Gemma Correll’s cartoons perfectly illustrate the reality of depression and anxiety
Let me let you in on a secret: most people either struggle with anxiety and depression themselves, or they know someone who does. These conditions happen to the best of us, and while it’s become more acceptable to talk about them in recent years, there’s still a stigma attached to being open about the ways anxiety and depression can affect our daily lives. That’s why these honest and hilarious illustrations by artist Gemma Correll are so important.
Correll is a British writer and illustrator who suffers from anxiety and clinical depression, and she doesn’t hold back in using her work to break down the barriers in talking about mental health. In 2015, she published a book of her illustrations called The Worriers Guide To Life, and many of her illustrations present a frank and relatable depiction of what it’s like to live with mental illness.
Correll tells Mashable she wants her drawings to raise awareness about mental health issues, but also encourage people to speak more freely about what they’re going through. “I suffer from clinical anxiety and depression and I find that the best way to deal with it is to find humor in it,” she says. “I honestly think that humor can be a savior at times of distress, or if you just live with a constant level of anxiety and depression like I do.”
Correll’s illustrations aren’t directed at any group in particular, but as a mom who lives with anxiety and depression, they really hit home for me. When you have kids, everything you do and everything you’re dealing with directly affects them. It’s hard when you’re not at your best to have little people who need so much from you emotionally, who expect you to present and happy, and who rely on you to be their voice in so many ways. Anxiety and depression sometimes rob you of your ability to be the kind of person you want to be, and that inevitably trickles down into your parenting as well.
What makes it easier is knowing you aren’t alone — that other people out there have days where it takes all of their effort just to get out of bed, where a phone call or dinner with friends feels like a huge mental and emotional hurdle, or where you can’t give as much as you want to and the guilt is crippling. Talking about it really is the best medicine, and Correll’s illustrations are a great way to start that conversation.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect around 40 million people in the U.S., and more than half of anxiety sufferers also deal with symptoms of depression. When we’re in the throes of these conditions, we tend to think we’re suffering alone and no one could possibly understand how we feel. The truth is, tens of millions of people know exactly what we’re going through because they feel it too.
When we can share something like a cartoon or a funny illustration, it not only makes us laugh about our own struggles, but it lets other sufferers know they’ve got an ally — no one is alone in this fight. And sometimes just knowing that is enough to pull you through.