. They now hoist me up.

They are calloused and scarred, and I wouldn’t change them for anything.

I am so much percent water. My body holds boats upon it and my skin gives me sustenance. I quench my own thirst. I crave my own self. I am unlocked. A house with broken blinds that holds the unlimited potential of everything. I am the laugh track of my own life. My heart has new muscles.

My skin is coated with a new paint called “thickness” and you can hardly see it. It’s more like a top coat, a lacquer to seal in my newfound bravery.

I am all of these things and more. But sometimes I am so much less. And a lot of the time, I wish I had some guiding force. Then I’m reminded that I do — myself.

I wish I could go back to the darker days. Days that I rolled into. Me, all charcoaled lungs and punctured limbs. Me, with my ancient ashes, honeyed lips and wine-colored bruises that came from falling into other people instead of myself.

If I could, I’d make my former self feel so much less lonely. I’d lay in her bed with her, massage her scalp and feed her chocolate chip cookies.

But I can’t. What I can d, is write down the words for you in hopes that they heal you, if even slightly so. The words are yours as much as they are mine. I’d like for you to take them, swallow them down greedily so that they may settle quickly in your belly.

If some of the words don’t apply, feel free to spit them out. Be picky with the ones that you let in, for they are meant to keep you safe.

For you:

“Hey there. I’m so sorry this is happening. I feel for you, deeply and truly. I’m sorry you are in the thick of it right now, trudging through the sludge and falling to your knees. But I need you to know that you will soon crawl out of this. And you’ll be thankful you spent so much time in the darkness.

I know this morning, you woke up feeling everything, didn’t you? Lately, it all feels like pain. And you can’t think of a good reason not to make it go away. Listen, I can’t tell you not to hurt yourself. I can’t tell you not to do what I know every cell in your body is screaming at you to do. I know that there isn’t any part of you that isn’t on fire right now and that the only way to stop the burn is to jump out of your skin. But I can tell you that the fire isn’t infinite.

It will run out by itself, and you will not cool immediately, but there will be momentary relief. You will feel that relief so fully. It will hit you hard — the most gorgeous slap in the face you have ever felt; the most beautiful strike against your skin. You will snap out of it and drag yourself out of bed and into the sunlight. You will lie around watching movies and drinking smoothies and petting dogs and guzzling coffee, blinking and running your fingers through your hair, and you will laugh. You will hear the laughter, foreign against your ears, and you will wonder if this is going to last. It won’t, but that doesn’t make it meaningless.

I’m here to tell you that it does get better. But then it gets bad again. And then it gets better again.

I hope you believe in your innate fragility and how it couples with your astounding bravery. It swirls around inside you and creates the most perfect shade of grace.

And sometimes you don’t feel the least bit brave, but I promise you that you are.

It gets better. You’re not alone. I promise that I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. Sometimes life just hurts. It tramples over your sensitive skin with the weight of every elephant known to man. And then all those elephants start to jump up and down. At the same time.

But you, you are amazing. You are resilient. You have gifts and talents in every one of your limbs and they are waiting to be stretched. You are not your insecurities and you are certainly not your doubts.

You are endless streams of goodness and boisterous dreams that will heave you up up up to the place where you belong.

Let me say it one more time, for good measure: It gets better. You’re not alone. I promise that I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.

A version of this piece originally appeared on Rebelle Society.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Anastasia_Aleksieieva

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