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Comic Strip Uses Humor to Tackle Everyday Challenges of Anxiety

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An artist found comfort and catharsis by making comics about her mental health challenges.

Comic strip depicting "real life horror movies."
Courtesy of Gemma Correll

Gemma Correll, 30, is a British illustrator living in California. She’s been drawing comics since she was a child and started making her own when she was 9 and selling them at school for 20 cents. Correll continued to draw throughout high school and eventually went to art school. Now she works as a full time illustrator, so she draws comics for fun on the side.

Comic showing "Adventures in Depressionland"
Courtesy of Gemma Correll

Correll’s comics about her daily life naturally evolved to include her challenges with anxiety and depression.

“It seemed dishonest almost not to include these things which were, and are, a big part of my life,” she told The Mighty in an email.

Pasta shapes with names like "Downward Spirals"
Courtesy of Gemma Correll

The reaction Correll got to her work encouraged her to keep going and taught her that many people could relate to what she was going through.

“I was hesitant to share them at first, but when I did, the response I got showed me that I was far from the only person suffering from these problems,” she told The Mighty. “When you suffer from anxiety and depression, you can feel very alone but I think it helps to see that you’re not the only one suffering.”

Real life "Anxie-trees." Trees with names like "Weeping Willow."
Courtesy of Gemma Correll

Correll says a sense of humor has helped her cope with her mood disorders and she hopes her comics help others see the humor in their situation as well.

The cover of Correll's book, called "The Worrier's Guide to Life."
The cover of Correll’s book. Courtesy of Gemma Correll

“I hope people can see the humor I use is coming from a place of understanding and empathy,” Correll told The Mighty. “I’m not trying to mock or undermine mental health problems — far from it. I’ve always used humor to work through and cope with my own problems. I really think it’s helpful and cathartic.”

You can purchase a copy of Correll’s book here, or visit her website and Tumblr page for more of her work.

Originally published: January 14, 2016
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