The Sarcastic Guide to Depression So a friend/family member/spouse has depression. Assuming there’s a reason you can’t cut this person out of your life upon learning this awful truth, here are some helpful hints for coping with this sudden demand on your compassion.
Assume the person has received treatment. I know, depressed people are so lazy that they’d rather just wallow in depression than go to therapy and get those harmless, side-effect-free drugs.
In reality, if a person has had depression for any length of time, as a medical diagnosis, their diagnosis involved a number of treatment options. Medication may be prescribed at that time, but the psychiatrist or doctor will want to wean the person off to the least effective dose, because antidepressants have some nasty side effects. In teenagers, antidepressants can cause suicidal thoughts, which is like curing an eye infection by cutting off your head.
You may mean well by suggesting that they get help, but, to most people with depression, this screams that you don’t want to deal with their problems, and that you think you know what’s best for them. That’s patronizing and the opposite of helpful. Unless the person has a razor blade to his or her wrists, or has locked him- or herself in the bathroom with the sleeping pills, then he or she has the tools to recognize what’s needed to get better.
Don’t make demands. You have a busy life, and you don’t have time to spend coddling people who are such a drain. If they’re not making the effort, why should you?
Presumably, that person is worth the time and effort when he or she isn’t depressed. Believe it or not, you’re usually only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It may seem to you that the person’s canceling plans last-minute shows an inability to prioritize, that the person’s one-sentence monotone answers are rude, that the person’s too lazy to make the effort. But people with depression are often conserving their energy. Every ounce of energy spent on you is an ounce of energy that can’t be used to talk him- or herself out of the barrage of negative thinking a depressed person is subjected to every minute of every day. Others may seek you out to an annoying degree, because they don’t want to be alone with their damaging thoughts, and they need to know that someone cares.
Don’t take it personally. He’s no fun. Why can’t he just be excited for you?
As mentioned above, people with depression need to conserve their energy. They’re using it to fight a battle you’ll never see. People with depression also have less energy to start with, so it’s a double whammy. By the time a full-fledged depressive episode hits, most people with depression lack the energy to go through their day-to-day routine, much less explain to you all of the factors contributing to their current lack of enthusiasm.
Let them get their mind off it. But your friend was laughing yesterday! Doesn’t that mean she’s fine? And she spends all this time with other people, doing fun things, so she can’t be depressed.
People with depression cope with it all the time, but that doesn’t mean you always see it. Depression is, in fact, an invisible illness. If you’re seeing symptoms, that means the person’s coping skills are breaking down. When symptoms are managed, however, a person with depression looks and acts like anyone else. That “fake it until you make it” is essential to many coping strategies. A sense of accomplishment, bonding with loved ones, and having things to look forward to can counteract a lot of the negativity inherent in people with depression.
Most importantly, help them. I know, it’s so exhausting to have to take a sick person’s needs into account. Why can’t she be the considerate one, and quit manipulating you into doing everything for her?
Because, if the person asked for your help, that person assumed you were a good and decent person who didn’t wish to make his or her illness worse. Is the person truly asking a lot, or are you merely railing against the unfairness of it all?
Because, trust me. If you want to stack up whatever favor your friend/family member/spouse is asking you against a lifetime of having to listen to a voice whispering in your ear that you’re worthless, that you deserve to die, that people would be better off without you, do you really want to bet that you ended up with the short end of the stick?
If you do, you might want to rethink sticking around. There is no cure for depression. There are only coping strategies, and your friend/family member/spouse is doing everything in his or her power to keep it from being your problem. But, try as that person might, it’s going to slip through, and the person is going to need you to understand.
If you can’t cope with that, then you’re part of the problem.
Disclaimer: YMMV, different people have different symptoms, everyone copes with depression differently, blah blah blah.
To most of you, this list is going to come across as super bitchy and horrible, to the rest of you it’s going to be a prolonged moment of “Oh my god yes, I fucking hate that!”
1. Oh my god, did you draw that?
This is not an acceptable question to ask someone you see drawing, especially not if they are actively working on the project when you ask. Depending on how many times the person in question has previously been addressed this way, the answer you receive could range anywhere from a polite “yes,” to an extremely sarcastic “No, holy shit where the fuck did this sketchbook come from?”
I feel as though, on some underlying level, the popularity of the question “Did you draw that?” has sprung from the belief that to be an artist you have to be visibly strange. Artists are not unicorns. We’re not mythical beasts that only come out on the equinox once every century, cloaked in moon dust and carting gilded paintbrushes. Artists are everywhere, in every shape and size, at every skill level.
It’s lovely to be complimented on your work, but being faced with utter disbelief that you could create something isn’t high up on Dr. Feelgood’s recommendations for healthy living.
The next time you see an artist working in public and you’re blown away by what they’re doing, try to come up with something to say other than “Did you draw that?”
2. Brb giving up art forever/burning everything I’ve ever drawn/killing myself.
This is something that many of my fellow artists are guilty of. No matter what you think, this is not an acceptable form of flattery. On the occasion that this happens to me I actually feel really horrible about it. No artist wants to hear that they’ve discouraged another person by doing what they love.
It’s really quite heartbreaking to see someone say that they aren’t proud of their abilities. There is always going to be someone out there who’s better than you. If you let that affect you in any way it should be as encouragement and incentive to practice, not a reason to give up.
Everyone who enjoys creating something, who finds an outlet with a pen or a tablet or words or scissors or a brush, can call themselves artists. There is no limit on creativity or its outlets and nothing qualifies who gets to create.
3. No one is this talented.
Well, obviously, some people are. You’re not complimenting them by saying they can’t possibly have made something that they clearly poured time and talent into. I know graphic artists who deal in realism that get this one a lot. It’s insulting and degrading and don’t fucking say it. Yeah?
4. Can you draw me/this/that other thing for me?
If someone has a talent or skill they choose to share with you, that does not mean you own a piece of them. That does not mean they have an obligation to provide something for you. They create because they enjoy it, because it keeps them alive in some way. Not for your entertainment.
Most of the time when people ask the artists I know for something, they don’t even know the artist. Seeing something you like does not mean you need to latch onto the artist and attempt to bleed them dry.
5. Can you teach me to draw?
It’s cool that you think highly enough of someone’s talent/skill that you want them to share it with you. It’s cool that you want to draw. Most times the answer will be no. Don’t get upset about it, it’s not going to change anything. The majority of artists got to their varying skill levels due to practice, years and years of practice.
It’s not something that can be taught in a day, and even if it were, that doesn’t mean someone is automatically equipped to teach you in a way you will understand. Please do not blow up at someone if they refuse to teach you, it’s most likely not them being a jerk. It’s just not something that can be taught.
6. Your commission prices are too high.
The prices of art are based on a great many things. The size, the amount of medium used, the time it took to make. Mostly though, the price of art is determined by the artist. You don’t have to agree with their pricing, you don’t have to buy their art. Most importantly, you don’t have to insult them and tell them what they’ve made isn’t worth what they deem it to be worth.
So that said, here it is. My sincere thoughts on how to promote the presence of women in comics:
Pay them. No, seriously. Pay them with money.
I bring this up because I’ve seen a lot of recent attempts by well-meaning people to highlight the works of women. Anthologies, convention spotlights, blogs, interviews, charities, and special events all dedicated to the cause of promoting women in comics. And I think it’s wonderful that people want to organize and discuss these things. I think it’s wonderful that we want to raise awareness.
But awareness only goes so far. Tons of young women already want to - and are good enough - to work in comics. Tons of them are already doing their own thing in the self-publishing world. Many of my friends are releasing graphic novels to rave reviews and impressive sales. Conventions are jam-packed with women. It’s not a question of awareness. It’s a question of who’s getting paid.
Frankly, there’s no amount of awareness that can pay the artist to be an artist. Asking female creators to donate their time and efforts for non-paying projects is, at best, ineffectual to the cause. There is no pedestal flattering enough, no validation tangible enough, to outvalue a month’s worth of rent. And that’s what we want - for underrepresented artists to pay their rent, so we can see more incredible art from them.