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the pig of comfort

Late night working, difficult morning. I'm not very good at winter mornings.

The marvellous writer of the book I illustrated, Morris the Mankiest Monster, Giles Andreae, has lots of other tricks up his sleeve, including the famous Purple Ronnie series he originated, and his more recent line of stuff, Edward Monkton. Last week the Times ran a huge three-page section on his thoughts behind his new animation, The Pig of Happiness. While I could relate more to the Pig of Comfort this morning than the Pig of Happiness, I was hugely intrigued by his description of his breakdown into clinical depression. His stark, insightful description of it reminded me of the huge gulf between being depressed and suffering depression; people who have never suffered depression can't even start to appreciate the total wiping out of personality and horror that come with it. More than a call be 'be happy', I found it a call to be gentle and patient with people who are depressed, something I could use reminding about when I'm tempted to wish they'd 'snap out of it' or something equally callous. (Giles related that to someone telling a person with a broken neck to get a grip.)
You can read the whole article at Times Online here.

It also makes me think about how much creative people who have suffered serious mental health issues have to offer the rest of us in giving us a window into this whole world. Their contributions are so HUGELY valuable; it's not enough just to write something worthy, that will only get a small audience. These guys know how to make the subject genuinely interesting, and what can be more interesting than the dark and strange places the mind can go. So few people are able really to communicate what breakdown and chronic suffering is like, or make us see things differently, want be more understanding and contemplate the fragile thread that keeps us all from falling into the same pit.

A lot of people in the comics community have come to value Leeds-based writer and artist Darryl Cunningham for having this very gift. He's someone who has struggled hugely with depression, but has retained a sensitivity to what others are going through and lets us see what really happens. Keep an eye out for his upcoming book, Psychiatric Tales, coming out with Blank Slate in February. You can see extracts from his book on Live Journal (he's tallguywrites), or to go straight to the autobiographical chapter, click on the image:

Thanks, Giles and Darryl! We all really need to hear this stuff, and you guys make us look forward to reading about it.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2009 11:58 am (UTC)
I was the Pig of Comfort this morning.

It's soooo hard to wake up in winter.
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
Fascinating article - I can't imagine ever feeling that bad.
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:28 pm (UTC)
I can. He described it perfectly. I used to get lots of people telling me to "pull myself up by my bootstraps."

Also, I was in denial for years about it until I was finally diagnosed. Then I was like "Oh. that's what this feeling is."
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a nightmare - I'm glad you found the right help in the end.
Dec. 1st, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)

It never really goes away but I'm over the worst, thankfully. Now, if only I could sort out this whole social anxiety thing lol.
Dec. 1st, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear Giles described it so well. I noticed there were lots of comments on the Times website, I think quite a few people were able to relate.
Dec. 2nd, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah I was happy to see that as well. Usually when an article is written about depression there are people who have never experienced it saying horrible things.

My favorite has to be "It's all in your mind."

Well of course it is!!!

Please tell Giles thank you.
Dec. 1st, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
That pig looks soooo comfortable
Dec. 1st, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
He is! He will never be able to get out of that bed, never.
Dec. 1st, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad every time someone writes sensibly about breakdowns, and makes it that little bit more normal.
One of the worst things is the total loss of self-respect because you're suddenly "one of those people", until you work out that "those people" are just... people. A lot of them actually very happy and busy up until then. In fact, for me that was the main thing that I needed to work out to get out of it when my world temporarily ended mid-Wednesday some years ago - it's monumentally horrible, but it's nobody's fault.
(Am well again by the way, phew.)

Dec. 1st, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Viv! I'm glad you're another person who's been able to come through it. x
Dec. 1st, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Sarah, for your very insightful thoughts on depression and your council to be gentle and patient with people working through their depression. Thank you for the link to Giles Andreae's writing,seeking to help us better understand by sharing from his own journey. I so appreciate the animated joyful pig video. :)
The New Zealand Book Council link was amazing.
Dec. 1st, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Depression
You're welcome!
Dec. 2nd, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
One good account of a creative person in the knitting world experiencing mental health problems: http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall07/FEATfall07KLM.html
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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