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.
Wonderful, beloved zine friends. I’m so happy to be creating this post.
It’s that time again – a time that probably isn’t familiar to a lot of you. When I reached my 100th review in May 2016, I felt inspired by the Golden Stapler Awards and celebrated by awarding zines with titles like ‘best binding’ and ‘funniest zine’.
(100th Zine Review Celebration Awards: All You Need is Zine Love)
I hit my 200th zine reviewed a few months ago, but with everything that was going on, I wasn’t able to get to things until now. I still wasn’t sure whether I would do this, but I do love sharing my zine enthusiasm and celebrating fun and cool zines.
Things to remember:
1. My apologies for any less than stellar photos.
2. This is only meant to be a bit of fun.
3. Zines often fit into more than one category. How they were sorted is all on me.
4. Keep in mind these are limited to the second lot of 100 zines I’ve reviewed – roughly from May 2016 to July 2017. You can find the whole list: Zine Review Index
5. Picking out the ‘best’ stinks. I love them all!
Let’s do this.
(I’m putting everything after a more tag because there are a lot of images.)
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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.
My Thoughts Will Kill Me
For today’s review, we have a sad but strong mini zine about living with mental illness.
My heart hurt reading this zine because I’ve been there so much. Buzzing thoughts that more often multiply than go away… It’s strangely easy to forget that you’re not alone, so my heart breaks every time I read about someone else’s experiences.
The thing that I found so interesting with this zine is that MissMuffcake never mentions a specific mental illness. I actually went back to read through again and check because I’d automatically started applying her words to my own mental health struggles. It blew me away when I looked back and realised that, even though there are so many different labels, we still have so much in common.
I am just one in many who have a mental illness. I am not alone.
While it was sad, it was also comforting to read the quote above and know that Miss Muffcake knows she’s not alone.
Even better? That through it all, she still finds humour. (Cake is a wonderful motivator.)
Definitely check this little zine out whether you are dealing with mental health issues or want to better understand friends who are.
Self Help 2
Self Help 2 is a zine about perfectionism, finding the right self-care, defending your needs, and having hope for the future. It’s also a zine that I found was enhanced by the zine that came before it…
Part of the reason that I decided to put this review up so quickly after my review of the first one is the experience I had in reading them one after the other. They certainly work completely well as standalone zines, but I got some added enjoyment out of reading them together like I did.
The perspective that I liked in Self-Help 1 of looking back on the teenage years with the gaze of someone in their late twenties is echoed in a way in this zine. Instead of the usual jump of a couple months to a year or so in most perzines I’ve read, the jump from the first to the second in this series is a jump from 26/27 years old to 31 years old. Not huge, but certainly significant when it comes to looking back.
One particular topic touched on in this zine that I found interesting is the stigma that exists even within ‘open’ communities when it comes to using ‘traditional’ approaches to mental illness treatment like medication and seeing psychologists/psychiatrists. I like reading about people finding success with those things just as much as I like reading about people who find success in other ways. I think it’s important for people to call out hypocritical behaviour that deters people from finding success in whatever way they can.
This zine still has the ‘scrapbook’ type feel with ‘outside’ pieces included, but this one had a bit more writing and reflection, which I like. There’s also still a focus on perfectionism. As the author writes, “Changing things is a slow, slow, slow process”. Something I feel is reflected in the jump of time between zines but more of a noticeable point when you read the zines one after the other.
I hope anyone who reads this zine can get Self Help 1 at the same time and read them both. I found it inspirational to see someone learning and growing so much in the space of two zines.
A PS for readers outside Australia: This zine comes with seeds, so you may need to request that they are removed before it’s sent.
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).
Opinionated Nobody #8
Opinionated Nobody 8 is a perzine by Rebecca and covers topics like making a new zine while needing to write a novel for an MA, mental health/illness and medication, counselling, Christmas, and Star Wars.
Rebecca’s writing style is very much like that of catching up with an old friend. I could just imagine her dropping onto a seat across from me with her cuppa and saying the first lines of her zine – “I’ve been wanting to write a new zine for ages…” – in easy conversation instead of writing them. Her writing makes me feel comfortable and welcome in her world, even while she’s sharing some vulnerable things.
In that way, it reminded me of Pieces. While I try to avoid comparisons, I think this is a good thing to have in common with another perzine.
In the inside front cover, Rebecca includes a note (no spoilers here) that is an update to things mentioned in the zine. I really like the added touch and it made me smile. It’s something so small, and yet it reminded me that zines, by their handmade nature, can grow and change even as we create them.
This is another one of those zines that I’ve had for a little while but feel like I’ve opened up to read it at just the right time. As I’ve recently had to go back on anti-anxiety medication, I appreciate Rebecca writing about her own experiences doing that as well as writing about her counsellor as well.
If you like perzines – especially ones that touch on mental health/illness, reading, tattoos, and Star Wars – then I think you should check this one out.