What does it feel like to live with mental illness day-to-day, as well as navigating the persistent misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental illness?
Can you relate?
Mental illness isn't the glorified portrayals we have often seen on the telly or other media. In this mental health zine series, Johnny gives a genuine glimpse into what it's like living with mental illness— specifically, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)— and the frustrations that go hand-in-hand with it.
The series includes three zines which are ADHD: Ain't a Joke, Depression: Ain's the Sads, and OCD: Ain't a Word. These zines might be mini in size, but they pack a punch with useful information where, from the first page, you immediately feel the heart and intent that's gone into creating them.
One of the many challenges that often overshadows the lived experiences of those living with mental illness is the numerous misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding them.
Reading these zines you quickly appreciate how our language, actions, and misinformation can affect those living with mental illness. For example, the impact that non-diagnosis of ADHD through childhood can have on one's life. How the stigma from throwaway phrases like "I'm so OCD" is perpetuated. And how lack of understanding surrounding experiences of depression serves to dismiss those afflicted.
"Throwing around the term OCD like it's an ordinary word in our vocabulary perpetuates the stigma of having the disease and makes the illness itself and those who suffer from it into jokes" — J.F. Gamber, OCD: Ain't a Word
There's no glossing over the realities of mental illness with cliches or catchy phrases here. Johnny uses candid personal reflections, myth-busting, mental health facts, and valuable resources, accented with a little bit of colorful language nestled among the text.
As I was reading the zines, I reflected on my past actions, experiences, and ways to better support friends and loved ones dealing with mental illness, and I feel like these zines made me more attuned to the challenges experienced.
"Next time you hear someone make a joke about ADHD, tell them you have it. Tell them the ways which it's made your navigation through the world and your life difficult" — J.F. Gamber, ADHD Ain't a Joke
That's the beautiful thing about personal zines (perzines) like this. These experiences are so vital to our collective understanding. Zines allow them to be shared in a raw, honest, and unfiltered way. I can't imagine we'd find these accounts as vividly in mainstream media.
There's nothing more powerful than that!
This is a helpful mental health zine series if you want to be a better mental health ally or are seeking a relatable mental health account and resource.
ADHD: Ain't a Joke, Depression: Ain't the Sads, and OCD: Ain't a Word are all 1/4 sized zines (4.25 x 5.5 inches), are $3 each and available in the zine store.