Today, On Alien Monster: Opening A Conversation About Art and Mental Illness

Aug 29

It's Another Flourish
As some of you know, I feel a special connection to chronic depression and bipolar disorder.  Multiple members of my family,  my husband’s family, and several of our close friends and have struggled to get diagnosed, find and maintain treatment.Alien Monsters To The Power of 8!

Each persons path and experience has been different – but one theme seems consistent:  the level of frustration sufferers feel when no one (not loved ones, not doctors, sometimes not even themselves) seems to quite understand what’s going on in your head.

One of those friends recently found an outlet for that frustration:  simple line drawings and text, penciled on sheet of copy paper. One at a time, scans of the comics found their way to my inbox, always with the disclaimer that “I’m no artist”.

I beg to differ.

Though simple in execution (artsy-pants experts would call it “primitive” or “outsider”) these comics represent one of the most powerful aspects of art in any medium – communicating difficult concepts and emotions in a clear and enlightening way.

Without further ado – let me introduce you to AM – the manic, depressed, angry, frustrated, and artful Alien Monster.

Today On Angry Manic Alien Monster: Comic #23

Well… Will You?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be randomly publishing more of I.M.Bipolar’s strips, so stay tuned, and we’ll see if we can’t get a real conversation going here.

It's Another Flourish!

Meahwhile? It’s a Commenting Alien Monster Bonus!

The artist is unconvinced that these are worth putting out into the world, believing no one will relate, that no one will understand. I’m convinced otherwise, and I’d love for you to let them know they are not alone.

So if you or a loved one has a history with mental illness, please chime in with a comment — I’ll give you your very own tiny Alien Monster for your trouble!

And If you talk about your experience with art as a healing or communication tool? You get double Alien Monsters!

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p.s. comments are currently on moderation,
so be a wee bit patient with me, please.

11 comments

  1. @christybower on Twitter

    I have bipolar disorder, so this hits close to home for me. And when I’m depressed, I have found working in my art journal to be very soothing. It somehow settles my brain into a better state of mind.

  2. @NicoleAFende on Twitter

    First of all I love that it’s an Alien Manic Monster and that the author / illustrator is I.M. Bipolar.

    I think everyone has at least one person in their life struggling with mental illness. Out of respect for their privacy I’m going to make some general comments.

    The first is that this strip is both illuminating and compelling. It helps me “get” a bit more about how they might be feeling – sometimes when people struggle with their mental illness they also struggle with the words to describe it. They could just hand over this strip!

    Compelling because I want to give that little Alien Monster a hug. Who hasn’t wondered if others will still love them if…

    I hope the artist keeps it coming! Off to share on Social Media now 🙂

  3. Tori Deaux /

    @Christy Thank you for your openness in this conversation, and sharing about your art journal.  It makes me itchy to speculate on the neuro stuff that might sooth the brain, but that’s WAY above my neuro knowledge level and it would be irresponsible but … but… maybe its… *mumble mutter unintelligible sciencey sounding stuff*  Here’s your DOUBLE Alien Comment Monsters!

    Eyebrowed Comment MonsterSunset Comment Monster

    @Nicole  Your reaction is exactly what I felt too — enlightened, and I really, REALLY wanted to give Alien Monster a hug.  It made me sniffly.  Here’s your Alien Comment Monster!

    Seaside Comment Monster

  4. @teasilvestre on Twitter

    The world needs MORE like this. NOW please. This kind of thing doesn’t get talked about enough.

    Also? This comic ROCKS. Please tell I.M. I said so.

  5. I suffer from PTSD, Depression, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and feel like no one in the world understands me. My fiance suffers from Bipolar disorder and I’ve watched him go through this roller coaster.

    I find solace in art and when I don’t create my depression gets worse in a major way. It’s part of staying healthy!

  6. Tori Deaux /

    @Tea A great big fuzzy Alien Comment Monster for your enthusiasm .. YAY!! *flails Kermit arms wildly*  You’re right, though.  This doesn’t get talked about nearly enough, especially considering just how many people are affected.   I’m SO looking forward to sharing more of IM’s work!

    Eyebrowed Comment Monster

    @Nathara —   Your comment has earned you a  whole HERD of Alien Comment Monsters… and a herd for your boyfriend, too!

    Lots of Comment Monsters!

  7. Gushka /

    i relate to this so much. I know a monster. And yes i love her very much. Pretty much everyone does, even when shes a little scary. With some people, perhaps especially then.

  8. @ShariseMershon on Twitter

    Please tell I.M. Bipolar that s/he is most certainly an artist. People will relate and understand and those who do very much appreciate people who are willing to share their experiences. And that’s not just my personal opinion either. I.M. Bipolar should check out the comments on Jenny Lawson’s posts on depression (TheBlogess.com) and the comics about it by Allie Brosh (hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/). Allie’s site especially should help convince your friend that they are an artist and their drawings are worth sharing.

    As for mental illness, I believe it’s important to talk about it (or draw about it) so that people know they’re not alone, and people who don’t have any sort of mental issues can understand it better.

    That said, I’m totally a hypocrite because I have experience with mental illness, but I hardly ever talk about it. (Which is why I’m grateful to those who do.) I’m prone to anxiety and have experienced several episodes of depression. I may also have a mild form of OCD. It’s scary to share this stuff because I don’t want anyone to think I’m not capable of doing a good job at the services I offer. I’m extremely dedicated to doing the best I can for my clients!

    And in response to this comic specifically, I have been friends with someone who is bipolar, and while the extremeness of their moods was overwhelming at times (I’m an introvert-too much emotional energy drains me) I did indeed love them anyway. (Still do, but we’ve lost touch over the years.)

  9. Kathleen Avins /

    @spiralsongkat on Twitter

    Someone I live with and love very much has bipolar disorder, and I recognized him in every panel of this cartoon. Reading it, I felt deeply touched, understood, and comforted. The honesty and expressiveness of that little Alien Monster went straight to my heart.

    Yes, this is art, and yes, I.M. Bipolar, you are an artist.

    I’ve been a creative arts therapist for over twenty years now, and have been fortunate enough to witness the healing power of the arts, again and again. I have seen it in my clients, and I have felt it in my own self-work. Furthermore, I feel it whenever I engage with a work of art that touches my core, that connects me with something beyond myself. Every time that happens, I become a bit more whole. Reading this cartoon has fed my spirit, and I am grateful — to the artist, and to the curator. Thank you both.

  10. Tori Deaux /

    @Gushka It’s amazing how lovable even the scariest of monsters can be, when they come out of the shadows and stop playing the role of boogie-man! Here’s an Alien Comment Monster for you, and another one for your own beloved monster!

    Frazzled Comment MonsterEyebrowed Comment Monster

    @Sharise A total echo of your recommendations! In my not all that humble opinion, Jenny & Allie have advanced the popular understanding of mental illness by the gazillions, at least among a certain crowd (a crowd which tends to set future trends). Thank you for being so very brave and honest in your response here… I get it, I’m sure IM gets it… and t means a lot. Here’s a herd of Alien Comment Monsters for you!

    Lots of Comment Monsters!

    @Kathleen Thank you for revealing your personal connection, both to the illness, and to the creativity therapy. I’m touched, and I’m sure am is well.  Here are your Mini Alien Comment Monsters!

    Seaside Comment Monster

Speak up!