Fully Sick, Chronically Sad
Amber is Blue
Fully Sick, Chronically Sad is a black and white comic zine with a colour cover somewhere between A5 and A6 about mental illness.
I struggled a lot with this zine. Not so much with the zine itself but because I’ve been there – and am there still in many ways.
In various drawings, Amber is Blue takes us through what it’s like having a mental illness and the constant struggles coming from inside and the world around us in dealing with it. Medications can be wonderful, but wonderful meds that work are often not affordable. Therapy helps, but the current system doesn’t exactly help with consistency.
Amber is Blue doesn’t mince words when it comes to dealing with these frustrations and more. There is no mystery when it comes to how Amber is Blue really feels about these things.
As I mentioned, I identify a lot with Amber is Blue and all of the nonsense that comes with these things. I think it’s valuable to share these experiences so people don’t feel alone. While this zine stirred up a lot of feelings in me, one of those feelings was a desire to write more about my own experiences with mental illness.
I do feel I should mention one content warning, though, in that suicidal thoughts and dealing with suicidal thoughts are mentioned.
There weren’t any contact details in the zine itself, but I’ve dug up some links for you if you’d like to check out more of Amber is Blue’s work. Fully Sick, Chronically Sad has a part two and three, which I’m looking forward to checking out.
Radical Vulnerability and Mental Health
Radical Vulnerability and Mental Health is a black and white… I feel like it falls under the category of perzine, but I really want to call it a ‘contemplation zine’.
In Radical Vulnerability and Mental Health, Queer Marshmallow explores thoughts on the meaning of ‘radical vulnerability’ and how it applies within the context of mental illness. More specifically within the realms of anxiety, depression, and borderline personality disorder.
I started reading this zine knowing that I liked the way ‘radical vulnerability’ sounded but also knowing that I wasn’t actually sure what it was all about. With recent events leaving me feeling particularly vulnerable, I decided it was about time to look into it.
As much as I wanted a solid, ‘official’ definition, I like how QM started from a place of what radical vulnerability meant to them and then took it from there. At no point was there a feeling of being told what is, only personal interpretations. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think the writing could have demonstrated any more perfectly exactly what it was talking about.
I didn’t expect to identify so strongly with this zine, but I truly did. Perhaps it’s simply from the common mental diagnoses, but I have many times asked myself the same questions QM asks. Where is the line between expressing what is going on and becoming a burden? When does honest become too honest?
This zine isn’t a guide or a how to, but it is a beautifully vulnerable – excited but shy – exploration of feelings when it comes to opening your true self up to the world. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, pick up this zine.
In Wiseblood 67, Fishspit talks about his experiences with depression and using ECT – electroconvulsive therapy – for treatment.
Fishspit has a writing style that isn’t for the easily offended, but he takes a different tone in this issue. I can’t help but feel for him for a number of reasons as he talks about his experiences. Right from the start, you really get a sense of the desperation to get past the depression no matter what the cost.
I find it interesting to read people’s stories about depression and how they describe it. Fishspit describes how, for him:
…sometimes it’s a mosquito…a small pestering depression…a tiny dark spot on the soul, but then! Oh my! It can become a gorilla! Consuming me absolutely.
I was incredibly angry while reading one part of this, as the idiocies and aggravations of insurance companies run far and wide. What he had to go through just to get the ECT treatment gets me all kinds of frustrated with the US medical system. (I grew up in it and know what it’s like in a better system.)
There were bright spots to be found in this zine, however, with the kind treatment from some of the nurses and doctors involved.
Also this is different to Fishspit’s usual style, both somewhat in content but also in being one overarching piece rather than smaller pieces. I like it when people who have a series switch it up every now and again. I quite liked the change in this zine, though I will also welcome a return to the usual in the next zine (if that’s how Fishspit does things).
The Life and Times of Billy Roberts Issue 78
The Life and Times of Billy Roberts Issue 78 is a single piece of paper folded in half to create four pages. It’s a reminder that zines don’t have to be gloss and colour, thick, thin, or any one thing. I find myself wishing that all my friends would create little life update zines like these so I could keep up with their lives when we can’t catch up otherwise.
Right away I could feel Billy’s depressed mood through his words. “I’ve already written 3 versions of this newsletter and thrown them all away” isn’t a good sign. In this zine, Billy talks about the US election, dealing with full-blown depression, and finding some good things in amongst the doom and gloom. It’s a zine-ified version of a letter from a friend. Even if you aren’t friends with Billy, I feel like you could get that sort of feeling from this zine nonetheless.
It’s hard to read about the hard times anyone is going through – friend or stranger. My heart went out to Billy, especially talking about not being able to do much more than stay still and watch television most days. I think that’s what makes it even more special that Billy is able to still talk about some happy things happening despite all the weight of depression.
If you’ve read my reviews for a while now, you know one thing that niggles me is no contact details. When the creator leaves the reader to hunt down further reading. I’m almost willing to ignore it on this one because it might be something ‘just for friends’ anyway, but you still never know where your little creations may go, so…
This is a zine I’m keeping not just for the reasons I like it but because it’s like keeping a letter from a penpal. It’s a zine that shows how much zines can connect people and remind us that we are all people dealing with our own struggles.
This week, I feel very… grateful. I am always grateful for people taking the time and postage to send me things, but this week, I am especially so.
I’ve been struggling a lot with a depression for a little while now. I’ve been good about staying positive while there has been so much chaos and strain in my personal life, but eventually I just shattered. It all became too much, and I went into that foggy, tired place that claims my mind sometimes.
So when I rocked up to my post box this morning and found this inside, I was at a complete loss as to what it could be.
Someone, I don’t know who, sent me this gorgeous papercrafted envelope, well wishes for Asimov, and a sachet of chai.
And on the inside…
Along with my love for zines, I also have a love for stationery and planner type items. I also really love chai, too, which should give me some clue as to who it is, but I’m stumped.
All I know is that this beautiful gesture means so much more than I can adequately express right now. It makes my heart happy.
I don’t know who you are or if you’ll even see this post, but I want to say thank you nonetheless. Your timing is perfect, to say the least, and I will be sure to pass the RAK spirit on.
Olivia M June
24 Hour Zine Thing!
Starting with a side note: I really like it when people mention when their zine is a 24 hour zine thing because it’s a quick and simple way to spread the word about it, but it also usually means I’m in for some fun, ‘not even the zine author expected this’ pieces.
Misspelling Anecdata while typing this review inspired me to actually look up the definition of ‘anecdata’, and I must say that I absolutely adore when there’s a ‘not quite secret’ extra layer of meaning to the title of a zine. (See: A Visitor in Myself https://seagreenzines.com/2016/05/06/mini-zine-review-a-visitor-in-myself-2/ ) I was going to share the definition, but I’m starting to feel like that might be a spoiler-ish move, so I’ll leave it to you to Google ‘define anecdata’ if you’re so inclined.
As I mentioned in my review of Anecdata 1, Olivia’s writing style is open to glimpsing her life but also has these strong ‘pay attention and remember’ moments. For instance, she shares some thoughts about her personal experiences with depression before launching into the reminder that depression can be about more than feeling sad. Then she gives a list of other symptoms before easily sliding back into her own experience of some of those symptoms.
Olivia also writes about all sorts of things including pills, poetry, penpalling, and not liking chocolate. There’s also a self-sketch (sketchie?), poetry, a list, and more recommendations – this time of the science fiction and fantasy book variety.
Though this zine is bigger than the first, it keeps the same cut and paste aesthetic that I enjoyed from the first zine.
I must say that I’m really enjoying this zine series, and it’s one of those ones that has set me on a ‘I need to have them all in my zine collection’ path.
There is No Relief or Release From Sorrow
Philip Dearest & Others
If the name sounds familiar, Philip Dearest
This Has All Been Too Much For Me Today, I Think I’ll Go Back to Bed, another zine of mental illness-inspired art.
By its own description,
There is No Relief or Release From Sorrow is an art therapy zine about depression/grief/loneliness.
Philip has curated a number of pieces created by people expressing themselves and their experiences through words and art.
The art is all beautiful, and sad, and heartbreaking… For me, it was a strange combination of wanting to make each and every artist feel better as well as the sad comfort of knowing that I am not alone. The choice to make the words and art white on black instead of the other way around adds to the entire feel of the zine.
The title of this zine suggests something so hopeless, but I think the fact that this is a collaboration is, in and of itself, a hopeful thing.
I only noticed after a few looks through that this is actually volume four, so I’m looking forward to finding volumes one through three.