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Illustrating mental illness

23 August 2014

Among other things, I’m a nerd. Or a geek. Or whatever you want to call someone who likes to write simple code for computers for kicks, plays tabletop role playing games, paints miniatures, plays multiple different genres of computer games (including Diablo 3Ingress and several games purchased via the Humble Bundle, reads sci-fi and fantasy, reads slashdot and follows any number of web comics (and links to all of these things in a blog post about them…). That last linked webcomic, Schlock Mercenary, is one that I’ve been following daily for several years now, and is my favorite of the bunch.

Schock’s creator, Howard Tayler, is very accessible, and frequently posts additional things for his readers to read. I can’t say I know Howard, I’ve never met him, but he has shared enough of himself with his readers through his blog posts and other projects (like Writing Excuses, a project with an all-star cast) that I’ve gotten to know him a little bit.

He recently shared a short autobiographical piece, “No, I’m fine.” He talks on his post about this that it was a grueling experience writing this, and that sharing it leaves him feeling very exposed, but he shared it anyway, and describes his purpose in doing so as follows:

It is my hope that this story will help remove some of the stigma associated with mental illness, and elevate our dialog about these issues.

Mental illness itself isn’t rare, nor are writers. I don’t know that I trust anyone who claims to put forth data about how common or rare writers or artists with mental illness are. But something I haven’t found much of are artists who can illustrate in so few words, so clearly, the experience they have with their mental illness.

Howard comments somewhat on the treatment that he and his psychiatrist have arrived at, and that is something I’m not commenting on, because it is something that needs to be determined, monitored and managed in the partnership of a patient and his/her physician, no one needs backseat drivers (or, next-lane drivers, as the case may be) in that relationship.

But I will comment on the piece itself, and the best thing I can say is that I’d love it if everyone I know, and everyone they know would take the 5 minutes or so that it would take to read these 1,730 words. I think it helps humanize another person’s experiences with his illness, and increased understanding is good.

It’s free, available in multiple formats, and a quick, easy read that I found enlightening. I’m glad he’s put it out there.

Just in case you don’t feel like scrolling back up for the last time I included the link, it’s here: “No, I’m fine.”

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