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The Cartoonist Guide to Mental Health

Posted by Brian Spence on Jul 16, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Mental Health, CartoonsMental Health is a serious subject, but that doesn't mean that there is never an occasion for humor when discussing it. Graphic artist and author Ellen Forney used her talent to share her struggles with mental illness to help fellow sufferers understand and cope with their own mood disorders in her 2012 memoir Marbles. As she chronicled her experience with being bipolar in a cartoon format, Forney used humor to soften the hard edges of mental illness. After her relief of finally understanding what was wrong with her ability to control her emotions, other concerns arose. Her greatest fear was that addressing the disorder pharmacologically would affect her creative impulse in a negative way.

"When I was first diagnosed, I was just terrified that medications would completely flatten my creativity."

But she came to realize that good medicine means good outcomes and has embraced the medications that help her live a more balanced life without sacrificing the imaginative processes that provided her work and livelihood.

Now Forney has published another "cartoon" book as a follow-up to her earlier success with Marbles. Her new book on the subject of mental health deals with practical ways to make your life work when you have mental health challenges. Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life gives the reader a glimpse into Forney's life and the strategies she uses to navigate the world with bipolar disorder.

Though Forney employs the cartoon to tell her stories, it isn't always comedic. These are serious topics about real problems that so many face on a daily basis. Presenting them in her signature graphic style gives Forney license to tackle the hard stuff without being heavy-handed. Complex issues in plain language help de-stigmatize mental heath. As one reviewer says "... the book also does a good job avoiding all-too-common clichés of wellness, self-care, and the romanticization of mental illness.


It also helps to know you are in good company with people such as Marilyn Monroe, Beethoven, Lou Reed and Vincent Van Gogh, all of whom were bipolar and brilliant. If you are interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Mental Health section of our blog. 


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Topics: Mental Health

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